I played a lot of videogames in 2017, and many of them didn’t come out in 2017, but for now these are my top 5 games that actually came out last year. Before we start, I’ll give an honourable mention to the Nintendo Switch - my partner and I both picked one up late in the year and we both fell in love with Mario Odyssey, Breath of the Wild and Mario vs. Rabbids to name a few Nintendo exclusives. Nintendo have really done great this year with Switch releases, but I’m not going to talk about those games just because I think it’s fairly wide knowledge how well they’ve done and how popular they are, and so I’d rather focus on some (maybe) lesser-known games. So, here goes!
5 - Dead Cells
Platform: Windows • Developer: Motion Twin • Released: May 2017 (early access)
Even though Dead Cells is still in early access I think it’s worth mentioning because it’s so much fun and plays really well in the state it’s in, even though the devs are still refining and improving the game. Dead Cells is a platformer style “roguelike” - basically a game where you have multiple runs and the levels are in part procedurally generated, making each run fresh and different.
You’ll die - a lot - this game takes influence from Dark Souls even if it plays pretty differently. You encounter various enemies, sometimes a lot of them, and by using swords, bows and other items you’ll take them down - and it’ll feel damn good doing so! Each time you make some progress you’ll unlock new items and abilities to help you out in future runs, so you essentially become better as you practise, have more items at your disposal, and get a bit further each time.
The game has really tight controls, as well as excellent graphics and music, that make it feel like a joy to play. There are little details that give it a really quality feel. It’s hard to describe any games it’s really “like”, but I recommend giving it a go. If you’re reading this at the time I write it, it’s also 25% off on Steam! Dead Cells on Steam.
4 - Horizon Zero Dawn
Platform: Playstation 4 • Developer: Guerilla Games • Released: February 2017
An open-world action game from a company who had previously worked primarily on first-person shooters (the Killzone series). Set in a post-post-apocalyptic world where nature and technology meet, you play a strong-willed female protagonist - Aloy - who seeks to learn about herself and the mystery of her past. All the while you get to hunt and hack awesome machines that resemble giant metal dinosaurs :D
For an open-world game, the combat really shines as being one of the strong points, but all the usual open-world mechanics are done well too, with crafting, quests and beautiful scenery to explore. Plus, I found the game didn’t get overwhelming in terms of markers and places to go, which made it feel broad but not filled to the brim with things to do for the sake of content.
If you have played the game already, I recommend checking out this noclip documentary (YouTube) that gives insights into the development of the game.
3 - The Sexy Brutale
Platform: PS4, Windows, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch • Developer: Tequila Works • Released: April 2017, Switch December 2017
I love games that do something original, whether that’s the theme, mechanic, or visual style, and The Sexy Brutale does originality in spades. The game takes place in the fancy hotel/casino named The Sexy Brutale, and you play as a priest who witnesses the murders of guests at the hotel, and then has to try and stop them.. without getting directly involved. This is best described as a puzzle game with a time-travel mechanic. If you’ve ever heard of a DS game called Ghost Trick, it’s a similar idea. The game has a fantastic theme, diverse characters, and an interesting story, and whilst it’s not super long, it’s intriguing from start to end. For more of an in-depth review I recommend this YouTube review by Jim Sterling - it’s how I found out about the game originally and it’s a great introduction if you’re unsure.
2 - Uncharted: The Lost Legacy
Platform: Playstation 4 • Developer: Naughty Dog • Released: August 2017
Some of you reading may be familiar with the Uncharted series - it’s a Playstation exclusive action-adventure / third-person shooter, and usually the series follows the escapades and adventures of lovable rogue Nathan Drake. I’ve always enjoyed the series for the historic treasure-hunting and sense of adventure, as well as the attention to detail in characters and scenes that we have come to expect from Naughty Dog. I was excited to hear that this potential Uncharted 4 DLC featuring not one but two female protagonists, was going to be released as a full game. Starring Chloe Frazer and Nadine Ross - both side characters in previous Uncharted games - this time at the forefront of the adventure. The game released at cheaper than the usual “full” Uncharted adventures, but felt very much like a full game in it’s own right - I think I played it for about 30 hours. As well as the usual fun adventuring, and refinement of Uncharted’s typical mechanics, this game did something great which was put women at the forefront - charismatic, strong, independent, don’t-take-no-shit women at that, and focused on the relationship between them. Strong female friendships are something we need more of in video-games, and as well as that, the rest of the game was an amazing experience. Almost my game of the year!
1 - Thimbleweed Park
Thimbleweed Park is a game that captures the very essence of a LucasArts point-and-click classic adventure game. Hardly a surprise when the game was developed by the designers of Maniac Mansion and The Secret of Monkey Island, and is very much a spiritual successor to those games. The Secret of Monkey Island is possibly my favourite videogame ever, and I credit Ron Gilbert with being one of the reasons I am into videogames as much as I am today. If you ever wanted a game that felt today like playing Monkey Island felt back in the day, this is it.
Graphically, it resembles an old point-and-click adventure, but clearly updated to feel like how you remembered those old-school adventures, with little details that make it visually a treat to look at, whilst still retro. It’s humorous, with an intriguing Twin Peaks vibe. You switch between multiple characters - Maniac Mansion style, and investigate the mystery of Thimbleweed Park. In my opinion this game is the successor to Monkey Island that we’ve been waiting for for years (The Cave was good but not quite right, and 3d adventure games never quite felt the same to me). I may just be a massive Ron Gilbert fangirl, but Thimbleweed Park is a modern day classic point-and-click adventure. I loved it. Thimbleweed Park on Steam.
Also, a doodle of Delores I did - one of my favourite characters in the game :)