Gaming of 2017: The Top Five

Hello everybody. This is going to be a different way of doing things this year! Last time I did a four-article series. This time, I am going to go through my usual review in a different order. This year, I will only be doing a Top 5 games of the year instead of Top 10, but there will be awards in other categories including Most Underrated Game, worst game, you know the drill. I will do this in later articles.

Unfortunately, there are many titles that are not on this list. Because I do not have a Nintendo Switch, Xbox One or PlayStation 4, many options were off for me, I’m afraid. So that means no Oddessy, Horizon Zero Dawn or Zelda: Breath of the Wild. I’m sorry! If I don’t have the game, I cannot review it or count it 😦 I also will not count Early Access titles, or rather, games that are still in EA as of December 2017. Sorry PUBG!

Should be fun, I hope! To kick things off, let’s go immediately into the Top 5.

5. Assassin’s Creed Origins

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What’s this? A Ubisoft game in my Top 5? What is wrong with the world?

I will be fair. Despite all of my issues with Ubi, they do know how to make good games, they’ve always had that quality. Some of the earlier Assassin’s Creed titles were really solid before OpenWorldSameSyndrome set in, and I loved Black Flag. The Far Cry series is also pretty good, and some of their smaller titles have been quite solid. They have had a mixed year, Ubisoft. For Honor, Ghost Recon: Wildlands and South Park: The Fractured But Whole were pretty rough launches and aren’t really that great games, which is unfortunate. I found things to like about all three of those titles, but they all had some pretty serious flaws. I may bash Ubisoft like a lot of people, mainly for their appalling UPlay DRM amongst other things, but they did a pretty good job with Origins.

Taking a break for a year really helped the franchise. I was cautiously optimistic going into this. I love Egyptian culture, and while I was not impressed by Unity and Syndicate, I was looking forward to this. The result was. . . pretty good.

Yeah, I was genuinely surprised! Let’s talk about the pros and cons:

Pros: 

It looks visually stunning. There is so much love built into the world of Origins, it almost felt like The Witcher 3 to me. It really does look that good. Now, it’s not quite the same quality of CD Projekt Red’s masterpiece, but it is pretty solid.

The setting really comes to life. The worldbuilding Origins has to offer is quite exceptional, and that comes with a gutwrenching story that really pulls punches. It is the first AC game I really got into, and actually did not mind doing the Assassin’s quests. I think they learned lessons from the saturated formula of before, and while a lot of elements remain the same, it did feel fresh, so kudos.

Solid Mechanics.

Gorgeous Map.

Side Quests weren’t bad for a typical Ubi sandbox. They were still there, but not quite as intrusive.

Cons

The performance was a problem. Myself and a lot of people struggled to run this (rumored to be their extra DRM on top of Denuvo, a controversial topic amongst the industry.) it wasn’t awful, but it could have been considerably improved. I hope they patch it.

Some bugs and glitches. Nothing game breaking for me, but I saw quite a few of them.

Microtransactions. Oh boy. This reared its ugly head in 2017 didn’t it? (More on that later.) Yes, this had them. However, I will be fair here. I do not approve of microtransactions of any kind, even if it is cosmetic. Having this system into a 60$ game, mostly single player to that is complete bullshit. This is an appalling practice by the gaming industry, and it needs to be neutered. ACO’s system never forced it down my throat though. I never felt obliged to do it. Time-savers yes, but I didn’t have too many qualms. It should never have been put into it in the first place, all the same.

Overall, it has its flaws, but it deserves to be in my Top 5. I really enjoy Origins.

 

4. Hellblade: Sensa’s Sacrifice. 

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A major surprise, but I had a lot of fun playing this! It really set up the “AA” design, didn’t it? Was an impressive title this. Linear, yes. Not a huge amount of replayability, true. But that does not matter!

  • The narrative was powerful. Rarely have I played a game when I cared so much about the protagonist!
  • Excellent combat. Was fluid, responsive and fun. And it worked! Which is more then I can say for other games. (Sorry Witcher 3!)
  • Voice Acting. My word!
  • Looked and sounded beautiful. Had the production of an AAA company for sure.
  • Very well priced. 30$? For this? Where do I sign? There are many games that just don’t have half as much worth as this game does. Wow.
  • Good puzzle layout.
  • Refreshing and not too long. This is quite nice because its so easy to sink in 60+ hours in a single open world sandbox.

What’s not to love! It had few flaws for me to really nitpick. Just a refreshing, enjoyable game that is all too welcome in a year dominated by lootboxes and shit game practices.

 

3) West of Loathing

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Now, you may wonder why I’ve voted this so high. Well…look at it!

LOOK AT IT!

In all seriousness, this game is amazing. For something so simple, so much love went into this game! It was meant as a comedic game, but man, a ton of love went into this. An open world full of fun things to do, beautiful music, a gorgeous art style and so much more.

I don’t really have much to say about this game, really. I apologise if this one is short. I don’t think I have laughed as hard in a long time while playing this game. Kudos.

 

2. A Hat of Time 

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What a wonderful game. This nearly, nearly took the number one spot and would have done if not for some other….game. *coughs*.

It doesn’t look like much, at least at first to me. I don’t really play platformers, but this did speak out to me. I bought the game and tried it out. I was pleasantly surprised how fresh, adorable and playable the game is.

A Hat in Time is more than a lovingly crafted homage to the world of platformers; it’s a delightful adventure in its own right that brings creative innovation to the genre in an abundance of wonderful ways. I will be honest, I was torn on what to go with for my No.2 spot. A few choices for me, from the flawed but excellent ELEX (which does not have a spot in my Top 5 this year. More on this later), the brutal but brilliant Cuphead, Dominions 5 all were contenders. I had to go with this just because of how happy the game made me. It really was a fun event, all the way through. Good platform controls, a beautifully crafted world, plenty of secrets and stunning visuals stole the show for me. It has its faults of course. I found it a bit short for my liking and some of the level design was lacking a bit, but all in all, an excellent game.

Which brings us to the one and only. . .my Game of the Year 2017.

1. Divinity Original Sin II 

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I will be fair here. The hardest choice this year was picking the games after this game. Everything new I have played that has come out in 2017. Nothing. NOTHING. Comes close to this.

What a game so far! A lovechild to DnD roleplayers, this game really packs a punch. It really is a pinnacle and a legend to RPGs in general. This game not just wins my GOTY 2017, it might, in time, be my favorite RPG of all time. Yes, even beating Morrowind, Skyrim and The Witcher 3!

It offers a massive campaign with memorable characters, interesting role-playing options, and excellent systemic combat. There are countless options to tweak your combat style to. Want an undead lizard that can summon and turn people into chickens? Fucking sold! Want a warrior tank that can conjure fire? Yes. Loads of options and the game is huge. Act 1, which is the tutorial island, took me 25 hours to finish. And there were still several quests I did not do. Lots of replayability in this game I feel. I’m 75 hours in, and I’m still some way from finishing Act 2. 

The environments are beautiful and the soundtrack is solid. That alone would put it at the top of the heap, but then Larian added offline and online co-op, a PVP arena mode, and Game Master mode, the greatest throwback to the Dungeons & Dragons pen-and-paper games that underpin the entire genre. I haven’t played online much yet, but once I’ve finished the game, I plan on playing again.

The game is punishingly difficult at times, it does have some bugs and glitches, and I’ve heard the final act of the game has a weird pacing that has thrown many off. But that does not take anything away from this behemoth of a game. At £29.99, it is the best value game in years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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