2017 was really a great year for videogames. I've worked on a bunch of game jams, I've made a few games here and there (you can play them on my itch.io page or on my website and I played a bunch of them. The Nintendo Switch came out this year and I think it's my favorite console yet. It's almost perfect, but I kinda wish that it was smaller and easier to transport. Here's my top ten list of favorite games from this year, starting at number 10. You'll notice that I have Switch, PS4, 3DS, Vita games and even one iPad title, but no PC titles. That's a bit weird because I did play a bunch of PC games this year, but none of them really hit me. Better luck next year, Personal Computer!
#10 - Realm Grinder (iOS)
I find it a bit weird to give a GOTY award to an idle game on iPad, but I've 'played' this game for months and I'm still unlocking new stuff. I really enjoy idle game, and this one got everything I want; Mainly new mechanics that you unlock over a long period of time, builds and optimization, some neat in-app purchases that are one-shot done deals that boost your production permanently, and enough complexity to be interesting after such a long time (I'm really looking forward to getting Ascension 2 in 2018!) I just wish it was better optimized on my old iPad.
#9 - Persona 5 (PS4)
I'm not a huge Persona guy, although I went through most of the Shin Megami Tensei games. There always was something about Persona that paralyzed me and kept me from playing these games; The decision-making aspect that carried on day after day where you constantly need to pick what you're doing, which people you interact with and what attributes you decide to increase. I've been playing Persona 3 Portable and I'm about 2/3rd of the way through and I really enjoy it, Persona games can be great.
Persona 5, however, is style over substance. It is extremely polished and most of it's design is simply fantastic. The UI, music and other gameplay systems have been refined from P3 and P4 dramatically. However, the story left a bland taste in my mouth, the main cast of characters were really uninteresting and while the Palaces were cool and well-designed, the big sprawling random dungeon was really boring. I also cringed at the numerous 'gay panic' moments Atlus chose good to add in this one. Persona 5 is a great RPG, but I feel like P3P made with such level of production values would've been greater.
#8 - Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age (PS4)
Technically a remaster of an old game, FFXII:TZA is the first time I've played the International Edition of FFXII where you have character classes and a few other changes made to the game's systems. I just devoured this one and did everything there was to be done. I'll probably remember that five hours long boss fight forever! There's so much content in that game, the gambit system still feels fresh and while you might get overpowered and defeat the finale enemies really easily with Quickenings, the optional bosses still are an interesting challenge.
#7 - Metroid: Samus Returns (3DS)
This is a great return for the Metroid franchise even if there were justifiable fears about how Mercurystream would handle this game. I didn't play the original Metroid 2 much because the sound design - and the Metroid design - was terrifying to me when I was a little boy, so much of the game was a secret to me. With the addition of special abilities that allowed players to scan for hidden collectibles and power themselves up and with the addition of the melee counter to protect from dashing enemies, the game felt like a new idea from this year basking in the glory of previous 2D Metroid games.
#6 - Nier: Automata (PS4)
It took me a while to get into Nier, I had difficulties with the game's systems for a while - I wasn't really good at the fighting and died during a really early boss fight before you could save and had to restart the whole game over - and it's weird game all around, but it goes for certain storytelling beats that are really interesting, and you can tune the game to make it easier for yourself if the gameplay isn't your thing. After a while you just get caught in the story and all its characters and twists and turns. The ending was great too.
#5 - The Legend Of Zelda : Breath Of The Wild (Switch)
I've been on and off zelda games for a while and BoTW is a fantastic entry in this timeless franchise of classics. While you'll find in it everything that most zelda games have - swords and shields and bombs and rupees and great fairies - the open world format and the amount of content to be found changes the game significantly. Running around, completing trials in shrines, cooking food and upgrading weapons was really fun and while the dungeons weren't plentiful, they were focused on what mechanics they wanted you to use. With it's open-ended physics and almost infinite number of ways to accomplish tasks, you could play BoTW like you wanted to, and that's why it's one of the few Zelda games I've finished.
#4 - Danganronpa V3 (Vita)
I had a good time with the first two Danganronpa games and I really wanted to see where the story went from there and... It sure went. The gameplay of V3 was a bit improved over previous titles - the minigames in the trial sections weren't that terrible - and the optional content was interesting. The cast of characters had a few stinkers and I feel like the game only gets real good at around the 2/3rds, but then the direction it goes makes it completely one of the best 10 games of this year.
#3 - Tales of Berseria (PS4)
I'm a big fan of Tales games and Berseria was really, really good. I liked the tonal shift they used on the main cast of characters, making them more villains than heroes while still having them carry motivations making them well-rounded instead of being one-dimensional. I feel like the gameplay systems improved on previous Tales games where you had to fuse characters together or use really complicated crafting systems and it's just a blast in multiplayer, like always.
#2 - Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle (Switch)
I always was on-board with a potential Mario role playing spinoff featuring Ubisoft's Rabbids (since it meant that there was going to be a new Mario RPG) and while M+RKB is more of a strategy RPG akin to XCOM and Fire Emblem, it's one of the best I've played. Combining simple (yet complex) mechanics, a ton of content to go through - complete with secret missions, unlockable gear and a nice level of customization for your team in a package chock-full of reverence to the Mario universe and some good humor as well, I just went through the game without stopping until I had done everything.
#1 - Super Mario Odyssey (Switch)
This is my favorite game this year. It's so much full of fun and joy I could talk about every little detail that makes it great. On paper, it's a pretty formulaic Mario 3D Platformer. You go through various worlds and collect Moons in order to unlock the following worlds, you fight bosses that you need to hit three times, and then you save the day. What this description doesn't properly let through is that the game is full of things to do and every little challenge is so unique and properly crafted that you can't help but wander around, trying to find every little secret you can. Taking control of other characters by throwing your hat on them was a great addition to the Mario repertoire and even if I put a ton of hours into the game, I'm not done with the post-credit content.
Not to spoil anything, but the world you go to after the credits is probably my best gaming moment or sequence for this year, it's really good. The 8-bit segments are a nice throwback and the game makes reference to a bunch of things from Mario's past. It plays really well and with the cap-throwing you have a bunch of new ways to traverse levels and discover more stuff. A challenging game that doesn't feel too tough, a celebration of joy in gaming and an extremely polished product, that's what Super Mario Odyssey is and that's why it's my Game Of The Year 2017.