Wednesday, December 27, 2017

LiK's Top 17 Favorite Games of 2017

Boom, my 17 favorite games this year in no particular order. Remember that this list can include games that came out before 2017. No spoilers for anything in my impressions as usual.

Persona 5 (Completed/Platinum) PS4 - One of my most anticipated RPGs and it didn't disappoint. I was a huge fan of Persona 4 Golden and I was super excited to finally play this. The menu, music and character designs were just oozing with style. The story was much darker than P4G but it also gave us a pretty interesting story with some truly despicable villains. The political climate of this game also mirrored what I felt was happening in our world which made it hit home quite a bit. I enjoyed all the new characters and Confidants. Most had pretty relatable problems which made me care about them. It was fun to see how each relationship resolved itself by the end. I loved pretty much everyone's character designs and the world just looks cool. The music was super excellent with the best boss battle tracks in the series by far. I picked up the OST and love all the various fan remixes out there. Such a good soundtrack. The combat was improved and more engaging than the previous games. I also loved that all the main story dungeons were not randomized or generic. They each had their own style and feel which was nice.

My only gripe with this game was that it's a little too long for its own good. Every dungeon could've been 20% shorter and that would've been perfect. It felt like they padded out the game for too long. I literally felt exhausted after a few of the later dungeons because they felt like they would never end.  But it was still quite an amazing journey with some big twists and moments. This entry also has my favorite MC in the series so far. He's much more developed and badass than the previous ones. Def a worthy sequel in the Persona franchise. Def check it out.

Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE (Completed) Wii U - What a wonderful experience. While the overall story and plot was fairly simple, the way it was presented was magical. Yup, I'm definitely using that word. The characters were fun and charming and the world was vibrant and colorful. I really liked how it delved into Japan's entertainment industry as a whole. While it's an idealized world and not realistic at all, it was still enjoyable to go through. The combat was ridiculously fun and challenging and the music was fantastic. The pop music in this game was truly stellar. Shame only the vocal tracks were released on CD because the game's battle tracks were also fantastic. I enjoyed how the story ended. It was super satisfying.

My major gripe with this game was the censorship and changes that were made to the international versions. It's really really dumb. You can check my review for some examples and a more detailed rant. I highly recommend that if you own a Wii U, that you should pick this up. I'm hoping Nintendo considers rereleasing an uncensored enhanced port for the Switch in the future. This is an underrated gem.

Steins;Gate 0 (Completed/Platinum) Vita - Definitely a great follow-up to the original. If you played the original, you must play this game. It clears up some dangling plotlines from the original while maintaining it's own story. Do NOT play this first if you are new to the series. You won't know what the hell is going on and it also spoils the original in many ways. While the story and ending was no way as impactful and strong as the original, it still had plenty of cool moments and twists. I was pretty impressed with some scenes and how well they were written. The biggest surprise to me was the introduction of Maho. She's definitely one of the best new characters this year and maybe my favorite character in the franchise. I absolutely adored her and her journey. I would love a spin-off or sequel involving her, no question.

One minor gripe I had with this entry was the change in artstyle for the sprites. They're less stylized like the original and looked more generic anime. While it's not a huge deal within the game itself, they sometimes included sprites from the original in some scenes for some reason and it was incredibly jarring. I wrote a more rambling review so if you want that, feel free to check it out.

Danganronpa V3 (Completed) Vita - HOLY SHIT. This might be the craziest game in the series. It's another cast of quirky and eccentric characters mixed in with a lot murder and mayhem. I really liked the new cast and how they bonded. The English dub and localization were pretty fantastic which enhanced the experienced. I'm not even kidding. The English dub might be one of the best in the series with some returning VAs from previous entries returning as new characters. They made a lot of the trials very emotional and full of tension and even had some laugh out loud moments all from their performances. It also had a ton of insane insults and vulgar language that made me super uncomfortable in all the right ways. I bet the localizers had a lot of fun coming up with them. They were pretty hilarious and savage. The game had some pretty crazy twists that will melt your brains. DR vets will def be in for an emotional rollercoaster ride. The music was fantastic as usual with some really good new original tracks and remixes.

My main gripe was I felt some murders/investigations weren't as interesting as they could've been and some motives were questionable. But all the class trials were pretty well done and had a good flow. The story and ending might end up being the most divisive among fans but it was a hell of a journey. It was very ballsy and unlike anything else I ever experienced. This entry also had the best collection of minigames in the series. They're much more fun and playable than the previous entries. I found myself spending hours just playing the unlocked bonus modes and I didn't find them painful. I do have to admit that this entry also has some of the toughest trophies to collect as well. It's so grindy that it gave me despair.

Horizon: Zero Dawn (Completed/Platinum) PS4 - What a nice change from the creators of the Killzone series. Aloy is a fantastic character and her interactions with the NPCs in the world was truly refreshing. I really liked some of the NPCs as well. They had some pretty funny interactions with Aloy and with each other. The dialogue was pretty amusing in spots with lots of dry humor. The controls were super tight. The combat was tons of fun and very engaging. The robotic beasts were fun to fight against although I have to admit I didn't like fighting the humans at all. Their AI was very one note compared to the beasts. The world was quite intriguing and there were some pretty good reveals. I really enjoyed exploring it and discovering what the current world is like. While the sidequests weren't quite as deep as some other games like Witcher 3, they were fun and quick. This game is truly gorgeous with a lot of amazing animations and lighting. I was def impressed with the parts of the world especially during certain times of the day.  But even though the game is incredibly gorgeous, I have to say the water effects were pretty horrible. They were flat and didn't even move when you swam in them. It was quite jarring since the rest of the game was so detailed and full of animated foliage. Hopefully, they can fix the water in their engine for the sequel. Anyway, it was a fantastic experience with a super satisfying ending.

Also, I completed The Frozen Wilds DLC and it's def worth playing. The new weapons, enemies and puzzles were fun. All the new characters I met were interesting and much more fleshed out than the NPCs in the base game. There's a lot more lore for both the new region and the past that is a must for fans of the base game if you were interested in that. The new improved conversation's dynamic camera, animations and faces made it much more cinematic. It's like watching a cutscene at times. Too bad this wasn't applied to the base game conversations when I checked. They looked pretty stiff in comparison. I hope other devs will check out what Guerrilla did here because if all RPG/open-world conversations looked like this, it would make everything better. Anyway, must play even if you finished the main game. There's a lot more to this world.

NieR: Automata (Completed) PS4 - Simply fantastic. The action was fast-paced and the combat was fun with super tight controls. The combination of being a character action game mixed with bullet hell shmup was pure heaven. The art direction and character designs were great. I was particularly enamored by 2B's design which was definitely quite sexy. Hell, the majority of the YoRHa soldiers were all pretty and not what I had expected in this world. Props to the character designer for making them look unique and interesting in a game like this. The enemies and world def had a distinct look. I was impressed with the size and scope of some areas. That was not something I expected from PlatinumGames since they usually make their levels very linear and small. The music was incredible and is definitely one of my favorite OSTs this year. Most of the tracks have vocals and they give each area and scene a very unique feel and enhance the emotional moments quite a bit. I also loved the remixes and alternate versions that pop up in certain circumstances. I picked up the OST after I beat the game.

This game made so many bold choices with its narrative and created quite an experience. The structure for the story is a bit unusual and is done very creatively especially in certain gameplay moments. I was constantly surprised and unprepared for certain moments and twists. The game had some humorous moments but the whole game overall had a very melancholy feeling. There were also some pretty dark gut-wrenching moments. It was definitely an emotional rollercoaster. I loved the English voice-acting. The performances were fantastic across the board. I was particularly impressed with the VA for 9S. His performance was quite impressive especially as the story progressed. The various machines also had really great voices. I especially liked the voices for all the Pods. There's something extremely chill about the way they sound and the way their voices were modulated. I could listen to them all day.

My main gripes with the game were the sidequests and a few glitches. Most of the sidequests were pretty bland fetch quests and weren't that fun to play. I skipped most of them but I may revisit them in the future for more context. I also had one major frustrating glitch that forced me to replay an entire area twice. Turns out I had to turn off the Network feature as a workaround in order to progress. I won't get into specifics but I wish that didn't happen. Anyway, it's not every day that you get a game that is not only an excellent action game but also has an excellent story. PLAY IT.

Uncharted: The Lost Legacy (Completed/Platinum) PS4 - What a fantastic follow-up to Uncharted 4. This might be my favorite game in the series. I loved the chemistry between Chloe and Nadine and the pacing was perfect. The optional quests were fun and I enjoyed all the puzzles. This is another gorgeous game this year with some insane textures and art. There were some truly awe-inspiring views and locations. I found myself just staring at certain environments and items in the world. Super detailed and well designed. The combat encounters were fun and didn't last too long compared to the previous entries. I enjoyed killing dudes with stealth as well. I thought there was a nice balance. I liked the villain although I felt his motivations were a bit unclear. I didn't find the pay off to his method of madness to be that interesting. But I enjoyed how menacing he was. Overall, this is a must play especially if you finished Uncharted 4. If someone told me this was originally DLC, I wouldn't have believed them. I didn't know I would want more Uncharted until I played this. Really loved it as a whole.

Super Mario Odyssey (Completed) Switch - Wow, this entry might be on par with Super Mario World for being my fave Mario game of all time. I haven’t loved a Mario game as much as World until now. This was so creative and charming. While Galaxy had its moments, I felt Odyssey had a much more loveable feel with its characters and worlds. The story was more down to earth (literally) and some very cute interactions between NPCs. The whole gimmick with Cappy possessing enemies and objects was really clever and fun. It created much more interesting use of Mario’s powers whenever he takes over someone or something. I do have to say that the worlds were far smaller than expected. It wasn’t the sprawling open world I thought it would be like BotW. But I have to say that this entry had the best boss battles in the entire long running franchise. They were fun, well designed and never frustrating. The art direction is great with different worlds having their own feel and look. I played the entire game docked (with Pro controller) and it looked amazing on a big screen TV. The soundtrack is also top tier with many memorable tracks including its excellent theme song.

The HD rumble was incredible and made use of every little thing that touched Mario including even grabbing coins. It was subtle at times and felt very good. More games need to take advantage of this function. As for the controls in general, I did find myself a bit frustrated with the way the camera moved and the slight delay with Mario’s movements at times. It made some of the optional courses quite frustrating. I’m also not a fan that some moves that can only be used with motion controls. Other than those minor complaints, I loved everything else. The climax and ending were amazing. There’s also tons of things to do after you complete the story so the amount of post-game content is worth checking out. It’s not pointless grindy fluff. There’s also a ton of references and Easter eggs to find for Mario fans. Definitely one of the best Mario games to date and a must play.

Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Completed) Switch - This was quite the departure from the past Zelda 3D games. The open world was fun to explore with lots of secrets and unexpected moments. The main story was a bit underwhelming but at least it added some interesting lore to the Zelda canon. The Shrine puzzles were pretty clever and fun to solve for the most part although the ones that involved motion controls were beyond awful. Please stop. I also didn't like the combat at all. It felt like Link was just waving a toy around like a kid. It made most combat encounters a chore and the weapons broke so easily didn't help. I hope they refine the combat mechanics in the next installment. I was impressed with the size and scope of the world. It was pretty large and vast. I loved exploring and finding new things like some unexpected locations and NPCs/enemies. I haven't felt such a level of discovery since Skyrim. I highly recommend playing this with the Pro Controller. Your hands will thank you for it.

I should probably mention that I absolutely hated the English dub. It sounded like a horrible Saturday morning cartoon with Zelda's voice being the worst. Thankfully, Nintendo decided to patch in the option to pick the other languages and it made it way better. I picked up the Expansion Pass right after I finished the story but I haven't actually put in a lot of time into the DLC content. I'll probably get into them after I catch up on more games. If you own a Switch, this is a must play.

Night in the Woods (Completed) PS4 - Picked this up strictly from everyone's recommendations and you guys were right. Oh man, the first thing I noticed right after I started the game were the visuals. The 2D art is super clean and colorful and everyone animates so smoothly. What really impressed me were the color choices and lighting in various scenes/locations. They took my breath away at times which I didn't expect in a game like this. If you like eye candy, be prepared to take plenty of screenshots because almost every scene could be framed or used as wallpaper. In addition to the great art, the music was equally fantastic. Really chill music and it also sounded so "pretty" and whimsical.

The writing is one of the best this year. The dialogue was super sharp and very witty at times. Some really funny moments. But the game also had a bunch of real talk which will make you think about your own life and situations. It doesn't really hold any punches and can get pretty dark. Story was interesting but the moment to moment with Mae and her friends and family were the true highlights. You'll meet a lot of great memorable characters. They felt so real and I ended up really caring for most of them. I'll def need to replay this game soon because I feel like I missed out on a lot of optional scenes. The game has a lot of branching dialogue and decisions on who you want to hang out on any given day. I really want to see those when I revisit it. Should be fun. Def check out this gem.

What Remains of Edith Finch (Completed/Platinum) PS4 - I went into this completely blind and it was quite a journey. I've always been a fan of narrative-based adventure games like these and this one is def one of the best. The writing and VO was excellent across the board. The music was pretty amazing and really accentuated the individual stories perfectly. The various moments you encounter were just filled with whimsy, emotion, tragedy and a bit of humor. I was pretty impressed with how they incorporated the gameplay with the story elements and how it created the stories you would listen to. Very imaginative. The controls were very intuitive and I enjoyed figuring it out as I progressed. I don't want to reveal too much else because it's an experience you should jump into completely fresh. It was a really interesting story and a very moving experience. I think almost anyone can relate to what's going on with these characters. Def worth checking out.

Cosmic Star Heroine (Completed/Platinum) PS4 - This was a really fantastic throwback to old RPGs from the SNES era. The sprites themselves literally look like they could've come from their original inspiration (Chrono Trigger) for this game. The story wasn't anything outstanding but I really liked the characters. It's a really diverse cast and if you went into it blind like me, you'll never know who would join you crew. I was constantly surprised by who ended up where. I really wish they all had their only main sidequests to flesh them out because what little we see of their dialogue with each other was really well written. The combat was really fun and unique. It's a nice change and felt new and different than what most other RPGs use. I never felt bored or frustrated by the combat. It was fun to mix up the various powers and abilities constantly. Ending was pretty satisfying as well and I'm hoping we get a sequel of some kind in the future. Overall, I really enjoyed it and I'm glad I backed it. Look for my name in the Spy Directory!

2064: Read Only Memories (Completed) PS4 - This was a pleasant surprise. I had heard of this game for a while but I decided to finally pick up the PS4 version when it was released. This was a nice throwback to older adventure games like Snatcher in terms of design and look. I really loved the characters and everyone's interactions. Turing was a really lovable character and I cared about he/she/it. The voice acting was truly exceptional and made me love everyone I met. I don't think I would've liked the game as much before they added voice overs to the original version on PC. The story was interesting and was def quite bold. The music was also pretty fantastic. One track reminded me of a track from Ace Attorney and that ain't a bad thing. The game has multiple paths and endings and I managed to get the best one on my own. I was replaying through the scumbag path to get the Platinum trophy but I ended up not finishing it that way. The best ending felt so satisfying that I didn't want to ruin that for myself so soon. Maybe I'll try again in the future. If you enjoy adventure games, this is def worth playing through.

Pyre (Completed) PS4 - I've been a fan of Super Giant Games since their first game so I had to pick this up as soon as it came out. This was a lot of fun and had plenty of good characters. The Rituals were very fast paced and fun. People compared it to playing something like NBA Jam and I could see it. The story itself was okay. I feel like there's a whole lot more out there that wasn't explored as much as I would've liked. But I did like how your choices and Ritual results would affect the ending. I really loved the lore and various party members you recruited. They were all very different and unique with a few standouts. Loved the dialogue for them as well. I found myself loving characters that I didn't expect when I first met them. It goes to show how you can't just judge someone from what they look like. The art is also gorgeous and one of the best looking games from SGG. Super colorful with very smooth animations. There were so many nice character designs. Music was also very good but I didn't find it quite as memorable as their previous games.

I did have a few gripes with the game. I did not like how the story would push you constantly forward without any time to openly explore. You would be forced into the next Ritual and must complete them before a deadline which took away the potential of learning more about the world and meeting more random characters and developing the said world. I was also confused why we didn't get NG+. Both Bastion and Transistor had excellent NG+ modes which enhanced the narratives and gave them replayability but Pyre lacked that. With the way this game's branching paths and upgrade system went, you only get one chance without the ability to revisit story beats and previous upgrades felt like an oversight. I'm hoping they somehow patch in NG+ in the future but I'm not holding my breath. So while this is my least favorite game from SGG, it was still a great experience and worth playing through.

Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus (Completed) PS4 - Whoa, what a fantastic follow-up to The New Order. It literally starts a few minutes after the first game ends. The story and characters were the true highlight. The writing and dialogue were super sharp and very witty. So many interactions between your crew were just laugh out loud hilarious. I loved all the optional scenes you would encounter from just exploring your base. But the game also had a lot of really dark emotional parts too. The way it presented racism, homophobia, antisemitism, domestic abuse etc is just pure and raw. The devs didn't pull any punches. I was also thinking that with the way America is now in real life, some of these scenes hit me much harder than before. It was pretty powerful stuff and I'm grateful the devs did it. This game also had one of the best scenes I've ever witnessed in a video game. If you played it, you know which scene I'm talking about. The ending was super satisfying and made me wonder what could be next for this franchise. While the gameplay and level designs were inferior to the first game and its DLC, I still had fun for the most part. This is definitely worth playing and like I said before, make sure to play the previous game first because it's one cohesive journey. BJ is now one of my all time favorite protagonists in video games.

BUT, one major gripe I had was the bad audio mix. For some reason, the surround was really inconsistent. The problem usually happens during firefights where sometimes the audio doesn't register or lack a punch. It got worse after I got a perk that would cause slow-mo to happen whenever enemies noticed me and it made it sound like I was in a fish tank. Got pretty bad when it was multiple enemies in a row. The CG cutscenes also sounded very muted and lacked surround of any kind. These issues were in the previous game as well but I noticed them a lot more in this one. I just had to mention this because it ruined some of the engagements and I hope the devs patch it in the future. Also, this game has one of the worst ending credits song I ever heard. Play something else during it. Anyway, well done. Fuck Nazis!

Destiny 2 (Completed/Platinum) PS4 - Ah yes, I really enjoyed the sequel quite a bit. You can read my review if you want more detailed thoughts. The game was much less of a grind than the first and it was much easier to max out my level. I enjoyed playing with some old Destiny buddies and it felt oddly nostalgic as a result. But I do wish the game changed it up more. It felt a lot like the first game and still had a lot of issues that were never expanded upon or improved. It feels like we won't see the jump we wanted until the next game and who knows when that will happen. I also checked out the Curse of the Osiris DLC and while the fairly short campaign was fun, it's not anything special. The additional gear and changes didn't really do anything new or interesting. It's just more Destiny 2 and that's about it. The other content is just more guns and gear but nothing of note. Also, make sure to play this game with HDR on if your TV supports it. It's gorgeous. I don't believe I'll be playing this as much as I did with D1 but I had a good time. It'll most likely be a game I will jump into for an hour or two every week just to shoot random stuff.

I do also want to rant about the Eververse microtransaction BS that's been going on with it. As of this writing, the devs have mentioned that they will try to address this issue next year so we'll see how it goes. I refuse to pay a single dime for the Silver for cosmetic stuff because this game doesn't have enough long term content for me to care about them. Hopefully it gets better next year.

Cuphead (In Progress) Xbox One - Yea, I admit that I haven't finished it. There's been too many games and it's been kind of shuttered to my backlog. I also have a bad habit of trying to play it when I'm tired or sleepy so my progress has been slow. But man, this might be one of the best looking games of the year. The animations look incredible and the entire presentation is just stunning. They did a fantastic job mimicking the 30's style of animation. Even the sound effects and music sound like those old cartoons. Controls are super tight and the levels and bosses are just plain devious. Def one of the toughest games to come out this year and also def worth checking out for the visuals alone.

Honorable Mention:

Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp (In Progress Forever) iOS - I never got into the mainline games but this got me to play for a good couple of weeks. I liked how chill it was and and how simple the mechanics were. It's like playing a clicker games at times. The furniture placement is light and the interactions were a bit muted. It's a charming game and looks great on my iPhone and iPad. I kind of fell off it because I got tired of the grind for materials to build more stuff. I'm hoping they add more substantial content in the future to bring me back in. I'm hoping the inevitable Switch version will finally make me fan.

Games that would've probably been in this list if I had time to play them this year:
Yakuza 0
Yakuza Kiwami
Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice
Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle
Life is Strange: Before the Storm
and whatever else I'm interested in...

They'll most likely show up next year. Thanks for reading!