As we gear up for a brand new year, the staff that comprise the gaming arm here at We Got This Covered thought it would be a good time to reflect upon their most memorable gaming experiences from 2017. And oh, what a year it’s been, right? There’s been so many great titles over the past 12 months that it’s been super tough just keeping up with them all. Long story short: our wallets hated 2017.
So, we’ve given the gaming staff here the chance to choose three of their personal favourite picks from the year. It’s worth noting, however, that we’ve tried not to double up on our choices, which ultimately led to a handful of writers battling to the death over The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild as one of their picks (Jon won, because he’s just so goddamn charming). It’s safe to say that the results have been interesting, with an eclectic selection of genres, along with a nice balance between indie and triple-A titles alike.
Before we get started though, we’d like to wish all our readers a happy new year. Here’s hoping 2018’ll be a good ‘un for one and all!
With all that soppy stuff out of the way, come join us as we dive in and discover what WGTC’s favourite gaming experiences were from 2017. Drum roll, please…
Todd Rigney — Staff Writer
What Remains of Edith Finch
Although developer Giant Sparrow’s moody adventure game initially feels unnerving and unsettling, it soon becomes so much more than yet another narrative-driven “explore the creepy empty house” experience. The emotional twists and turns of the Finch family’s fate, which unfold in vignettes that often feel like standalone short stories, are both brutal and depressing. However, it’s the game’s final act that really drives the dagger into your heart and almost demands you play it a second time to see the hints and foreshadowing you might have missed.
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus
A lot can be said about the thematic elements found in Wolfenstein II and the current political climate in the United States. However, once you strip all that away, you’ll discover one of the fastest, most viscerally satisfying first-person shooters of the year. Taking down hordes of gun-toting footsoldiers while B.J. Blazkowicz laments the death of his beloved comrade feels weirdly empowering and oh-so-satisfying. And once you start bringing the fight to the streets of the U.S., our hero’s quest to liberate the States takes on an emotional weight rarely seen in the genre. For me, it’s one of the biggest surprises of 2017.
I initially slept on NieR: Automata because I didn’t play the first game in the series. However, after reading countless positive reviews, I decided to take a chance — and I’m glad I did. As much as I adore the gameplay, NieR‘s presentation and narrative kept me coming back for more. Currently, I’ve played the game all the way through twice, and I totally plan to take as many spins through this enchanting world as it takes to get the complete experience. There are so many magical moments contained in this wholly unique title that I have a difficult time pinpointing my favorite, which speaks volumes about Automata‘s hold on me.
Dylan Chaundy — Staff Writer
Resident Evil 7
Who would’ve thought that Capcom would bounce back from the disastrous Resident Evil 6 with such aplomb? Not only did the developer boldly switch to a first-person perspective – a new beginning for the mainline franchise – but it also led the charge as one of the first “full-fat” triple-A experiences in the newly burgeoning VR medium. This is a tremendously crafted horror game that sticks closely to its series’ roots, while fearlessly striking out into fresh, uncharted territory. VR or not, this is a terrifying adventure that earns two mangled, bloody thumbs up from us.
Darkest Dungeon: The Crimson Court
Since picking up the main game in early 2016, I’ve been a slave to Darkest Dungeon’s brutal and unforgiving dungeon-crawler gameplay (it was my personal GOTY from 2016). This year’s expansion, The Crimson Court, has seen me spiral out of control yet again, losing in excess of a hundred or so hours to its blood-sucking, vampire-themed DLC. New dungeons, enemies, bosses and mechanics await you… if you so dare. Careful, though. Once Red Hook’s masterpiece has feasted on your soul, and its gruelling plethora of intricate systems begin to course through your veins, it’s impossible to resist its wondrous allure. This is undoubtedly one of the finest, most memorable gameplay experiences I’ve had all year.
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle
I still can’t quite believe that Ubisoft nailed the landing for Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle. On paper, it sounded like a clumsy camel made by committee — I mean, who actually likes those blasted rabbids? — but thankfully, the clever minds over at Ubisoft and Nintendo made it work, and made it work surprisingly well. A devilishly addictive concoction of XCOM’s tactical turn-based combat, intermixed with Mario’s heart-warming charm and humour was enough to earn it a top-notch review from yours truly. This is without doubt one of this year’s biggest surprises, and is an immensely satisfying “rabbid” hole that is a pleasure to delve into.
Gabs Tanner — Staff Writer
Persona 5 was probably always going to be my GOTY thanks to my love of the series, and JRPGs in general. It’s so cool; from the characters and story, to the music and menus, everything oozes style. The hundred or so hours needed to finish the game practically whizzed by thanks to how engaging the world and gameplay is too. Level grinding, gathering new Personas to fight with, trying to convince the girls to go out with me, or exploring the world. Next year will probably start with going for the New Game+ because I simply need to play more.
It may seem like an odd GOTY entry, but Miitopia honestly made me giggle more than any other game this year. With wonderfully relaxed gameplay and silly humour, the only times I stopped playing was to take pictures to show my friends. Being able to design faces for the characters never got old, like turning Prince of all Saiyans, Vegeta, into a grumpy Genie. Miitopia was just the break I needed to take a step back from life and have some casual fun.
Pokémon Ultra Sun/Ultra Moon
Despite many positive changes, last year’s Pokémon Sun and Moon left me disappointed. I found the variety lacking, and went round the bend from all those Yungoos and Rattata. Ultra Sun and Moon has really livened up the experience, though. More Pokémon have been added to areas, and extras in the gameplay kept me intrigued (Mantine surfing is my jam). Okay, so it’s fundamentally the same game, but if the originals left you dissatisfied, the urge to ‘catch them all’ may return with Ultra Sun and Moon.
Jon Hueber — Staff Writer
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
The Switch launched in March with a small handful of games, highlighted by The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Players took Link on an epic journey as he gained the strength and skills needed to finally end the evil of Calamity Ganon, an evil that had plagued Hyrule over the past 100 years. The story unfolded in a unique way, as the pieces of the past were collected and assembled, telling a story of sacrifice and loss, and rebirth and redemption. An incredible menagerie of supporting characters, and so many temples to seek out and solve all helped to make Breath of the Wild a game that players could lose themselves in for months. The art direction and sweeping score also helped elevate the experience. The first truly open-world, sandbox Zelda game overhauled the entire franchise, and created not only the best Legend of Zelda titles to date, but also the best game of 2017.
Assassin’s Creed Origins
Ubisoft gave the Assassin’s Creed franchise a year off, and the break was worth it. Assassin’s Creed Origins drags the series back to its very roots, and with Ubisoft Montreal, the studio behind the phenomenal Black Flag, at the helm, the entire franchise is resurrected and retakes its place as one of gaming’s best, most influential titles. With an interesting protagonist in Bayek, and the slow, careful unveiling of the events that led to the creation of the Brotherhood of Assassins, Origins creates an amazing gameplay experience by setting the story in ancient Egypt. The use of animal-based gods, and tombs, and iconic locations — like the Sphinx and the Great Pyramids — all work to forge not only a memorable Assassin’s Creed game, but one of the best outings in the franchise.
Xenoblade Chronicles 2
The Nintendo Switch did a remarkable job establishing itself as a force in the nine months of its existence, and that first year is punctuated by Xenoblade Chronicles 2. MonolithSoft took the franchise in a unique direction, and created one of the best JRPGs of 2017. The game includes Drivers and Blades, epic worlds set on the backs of huge beasts called Titans, and some of the best graphics of any game on the Switch. Add to that over 100 hours of a epic story, and the constant drive to unlock new, rare, and powerful Blades keeps gamers coming back for more, more, more. Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is one of the best releases of 2017. Enough said.
Charles Blades — Staff Writer
No game has captured more attention this year than an early access title on Steam. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds took the industry by storm, not by displaying the polish or seasoned development experience that came with dozens of other AAA games this year, but instead by putting forth and executing on a new idea that captured gamers for hours on end. The tense nervousness that comes with every descent onto PUBG’s island and the absolute joy that comes with winning your first chicken dinner is a feeling that hasn’t been matched in years and one that perfectly encapsulates what PUBG has to offer.
Horizon Zero Dawn
Coming off of more than a decade of the Killzone series, Guerrilla Game’s track record in the industry was firmly in the average first person shooter territory. The idea of them putting together one of the most beautiful and expansive open-worlds with terrific combat, an interesting story and one of the best new characters of the generation was not something a lot of people would’ve put money on. However, that’s exactly was they were able to put together with Horizon: Zero Dawn this year, and the PlayStation was all the better for it.
Night in the Woods
An adventure game led by a cartoon cat is a surefire way to get the internet to take a look at your project. Adding depth to a lovable group of personified cartoon animals by exploring things like mental illness, sexuality, family issues and the overall bleakness of growing up in a lost midwestern town, is a perfect way to get acclaim. Night in the Woods, a game that was kickstarted way back in 2013, is the perfect experience this year for any late-teens, early-twenties midwestern kid who is just trying to figure life out.
David Morgan — Staff Writer
If Cuphead had missed the 2017 window I have full confidence Hollow Knight would be the beautiful hand-drawn game everyone would’ve been raving about this year. The controls and mechanics are spot-on, the map is one of the biggest I’ve seen in a 2D game (and most fun to explore), and the worldbuilding makes the whole thing feel like a perfectly self-contained universe. It’s like A Bug’s Life meets Castlevania. If you’re a fan of Metroidvanias, Hollow Knight is easily one of the best ever made. Period.
Nostalgia is a powerful thing. That’s why, as someone who has never played a classic Sonic the Hedgehog game in its entirety (or even majority), I’m here to tell you that Sonic Mania is a fantastic game without it. It’s so satisfying to pick up, to see and hear again and again, that it’s easily one of my most revisited titles this year. Top-notch level design makes it easier than ever to zip through levels and not see them all. I’m still finding nooks and crannies I missed, which is why Sonic Mania will be in my rotation for the foreseeable future.
This year Housemarque tragically announced a departure from the arcade twin stick shooters they are so well known for. If you didn’t buy Nex Machina, I’m holding you directly accountable for this news. It’s one of the most stylish, satisfying, crazy (not with a k, but almost) games to release this year, and reminded me why gameplay will always be king. There’s no fluff, no story, just arcade shooter action. This synth-pounding, voxel-spraying title should’ve been a must own for almost everyone, which is why it’s so much sadder that we won’t see another like it from the studio.
Eric Hall — Staff Writer
South Park: The Fractured But Whole
The highest praise that I can give for South Park: The Fractured But Whole is that it managed to sink its hooks in me in spite of my growing disinterest in the series it is based upon. Funny, and even touching in parts, sure, but you don’t need to be a fan of Trey and Matt’s show to enjoy playing Ubisoft’s RPG. That’s because underneath all the poop jokes and curse words is an RPG that is simple enough to jump right into, but deep enough to sustain entertainment. And in a genre that where titles frequently take several days of playtime to complete, there’s something nice about a story that can be wrapped up in less than 20 hours. So, if you’ve been burned by recent RPGs, may I suggest taking a trip down to South Park to meet some friends of mine?
After years of hype, even I’m surprised by how great Cuphead turned out. A boss rush, run and gunner from a studio with no other big projects to speak of? That could have been a recipe for disaster. However, Studio MDHR’s loving throwback delighted my senses while bruising my ego. The Fleischer Studios inspired visuals deservedly received a lot of praise, but the game is more than just a pretty face. Cuphead’s brutal, blistering gameplay is a perfect representation of the highs the genre can reach. The game rewards patience, and the feeling of success that can be achieved by finally conquering the Devil was unmatched by anything else this year. Always challenging, but never frustrating, Cuphead has staked its claim as one of the reasons to own an Xbox One.
We are in a golden age of storytelling in videogames. Titles such as Hellblade, Wolfenstein II and What Remains of Edith Finch delivered remarkable, gripping tales. As excellent as those titles were, though, no story stuck with me quite as much as Fulbright’s Tacoma did. Utilizing a unique mechanic that lets you get a new angle on a particular scene, the title successfully manages to get you invested in people that you don’t even know. The crew of the titular space ship you are sent to investigate don’t even appear outside of previously recorded footage, yet during these miniature glances you are truly able to understand who each one was. It can be hard enough to develop bonds with fictional characters, let alone ones you don’t even meet. Yet the studio was able to deliver an emotionally resonant tale of persistence and survival that is unlike anything else I have experience.
Shaan Joshi — Gaming Editor
Super Mario Odyssey
Like most people, I was originally skeptical of Super Mario Odyssey and its weird, anthropomorphic hat with a penchant for possessing Mario’s friends and foes alike. Thirty-something-odd hours later, and I can’t even begin to imagine what a new Mario game would be like without Cappy in tow. Unsurprisingly, Nintendo has knocked it out of the park once again, delivering platforming perfection to what I used to call my “dedicated Breath of the Wild machine”.
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
Aside from its numerous technical achievements (have you seen how good this game looks?) and its implementation of binaural audio, I have to give credit to developer Ninja Theory for tackling subject matter that is usually reserved for other media: mental illness. It’s by no means perfect (and really, is any game truly perfect?), but it’s a title that everyone should at least try. A real “game for change.”
I’m a big fan of puzzle games, but some fall short by providing players with challenges that center around understanding cheap gimmicks, or simply brute forcing their way to success through trial and error. Linelight, on the other hand, does an excellent job of slowly drip-feeding players with mechanics that they must fully master in order to continue. Throw in a stellar soundtrack and vibrant yet minimalistic visuals, and you have one of the better indie games of the year.
Edward Love — Staff Writer
Since Dark Souls emerged in 2011 offering Metroidvania gameplay in a fully realized 3D world, developers have been scrambling to distil and emulate the magic elixir. That’s where Nioh comes in. Years in the making, Team Ninja’s hack ‘n slash RPG has the best of Souls wrapped up in an all new package. It’s challenging and at times infuriating, but it remains an exhilirating experience from start to finish. Simply unmissable.
I can’t help but feel The Surge got an unduly bad wrap this year. Yes, it was created by copy and paste merchants Deck13, but in many ways it’s a clever play on the risk-reward formula perfected by the Souls series, replete with a world that folds back on itself. The Surge cleverly lets you upgrade your gear by slaying enemies; and not just slaying them, but dismembering the exact body part you need. Critics dismissed it as B-movie fare, but I think The Surge has replay value in spades, and offered up some of my fondest memories of 2017.
Prey might not be perfect, but it’s never forgettable. An RPG in the classic mould of System Shock, it leaves you aboard a giant space station to sift through the wreckage. The world design is inspired; art deco touches intermingle with science fiction trappings and Arkane’s previous work on the Dishonored series is clear to see: areas are littered with shortcuts and vertical vantage points out of sight. I reviewed the title upon release earlier this year and decried its bugs and lack of polish, but six months on it stands tall as a real mood piece. The best games bring a real personality to the table, and Prey does just that.
Jordan Hurst — Staff Writer
Divinity: Original Sin II
I like my GOTY contenders to be something unique and special, so Divinity: Original Sin II being here despite being a fairly straightforward CRPG is very indicative of its quality. A simple feature list doesn’t do it justice; although the conflux of tabletop systems and modding that is Game Master mode must be mentioned. Its strengths are usually less quantifiable: memorable character encounters, a reworked armour system that encourages out-of-the-box tactics, and level and narrative design that knows when to get to the point and when to take its time all contribute to an excellent adventure.
Doki Doki Literature Club!
Doki Doki Literature Club! is free, so ideally, don’t let anyone tell you anything else about it, and go play it. It’s one of those games. It starts with a content warning, and while that seems like a practical necessity, it’s actually vital to the experience. It immediately puts the player off-balance, and that growing unease carries their engagement until “the good parts.” But DDLC’s true brilliance is that once it gets where you think it’s going, it keeps going. Not deeper, per se, but more like…sideways.
Crypt of the NecroDancer: AMPLIFIED
Naming a 2015 game’s expansion DLC as your current favourite game of 2017 seems silly, but we’re talking about a roguelike where everything moves and attacks by dancing, so silliness seems rather appropriate. Crypt of the NecroDancer: AMPLIFIED is basically everything an expansion should be; it provides more originality in its equipment, enemies, and mechanics than most full releases, and it integrates perfectly into the surprisingly deep, mesmerizing gameplay of its base title. The inevitable expansion power creep is balanced by a variety of new, challenging modes, and the expanded soundtrack is more amazing than ever.