2017 will be remembered as one of the best years in gaming. Not only because of just how many great games releases but for the sheer variety of great games on display. While last year was definitely defined by the shooter, no one genre stood clearly above the rest in 2017. 2017 will be in the debate for some time, especially since some games released that many would consider close to the best of all time for their respective genres.
Here’s the list of nominees (and here’s the list of nominees for all categories):
- Cuphead (Our Review)
- Divinity: Original Sin II (Our Review)
- Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice (Our Review)
- Horizon Zero Dawn (Our Review)
- NieR: Automata (Our Review)
- Night in the Woods (Our Review)
- Persona 5 (Our Review)
- Resident Evil 7: biohazard (Our Review)
- Super Mario Odyssey (Our Review)
- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Our Review)
To kick it off, here’s what you, the readers, chose as as the winner of the Game of the Year Award for the best game of the year, whose sum of its parts are greater than any other. Our top five follows after.
Readers’ Choice – NieR: Automata
NieR: Automata was one of the more surprising releases in 2017, both in terms of the game existing at all and just how good it was. The original NieR is now considered a cult classic but was released to not-so-great reviews and didn’t garner a lot of sales. So, to those that found the game over time, the announcement of NieR: Automata was a nice surprise. The fact that it turned out to be a great game met with awesome sales and superb reviews was just a bonus. Automata‘s fantastic story, frantic gameplay, interesting boss battles, and incredible soundtrack has easily made it one of 2017’s best games.
Fifth Place – Cuphead
By Alex Santa Maria
I love pixel art. I love it as much as I love anything in video games. So know what it means when I impart how amazing Cuphead looks. That hand-drawn style perfectly captures its source material in a way that almost seems impossible. For that alone, Cuphead deserves recognition, as these are the types of graphics that can draws eyes from outside the sphere of gaming and make them take notice. While the graphics are impressive, it’s not a game based on graphics alone.
Cuphead is a “Nintendo hard” game, but it’s not one that is bound by the rules of the NES. It is modern in construction while retaining a difficulty curve that is engaging rather than frustrating. It borrows from the best of side scrolling shooters while adding in its own mechanics and keeping everything together in a seamless experience. If you are up for mastering mechanics and staying resilient, Cuphead will reward you with a string of epic clashes that are well worth sticking around for.
Fourth Place – Super Mario Odyssey
By Andrew Otton
I gave Super Mario Odyssey one of the few 10/10 review scores we’ve given here at TechRaptor. I still firmly believe that the score is 100% deserved. Odyssey is just Mario in its purest fun. It’s Mario perfected.
Moving around in Odyssey is intuitive, fluid, and, most importantly, fun. The locales and jumps may change, but moving Mario around always remained consistently satisfying. Whether it is rolling down a red-sand dune or jumping, throwing Cappy, jumping off Cappy for a boos to do it all again, everything just felt right. Mario is responsive and offered a wide range of moves to reach many lofty heights and hidden corners that, with practice, should be achievable by all.
Super Mario Odyssey has all the charm in the world, too, with the inhabitants of the different Kingdoms you visit full of character, the fantastic vistas to take in, and a soundtrack that’s a joy to listen to. None of that matters if the gameplay isn’t that great, and, thankfully, Odyssey is pure fun. There’s something for everyone from the newest gamers to the veteran platformers and is just chock-full of things to do. Not just things to do to fill in time, but genuinely fun experiences worth seeking out.
No game released in 2017 better exemplified what it means to have fun and bring joy to people than Super Mario Odyssey.
Third Place – Horizon Zero Dawn
By Matthew Arrojas
On of the most anticipated games of 2017 going into the year, Horizon Zero Dawn could have easily fallen victim to the Sony hype-machine. Thankfully, however, it did not. Every aspect of Horizon lived up to the hype, from the combat, to the open world, to the story. And in many cases, Horizon even managed to surpass many expectations.
In terms of combat, while Horizon Zero Dawn doesn’t reinvent the wheel with new mechanics, it introduces plenty of new ideas to make it feel different from any other third-person action game. Each enemy having different weaknesses helps create the feeling that each encounter is special and different. It also makes you feel like that much more of a badass when you disarm a robo-dino to use its own tech against it.
As for Horizon‘s open world, I still find it hard to comprehend how Guerilla Games was able to fit so many diverse environments seamlessly into their game. In just one open world you get a mountainous region, a desert, and a dense jungle, each with their own sub-environments to explore. I had to stop about a dozen times each play session just to snap pictures in photo mode to show off the environments to my roommates, much to their annoyance.
Lastly, Horizon Zero Dawn puts the cherry on top by also knocking the game’s narrative out of the park. Personally, while I loved the game’s combat and open world, it was the story that kept me steaming through the game all the way to the end. The writing satisfyingly answers all the obvious questions—like where did the robot dinosaurs come from—and also introduces some unexpected modern storylines to help balance out all the narrative information about the past events of this world.
It is Horizon‘s solid interweaving of gameplay, setting, and story that earns it our number three spot for game of the year.
Second Place – Persona 5
By Don Parsons
Persona 5 is a game that manages to match its style with the substance. It brings in the meatiest gameplay of the Persona spinoff series, taking the best aspects of what has come before and building on them to create a vibrant and rich gameplay tapestry of interacting mechanics that do a wonderful job of also connecting to the narrative overall.
That narrative is also strong, with a good theme and managing to have it run through the whole game. While there are quibbles to make about certain characters or the ending, overall it manages to deliver a strong tale that makes you think about the world around you, which is what any work of art that wants to challenge a person should strive to do.
It’s fun, it sounds great, it looks great, it has a surprising depth of mechanics that it continually builds on, and it’s thought-provoking.
What more could we want?
Well, apparently a breath of fresh air!
Winner – The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
By Robert Grosso
It is arguable that 2017 was among the best years in a long time for the gaming community. A massive string of hits became the hallmark of the past twelve months, and many a title has been bestowed heaps of praise by the public. Each title contributes something to the table, from endearing labors of love to big-budgeted spectacles of sight and sound, and through it all, the best games of this year have a common denominator between them: they’re simply just fun to play. Yet if there was one game that truly encapsulates 2017, that should stand at the top of the mountain looking down upon the greatness of this year, it is Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.
It was a long time coming, it seems, for Nintendo. The failures of the Wii U and the struggling perception and recognition by the public has made cynics out of the gaming sphere. Yet, Nintendo once again proves why they are still one of the best at what they do with Breath of the Wild. It was more than just a Zelda game; it was a whole new experience never seen before, one that was an important benchmark going forward not only for the Zelda series but for the gaming world overall.
Breath of the Wild is, frankly, the biggest leap in terms of gameplay, design, and presentation seen in decades. The open world is boundless and free-flowing, it comes alive with random moments of discovery and exploration of an untamed wilderness. It feels real; a world that is lived in and believable, with dynamic environments and open-ended structure that never holds your hand—it just simply guides you to a direction that you ultimately take for yourself.
What’s more, Breath of the Wild honors its lineage not by paying homage to its tropes but by building upon them in a variety of ways. The adventure-style of Link is retained in a fully open format, the 120 Sheikh Shrines are miniature puzzle adventures to conquer, the game’s bosses and baddies are challenges to endure. And most of all, the hidden heart of Breath of the Wild, the mythical spark that makes the adventures of Link ultimately timeless, was retained and expanded upon through the seamless blend of controls and functionality rarely seen in a video game.
Nintendo has made more than an excellent Zelda game here. It made an excellent video game that will serve as a blueprint to follow for years to come. The transformations found in the open-world design of Breath of the Wild, the bite-sized challenges in an ever-mobile world, the perfect combination of controls and features and hidden details that both honors its past while looking towards the future—Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a game that will become timeless. A benchmark that highlights the importance of the overall package of the experience presented.
Millions of gaming fans will look back on 2017 as one of the best years for video games, but they will also look back at Breath of the Wild and see it as one of the best games ever made.
What did we miss? What did we get wrong? What was your game of the year?