We got a bunch of great games this year, and I played a lot of them. We even got a great new console. But you see, if last year was a list of games I loved playing with friends, this year’s list is about games I enjoyed playing all by myself.
1. Persona 5 (PS4)
It may not be a surprise, but Persona 5 is the game I enjoyed the most this year. I don’t think this game could’ve been made outside of Japan, to be honest — as it’s thoroughly infused with the country’s culture. Half of this game is a classic RPG with dungeon exploration and turn-based combat, and the other half is a social simulation game set in Japan, where you live the life of a high-schooler. I wrote about the game earlier on this site:
I'm not usually sad after finishing a game, but I was after completing this one. I might do a write-up on the game when I run through the game again. Which I definitely want to do, because I feel like I need more Persona in my life.
Persona 5 is a very well-done game. It starts somewhat slow and on-rails, but it loosens up after the first five to seven hours. A run through the story can take up to 100 hours. The game doesn’t get too repetitive thanks to the double life the protagonist leads: you’ve got dungeon exploration and turn-based battles that take place at night, and during the day you guide the protagonist through his social life. This is when the game becomes a kind of social simulation game. You have to have your character study, work a part-time job, find hobbies…
The story is not too bad either. There’s a fun and interesting cast, and the general feel of the game is amazing: the music gets stuck in your head, you feel a certain flow when going through dungeons and combat… the artwork and interface is so slick: it feels just right. I actually went through the game twice, and got the platinum trophy after many hours of play.
This is for a game you should probably put some time aside for, if you intend to play it. Because your life is going to be all about Persona for a while if you end up enjoying it. It’s very Japanese, but that’s also part of the enjoyment of the game.
2. Horizon: Zero Dawn (PS4)
Sony can be happy, because they now have a really great new heroine on their platform: Aloy. It’s great to have a franchise with a main character who’s female and not sexualised (as so often happens). Horizon: Zero Dawn is great science-fiction with a beautiful open world and great combat. It’s one of the best looking games this year, as well.
If you have a PlayStation 4, you kind of have to play this game. I’m not wasting more words on this game — just go get it, all right? You might not be into a game like Persona, due to the cultural differences and such, but I would find this easily one of the easiest games to recommend this year.
3. Divinity Original Sin 2 (PC)
While I have not finished Divinity: Original Sin 2, I can tell you that it is one of the best games of 2017. In fact, I’m currently going through the game with two of my friends — we’re playing the game co-operatively with the three of us. So far, we’ve had great fun. Playing Divinity Original Sin 2 is a bit of a teamwork exercise too, since you really need to communicate well if you want to succeed.
The way the combat and world-interaction is very flexible, and the world is so much fun to explore, I wish there were more in-depth games like Divinity: Original Sin 2. I hope that this game makes it to console so that console players can also enjoy this wonderful RPG.
Up until now, we’ve spent over fifty hours on the game and we have yet to do quite a lot of content before our journey throughout Rivellon is over. So while I’m not done with the game, I’d say that what I’ve played so far definitely warrants a recommendation; and my hours with the game so far have been some of the best this year in gaming.
I did not play all of the big whoppers this year. Overall, this year, I spent most of my time on a PS4 and on the 3DS. So, here’s my honourable mentions: games I enjoyed, but that fell a little bit short of being my in top 3 picks of the year. The first game on here is… a Fire Emblem game.
Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia (3DS)
My first honourable mention is a game that I played on the 3DS. It’s a game I was very excited for: Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia. This is a remake of the classic Fire Emblem Gaiden, which was a spin-off created after the first Fire Emblem game, and was only released in Japan.
This remake faithfully recreates the original game in the modern 3DS engine and as such, this Fire Emblem plays much the same as Awakening and Fates did. I have to say: as far as story and characters go, this one is great. I also really loved that this game is fully voiced.
Unfortunately, as far as the gameplay goes, I think this is the weakest Fire Emblem on the 3DS, mostly because of the ancient map design that was (faithfully — unfortunately) ported over from Fire Emblem Gaiden.
But the bar of the other 3DS games in terms of game mechanics is high, and I really enjoyed my time with the game.
Final Fantasy XV (PS4)
This one is a bit of a mixed bag. Some big Final Fantasy fans say you should avoid this one. Nonetheless, I did play through the game — after investing some time watching the movie (Final Fantasy: Kingsglaive) and the anime (Final Fantasy Brotherhood). After the tenth chapter or so, the game falls flat on its face — the pacing is ruined, and it isn’t until the ending of the game that the game starts working again.
It feels like a chunk of the game wasn’t able to get made — and we missed out on a bunch of story this way. I have not been able to play through the DLC yet, but I hear it alleviates some of the problems with the story. I’m stoked to play through the single player stories, because for all the flaws that this game has, it’s still kind of special. It’s my opinion that the friendship of the four main characters really holds the story together. (Oh, avoid the multiplayer expansion. It’s got massive loading times and it just isn’t much fun, to be honest.)
This year’s Prey is totally unrelated to the 2006 game with the same name. Prey (often referred to as ‘Prey 2017’) is published by Bethesda Softworks and was developed by the guys at Arkane Studios, who also made the Dishonored games.
To be honest, I actually enjoyed this game more than the original Dishonored — and I really liked that one. Prey was my biggest surprise of the year, seeing how it totally passed under my radar until the game was available at a discount, which is when I played a chunk of the game to see if I’d enjoy it (since there was a demo available — a rarity in these times).
Prey’s gameplay reminded me a lot of BioShock. Prey is also set in space, and it takes place on some kind of alternate timeline. You’ll start noticing that historical events referenced are different from what happened here. There are many different playstyles that are made possible thanks to the great environmental design of the levels. Just don’t play this as a shooter…
The first hour of the game or so just pulls you into the game in such a way that I don’t think many games have done. It’s a very memorable start to the game.
Like the other games on this list, I think this is best when experienced blind, without any expectations. Just play the demo, and see if you get pulled in. You probably will.
I could’ve put more games on this list, but I think this list honestly encompasses the games I enjoyed the most this year. I know that 2018 will bring even more excellent games to the the market, and with my current backlog in games I think I don’t need to go looking to have a great experience in gaming for the upcoming year.
Oh, and if I can have a word of advice? Try doing a month without gaming. You’ll appreciate it even more.