So…. 2017 is drawing to a close. I’d say it’s been a better year than 2016, simply by virtue of the fact that 2016 had what I would say is the biggest political split of American left and American right/alt-right I’ve seen in my life. By that comparison, 2017 has been a rather tame year, only broken up by (at least for me) several chances to shake my head and smile in relief that I don’t live in the United States.
Anyway, while I could go and continue my ego stroking, the fact remains that 2017 is coming to a close, and with it, it’s time for my one and only “Game of The Year” awards. Here are the standards I’ll be working with:
- The game does not have to have been released in 2017. There are a ton of games I’ve played this year that came out earlier than this year, but yet I feel they’re GOTY worthy. The exception is the Best GOTY award, which is reserverd for a game that came out this year.
- These are my opinions. I’ll go over the reason for my choice a bit and then will leave you with a link on where to get the game.
Ready? Set. Go!
Actually let me go over some of the runnerups first. These are various games that, while I’d recommend them any day, they simply didn’t provide me with enough “wow factor” to make them GOTY games.
Gunpoint - Originally a GOTY contender, and still a game that I would highly recommend to anyone. A stealth based puzzler, you are tasked with obtaining various items on a map/getting away without being caught. Sadly it got overshadowed by a similar entry on my GOTY list, but if you’re looking for a 2D stealth game, Gunpoint more than delivers. Fair warning though: The noir style story can be a bit heavy at times.
HIVESWAP: ACT 1 - Fuck it. Hiveswap has been in development since 2013, has had various allgeged embezzlement problems with The Odd Gentleman and then suddenly switched to in-house development after that was resolved. As far as gameplay goes, it’s an adventure game, except it’s one I can actually understand how to play, rather than having to look up a guide online. Really, the main draw for it I’d say is the fact that Undertale creator and Homestuck musician Toby Fox did a large portion of the soundtrack. The reason it’s not GOTY is simply because while it is a great experience, it didn’t provide me with the same WOW factor the games that are on the GOTY list.
Flinthook - The final entry on my Runner-ups and an entirely deserved one. I can’t play Flinthook for my live, but fuck it if it isn’t an awesome experience. It uses an interesting time slowdown mechanic along with a bullet hell provided by the enemies and let’s you use a hook to move around. Really it’s a lot more awesome than I’m describing it here. It’s not GOTY simply because I couldn’t beat it, but fuck it if it isn’t an amazing experience to simply kick back and play it for a couple hours and unleash your inner pirate. Yarrr!
With those out of the way, let’s move to our real awards. These are in no particular order, except for the last one.
“Best dark game”
Might as well give them some unique names, although they won’t be repeated for the next GOTY.
Starting off our list is Darkest Dungeon, Red Hook Studios and Kickstarters lovechild. A dark, almost rogue-like, RPG with lovecraftian horror beautifully intertwined into it, Darkest Dungeon is right up my alley. Every character feels unique and the game does an excellent job at making you care for your characters while also torturing them with the same glee one would normally find in a Victorian torture chamber. And yet… your characters press through, until they’re murdered brutally.
That, combined with an amazing soundtrack and an even more amazing narrator (A big shout-out to Wayne June. The game wouldn’t have the same atmosphere without him. “Dazed… reeling… about to break!”). Darkest Dungeon definetly earns the GOTY position.
Oh and it got two more DLC’s, one of which adds an entirely new questline and both add new heroes! Pick it up if you’ve got the chance.
“Best action/stealth game”
Next up is Deadbolt. There isn’t much I can say about Deadbolt, except well… IT’S FUCKING AWESOME! You play as the Grim Reaper and you’re tasked with mowing down the various amounts of mobster undead to stop some new drug from spreading. That said, you only have a single hit point, meaning that if you get shot at any time during your attempt, it’s GAME OVER.
Deadbolt isn’t easy. A lot of people will probably get turned off by the time investment needed to master the game and “git gud”. But if you are willing to put yourself over that wall, you’ll find that Deadbolt is probably gonna be one of those games that will stay with you and in your mind for quite a while.
“Best sandbox game”
Hitting 1.0 release only this year, but in development since 2015, Starbound is basically what Terraria would be if you had a proper world switching system. You play as one of 6 races and are simply tasked with exploring the universe and getting the best gear. While there is a storyline and some amazingly designed missions for it, they mostly take the backseat and are only there if you are interested in it.
While it’s a bit clunky at times, in general it’s an awesome experience which I would recommend to anyone even slightly interested in sandbox games. It’s also got a modding community at the same level of skill as some Minecraft mods so thats gotta count for something. Oh and it did what No Mans Sky did without sucking.
“The Best Game of The Year 2017”
We’ve hit it. There is no coming back from this. This is the most venerable award of all GOTY ones. This is for games that… well, perfection doesn’t exist, but damn if these games don’t come close to it.
If you’ve ever interacted with me anywhere, whether that be on Twitter or on Discord, you probably learned one thing about me: I fucking adore Hollow Knight. A metroidvania about bugs, Hollow Knight is the debut game of Team Cherry, and is basically anything I have been looking for in a metroidvania.
Bringing Dark Souls to 2D is a common thing indie’s like to try and do. While some games directly clone Dark Souls to 2D (Salt and Sanctuary comes to mind) and others try mimicing the difficulty curve (Cuphead along with any of the other “willingly step on the pointy end of a rake games”), there are very few games that actually manage to bring over the atmosphere while still keeping the story it tells fresh. Hollow Knight is probably the game that I’ve seen it do best. You explore the ruined kingdom of Hallownest, locating the various bugs and hearing the tales and stories of the kingdom and figuring out why it turned out the way it does.
Gameplay is comparatively simplistic, but is a beautiful dance between staying out of the way of enemy attacks and getting up close to them to hit them with your nail.
Along the way you meet various adventurers, from the hilariously incompetent Zote to the mysterious Hornet to the friendly Quirrel. All characters are highly memorable and almost every single one of them kept me motivated to keep going.
Same goes for the Soundtrack. Christopher Larkin did an amazing job at composing the OST, and it’s really the best OST I’ve had the honor of being able to listen to in the past two years. Here, have a listen:
If there is one game you should get from this GOTY list, it’s Hollow Knight. Team Cherry did an amazing job and it’s most certainly the best game I’ve ever played in the past four years.
I hope you enjoyed my list. Please remember that these are my opinions, and therefore they may not neccesarily match with yours.
That said, it’s time to end the year and go for 2018! Who knows what that will bring… I personally am not having really any games I’m looking forward to getting hyped for that will be released in 2018, except for Into the Breach and Terry Canvagh’s new game.
Have an excellent christmas and a happy new year,
this was Evi, signing off ✌!