“Hello, please leave your message after the beep.”
“Hi, this message is for 1998 and 2007. I just wanted to tell them to go fuck themselves. The reign is over. See ya later, losers. Tell the nostalgia boys that their days are numbered.”
Ocarina of Time? Yer done, son! BioShock? Would you kindly go away. Half-Life? More like get a life. Portal? More like Blake Bortles (I’m kidding, you’re great, Portal xoxoxoxox).
If you’ve ever read anything I’ve written, you know that I love to attack the past. The past is so lame. Its arguments so tired. “But I liked when I was in mommy’s womb and nuzzling at her teet.” OH I KNOW YOU DID, YOU TALK ABOUT IT ALL THE FUCKING TIME. At long last, the present has given me the ammunition to tell the past to fuck itself. For so long, 1998 and 2007 had been the gold standard of all around excellent years in gaming. Finally, those days are done. Make no mistake, when we have a new legendary year in, say, 2026, I’ll be in the front of the 2017-can-take-a-hike line!
In my opinion, 2017 was already almost the best year for games of all-time in April. And now it’s November. It’s been over for a while. I take in a lot of industry news and chatter. No, a lot. Like, a fucking ton. Nobody I heard was even flirting with the idea that 2017 was the GOAT until October 27, the day that three triple-A games came out. 2017 didn’t need October 27, but it didn’t hurt either. Are they waiting for six months or a year to pass before declaring 2017 the GOAT? I don’t know. I just can’t say why no one else is as brave* as me. I won’t wait. I’m so far ahead of the curve that I can’t even see it yet. (Don’t worry, I hate myself – you’re not alone. I think bragging style comedy tends to be the worst, and this is no exception. Rake me over the coals! And yes, me acknowledging my self-awareness of this is a weak defense. Rake me back over again. No, really. I’m not trying to defend myself anymore. I suck! But I’m okay sometimes. In the gravelly words of Gil Scott-Heron, ‘I’m the closest thing I have to a voice of reason’. Name-dropping a legendary, underappreciated poet-musician is also a classic “look at me” tactic. Don’t fall for it. I’m an idiot.)
*Please take this use of the word “brave” within the context of this opinion piece, and not like the actual meaning of the word. That would be preposterous. But you have to be clear on the internet.
We are living in a legendary year for games. Hell, it’s a legendary year for bad reasons too. So the abundance of amazing games has been a needed respite. If there were no games for you in 2017, I can safely say that you can retire from playing games. Games are dead to you. For the rest of everybody, how has there not been something for everyone this year? I believe there has, and then some.
I’m going to kick this off by naming all of the games that I think have been amazing to somebody (and a lot of them to me) this year. Then I’ll name some of the games I personally think are boring or have no idea about, but other people would add to strengthen the list. Deep breath, here we go:
Resident Evil 7, Nier: Automata, Nioh, Horizon: Zero Dawn, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG), Torment: Tides of Numenera, Hollow Knight, Thimbleweed Park, Prey, Night in the Woods, Persona 5, Sonic Mania, What Remains of Edith Finch, Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator, Pyre, Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, XCOM 2: War of the Chosen, Dishonored: Death of the Outsider, Divinity: Original Sin II, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun, SteamWorld Dig 2, Cuphead, Nex Machina, Heat Signature, The Evil Within 2, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, and Super Mario Odyssey.
Plus, throw in a few more that I don’t like or care about but that some others love: For Honor, Ghost Recon: Wildlands, Assassin’s Creed Origins, Destiny 2, The Surge and Fortnite. Not to mention some of the pre-2017 games that have been ported to Switch, which do make 2017 better if you awoke from a coma this year. Examples being: Minecraft, Stardew Valley, Rayman Legends, Doom (2016) and Skyrim.
That’s a hell of a list of games. There are five games I’ve played plus one that I haven’t (PUBG), on that top list, which would legitimately be my game of the year for any of 2014, 2015 or 2016 (the only game they wouldn’t all top is 2016’s Inside).
Further tipping the scales for me have been older games that I continue to return to, like Rainbow Six: Siege and Elite: Dangerous. As well as 2016 games that I didn’t get to the bulk of until 2017 like Dishonored 2 and The Last Guardian.
Actually, quick moment to say that I overlooked Dishonored 2 last year, and it would be on my year-end list if I re-wrote that today. Dishonored 2 is brilliant and has my stamp of approval. It’s better than Dishonored 1 in every way. If you’re a Thief/System Shock 2/Deus Ex/BioShock/Prey (2017) person, I highly recommend Dishonored 2.
Another side note unrelated to any game of the year discussion: I’d like to say that, four years later, State of Decay holds up well. It’s just as good as it was in 2013. Also, Grim Fandango, 19 years later does not hold up. Grim Fandango is a funny adventure with enjoyable characters and writing. It is also a nightmare of a video game. It was probably awful to play in 1998 when awful controls were the norm. It’s downright atrocious in 2017. In summary: play State of Decay because it’s good, and don’t play Grim Fandango because it’s bad.
Fuck it, I’m in hot take mode, so here’s another hot take. Ico is spelled Ico, and not ICO. Just because games have short titles that are capitalized on box art doesn’t mean that’s how you spell it when writing as a grown-up. If you want to engage in this war, I’ll fight back and fuck up your favourite games’ titles. Ready? grand theft auto V FIVE. That’s how it’s written on the cover. What? I’m just writing it how it looks on the cover. NoOneLivesForever. What? That’s just how it’s written on the cover. Assassin’S Creed. Yep, that’s how it’s stylized. RESISTA(IMAGE OF THE GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE)NCE 2. GEARS of WAR4. RiME. NIeR. GUILDWARS(DRAGONTHAT’SSHAPEDLIKEA2). I can go all day.
If you’re not going to join the grown-up world and type it as Nier: Automata, then you have to go all the way. You can’t just write NieR:Automata, because that’s not how it’s stylized. You have to start doing black ink fill-in around the “o” in “Automata.” So you should be typing NieR:Automata.
You can’t even see the “mata” part can you? That’s because there’s black highlight around white text. And I can’t do a black highlight in WordPress, so you’ll just have to trust me. But that’s how you were going to write it, right? I didn’t think so. You monster. Just think about that the next time you go to type ICO.
And in case you were concerned, don’t worry. I do have access to a therapist.
The game I most hoped would be in the conversation for my game of the year going into 2017 doesn’t even make my top 20 this year, which would shock past me. Yes, the tragically doomed Mass Effect: Andromeda. I don’t think Andromeda is an awful game. I don’t think it’s a great game either. Mostly, I think it’s out of place. If Andromeda came out in 2014 I think it would have been received well. It has the feel of a 2014 game. But that’s not what happened. It came out in 2017, and it got fucking smoked. I know there are people who swear by and love Andromeda, but the leading defense of that game, “it gets good 25 hours in” isn’t good enough. Not this year. Sorry, Andromeda. I got about 10 hours in myself, and I think I’ll finish it one day, but there’s just no time for something as mediocre as that in such a legendary year. I just don’t know why I would spend a second playing that when I’m still exploring new places in Breath of the Wild.
There you have it. This will serve as the arguably-pointless preamble to my games of the year list. You’re welcome.
Did you know that the author of this post talks aloud to himself sometimes while home alone? Of course you did. It’s not surprising at all. Talk to him at firstname.lastname@example.org, so that he has someone to talk back to.