Do you fancy yourself as a gamer? if you do, then join us as we recall some of the year’s most well-known titles. Here are some thoughts from the What’s A Geek! staff for the highlights of 2017 in videogames.
2017 In Videogames
This year’s videogame releases prove that there’s more to the industry than just sheer graphics and awesome visuals. In fact, a lot of the year’s most remarkable titles take the road not taken and end up stunning players in their own genres. Whether it’s a unique take on narrative, gameplay, or visuals, here are some of the games that are a must play this year.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Nintendo finally released Breath of the WIld in 2017 for the Wii U and Nintendo Switch. For a landmark title for a console entry, Breath of the Wild did the job right. Its gorgeous open world is beautifully rendered in the Nintendo Switch. Perhaps what’s most impressive is a Zelda story that is both new and nostalgic.
You get to control an amnesiac Link in an open world version of the kingdom of Hyrule. Little details count in this game, which adds a kind of depth absent in a lot of adventure games. Link shivers when he’s cold, and you can even take selfies!
The game gives you a degree of control over story progression and gameplay that other titles don’t always provide. You choose which dungeons to conquer first, and the way to defeat your enemies is up to you. It’s not just a matter of stealth or melee, however, as you actually have powers to control the environment. And here you thought getting the Master Sword was cool.
There’s a real palpable sense of adventure as you progress through the game. It doesn’t matter that you’re Link for the hundredth time, or that you’re beating Ganon down again, or that Zelda appears once more. That feeling of excitement opening your NES to play a Zelda game persists. This is perhaps the enduring quality that makes Breath of the Wild more than capable to take your breath away.
One of the things that the Persona series aims to do is capture the zeitgeist of what is plaguing society. This is perhaps separated it from its mainline Shin Megami Tensei sibling, which is known for its take on the classic “good versus evil” scenario.
The first two Persona games dealt with the power corporations held over society, and how perception and rumor work respectively. The third game deals with the critical question of one’s morality, and the fourth takes on the challenge of describing one’s life journey. So what does Persona 5 offer?
The trio of Shigenori Soejima, Katsura Hashino, and Shoji Meguro come once again to bring a completely involving experience. Persona 5 comes in on the 20th anniversary of the series, so it has the difficult task of living up to the previous iterations and still bring something new to the table. And Persona 5 succeeds with great style.
In the spirit of offering compelling societal commentary, Persona 5 deals with rebellion and injustice. You are a group of thieves tasked to solve a supernatural mystery plaguing the city. In true Persona fashion, you have to do this while living a normal life as a student.
Atlus proves with Persona 5 that the Persona formula is something fans always come back to. The snappy visuals and the creative integration of supernatural elements improved the narrative in ways that make the game unforgettable even to first time players.
Developer: Team Ninja, Toei Tecmo
Fans of FromSoftware’s Souls series may have mixed reactions to the release of Nioh. However, in an age where FromSoftware’s influence can be seen in some new entries in the market, Nioh proves it can bring something new to the table. Thrilling cinematics and a detailed combat system are just two of many things that make Nioh a fresh take on the “x is the Dark Souls of y” phrase.
It is, however, a disservice to say that Nioh is simply a Souls clone. In fact, the degree of influence Souls had on the game is debatable. However, Nioh brings together Koei’s historical simulation flair with Tecmo’s stylish gameplay in a game to stun. The result is a sweeping dark samurai fantasy with supernatural elements.
The game follows William, an Irish sailor in an alternate version of the 1600s. In this era, Hattori Hanzo recruits William to deal with the yokai threat that flourishes in the chaos of conflict during the Tokugawa shogunate. William has access to a variety of weapons such as swords, spears, and scythes to combat the supernatural. If you’re looking for a particular samurai fantasy, then perhaps its online component is for you.
The game carries itself so well as it marries the high drama of a Japanese historical series with the rip-roaring action of seamless swordplay that no two playthroughs may be the same.
Developer: Studio MDHR
If you want a fresh take on everything old-school, then Cuphead is the indie darling that did it. The game’s art style and character design recall the childhood of the cartoons of old. Don’t mistake it for a kids game, however, as its vivid colors hide the surreal and dark tone of the game.
Fans of games such as Metal Slug and Contra will appreciate the entire nostalgic feel of Cuphead. Unsuspecting gamers might be surprised with its difficulty comparable to Ghosts n’ Goblins. In fact, the game reignited the debate started by Super Meat Boy and VVVVV on how difficult games should be.
Was Cuphead artificially inflating its difficulty through the use of cheap tactics? Or was it an experiment in level design and actual attention to gameplay? We may never truly know the answer to this but the polarising opinions behind Cuphead have done nothing but bring it to more prominence.
Even if you are unable to play the game itself, the strong visual aspect of the game has meant that it is a treat just to watch. The process behind making Cuphead is just as fascinating as the game itself, as interviews with the developers have revealed how the game came to be and how it’s fundamentally different to how games are normally produced.
Puyo Puyo Tetris
Developer: Sonic Team (Sega)
How do you make Tetris better? By fusing it with Puyo Puyo of course! This game is here on a technicality – while the original Puyo Puyo Tetris was released in 2014, it was released to the rest of the world until 2017. It is available on every console you’d ever want it on – the 3DS, the Wii U, the Switch, the Vita, the PS3/4 and even the Xbox One.
Puyo Puyo and Tetris were two different types of block matching games that were married seamlessly together. Tetris itself needs no introduction, but Puyo Puyo is largely niche in the West despite it’s overwhelming Japanese popularity. The latter focused on the battle aspect of block matching with when four or more puyos line up together, they pop and can cause effects on your opponent’s screen. Similarly, causing chains of these popping puyos cause nuisance puyos to appear on your opponent’s screen. You can choose to play either straight Puyo Puyo, straight Tetris or a mixed Puyo Puyo Tetris mode which combines both modes.
It’s this seamless integration that makes for great solo or multiplayer play. Each player can play their chosen style without issue – making chains or clearing lines causes nuisance puyos or more lines appearing. There are point based aspects, battle based aspects and arcade style aspects in the Puyo Puyo Tetris game. The game’s strength is ultimately down to how flexible it can be. You can play for glory, for fun or to challenge yourself. Either way, the bright colours and sounds welcome you to a fun time.
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
Fans of survival horror have rekindled their love with classic Resident Evil thanks to Resident Evil 7: Biohazard. The game takes the action-horror zombie franchise and turns it on its heel, returning it once again to its survival horror roots.
Capcom fans and horror enthusiasts would say the game took cues from games such as Silent Hill and the cancelled Silent Hills. Similarities do seem to find their way to Resident Evil 7, but it does shine with its own brand of Resident Evil terror. The first-person approach is a step away from the third-person trend of the series, and having an unfamiliar protagonist is a step away further.
The game puts you in the shoes of Ethan Winters, who stumbles upon a derelict plantation in search for Mia, his wife. He becomes entangled with the mysterious Baker family, and he slowly realizes they’re not the only ones in the estate. In classic Resident Evil fashion, Ethan will be forced to survive against the odds – with nary the equipment to help himself. To add sheer terror into the mix, one misstep and players can put Ethan to the path of demise.
Did we say it’s available for the PlayStation VR as well? It is, and it’s terrifying.
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands
Tactical shooter fans who want a challenge can once again rely on Tom Clancy to give them an ordeal to conquer. Ubisoft takes the popular Ghost Recon franchise to the wilderness with Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Wildlands. This title is in fact the franchise’s first open-world game.
The title, serving as the franchise’s tenth installment, returns with the cooperative nature of the series. Players have the option to play as a team, or to play solo with computer-controlled allies. The game is set in a fictional Bolivia in 2019, where the country has become a narco-state courtesy of a drug cartel that is slowly gaining power.
In the spirit of tactical games, players have a myriad of options to choose from in taking out opponents. They can use gadgets and stealth to approach enemies in the shadows. Players can also utilize a variety of melee and ranged weapons across the game. Those who are keen on lore can also have their characters develop relationships with non-playable characters such as rebels, citizens, and officials.
Players will have a lot of room to have fun, courtesy of 21 whopping areas to explore. Ghost Recon: Wildlands proves that tactical shooters can in fact be more tactical.
Horizon Zero Dawn
Developer: Guerilla Games
Have you ever thought of fighting a mecha dinosaur? Aloy from Horizon Zero Dawn fights mechanized creatures for breakfast. Guerilla Games impresses fans of the action role-playing game genre with a stunning open-world title with a compelling story.
The game, set in the 31st century, focuses on a society that “devolved” into tribes due to a calamity. The tribes look to their more technologically-advanced ancestors as the “Old Ones.” Meanwhile, they fear the robotic creatures they call “machines” that began roaming the Earth.
The story begins with the rise of the “Derangement,” which causes machines to be more aggressive. Aloy of tribe Nora will have to face immeasurable odds to find some peace with her heritage. She will have to interact with people from the other Carja and Oseram tribes. Of course, players can kick some mecha dinosaur butt thanks to Aloy’s hunter training.
2018 for More Innovations
This year in videogames heralded the arrival of a few hits and misses, but the above are just some of the games that didn’t fail to stun players and casual observers alike. 2017 in videogames turned out better than expected, marked by the arrival of new consoles with a surprising slate of games, some remarkable new titles, and proof that there’s always something that can make an industry evolve. Let’s hope next year marks the arrival of more innovative titles!