2017 was arguably one of the all-time greatest years in gaming. The sheer number of quality laced titles throughout each console, handheld and on PC, is almost staggering. First party, third party, big budget, indie developed, every facet saw a myriad of amazing titles, some of which may go down as all-time greats (and some already have).
I haven’t done a year end “best of” list in half a decade; the last time I did, I featured three titles and an honorable mention. I’ve been so impressed by the releases this year, that it feels like it would be a disservice to restrict myself to three or four titles.
So for the first time, and for the first Galarian Gaming game of the year list, this will feature ten games. A couple of titles may surprise you, and the order I have them all in might be against the grain, but make no mistake about it – these are the cream of the crop in a bounty full of blue ribbon specials.
Of course there are a number of games I have had either very little play time with, or never got a chance to purchase. Here’s are those titles:
Destiny 2: I waited for the PC version, then Super Mario Odyssey came out and killed whatever momentum I had with it. I’ll go back to it sometime next year.
NieR Automata: Just never got around to purchasing. Have heard magnificent things about it. Will get it when the price drops some more. Would have bought it for the Steam Winter Sale, but there’s a distinct lack of a sale going on for it.
Final Fantasy XII The Zodiac Age: I really wish I had more time for this one. Loved it on the PS2, loved what little I’ve played of the remaster.
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice: This is one that has been talked about quite a bit. I strayed from purchasing it mostly due to its brevity for the price, but will definitely be looking forward to it in the coming months.
Rime: Heard a lot of good about Rime, looks like something I’d enjoy. Will likely pick it up sometime into the new year.
Resident Evil 7: Another game I’ve wanted to play but wanted to wait for a sale on. I just picked it up on the Steam Winter Sale, and now it’s a matter of when I’ll have the time to sit down with it.
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus: Never played the first, never had a desire to play this one.
Pokemon Ultra Sun/Moon: Played Pokemon Moon last year, apparently not much of the core story has changed. I’m not much of a Pokemon fan either, so I passed on it for now.
Shadow of War: Played the first game off and on. Was an enjoyable time waster, but nothing more. The previews of the sequel did nothing for me. Probably will purchase on a deep discount though.
Uncharted Lost Legacy: I haven’t played Uncharted since the second game, which the word “brilliance” still doesn’t capture how phenomenal a game it was. I want to play through the entire series before I go to this one.
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Here’s a list of games I’ve played from this year that don’t fit in either the best or worst of 2017:
Mass Effect Andromeda: I put some time into it, but completely dropped it from the amount of bugs and how many disconnects I got from online gameplay. Will return to it next year. Don’t want to say it’s a bad game just yet.
Assassin’s Creed Origin: Finally an Assassin’s Creed game that feels different enough, while retaining the feelings of the classics. Only have about ten hours or so with it, but I’m digging the whole loot pinata type deal, with gear and weaponry that you can upgrade. A step in the right direction for a franchise that was in desperate need of something fresh.
Star Wars Battlefront II: The core game its self is very entertaining, and it’s one of the most gorgeous video games ever made. Unlike 99% of the world, I wasn’t offended or disgusted by the whole loot crate situation (don’t get me wrong – it’s still sleazy as hell, but there’s more to the game than just loot crates). What offends me though, is the obscene amount of time needed to be able to progress your kits through normal gameplay. It’s not the spawn of Satan, but it’s not Star Wars Battlefront II 2005.
Monster Hunter Stories: I only bought this because it seemed like it would be one of those harder to find 3DS games in a years time. The game its self? Meh (a term I almost never use). It does feel like an ultra simplified Monster Hunter game (a franchise I could never fully get into) with a dull combat system. Not a bad game, but absolutely nothing special.
Divinity Original Sin 2: I bought this during the Steam Autumn Sale. Another game I’ve heard across the board praise with. The first game never hooked me in much, but apparently you can play the second and not need to play through the first. With a few hours under my belt, I’m in love and can see the adulation is warranted, though feels like I’m stuck in a no-win situation, so I’m a bit miffed and frustrated, yet in love.
Xenoblade Chronicles 2: A game I was hyped up for, it supremely under-delivered for me. The early game is bogged down with uninteresting and long winded exposition, unexciting combat and an uneven visual presentation. I’m likely going to shelve it for a rainy day and would be more likely to go back to Xenoblade Chronicles X and give that more of a try.
Horizon Zero Dawn: Visually stunning, but the gameplay and story were both hit or miss.
Cuphead: One of most visually surreal games I’ve ever seen, I just never really wanted to spend that much time playing it. In fact, I prefer watching The Mexican Runner on Twitch speedrunning the game more than I’ve ever enjoyed playing the game. It’s a fun game, though it’s not the second coming that everyone seems to be anointing it as.
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10. Marvel vs Capcom Infinite (PS4)
After spending enough time in E3 to go 9-1, I knew that I’d enjoy Marvel vs Capcom Infinite when it finally released on consoles. Many have lambasted the title over its visuals, lack of fighters, etc, but the gameplay, which is what matters most for a fighting game, was solid, and well worth playing. Although I have not spent much time with MVCI over the last few months and haven’t played through the six DLC characters, it left a large enough impact on me to just make it onto this top ten list. Here’s to coming back when there’s enough time.
9. Sonic Mania (PC)
The first Sonic game in ages that deserves to be called such, Sonic Mania is everything long-time fans have been begging for. Slick 2D visuals with smooth animation, stages that allowed for Sonic’s patented speed as well as discovery, absolutely stellar music and entertaining boss battles. I had all but written off Sonic after the blasphemous Sonic 4 Episode 1, with Sonic Generations briefly showing some glimpses of life in the franchise. Some say Sonic Mania “plays it safe”, and to an extent it does, but that’s exactly what was needed to gain the trust of fans once more, all while still making it fresh enough. Hoping that we will be receiving another Sonic Mania type game soon.
8. Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle (Switch)
Many had written off Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle off premise alone. I had a feeling from day one that this would be something special. While it did not elicit the same awe and deep feelings that Super Mario RPG did over twenty years ago, Ubisoft still crafted a fantastic title that brought Mario into a whole new genre, in an almost seamless manner. If you’re looking for something that will make you think, all the while giving you plenty of enjoyment, you cannot miss Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle on the Switch.
7. Battle Chef Brigade (PC)
Battle Chef Brigade is exactly why I adore indie games – it blends together a smorgasbord of ideas, and creates a feast that next to no AAA developer would ever consider cooking up. Match 3 puzzle game meets Iron Chef meets action game, Battle Chef Brigade is probably the best game on this list that you likely have not played (aside from my number three choice), but I implore you all to give it a chance. The charming characters, gorgeous 2D visuals and stellar gameplay elements all blend together into one of this years most delectable treats.
6. Metroid: Samus Returns (3DS)
A remake of the often forgotten but immensely fun Metroid II: Return of Samus, Metroid: Samus Returns is the type of remake that will blow you away. The music is blissful, the game world is detailed and the new additions augment the experience even further. This is one that people were talking about in the weeks before its release, and not much since, and that’s a shame. Metroid Samus Returns, much like Sonic Mania, is the franchises return to form, and the perfect morsel to tide you over until Metroid Prime 4 drops.
5. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (NS)
A seven year old game in the top five? Surely you jest! Honestly, I bought The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim on the Switch to flesh out my library some with a deep, long and addicting game that I’ve enjoyed hundreds of hours over throughout the years. Then just like that, I was hooked once again, and hooked in for the long haul. If you want to know the crux of it all, check out my review of the Xbox 360 version. It’s a behemoth of a game that can, and will hook you for dozens upon dozens of hours. I’m not afraid nor ashamed to put a game that was originally released over a half decade ago on this list, as its impact was made in full force.
4. Persona 5 (PS4)
I have to admit – I had no expectations for Persona 5, as it was releasing right around the Breath of the Wild and Mass Effect Andromeda window. After being severely disappointed with the latest Mass Effect entry, I decided to go ahead and fill that void with Persona 5, and in turn, experienced one of the greatest RPG’s I’ve ever played and what turned out to be one of my all-time favorite games. A charming cast, a strong story and a stellar total package awaits you, and you’d be crazy to pass up this one!
3. Culdcept Revolt (3DS)
The lowest rated on my top ten list doesn’t diminish the value of Culdcept Revolt whatsoever. After a decade of patience in waiting for a new installment to the franchise, this 3DS release took everything I loved about the franchise, retained it, and took everything I abhorred about it, and streamlined it.
As with Super Mario Odyssey, there’s a good amount of post game content, and even more cards to obtain. Even though finding games online takes ages, there’s enough offline content to keep you satisfied. Even after I completed the main story, I’ve been hooked into CPU battles to raise enough funds to purchase more packs so I can flesh out my card collection. It hasn’t left my 3DS since I first bought it in late September, and I’ve put in time almost every single day since. It’s an addiction that’s difficult to come off of, and I’m okay with that!
When I found out that Culdcept Revolt was being released this year, I knew I’d be in love. I didn’t anticipate it being my third favorite game of 2017 though. Not necessarily a surprise game on my list, but regardless, it’s one that deserves to be given a chance.
2. Super Mario Odyssey (NS)
We haven’t had a true “traditional” 3D Mario game since Galaxy 2 (3D Land and 3D World are easily forgettable, IMO). So well over a half decade later, we were given Super Mario Odyssey, a wonderfully crafted Mario game that is capped off by an innovation that I’m surprised we haven’t seen sooner!
Odyssey is every bit as enjoyable as Super Mario Galaxy 2 was. I still can’t pick one of the other, but that says a lot about Odyssey when it stands toe to toe with my all-time favorite 3D platformer.
I can’t be mentioned enough how charming Super Mario Odyssey is. Once you hit New Donk City, you’ll understand first hand. Nintendo outdid themselves with this one, bringing me back to a much simpler time, and being in love with every second of it. It’s hard to imagine any game topping Super Mario Odyssey this year, but somehow, Nintendo themselves did…
1. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Wii U)
What else can you say about Breath of the Wild that hasn’t already been said? Nintendo took the Zelda franchise, and return to its roots, with no hand-holding exploration, brutal difficulty and a game world that will stand the test of time.
The biggest hook and most powerful moment came from when I first booted the game and entered the expansive world. The scope, the chills, the sense of awe that accompanied my first glimpse of Breath of the Wild, left an indelible mark on me. Then to be blown away constantly and consistently throughout my entire playtime with it; there’s never been a game that has come close in regards to bringing me back to my childhood, where games like The Legend of Zelda, Secret of Mana and other larger scale game worlds hook me in and made me check every nook and cranny for new discoveries. Super Mario Odyssey did in its own ways, but that feeling was overwhelming with Breath of the Wild.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild made me relive those wonder years of gaming, back in the early to mid 90’s. It brought me back to a simpler time, where I had no worries, other than finding the next dungeon, all while remaining in one piece. The sense of exploration wiped out any and all problems I had going on at the time, which was crucial for me at the time it was released. For the grown up NES era gamer, it brought be right back to those glory days, in a shinier new coat of paint, and a much more massive scope. It reminded me why I loved gaming in the first place, and it’s essentially the blueprint to crafting and unforgettable experience, one that takes you back in time. While Super Mario Odyssey made me feel like a kid again, Breath of the Wild did that, as well as whisk me away to a gigantic world filled with intrigue, grandeur and awe, and experience a Zelda game that I’ve only dreamed of before it.
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With games like Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Odyssey and Persona 5 representing the pack, there’s no denying that 2017 was a special and memorable year for gaming. 2018, and every year thereafter, has some mighty big shoes to fill, but even if we won’t ever see a year like 2017 again, we have these games to fall back on and fondly remember what that year gave us.