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Matt's 10 Favorite Games of 2017: I Just Really Like Sad Robots, Okay?

A good year for humanist games.

Opinion by Matt Kim, .

Like my coworkers before me, I too arranged 10 games that came out in 2017 in order of personal enjoyment. It's not a Top 10 list for everyone, but it's mine and I had a particularly hard time determining what my favorite game of 2017 was.

Just kidding, my favorite game this year was Nier: Automata.

  1. Nier: Automata
  2. Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus
  3. Super Mario Odyssey
  4. What Remains of Edith Finch
  5. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
  6. Resident Evil 7
  7. Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice
  8. Persona 5
  9. Night in the Woods
  10. Uncharted: The Lost Legacy

It's kind of hard to believe that Nier: Automata came out as early as February this year considering I haven't stopped thinking about it since its release. No other game in 2017 had a hold on me the way Nier: Automata did. I adored everything about the game since finishing it in a marathon playthrough. While I've long been fascinated by Yoko Taro's work, the fact that Nier: Automata is probably the most enjoyable game of his to actually play makes it a game I look forward to revisiting in the coming months and years. I've written about the timeliness and timelessness of Nier: Automata before elsewhere, but I think over time the game will prove itself a defining game of a generation, like BioShock and Portal before it.

My runner-up this year is Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus, which I was surprised to see beat out Super Mario Odyssey when I actually sat down to write this list. Beyond just its resonance in today's political climate, I actually found myself appreciating all the things Wolfenstein 2 did outside of Nazi killing. The fact that Wolfenstein broke down and rebuilt the macho man game protagonist archetype, that the story was as much weird fiction as it was alternate-history (regular history) dystopia, and just a willingness to explore the human side of its story when it could have easily been a standard action game. I was a big fan of Wolfenstein: The New Order, and I loved that MachineGames went bolder and braver with the sequel.

I don't have a lot of words for Super Mario Odyssey other than it's such an effortlessly wonderful game. I feel like for that reason alone Odyssey will find itself runner-up to Nintendo's other big game, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (which I've placed two spots behind Odyssey). While Odyssey might not reinvent the wheel like Breath of the Wild, it also sticks its landing where Breath of the Wild sometimes trips over its own ambition. Make no mistake, I don't think Odyssey is a better game than Breath of the Wild because it plays it safer. Far from it, Odyssey just does what it does so well that it only feels safer when in reality I think Odyssey just showed that it can match execution with ambition.

To backtrack a little, I placed What Remains of Edith Finch higher than I originally intended, but only because I realized just how much an impact the game had on me in its short play time than much longer games on this list. Like Nier and Wolfenstein, Edith Finch was a very humanist story that I found myself desperately needing this year.

Resident Evil 7 was probably my biggest surprise since I was initially skeptical of its change to first-person perspective. Not because I didn't think Capcom could do it, but because it came so soon after P.T. that I initially felt it was a cynical me-too effort. Luckily I was proven wrong.

Likewise, Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice could have ended up misguided with its take on mental health. Luckily, anchored by a superb lead actress in Melina Juergens, Ninja Theory made an overall excellent game despite a few missteps. More importantly I hope this "Double-A" style of game design expands outward as we'll need more stories like Hellblade in the future.

Persona 5, Night in the Woods, and Uncharted: The Lost Legacy round out my list for much of the same reasons as other games this year. Persona 5 was a visual marvel though I find myself wanting something new and less anime-y from Atlus with its Persona series. Night in the Woods was a game that hit a little too close to home, and I wonder if I resent it a little for that. Lastly, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy made me realize that I just want shorter, more impactful Uncharted games in the future.

Keep an eye out as the rest of the USgamer staff reveal their Top 10 Games of 2017, as well as our sitewide Game of the Year countdown next week.

Elsewhere on the site you can find the best PS4 Games of 2017, best Xbox One games of 2017, the best Switch games of 2017, and the best PC games of 2017.

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Comments 12

  • Avatar for riderkicker #1 riderkicker A month ago
    Considering you and Caty are the kids of USGamer, it would be interesting to compare your lists.

    I have not played Wolfenstein II yet, mostly because I'm a noobie gamer who dislikes them shooters but reading about the plot twists, literally deconstructs what it means to be the typical Macho Man in a AAA Western game. I'll borrow a copy from a friend one day, but I would definitely like to read that novel.
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  • Avatar for NiceGuyNeon #2 NiceGuyNeon A month ago
    I am happy to see What Remains of Edith Finch get some love. It's a very good game. Nier Automata will be played soon by me, I love Platinum too much to not try it.

    That said, I was disappointed by Wolfenstein II, and I think part of it is that I played both Doom and Titanfall 2 immediately before it and they are without a doubt, two of the best modern FPS campaigns I played. Meanwhile, Wolfenstein II makes no real improvements to its wonky stealth, has bland level design that looks pretty but doesn't do anything cool, and it's best and most empowering moments are all cutscenes and not gameplay. It's 2017, if BJ is doing something cool it should be because I'm doing it, not because a cutscene is telling me it's awesome.

    And I really disliked BJ's backstory. It all felt too contrived and forced in to fit the mood and it didn't have a payoff other than, you guessed it, a cutscene. Once the game hit New Orleans it was a bit more fun to play, and I enjoyed the final few levels more if only for how they portrayed certain villains and how loony they were, and the final battle was really fun.

    Looking at all the games I played this year though, it misses my personal top ten (so does What Remains of Edith Finch, and I really like that game). But to each their own. I think nostalgia in the future will tell us Wolf 2 was a good game because of the subjects it tackled during the time period it released in, and that it was filled with so many strong characters, men and women, of various ethnicities. It deserves praise for what it does right.

    If or when the third game releases I hope Machinegames puts a stronger emphasis on creative and fun level design and fixing the broken stealth system, and that if there's cool shit to do then let ME do it, don't stick it in a cutscene and tell me to care. It's 2017, not 1997.Edited 5 weeks ago by NiceGuyNeon
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  • Avatar for chaoticBeat #3 chaoticBeat A month ago
    @Matt Kim "A good year for humanist games." Damn. Well said.

    I resonate so much with your list. Wolfenstein 2 is my game of the year.

    I didn't play enough of Nier: Automata or Super Mario Odyssey for them to place on my list and seeing how similar our tastes are and how you think, I want to get to them soon. They are two games I bought the first day they were released and I haven't gotten to either of them yet.
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  • Avatar for mattcom26 #4 mattcom26 A month ago
    What “hit too close to home” with Night in the Woods?
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  • Avatar for lacerz #5 lacerz A month ago
    Of the list, I’ve only played Nier and Edith Finch. Loved them both. I have Hellblade, Into the Woods and Lost Legacy, but haven’t played them. Eventually I’ll get Persona and Wolfenstein, but my backlog is already packed.

    Good list!
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  • Avatar for discohospital #6 discohospital A month ago
    It's interesting to see Persona 5 ranking lower on some lists, considering how hotly anticipated it was, although I can understand why it didn't quite take wings and soar for many, with some things adding up. It does quite a lot right, so it's a shame there was enough else to drag it down for many. Putting everything else aside from a moment (including the time to complete), I find pretty much everything about the gameplay to be sublime. I think the battle system is the best ever permutation of the Press Turn system, and the way everything is woven together and interdependent reaches grand new heights even over the previous games, with very little feeling redundant or superfluous. The dungeons were for the most part a complete joy for me (even some of the weaker ones), especially after feeling that Persona 4 kind of stripped out much of what made the dungeon exploration itself interesting in Persona 3 - various seemingly minor things that added an extra layer of strategy (but were apparently tedious for some).

    I recently started a new playthrough of Persona 3 FES (my second, after about two years since my first), and was immediately taken aback by how fluent and engaging the localization is, and going further have been entranced by its careful pacing, attention to detail and carefully considered, gradual introduction of new concepts, mechanics and situations. Not to mention how intricate and consummately designed the gameplay is. It feels like a developer's game, and I'll always prefer it to 4, and in ways to 5.

    I agree, however, that Persona needs a change. Above all I desperately want a female protagonist to take center stage at least once, but that's sadly probably a pipe dream.Edited 5 weeks ago by discohospital
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  • Avatar for usgmatt #7 usgmatt A month ago
    @riderkicker We might have some overlap but I think Caty's list is probably the biggest wildcard on staff.

    Also, if you're not anti-Let's plays I think Wolfenstein 2 can be enjoyed via videos if playing it is not your thing.
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  • Avatar for usgmatt #8 usgmatt A month ago
    @mattcom26 Mostly the whole "You can never go home again" aspect of its narrative.
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  • Avatar for usgmatt #9 usgmatt A month ago
    @chaoticBeat Please do! I'm glad you found things in my list you related to.
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  • Avatar for Flipsider99 #10 Flipsider99 30 days ago
    @discohospital "I agree, however, that Persona needs a change. Above all I desperately want a female protagonist to take center stage at least once, but that's sadly probably a pipe dream."

    Good news, your pipe dream has come true already! In fact, twice!

    Persona 2 Eternal Punishment features a female main character, Maya Amano. Since she's the lead, she is a silent main character, but if you want to hear her talk you can play Persona 2 Innocent Sin in which she talks a lot. She essentially switches roles with Tatsuya in P2:EP, becoming the silent main character while Tatsuya gets to talk, which is interesting. The two of these games together as a whole are also incredible games with one of the best endings I've ever seen for a game.

    Then there's the PSP version of Persona 3, which gives you the option to play a female main character. This is not merely a cosmetic choice, the story has some key differences in the story and social links if you play as a girl.
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  • Avatar for discohospital #11 discohospital 30 days ago
    @Flipsider99 I should've been more clear - I'm aware of those, but I meant a new Persona in the format of the games from 3 onwards built from the ground up around a female protagonist. P3P's female option was of course added on after the fact, and although they went to great lengths to fashion a new experience for her, it's still not really her game, I feel.

    EDIT: I'll add that one thing I feel P5 did achieve was giving its protagonist more characterization without really taking away from the breathing room allowed for the player to role-play. I'd like to see that kind of approach with a female protagonist in a new game.Edited 5 weeks ago by discohospital
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  • Avatar for rokijoki #12 rokijoki 27 days ago
    modern technology is most important for our life, everyday we used many type of technology.
    this is excellent article. robot is present higher priority of technology. if you need information about divorce lawyer cherry creek then you can see my web. thanks for your nice articles
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