What a year y'all. There were literally too many games this year. And yet, I spent most of it playing a dress-up game on my phone.
Nonetheless, it was a great year for games. If there was any thread tying my favorites together, it's that they were all twisting the genres and typical conventions the gaming overlords once wrote as the law of the land in some fresh way. Also, a lot of them were about resistance of some sort, which is fitting for the hell year that is 2017. My coworker Mike may have said that his list was the most definitive, but no friends, my list is the most definitive. (Just kidding, we're all individuals with different tastes in games, that's what makes GOTY deliberations so fun!)
- Nier: Automata
- PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds
- Persona 5
- Gravity Rush 2
- What Remains of Edith Finch
- Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus
- The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
- Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony
- Tokyo 42
My favorite game of the year is not surprising. It's Nier: Automata, Yoko Taro's magnum opus. Nier: Automata is a fantastic video game in many ways, particularly in how its interactivity—essentially in how it gamifies itself—is married with its storytelling, which makes for some profound moments. It's not often that I walk away from a video game feeling like it's one of the best game experiences I've ever had, but that's exactly how I felt with Nier: Automata.
Elsewhere on my list are other unsurprising choices: PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds stole my attention away most of this year, making for the perfect game to play with friends, talk to friends about, and watch on Twitch. Out of all the games I played this year, I talked and played and loved PUBG the most. Persona 5, What Remains of Edith Finch, Wolfenstein 2, Danganronpa V3, and Breath of the Wild were all great games too that I loved for all wildly different reasons.
Some of the games that ended up on my top 10 were games I personally loved that unfortunately got overshadowed by a lot of bigger, more polished games. Detention, a small Taiwanese survival-horror game, resonated with me deeply since I played it at the start of the year. (I wrote about it extensively in our "Games You Probably Missed" list.) Gravity Rush 2 was another one of them. It has maybe one of my favorite open worlds ever in a game, and flying around it is a delight. Even if the main missions' design is rough at times and works against the game's strengths, overall the game stood out as one of my absolute favorite experiences of the year.
Tokyo 42 also ended up taking up the very competitive number 10 spot (championing against Echo, which I also love but haven't finished yet, as well as Yakuza 0, Splatoon 2, and Night in the Woods). I opted for it after I returned to it recently, remembering how much I loved its gameplay loop of figuring out how to tackle a base of enemies, turning the camera round and round Fez-style, before taking on the challenge with finesse, Hotline Miami-style. Tokyo 42 is the sort of game that just clicked with me visually, musically, and mechanically, even if it stretches a tad too long, story-wise.
I'd also like to give a shoutout to two other games that didn't release this year, but if they had, would definitely be on my top 10. Those two games are The Last Guardian, which I didn't play until the start of 2017 and deeply moved me, and The Witcher 3: Hearts of Stone. Hearts of Stone was a nice, concise 10-or-so hour campaign that built on The Witcher 3's strengths. It had quests that were funny, sad, a little bit scary, and it still surprised me in even more ways. It's also fairly short, which is a breath of fresh air after the hundreds of hours I spent in the base game. I also finally finished the main campaign of The Witcher 3 after years of slowly poking at it, and man, what a great game. And what a great year, honestly.