A reader nitpicks his favourite games from 2017, explosing the flaws in everything from Zelda: Breath Of The Wild to Resident Evil 7.
I’m not going to argue against the idea that it has been a great year for gaming, as it most certainly has been. However, we all like a good moan don’t we? Here are a few of mine.
The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild
With hindsight this was easily my favourite game this year. It was more than marginally ahead of Super Mario Odyssey in second place. It may even be the best Zelda game of all time. I’ve got one big complaint, however, and that is the dungeons. Let’s be honest, they’re a bit dour aren’t they? All four of the insides of the Divine Beasts pretty much look the same, and are based around virtually the same mechanic (in terms of you being able to move the beast and therefore the dungeon around in some way).
They just didn’t feel like an ‘event’ in the same way that entering a dungeon in previous entries did. Sure, there were a few clever puzzles but there was certainly nothing to touch the Forest Temple in Ocarina Of Time or the Water Cistern in Skyward Sword. In contrast, the actual run up to getting inside the dungeon was usually exhilarating and massively more fun than the dungeon itself.
Resident Evil 7
Early on in the game Capcom pretty much nailed the atmosphere and that Texas Chainsaw Massacre feeling of being in a horrible, helpless situation. So far, so good, but it’s certainly not for the squeamish. Not long after the garage fight the game opens up into a more traditional Resident Evil structure. There is a nod back to the first game in respect of a puzzle involving a desirable item that, if you try to take it from the wall, results in a locked door. Resident Evil fans will know what I am talking about, let’s just say ‘Jill Sandwich’ and leave it at that.
You’d think that this mix of old and new would be great. However, the classic old inventory issues also kicked in for me at a crucial stage here, resulting in some immersion breaking clunky mechanics and my being told I couldn’t do something at a certain time when I clearly should have been able to. I died, rage quit and haven’t been back since.
What Remains Of Edith Finch
It’s a wonderful game isn’t it? The only thing it’s lacking is some consistency in the individual stories. As my friend Phil pointed out, Milton’s story in particular is a real cop out. I’m aware it’s supposed to be clever and relate back to the Unfinished Swan but, come on, there’s short and then there’s that!
I really wanted to like this game. It was (unusually for me) a game I bought at full price from the PlayStation Store on release, as I wanted to support Ron Gilbert. Don’t get me wrong, it has its moments but the reality is that Dolores is the only sympathetic character in the game. The fact that you can switch between five characters at any one time is maddening from a gameplay perspective, as the item you know you will need for a puzzle when you arrive at it always seems to be in the character’s possession that is furthest away from the action.
Don’t get me started on the lift in the hotel and the amount of messing around between floors that this forces on the player. I don’t like the voice acting either (other than for Dolores) and there are a couple of cheap Simpsons impressions in there for good measure (Comic Book Guy and Ned Flanders). If I’m being honest I preferred Broken Age.
It probably doesn’t help that I always much preferred Mario to Sonic but I’m struggling to see what the fuss was about here? A few remastered levels and a few new levels of a game that wasn’t fit to lace Super Mario World’s boots back in the day is hardly cause for celebration is it? It’s alright I suppose, and it did solve the problem I had with my Switch having absolutely no games to play on it whilst I waited for Super Mario Odyssey to come out.
Metroid: Samus Returns
Would it have killed Nintendo to release this on the Switch? I was forced to dig out my old, original 3DS to play through this (admittedly fine) remake and squint at the tiny screen and grapple with its terrible thumb stick that treats your trying to change direction like a personal insult. There’s surely no good reason why this couldn’t have also been a Switch release at the same time? In mitigation, the backgrounds in 3D added some real depth that the Switch could not have replicated but the much bigger screen, presumably better frame rate, and higher-definition would have surely made up for that? It is a great game for those who have yet to take the plunge with it, other than the fact that it is not and will never be Super Metroid.
And finally, just to prove I don’t complain all the time…
I really dislike twin stick shooters. Therefore I’m not really sure why I took a punt on this (OK, the reality is that it was GameCentral’s glowing review). Wow! It really is great. I think it’s the dodge mechanic that does it for me, and the fact that there’s a rolling boulder avoiding level later on is the icing on the cake!
Super Mario Odyssey
Although it’s definitely second to Zelda in this year’s best of list Odyssey does have the advantage of the New Donk City festival level. This is basically (without going into any spoilers) pure unadulterated retro joy set to a theme tune!
By reader simjhpy (Twitter) aka Ace Attorney