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Weekend Hot Topic, part 1: Reader’s Top 20 of 2017
Horizon Zero Dawn – was it in your top three?

GameCentral readers vote for their favourite video games of 2017, from Resident Evil 7 to Call Of Duty: WWII.

Every year, at the end of January, we ask readers to vote for their favourite games of the previous year. But as we well know from creating our own top 20, that is an extremely difficult thing to do considering what an amazing 12 months 2017 was for video games.

The poll worked in the same way as usual though, with everyone voting for their top three titles so we could tally up a top 20. But because 2017 was such a special year we had far more people writing in than ever before – so many that we’ll do a part 3 to this Hot Topic next week, just to so we get a chance to show everyone’s letters.

And while the number one title may seem like a forgone conclusion it was actually closer than you might think, with Nintendo’s two juggernauts swapping places at various points in the voting process. Horizon Zero Dawn was relatively close behind too, and well ahead of the rest of the pack…

Readers' Top 20 – 2017

1. The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild (Wii U/NS)
2. Super Mario Odyssey (NS)
3. Horizon Zero Dawn (PS4)
4. Persona 5 (PS4/PS3)
5. Resident Evil 7 (XO/PS4/PC)
6. Yakuza 0 (PS4)
7. Wolfenstein II (XO/PS4/PC)
8. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (NS)
9. What Remains Of Edith Finch (PS4/PC)
10. Cuphead (XO/PC)
11. Nioh (PS4/PC)
12. NieR: Automata (PS4/PC)
13. Splatoon 2 (NS)
14. Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle (NS)
15. Life Is Strange: Before The Storm (XO/PS4/PC)
16. Call Of Duty: WWII (XO/PS4/PC)
17. Thimbleweed Park (XO/PS4/NS/PC/iOS/Android)
18. Polybius (PS4)
19. Total War: Warhammer II (PC)
20. PlayerUnknown’s Battelgrounds (XO/PC)

Difficult year

2017 is quite easily the hardest of years to pick a winner for Game of the Year due the absurd number of brilliant games released but here goes.

3. Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus
Having really enjoyed the first game by MachineGames this was a no-brainer. And it almost is the epitome of a no-brainer game where you can just switch off and shoot some Nazis. At least it would be if it didn’t hand your backside to you on innumerable occasions. Easily the best shooter from last year.

2. Horizon Zero Dawn
This was probably my most anticipated game this time last year, and boy did it live up to expectations. Nothing beats your first encounter with a robotic T-Rex. The story was probably its weakest part, but also its most intriguing. Finding out how the world came to be in its current state was the thing that kept me going for over 60 hours.

1. The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild
What can I say about this masterpiece that hasn’t been said numerous times before? This being on my first Nintendo console, and therefore first Zelda, I didn’t really know what to expect, but what I found was the most beguiling, rage-inducing, epic adventure in my 20+ years of gaming. Bravo Nintendo, you’ve got a new convert.

No interruptions

First place was easy: Super Mario Odyssey. I knew it within 10 minutes of firing it up on Boxing Day. It’s such a well-designed game, when I look at how many moons are hidden in one single level, I find it unimaginable until I start finding them and then I wonder why no other developers can stuff a game full of such inventiveness. I got Super Mario Galaxy when it came out but never got into it, so I need to go back and play it after I’ve found all the moons to see what I missed. But in my opinion Super Mario Odyssey is up there with my pinnacle of gaming: Super Mario World.

Until Super Mario Odyssey came out Resident Evil 7 was going to be my game of the year. Having been burnt by peripherals before I was extremely sceptical of PlayStation VR, until I tried my mate’s. To me it’s a game changer, despite the lack of ‘proper’ games. But Resident Evil 7 is definitely one of those proper games. It terrified me like no other game I’ve ever played. A couple of time I bottled out of playing it while ‘stood’ in the trailer home on the start screen. Jack Baker is the scariest character I’ve met in a game, period. The music deserves commendation as well, at times I was scared even when nothing was happening because of the music and the incidental noises.

Zelda: Breath Of The Wild is a conundrum to me. I’m multiple hours into it, I’ve had instances of supreme joy and amazement but I’ve then had periods of being totally lost or that far from a goal that I’ve not been bothered to reach it. It will be one of the Zeldas I complete as it is that good, but it’s going to take time and effort but I’m sure after I’ve found all the moons in Super Mario Odyssey I’ll get totally immersed in the game again.

Honourable mention goes to Metroid: Samus Returns. Which almost edged into the top three, but after being lost in it for days I got interrupted and haven’t gone back in since. I thus score it less than the others as they have compelled me to carry on playing even after life has gotten in the way.

I can’t really compare my list to what I’d have picked for last year’s game of the year because nothing really stood out or was that memorable, perhaps 2017 really was a golden year for gaming.

Making the cut

My third favourite game of 2017 is Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle. Easily described as a dumbed-down XCOM but that is a disservice to this game. Kingdom Battle also has a lot of personality, along with a number of puzzles in the overworld and challenge battles. Not all worked, but overall they combined to make Kingdom Battle a more rounded game and give it a little something extra. This is the reason I enjoyed it far more than its very obvious reference.

Second is Super Mario Odyssey, which is a fun jaunt through a range of different hub worlds. These are of various sizes and all are fun to explore. There are also some fiendish challenges in the post-game. The moon Breakdown Road: Final Challenge took me over 200 attempts and had me swearing like a trooper. Special mention should also go to the sound, which is some of the best I have heard. It is uncommon for game music to stick in my head but there are at least four Mario tunes in there, particularly the Wooded Kingdom theme.

And my favourite game of 2017 is predictably The Legend of… ‘Wer-Zip’ sound from commercials, followed by a person doing a double take with a confused expression. No actually my favourite game was not Zelda, it did not even make the top three.

My favourite game of 2017 is What Remains Of Edith Finch. An excellent story about the lives (and deaths) of family members. The memories are all portrayed in interesting and varied ways that often spill over into fantasy. It also has an excellent narrative that keeps the game interesting even when you are just walking to the next room. Highly recommended.

Notable games that did not make the cut:
The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild which I will probably come to appreciate in the fullness of time but currently I have only completed one divine beast and it has never quite clicked.

Horizon Zero Dawn – I very much enjoyed shooting robot dinosaurs but the competition from other games was a little too strong. (Horizon probably would have won almost any other year).

Uncharted: the Lost Legacy – as always with Uncharted this was an adventure to beautiful locations and had excellent character interaction. It just did not have the giant set pieces of the other games. (Although the last mission is brilliant).

Superhot VR – Easily the best VR game I have played, even if it is just scenes lifted from the main game.

E-mail your comments to: [email protected]

Best. Year. Ever.

Number 1: The Legend Of Zelda
Number 2: Resident Evil 7
Number 3: What Remains Of Edith Finch

What a brilliant year for gaming. Probably the best I can remember as a 34-year-old gamer.

Zelda is such an easy choice, I’d never properly played a Zelda game before this. Without question the best of 2017 and probably of all time. I am not sure I have any negatives.

Resident Evil 7 was a game drenched in atmosphere. The horror and dread at the beginning was hard to bear. I never played in VR but was still petrified throughout.

Edith Finch was a proper mystery, unravelling the story bit by bit. It hooked me from start to finish.

I had a problem with listing just three games and genuinely felt guilty leaving out things like Horizon Zero Dawn, Super Mario Odyssey, Firewatch, and Wolfenstein. What a year.

GC: Firewatch was 2016.

Top one

I only bought one new game last year, which was Sniper Elite 4, so I can’t write in with a top three. I struggled to enjoy the game at first, but once I began selecting the correct range on my rifle and my shots started finding their targets the game’s merits became clear.

Sniper Elite 4 has been terrific so far, the enemy AI is challenging which makes the gun fights really tense. I think what I like most about the game is the choice it offers. You can snipe from a distance or charge in and fight toe to toe.

In an age of dumbed down shooters, Sniper Elite 4 is refreshingly nuanced and strategic. I’m glad I bought it.
msv858 (Twitter)

Not yet classics

I think I missed out on a few of the biggest games of 2017, due to a lack of Switch or gaming PC, but there were enough good games to keep me happy regardless. I probably wouldn’t put any of them in my top 10 of all time – at least, not yet.

At three, Persona 5 is the first Persona I played. It’s really well presented, and the time passing approach is different from any other role-playing games I’ve played and fairly well handled. I like the setting too, though the combat is fairly one note.

At two, Nioh plays like a slightly trashy Dark Souls, but it’s none the worse for it. The atmosphere and world building is lacking when compared to the Souls games, but the action role-playing approach behind the combat and loot works surprisingly well.

Prey is the top of the pile. It doesn’t help itself by being very difficult at the start, particularly presenting as a combat game, when it really isn’t, and it often looks quite rough around the edges. However, as you progress the feeling of slowly mastering your situation, and piecing together the (exceptionally well-designed) layout of the station is second to none.

You also always seem to have a number of different ways of progressing that feel a lot more organic than the Deus Ex duct/hacking/violence combination. It may not have the inspired opening, but otherwise it feels like a game that lives up to BioShock’s promise.
Matt Woolley

All three

My top three games of 2017 would have to be first Zelda: Breath Of The Wild, second Super Mario Odyssey, and third NieR: Automata.

Having not owned a Nintendo console since the GameCube, the Nintendo Switch, along with Zelda, was just a proposition I couldn’t refuse. The glowing reviews and potential ‘Best Game Ever’ tags I had to experience it for myself. Having put 130+ hours into the game didn’t disappoint. The main story, exploration, variety of gameplay all wrapped up in one beautiful looking game.

Super Mario Odyssey, for all it’s worth, was always going to come up short against Breath Of The Wild for me, but taking nothing away from it the fun and joy I’ve had completing it firmly puts it at number two. Again, the variety in gameplay and the challenges put it head and shoulder above anything else out this year

Thirdly is NieR: Automata, a game I initially struggled with. It was until close to the end of playthrough one that the game really clicked with me. I spent close to 40 hours completing the main storylines and by the end of the third main ending felt I had been on quite the emotional journey. The story resonated to me in ways other games never have before.

Having the privilege of owning all three current generation consoles I would just like to add my top three PlayStation 4 games. These would be NieR: Automata, Wolfenstein II, and The Surge. I would also like to say a special mention to Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, which I enjoyed more than the main game, and The Evil Within 2.

Unfortunately, Microsoft have been rather disappointing this year and nothing of worth for me to play. Here’s hoping for a better 2018 from them.
Christopher Smith

Return to form

My favourite three games released in 2017 are the following:

Yakuza Zero
I remember playing Yakuza Zero when it released and luckily enough it coincided with a week I had booked off work. With no other plans other than to take a well-earned break I spent the majority of my free time playing Yakuza.

It’s for me the best release in the series, it controls better, flows better, and looks absolutely stunning on the PlayStation 4. Being able to play as Majima and getting his backstory was a major plus for me.

Resident Evil 7
This was a great way to start the year and was something I was unsure of until I played the demo. I had been disappointed with the change of the Resident Evil formula since the fourth entry, but at least liked 4, and loved 5 thanks to the addition of co-op. But 6, for me, was awful so I was concerned over 7’s quality initially.

Resident Evil 7 turned out to be a true return to form and more in the spirit of the older games I had long hungered for. It now boasted a first person viewpoint, but had the dark horror aspects from the original games and was excellent. I will happily replay it from time, like I do with the original games as it’s up there with them.

On to my third choice, I’ve opted for Yooka Laylee. I know there have been a lot of people questioning its quality, but as someone who grew up playing games like Super Mario 64, Donkey Kong 64, and Banjo-Kazooie I really appreciated this game immensely.

This was like a return to my favourite style games from my childhood, and considering it didn’t have the biggest budget with it being a Kickstarter game, I think they did a brilliant job and I look forward to what Playtonic does next and believe it will only get better.

Play, finish, repeat

Undertale on PlayStation is my number one pick for game of 2017. It lives up to the hype. It’s my favourite role-player of all time and it if weren’t for those random battles then it would be 10 out of 10 stuff. I have had to force myself to not play it – it’s that good.

In second place would be Persona 5, which is now my second favourite role-player of all time. It had that extremely rare quality that it shares with the likes of Resident Evil 4: the moment I beat it, I had to go onto New Game+ almost instantly. And like Undertale, I’m having to stop myself from going through a third time in quick succession. But the combat is not as interesting as Undertale and Toby Fox’s masterpiece has better storytelling – especially for the finale. And I loved Persona 5’s finale. I know some have taken against the Persona 5 ending but I am not one of them. No, sir-ee.

And lastly, Sonic Mania. I know, right? Again, this game is just so replayable. I’m making that a word. When I was hunting down those last gold medals and Chaos Emeralds, I thought I would get sick of Green Hill Zone. But no. It’s always fun. And exacting my revenge on Heavy Shinobi at the end of Press Garden Zone as Super Sonic? Aww, so satisfying – you have no idea…

Perfect combination

My top three games of 2017 are:
1 – Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battles
2 – Zelda: Breath Of The Wild
3 – Splatoon 2

Mario + Rabbids was like a perfect storm for me, I love the XCOM franchise, but even though it’s still playable on the laptop in the lounge on the sofa, as it’s a tactical game and not an action one, the Switch was designed for me, well off TV on the couch.

The way the abilities unlock and the countless combinations of the individual’s skills with different team-mates added a lot of depth. Getting it right and just obliterating the enemies is very satisfying.

I’ve still got one level to go, the DLC one with the 20-something zones to tick off, I refuse to YouTube the solution but I’ll crack it one day.

Just wish it had online competitive. The couch competitive mode would be great if I had anyone my level to play at home.

An honourable mention goes out to Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. Think I’m up to 500 hours on that, it’s definitely my most played game again, but that’s down to our community as much as anything.

Although we don’t talk about it much, Team GC is still going strong, somehow we have teams in our division this season that have multiple world record holders for track time trials… it’s been a rough season!
Antony White

Long list

So 2017 – what a year for gaming! Just going through the list of games released in 2017 in order to check what I had played I was amazed by all of the great games and of the list there are 11 that I have played and two that I am currently playing, which is far higher than in previous years (I think that in 2016 I probably managed half of that).

So the games that I played were Resident Evil 7, Yakuza 0, Ghost Recon: Wildlands, Horizon Zero Dawn, Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild, Lego Worlds, Yooka-Laylee, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (wasn’t sure whether the put this in as it is essentially a remaster?), Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle, Assassin’s Creed Origins, Super Mario Odyssey, and Gran Turismo Sport. The games that I am currently playing are Rayman Legends: Definitive Edition (again not sure this counts, but it was released in 2017) and Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2. My nominations are as follows:

Game of the year: Super Mario Odyssey, I absolutely loved the game from start to finish and think that it is a masterpiece!

Number 2: Horizon Zero Dawn, right up until December 25th this was my nomination for game of the year, until I played Super Mario Odyssey!

Number 3 – Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, the first Mario Kart I’ve played since Double Dash, still playing and absolutely loving it!

Number 4 – Resident Evil 7, I absolutely loved this game, although I found it totally unsettling to play so had to play it in bursts (I don’t think I ever managed more than two hours at a time).

Number 5 – Assassin’s Creed Origins, I thought that this was a welcome return for the franchise and loved the game. It did start to outstay its welcome towards the end though, which is why it isn’t higher on my list.

Number 6 – Gran Turismo Sport, another welcome return and the first time I’d played a Gran Turismo since GT3: A-Spec.

Number 7 – Ghost Recon: Wildlands, the first Ghost Recon game I’ve ever played, but I loved the story.

Number 8 – Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild, I appreciate that I might become a hate figure for this but I found it frustrating and it just didn’t click with me – technically it is a brilliant game though just probably not for me (I will try again one day).

Number 9 – Yakuza 0, again possibly against popular opinion but it didn’t click with me.

Number 10 – Lego Worlds, still trying to work out exactly what I am doing with it but I like the game.

Number 11 – Yooka-Laylee, probably my biggest disappointment of 2017. Too many small issues that altogether made a much bigger one, the boss fight in the casino made me want to throw my controller through my TV so it’s at the bottom of the list!

It’s funny – numbers three to six changed place frequently while I was writing this, but this is what I eventually stuck to. I’ve not included Rayman or Lego Marvel 2 because I have not played enough to form a proper opinion yet.
Rickie Ratpack (gamertag)/Rickandrolla (PSN ID)/SW-1702-53714626

2017 part II

This is probably one of toughest years to pick a top three but here goes…

1. Horizon Zero Dawn – I could probably list a dozen ways of how this could be improved in a sequel but it’s no doubt one of the best games I’ve ever played and definitely my favourite of 2017. Both story and gameplay kept me coming back for more and it looks amazing (so much so that I’m saving The Frozen Wilds expansion for when I upgrade to a 4k TV later this year). Like I said, there’s room for improvement in a sequel, hopefully making the open world a little more interactive, but congrats to Guerrilla Games on what is surely the best thing they’ve ever produced.

2. Yakuza Zero – my only previous experience of the Yakuza series was a demo on the PlayStation 2 but this seemed like the perfect starting point. The main story is excellent and the absolutely crazy side missions and mini-games always raise a smile. The business side missions for property and hostess clubs could be full games on their own, and being able to play arcade versions of OutRun and Super Hang-On is always a bonus. I’ve still got a couple of chapters to go before I finish it but I’ll definitely be purchasing Yakuza Kiwami once Zero is complete. I’m sold on the series now.

3. Farpoint – I’ve had a great time with VR this year, so wanted to include a VR game in my top three. It was a toss-up between this and Resident Evil 7, but the fact you can aim down sights by raising the Aim Controller to eye level just about seals it! As an ordinary first person shooter it wouldn’t be anywhere near my top 10 but the added immersion of VR takes it to another level. I hope we get more VR games like this going forward.

Honourable mentions: Super Mario Odyssey – great game and would’ve made my top three if I hadn’t wanted to include a VR game.

Zelda: Breath Of The Wild – only played a couple of hours so far but can tell it’s going to be special although hasn’t quite grabbed me yet like Horizon Zero Dawn.

Uncharted: The Lost Legacy – more Uncharted, ’nuff said.

FIFA 18 – my five-year-old son loves it, and can actually beat me. I’m getting old!

Here’s to 2018, where I’ll mostly be catching up on the 2017 classics I’ve yet to play! Keep up the good work.

Believe the hype

My top three and a couple of honourable mentions:

1) Zelda: Breath Of The Wild (Switch)

I definitely fall into the camp of people who bought a Switch to play this game. Worth every penny.

This game is glorious in every way; gameplay, graphics, music and overall presentation are absolutely top notch. I’m nowhere near finished with this yet but have loved the 50+ hours I’ve spent exploring this world. No, it’s not perfect (I like the idea behind the weapon degrading, as it encourages variety, but think the weapons break far too easily), but to my mind this is as close to perfection as most games will get. I expect this to stand the test of time as a classic example of what video games can be, across any genre.

I’ve spent the vast majority of time playing this game handheld and to have so accomplished an experience available during the commute is phenomenal. I’m conscious of not wanting to veer into Switch over Zelda praise here so I’ll leave it there, but it is a real treat.


2) PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PC)

Even in final release, this game is still a bit rough around the edges. There can be a lot of lag in the first few minutes and collision detection for vaulting can be imprecise. It doesn’t matter, this game is fantastic.

The thing I love the most is that every game I play is a complete experience and tells a story from start to finish. Some of those stories last less than a minute and end with me being punched to death in my pants, but others end in car chases, ambushes, sniper battles, ferocious gunfights and more. The gameplay is tense, exciting and rewards strategic and tactical play.

Getting my first chicken dinner is without doubt my favourite gaming moment of 2017 and in most years this would be my number one. The Battle Royale genre is exploding as a direct result of this game and I couldn’t be happier for that.

3) Mario Kart 8 Deluxe (Switch)

To Wii U owners this may be just a remaster (albeit a portable one!), but as someone who never got to play Mario Kart 8 – wow! The gameplay is impeccable and the presentation is typical Nintendo first party brilliance. For me, the thing that really keeps me coming back is the sheer variety on offer. 48 tracks, all the online and vs. options, plus battle mode. I can’t stay away and I struggle to see how the franchise can top this offering – but I look forward to seeing Nintendo try!

Honourable mentions: Persona 5 (PS4), XCOM 2: War of the Chosen (PC)

Persona 5 (PC)

Persona only fell to number four on the basis of the repetition in the dialogue/texts and the disappointing job on translation. This is an outstanding game in almost every way – I really love it – but they’ve let themselves down on something which is pretty fundamental to the experience (particularly in a game of this length). If we were talking ‘Most Stylish’ awards though, Persona is an easy number one.

XCOM 2: War Of The Chosen (PC)

This is how you do an expansion. This has completely reinvigorated an already excellent game. I love almost all of the changes and the added variety is fantastic. This almost felt like playing a whole new game and I’ve had a lot of fun with the new mission types and mechanics on offer.

Nothing bad

My third choice for best of 2017 is Splatoon 2, it’s just so much fun and the feeling you get from covering the arenas in paint and splatting opponents is stupendous.

The support the game is getting from Nintendo in terms of new weapons, arenas, and Splatfests is just the icing on the cake for me.

I’ve been playing it on and off since it was released and I’m actually quite good at it, given a decent set of teammates I rarely lose battles.

I love this game.

My second choice has to be Horizon Zero Dawn. I never found the game repetitive like GC did, I’ve really enjoyed the game, the combat is very satisfying. I love how different enemies have different weak points/resistances, and I love how you have to go about stripping a machine of its armour plating and weapons, also being a right tart for pretty graphics I have to say how stunning the game world is. From the forests to the deserts, everything just comes together to make one of my favourite games on PlayStation 4. I thought the new enemies in the DLC were very cheap though, spamming area of effect attacks and wot not. But the main game is just excellent in my opinion.

My first choice for best of 2017 is Super Mario Odyssey. I’ve been playing it on and off since October and it’s just so slick, it’s one of my top games of all time. I beat the story a while ago but getting all the moons is proving to be very tricky. There is one in the desert that needs Mario to capture a Bullet Bill to reach a crate with a moon inside and I’m having a right ‘mare getting all the way across the sand to the pillar with the hidden moon. Thing is I enjoy playing it so much that I have become a little obsessed with 100%ing it.

The list of games that get under my skin in this way is short, I love everything about this game.

The visuals are stunningly pretty and the level design is just bang on, there is nothing bad I can say about Super Mario Odyssey. The gameplay is just sublime and just by itself makes it worthwhile owning a Switch.

Top 20 of 1991

I have given my three votes a lot of consideration, basing them on the following criteria: what I have enjoyed the most, what has impressed me, and what I continue to play into 2018. It was a year when the allure of a new console (Switch) meant the PS4 and Xbox took a bit of backseat which I suspect a large number of gamers may also have experienced. You may not approve of my choices though….

1. Ultra Street Fighter II

OK, let’s get this controversial choice out of the way first. Street Fighter II is my all-time fave game and having it brought to the Switch was what sold me on the system. Nearly 1,000 online matches in and I still love to jump on and play the Arcade mode or Ranked matches. I have more playtime on this than any other game on my Switch. It’s also been a highlight at the gaming social events I help set up. Yes, it was overpriced, but Capcom’s greed aside Street Fighter is still an amazing game to this day. I also don’t mind the newer art style, which I accept is not to everyone’s taste. Ultra Street Fighter II has a problem with everyone online choosing Akuma, or the two broken new shotos (all three are completely broken and cheap) but it makes a win with Dhalsim so much sweeter.

2. Super Mario Odyssey

A pure joy from start to finish. A very memorable middle section and enough post game content to ensure I’m still playing well into 2018. Nintendo seem to have this knack of churning out almost perfect level and character design. To disregard Nintendo because ‘it’s for kids’ is to cut off your nose to spite your face. Zelda might be the better game, but for accessibility and moment to moment fun nothing comes close this year.

3. Polybius

A VR game in my top three! Yep it’s that good. I loved Space Giraffe and bought PlayStation VR off the back of Jeff Minter’s new game and it didn’t disappoint. With headphones in and the sound up full it offers amazing visuals, an excellent soundtrack, and Minter’s tried and tested eccentric gameplay hooks.

I didn’t buy VR to be scared witless. Polybius shows us the potential of VR as a purer gaming format. When you hit that sweet spot between sound, VR visuals, and controls it’s like nothing else available to buy (except Rez, it’s a bit like Rez).

A matter of taste

1) Thimbleweed Park
This was everything I expected Broken Age to be (and was bitterly disappointed when it was not).
It totally brought back the feel of a late 80s/early 90s LucasArts point ‘n’ click game without feeling stuck in the past. The graphics instantly evoke that old vibe (primarily through the background artist being Mark Ferrari, who worked on Loom and Monkey Island). The evolution of the old SCUMM interface are subtle but welcome. For instance, instead of having a bar where the verbs are constructed, it gets connected to the cursor, increasing screen estate. Instead of having the verbs on a black background, they are superimposed on the room you are in, making the game feel less cramped. Some of the writing was very good, especially for Ransome and Delores, two of the player characters.

I loved it, and wish someone would do the same with the 90s Japanese role-player (and to be fair Octopath Traveler may do). It’s disappointing that it seemed to sell decently but not well enough to instantly convince Ron Gilbert to make another.

2) Sonic Mania
I’d been hyped for this since it was first unveiled – the first true Sonic game, with proper Sonic physics and no dumbed-down boost mechanics – since Sonic & Knuckles over 20 years ago. Made primarily by the man who had ported all the classic Sonic games so expertly. And it didn’t let me down. All the remixed zones had great new ideas, and the totally new zones were fun and imaginative. The physics were spot on (though I still prefer the insta-shield to the drop dash), and both the new and remixed music were also extremely good.

3) Cuphead
Fleischer Studios is my absolute favourite animation style, so the incredible hand-drawn animation in Cuphead in that style instantly appealed to me. But that still wouldn’t have been enough on its own to lift it from being a Dragon’s Lair/Space Ace curio if behind it wasn’t a very good game, and thankfully Cuphead is a brilliant run ‘n’ gun which is satisfyingly difficult and has fantastically weird bosses to defeat.

I’d like to quickly go over the obvious omissions. Though I was very impressed by Zelda: Breath Of The Wild in general, I did very much miss proper dungeons. I found the trials and divine beasts somewhat lacking. I had far more fun with the survival island that takes away all your stuff then I did with the dungeons.

And with Super Mario Odyssey, again I really liked the game, but was not a huge fan of the ship as a hub – Mario 64’s castle is still far superior in that respect, as it also is in how the star you challenge for can subtly shift the dynamics of the course. I recognise both as brilliant in what they did, even if not entirely all of it was to my tastes.

In my all time list, Thimbleweed Park and Sonic would feature in my top 50 for sure. Cuphead probably in my top 100. 2017 was the best gaming year for me since the nineties. So many good games I don’t have space to go into without rambling (this is already a ramble really!)
Lord Darkstorm

Catch up on every previous Games Inbox here

Breath of Andromeda

So, having spent all of last year thinking how difficult it would be to choose a top three, the reality is that it’s even worse! Having said that, my choice of number one was actually easy, I just had to look at my screen and see which one I’m still playing (for the lost-track-of-times amount). After that came the nit-picking hard choices for positions two and three, and then the almost-but-not-quite honourable mentions that round out my list.

1. Mass Effect: Andromeda
Yes, really. I’ve spent hundreds of hours playing this game on PC and PlayStation 4. It might not be the best game technically, but it’s the only one that has drawn me in to a degree none of the others have managed, making it *my* best game of the year.

2. Zelda: Breath Of The Wild
The game that launched the Switch has seen me sink many enjoyable hours into it. I bought the season pass as soon as it was available and the extras have all added to the central game well. In some ways it still has faults (some of the gameplay details could use a lesson from Horizon Zero Dawn, which has a better melee system in my opinion) but there’s no doubt it’s a stand-out game amongst the gems of 2017.

3. Super Mario Odyssey
Zelda may have launched the Switch, but this had me wondering how Nintendo could ever produce better games in the future. Yet, for all that it still has some, minor, faults and like all ‘best ever, never be beaten’ video games, there’s always another one in the pipeline that somehow manages that feat. Still, after all the enjoyable hours I put into playing it I’ve yet to want a second run through. Maybe once I complete my backlog? Maybe.

Any of the games in my honourable mentions list would easily have topped the list in any other year. All have taken up large chunks of my spare time, and all with their own look, feel and required skill-set. I wish they could all fit in my top three, but the cut had to go somewhere.

Horizon Zero Dawn
Beautiful, epic, and has giant robot dinosaurs… this came so close to toppling Odyssey out of the top three, but in the end just missed out.

Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (on the Nintendo Switch)
While the game itself isn’t new, it is as a Switch release, making it *just* about count. Still by far one of the best role-playing games ever produced, even if it’s starting to show its age graphically.

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle
A game that came out of left field and into my list of best games of 2017, I honestly didn’t think that anyone would be able to make another decent Rabbids game, even though I enjoyed the original immensely. I am very glad to have been wrong, and recommend anyone that hasn’t tried playing this wonderful strategy game to go out and get a copy at once.

Splatoon 2
One of the best games for the Wii U made even better for the Switch, and that’s something I didn’t think I’d say either. Nintendo took the first person squad shooter and showed the world just how it *should* be done… then made it better.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
Another excellent Wii U game tweaked to greater heights of perfection than I thought possible, and the one game that most of my family played over the Xmas period thanks to its split-screen multiplayer.
Years as good as 2017, at least for video gaming anyway, come along rarely, so if 2018 can get close it will be another good gaming year.

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