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Returning in 2017

Games of the Year - A list

The year is over which can only mean one thing, a list! Here’s the game’s I played this year (important note) that I thought were better than the other games I played this year.

5. Super Mega Baseball 2 -

Super Mega Baseball is a near perfect baseball game, capturing the feel of the game without going so deep into simulation territory that it loses the player’s interest. The sequel improves the visuals and single player season options while also adding online multiplayer modes. The game’s ego settings let you completely tune the difficulty of the AI at very coarse granularities, keeping the game’s difficulty curve perfectly smooth. It’s a shame they moved away from the manager aspect of the first game as I think there was a lot of potential there. At the end of the day the game looks and plays great, and it’s real fun to fight your way through a season or when bringing the game online.

4. Pokemon Let’s go -

I can’t remember the last Pokemon game I’ve played to completion. Each iteration I buy the new game and quickly get overwhelmed and bored by the sheer number of at this point ridiculous pokemon. Keeping things simple and returning back to the original 151 did wonders for Let’s go and brought jaded fools like me back to our childhoods. I could not put the game down until I was well into the end game and loved all of my time with it. The new encounter and catch mechanics are a great change to the classic formula and remove a lot of the tedium of Pokemon games past.

3. Yakuza 0 -

Yes this game actually came out years ago on PS3, but it released on PC this year and I had way too much fun to not include it so I’m counting it. This game should not work from a tonal standpoint. The main plot is hyper serious Yakuza drama with a lot of angry japanese yelling and killing while the open world is hyper ridiculous. Underground bikini wrestling, teaching a dominatrix how best to humiliate men, and protecting Miracle Johnson (Michael Jackson) from zombies during his music video shoot are just a few of the numerous side stories to experience during the game. Rather than being disconnecting, these stories serve to pull you towards the game’s protagonists and leave the game world feeling alive and real. The main story itself is also very engaging, with incredible japanese voice acting to go with it. The world is small for an open world game it it is full of life and character, something many other open world games (looking at you Ubisoft) are severely lacking.

2. Octopath Traveler -

A classic class and turn based JRPG on a mainline console in 2018? What many would take as a sign of the end times I embraced with wide open arms. This game is the genre perfected, featuring amazing combat and well balanced classes as well as eight unique stories to experience. The stories play out a little too similarly across characters, and overleveling can be an issue if you don’t balance your character’s party time well, but these are small complaints for an otherwise perfect game.

Honorable Mentions:

Before we get to number 1 here’s some other games I played this year that I liked a lot, but less than the other games on this list.

Smash Ultimate -

It’s the new smash, same as the old smash. It’s got everyone and plays fantastically. If you like smash’s previous you’ll love this and if you don’t like old smash games then you are missing a piece of your brain. These games are fun no matter who you are.

Forza Horizon 4 -

The world of Forza Horizon 4 is wonderful to drive through, and with a wonderful variation of event types, cars, and the new inclusion of seasons there’s a ton to see and explore. Also that Halo race is great.

Blops 4 -

I feel a little dirty putting this game here, but I really can’t stop playing this game. The zombies mode is awesome, I’ve played it more than in any previous game (except World at War) combined. The battle royale mode is surprisingly epic, with the crisp gunplay of COD and none of the dumb building of Fortnite. Multiplayer is multiplayer, brainless but addictive. It has its flaws and shortcomings, but I haven’t played a Call of Duty game this much since Modern Warfare 2.

Celeste -

An awesome and challenging platformer that has an intriguing story about accepting and embracing the “dark” parts of yourself. Even if you’re not into these types of games I feel like you won’t be able to put Celeste down. The game controls are extremely tight, and you know most of your deaths (of which there will be many) are your fault rather than the games.

And now, the game of this year that I liked more than all the other game’s of this year…

1. God of War -

Another game that took me completely by surprise, this year’s God of War truly has no faults. The game flawlessly transferred into the world of norse mythology and brought heart and soul to Kratos, who was until this game a heartless soulless killing machine. His age shows, and the weights of his past are clearly present in his approach in fathering his son, boy. The combat feels great and weighty making encounters with even basic enemies fun. The idle chatter between Kratos and his son builds the relationship and fleshes out the world, especially if you’re not familiar with the mythology. The twists and turns of the story are incredible, with a particular callback to the original trilogy that blew my mind. The revelations at the end of the game also pave the way for what already is an incredible trilogy of games. I cannot think of a single negative thing to say about this game, and would encourage everyone to play through it. This is what a game should be, and shows that there is still a place for traditional single player narrative driven games. It is an absolute shame that this is a unique experience and no longer the standard approach to game design. It seems now that games are designed to pull as much money out of players as possible. Hopefully the success of this game pulls publishers back from the brink of “games as a service”, and encourages more games like it.