exempt until I finish them: Breath of the Wild, Mario Odyssey, Tokyo Xanadu EX+, YS8
2017 was actually fantastic as a year in gaming, to tell you the truth I would definitely put all the games below within my top 35~ of all time at the moment, which is pretty high since I did an ordered list earlier where I had roughly 200~ just from my backlog listing and I’ve played more than that for sure over the span of the 16 years I’ve been playing video games or something.
TIL I’m no good with GIMP and should stick to Photoshop as well, or something.
5) Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia
I really enjoyed this entry in the FE series, I feel like it expanded on Valentia as a world a lot from the time I played Gaiden and really gave it the modern touch it needed to feel good playing. Gaiden as a game feels like a grind, and everything also feels slow and this game mostly touched that up other than certain map designs, which pleased me greatly.
But what really impressed me about this game was the levels of presentation and care that went into the world building. After playing Fates and Awakening, I kinda lost my faith in the future installments of the series due to the lack of depth the world and stories were given, (Fates continent still doesn’t have a name hello?) and while this may be a remake of an older game.. Gaiden itself had probably like 50 written lines in it and most of the story in that game was actually in a booklet the game comes with. Hidari’s artwork, along with the arranged music really sold me on this game’s excellence. Maybe IS still can have it in them, I’ll at least be picking up FESwitch whenever it comes out.
Heritors of Arcadia >>>> Lost in Thoughts All Alone btw (just my opinion haha)
4) Persona 5
It’s no surprise that a game this solid wouldn’t appear on my list. If I had to argue that video games are an artistic medium, one of the games I’d show you is probably this game. I have my own problems with this game personally, but the progress it made for future installments and gaming in general can’t be understated. The gameplay is still as amazing as ever when you get into it, and the artwork and music done by Soejima and Meguro are both sublime. A major bullet point about this game is it’s UI though, it felt really ahead of it’s time and it removes a lot of annoying menu scrolling that RPGs are pretty notorious for.
The core themes of this game are enticing, dungeons were upgraded from previous entries, and roaming around Japan feels really authentic as a Japanese person myself.
Hifumi is the best girl in this game btw, you guys can fight me.
3) The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky the 3rd
This game may not have originally come out in 2017, although it only came out in English this year.
This game was the perfect end to my favorite JRPG trilogy in existence. While I might like it’s predecessor more for very specific reasons, I can’t deny the improvements that this game made on it’s actual gameplay (which I’m sure paved the way for the gameplay actually being very fun in future installments) considering the fact I believe the gameplay to be the notable weak point of the Sky Trilogy, with FC being a large offender.
I can never complain about Falcom JDK’s music, and this game kind of hit it out of the park. I think the most notable thing is how the story is segmented and separated however. If you get too much of fighting battles, there are doors you can open that provide optional storyline content for your side-characters with various rewards. I love in game freedom, and this wasn’t any different. These sidestories were very endearing, and the overarching main plot was also very good. Having played certain games further into the series, it really impresses me how the team at Falcom were able to put in plot points in this game and set them up way further down the line.
I don’t support these two at all, please don’t do me like this Falcom.
2) Nier: Automata
And along with Persona 5, this is the other game I would show if I had to make an argument for video games being a medium of art.
Yoko Taro’s genius writing literally had me thinking about the game, the setting, and it’s characters for about a month even after completing this game. It’s not something I can just describe to a person, and it’s much better to experience. The voice direction and the stories of 2B, 9S, A2, and Pascal were also spectacular, and I’m not sure I would have felt the same way if their performances weren’t extremely good. People tell me I’m not a very emotional person though, but this game definitely got a lot of that out of me, and quite frequently too.
The sandbox world in this game really does it for me too, it’s just about as concise as it needs to be and changes depending on what you’ve experienced in the story as well. Small worlds like this can really be bolstered by a good narrative, and it got me quite attached to the areas you roam around. To add onto that, Keiichi Okabe’s music built the game up and the game definitely has one of my favorite soundtracks of all time. Platinum Game’s system for the game also works well, and I found it fun to transition during hacking segments and 3D roaming segments, although I can understand other people’s disdain about it.
What this game does really well though, is the fact that it constantly makes the player ask questions, but not only about the game or characters you’re playing. It’s a game that challenges what you believe about philosophical concepts, and basically anything relating to the human species that you could think of. This game is an experience I won’t ever forget, personally.
This song makes me wanna cry every time I hear it now, but I didn’t even care about it at the start of the game. ;_;
1) Xenoblade Chronicles 2
I didn’t really expect anything to top Nier: Automata, and my impressions of Xenoblade 2 weren’t amazing from the trailers they gave us. I had quite a bit to expect as well, since I really enjoyed Xenoblade Chronicles as well and I wasn’t quite sure if Monolith were capable of making a game as good as that.
But y’know, the two games aren’t really comparable to me after all. Xenoblade Chronicles 2 just feels like a completely different game to me, with only a few similarities to the first game.
Games are a culmination of all mediums, and this game basically has everything. It has a long overarching plot akin to what you’d see in a movie or book, great art and visuals, and an immense variety of amazing music. When you think about a game though, the game play is always incredibly important, because it is what sets a game apart from other forms of entertainment. In that regard, Xenoblade 2 doesn’t disappoint and probably has one of my favorite battle systems in a video game ever due to the depth, but also simplicity of it once you get it all working together. It’s a system where you’re still learning the ropes of it even towards the end of the game, but also feels great to play when you piece all the parts of it together. Despite being finished with the game, I still want to play it more, which isn’t a feeling I get very often at all. Comparably, I thought the first Xenoblade’s battle system was also nothing special, but I don’t get that with this game at all.
My favorite part of this game though, is the world of Alrest. To me, the world of Mira from Xenoblade Chronicles X wasn’t built up quite as well as Alrest was, while the beings of Bionis and Mechonis from Xenoblade Chronicles weren’t as impressive to me as much as the titans were in this game.
I actually really enjoyed exploring the world and finding new areas to do sidequests, fight monsters, or just take in the sights. All the music while exploring didn’t disappoint either, and every time I played more I started to get really sad that I wouldn’t be able to experience this for the first time ever again. Those sorts of feelings are the ones you get only when you experience something really special though, so it kinda speaks to how I feel about this game. Here’s to hoping Monolith can build another world like this.
Shit, I wish I actually could live here or something. (For a dying world, this place is actually too nice..)
And that’s it for me this year! I’ll be editing some other lists and posting a couple more in a bit but this was the big one I had to make anyways. Here’s to a good 2018!