Choosing game of the year is much like choosing the best of any media or arts category. You do your best to be objective and argue from a standpoint that would make sense, but in the end, you usually find yourself singing the praises of whatever it was that affected you the most personally. 2017 was a masterclass year for developers on how to create truly outstanding experiences. The flip side of that coin was bereft with micro-transactions clawing at your wallet with developers telling you game making is too expensive, like the executives at EA are bringing sack lunches to work filled with peanut butter sandwiches and raisins. A spectacular year for gaming nonetheless, here are three games that each in their own right deserve a piece of the GOTY pie.
Disclaimer: Personal opinions may not reflect your version of reality and what deserves a GOTY pick. Sorry Nintendo fans, I love you all though.
The Extreme personal bias GOTY pick.
Not that Nioh doesn’t deserve every bit of praise I am about to vomit about it, but other games did do certain things better, especially with the game having some glaring issues. I personally don’t care about those issues whatsoever. I put over 200 hours into Nioh this year between the base game and its expansions. You could find more engaging stories, better pacing, and design in other big titles that came out this year, but at heart, I will always be a hardcore action-game fan. Nioh is an absolute monster of a game in this regard. A sweet and menacing mixture between Ninja Gaiden and Souls, the sheer amount of time I spent grinding for builds and mastering combat styles is disgusting. I regret none of it. I played through this game on every difficulty it had, which each DLC added another tier of to create one of the most soul crushingly difficult experiences I’ve ever had in a video game. Normally this kind of repetition does not appeal to me at all, but with Nioh I always felt the urge to come back. To get better and create the perfect flow of combat mastery, to achieve the perfect blend of crafting, armor, accessories, and weapons to create specific builds for almost any style of play you can come up with. I love Team Ninja and I love Nioh. Needless to say, the second they announce a sequel to this game it will probably spell another 200 hours of my life lived in this universe. That’s a slice of life well spent IMO.
Horizon Zero Dawn
The game that deserves the prize.
This was the real winner this year. HZD managed to do almost everything right. Good story if a little hammy at points, wonderfully fun gameplay, stupidly gorgeous graphics with a design that’s even better and some of the most engaging and fun enemy variety I’ve encountered in a recent title. The thing about Horizon Zero Dawn that gets me I think, is that if it had been done with any less excellence, it probably would’ve been awful. It’s a concept that only works because the sum of its parts is so magnificent. Everything made sense to me while playing this game. Tedious side quests are always tedious but somehow I’m still doing them, enjoying the scenery and refining my expert marksman aim all the while. Upgrading and leveling could be more fleshed out, but they work and do just enough to intensify that feeling that by the end you’re some unstoppable dino-bot melting bow machine.
Not to mention The Frozen Wilds expansion which was honestly such a perfect example of how to do DLC correctly. 20 dollars can be a frightening price tag these days for gamers. Sometimes you spend $65 and find little more than the bare minimum effort in the box with a note that might as well say, “We’re not sorry. Also, would you like to buy the season pass with our ultra-deluxe diamond tier edition?” Ok enough about the loot box stuff I swear, but $20 can be a lot for very little these days. This is not true with The Frozen Wilds. The expansion is huge, full, and feels like a well-made and honest addition to what was already a phenomenal game.
The one that deserves the recognition.
Nier: Automata is the kind of video game that presents the player with experiences that could only exist in gaming. The splendid mixture of perspective, movement, finesse, music, characters, humor and presentation culminate into one of my favorite experiences of the year. The gameplay is definitely at the center of this title’s attraction (action-game fan remember?) with Platinum’s talent for creating combat systems that insist on skill, timing and a sense of flair. There are multiple characters to play, with tons of different weapons and accessories to learn. Multiple endings to explore, awesome enemy variety, great boss battles with some of my favorite designs in a game I saw this year. This game does so much right. Just go listen to the soundtrack, just do it. It’s seriously so good. I’m a fan of Platinum and obviously a fan of hack and slash combat, but Nier: Automata surprised me so many times. I was surprised by how much I cared when pivotal story points happened. I was surprised how much I laughed at the game’s quirky moments or was just in awe of the scale and grandeur on screen. So much of this game is what feels so special about video games in the first place. Video games as an art form, as an entertainment platform and as one to tell compelling stories are usually the categories you get for different games. Nier: Automata manages to be all of these in my opinion, and I feel that it deserves to stand alongside the other amazing titles from 2017.
Wrap it up.
Queue the 8-bit orchestra.
Every year I’m more and more surprised by the games I end up playing and loving the most. I honestly thought Breath of the Wild would dominate every category for me when that game came out. Don’t get me wrong that is a great game and I did love it, but these 3 stuck with me the most personally. I thought Mass Effect: Andromeda would be good. Expectations aside, there were quite a few gems this year and I’ll list a few mentions below for those.
The best of the rest.
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus/ The Legend Of Zelda: Breath of the Wild/ Yakuza 0/ Injustice 2/
So what were your favorites? Hate my choices? Love them? Let’s discuss in the comments below.