GOTY: Tom’s Favorite Games of 2017

Instead of creating a giant list of the best games of the year, resulting in fighting and tears, SideQuesting opts instead to let our esteemed Editors share their favorite 5 or so of the year. These are generally new games, but remakes (and heck, even old games if they get updates) are viable to be included.

It’s Tom’s turn to show us what kept him engrossed in 2017!

Switch Ports, in general

Every one of Nintendo’s tentpole Switch releases bummed me out, but I still love the thing because of the quality and quantity of ports I can play on the go.

Having games like Overcooked, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and the likes in my bag when I’m traveling or out in the world is amazing, not to mention that I can play Stardew Valley pretty much anywhere or anytime now.

NieR: Automata

All logic would dictate that I would hate NieR: Automata.

For starters, I hated the original NieR so much that I literally threw the physical game in the trash. That aside, there are so many weird things about this game that on paper wouldn’t click with me, like the game’s awful map, the fact that it feels like a weird PS2 game somehow lost out of time, and knowing going in that I would have to run through the game several times to get the “real” endings and see what the game has to offer, and you have a recipe for something that isn’t my jam at all.

Fast forward to the end of 2017 when I’m singing the game’s praises to anyone who will listen. I don’t know, call me a sucker for sad robots and anime bullshit, but I adore this game. It’s story, while a slow burn, kept me enthralled for the 40+ hours I spent turning in side quests and listening to existential angst about what it means to be alive. Sure, the combat is less than inspired, which is a bummer because there is a lot of robot fightin’ to do, but everything around it was just so interesting that it didn’t matter.

Also there’s a weird robot orgy in it and that’s the only part my partner decided to watch me play, so that was a fun conversation, I guess?

Yakuza 0

I picked up the original Yakuza a little over a decade ago based solely on the box art and bounced off of it almost immediately and haven’t touched the series since. That said, Yakuza 0 has turned me into a series convert.

The game is able to walk a very careful tightrope in balancing moments of deadly seriousness, such as the main plot of internal Yakuza politics and power struggles, land disputes, and murder with complete inanity and weirdness. One moment you’re playing a main story mission, crushing men against vending machines with a baseball bat to get information, then the game opens back up and you’re playing a crane game, or an emulated version of Space Harrier in a Sega arcade, or kitting out a slot car so you can keep winning the circuit. It’s a weird and wonderful game that has so much going on in it, and I found myself spending more time noodling around with side activities in substories than I did with the main quest, which is unusual for me as I tend to burn through games and move on to the next one.

I don’t know if it was the timing, or me being a dumb 17 year old or what, but I’m so glad this game (and the subsequent remaster of the original, Yakuza Kiwami) released in 2017 to grip me hard with both hands and drag me back into this series I otherwise would have never given another shot. 

PLAYERUNKNOWN’S BATTLEGROUNDS

PUBG is a total phenomenon. It’s made me not only care about a type of game that I actively disliked for years, but turned me into an absolute monster, dumping hundreds of hours into it.

I was always a casual shooter fan, with multiplayer, competitive stuff never really scratching my particular itch. Survival games like DayZ and battle royale games like King of the Kill were even less interesting to me. That said, the fact that I have gotten deep into a game like this, closely following the meta and working for hours to understand such minute things like bullet drop and the like is far out of the ordinary and a testament to the type of lightning in a bottle they’ve gotten.

It’s the best game of it’s type, and it’s secretly the best horror game of the year. It’s intensity and ability to get my blood pumping goes completely unmatched by any game releasing that year.

Night in the Woods

I had a lot of fun with so many games this year, but goddamn, Night in the Woods made me feel things and hit closer to home than anything else I’ve ever played. Sure, on the surface it’s another side-scrolling adventure game, albeit one with an art style so good that Taylor Swift ads hijacked it whole cloth. Past that, though, it’s quite possibly the most well-written and most effective game I’ve played in a long time.

It’s the type of game that only works because of its character interactions, and those moments are written and handled with a level of care that I haven’t really seen before. It’s so common in game’s writing, and in dialogue writing in general, to make characters that, even when flustered, can get right to the point and articulate everything they need to in a moment. Night in the Woods isn’t like that. Characters stumble, they fight to find the right things to say and at times the frustration shows. The dialogue feels so incredibly real, to an extent that I really can’t get over even now months after playing it.

Nailing all of that writing in situations like being late for band practice, or fighting with your parents when they’re worried about losing the house, they all just feel like real conversations being had like real people.

The moments between friends who are butting heads but ultimately care about each other and coming to grips with who they are remind me of the interactions I’d have with my idiot friends would have had behind the back of a gas station when we were smashing shopping carts into a dumpster to pass the time or when showing up for band practice. I’ve never experienced anything like it, and don’t know if I will again.

Sure, some of the puzzle platforming is less than stellar and the of weird in the back third, but it’s by far my favorite game of 2017.

Author: Tom Johnson

Tom is an editor for SideQuesting, as well as a freelance photojournalist and videographer for various outlets around the New York Metro area. He enjoys chili cookoffs, good scotch, cat videos and viewers like you.

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