While I have already written a bit of a GOTY list via my work over at PC World, I did also want to write a more conventional Top 10 that leans into my own personal tastes a little bit more.
What can I say? It’s tradition.
10. Robo Recall
Given how much has happened between now and me finally buying a VR headset, I almost forgot to include Robo Recall on the list. However, given how much time I sunk into it — both individually and as a demo to show off VR to newcomers — Robo Recall deserves more than just a nod.
It’s fast, it’s fun, it’s simple where it needs to be and the deeper progression systems and moderately long campaign kept me coming back for more in a way that no other VR game has.
Domina is not an especially complicated game. At least, at first glance it isn’t. However, this gladiator management sim managed to lure me in for playthrough after playthrough after playthrough.
As tedious as it might seem from the outside, the thrill of training and then sending my gladiators into battle was an grisly delight — especially as the numbers grew higher and the results more absurdly bloody.
8. Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony
About 80% of the way through Danganronpa V3, I was pretty ready to write it off — or, at least, off any sort of list like this one. That’s maybe a little harsh. However, the magic just wasn’t there for me the third time around. Sure, the characters and writing were still fun but the mysteries and crime-solving side of things felt pretty played out and tedious. For whatever reason, there was no sense of surprise. I always felt like I was putting things together much faster than the cast was and then waiting for them to catch-up.
Then, I reached the final trial — and everything clicked into place. I don’t want to go deeply into detail with it but the places that the end of Danganronpa V3 goes are both WILD and a WILDLY satisfying conclusion to the outcomes of the first two games that, for me, it can’t not make it onto this list.
7. Dishonored: Death of the Outsider
I did a bit of 180-degrees on the Dishonored franchise with the release of Dishonored 2 last year. For whatever reason, everything finally clicked into place for me — priming me to enjoy the absolute hell out of Dishonored: Death of the Outsider.
Though somewhat-shorter by comparison to the main games in the series, Dishonored: Death of the Outsider made for a leaner, meaner stealth-em-up that I absolutely look forward to revisiting alongside the other games in the series in the years to come.
6. Destiny 2
I was wrong about Destiny.
Sure, it’s absolutely still the junk food of persistent online first-person-looters. However, it turns out it’s the kind of junk food I can totally get on-board with.
in spite of the many missteps Bungie have made (and continue to make) with the franchise, it’s just real satisfying to jump, shoot some aliens, explores the game’s visually stunning environments and watch that light number go up. Doubly so with friends along for the ride.
You can read my full review here.
5. Middle Earth: Shadow of War
Again, this one fits right into my ever-growing catalogue of deeply-flawed-but-thoroughly-enjoyable games of the year. Middle Earth: Shadow of War is deeply problematic, frustratingly monetized and borderline-blasphemous towards its source material. However, despite those problems, I still had a lot of fun here — so much so that I even made it through the game’s laborious final act “Shadow Wars”.
Even if it is ultimately just more of what the first game had going for it, to me, Shadow of War demonstrated that — sometimes — more can be enough.
4. Masquerada: Songs and Shadows
The fact that Masquerada flew under the radar for so many of RPG-loving friends continues to vex me. It’s got stylish aesthetics, an intricately detailed and well-realised setting and some great character dynamics brought home by solid voice acting. At times, it feels as close as I’ll ever get to seeing a Mistborn CRPG. Really hope more people “discover” this one once it makes the jump to the Nintendo Switch in the new year.
Mass Effect: Andromeda might have been released in 2017 — but Masquerada: Songs and Shadows really is the best Bioware-style RPG of the year.
3. X-COM 2: War of the Chosen
In retrospect, it seems obvious that X-COM 2: War of the Chosen was always going to be a rabbit-hole that I would fall down. After all, the first (rebooted) X-COM game consumed my spare time utterly when I finally found the time to play it. Why should my experience the sequel be all that different? Regardless, where just more X-COM would have been enough, War of the Chosen found plenty of ways to shake up the formula and raise the stakes.
The new challenges, classes and Chosen that in the mix made this a sequel that absolutely lives up to the series’s storied legacy.
After coming away pretty lukewarm from Transistor (which I did also finally revisit and make my way through this year), I wasn’t quite sure whether Pyre would be something that’d be able to draw me in.Thankfully, the finished product far exceeded those humble expectations.
Pyre is a highly-original game, with fresh mechanics, a charismatic cast and a richly-realised world. What’s more, the way that the story handles — and adapts to — the choice’s you make gives it a unique kind of replayability. Supergiant have managed to produce the rare game where the branching, choice-driven narrative isn’t just some superficial illusion, it’s integral and authentic.
1. Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
I’m not sure what else I can really say about Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice that I haven’t already. It’s by far the best game that Ninja Theory have ever made. It’s a gorgeous and engrossing experience that takes the character action game genre to exciting, cinematic, experimental and more-mature places than it’s ever gone before — and manages to navigate that uncertain gamut with almost unprecedented levels of success.
There are plenty of Game of the Year lists this year that’ll hold up Zelda or PUBG as the games that defined the year. However, for me, nothing came close to the highs of Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice.
You can read my full review here.
Honorable Mentions: Overwatch (again), Assassins Creed: Origins, Wolfenstein: The New Order, Absolver, -Heat Signature, Life is Strange: Before the Storm, Total Warhammer 2, Nier Automata, Torment: Tides of Numenera, The Evil Within 2, What Remains of Edith Finch, Kingdom Death: Monsters