Best Games of 2017
2017 started with a bang. Resident Evil VII jump-started the year with a phenomenal revival of the famous survival horror series that saw its darkest days after the publisher tried to make more money, switching the game from a horror to a soulless third-person action experience that was as bland as they get.
The year was filled with positive surprises in the form of games like Hellblade, Steam World Dig 2, Nier: Automata, titles that came out of nowhere and managed to charm gamers with their interesting and unique single player offers. Of course, we also expected success from games like Divinity II, Wolfenstein: The New Order, and Prey, and they delivered. There were many more great games this year, making 2017 a very good year when it comes to both quality and quantity of published games. And most of them came out for the PC, showing how the platform is living through its prime years.
And that’s important because in the year when loot boxes that drive character progression, instead of giving only cosmetic items, started appearing in full priced games and when CEOs of biggest game publishers (again) started announcing how single player games are on the brink of death, we need for gamers to show appreciation for single player games, to show they are stronger than ever and to show that shoving a multiplayer mode in every single title that comes out isn’t the right thing (do you hear this Mass Effect Andromeda?). But, let’s not start talking about loot boxes and Battlefront 2 fiasco.
Anyway, the year was rich in quality games, but we shouldn’t be lulled into sleep by the success achieved by games that offer lots for the money. Instead, we should be careful, we should stand our ground when it comes to over monetization in game titles, and we, as gamers, shouldn’t let some suits in corporate buildings to decide what we like and what we want. Why, you may ask?
Well, because the most expected title in 2018, Red Dead Redemption II, will feature even more microtransactions that GTA V, and that should be worrying because if the model stay as successful as it was in GTA V Online, we can’t expect for the GTA VI, whenever it arrives, come with a single player campaign.
But, off with the demons and into the light. Let us see which games managed to take place on our list of the best PC titles of 2017.
Resident Evil VII: Biohazard
Back to the roots, with a twist. Resident Evil VI came out in 2012 and ruined the whole series with its silly action gameplay, its dumb story and a plethora of technical problems that buried the game even deeper.
Fortunately, we had quality RE titles since then, most notably Revelations titles and a couple of excellent remasters. But, the main dish in the form of a full-fledged sequel was in the works for almost half a decade. And when information started appearing, showing a complete change of perspective and a complete change of setting I was interested, but also careful with my expectations.
No more third-person perspective, and no more the good old universe in which characters we know for almost two-decade are trying to stop the world from ending by ending mass epidemics started by Umbrella while at the same time always stumbling upon Albert Vesker.
And once the game finally came out, I had to wait for reviews before deciding to get it. And reviews were excellent, so I decided to try out the new start of the best survival horror series ever. And boy, was it good!
The setting placed in backwaters of American South was reminiscent of the first season of True Detective (especially the opening scene with a car driving on a dirt road with a huge swamp in the background), and once I got greeted by the sociopath Baker family I thought I’d somehow ended up inside one of Rob Zombie movies. Hillbillies from hell made your life as gruesome as it can be, and it was terrifying as it was exciting.
I love when able to shoot back at monsters, and while RE VII has its “run and don’t look behind moments” where all you can do is run and hide, the game comes with various weapons making you able to fend off for yourself.
The house is excellently designed, the game is filled with horrific scenes, the story keeps you interested until the very end, and the length is just right. The presentation is superb, with only texture work deserving a negative critique, and the game is phenomenal in presenting a feeling of dread and fear with the hope being alive in the back of your mind while you encounter horrors beyond imagination and while you are slowly discovering bits and pieces of the background story.
An excellent title and the best Resident Evil game since Resident Evil IV.
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
Ninja Theory tried going completely independent, much like one of my favorite bands, Rosetta. You see, in 2012 Rosetta decided to ditch publishers and to self-finance their recordings and albums. And they succeeded, becoming even better in the process (although nothing can top Galilean Satellites, the second best post-metal album of all times), releasing excellent, self-published records.
Now, self-funding and self-publishing a video game is much harder than doing the same for a music album, but Ninja Theory achieved something many thought was impossible. They self-published a game that doesn’t fit into the mold of modern gaming experiences and found great success. The game sold more than 500K copies in just three months, which is excellent news that will hopefully make other studios to follow the same path and ditch big name publishers in favor of complete creative freedom during development.
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is a journey through madness, and the game was one of the biggest surprises of the year. What fascinated me the most is how developers managed to perfectly replicate all dreadful experiences tied to psychosis and put them in a video game.
This is mostly thanks to the incredible sound and voice. Horrifying voices, otherworldly sounds and screams, and the experience where you start hearing voices even when not playing the game is a testament to just how seriously Ninja Theory tackled the issue. At the same time, Senua sees her illness as a curse, just further showing how hard was for people suffering from mental illnesses to function and to be accepted as members of society in the past.
Along with excellent sound and voice I have to mention superb graphics, thanks to the Unreal 4 engine used in the game. Environments are vibrant, textures are rich and filled with life, character models are almost alive and the game just shines when it comes to visuals.
Gameplay is filled with insane encounters, weird scenes, some exciting combat, rich puzzle solving, and the game, just as RE VII, lasts just as long as it should without trying to prolong the experience by watering it down and introducing unnecessary sections and levels.
I’m a psychologist by vocation, a gamer at heart, and this game left a very strong impression on me. If you ask me, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice should be played by all psychology students, in order for them to get the feeling of how mental illnesses can change a person, and how they can completely bend a person’s perception of the outside world. Superb game in almost every sense.
Prey is a game that I played though the whole summer. I started in mid-June, had a few stops when the heat was unbearable and finished it in September. But the experience was an impressive one, combining the best parts of Bioshock and System Shock titles along with some ideas taken from Deus Ex series of games.
Prey is a superb game that shines the brightest in its level design. Each part of the station is unique and offers different challenges and different ways to tackle enemies. And what to say about the enemies, aliens that can be considered as proper alien life forms, beings that have little in common with humans, beings with their own agenda that clashes with our existence.
The game provides some truly unforgettable encounters and can boast with intense combat and original weapons that can be utilized in more ways than you think. Each encounter gives you plenty of options – you can go into the fight Rambo-style, killing everything in front of you. You can play as Sam Fisher and silently end up on the other side of a level without anyone noticing you (but sadly, these moments are rare because most enemies will notice you, and some are placed in the way to simply jump in front of you when you least expect it), or you can combine two approaches with a couple of commando tactics and play Adam Jensen on enemies with a combination of weapons, powers, and smart usage of surroundings.
The strongest part of the game is its music and sound. If Prey was judged solely on music and sound design it would probably take the prize of the best horror game of the year. The sounds are unnerving and sudden hellish and alien noise can chill your blood and make your hear stop in an instance.
The game is probably a bit too long (but you can finish it very quickly if you want) when played like designers wanted it, by following the story and finishing side quests, and some fights can be seen as chores, especially during the last quarter of the game, but overall Prey deserves to be on my best of 2017 list.
The biggest problem of the game is its name and the fact that it takes a bit too much from Bioshock universe. And one more thing – I think the game would be much better if it didn’t use the futuristic vintage (you know, 60’s but many years in the future) formula when it comes to visual design. It would look much better if designers decided to imagine a dark and futuristic world from hard Sci-Fi novels, with cold, postmodern architecture and devices and objects that look genuinely like from the future and not like what would some high school kid back in 60’s imagined a future world would look like.
Divinity: Original Sin II
Divinity: Original Sin II is the Empire Strikes Back of the video games world. The sequel to the acclaimed RPG title improves over the original in practically every part.
The game offers even more choices, it builds upon phenomenal co-on mechanics the first one introduced, it comes with even prettier visuals, and it features much better main story.
Divinity: Original Sin II is the best RPG of 2017. It comes with a stupendously high number of stories to discover, and many of them are crazy, cute, weird, not expected, sad, happy, and everything in between. The storytelling aspect of the game is what qualified it to my best of 2017 list. There are so many stories and quest to discover that you probably will find new, never seen before, experiences during your third or fourth playthrough and you shouldn’t try to find them all at once because replayability is something Divinity: Original Sin II really shines at.
Another superb part of Divinity: Original Sin II is its combat. Combat is even harder than in the first part but it isn’t unfair. It is all up to you; you have to be careful, to use special skills at perfect moments, to utilize strong sides of your characters in the best way possible and to find and use opponent’s weaknesses to the max in order to succeed. And all this can be super hard at times, but achievable.
And the game is pretty as they get. Beautiful, richly colored, and highly detailed environments. Bright effects, superb lighting, rich textures, the game is a huge feast for eyes, and you will want to play it just in order to enjoy beautiful sceneries.
The game is best when played with a friend, and even better when played with a partner. I wish my girlfriend was a gamer because of Divinity: Original Sin II looks like a perfect game for two lovers to play together. It is full of interesting decisions that can take any relationship to the test and unveil deep moral differences between two persons.
If you want a huge world to explore, a ton of quests that will make you laugh and cry, a game so pretty it hurts, and a main quest that is meaningful and interesting to play. Along with hardcore isometric RPG mechanics, Divinity: Original Sin II is the game for hardcore RPG lovers. They will leave their family, partner, and all friends, at least until they complete the game a couple of times.
Steam World Dig 2
Steam World Dig was one of my favorite spelunking type of games I ever played, and the sequel is even better. There’s that excellent mechanics of earning money which you then spend on upgrades that hooks you immediately and drives you to play the game until you see the credits.
And Steam World Dig has lots other good sides beside its catchy gameplay. The game features beautiful art style with excellent cave design and lots of interesting enemies. Your robot is cute as hell, and the story is really interesting.
This game was a huge surprise for me. I played the original and liked it, but didn’t have in plan to check this one out. And then, during November, I got an immense desire to play some platformer, went to Steam and find out about Steam World Dig 2. I was hooked and played the game like crazy during the next couple of days.
There’s plenty of stuff to do and lots of secrets to find if you like to get all achievements. The adventure is relatively long, at least for this type of game, but in the end, it ends just in time for you not to get bored of using your pickaxe. If you like Spellunky and similar games, do get this one. But, if you haven’t played the original, do play it before visiting the world of the sequel.
So, that was our list of the best games of 2017. Do you have different favorites, do you think this list could’ve been different? If you do, follow and share with us on Twitter @beepweedotcom. All best in 2018 and let the next year end up being even better for PC gaming!