As the Managing Editor of Electric Bento, I have put in a good amount of work this year on the site. I hope you, our readers enjoy it, that makes it all worth it. One of the benefits to being the guy in charge is I can make the call to publish my picks of 2017 and Game of Year separate from the other writers. We hope this gives readers a more diverse opinion. This article is MY personal opinions and my pick for Game of the Year, and while it may not be a popular choice, I hope you can appreciate why.
I have been gaming for almost 40 years now and a journalist for almost two years. In my life I have seen thousands of games released. 2017 could be considered a pinnacle year for games, with so many huge titles that many have been waiting years for and they didn’t disappoint. It was also an amazing year for indie games. I am going to be separating my lists, as I believe indie games shouldn’t be compared to games with huge budgets and staffs. These amazing games were made with a small team or sometimes even one person and small funding, sometimes via crowdfunding. I consider video games to an art medium, like film, and everyone has opinions about both, but where huge titles have so many advantages, indie’s rely more on creativity and simple design. I hope you find a couple games you may have missed and check them out after reading. If just one person learns about a small game they missed, then I can sleep happy. Here’s to 2018!
Chris’ Top Indie Games of 2017:
Linelight for PS4 and Steam is a must have for puzzle fans that enjoy some quick thinking in the mix. It’s not full of annoying characters trying to oversex or cutesie up the game. In fact Linelight has no characters. It’s a game for everyone, but gamers will see the genius. Linelight is intellectual gaming high-art. I look forward to what My Dog Zorro and Mr. Taylor brings to the indie game scene next.
Ruiner for PS4, Xbox One, and PC was developed by Polish Reikon Games and published by Devolver Digital. A crazy cyber adventure, Ruiner was one of those games I couldn’t put down. I spent a whole weekend as a nameless masked man fighting well designed bosses, learning their pasterns and completely sucked into the story. A side-top down shooter game, it also had some awesome graphics, crazy and enjoyable weapons with customization galore. Also, that ending!
#5: Ninja Shodown
Ninja Shodown, for PS4, Xbox One, Switch, and Steam, is essentially multiplayer Ninja Gaiden and is by far the most fun I had in a local multiplayer game all year. My friends and I were talking smack, screaming at the screen, and generally had a blast playing this the last couple of months. Anyone can pick it up and get the hang of it quickly. Ninja Shodown doesn’t offer much in a standard one player game, but seriously, you can’t find a better party couch game this year in my opinion.
#4: Nex Machina
Nex Machina, for PS4 and PC, is a masterpiece in the twin stick shooter genre. To say it’s intense is an understatement. It’s one of the most fun games I played this year. Developer Housemarque incorporated the best features of the last 30 years worth of twin stick shooter games in Nex Machina. Having utilized a forefather of the genre, Eugene Jarvis, as the creative consultant didn’t hurt. This is a developer who gets it. They understand the joy these games brought to so many, even if we did lose all our lunch money dropping quarters in the machines; it was always worth it. Sadly they announced soon after the release, due to disappointing sales, that they would not be making anymore “arcade” games. It will be truly the end of an era if no other developers carry the torch. Thus I recommend any fan of the genre pick up Nex Machina, just be ready for sore thumbs the next day.
#3: Steamworld Dig 2
Steamworld Dig 2 from Image & Form Games was my favorite platformer/Metroidvania game of 2017. I played and enjoyed the first Steamworld Dig, but it was simply a warm up for the sequel. This time around I could not stop playing. Steamworld Dig 2’s only fault was that it was just too short at about 8 hours for my playthrough. With colorful, creative characters and levels, fun customization, great controls, and super cool weapons and upgrades, Steamworld Dig 2 could have easily held my attention for another 10+ hours.
#2: Battle Chasers
If Battle Chasers had not had issues with bugs at release I would of given it it a perfect score. Since then it has been patched and I can honestly say it is the best classic style JRPG I have played since last years I am Setsuna. Battle Chasers has tons of characters and play-style customization, cool special attacks, a well written story, and an amazing art design pulled from a great comic book and designed by the original artist. I followed it from Kickstarter to fruition and was not disappointed. Battle Chasers was a close contender for my favorite indie of 2017.
Aaero surprised me this year. I thought when I first saw the trailer for it: “OK, its a shooter mixed with Guitar Hero?” This is well past the peak of rhythm games. While still around, they have faded to just the hardcore fans who still play Rock Band with longtime group of friends. Aaero takes this old concept but also uses a mix of EDM and Dubsteb, in my opinion this is a perfect music genre for shooters. The end result is a nearly perfect game as far as I am concerned. It has something for every skill level, an amazing soundtrack that integrates with the game-play, and while a targeting shooter is not a new concept, it meshes oh so well. The bosses are screen filling and well designed, only their graphics are lacking, but for just a couple guys developing this game, it’s trippy light show visuals are pretty cool! Months later I still find myself listening to the soundtrack while I work. I am even excited for the new ship skins and additional songs in upcoming DLC.
Chris’ Top Major Releases of 2017:
Honorable Mention: Destiny 2
Destiny 2 was destined to be picked apart. With the choice to completely reboot and hope their player-base would come from the first iteration of the successful Bungie game, instead of the Blizzard World of Warcraft model. I personally hated starting over and think Activision could have just released annual higher priced expansions? It’s a win-win that Blizzard has proven. With a great setting, cool story, and the usual beautiful graphics, Destiny 2 will eventually grow into what the original was, given time I expect. Just please, can we just keep these characters? I grow attached…
I absolutely loved 2014’s Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor. I have beaten it multiple times. The perfect combo of the Assassins Creed games and Lord of the Rings world. The Reese’s cups of video games. With this year’s release of Middle Earth: Shadow of War, we got to continue the story and expand on the already amazing systems, all with updated graphics and hours of game-play. This is a game I will be playing for most of 2018, as DLC hits or just when I feel the need to return to the world of Tolkien.
#4: Injustice 2
Few fighting games grab me these days. 2013’s Injustice made me a fan again of the genre. A comic book nerd all of my life, the dark story and setting for these DC characters was fresh and cool, not over the top, unlike some of the attempts by recent movies. The game even spawned a successful and well made series of comic books in this alternate universe. To top it off, it was developed by NetherRealm Studios, the guys who created Mortal Kombat and its many iterations. This year we got the sequel, and Injustice 2 did not disappoint. More well designed characters from the DC universe with some amazing newcomers I never imagined I would be playing as in a fighting game. The systems for gearing and playing online against other players are some of the best I have ever seen in the genre. A steady stream of new characters, including my favorite, Hellboy, made Injustice 2 a game I played throughout the entire year.
After 2014’s meh Assassin’s Creed: Unity and Syndicate just not feeling as polished as it should a mere year later, Ubisoft took a year off in 2016. It paid off with this years Assassin’s Creed: Origins. Taking the series back to the very beginning, in ancient Egypt, a setting I am sure took many employees hundreds of hours to research. With detailed graphics that made my jaw drop, the best story since AC2, and an overhauled combat system and tree based customization that made the series feel more like an action RPG than ever. If Ubisoft can take their time, hire the right people and not compromise quality for a payday, Assassin’s Creed will be the defining series it should be again in the coming years.
So I bought into the Nintendo Switch early in 2017. I preordered mine for one reason, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. To this day The Legend of Zelda series holds a large section of my nostalgic brain. From the original two on NES to my all time favorite game, A Link to the Past on SNES, to Ocarina of Time, and then Windwaker. I will admit I could not get into it as much during the Wii days, the gimicky controller movements made my old school brain hurt. But now with the return to a controller that looked and felt great, I could enjoy a new and beautiful re-imagined Zelda game. I spent hours in the world of Hyrule again, the stunning animated cell graphics, responsive controls, customization and just fun side quests filled me with joy. Honestly, afterwards though, I did let my Switch go to a friend with kids dying to play it. I still feel like Nintendo is more for kids, they were a huge part of my childhood obviously, but during the Wii and GameCube era I just fell away. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild made this old grumpy gamer remember his childhood, and that 9 year old kid who beat Zelda 2 over and over is still in awe.
#1 and Electric Bento’s Game of the Year: Call of Duty: WWII
8 months ago if you had asked me if I even played Call of Duty games I would of told you, “Not really, a little, but its never grabbed me.” Then in June of this year I went to my first E3, there, Activision showed me the new Call of Duty: WWII. As soon as I heard it was going back to WWII my interest was itching. Over the last fifteen years or so I have been absorbing anything I could related to that particular war. What can I say, Band of Brothers and Saving Private Ryan had a big influence on me as an adult. Well Sledgehammer Games hired some top notch writers and researchers to make the story campaign something I will never forget. Call of Duty: WWII didn’t stop there, with two other modes, Multiplayer and Zombies, Nazi zombies no less, I thought after the campaign these features wouldn’t interest me. I have always sucked at multiplayer FPS online, I am more of a solitary gamer, but boy was I wrong. Call of Duty: WWII has made me a fan. I enjoy the multiplayer, and yes, I still suck, but I still have fun! Only one other multiplayer game has done that in recent years, Overwatch. Toss in the ability to kill Nazi zombies as David Tennant when I need a change of pace, and Call of Duty: WWII delivers unheard of value in my opinion. This is why its my Game of the Year and top pick overall. I’m shocked too, but dammit, I just keep going back to it.
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