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2017 has been a great year for games whatever your genre preferences. Below are a few of my own, personal, favourites in order of release date:

 

Resident Evil 7: Biohazard – January 24th

The first major full length AAA title to include a full PSVR mode and wow did it make a difference. Being chased around dilapidated properties by invincible psychos might have reminded me a bit of my day job, but at least in this instance I, eventually, got to shoot, explode and incinerate them into oblivion. While certainly much more atmospheric  in VR, the game is also great when played on the TV with good graphics, well designed environments and an intriguing plot. It was a refreshing refocus on survival horror for the franchise whose last couple of titles had been wandering into third person shooter territory.  If you haven’t played it yet then it’s a real treat.

 You can find the full review here.

Nioh – February 7th

Like many others I had been mourning the loss the of Dark Souls franchise after the last of the series released in 2016. That was until Nion released which includes all the masochistic gameplay of a Dark Souls title and more. More than just a clone Nioh takes the basics of a DS styled control system and evolved it into a much more expansive but no less intuitive set of mechanics including three different stances allowing the player to tailor the speed and strength of their attacks to each opponent without switching weapon.

Set in Japan in the 1600s which has been overtaken by hordes of demons, the story and setting certainly has an Onimusha vibe, for those old enough to have played those games. It’s aimed more at a hard core player base but if you have patience and a drive to succeed against near unassailable odds then you might just stand a chance.

You can find the full review here.

 

Horizon Zero Dawn – February 28

This is the title that definitely wins my award for the most beautiful game of the year and perhapson the platform, so far. Until this title, I’d never spent hours starting at the view instead of playing the game or made such good use of a game’s inbuilt photo mode. For any art critics out there still unwilling to accept games as works of art and creativity then this title would surely set them straight. It has some of the best foliage, lighting and atmospherics seen this console generation backed by masterfully designed environments merging nature with the ancient ruins of a post-apocalyptic world. On top of this the gameplay, a mix of ranged and stealth combat feels fluid and is a joy to play. What’s not to like? Nothing.It has great visuals, enjoyable gameplay and a plot that makes even the most trivial side quest feel worthwhile.

You can find the full review here.

 

Nier: Automata – March 7th

This Japanese Action RPG is one of the more eccentric games I’ve played this year. While the majority of the gameplay is action RPG styled there are also a lot of mini games thrown in and a plot that extends over several playthroughs. The environments and the music score really are something special and while I did struggle to connect with the two main protagonists, I still enjoyed exploring the game’s world and plot. If you’re after value for money, then this game will certainly keep you busy on a very enjoyable ride, again and again and again.

You can find the full review here.

 

Persona 5 – April 4th

Until playing this title, I’d never understood the connection between saving the world and passing exams, but my first bitter disappointment was battling hard to defeat the big bad and save the school only to then fail my exams and be labelled a flunker. The true beauty of this game is in the delicate balance you have to strike between study, social life and, of course, saving the world. If only real high school had been this fun. The dungeons or palaces as they are called in game are fantastic artistic creations of their own, each with a unique look that mirrors the personality of the levels boss.

This quirky JRPG really does have a style of its own in terms of gameplay, narrative and visual style. It’s not a game that you’ll forget anytime soon or finish anytime soon, as it has a lot of content to work through and a new game + option for added replay value. If you got sucked in it’s entirely possible you might have spent most of the year playing just this title.

 

What Remains of Edith Finch – April 25th

This title may not make it onto everyone’s favourites list. In fact, it happens to be my partners least favourite of the year, due to its dark and sometimes disturbing narrative. Being a dark and disturbing person, myself, this really stands out as my favourite indie title of the year.

The passion from the development team really shines through in this title with every part of the Finch house awash with detail. I find it amazing how the team managed to get across the characters of each individual member of the family just through the design of the bedrooms. Despite being a tale of the sequential demise of the members of a family, a surprising amount of humour and a brighter theme of enjoying the time you have prevents the plot from plunging to the pits of depression and for me, at least, the ending left me with a warm glow. It’s not a game for everyone but no one can deny it’s artistic and technical brilliance.

You can find the full review here.

 

Farpoint – May 16th

What does it take to be a must have game for a new and burgeoning VR platform? In terms of this title a customised gun periphery and solid, if not groundbreaking, first person shooter gameplay. This is a game that for a standard platform might have been seen as unambitious. However, the VR coupled with the motion tracked aim controller make this a must play for any FPS fans out there. The skillful implementation makes aiming and shooting intuitive and the difficulty level adapts to the skill level of the player. This can lead to a little frustration, where the difficulty spikes in boss battles, but otherwise ensures sufficient challenge is maintained for all players. It also has a decent plot for a FPS which kept my interest all the way through the game.

 

Uncharted: The Lost Legacy – August 22nd

This title started development as a DLC add-on to Uncharted 4 but then evolved into a standalone title. While shorter than a full game and featuring a new roster of main protagonists, after Nathan Drake’s retirement, The Lost Legacy successfully forged a new path for the franchise. While not introducing any new mechanics, the pacing of both plot and gameplay felt much more refined than previous titles.

Set in India, the game passes through some truly stunning environments from modern cities to jungle to ancient abandoned temples. The plot successfully weaves together cultural mythology and character building for its new roster with some great tension and drama.

You can find the full review here.

 

Assassin’s Creed Origins – October 27th

Finally, Ubisofts tradition of turning out a new Assassins Creed clone every year has come to an end after they took one year out to refresh the franchise. As usual, Ubisoft really excel in the world building and environment design areas as their version of ancient Egypt feels complete believable and the scale of the map available to explore is significantly large than in previous AC games. Great advancements have been made in terms of combat, which is now more customisable by the player who can choose to specialise in offence, defence, ranged or stealth and missions can be completed in various ways. There is also a nice range of weapons available and an RPG style levelling up system.

Is it perfect? Well, no. The main character is still weak in terms of personality and motivation and the plot is still a weak excuse for executing a long list of targets. There are some great side quests to do which have a more fulfilling story than the main quest chain but, all in all, this isn’t another The Witcher 3 or Horizon Zero Dawn, however much Ubisoft tried to emulate them. However, in terms of the franchise it’s a great leap forwards and despite a few shortcomings it’s still an immensely enjoyable game to play.

 

Skyrim VR – November 17th

Yes, it’s another Skyrim port but I would more refer to it as the skyrim port as without a doubt VR is the best way to play this game. Yes it has its issues. The sound isn’t 3d which feels awkward and unintuitive in game, as you struggle to locate where an approaching enemy is coming from and the move controls take some getting used to and feel slight restrictive without a back step button. However, the ability to have a dragon the size of a building land on a wall right above your head and to walk across the bridge to Winterhold college is such a joy that a few minor niggles with bugs and controls are more than forgettable. For the first time, I found myself passing up the fast travel option to instead walk town to town to explore and truly appreciate the map.

There have been some very strong releases for VR in 2017 starting with RE7 and continuing with Farpoint, but I personally feel that Skyrim’s port of its full 60+ hours of gameplay and free roaming map has really shown the true potential of VR.

To all you gamers out there, I wish you a merry Christmas and a New Year filled with quality new game releases. Please 2018 bring me Kingdom Hearts 3. I might not be able to afford games once I retire, and I’m starting to think I might just be drawing my state pension before this game releases, there’s only 30 years to go…