This has been an amazing year for games. Nintendo released the Switch, which has quickly become one of my favorite systems for its portability and quality lineup. Besides that, we’ve seen resurgences in several of my favorite genres, platforming, and adventure, as well as a steady stream of my other pastime, RPGs. The year was so jam-packed that I still haven’t played many of the heavy hitters that could have potentially made my list like Persona 5 and Horizon: Zero Dawn. Even so, I’ve had enough great experiences that 2017 will go down as one of the best in my record book.
Favorite Game Released Before 2017, Played in 2017: Stardew Valley
I’ve long been a fan of the Harvest Moon series, and its spiritual successor Stardew Valley had always been on my radar. I was happy to finally move into my new in-game farm, thanks to the game’s Nintendo Switch release. This has been one of my favorite go-to handheld titles during my travels this year. Planting crops and raising animals may not sound like the most appealing tasks, but they're both relaxing and charming in Stardew Valley.
2017 Honorable Mentions
Honorable Mentions: Splatoon 2, Snipperclips, Sonic Mania, Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony
Top 5 Games of 2017
5. Thimbleweed Park
I was eagerly anticipating Thimbleweed Park, developed by the very same people who made classic point-and-click adventure games like Maniac Mansion. From beginning to end, the game did not disappoint, featuring a ridiculous cast of characters, a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor, and lots of puzzles. Thankfully, the logic wasn’t as impossible to figure out as old LucasArts games, and a robust hint system helped me to get through its incredibly crazy story.
4. A Hat in Time
A Hat in Time is not the only platformer on this list, nor is it the only hat-related game. But the adorable Hat Kid and her vibrant world made such a magical impression on me. In an era where 3D platformers are making a comeback, this game quietly came out of nowhere, considering I had forgotten about its Kickstarter years ago. I love that it took the standard collectathon formula from yesteryear and expanded upon it with ever-evolving gameplay in each of its uniquely designed levels.
3. Xenoblade Chronicles 2
After the exploration-based Xenoblade Chronicles X, I was excited to dive into this more story-focused entry in the series. Xenoblade Chronicles 2 hit so many emotional beats with its strong characterization and action-packed anime cutscenes. The gigantic Titans were a joy to explore, and I loved the rhythm of each battle, even though there was so much to keep track of. I’m still amazed that Nintendo was able to release this huge game by the end of the year.
2. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
In the trend of Nintendo Switch launch year exploration-based titles, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild introduced me to a truly open world in the Zelda franchise. I was utterly impressed by the massive scope of the game and how it still managed to include the core series elements of puzzles and dungeons. Sure, it breaks away from the standard the series has set for decades, but it’s a worthy evolution. I’m most surprised that this of all games didn’t make my number one. Don’t get me wrong. I spent many glorious hours exploring every nook and shrine in Hyrule, but one other game tugged at my heartstrings even more.
1. Super Mario Odyssey
Here it is: the long-awaited return of sandbox 3D platforming in the Mario series. Whereas Breath of the Wild did a fantastic job innovating the Zelda franchise, Super Mario Odyssey downright mastered the formula of what makes a 3D Mario – smooth jump controls, inventive level design, and worlds densely-packed with Power. I was blown away by the sheer amount of collectible Power Moons, most of which were gated behind unique challenges. This is magnified tenfold by one of my favorite mechanics in recent game history, “Capturing.” I smiled every time Mario threw his cap at an enemy, thus taking over its body. It’s the kind of genius that elevates this game to the number one spot. Truly, Super Mario Odyssey reinvigorates that trademark Mario magic. Jump up, Super Star!
I am a lifelong gamer, having grown up with Nintendo since I was young. My passion for gaming led to one of the greatest moments of my life, my video game themed wedding!