I wish that I had more to say about gaming in 2017, but for various reasons, I barely got to experience any of it. Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, Persona 5, and Nier Automata all still sit shrink wrapped next to my PS4. And, unfortunately, a lot of what I experienced this year was bad. A few turds found their way into my gaming world this year, and going through them sapped a lot of my will to keep trying new games. Some of them were games that I was reviewing, but some of them were also critically acclaimed games from my backlog that disappointed me horribly.
But there was also a good reason that I missed out on so many new ones this year, and that is because I spent well over 200 hours between two titles that I loved dearly. This is technically, a Top Five list, but it might as well be a Top Two list because they are two of the greatest games so far of this generation.
Favorite Game Released Before 2017, Played in 2017: Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
I wish that this game had gotten a more enthusiastic reception, because it did a few things better than any other Deus Ex game had done them. The large, detailed hub world was possibly the best that I have ever seen. You could easily spend a dozen hours in the game scouring people's apartments for goodies and learning about the details of their lives. The level design featured the great, open-ended approach that has always defined this series. The game was possibly a casualty of poor marketing. It would be a crime if the series were to die for that reason.
2017 Honorable Mentions
Alone With You, Seasons After Fall
Top 5 Games of 2017
5. Torment: Tides of Numenera
In some ways, this game was a disappointment, and I was hoping that it would be closer to the top of my list. Nevertheless, it offered a role-playing experience that was unlike any that I had ever seen (not even in the original Planescape: Torment). The game had an interesting role-playing system, beautiful graphics, and some memorable set pieces. It is a good foundation for future RPGs if InXile chooses to make more of them in this universe.
Diluvion was very close to being a great game, but it had just a couple of flaws that spoiled the experience from time to time. A beautiful steampunk submarine simulator, Diluvion constantly inspires a sense of awe and wonder.
I didn't think that the survival/crafting genre had much new to offer anymore, but I was wrong. Wrongworld is a very cleverly designed and challenging game that carves out its own niche in the genre. In between its quirky humor and its unique crafting tree, Wrongworld is a game that is fun, even for those of us who have gotten burned out on games like Don't Starve and Minecraft.
2. Divinity: Original Sin 2
When all was said and done, I believe that I sunk over 120 hours into this excellent epic. When I read that Larian studios was coming out with a sequel to Divinity: Original Sin, I was initially disappointed that they weren't completely reinventing the game the way that they usually do with each of their titles. Instead, Larian studios made some very intelligent tweaks to the game's formula, while coming up with a massive campaign full of high quality, fresh content. Larian's games have historically been hack-and-slash fests where the characters have mostly been there to facilitate the combat. This game was subtly different. It was the first Larian game to feature a large group of quality NPCs. My travelling companions from Divinity: Original Sin 2 are some of my favorite companions of any computer RPG.
1. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a great example of why game qualities can't always be boiled down into discrete categories like "Graphics", "Sound", and "Gameplay". In no one category is the latest Zelda the best game ever made. But it is one of the most fun games ever made. I experienced feelings of child-like joy while playing this game -- feelings that I didn't know I still had. My son and I have each put over 100 hours into this game, and each of us found some secrets or completed some challenges that the other never saw. Breath of the Wild raised the bar for what open world games need to be. It's going to be quite a while, but I can't wait for the next big Zelda title.