As 2017 comes to a close, DualShockers and our staff are reflecting on this year’s batch of games for our official Game of the Year awards. In the lead up to the New Year’s Day reveal, each member of the staff will give their personal top 10 games they played this year.
10. Muv-Luv Alternative
Under the guise of a visual novel (and the saga starts exactly like your usual school-based VN), Muv-Luv Alternative boasts one of the best stories in the genre, balancing tender moments with the absolute despair of a nearly-hopeless fight for survival. It’s probably the best marriage between a waifu-fest and absolutely top-notch mecha design, deceptively drawing you in with its girls and aesthetics, and then grabbing you by the neck with its ruthless narrative.
It’s a hidden gem that doesn’t exactly shine for gameplay but makes it up with a story that hits you right in the gut, over, and over, and over.
9. Gravity Rush 2
Gravity Rush 2 is a great example of the creativity of Japanese developers that, at times, feels like they are better connected with the “indie spirit” than western ones in a similar market position (besides maybe Rare on the other side of the console trenches). From the visual style to the gameplay, it feels absolutely refreshing,
The world is probably one of this game’s main attractions, combined with the absolutely pleasant feeling of freedom it provides while flying through the clouds thanks to a mechanic that is certainly not banal, keeping the player engaged at all times. Add a charming cast of characters and a setting that feels like the sublimation of years of love and dedication, and you get a masterpiece.
Check out DualShockers’ Gravity Rush 2 review.
8. Xenoblade Chronicles 2
A very, very solid JRPG with refreshing old-school elements, it’s a return to form for Monolith Soft after the partial misfire (mostly on the side of the story and characters) of Xenoblade Chronicles X. The game comes with a charming world and a great cast of likable characters. Monolith also didn’t show any fear to remain true to what makes a JRPG “feel” Japanese, and that is definitely an added value.
Tons of content, an interesting and complex story, and the artistic contribution of the Gotha of Japanese character design, manga, and anime make this the best game released so far on Nintendo Switch, and not by just a bit. Unfortunately, it suffers from a localization that often misrepresents characters and situations, and can only be defined as shoddy. Luckily, the presence of the Japanese track partially makes up for it.
Check out DualShockers’ Xenoblade Chronicles 2 review.
7. Total War: Warhammer II
The Total War: Warhammer series is by far the best depiction of the Warhammer world I have ever seen in a video game, and the Total War gameplay formula mixing turn-based strategy and real-time tactics is just perfect for it. Add to this the Mortal Empire campaign that fuses the content of the first and second games into a massive grand strategy game that can only be defined as the wet dream of every Warhammer fan, and you get a fantastic game that has the potential to provide thousands of hours of enjoyment.
It’s also pretty much the last major instance of the old, beloved Warhammer lore now that Games Workshop itself has torn it apart with that abomination named Age of Sigmar. Considering that it’s one of the best fantasy settings of all time, Total War: Warhammer II is an awesome treat.
NiOh certainly follows the Souls formula. At times, it does it so closely that it makes you frown, but it does enough things in its own unique way to still feel fresh. Absolutely ruthless, I can honestly say that having my ass kicked has never felt so good. It actually felt better than the games that inspired it thanks to a much better story and much more interesting characters (even thanks to the charming description of the Sengoku Jidai). After all the effort to beat every level, you’re actually rewarded by some great story moments, instead of just getting access to more grueling work to do.
NiOh makes you feel like you’re in a classic samurai movie, immersing you in a darker version of feudal Japan that really draws you in. It also looks fantastic, which never hurts.
Check out DualShockers’ NiOh review.
5. Yakuza 0
Yakuza 0 came to the west two years late, but it’s still one of the best games of this year. It combines intuitive and fun gameplay with a spectacular hard-boiled crime story and actually likable and relatable characters that easily send the Grand Theft Auto series (with which the series is often compared, not always appropriately) back to preschool.
The quality of the gameplay and storytelling is perfectly married with a metric ton of content that at times makes you feel like a kid in a massive candy shop. The setting is another solid strong point, depicting some of the seediest areas of Tokyo and Osaka during the Japanese bubble economy era. It’s a great look at a very different Japan from what you can see now by walking the streets of Kabukicho. While I never visited Tokyo in the eighties, alongside Yakuza Kiwami it’s still reminiscent of my first time in 2009, and that’s the best kind of nostalgia.
Check out DualShockers’ Yakuza 0 review.
4. Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood
Yes, I know. This is an expansion, but while expansions will have their own category in our GOTY awards, here they don’t. Stormblood is without a doubt the culmination of one of the best modern Final Fantasy stories, if not the best. It delivers on promises that were made seven years ago to those like me who played and actually still enjoyed the trainwreck that was Final Fantasy XIV 1.0.
Coming with enough new content to rival most MMOs at release, and some really great encounters and dungeons gameplay-wise, Stormblood draws you in with a fantastic cast of likable characters and villains that you love to hate. It also includes many powerfully emotional story moments that you normally don’t find in MMORPGs. I cried, a lot. And I’m not even shy about it.
3. Horizon Zero Dawn
Horizon Zero Dawn marks the moment in which, for me, Guerrilla Games really found its stride. I enjoyed some of their past games, but none of them stood up as a masterpiece for me. This does. Like The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt did before, Aloy’s adventure shows that you can have a great open world paired with a great story and interesting, likable characters. This is something that a lot of open-world games still fail at nowadays, including some that are massively popular, and feel like someone purposely instructed the writers to keep the cast as dull and simplistic as possible. Add to that the beautifully-rendered cultures of the tribes, and you get a real masterpiece.
Of course, we couldn’t talk about Horizon without mentioning its machines. Not only are their designs fantastic, but their AI and combat routines push the engagement to a whole other level. The fact that the whole game looks gorgeous from one end of the map to the other is simply an added bonus.
Check out DualShockers’ Horizon Zero Dawn review.
2. NieR: Automata
I firmly believe that Yoko Taro is an absolute genius. Like all geniuses, his attempts to put all those smarts into a packaged form are often hit and miss. Yet, NieR: Automata is a whole compilation of hits. Of course this isn’t just because of Yoko Taro himself, but also due to the contribution of an absolute dream team of developers and artists including Yosuke Saito handling the production side (and probably helping keeping Yoko Taro himself relatively grounded), Keiichi Okabe composing the music, Akihiko Yoshida and the other artists at CyDesignation creating wonderfully designed characters, and PlatinumGames shaping some of the best action gameplay I have seen in a JRPG.
It certainly does not hurt that 2B is probably the sexiest character of 2018, and the fact Yoko Taro is able to honestly say that the reason is simply that he likes girls puts a smile on my face.
Check out DualShockers’ NieR: Automata review.
1. Persona 5
You may be surprised by the fact that my two top games aren’t those who received the highest review scores for me this year. But while they both have a number of flaws (which game doesn’t), they are the titles that left the most lasting impression, and that I will most fondly remember from my 2017 as a gamer.
Persona 5 is one of the most unique and charming JRPGs I have played in a long, long time. It has pretty much everything needed for a timeless classic: Deep, lovable characters, fantastic storytelling, great depth, tons of content, and masterful design in most of its elements. The art and the soundtrack are absolutely spot-on, and even the UI is the most stylish I have seen in decades.
Most importantly, Persona 5 managed to make me genuinely care about the adventures of its protagonists (excluding Morgana, for obvious reasons), as it led me around through a lovely pace that alternated moments of calm and exhilaration quite masterfully. It is, without a doubt, my choice for Game of the Year.
Check out DualShockers’ Persona 5 review.
Check out the other DualShockers’ staff Top 10s and our official Game of the Year Awards:
- December 21: Lou Contaldi, Editor in Chief
- December 22: Ryan Meitzler, Features Editor
- December 23: Giuseppe Nelva, Executive News Editor
- December 24: Michael Ruiz, Staff Writer
- December 25: Tomas Franzese, Staff Writer
- December 26: Tanner Pierce, Staff Writer
- December 27: Azario Lopez, Staff Writer
- December 28: Jordan Boyd, Staff Writer
- December 29: Logan Moore, Staff Writer
- December 30: Noah Buttner, Staff Writer
- December 31: Taylor Lyles, Staff Writer
- January 1: DualShockers Game of the Year 2017 Awards