2017 was a difficult year, but for gaming 2017 was one of the greatest years of all time. Amazing games released in rapid succession in 2017 making it very difficult to keep up with even the ones you most wanted to check out especially since a lot of the most noteworthy games were extremely lengthy. A very special part of 2017 was the launch of the Nintendo Switch which finally let us bring HD console games wherever we want with built in support for two player multiplayer.

I managed to beat 40 games last year, 29 of which were from 2017. Looking over my list I'm shocked how many games that would have been sure additions to a top 10 in previous years slipped off. While I'm excited to dive into my top ten list as soon as possible, I have to give brief shout outs to a few games that didn't make the cut because they were all so excellent. The first game of 2017 I played, Hatsune Miku Project Diva Future Tone, was the Hatsune Miku game to end all Hatsune Miku games. Future Tone features well over 200 songs and rock solid rhythm gameplay that I still can't get enough of. Another game that really stood out to me was Yakuza 0, which was my introduction to the series. I love both Kiryu and Majima and I equally enjoyed tackling the dramatic story and goofing off and discovering all the wacky side stories in Kamurocho. One final game I have to mention that was the last to slide off my list was Splatoon 2 which once again featured an amazing campaign and intense multiplayer. I especially loved playing the new Salmon Run mode online with a friend which offers all the thrills of a good Horde mode in three tight rounds.

With honorable mentions out of the way I'm ready to dive into my top ten favorite games of 2017! As always, these are the ten games that most connected with me last year rather than a ranking of the best games. I hope you enjoy it!

10: Metroid Samus Returns (3DS)

I had immense expectations for Metroid Samus Returns. Not only was it a remake of one of my favorite games from childhood, it arrived over 10 years since Metroid Prime 3 and 15 years since Metroid Fusion. I was thrilled to finally be getting a new Metroid game and thankfully Samus Returns nearly fully delivered. Samus Returns captures all of my favorite memories of Metroid II including the large open caves, the Spider Ball, and the climatic showdown with the Metroid Queen. While the map borrows the broad strokes of Metroid II, I love that it frequently charts its own course and offers completely unique challenges and surprises. One particular decision Samus Returns makes that impressed me was that by making wall jumping and bomb jumping easier to execute you have more options than ever to explore each area which makes it feel more personable. I hope more remakes will strive to be as ambitious as Samus Returns, because it amazingly recaptured what I loved most about the original while standing as a distinct experience.

9: Xenoblade 2 (Switch)

Both Xenoblade and Xenoblade X are incredibly important games for me so I had a lot of expectations walking into Xenoblade 2. As I started playing I was incredibly worried as the combat starts off incredibly basic and there were long stretches where I wasn't always connecting with the story. Roughly 30 hours in those periods of rough patches were over and my enjoyment of the game rapidly increased especially during the dramatic and satisfying last third of the story. While it lacks the masterful design of Xenoblade and the wonderful excess of X, Xenoblade 2 features a fantastic cast of characters (Nia, Rex, Morag, and Poppy are standouts), a wonderful soundtrack (I can't get enough of Incoming! and Mor Ardain's and Tantal's day themes), and fun progression systems. The gacha system actually works well in Xenoblade 2 as it gives you a unique party of characters for every playthrough with the rare blades. Once all of the mechanics of Xenoblade 2's combat are introduced, I had fun choosing which combos to execute to deal massive damage while keeping my party healthy as well as choosing the best times to use my devastating limit break and chain attacks. Even though it takes a bit of a backseat this time, I still enjoyed exploring Xenoblade 2's world thanks to interesting level design and some fantastic environments. It took me over 77 hours to finish Xenoblade 2 and I'm excited to play the story DLC later this year and whatever Monolith brings us next.

8: Persona 5 (PS4, PS3)

There are a handful of things I don't like about Persona 5, its excessive length and the win button in combat being chief among them, but its overwhelming sense of style, amazing soundtrack, loveable characters, and great story easily makes it my favorite mainline Persona game. Persona 5 is structured just like Persona 3 and 4 in that you go to school, hang out with friends, and then tackle dungeons in another world, but smart deviations and additions make this most enjoyable take on Persona yet. The Social Links in this game, called Confidants, all give you useful abilities by leveling them up which gives you extra reason to get invested in them and most effectively level up your social stats. The dungeons see the biggest improvements as all but one of the story dungeons are handcrafted this time and they are more thematically charged which makes them more fun to explore and conquer. I was happy that Persona 5 not only offered my favorite cast of party members, but also an interesting set of villains to overcome as they often drove the story forward. Combat in general is sadly the weakest part of the game especially since you can hit a button to auto target weaknesses which automatically solves too many encounters. As combat increases in frequency towards the end of the game and the villains are all unmasked Persona 5 loses a lot of momentum, but I still largely enjoyed my full 99.5 hour journey.

7: Uncharted The Lost Legacy (PS4)

I had mixed feelings on Uncharted 4. While I thoroughly adored the multiplayer (which is included in Lost Legacy) the campaign was too heavily influenced by The Last of Us and focused more on the story to the detriment of the gameplay. The Lost Legacy brings back the tight balance of story and gameplay that I adored in Uncharted 2 and 3 and makes one of my favorite characters in the series, Chloe Frazer, the protagonist. I was concerned walking in that the game's most ambitious area, The Western Ghats, would lack focus, but I was pleased to discover it was one of the most satisfying levels across Uncharted. The level begins with you driving a jeep and a suggestion to head to the large tower in the center of the area. By climbing to the top you'll spot three essential areas to conquer (all unique, fun, and satisfying) as well as a mysterious fourth area that ultimately reveals a series of puzzles across the land. The puzzles in the Lost Legacy are easily the best in all of Uncharted as the developers actually trust you'll enjoy conquering them.

In The Western Ghats, I loved seeing how often the enemy forces would start setting up camp as you entered each area because it would become a race against time to disable them before they entrenched themselves. If my stealth strategies failed that was more than fine because the improvised shoot-outs are just as wild as ever. Across the board, the level design is excellent which makes all the platforming, combat, and stealth gameplay all the more satisfying. What makes The Lost Legacy so special though is that even though the gameplay has a greater focus than ever, the narrative doesn't fall behind at all. I was always interested in seeing Chloe interact with Nadine Ross and seeing what drives both of them. While they begin the game as business partners it's awesome seeing them develop a true friendship by the end of the game. The story accentuates the biggest setpieces in the game, which make them all the more spectacular. The Lost Legacy confidently expresses the potential of Uncharted to keep evolving, so I hope we'll have another adventure soon.

6: Trails in the Sky The 3rd (PC)

When I finished Trails in the Sky SC, my 2015 game of the year, my biggest question remaining was Kevin Graham, a high ranking priest in the Septian Church. With Estelle's story finished in SC, Kevin becomes the protagonist in The 3rd to close out the Sky trilogy. Unlike FC and SC, which had you walking around Liberl, exploring towns, and taking on quests, The 3rd is actually a straight dungeon crawler. After a dramatic prologue which teases the wild ride ahead, Kevin, the full playable Sky cast, and a few new characters find themselves drawn into a mysterious realm called Phantasma six months after SC's conclusion. The main story is fully focused on Kevin's mysterious backstory which is fascinating to uncover piece by piece and has some very effective emotional moments. The rest of the cast doesn't get shafted though, as individual stories are locked behind doors in the dungeon. While some doors feature fun slice of life episodes, others feature the backstories of key (and not so key!) characters or looks into the greater world. My favorite episodes were frequently the epilogue episodes to the Sky trilogy that help set up the events of future Trails games. Since I've played Trails of Cold Steel and Cold Steel II, I was impressed how carefully all the seeds were laid for major characters such as Olivier, Lecther, and the Chancellor.

While the story drove me through the game, the combat and dungeon crawling were no slouch. Combat remains mostly unchanged from the first two Sky games. You'll still be bringing in a party of four to turn-based combat where positioning your characters on a grid and managing turn order matters. I love Trails' combat because it has so many options both on and off the battlefield. By carefully equipping your quartz and accessories, characters can have wildly different abilities and stats. The biggest additions to combat are new bonuses and penalties at the start of a turn and the ability to freely choose your party from your ever-growing roster. At two points in the game you have to assemble multiple parties to tackle the latest area of the dungeon and I loved obsessing over who to fill up each party and what to equip them with.

While Trails in the Sky The 3rd isn't the same grand adventure I've come to expect from the Trails series, I adored playing through this epilogue and finally getting to better know Kevin and other characters like Renne, Tita's Mom, and Lecther. Now that I've closed the door on the Trails in the Sky trilogy, bring on Trails to Zero and Cold Steel III XSeed!

5: Nier Automata (PS4, PC)

The first and only other game I've played by Yoko Taro was Drakengard 3. While I appreciated how different it was from anything I had played, the core gameplay just wasn't very appealing and the game struggled to run. Since Nier Automata was developed by Platinum Games, one of my favorite developers, I was excited because wild ambition could be realized with much better gameplay and execution. I enjoyed Nier Automata right from the start with 2B's route as it featured Bayonetta-lite combat (I'll never get tired of triggering slow motion with a well timed dodge), with a fantastic sense of style (I love the character designs and music), and memorable encounters/events. The world of Nier Automata is small, but dense and I enjoyed uncovering the stories of the sad robots within thanks to the sharp writing. The game tested my patience with a replay of events with the other protagonist 9S, though I really enjoyed his twin-stick shooter minigame. I loved how the game came together in the last third as it kept ramping up the drama and marrying it beautifully to gameplay. The final credits roll was one of my favorite moments in games all year which helped secure Nier Automata such a high place on my list.

4: Mario Odyssey (Switch)

I have some big complaints with Mario Odyssey, mostly centering around how trivial some of the moons are and how there is less of a focus on tight platforming, but overall I had an absolute blast tearing through the game and acquiring all 999 moons. Mario Odyssey's levels are mostly small, but they are densely packed with things to do and discover. Every time I entered a new world, I enjoyed seeing what I could Capture with Mario's new hat and friend Cappy. Some of the Captures are straightforward, like taking over a tank (which was always fun), but a good handful really change how you view the world (my favorite, the Pokio, is so amazing I want a whole game based around the little guy). One of my favorite things about Mario Odyssey is how unafraid it is to throw Mario in new environments. My favorite level in the game, New Donk City, is a perfect example of this as Mario looks especially strange next to normal humans/New Donkers. Yet this dramatically different location works especially well with Mario's moveset as it is a blast to climb up skyscrapers and explore every nook and cranny. The New Donk Festival (complete with its amazing vocal song), the final three world gauntlet, and Culmina Crater are all exceptional Mario levels and I especially love how frequently they blend both 2D and 3D Mario gameplay together. I don't know where 3D Mario will go from here, but as long as it continues its unyielding streak of creativity I can't wait to find out!

3: Ys VIII The Lacrimosa of Dana (PS4, Vita, and coming this year to PC and Switch)

My first experience with Ys was Ys Memories of Celceta on the Vita four years ago and I still remember the precise moment I fell in love with that game. When you enter the Great Forest for the first time, amazing rock music kicks in to accompany your exploration and fast paced monster slaying and from then on I was hooked all the way to the end. In Ys VIII, the follow up to Celceta, series protagonist Adol Christin finds himself shipwrecked on the island of Seiren which he soon discovers is home to Ancient Species, AKA dinosaurs. It is not long before the rock music kicks in and you are free to explore the Island of Seiren at your own pace and start ripping through everything that stands in your way. As you use your special moves they level up and become more powerful, so you'll want to use all of your special attacks religiously across your party members to keep getting stronger. The fundamentals of combat are rock solid (I love that there are two distinct bonuses for perfect dodging and countering that can even be active together) and it just feels so good to play in 60 FPS on the PS4.

The combat alone is good enough to ensure Ys VIII a home on my list, but the settlement building and the story secured it near the top. As you are out exploring you'll frequently find other people who were washed ashore as well. Some of them join your party directly, while others help support a village you are building. Some survivors will open shops, while others simply help out defending your camp from monster attacks. Everyone also helps you clear out obstacles in the world which helps you open new areas to explore. As for the story, I really enjoyed hanging out with the main cast of characters and discovering all of the secrets of the island such as why there were dinosaurs everywhere and other inexplicable things like a ghost ship. My favorite part of the game was getting to know Dana who remains in the background of the story for quite some time. When you finally get to play as her, it's amazing how distinct and flexible she is from Adol and the others.

I ultimately loved Ys VIII so much that I virtually acquired the Platinum Trophy as I stuck with it to claim everything but the trophy for completing a playthrough on Nightmare. The moment the new translation patch launches on January 30 I can't wait to dive back in and play through it all again. Ys VIII was certainly the most fun game I played all year and I can't recommend it enough.

2: Danganronpa V3 (Vita, PS4, PC)

My list here really isn't the place for me to talk at length about Danganronpa V3 because from the moment you start its wild ride begins and never lets up until the unbelievable conclusion. I was glad I had invested so much into Danganronpa prior to playing V3, because I was always guessing where the plot would go next and how connected it was or wasn't to the first two games, the spinoff, and the anime. Once again 16 ultimate high school students are trapped in a high school and encouraged to kill one another to escape. When a murder inevitably occurs, it's your job to investigate the crime scene so that when you enter the courtroom you can literally shoot down lies with the truth. Interestingly, there are certain points when you are encouraged to lie yourself in order to move the discussion toward an outcome you want. I was pleased this time that the logic seemed more clear than before, because I rarely felt like I was disconnected from what the game wanted from me. While I wasn't a fan of some of the old minigames returning (Hangman's Gambit is the worst!!), some of the new minigames like Psyche Taxi and Scrum Debate were cool especially since they each had rocking music. I enjoyed most of the cast of characters in V3 with Shuichi, Himiko, Maki, KI-BO, Kaede, and Kokichi being my favorites. While I'd be fine if V3 was the end of Danganronpa, I'm definitely interested in seeing how Kazutaka Kodaka could top V3.

1: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Switch, Wii U)

I certainly wasn't prepared for Breath of the Wild. While I was interested to see how Zelda could transition to being fully open world, I was equally nervous it would lose a lot in the transition. I have some criticisms of Breath of the Wild: how easy some of its puzzles are, that the dungeons are too similar and short, how enemies level up when they respawn, and that it lacks a driving story. Ultimately though, those complaints are miniscule in the sea of Breath of the Wild's overwhelming success.

I've always wanted an open world game like Breath of the Wild where it is entirely handcrafted and that you can explore at your leisure. At the same time, I wanted a world where the space inside was actually meaningful to interact with which has always proved rare. Breath of the Wild is special because it is the beautiful open world I've always wanted to explore and thanks to Link's abilities to climb on practically any surface and the physics/logic system always in place Hyrule is tactile in a way other open worlds aren't. There are two other factors at work that greatly accentuate my appreciation for Breath of the Wild's world. First is the stellar level design at work throughout. I was not surprised at all to learn Monolith Soft contributed heavily to the design of Breath of the Wild's world as they create not only beautiful landscapes, but ones that are engrossing to navigate. You can feel the Xenoblade influence very strongly throughout the world especially in areas like Zora's Domain that you could slot into a Xenoblade game seamlessly. The other major factor at work is how hostile the world is, because you need to be fully engaged with the world and the obstacles it presents in order to successfully navigate it. With all of that in mind, all of the discoveries you make in Hyrule become so personal and the all puzzles you conquer in the open world are all the more meaningful to solve.

Aside from the exploration which drove me ever forward, I really appreciated both the combat and puzzle solving in the game as well. Breath of the Wild's combat reminds me of both Uncharted and Far Cry at its best because after your best attempts at stealth fail or you aren't in a controlled one on one duel, you have to improvise on the spot to control the crowds of enemies ganging up on you. I loved my triumphs and failures in equal measure because of how amusing both often were. As for the puzzles, my favorite ones generally had multiple solutions that were influenced by the physics/logic system. Creating a fire for example wouldn't just be useful for burning things, but also for creating an updraft that you could ride with your hang glider. It was always satisfying when you felt like your answer to a puzzle couldn't have been the intended one, but it worked anyway.

It's no surprise then that Zelda consumed me for two weeks until I defeated Ganon and 100% finished every dungeon and shrine. Along the way I enjoyed some incredibly memorable challenges laid out for me like Eventide Island and a boss sleeping on a snow topped mountain while also making my own countless personal stories along the way. There is no doubt in my mind that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is my 2017 game of the year. I'll be thinking about how special Breath of the Wild is for years to come and I'm excited to one day dive back in to make more memories.


Thank you for reading my latest blog! I'm curious what games you most enjoyed in 2017 and what games you are most excited for in 2018. Be sure to share your thoughts in the comments below! I always enjoy reading and responding to your feedback.