GOTY 2017 | Number 5 — Cuphead

The mark of a high qual­ity dif­fi­cult game is when it man­ages to be incred­i­bly fun as well. Cup­head was quickly on most people’s radar due to the art style which oozes the charm of 1930s car­toons. Play­ing Cup­head, it’s almost incom­pre­hen­si­ble how Stu­dioMDHR was able to so accu­rately and fluid cre­ated the look of this game. Many peo­ple have floated the phrase “it’s like play­ing a car­toon” about games before, but it has never been more true than with Cup­head. The char­ac­ters are fun and styl­ish and it has one of the best and most fit­ting sound­tracks of the year. On top of every­thing else, the game is fun as hell! Each boss takes trial and error, patience and feels amaz­ing every time you beat them. Cup­head cer­tainly deserves the spot as the 5th best game of 2017.

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GOTY 2017 | Number 6 — Nier: Automata

Not often enough does a story in a video game leave you as speech­less as Nier: Automata left me when I played it this past year. Start­ing off as a fairly com­mon “how human are robots” type of tale, it esca­lates with each end­ing. Even­tu­ally, the places it goes will leave you a quiv­er­ing pile of per­son­i­fied exis­ten­tial dread that few nar­ra­tive media forms have been able to match up to this point. Nier: Automata also sports some of the best char­ac­ters of the year and man­ages to make good on their arcs more often than not. In a play of classi­ness, not often seen in huge games like this one, it will even let you buy any of the game’s tro­phies after you com­plete the game so you can enjoy it with­out wor­ry­ing about com­plet­ing every last thing. Many of the mechan­ics in the game can be used in sur­pris­ingly cre­ative ways and there are a few side-quests that are just as good as the main story. Nier: Automata def­i­nitely deserves the spot as the 6th best game of 2017.

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GOTY 2017 | Number 7 — Uncharted: The Lost Legacy

Naughty Dog always starts off devel­op­ing DLC with the best of inten­tions. Build­ing upon the themes and lore of their most recent game by explor­ing rela­tion­ships either hinted at or nonex­is­tent in the main game, the DLC grows in size and scope. Inevitably, every story-based DLC that Naughty Dog pro­duces breaks off and becomes a bite-sized bit of bril­liance. Uncharted: The Lost Legacy con­tin­ues this tra­di­tion in great form by tak­ing some of the best things from Uncharted 4 and expand­ing on them in some smart ways. The rela­tion­ship built between Chloe and Nadine dur­ing the short adven­ture is a lot of fun to watch and the ban­ter is bril­liantly per­formed. The open design imple­mented in the mid­dle sec­tion of the game improves on what was in the main game by giv­ing you rea­sons to explore the beau­ti­ful envi­ron­ments. Uncharted: The Lost Legacy gives plenty of rea­sons to be an excel­lent 7th best game of 2017.

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GOTY 2017 | Number 8 — The Evil Within 2

Tak­ing the for­mula set forth by the orig­i­nal entry and improv­ing on it in nearly every way, The Evil Within 2 is a stel­lar sec­ond entry in this horror-action series. Open­ing up the envi­ron­ments allows the player to dis­cover the scares it has in store at their own pace. The Evil Within 2 also makes some smart improve­ments to the com­bat, mak­ing encoun­ters feel more tense and requir­ing some smart plan­ning to get through. The story is a lot more cohe­sive this time around and has a clear arc that runs through the game and doesn’t over­stay its wel­come. The Evil Within 2 evokes the bet­ter parts of Res­i­dent Evil 4 in many ways and deserves the spot as the 8th best game of 2017.

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GOTY 2017 | Number 9 — Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice

One of the best-looking games to come out in 2017, Hell­blade: Senua’s Sac­ri­fice is an intense jour­ney that tackle some tricky sub­jects. I am always a fan of what Ninja The­ory puts out, but the amount of care they put into Hell­blade is stag­ger­ing. Ninja The­ory brought in men­tal health pro­fes­sion­als to ensure they were accu­rately and tact­fully rep­re­sent­ing men­tal ill­ness in their game and their work shines through in the final prod­uct. The audio design around the voices in Senua’s head is superb, you need to wear head­phones play­ing this game, and the sub­tle visual touches they make to rep­re­sent both mild and major hal­lu­ci­na­tions are done extremely well. As usual, they have incor­po­rated live action footage in some very cre­ative ways to fur­ther improve the over­all visual design and the per­for­mance from the Ninja The­ory designer who played Senua is top notch. Hell­blade: Senua’s Sac­ri­fice would have been much higher on my list in a dif­fer­ent year, but it still deserves this spot as the 9th best game of 2017.

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ESH | Hand of Fate 2 Review

Table­top gam­ing has been some­thing I’ve only got­ten deeper into with the last few years, while my video game hobby has been around since I could hold a con­troller. Since I started get­ting more into play­ing board games, I’ve been excited to see the two types of games blend together. There has been no bet­ter exam­ple of this con­cept than Hand of Fate. Tak­ing some core con­cepts of table­top gam­ing, like draw­ing cards for ran­dom chance encoun­ters, and mix­ing them with video game con­cepts like real-time com­bat encoun­ters, it worked sur­pris­ingly well. Hand of Fate 2 takes all of this and expands upon every­thing adding more ele­ments and improv­ing the over­all struc­ture of how the game is played to make for an even bet­ter blend.

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