Picking the order of the top three games of 2017 was a nightmare. Each of these games are amazing in their own right and ranking them was near impossible. That being said, I have decided on an order and I am sticking to it! Super Mario Odyssey is a joy to play in nearly every way. The bright and colorful environments are packed with fun stuff to do and interact with, nearly all of which will earn you some power moons. I never had a play session with Super Mario Odyssey where I felt that no progress had been made and I always spent the entire time smiling ear to ear. It has been a long while since we’ve gotten a Mario game as open as this one and this could arguably be the best one that follows that formula. The main game doesn’t overstay its welcome, allowing you to blast through each world and get a short introduction before moving on, but doesn’t discourage sticking around and playing in each kingdom for a little longer. There are some very fun surprises after the credits roll and the game is a great one to come back to every now and then for some relaxed fun. Super Mario Odyssey just barely came in as the 3rd best game of 2017.
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.
Growing up in a highly competitive house, I’ve grown into a fair bit of anxiety when it comes to competitive games. Finding one that manages to feel just as fun whether you win or lose is rare, but Ultimate Chicken Horse nails it. I can’t tell you the number of times play sessions devolved into the entire room laughing as the ridiculousness of the stages grow each round. Coming newly to the PS4, Ultimate Chicken Horse is one of the best couch competitive experiences available on the console which can be enjoyed by the whole family.
Platforming sections in first-person games can be notoriously hard if they’re not done well. Spotting platforms while you’re jumping and nailing targets mid-air is tough as nails, but if the controls are tight enough it can feel really good. DeadCore has you steadily climbing a tower full of deadly traps and giant leaps, but as through the adversity of making it through this gauntlet, you will eventually feel like a first-person god of platforming. Not every section is strong, but what is there is challenging enough to really make you feel like you earned it.
Rubbing your stomach and patting your head has always been one of the greatest exercises in multitasking. Getting your brain to process two separate tasks simultaneously is surprisingly difficult. Creative Bytes Studios is looking to put you to the ultimate test with the new platforming adventure Embers of Mirrim. Jumping through the world as two creatures that have been combined into one, you must use the powers of each simultaneously to traverse the dangers as you cure the corruption plaguing the land. Embers of Mirrim is not only a competent and beautiful game, it is challenging and fun in a way that I haven’t seen in quite some time.
Atmosphere, in my humble opinion, is one of the most important things a game can create. Back in 2010, Playdead introduced us all to a puzzle platformer than oozed atmosphere and created a surprisingly tense 2-D experience with Limbo. Since then many developers have tried to recapture the magic of this game by mimicking its aesthetics or gameplay. Coming from this standpoint, Lukáš Navrátil created Toby: The Secret Mine as a solo project. While it doesn’t quite recapture the tense feeling of the game it was inspired by, there are some good moments to latch onto here.