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.
Alchemy has always seemed like one of those concepts that transfers into the world of RPGs perfectly. Gathering resources and turning them into equipment, medicine and other useful items is a perfect fit for both the gameplay and fantastical settings of these games. The Atelier series has been around for quite a while proving this concept with some fun and creative JRPGs. I personally hadn’t played any of the previous entries in the series before, but as a player who has partaken in many through the years, I was excited to give this series a try. Atelier Firis: The Alchemist and the Mysterious Journey certainly has a lot going on, with several very interesting qualities I haven’t seen elsewhere, but isn’t particularly friendly to new players.
Developing some of the toughest and most rewarding games out there, From Software hit another one of out of the park with Dark Souls III. Using the same engine from Bloodborne, this game shines on both the PC and consoles. This game ticked off every box I was looking for in a new Dark Souls game. Containing a dark and gorgeous world filled with some of the toughest bosses I’ve faced thus far, I’m looking at you Nameless King you bastard, this is easily the game I sank the most time into this year.
Porting classic games has become something of an epidemic during this console generation. What’s worse is that, more often than not, these ports act as a reminder of just how far graphics in video games have come across the years. Rare exceptions to this rule do occur and when treated with the proper care, some games shine on the newer platforms. If I hadn’t played it back on PS2, and you told me that Odin Sphere: Leifthrasir was a brand new game I would likely believe you. The upgrades they’ve made to this classic action RPG were smart and the gorgeous graphics, a trademark of Vanillaware, looks as good today as they did back in 2007.
Back in 2008, just months before I moved to the Washington DC area, a little game called Fallout 3 came out. Not sure what to expect, I dove right in and ended up putting quite a bit of time into the game. Seven years later and they’ve finally released Fallout 4 upon the world. Sporting massively improved shooting mechanics and far more interesting companion characters than before, Fallout 4 looks to be a staple in my PS4 for months to come.