2017 Top 10 Video Games 5-1 (Brandon Rojas)
Happy New Year everyone! Welcome back for Day 2! If you need a recap for games 10-6, you check them out here!
Otherwise lets jump right in!
5. Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
While Mario took the Mario playbook and followed it with some notes scribbled in the margin, Legend of Zelda took its playbook, put it in a paper shredder and then threw the shredder out a window into a trash compactor. Everything about this game felt fresh and new. From the massive open world, to the innovation way the game lets you solve puzzles or even fight mobs, to the great dungeons that never felt like they overstayed their welcome, I felt like I could go anywhere and do anything on the back of Epona at my own pace. There wasn’t a moment in the game that I didn’t have a smile on my face as I explored Hyrule all over again but feeling like it was for the first time.
4. Persona 5
Dripping from head to toe with style, packed with interesting characters, and a really fun mystery at its core, Persona 5 instantly landed near the top of my GoTY list. I loved every moment I spent with the protagonist, as I learned more about him and established relationships with characters that for form unbreakable bonds throughout the game. With massive improvements to the combat and dungeon exploration since Persona 4, while still keeping its JRPG roots and a story that at times was a bit silly but totally suited for the game, Persona 5 once again reeled me in and had me put more time into it than any other game this year.
3. Yakuza 0
I had never played a Yakuza game before this one. I had known about them, and known they were pretty big in Japan, but never had any interest in them. I’m not a big fan of anime or manga (which is why Persona 5 and Yakuza 0 being in my top 5 games is somewhat of a big deal - they are ANIME AS HELL) but from the minute I saw our protagonist Kiryu step on screen with his rad white suit and started kicking everyone’s ass under the neon glow of 80’s Tokyo, I knew this game was 100% for me. The story is completely wacky in the best ways, with some of the most absurd plot twists and over the top characters that walked right off the set of a movie. Another game packed to the brim with style and a soundtrack to back it up, every quest, every breakdance fight, and every chicken who becomes a property manager for one of your businesses, I fell deeper in love with Yakuza 0, and the Yakuza series overall.
2. PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG)
My #1 all time favorite game is Quake 3 Arena thanks to countless memories from LAN parties of the past with some of my, to this day, best friends. I essentially grew up playing first person shooters on PC, starting with Doom and Quake and eventually moving to games such as Counter-Strike, Team Fortress 2, and eventually Call of Duty. But then, as the gaming industry is apt to do, the market became over saturated with shooters - competitive ones, no less - and I very much fell out of love with them. So when I first heard about PUBG, I looked at it and said “eh, I played DayZ,” which was originally a mod of the game ARMA (not unlike PUBG, to an extent), and thought it looked similar, so I didn’t get the hype or praise the game was getting. Finally, after hearing about it so much, I gave in. And here we are.
Rare is it that I’ve been hooked by a game as instantly and as fast as PUBG. The premise is simple; you and 99 other players are dropped on an island peppered with weapons from frying pans to auto rifles and set off to be the last person standing and earn yourself the coveted Chicken Dinner (grand prize). As you traverse said island, by car or foot, various environmental hazards pop up such as a ever changing “red zones,” where bombs drop for a minute straight and a constantly collapsing circle of damage closes in on you and most of all, other players.
You could be running through a field and hear a gun fight break out to the west, leaving you to run towards it to either see the aftermath and benefit from fallen players leftover gear, or bolt in the opposite direction. I’ve been hunkered down in the bathroom of second story of a house, pinned down by constant bullet fire from three different angles. I’ve laid out on a cliff or mountain top, hidden in bushes with a sniper rifle picking off people fighting for the chance to get a rare cargo drop (with more powerful weapons inside), only to get shot myself. In every game you learn something new, even if you die within the first 2 minutes of the game or make it to the final 5 minutes. Not to mention, when playing with my friends in a squad, doing things like chasing down another squad in a jeep in a Mad Max style chase leaning out windows shooting each other or taking out other 4-player teams in perfectly coordinated attacks has been some of the most fun I have had all year. And boy oh boy… that feeling you get when you get your first Chicken Dinner. It’s this crazy feeling of joy and relief.
To say the game is tense barely describes it. Most games I play, when I’m not just goofing around, keep my heart pounding and sitting on the edge of my seat. The first game we won, I think I was literally sweating. And while the game is still messy in parts, being plagued by hackers and not best learning curve for newcomers, PUBG renewed my love of competitive shooter games and gave me some of the best memories in gaming this year the same way Quake 3 Arena did years ago.
1. Night In The Woods
Set in the fictional town of Possum Springs, Mae (an anthropomorphic cat - all the characters are various animals) returns home from college after dropping out for unknown reasons. You quickly meet up with old friends and townsfolk exploring the town and conversing about everyday things… and not so everyday things (like finding a severed arm on the street).
The gameplay isn’t complicated nor will it be interesting for people who like more action oriented games, but that's not what makes this game amazing. It’s the story and characters. Every character is written so well, and all have their own arcs and stories that range between funny, touching, tragic, heartwarming, and more. You meet up with Selmers, a recovering drug addict living with her parents who loves to write poetry and will read you some every time you talk to her. Head to band practice with old high school friends Bea, Greg, and Angus. Talk about eels and listen to bad dad jokes with your parents. Gaze upon the stars with a old high school teacher who always wanted the best for you. Every character is unique and feels like someone I know or knew. And at its core that’s what made this game my GoTY.
Night in the Woods resonated with me personally, having felt the same and experienced some of the same issues and emotions as these characters. At more than a few points during the game, I got misty eyed, and one in particular segment with Angus, was brought to full on tears. The game touches on everything from death, economic issues, religion, crime, and mental health in a way that doesn’t feel pandering or for the story’s sake. All these serve a major purpose and are handled so well. During Mae’s journey, you come to understand her issues with anxiety (something I also suffer from), depression, and other things that lead her to return home and, having been in Mae’s shoes, I instantly with connected her and understood so much of what she went though.
I’ve barely skimmed the surface of the incredible stories but I don’t want to go into any further details about the story since I feel like this is a game everyone should play for themselves. Infinite Fall (the developers) have made me a instant fan and I cannot wait to see what they do next. In a year with some INCREDIBLE games, Night in the Woods stood above them all.
So there it is, my top 10 video games of 2017! I played SO MANY great games this year that this list was hands down, one of the hardest I've had to write. Hopefully y’all enjoyed reading about video games because I’d love to keep writing about them! Feel free to leave me some comments about my list, the games, and some of your favorite video games from 2017!
I’ve been Brandon Rojas. Avid board, tabletop & role player, craft beer enthusiast and seasoned video game player, having blogged and podcasted about them in numerous places in past. If you want to chat and this or anything else, you can always find me on Twitter at @BrandonHRojas probably posting something goofy and nonsensical.