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EGM's Best of 2017: Emma Schaefer's Editor Awards


 

As a fan of Nintendo games, JRPGs, and indie titles, 2017 has been a fantastic year. Plenty of series that I loved put out new entries or sequels (Splatoon 2, Life is Strange: Before the Storm, Pokémon Ultra Sun and Moon), other more continuous games continued on with strong support (Overwatch and World of Warcraft: Legion), a ton of indie games made a major splash (Cuphead), and Nintendo unveiled my favorite gaming hardware innovation in years with the 2-in-1 Nintendo Switch console. It was difficult to narrow down a list with so many great games out there, but my five personal picks below are ones you definitely shouldn’t skip over.

#5 Publisher: Supergiant Games
Developer: Supergiant Games
Platforms: PS4, PC
Pyre
I never thought that one of my top five games of the year would be, essentially, a basketball game, yet here we are. Pyre is from the same developers that made Bastion and Transistor, and though its core gameplay system is more or less rounds of 3-on-3 basketball, it carries the same narrative weight as its predecessors (with an absolutely gorgeous art style and soundtrack to boot). There are some real, heart wrenching choices to make as you progress and must decide which of your companions will achieve their dream of leaving the Downside (and thus your party) and who must stay behind (staying on your team at the cost of their unhappiness). As you follow the stars, you’re given the chance of different paths to take at nearly every turning, making your exact party composition and path of progression unique. Even if, like me, you’re not at all into sports games, Pyre is a game that’s worth the shot.
#4 Publisher: Team Salvato
Developer: Team Salvato
Platforms: PC
Doki Doki Literature Club!
It’s difficult to talk about Doki Doki Literature Club, because I can’t reveal everything I liked about it without spoiling the reason I enjoyed it in the first place. A cast of adorable Japanese schoolgirls, Satori, Natsuki, Yuki, and Monika, make up their school’s Literature Club, bonding closer with you as they write poems revealing their inner struggles and you write poems in return. This little dating sim came seemingly out of nowhere and gained immense popularity, and though it’s difficult to convince people to give it a shot without giving the game away, you’re doing yourself a favor if you play it without looking up much more about it. I will say, though, that the game is free, available on most PC platforms, and is only a few hours long—and you definitely don’t need to be a fan of the dating sim genre to enjoy what’s in store. Heed the warnings on the game’s download page, though.
#3 Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo EPD
Platforms: Switch
Super Mario Odyssey
As the first Mario game to land on the Nintendo Switch, Nintendo had to really pull out something special with Super Mario Odyssey, and boy, did Nintendo stick the landing. Super Mario Odyssey is both a love letter to some of the best Super Mario games of the past, such as Super Mario 64, and it struck gold with its core idea of possessing different creatures to gain their abilities. The game hides hundreds of Power Moons across multiple worlds, and strikes just the right difficulty balance to make you feel really clever for figuring out how to get to each one. Add in tons of the little details that Nintendo is known for—birds that fly down and roost on Mario’s nose when he’s sleeping, background sound effects that change key to better fit with the music, etc.—and you have a great game that players of nearly any skill level can enjoy.
#2 Publisher: Tequila Works
Developer: Cavalier Game Studios, Tequila Works
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC
The Sexy Brutale
I’m a big fan of murder mysteries. The Ace Attorney games and Ghost Trick rank among some of my favorite games. In The Sexy Brutale, you’re not just solving a few crimes, but the murders of an entire mansion full of party guests stuck in a time loop. As time rewinds each day, you’re able to follow different guests around, slowly piecing together what killed each one, solving the conspiracy amongst the servants, and trying different strategies to see what affects your actions will have on the world as you try to prevent each death. My favorite detail, though, is what ties it all together: the soundtrack. The old-timey music is packed full of clues, and it ties in perfectly to the time loop. What’s really happening every time that bell rings, those shots fire, or the opera singer joins in? It’s all a part of the grander mystery at play in the mansion.
#1 Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo EPD
Platforms: Switch, Wii U
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
After reviewing a game, I’m normally a bit burned out. Since Breath of the Wild was a Nintendo Switch launch title, I reviewed it on the early console EGM got instead of a private one, which, at the time, meant I couldn’t move my save file to my own console afterwards. Breath of the Wild was the first game I’ve ever reviewed where I was not only not a little burned out by launch, but happy to discard my sixty-something hours of playtime and start over fresh. Games have been promising epic open-world adventures for years, but Breath of the Wild is the first that really fulfilled that promise for me. From the music the first time I saw a dragon emerge from the lake, to my heartstopping early encounter with vah Rudania, to the simple act of cooking on a campfire under the stars, Breath of the Wild delivered everything I didn’t know I’d always wanted from a open world exploration game.
The “Makes My Little Nerd Heart Flutter with Joy” Award
Life is Strange: Before the Storm
At the time of writing this, the third and final episode of this game hasn’t released yet, so I can’t give the full game a fair review. One scene in Episode 1 stands out, though: the D&D scene. Instead of putting the player straight into a Dungeons and Dragons fantasy adventure, you instead play Chloe as she plays D&D, consulting her character sheet and rolling the dice. What really made me happy, though, was the detail here. The game is set in 2010, when 4th Edition D&D was the current edition, and though none of the characters call it out by name, it’s clear that they’re playing 4th Edition and not some generic tabletop RPG. Healing surges? Skill challenges? Those are 4th Edition exclusive rules, ones that have since been pulled out of the game (and, contrary to popular opinion, I really liked 4th edition.). It’s such a small detail in a completely missable scene, but it’s one that makes me ridiculously happy.
The “Bursting the Bubble” Award
Star Wars Battlefront II
Microtransactions in games get more egregious every year. Season passes with unknown future content, paid mod scandals, a deluge of pay-to-win style content, loot boxes, and even the less-harmful paid cosmetics (remember when these were earned through gameplay?) have been popping up in game after game, and the pressure has been steadily mounting as games push the limit of how much players are willing to pay. Though it’s far from the only game this year to feature some frankly exploitative systems, Star Wars Battlefront II was the game that finally pushed too far. The reveal that it would take over 4,500 hours of play or $2000 dollars to unlock all the game’s base content was the final straw for many would-be players, and the resulting fallout pulled the microtransaction system into the national spotlight. Now, with so many eyes on the issue, legislators pushing for the gaming industry to be regulated under current gambling laws, and the greater fear of public backlash, Star Wars Battlefront II may become known as the game that was so bad it helped fix the industry as a whole.
The “My Life is a Commercial” Award
Nintendo Switch
You know all those advertisements that Nintendo put out for the Nintendo Switch? The ones where a cool 20-something model grabs their Switch, runs off to a rooftop party, and pulls all the popular kids into a game of Mario Kart? Yeah, I’ve done that. Well, okay, not exactly. I’m pretty far from the model type and that type of party scene, but I’ve been shocked at how closely my experience with the Switch has matched those too-good-to-be-true commercials. I’ve brought it around to my friends’ houses, pulled it out on planes, and brought people together to play Mario Kart. I love the entire concept of the hybrid handheld/home console, so much so that I’ve found myself wishing my other consoles had something similar, and a part of me is still shocked to see big games like Skyrim running in portable mode. Now, if only Nintendo would add some video streaming services and the Virtual Console, I could die happy.
EGM’s Best of 2017 Coverage
We’re taking a look at the best games of 2017 all week, from Christmas day through December 30th. Check back every day for our Top 25 Games of 2017, as well as our personal lists for the games we loved most this year. Check here for everything that’s been posted so far.
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About Emma Schaefer

view all posts

Emma’s early gaming was mostly done in secret, as the only gamer in a family of normal people. She still retains skills from this dark period in her life, such as the ability to teleport instantly across the house away from the computer, and holds a gold medal in the Olympic sport of “Hide the Gameboy.” Sorry, Mom, now you know. Find her on Twitter @Emma4EGM

EGM’s Best of 2017: Emma Schaefer’s Editor Awards

Emma gives her thoughts on the year in gaming that was 2017

By Emma Schaefer | 12/21/2017 09:00 AM PT

Features

As a fan of Nintendo games, JRPGs, and indie titles, 2017 has been a fantastic year. Plenty of series that I loved put out new entries or sequels (Splatoon 2, Life is Strange: Before the Storm, Pokémon Ultra Sun and Moon), other more continuous games continued on with strong support (Overwatch and World of Warcraft: Legion), a ton of indie games made a major splash (Cuphead), and Nintendo unveiled my favorite gaming hardware innovation in years with the 2-in-1 Nintendo Switch console. It was difficult to narrow down a list with so many great games out there, but my five personal picks below are ones you definitely shouldn’t skip over.

#5 Publisher: Supergiant Games
Developer: Supergiant Games
Platforms: PS4, PC
Pyre
I never thought that one of my top five games of the year would be, essentially, a basketball game, yet here we are. Pyre is from the same developers that made Bastion and Transistor, and though its core gameplay system is more or less rounds of 3-on-3 basketball, it carries the same narrative weight as its predecessors (with an absolutely gorgeous art style and soundtrack to boot). There are some real, heart wrenching choices to make as you progress and must decide which of your companions will achieve their dream of leaving the Downside (and thus your party) and who must stay behind (staying on your team at the cost of their unhappiness). As you follow the stars, you’re given the chance of different paths to take at nearly every turning, making your exact party composition and path of progression unique. Even if, like me, you’re not at all into sports games, Pyre is a game that’s worth the shot.
#4 Publisher: Team Salvato
Developer: Team Salvato
Platforms: PC
Doki Doki Literature Club!
It’s difficult to talk about Doki Doki Literature Club, because I can’t reveal everything I liked about it without spoiling the reason I enjoyed it in the first place. A cast of adorable Japanese schoolgirls, Satori, Natsuki, Yuki, and Monika, make up their school’s Literature Club, bonding closer with you as they write poems revealing their inner struggles and you write poems in return. This little dating sim came seemingly out of nowhere and gained immense popularity, and though it’s difficult to convince people to give it a shot without giving the game away, you’re doing yourself a favor if you play it without looking up much more about it. I will say, though, that the game is free, available on most PC platforms, and is only a few hours long—and you definitely don’t need to be a fan of the dating sim genre to enjoy what’s in store. Heed the warnings on the game’s download page, though.
#3 Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo EPD
Platforms: Switch
Super Mario Odyssey
As the first Mario game to land on the Nintendo Switch, Nintendo had to really pull out something special with Super Mario Odyssey, and boy, did Nintendo stick the landing. Super Mario Odyssey is both a love letter to some of the best Super Mario games of the past, such as Super Mario 64, and it struck gold with its core idea of possessing different creatures to gain their abilities. The game hides hundreds of Power Moons across multiple worlds, and strikes just the right difficulty balance to make you feel really clever for figuring out how to get to each one. Add in tons of the little details that Nintendo is known for—birds that fly down and roost on Mario’s nose when he’s sleeping, background sound effects that change key to better fit with the music, etc.—and you have a great game that players of nearly any skill level can enjoy.
#2 Publisher: Tequila Works
Developer: Cavalier Game Studios, Tequila Works
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC
The Sexy Brutale
I’m a big fan of murder mysteries. The Ace Attorney games and Ghost Trick rank among some of my favorite games. In The Sexy Brutale, you’re not just solving a few crimes, but the murders of an entire mansion full of party guests stuck in a time loop. As time rewinds each day, you’re able to follow different guests around, slowly piecing together what killed each one, solving the conspiracy amongst the servants, and trying different strategies to see what affects your actions will have on the world as you try to prevent each death. My favorite detail, though, is what ties it all together: the soundtrack. The old-timey music is packed full of clues, and it ties in perfectly to the time loop. What’s really happening every time that bell rings, those shots fire, or the opera singer joins in? It’s all a part of the grander mystery at play in the mansion.
#1 Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo EPD
Platforms: Switch, Wii U
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
After reviewing a game, I’m normally a bit burned out. Since Breath of the Wild was a Nintendo Switch launch title, I reviewed it on the early console EGM got instead of a private one, which, at the time, meant I couldn’t move my save file to my own console afterwards. Breath of the Wild was the first game I’ve ever reviewed where I was not only not a little burned out by launch, but happy to discard my sixty-something hours of playtime and start over fresh. Games have been promising epic open-world adventures for years, but Breath of the Wild is the first that really fulfilled that promise for me. From the music the first time I saw a dragon emerge from the lake, to my heartstopping early encounter with vah Rudania, to the simple act of cooking on a campfire under the stars, Breath of the Wild delivered everything I didn’t know I’d always wanted from a open world exploration game.
The “Makes My Little Nerd Heart Flutter with Joy” Award
Life is Strange: Before the Storm
At the time of writing this, the third and final episode of this game hasn’t released yet, so I can’t give the full game a fair review. One scene in Episode 1 stands out, though: the D&D scene. Instead of putting the player straight into a Dungeons and Dragons fantasy adventure, you instead play Chloe as she plays D&D, consulting her character sheet and rolling the dice. What really made me happy, though, was the detail here. The game is set in 2010, when 4th Edition D&D was the current edition, and though none of the characters call it out by name, it’s clear that they’re playing 4th Edition and not some generic tabletop RPG. Healing surges? Skill challenges? Those are 4th Edition exclusive rules, ones that have since been pulled out of the game (and, contrary to popular opinion, I really liked 4th edition.). It’s such a small detail in a completely missable scene, but it’s one that makes me ridiculously happy.
The “Bursting the Bubble” Award
Star Wars Battlefront II
Microtransactions in games get more egregious every year. Season passes with unknown future content, paid mod scandals, a deluge of pay-to-win style content, loot boxes, and even the less-harmful paid cosmetics (remember when these were earned through gameplay?) have been popping up in game after game, and the pressure has been steadily mounting as games push the limit of how much players are willing to pay. Though it’s far from the only game this year to feature some frankly exploitative systems, Star Wars Battlefront II was the game that finally pushed too far. The reveal that it would take over 4,500 hours of play or $2000 dollars to unlock all the game’s base content was the final straw for many would-be players, and the resulting fallout pulled the microtransaction system into the national spotlight. Now, with so many eyes on the issue, legislators pushing for the gaming industry to be regulated under current gambling laws, and the greater fear of public backlash, Star Wars Battlefront II may become known as the game that was so bad it helped fix the industry as a whole.
The “My Life is a Commercial” Award
Nintendo Switch
You know all those advertisements that Nintendo put out for the Nintendo Switch? The ones where a cool 20-something model grabs their Switch, runs off to a rooftop party, and pulls all the popular kids into a game of Mario Kart? Yeah, I’ve done that. Well, okay, not exactly. I’m pretty far from the model type and that type of party scene, but I’ve been shocked at how closely my experience with the Switch has matched those too-good-to-be-true commercials. I’ve brought it around to my friends’ houses, pulled it out on planes, and brought people together to play Mario Kart. I love the entire concept of the hybrid handheld/home console, so much so that I’ve found myself wishing my other consoles had something similar, and a part of me is still shocked to see big games like Skyrim running in portable mode. Now, if only Nintendo would add some video streaming services and the Virtual Console, I could die happy.
EGM’s Best of 2017 Coverage
We’re taking a look at the best games of 2017 all week, from Christmas day through December 30th. Check back every day for our Top 25 Games of 2017, as well as our personal lists for the games we loved most this year. Check here for everything that’s been posted so far.
0   POINTS
0   POINTS



About Emma Schaefer

view all posts

Emma’s early gaming was mostly done in secret, as the only gamer in a family of normal people. She still retains skills from this dark period in her life, such as the ability to teleport instantly across the house away from the computer, and holds a gold medal in the Olympic sport of “Hide the Gameboy.” Sorry, Mom, now you know. Find her on Twitter @Emma4EGM