Heya TAY, I too could not resist the siren song of making a “year in review” post, but looking back on 2017, I actually did a lot of stuff! First of all, I actually had a goal from the very beginning of 2017 that I would finish 25 games this year. Funny enough, I just did a recount and I finished... 25! Exactly on 12/31/2017! There’s a lot to go through, so I’ll spend more time on some then others, but here’s a breakdown: [Note: I discuss other stuff past the games if you’re tired of reading retrospective lists haha.]
The Witcher 2: Assassin of Kings
I started the year off by returning to The Witcher 2 for the second time. Initially I had struggled with understanding the mechanics behind properly gearing up Geralt for various tasks, but on my second play-through I began to feel much more in my element. I will admit, I did use a mod that granted me two perk/talent points per level instead of 1, but honestly I just wanted to experience the world of the Witcher despite the games age and shortcomings. Minor cheating aside, I did end up enjoying the game for the most part, and greatly look forward to playing “the greatest RPG of all time”, aka The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, once I have a gaming PC that is capable of rendering all of that glorious hair at maximum settings. Maybe next year, but likely 2019.
Pillars of Eternity
I’ve already written about how awesome I think Pillars of Eternity is, and I’m an active backer of the sequel via Fig right now! It was truly a pleasure to finish this game, and at some point I should probably go buy the DLCs and give those a run through as well. Plus it just still has one of the best soundtracks of all time, I can listen to this piece for hours.
What an unexpected gem. Having never really read up on the series, nor having ever played one previously, I must say this PC port was really fantastic. I’m still amazed at how seamlessly it pulls of having turn-based scenarios while also allowing units to move and react in “real-time”. If you like strategy games, you should really give this one a go, it’s worth your time. Plus the story is one of those classic “ragtag group of heroes saving the day” that you can’t help but enjoy.
I finished Disgaea in February, but I’m going to discuss it later in the post.
Likewise, I finished Disgaea 2 in March, but we’ll chat more about it later.
March is also notable as being the first month I instituted my “no new games” policy until July with Zarnyx (Narelle), and as you’ll see, it had some positive results.
Oh and I got engaged. There’s that too!
Kingdom New Lands
Another gem of a strategy game, Kingdom New Lands is a good example of a game that doesn’t need to add on extra layers of game-play mechanics in order to be successful. The fundamentals are simple: you gain gold by exploiting resources around you, you use that gold to fund an army and build defenses for yourself, and eventually you save up to purchase a boat, push it to a dock that’s very far away, and leave. The extra additions the game have all work towards reinforcing those simple fundamentals. I feel confident recommending this game to all sorts of individuals, because I think it’s intentionally accessible with a fair difficulty ramp-up.
A beautiful game with an ending I really didn’t enjoy at all. I still think this is a perfect example of a “walking simulator” that could exist without any additional narrative. For the sake of spoilers, I’ll leave it at that.
I’ve written about this previously, but Tomb Raider was surprisingly really good! There’s still a disconnect between the narrative of having difficulty committing murder in the name of self-preservation, and you being a rampant ruthless killing machine outside of cut-scenes, but the game mechanics themselves were well tuned and fun to play. Like an Assassin’s Creed that actually works.
Shin Megami Tensei IV
“Why can’t I just have more of these and Persona on my 3DS and Switch, please and thank you Atlus/Nintendo.”
I’ll reference my paragraph on Papers Please from earlier this year, as it still stands:
Papers Please attempts to attack you from a standpoint of empathy and emotion, but it quickly loses impact and resulted in me simply looking at every entrant as a penalty or paycheck. Sadistic as that may sound, especially in these troublesome times of immigration issues in America, I just don’t think the writing did a good job of elevating the seriousness of the player’s decisions. I didn’t feel consequence when turning away people in dire need. Everything felt very black and white, with little moral grey area, leaving the overall experience rather hollow.
Disgaea 5 Complete
Here we are, the crown jewel. My favorite game of 2017. As previously mentioned, in February and March I was exposed to the beginning entries of Disgaea, a strategy game series hellbent on being an emotional rollercoaster, a hilarious romp, and a deeply fine-tuned mechanical experience. Statistics within statistics, entire worlds within a single item in the game, class-swaps akin to Final Fantasy Tactics, this series really has it all.
Each game gets consecutively better and better, with new additions to character classes, skills, combos, etc. Not to mention that every single game has an insanely exponentially difficult post-game for you to explore. Disgaea 5 Complete for the Switch has well earned the right to put “Complete” in it’s title, as it’s the full package experience. If you’ve never played a Disgaea game, even if you don’t consider yourself much for strategy games, I implore you to try this game. The characters are great, despite a story that begins as being very one-note. There is no wrong way to play this game, anyone can essentially do anything, it’s just a matter of learning the systems and exploiting them however you want. The game has a friggin’ Cheat Shop, and it actively encourages you to use it for crying out loud. It wants you to have fun however you please!
Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia
While I thought the game had some issues worth considering, Echoes is also my first official TAY review, along with being the first time I was ever given a review copy of a game. Certainly a fun little milestone to hit.
The Wolf Among Us
Turns out Telltale knows how to tell a really captivating story in an adventure game, who knew? This Game Noir is dark, funny, and worth your time if you like interesting spins on fairy tales. I’m still hoping for a sequel!
This War of Mine
Gods Will Be Watching
All three of these games are hyper depressing in their own way, but also completely unique gaming experiences that I would have otherwise totally skipped over were it not for people recommending them to me. This War of Mine is a game that could be taking place today in some parts of the world, Gods Will Be Watching is an insane sci-fi experience that is really hard to describe without spoiling things. It gets weird, and sad, fast. While Hotline Miami is well... Hotline Miami.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
I don’t think you need to read for the 10,000th time why BotW is good. We all know it’s good. I’m just really excited to see how Nintendo carries on this new direction for a series that’s been going on for over 30 years now.
Supergiant Games either practices the dark arts, or has something special in their water supply, because they consistently put out amazing cult classic hits with mindbogglingly good soundtracks and narratives. The only issue I had with Transistor is that I wanted to learn and explore even more of the world, but naturally the entire narrative of the game makes that impossible.
I’m considering completion a full run through the campaign here, but now that War of the Chosen is out, I’ll need to go back and give this game a second go. Honestly, just creating soldiers named after family and friends is enough to make your desperate attempts at survival have even more meaning and narrative impact, and Firaxis knows this, which is why they’ve built systems to help forge unique soldier identities from the get-go. While I haven’t had a chance to play Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle yet (and I’m sure I’ll like it), I feel like XCOM 2 got snuffed for Best Strategy Game of the Year at the 2017 Game Awards. [Personally I would vote for Disgaea 5 Complete, but it’s a port, so it likely wouldn’t count for most folks perceptions of a true “2017" game.]
You can’t really “complete” either of these games, as they can really be played on to infinity, but I’ve earned the full achievement list for both games on Steam, so that’s good enough for me. (And yes, I wasted far too much of my life playing AdVenture Capitalist.)
One Way Heroics
Similar to XCOM 2, “completion” here is really just a successful campaign run. One Way Heroics is a good example of a game that looks like shovelware at first glance, but is actually a pretty interesting and well-crafted experience. The gimmick of not being able to go backwards out of fear of instantly dying to “The Darkness” makes each decision you make, even just what direction you walk in, have impact. Sadly, it did feel so repetitive that I didn’t really want to keep playing after beating the main campaign, but kudos for at least being a complete experience.
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
I’m glad I got Assassin’s Creed Redux: Fantasy Edition for $4, because beyond the Nemesis System, this game lacks any decent story structure or narrative hook. It is at best a “map game” with solid combat mechanics. It also has lead to Warner Bros. making giant piles of money via exploitative loot boxes in the sequel, so hey, good for them I guess.
Farm Your Life
A game about surviving zombie attacks at night while farming during the day! Surprisingly enough, it’s actually very relaxing. It has a very silly and simple story, but the core concepts of the game work. I wouldn’t say it’s a masterpiece, but it was certainly an intriguing little distraction from larger titles I was playing.
Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc
Murderteens. That about sums up this insane emotional rollercoaster. If a Visual Novel about Murderteens stuck in a Prisoner’s Dilemma sounds like something up your alley, then get ready to fall into despair! I’m looking forward to trying out the later entries into the series soon hopefully.
So there you have it, 25 games of various length and quality finished in one calendar year. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to complete something like that again in 2018, but here’s to giving it my best shot!
All of that reminiscing aside, 2017 also made it very clear that I have a serious backlog problem that needs to be addressed, and I mean serious. Here is a list of games that I’ve purchased in 2017 that I haven’t even played:
- Hotline Miami 2
- Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition
- Planescape: Torment: Enhanced Edition
- Torment: Tides of Numenera
- Tesla Effect
- Invisible, Inc.
- Holy Potatoes! A Weapon Shop?!
- Holy Potatoes! What the Hell?!
- Detective Grimoire
- Knights of Pen and Paper 2
- Saints Row 4 & Gat Outta Hell
- Full Throttle Remastered
- Witcher 3
That’s not even counting games I’ve purchased that I’m actively playing, nor games that have been gifted to me. My short-term backlog list is 29 games, my long-term backlog list is 59 games. That’s not even including games on my 3DS, PS3, or Switch!
Lesson learned, I have to restrict myself from buying new stuff from now on. It’s just insane how much I’m allowing myself to buy into things I don’t need when I have so many games I haven’t even played. If anything, that’s the true lesson of 2017 for me.
On a much happier note, throughout 2017 I managed to raise 151% of my Extra Life goal. $4,550 out of $3,000 set for Riley Children’s Hospital. Shout outs to you TAY folks who stopped by to cheer me on during the stream events. I really appreciate your continued support, and I know the hospital administrators I work with acknowledge and appreciate you all as well. :)
Alright, this post has gone on for far too long now. Thanks as always for being an amazing community TAY. Here’s to a happy and productive 2018. Crush that backlog! ᕙ(⇀‸↼‶)ᕗ