Welcome to the Main Damie’s Top Ten Video Games of 2017! I do realize that it is a little bit later than usual, but I ran into an unexpected situation where I couldn’t decide between three games for the number one spot. So instead of releasing a half baked list that I would regret once I completed the games, I decided to wait until I had finished all three of them before making a final choice. Now that I have, I present to you the Non-Nintendo Switch Top Ten games of 2017!
10. Madden 18
As FIFA 17 showed last year, sports games are perfectly set-up for unique and interesting story modes. FIFA dropped you into the world of an up-and-coming teenage soccer player, and all the ups-and-downs that come with it. It would have been easy for EA to copy-and-paste that story onto a football player in Madden, but the story of Kevin Wade is much deeper than that of Alex Hunter. It is a uniquely American story with enough player agency to not make it feel linear. While Wade’s story was the back-of-the-box big addition, it was the small improvements in the gameplay that made this game a major improvement from Madden 17, and moved it another step closer to a true simulation. Now, if they can only add dog masks.
9. Beat Cop
Games and stories about cops and criminals are nothing new, and even the routine of Beat Cop has been done before, but it is the way you are transported in every way to an exact place and time in the past that makes this small game stand out. The story begins with you playing a disgraced detective, who is forced to walk the beat like a rookie while you are under suspicion for a murder you did not commit. Oh, did I mention it is set in the 1980s? Yeah, because the game does at every turn, which can be great (Cars, hairstyles, clothes, etc.) and awful (stereotypes, interactions, etc.). At times it works, but for the most part, it makes me roll my eyes, but I can ignore most of that because the mundane nature of writing tickets and catching criminals is enough to give me some Papers, Please vibes.
8. Cook, Serve, Delicious 2
If I had ever thought of opening my own short order food truck, Cook, Server, Delicious 2 has quickly dissuaded me from that industry. The game itself is a terrific combination of stress, memorization, and time-management. You are tasked with doing everything involved in the course of a day at a restaurant: cook, clean, disinfect, exterminate, and deal with lunch and dinner rush. Once you memorize what key adds which ingredient, you go into a trance that involves you repeating letters in your head over and over again, which is amazing. Cook, Serve, Delicious 2 is perfect for those that find enjoyment in being stressed out and still succeeding at the end.
7. Fire Pro Wrestling World
It is no secret on this website site that I am a fan of professional wrestling, and I have even streamed a few video game versions on our Twitch channel, but over the last several years I have been deeply disappointed with the modern console versions. The WWE 2K series is HOT GARBAGE, and it is really only playable as a couch co-op game where you can make fun of the bugs and glitches with your friends. So I was pleasantly surprised when a new Fire Pro Wrestling game was announced, and it would keep the look that made it popular.
While this does not have any official licenses, yet (New Japan Pro Wrestling is coming this year), that didn’t stop the community from creating popular real-life wrestlers, and even those from fictional wrestling and fighting games, including Saturday Night Slam Masters and Mortal Kombat. The combination of a well-performing video game and the absurdity of the user-generated content, Fire Pro Wrestling World is just as fun to play as it is to watch.
6. Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds
Even though Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds — PUBG, for short — is mod of an ARMA III Mod, it such a uniquely different thing that you never need to play those games to get it. The premise is simple: you are dropped on an island with 99 other people and need to survive until you are the last one standing. While the game never specifically says it, players have adopted the idea that the prize at the end is a chicken dinner because of a text line that appears when you win — ‘winner winner chicken dinner’. I’m sure that line was just flavor text but it instantly became a thing. Playing PUBG solo is the most I’ve ever felt both scared and alone while playing a video game. The tension that every corner may hide an enemy combined with the lack of re-spawning made me play way more conservative than I ever had before. It is not a game without flaw, but for the most part, they are charming and never take away from the experience. PUBG is the perfect game for times when you only have an hour to play and want to feel like you didn’t waste your time.
5. Night in the Woods
In the beginning, Night in the Woods gave me flashbacks of Oxenfree last year, but it did not have the same staying power that pushed the latter to 2016’s No. 1 spot. NITW is a well-told story about becoming an adult without the motivation poster non-sense that most media portrays. The one reason I never fully attached to the game was that the playable character, Mae, was very unlikable and I found myself wondering why her friends continue to hang out with her. In a narrative that was really well done, Mae felt a little off. I’m not sure if the creators were going for something and just didn’t pull it off, or if she was just poorly written. Either way, the game is beautiful and all of the supporting characters are very distinctive and well flushed out if you follow their story to the end, and because of that, NITW definitely had replayability.
Oh, Cuphead. You are beautiful, unique and a pain in my ass. As some of you may have seen during our 24-hour Extra Life Stream, Cuphead is really difficult — maybe not as difficult as I made it look — and unforgiving, which is one of the reasons I love it. I’ll admit that I have not completed it yet, but the 2/3 that I have played give me no reason to believe that the games below it even compare. If you love games with the Dark Souls feedback loop of punishing you for every mistake, then Cuphead is perfect for you. Oh, and it’s also about making a deal with the Devil after losing your souls in a game of craps, so its story is pretty insane as well.
3. Persona 5
As mentioned earlier, there is a huge gap between Nos. 1-3 and the rest of the list. One of the reasons that I needed more time putting this list together is I couldn’t figure out where to slot the next three games until I had finished all three. So let’s start with my third favorite game of the year: Persona 5.
You would think that a game I spent almost 120 hours playing would be much higher on my list, but that is just the length it takes to finish most Persona games. While Persona 5 was beautiful and very distinctive in style from is predecessor, its structure and pace were completely different. Persona 4’s best quality was that the game’s dungeon crawls improved as you progress and made the path to the finish not feel like a slog; Persona 5, on the other, began to feel like a chore after the fourth palace. It is a shame because I think the overall story is better in 5, but the path to get there left you exhausted and not as invested as you should have been. Persona 5 is a game for Persona fans, while 4 is a better entry point for new players, which is why I probably enjoyed this more than someone without a history with the series.
2. Horizon: Zero Dawn
For most of the year, Horizon: Zero Dawn sat in the top spot with its combination of beauty and story. The way Guerrilla Games blended tribal, dark ages living with the technology left behind from the old world was a masterclass in design. The story takes a while to get going, but once it does, I started feeling guilty when I would ignore the main quest because I felt the urgency that Aloy has in the game. This could only occur with brilliant voice acting and there are few better than Ashly Burch, who is most famous for being the voice of Chloe Price in Life is Strange and Tiny Tina in Borderland 2, and the great job she does balancing Aloy’s earnestness and snarkiness. Horizon is one of the best character action games of this generation and it is a must play if you own a PlayStation.
The theme of this year list is uniqueness, and no game encapsulates this more than Pyre, which is a mixture of futuristic sports game and well-written visual novel. The world and its connection to the rites, which is basically fantasy basketball, is so perfectly intertwined that you begin to feel for the people not on your team. The art and character design are gorgeous and only improves upon Supergiant’s reputation as a studio that knows how to extenuate the visual aspect of a video game. Pyre is a game that is better played than read about especially because of the game’s final choice is one that will stay with you for a while. I highly recommend purchasing this games ASAP and trust me, you won’t regret it.