This time around I'm starting with the showstopper. That's right, it's... FALCON'S 2017 GAME OF THE YEAR!
NUMBER ONE!Butterfly Soup
A gorgeous, happy, and genuinely heartfelt game about young Asian lesbians. The characters are all superbly written and play off each other really well. Danielle Riendeau commented that the first perspective (Diya) is 'socially terrified', which is a great way to describe her extreme social anxiety. It was a masterful choice to start from Diya's perspective, so you can see what goes on in her head and turns what could be an aloof Humphrey-esque character seen from the outside, into someone who is just genuinely afraid to speak up, even amongst friends. The counterpoint to that in Diya's head though is her EXTREME enthusiasm for food, dogs, and Min.
This game is hella fun, packed with jokes and has some really emotional moments. You can get it for as cheap as free on itch.io, there's seriously no raisin not to play this game!
NUMBER TWO!Life Is Strange: Before the Storm
The third and final episode isn't out yet, but I've had good fun with this game. I'm just still not entirely sure it was necessary. It is nice to meet Rachel and actually experience what Chloe had with her after Max left, and I never turn down more Life Is Strange it just hasn't done quite enough (so far) for me to 100% gush about it like I do Butterfly Soup.
NUMBER THREE!What Remains of Edith Finch
An interesting story filled with interesting stories. You are the last surviving Finch returning to your family home to explore the house and re-live the memories of the ways that your ancestors died. While that could be quite morbid, the fantastical elements surrounding each death and unique stories and mechanics you encounter in each sub-story are so well realised that this game is just a joy to play beginning to end. Experience the life of a young girl who became a monster and ate herself, and the uncle who locked himself in the basement for decades afraid of demons, and the brother with the magic paintbrush. Add to this the gorgeous implementation of text/subtitles interacting with the environment and the loving detail in every room and this is the pinnacle of walking simulators.
NUMBER FOUR!Watch Dogs 2
What a turnaround for this franchise! After the homicidal trenchcoat Aidan Pierce in the first Watch Dogs, having a crew that are basically the modern version of the Hackers movie was a great choice. Even Wrench, who was met with dubious looks before release because of his over-the-top emoji mask turned out to actually be a great and interesting character. You know how Kojima was all "once you know why Quiet is practically naked you'll understand and it won't be a problem"? Wrench is the realisation of that sentiment. While a lot of people had a ludo-narrative dissonance between this underground group of hackers taking the fight to the man, and the fact you could literally 3D print automatic firearms and pull a Dan Ryckert using a drone to drop C4 in the middle of a nightclub, I was determined that my Marcus was not going to use lethal force. I was able to complete most missions by sitting outside the compound I was supposed to infiltrate and just use my drones to complete objectives, and I found that really satisfying.
NUMBER FIVE!Expeditions: Viking
I think I found this by seeing an article on rockpapershotgun, and figured I'd give it a go. This game really surprised me with interesting deep combat, and also giving me plenty of options to just shank dudes in the middle of conversation. It is a good simulation of life as a minor landholder in Viking era Scandinavia and their raids across the sea. The combat has interesting mechanics, with shields having their own HP but also skills that could tear a shield aside for a turn and it was interesting strategically since a lot of the moves you and your oppenent had access to were control/status effects more than battle, it added a strategic element to trying to cripple powerful enemies while you thinned their numbers, and mixed that in with often tricky objectives within a given battle.
NUMBER SIX!Mass Effect Andromeda
I didn't hate this game as much as others, I got really attached to my Sara Ryder and her motley crew. There were some mis-steps, first contact with the Kett was handled okay, Jacob getting immediately into a firefight even if you don't engage was dealt with fine, though there's a disconnect between Sara berating him for breaking first contact rules and the fact that it's a videogame so you'll want to shoot things. The first access to the Angara planet however was handled kind of like a handwave, like "oh look these aliens from across the galaxy also breathe oxygen and have a beautiful garden city, and also here's a universal translator so you can talk to them even though we've never actually heard this language before". So yes, Andromeda was a bit of a bummer for the things you wanted from a game about visiting a new cluster, but as a Mass Effect game I really quite liked it. I liked the crew, I liked the combat, I liked the exploration parts, I liked the cluster. The open world part of it also meant they did the classic "hey lets stack a bunch of useless sidequests everywhere to make this feel alive"... which just kills the pace of the game and I think that's a large part of where it falls down for a lot of people. Previous Mass Effects had you constantly moving forward, ME2 would throw you into story missions when you hadn't even explored all the planets you were able to, to keep that sense of urgency. Andromeda comparatively just crawls along unless you actively go chasing the main story, which can be hard to focus on with the constant sidequest distractions.
NUMBER SEVEN!King of Fighters 98 Ultimate Match Online
It's a King of Fighters gacha game, and I've fallen for it hard. I managed to get into one of the strongest guilds on my server and we all talk constantly on Whatsapp so it's the kind of obsession I can really get into now that I've ditched Marvel Puzzle Quest. One of the big advantages of this game is that it's been out for a couple of years in China, Japan, and Southeast Asia regions, so we on the global servers can see what is coming and plan our teams and strategies well in advance. I see y'all here talking about Fire Emblem Heroes a lot, I've never really played any Fire Emblem so a lot of that is lost on me, but KoF is my jam, especially when I don't have to actually pull quarter circles and timing and all that stuff that keeps me out of the mainline KoF.
NUMBER EIGHT!Divinity Original Sin 2
The similarities to the first D:OS game were a blessing and a curse for this game. While it is one of the strategic RPGs I have the most fun with, having an interesting AP system and wild combat abilities, I kind of feel it went too far in this game. Basically everyone can teleport now two different armour stats on everyone to resist different status effects started to just kind of get in the way for me. The biggest killer of my buzz however was that it got too open in the second act, and suddenly felt like no matter where I went the enemies were 5 or more levels higher than me and just wiped the floor with my party. It ended up being frustrating enough that I just moved on, which is a shame because the combat can be really fun.
NUMBER NINE!TEKKEN 7
As I mentioned in KOF'98 UM OL above, I'd kind of gone off fighting games because my fingers can't handle the quarter circles and rapid complex inputs anymore. I decided to give Tekken 7 a shot anyway since it came to PC. I've really enjoyed it, especially playing as Katarina - she's touted as a fighter for beginners, and some of her better combos are just repeated hits of a single button, so that plays and I enjoy playing as her. It's weird how playing as Katarina I can go from dancing around and spamming attempts at moves and hoping for the best, to actually watching my opponent and picking up on holes in their defense. It's like I suddenly feel what it's like to be good at a fighting game once you have the moves down to muscle memory and it becomes a game of juking and poking your oppenent looking for an opening. I'm still never going to be the one to do a 70% HP air juggle that frustrates people about Tekken, but I do feel like I can have an honest go at it and that's great.
NUMBER TEN!XCOM 2 - War of the Chosen
I'm not sure how sold I am on this actually. Like, the idea of boss aliens that antagonise me and new player classes was kind of cool, but I find myself actually missing the mod setup I had before this on XCOM2 - notably Guerilla War. That overhaul of the mission structure meant that the timers were removed, but once you were revealed you had only a short window to complete the objective and extract because enemies would start swarming in reinforcements. It also meant you had to physically carry alien corpses and fallen soldiers to your extraction of you wanted to do anything with them. By comparison XCOM2 going back to the old mission structure.. I don't know that I'm really feeling it. Also the new classes are so overpowered that it feels like I don't need the old ones. Photo mode is great, the fallen missions were a fun addition, but mods fucked it up for me by giving me a more tense, more different experience than this expansion.MISSED THE CUT
Wolfenstein: The New Order
Blood Bowl 2: Legendary Edition
Ghost Recon Wildlands