Giant Sparrow

The 25 Best Video Games of 2017
The 25 Best Video Games of 2017

15

Yakuza 0

The prequel to the cult video-game series Yakuza faced the unenviable task of taking a decades-old abstruse Japanese series and making it accessible for the masses. Kazuma Kiryu and Goro Majima, important underworld figures later in the series, are introduced to us as a low-level recruit and disgraced outcast, respectively, from different organized crime syndicates. They’re pulled into a conspiracy after Kazuma is framed for murder and Goro rejects an assassination job after finding out that the target is a defenseless blind girl. Their captivating narratives come together in a larger plot brimming with sociopolitical intrigue about property development and clan territory. Think of Yakuza 0 as noir through the lens of Japan in the 1980s. Its gameplay simplifies the series’s complicated mechanics without limiting the player or compromising the variety in the details. One can take part in any manner of activities throughout the Tokyo and Osaka settings while progressing through the campaign, allowing the game to prove itself both as a compelling prequel to an ongoing series and as its own self-contained story. Aston

The 25 Best Video Games of 2017

14

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus

The most horrific moment in Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus isn’t the way the Nazis, triumphant over the Americans in this alternative history, smugly murder the allies of B.J. Blazkowicz as he lies helplessly in restraints. It’s the one in which you see a hooded member of the KKK casually walk down a Texas street, cheerfully waving to a Nazi occupier along the way. All the increasingly over-the-top action that follows is an antidote to the nonsense of resurgent white nationalism. Think of this game as Inglourious Basterds with a distinctly science-fiction twist; after all, you can use a flame-throwing mechanical dog to liberate a ghettoized New Orleans, or a spinal compressor to crush yourself into position to assassinate one of the game’s Ubercommanders. These moments are well matched by absurd set pieces, like an aerial battle in the ruins of your childhood home, as it’s literally uprooted by a flying fortress, and the stealthy infiltration of a movie being filmed on Venus. Blazkowicz is the perfect engine through which players can vent their frustrations; even actual decapitation doesn’t stop him. This makes The New Colossus not just the vengeful game that we want, but the cathartic game that we need. Riccio

The 25 Best Video Games of 2017

13

Prey

While the 2017 reboot of Prey shares neither characters nor story elements with the original game, this gorgeous remix of System Shock, Deus Ex, Metroid, and Bioshock retains the impressive atmosphere and sense of foreboding that made the 2006 original memorable while adding its own unique twist on a tried-and-true video-game formula. Although the basic plot—a futuristic space station has gone to hell and the player has to figure out exactly why, and all while trying to stay alive—is a familiar one, what makes this Prey compelling is the unfolding narrative that, alongside complex gameplay, posits philosophical questions about the nature of humanity and empathy. Comparable to the best in the Dark Souls series, Prey is a very hard game, but a balanced one that rewards experimentation and approaching its challenges with careful preparation. Across its entire playthrough, it never stops adding new gameplay mechanics, abilities, and weapons into the mix, as well as new characters and situations that pose further ethical questions and change the potential outcome of the campaign. Aston

The 25 Best Video Games of 2017

12

Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle

Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle has been described as a clone of XCOM: Enemy Unknown, which is unfair given how it offers up a truly distinct turn-based tactical experience. This crossover could have been the result of a cynical scheme to lazily employ Mario, the biggest video-game character of them all, to entice loyal Nintendo fans into opening their wallets. But there’s a lot more to this game than marketing, as evidenced by its easy-to-grasp but demanding mechanics. While there are many inventive ways you can whittle away at enemies and travel across a stage in a single turn, your foes have similar opportunities to safely snipe your party members out of contention. The pleasure of watching your combatants execute multistep routes and attacks only increases whenever a slow-motion camera zooms in on both traditional Nintendo icons and demented rabbit-like versions of such beloved characters. This dynamic presentation makes Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle the best Mario-related spinoff in years. Pressgrove

The 25 Best Video Games of 2017

11

Splasher

Splasher sports the most exhilarating platforming since last year’s Titanfall 2, allowing ample room for your creative expression to run wild. At your disposal are three types of stage-altering liquid that let you do everything from running on ceilings to bouncing off walls; choose the appropriate kind of spray and aim it at the right spot within split seconds or the numerous obstacles in your way will be your immediate undoing. Think of Splasher, then, as the platformer equivalent of a Dr. Seuss tongue-twister. And whether you’re simply trying to make it to the end of a level alive or hell-bent on topping your best score, momentum and precision are a necessity. The game’s relentless, humorous energy is intoxicating: When saved, hostages let out a “Whoooo!” while inexplicably flying off the screen via jetpack. That’s a fitting microcosm of Splasher’s unique sense of fun. Pressgrove

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