Giant Sparrow

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

10

Night in the Woods

There’s a single image late into Night in the Woods that seems like the perfect metaphorical encapsulation of America in 2017: a group of ignorant, stubborn, and proud coal miners on one side of the screen; a group of resentful, struggling, but unerringly hopeful millennials on the other. In between, a chasm leading to an abyss from which not even light can escape. The chasm is everything in Night in the Woods. It’s the bewilderment of why an intelligent liberal would stay in a conservative backwater town. It’s the argument over breakfast over why parents make the choices they do for their children. It’s the realization of how little your upbringing prepares you for the larger world. It’s even in recognizing the divide between every person on Earth and the lurking eldritch gods beyond our understanding. Somehow, all of this is contained in a game that looks and acts less like J.D. Salinger writing a Lovecraft novel than it does a Richard Scarry adaptation of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Clark

The 25 Best Video Games of 2017

9

Pyre

Countless sports video games have come and gone, but none have touched on the political, spiritual, and emotional impact of sports like the Dungeons & Dragons-inspired Pyre. Developer Supergiant Games has crafted a fascinating hybrid of fantasy RPGs and various ball- and goal-based contests, as well as tapped into how sports can bring about personal redemption and social upheaval. The player observes all of this from the standpoint of a coach (what the game calls a Reader) and, within this role, must deal with the drama that ensues when characters can’t compete for reasons related to strife with other teammates, sickness, and retirement. Ultimately, the roster choices you make in Pyre can have world-changing effects, including peaceful and civilized revolution that illustrates the hope that sports can give us in conflicted times. Pressgrove

The 25 Best Video Games of 2017

8

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Another timely franchise reinvention, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild discards the linear formula of previous 3D Zelda titles, offering up what may be considered gaming’s first truly open world. When the game begins, the war is already over, the battle lost a century ago. The world is in ruins. Link awakens and is immediately drafted back into a conflict where little can ever be restored to how it once was. And after a brief introduction, Hyrule is entirely yours to traverse in any way that you want. Throughout, your curiosity is aroused: Unbelievably vibrant sights abound across this seemingly endless dominion, and if one such sight in the distance catches your eye, you’re encouraged to run to it and discover the secrets it may or may not contain. You need not enter the many shrines littered across this land, but if you do, a plethora of often-tricky puzzles will stoke your imagination every bit as evocatively as the many legends that elaborate on Ganon’s takeover of Hyrule. And that no one path toward victory will ever be the same as that of another player attests to the game’s thrilling and imaginative sense of design. Aston

The 25 Best Video Games of 2017

7

What Remains of Edith Finch

What Remains of Edith Finch is more than a collection of stories about ennui; it’s a postmodern collage of stories about stories, or rather, how we deal with our lives and the things that are later remembered about us. It’s a perfect marriage between the telling of a story and one’s first-hand engagement with it, especially since some of the more abstract tales—a 10-year-old’s transformation-filled nightmare—must be experienced to be understood. Every remembrance is informed by an aspect of a person’s life (an artistic child’s last days are revealed via the pages of a hand-drawn flipbook), and while these scenarios are tragic, they’re also somewhat hopeful. Each new vignette, as in the surreal fantasia conjured up by an infant who cannot comprehend that he’s drowning, offers a fresh perspective on how we cope both with life and death. The game’s most powerful moment even demonstrates the way in which video games themselves offer a dangerous or therapeutic form of escapism (depending on the user). And long after What Remains of Edith Finch has ended, these powerful, indelible memories remain. Riccio

The 25 Best Video Games of 2017

6

Persona 5

The Persona series finally grew up in 2017, transcending its roots as a maudlin supernatural-themed high school simulator to become an absorbing allegory about young men and women becoming painfully aware of their place in society. Over the course of 100 hours, the game’s motley crew of high schoolers discover how powerless and just how powerful they truly are in the face of the world’s various harsh indignities. Throughout, their rebellion is all-encompassing and awe-inspiring; the game’s eye-popping red-and-black pop-art typography and soulful acid-jazz soundtrack act as an artful middle finger to everyone daring to stand against the Phantom Thieves and what they believe in. Their newfound power in the Metaverse directly translates to genuine courage when the Thieves are faced with hard choices in the real world. For a series that has always been M-rated, Persona 5 represents the first work of maturity Atlus has ever created within it. Clark

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