Barrett Courtney’s Top Ten Games of 2017
Hey y’all! It’s your favorite internet nobody, Barrett Courtney, coming in hot to share my top 10 favorite games of 2017. If you don’t know who I am, I make videos for IGN.com and host a weekly nerdy show called Zero Life!
The other day…Blessing slid into my DMs and after we talked about Donkey Kong 64 for 5 hours…he mustered up the courage to ask if I wanted to write a guest piece for OK Beast, sharing my favorite games of 2017.
I haven’t written anything longer than a tweet in probs about 6 months.
So let’s get started.
Honorable Mention: Destiny 2
There has been a lot of hemming and hawing recently when it comes to Destiny 2. And while I have no place to comment on how Bungie has been supporting this game, I do remember what it was like playing Destiny 2 for the first month it was out. I don’t know why, but I bought into the hype the day it was releasing. There was just something about the excitement that my brain couldn’t ignore anymore. And I bought it.
While Destiny is definitely not my type of game and I don’t know if I can comment on how good it actually is…a lot of memories were had while playing the raid, crucible, and main quest. I remember crying laughing with my roommates about how bad we were at Trials. And I will never forget my first time beating the raid.
Of course, I was the one being carried through the raid since it was my first one, but to be able to experience the design of each task and area felt surreal. I don’t think I’ve experienced anything like it. The thought that went behind every room blew me away. I’ll always remember taking down Calus for the first time, not only because of how satisfying it felt in the game…but how happy my friends and I all were. And that’s why I have to give it a nod before I dive into my favorite games this year.
10. Doki Doki Literature Club
For the first hour and a half of this game, I was convinced a prank was being pulled on me. I thought to myself, “Why the f*** am I playing this basic dating sim?”
And then *that* moment happens. Where the game takes a turn. And the story, characters, and relationship you have with the game become some of the most interesting things to happen in a game this year. While DDLC makes you think about the odd nature of dating sims themselves, it also makes you think about how you interact with real people in your life. And what affect that has on them. I finished it in one sitting, and had to ponder over it for a while before I realized how I felt about it. And very few games have left me thinking for hours right after completing them.
I don’t know how I’ll feel about Doki Doki 6 months from now, but currently…its reflection on relationships often comes to my mind, and I doubt it will leave anytime soon.
9. Dishonored: Death of the Outsider
Arkane Studios prove themselves time and time again with the Dishonored series. The gameplay and level design from this series is some of the best not only in this generation, but in the entirety of video games. Dishonored 2 was my game of the year last year…and while I love this new installment (which I count as a full game) for how much it oozes with creativity much like 2, it definitely feels a little more like a streamlined version of a full Dishonored game. And while that can be a good thing, there were times that I definitely missed the more complicated aspects of Dishonored. There’s hardly a leveling system, you only have three powers for the most part, and the level design never really reaches the heights of the Clockwork Mansion.
And those are really only minor hindrances. I still loved every moment of DotO. Making the best I could out of every opportunity I was given…whether it was setting enemy dogs loose on their owner or going up and down a dumbwaiter to find secret ways to sneak past enemies.
Every experience I have with each Dishonored installment are the most stressful and most rewarding. And I’ll always treasure them.
8. Injustice 2
First off….this is probably hands down the prettiest game this year. The environments, character design (maybe excluding Joker), and facial animations are just….reaaallll impressive.
Now that’s out of the way, holy crap this game is fun. Learning every play style for each character, unlocking funny costumes, and going through one of the dumbest/fun stories a DC fan can experience right now. I don’t know if I can dive fully into why I loved this game. It was just an experience that was repeatedly fun and satisfying with each match I was a part of. It’s the first fighting game since Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 where I’m really paying attention to every small detail to try and learn how to take down each character with ease.
And while the story was nothing truly spectacular, it was a silly and fun excuse to bring these characters together in a much brighter light than we have gotten in movies recently. It kept a smile on my face for the whole time. Injustice 2 not only captures the look of the DC Universe so well, but it also captures the essence and personalities of each character and gives the right amount of love to each member on the roster. Whether it’s the first moment Batman and Superman have alone in the story, or the little easter eggs spewed out from everyone at the beginning of a fight…Injustice 2 kept me on a great ride and it was hard to walk away from it.
7. Uncharted: The Lost Legacy
When I thought that the last time we would see of the Uncharted universe was in A Thief’s End, I felt okay with letting Nathan Drake go as a character. His journey was complete. But it was definitely hard to let go of that world. And especially of the true heart-throb of the series, Chloe Frazer.
I remember hugging Alex O’Neill in LA during PSX 2016 because of how blown away we were by Uncharted: The Lost Legacy’s reveal trailer. Was it Tomb Raider? Was it The Last of Us? Was it something new?
I remember being confused by the team up with Chloe and Nadine Ross. Why were they together? What was the point? Will it be a satisfying relationship?
All of that was answered in my playthrough of Lost Legacy.
Not only was Chloe’s story a touching look into her past and learning what makes her tick, but the relationships she builds with Nadine and others were just as satisfying and heartfelt as the ones made in A Thief’s End. I originally questioned the point of the Chloe and Nadine team up, not plot-wise but from a storytelling standpoint. Chloe and Nadine are not only a fun team up because they throw snide remarks and sarcastic one-liners to each other, but also because they serve so well as each other’s foils. They are both trying to live up to their names while going on a beautiful quest in India. And in the end, their character arcs feel as fulfilling as Nathan Drake’s…putting another homer under Naughty Dog’s name.
6. Assassin’s Creed: Origins
I’m always in and out of love with the Assassin’s Creed franchise. The pressure of making a game series a yearly release can definitely be a risky move. And as time went on, the Assassin’s Creed name definitely became more bland. But if Ubisoft continues down the road of Origins, I may be back on the Assassin train for a few more years.
The attention to detail given by Ubisoft in the open world of Egypt was breathtaking. Every region you explore feels different, new, and filled with plenty of fun things to do. But not only does the world feel fresh in Origins, the updated gameplay and progression system are a few of the many things this series needed to give it new life. The structure of this game, not only just within one mission but also how each main and side mission connects, reminded me way more of The Witcher 3 and Red Dead Redemption than any Assassin’s Creed game. And these new elements fit so well within the series while still feeling like an Assassin’s Creed game.
And while the story doesn’t start on the best foot, with a lot of jumping around and weird pacing, it definitely comes together when you learn the motivations of the main character, Bayek of Siwa. And while I was cautious at first of this new character, after spending about 40 hours with him…I’m craving for more. Bayek is probably the most well rounded and interesting character in the AC franchise than Ezio. One minute, he can be covered in blood…screaming with rage at one of his enemies he just killed…and the next he can be humoring a girl who is selling fake artifacts from temples close by. And he shines even brighter when he’s paired up alongside his wife, Aya, who has been recently working with Cleopatra to overthrow the current Pharaoh of Egypt. Bayek and Aya’s relationship grows into something very complex and beautiful throughout the story, and the end of their story leaves you with a need to see them together again. There are several scenes that have the most real representation of romantic relationships in this game, leaving you to think how you would best handle the situation that they are in.
While this was a turn for the better for the AC franchise, there is still room to grow and improve with this series. And for the first time in a while, I’m excited to see what the future holds for Assassin’s Creed.
Alright, we’re now at the halfway mark. Still with me? How we all doing?
Well, I’ll tell you right now…I’m writing this at one in the morning and I’m exhausted.
I should probably take a break.
The quality in my writing has probably gone down with each game.
Doki Doki Literature Club feels like a million years ago.
I think I’ll go to sleep.
Alright, I’m up.
It’s 10 AM now.
I just looked over the first half. Made some improvements.
Sorry for the wait, I just really needed sleep.
Now we get to the really hard choices.
5. Super Mario Odyssey
At this point, what else can be said about this game? It’s a joy at every jump, dive, and hat throw. Super Mario Odyssey perfected the 3D Mario formula and will have people playing and talking about it for years to come.
To be honest from my own experience, I wasn’t hot on the game until the pinnacle of Mario levels…New Donk City. I was enjoying my time with it so far, I didn’t not like it. But I wasn’t feeling the love everyone else had been shouting from the rooftops.
But then I got to New Donk City and realized just how much you can do to traverse as Mario and how crazy you can get with his ridiculous parkour skills. And that’s where the game goes from being really fun to….another unknown level of enjoyment. You start thinking about every challenge differently. And you accept each challenge, now matter how frustrating it can get, with a huge grin.
Odyssey brings a new sense of joy in the Mario series. And not only with its gameplay and surprisingly well thought out level design, but with some of the best moments in video games this year. The ending of New Donk City brought me to tears and the ending of the story might be the most anime thing Mario has ever done….and it was great.
Nintendo is currently on a level right now where they just *get* their IPs for the first time in a while. And while it definitely takes a walk to get there with Mario….the payoff is for sure worth it.
4. Wolfenstein II
“Caroline, I’m in a sewer and a crocodile just bit me.”
“Caroline, I’m probs gonna die and never see my kids.”
“Caroline, I feel guilty for wearing your suit but it’s the only thing keeping me alive.”
The inner monologue of BJ Blazkowicz, while a weird choice at certain times in Wolf 2, brings the character of BJ to the heights of having some of the best character development and arc in any video game. The inner struggle BJ has throughout the game, knowing he is going to die soon…knowing he is going to leave his girlfriend behind with two kids…the tragedy brings so much depth to one of the first Nazi Punchers in the video game realm.
And while BJ himself has a tragic situation in front of him…everyone and everything around him is 100% crazy ridiculous and smart at the same time. You would never think a monkey with a cat head would actually be used as an important storytelling device later on in the game. You would never think about how emotional someone would get seeing a working toilet for the first time in months. In a world that has gone insane under Nazi rule, Wolfenstein 2 explores how insane the resistance would be at their lowest. And it’s constantly a mixture of hilarious hijinx and a sad and disturbing look into what these people have to deal with. It’s one of the best stories told in a first person shooter and I’m excited to see if MachineGames will wrap up their story in a possible trilogy.
And also, you get to f*** up Nazis in it…and that’s just a huge plus.
*IT’S A GOOD DAY FOR A SWELL BATTLE…..BEGIN*
I’ve probably heard that saying and others like it in Cuphead more than 1,000 times.Beating Cuphead (and unlocking the Black & White mode) is probably one of the hardest things I’ve done in a video game in a very long time. And the challenge of this boss rush platformer, that looks as charming as any cartoon from the 30’s, makes the completion so much more satisfying. I don’t think I’ve ever cursed more at a game (I apologize to my girlfriend and roommates who had to deal with that for a weekend).
We’ve been waiting for Cuphead for years now. And I’m pretty sure it was my most anticipated game for 3 years in a row. And the wait paid off. Not only do you see the care and love put into every *hand drawn* frame of the game…you also see it in the design of each platform level and each boss fight. I’ve never been one for a Dark Souls experience, but Cuphead definitely gave me my first true taste of it. Fighting a boss. Losing a million times. Learning new strategies every single time. And just knowing and doing enough to hear “Knockout!” after what feels like a millennia. But despite how frustrated I would get with a boss, I would always have a smile on my face with every ridiculous twist and turn that would come to life on screen. Each boss has their own unique personality and flow, which all leads to one of the (in my own opinion) coolest boss fights in a game…The Dice King. And your victory lap with fighting the Devil keeps the game feeling satisfying to the end.
Not enough can be said about this game. The gameplay, the score, and the artwork all come together to make something new and different in video games. And that’s why it’s so high up my list. It’s just so different from anything I’ve seen or played in years. Studio MDHR made something truly unique and I’m very excited to see what the future holds for the smallest and hardest working dev team.
2. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
I have not cared about The Legend of Zelda since Wind Waker in 2002. And that always hurt to say about one of my favorite franchises of all time. Zelda holds a special place in my heart, as I know it does for many others. But the magic of Hyrule had left me. Wind Waker was such a unique take on the story of Zelda, Link, and Ganon…everything that followed felt bland.
So when Breath of the Wild was revealed to the world, I was cautious. How big was this world? How empty would it be? I was for sure a skeptic. And I would be one until I glided off the Great Plateau and into a Hyrule that made me feel the magic again. Like I said earlier, Nintendo is at the height of understanding their games…and BotW is a perfect example of bringing together elements of old, new, and different aspects of Zelda all in one game. The engine used in this game factors in everything you can climb, what elements would realistically collide, and how many delicious meals you can make and it brings a whole new life and way of looking at how Zelda games should be.
Not only was there magic in this world with discovering korok seeds and finding out you can get electrocuted in a thunderstorm if you have metal on you. But the story of BotW, while sparse at times, still shines with a unique personality that only the Zelda series has. The charm of every character…whether they be as important as Shark-Boyfriend or as trivial as that dude who’s really bad at painting….had me smiling every step of the way. There was so much care brought into this version of Hyrule with references hidden in every corner…possibly connecting this to older titles like Ocarina of Time and Wind Waker. I’m currently playing The Champions’ Ballad and I’m so happy to have another excuse to go back into this world. I’m a fourth of the way through and haven’t stopped smiling with what Nintendo was able to bring us to wrap up this wonderful year in gaming.
Breath of the Wild is a culmination of everything that makes Zelda special…and it also brings in new elements that will one day make us question what Zelda games were even like before this one. Nintendo not only made the best Zelda game yet, they made one of the best games of all time. And it’s very exciting to see where the series goes in the next installment…which will probably be another 10 years.
1. Persona 5
Yes, the game I once rudely referred to as “That Alex O’Neill Weeaboo Game” was the biggest surprise for me this year…and my favorite game of 2017. The world, style, gameplay, and stories told in Persona 5 made me care about a JRPG for the first time since I played Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy 7 when I was 6.
It was definitely a walk to get to the point where I fell in love with it. But the moment you get free reign on Kamoshida’s Palace…and the build up to your first boss fight….I knew I was hooked and in love (to the point where I played the first 20 hours of the game for work…and then played the first 20 hours again for my own save at home). Although I burnt out on the game due to my forced nature of playing the first 20% of the game twice….I recently made myself plow through the rest of the game…and the journey has been crazy. I will put a disclaimer here and admit that I haven’t beaten the game yet (I’m approaching the 70th hour of gameplay, the end of the 6th palace, and aim to have the game beat before I go home for the holidays on the 16th).
Persona 5 really surprised me with everything it had to offer. The mood of each song always hits perfectly with what you’re currently doing, the UI is always fascinating to just sit and stare at, the battle system is so fast paced and satisfying….going to any other JRPG feels like a slog, and the characters you befriend all have their own type of charm that you easily fall in love with every one of them.
And that’s where the game really gets me. The characters and the stories that are shared in this game. You feel like you have a place in the world when you team up with Ann, Ryuji, and Morgana in the first palace….and nearing the end of the game, I feel like I’ve built up a strange family of outcasts where I got time to spend quality with each and every member. And these characters stand out, in this game that oozes style and weirdness, because of how relatable they are. How they try to grow from their flaws while trying to exploit the crapiness of the world. Whether it’s Ryuji trying to make amends with his track team, Yusuke trying to get out of a creative slump, or Makoto (AKA Best Girl) who just wants to experience new and different things life has to offer, there’s so much Persona 5 gives us to fall in love with in the crazy and wacky world of the Metaverse and in the small moments that we’ve all experienced in real life.
The moment I realized how well this was all done was when I met the character who I had the most in common with….Futaba. No, my mother wasn’t studying the metaverse and wasn’t killed for her discoveries. But the way Futaba processes tragedy and heartache was the first time I connected with a character in a video game on that level. And when I realized how much Futaba was hurting, because I’ve felt her pain, I cried….a lot. Yes, I cried while playing the Alex O’Neill Weeaboo game. Several times, in fact. F*** off.
Anyways, I’m sure everyone has a character they can connect with in Persona 5. Because although the game is about a universe that’s built off of the distorted desires of humanity…housing some of the weirdest creatures I’ve ever seen….it has some of the most human stories that have been told in games. And that’s why Persona 5 is not only my game of the year….but probably one of my favorite games of all time. I’m excited to see where the story wraps up, but sad that it’ll be over soon. Because like every great story, it’s more about the journey than the ending….and the journey is one I’ll never forget.
Alright. There you go. My favorite games this year. I’m gonna go get some cold medicine since I’m sick…and then play Persona 5 for the rest of the day. So….I guess all I have left to say is thank you for taking interest in my favorite games this year, and I hope you all have a Happy Holiday and New Year!