2017 was a good year for video games. As 2018 starts, this is the best time to reflect on what games the crew has been loving the most. And so, here’s the first of many list by our crew, this time by Wan “Wamirul” Amirul
2017 was a year in which games came out. This much is true. While some people will play the doomsayer and mention the rise of lootboxes, I don’t think that was enough to ruin games for this year. Here’s some of 2017’s Dynamite Gals for me, in no particular order:
5: Persona 5
Persona 5 is a game I don’t have enough breath in my lungs to squeal about. The premise is simple- you’re a high schooler by day, and a Phantom Thief- a rebel out to change society- by night. Between exploring the dungeons made of people’s hearts, you also have to balance school, the fact everyone says mean things about you behind your back and, time permitting, one or several girlfriends.
These are not particularly new to the Persona series, however. What really blows me away about this game is its cultural relevance in today’s political climate: The game is about a bunch of misfits realizing that people in power are screwing over the world, and how they set out to change it. The game talks about how there isn’t one central bad guy messing things up, but about how it’s society that allows it to move that way. On top of that, the game’s charming cast of misfits have their own personal rebellions, trying to change who they are inside too. This is beautifully revealed in their various awakening scenes, where they make a pact with their Personas- manifestations of their “true selves” – in exchange for power and freedom.
The game also has a killer aesthetic, contrasting bright reds with dark blacks and a kick-ass soundtrack that truly makes it unlike anything I’ve ever had the pleasure of playing.
4: Nier: Automata
While Persona 5 is energetic and upbeat, Nier Automata is the kind of beauty you get looking at a ruined building overtaken by nature. The hack-n-slash by Platinum Games and Square Enix is set in a world where humanity has left Earth after an invasion by the Machines, robots built by aliens. Not to be outdone, the humans built the androids, robots in their own image who stay behind to fight an endless war with these machines. Among the androids is the elite YoRHa, an organization of elite androids gothic lolitas who hang out in space until they get in their transforming mech suits to fight on Earth. You play as YoRHa 2B, the deadly and beautiful android and her partner, 9S as you explore the world of Automata in the tail end of an apocalyptic war.
Automata’s greatest strength is its writing- by creating characters supposedly void of emotion (2B is very quick to remind you of this), the game poses a lot of interesting questions about the nature of relationships, personality and even humanity. The game invests you in the plight of these characters via gameplay. The game requires several playthroughs, each different from the last to get you fully invested by the time its over, and that’s why I like it so much- it’s a very hard experience to have from just watching, it’s much better off being played.
The game’s art direction is also incredibly on point. 2B and 9S’ fight animations are beautiful to look at. The bold contrast of the YoRHas, being black & white, make them distinctly stand out against other androids and their Machine foes. The Machines, while adorable looking, have a tinge of sadness to them. Also the game has a super weird sense of humor, which gives some good respite from all the doom and gloom if you’re willing to seek it out.
3: Warframe: Plains of Eidolon
Warframe may be one of the best free-to-play games on the internet right now. A unique art style, compelling gameplay and a loot system I care about make it easily sit on my recommendations list. This year, Warframe added Plains of Eidolon, the update that adds a vast, open world for your space ninja to explore.
Most of Warframe’s missions are claustrophobic- explore corridors, kill enemies, go home. So much so, even the flight missions tend to just be corridors but with the illusion of freedom. In Plains, you have proper freedom. Big, open map full of Grineer outposts for you to explore to your heart’s content. And speaking of content, the game adds activities like mining and fishing to this, too. Rather than shoehorn it in, however, Digital Extremes chose to add these in a way that was in keeping with the spirit of Warframe: both mining and fishing require observation, either looking for small markers in rocks or keeping an eye out for fish, before using your tools to cut away or harpoon the fish.
2: Resident Evil 7
I’ll get this out here fast- I don’t like Horror games. I find many of them to be repulsive, relying on too many tropes like babies, religion or shock monsters to mask an otherwise dull experience. That being said my sister loves them and that’s pretty much the only reason that I got the chance to enjoy Resident Evil 7 as much as I did.
Resident Evil 7 eschews the franchise’s more action-y direction in favor of its horror roots, and it does so brilliantly. Rather than being about the global rise of zombieism, it chooses a more claustrophobic route- You explore the house and surrounding area of the Bakers, a family with a shady background. Make no mistake, the game still uses many of the tropes I said I hated, but it does so in a way that serves the story, rather than just being a cheap scare tactic. It also subverts expectations brilliantly: despite it being in first person and you having a gun, an attempt to kill every monster you encounter is a fool’s errand. Instead, guns are much better used to stunlock enemies to get by faster.
It’s a game that knows what it is, and stays the course to make an all-around great game.
Localhost is a small indie point-and-click by Sophia Park that truly gets into the heart and soul of heartless, soulless machines. In the true spirit of Cyberpunk, you are an employee at a big corporation tasked with a simple job for your first day- reformat some hard drives so they can be repurposed. The catch? There’s an A.I inside each of them that needs to let you do it, and they’re not the biggest fans of deletion.
This game really gets to me with its simple gameplay loop: you can’t communicate with the A.I directly, so you have to connect the drives to a single gynoid (that’s a female Android, in case you were wondering) and you can only speak to the A.I one at a time. Your dialogue options with the A.I are usually typically either sympathetic or apathetic, and trying out both in multiple playthroughs lends you some interesting questions to ponder in your spare time. Of course, occasionally you will get a tidbit of information regarding other A.I, which you can then present to them. It’s a great experience, if nothing else and the game’s art direction really reminds you just how cold and cruel the game is.
There’s a lot of games I would have loved to have added to this list were it not for the fact that I was too broke to actually play them. Prey, for example, deserves a mention for rubbing it in EA’s faces that you can indeed still make a single-player story-driven FPS. Divinity Original Sin 2 is another game, a reminder that CRPGs are even greater when you can have the chaos of having multiple players. Marvel vs Capcom Infinite, despite my own groaning about its roster, has great gameplay as an early entry point for fighting games. Tooth And Tail is a great spin on the RTS genre, and absolutely should not be slept on.
So that’s my list on games in 2017. If I had a gaming resolution for 2018, it would definitely be to spend more time checking out Indies and new IPs. Happy 2018, everyone!