Honorable Mention: Assassin’s Creed Origins
Ubisoft has never been shy about admitting that Assassin’s Creed is its cash cow. Sure, each year brought us new, gorgeously detailed open-worlds to explore, but the fundamentals never really changed. Until now. Unity might have ruffled feathers for its woeful technical shortcomings, but we may very well have that fateful title to thank for the latest chapter in the Assassin’s Creed franchise. Origins is a game that was born out of necessity, a necessity to overhaul a franchise long overdue for a shake-up, and boy has Ubisoft delivered.
Origins doesn’t just tweak the Assassin’s Creed formula — it isn’t afraid to completely discard traditional mechanics and forge a brand new direction for the series. And it’s all been a complete triumph. Unbelievably, nine years and ten mainline titles later, Assassin’s Creed is once again back among the industry’s best games. An all-new emphasis on RPG mechanics, overhauled combat, and an origins story that transports players to a superbly detailed rendition of Ancient Egypt combine to make it one of the best Assassin’s Creed titles ever.
Ubisoft has clearly taken the extra time between releases to study popular game mechanics and carefully fit them suitably to Assassin’s Creed. It’s still the series we know and love, but it’s now got a healthy dose of Dark Souls, The Witcher 3, and Far Cry. As a result, Assassin’s Creed has never felt better to play, and it’s also never felt more relevant. We can’t wait to see where the series goes next.
Honorable Mention: NieR: Automata
NieR: Automata truly impressed us when it was released earlier this year. Taking on the guise of a cut-and-dried action RPG with a story about robots in a post-apocalyptic world, the game took us on a rollercoaster ride of conflicting emotions as it hurtled towards its final act. Director Yoko Taro’s brand of storytelling in NieR: Automata isn’t for everyone, but it’s such an outstanding game because of how unafraid it is to subvert all of our expectations and deliver a real, unforgettable experience.
It’s even more impressive when you consider the fact that Automata is able to shine despite the flaws that hold it back from being a masterpiece. Many players will remark that the combat is merely serviceable, that Automata doesn’t really excel as an RPG, but even in light of these issues, we’re able to forgive it because of the tremendous emotional payoff that the story offers.
Without a doubt, this is one of the most innovative, evocative, and self-assured games we’ve seen in years, and for that, it deserves recognition as one of the best games of 2017.
Honorable Mention: Horizon Zero Dawn
Horizon Zero Dawn is awe-inspiring. From the intricate grooves and markings on the hostile machines roaming about the world to its breathtaking vistas and panoramic views. Everywhere you look, Horizon Zero Dawn has something beautiful to look at. This beauty isn’t just skin deep, though. Guerrilla Games has clearly poured endless hours into creating one of the most realized open-world action RPGs this generation.
Where other games offer you a weapon or two and task you with mashing buttons in order to defeat your enemies, Horizon turns its combat into a puzzle full of different pieces to take into account. Through analyzing these metal beasts, you’ll be able to ascertain what elemental weaknesses they have, as well as general weak points in their armor, too. That Thunderjaw with the shoulder-mounted rocket launchers may look terrifying, but each beast has its weak points. Just a few well-placed shots can dislodge armor and weapons, which Aloy can then use to gain the upper-hand in battle. It’s these calculated battles that are the most memorable part of Horizon and certainly have it stand out from the sea of open-world experiences out there for the current generation.
Even when not facing off against these giant hunks of metal, Horizon’s world is alive with things to see and quests to complete. Bandit encampments need stomping out, mysterious Cauldrons to explore, Hunting Grounds to test your skills at, collectibles to find, weapons to upgrade — you get the point. Horizon Zero Dawn is a post-post-apocalyptic playground jam-packed with content to keep you busy for over 40 hours. Its visuals are at the paramount of what this current generation can muster, and its fluid gameplay is a joy to dive into. With a memorable protagonist like Aloy at the helm of this new IP, Guerrilla Games have an incredibly promising series on their hands. If you’ve got a PS4 and don’t own this yet, treat yourself before the year ends. You won’t regret it.
Second Runner-Up: Super Mario Odyssey
Man, in so many other years, Super Mario Odyssey would have run away with Game of the Year. This year was just so absurdly stacked, especially for the Switch, which had an outstandingly good 2017. Nintendo went beyond extra to ensure that the Nintendo Switch didn’t suffer the same fate as Wii U.
With Super Mario Odyssey, Nintendo went straight for the nostalgic jugular and channeled Super Mario 64, one of the most popular games in the illustrious series’ history. Of course, because it’s Nintendo’s A-Mario-Team, it succeeds in just about every which way possible. There are more challenges to complete than ever, with nearly 1000 Power Moons to uncover across 15 game worlds. And again, because it’s Super Mario, everything is bright, colorful, and a joy to traverse (even when it’s actually dark and dreary).
Cappy, though, is where Super Mario Odyssey carves out its own piece of Mario history. Shifting the focus of gameplay away from Mario to Cappy-controlled enemies was a huge risk. I’ll raise my hand for being concerned about that when I first heard about it. I wanted Super Mario 64-2, and this sounded like a gimmick that would turn it into something unfamiliar. I couldn’t have been more wrong, though. It’s definitely not Super Mario 64-2, but it turned out that it didn’t need to be to be another legendary 3D collect-a-thon Mario game. Super Mario Odyssey is its own thing, and it’s among the best games of 2017.
First Runner-Up: Persona 5
Any long-time reader of Twinfinite knows that we gush over Persona. Just about everyone on the editorial team is a fan, but we’re all very passionate about our favorites, what makes them better than the one another, and of course, who’s the best girl. Depending on who you ask on the staff, you’ll get a widely different opinion. As a collective, though, what we certainly can all agree on is that Persona 5 was among the best games of 2017.
Persona 5 continues the series’ tradition of excellent character-driven, story-heavy games that are a roller-coaster of emotions full of twists, turns, and pancakes. Fans will debate which game has the better soundtrack, overall story, main characters and more, but what isn’t debatable – and the area where Persona 5 makes it mark – is how well Persona 5 integrates the extremely popular social links into the main story. Each character players can form a bond with is a confidant in the overall narrative, an ally in the quest to change the hearts of greedy adults looking to make a mess of the world for their own gain.
Come for all of that good stuff, but stay for the groovy tunes, slick art design, and to be an informed debater on who the best girl is. The answer is Futaba by the way. Sorry Makoto fans, not sorry.
Game of the Year 2017: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
GOTY Winner 2017
2017 has been a banner year for video games. But The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild feels like it’s in a league of its own.
From the game’s opening moments where Link awakes at the Shrine of Resurrection and proceeds outside to be greeted by a breathtaking view of Hyrule, Breath of the Wild feels truly special. It whisks us away to a whole new fantastical world, packed with things to do and places to discover. Indeed, Breath of the Wild’s open-world rendition of Hyrule is the one of the best we’ve seen in the last decade.
Nintendo understands the open-world formula; they know that players want to be rewarded for going out of their way and actually exploring and interacting with the game world. And that’s exactly what Breath of the Wild does here. Everything you do is rewarded in some way – whether it’s the discovery of a new shrine, a tough Lynel with a powerful weapon, or the heartwarmingly cute appearance of a Korok hiding under a stone.
Best of all, Breath of the Wild gives players all the freedom in the world by letting them do anything they want. The climbing feature is the most basic and the most important one in the game, and it’s the key to letting your imagination run wild in this massive world. Want to climb Hyrule Castle right at the start of the game? Go ahead. Want to climb up a peak and paraglide off while dropping bombs on the Moblin camp right below you? In Breath of the Wild, it’s more than just a clever thought, it’s all possible.
The game is only strengthened by its gorgeous cel-shaded art style that lends it a timeless look. Hyrule might be littered with town ruins and the remains of a calamitous war, but damn if it isn’t so criminally beautiful everywhere you look.
There’s an undeniable sense of wonder and adventure present in Breath of the Wild that’s matched by no other game out this year. With the latest iteration in the Legend of Zelda series, Nintendo has produced a game that feels truly magical every step of the way.
Breathe in the Breath of the Wild; this is the defining video game of 2017.