Of All Time

1. Final Fantasy VI (SNES)

To be written.

2. Persona 4 Golden (Vita)

The only game I’ve ever wanted to hug.

One of my favorite things about playing Final Fantasy VI back in the day was that it didn’t stray from adult topics. Persona 4 Golden is the first game since then that I can remember tackling some similar issues. Memory loss, the price of fame, identity troubles, unfulfilled crushes, and even cross-dressing, are all addressed with this small, wonderful package.

I say small, but this game easily spans 60+ hours. And it has ample VO, to boot. It’s refreshing to play a game like this.

Combat-wise, it allows you to micro-manage your teammates to the level you desire. Want them to focus on support and healing, or damage, or just want to give them orders yourself? And the tactics you set actually make the characters feel more alive. I’d only take control when a party member absolutely needed to do something and I hadn’t been convinced by the AI enough to trust them. And to be fair, I think that happened once in my entire playthrough.

I should mention the story, too. It contains mystery behind mystery, and takes some turns I did not see coming at all. I’ve laughed out loud many times at it, as well. The characters all have such great personalities, and are very much their own individuals.

I can say I was honestly surprised that a game originally released in 2008 that I never got to until 2017 would jump into second place on my favorite games of all time list, but here we are. And I think it deserves this spot, without question.

Horizon: Zero Dawn

Not quite sure where this game goes on my overall list of favorites ever. For a 2017 game though, it’s going to take a lot to challenge it for GotY. Oh yeah, and it’s only March…

My bullet points, until I get to writing up something more proper:

  • Love the stealth / noise mechanic.
  • The World is so great.
    • Love the scope of the world.
    • Barely used mounts because the world was just fun to explore.
  • Love the machine variety.
    • Really loved the snapmaws when I discovered them.
    • Fighting machines rarely got old.
    • It felt like fighting dinosaurs.
  • Love when battles go crazy and you are just scrambling to win.
  • Love the range of weapon features.
    • upgrade paths unlock new elemental damage.
  • Armor is interesting.
    • Stealth armor is cool.
    • Enjoy the selection and the designs.
    • Would like an easier way to switch armors.
  • Music is wonderful
  • Story-wise:
    • When I learned the backstory post-Deathbringer, I felt sick.
    • The idea of “Zero Dawn” is pretty frickin’ awesome.
    • The ending gave me the feels. It got dusty, for sure.
  • Ashly Burch killed it as Aloy.
  • Lance Reddick was a great addition.
  • Strong women throughout the game.

Random Thoughts for 2017 Games

  • Persona 5 was dang good.
    • Persona 4 Golden still my favorite. See [favorite games #2][p4g].
  • Horizon: Zero Dawn was amazeballs.
  • Night in the Woods.
    • Wowzers.
  • Nioh
    • Solid, but forgettable.
  • Zelda: Breath of the Wild was so good.
    • 225+ hours played.
    • Master Mode completed.

Game of the Year

:calendar: 2017

An unordered list of titles that are making the first cut:

  • Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age (PS4)
  • Horizon: Zero Dawn (PS4)
  • Nier: Automata (PS4)
  • Night in the Woods (PS4)
  • Persona 5 (PS4)
  • Steamworld Dig 2 (PS4/Vita/Switch)
  • Super Mario Odyssey (Switch)
  • Undertale (P4/Vita)
  • What Remains of Edith Finch (PS4)
  • Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Switch)

Unplayed / Unfinished games that I feel will make the cut:

  • Life is Strange: Before the Storm (PS4) [unfinished]
  • Uncharted: The Lost Legacy (PS4) [unplayed]

Older but played in 2017:

  • Overwatch (PS4)
  • P4G (Vita)
  • Tomb Raider: Rise of the Tomb Raider (PS4)
  • Uncharted 4 (PS4)
  • Wolfenstein: The New Blood (PS4)

Previous Years

:scroll: 2016

1. Hitman (PS4)

I always wanted to love this series, but it wasn’t until this most recent release that it could be realized. Thanks to Giantbomb’s coverage of this exceptional game, I learned to love the mistake-ridden mayhem (let me be clear: the mistakes are all mine). I have hit max mastery in each level, and know them all by heart.

Hitman doesn’t take itself seriously, and each destination is a playground. Every map is somebody else’s favortie. And maps that I weren’t too keen on originally would grow on me once I became familiar with them. This became essential when I started doing Elusive Targets, because you only get one chance to get in, take them out, and get out. Oh, and you can’t save.

I remember introducing my nephew to this game. As a shooter fanatic, he was so bad it was hilarious. His penchant for guns got him in more trouble, and it was awesome. I remember the first time I picked up a cannon ball in Sapienza. The way he laughed when I threw it at an npc’s face will stay with me forever.

2. Dark Souls III (PS4)

The Souls series has always been something I have watched from a distance. I’ve never considered myself a fan of the difficulty. Well, not until 2016.

Dark Souls III was my first Souls game. I saw it being streamed a lot on Twitch, and it wasn’t until a week after it came out that the itch began. A quick rental was followed by a purchase. And then, it got its hooks in me.

I can count on one hand the number of games I have replayed because I find them challenging. “Man, that was fun. Let’s do it again, this time, with [insert self-imposed restriction].” It wasn’t helping that I was watching people attempt to do no-hit runs. While watching them was fun, I decided armorless runs were for me.

So, for the first time in ages, I was replaying a game because the challenge was rewarding. And the boss I struggled with the most was the Twin Princes, regardless of the type of run. So enjoy my favorite highlight:

3. Watch_Dogs 2 (PS4)

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect with Watch_Dogs 2. I stayed far away from the first game after hearing the lackluster response. Imagine my surprise when I was captivated with the sequel. An open world game where dealing with the environment and its denizens requires use of gadgets (and scissor lifts)!? Sign me up!

The side characters each had interesting stories, and the hacks that you get to perform with alongside them made me smile so very big. From remote-controlling cars, to destroying voting machines to the tune of Fortunate Son, to hacking into satellite systems and using those to perform remote hacks, it doesn’t let up.

4. Stardew Valley (PC & PS4)

What a whirlwind adventure I had with Stardew Valley. Over 150 hours spent in it between the PC and PS4 version, and it’s something else.

Charming music, interesting villagers, and crop-growing mechanic that eventually proves quite lucrative. Oh, and did I mention exploring the caves?

I love the art style, and just the overall flavor of the game. The fact that this was the work of a single developer is pretty crazy. I enjoyed every part. Well, every part of the first 7 months. Winter of year 2 can become a slog, and that’s where both of my playthroughs floundered. But man, what an amazing 7 months.

5. DOOM (PS4)

DOOM was a great game. From the guns to the glory kills, to just all-out room battles. I caught myself smiling more than once, especially towards the conclusion. This was definitely the game I heard the most about before I played it, and it held up to the hype.

I really liked the assortment of weapons. I generally am not the craziest FPS player, but I like what I like, and the choices here felt really fleshed out. I had to laugh, though, when I picked up the Super Shotgun (a sawed-off shotgun), because I knew I was in for some fun. It became my main choice for nearly every non-boss baddie.

The level design was pretty good, overall. The differing vistas of Mars and Hell never felt old, or overstayed their welcome. They were tied together quite well, and the story (yes, the story in a single-player FPS) was actually quite good. From the backstory of the DOOM Slayer told from the perspective of demons, to the desire of infinite energy for mankind, it was quite intriguing. Especially the player character’s complete lack of care for anything that didn’t involve violence.

6. The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (PS4)

I didn’t like Geralt until I saw his interactions with Ciri. And then he made more sense to me. The fact that this game is on my list comes down to two reasons: Yenefer and Ciri.