It’s been a peculiarly excellent year for games so far. We’re nearing the halfway point of 2017 and most AAA titles have delivered on their immense hype, alongside indie efforts getting the attention they deserve. You almost feel sorry for those who have to draft up the shortlists for Game of the Year awards – 2017 is arguably already better than 2016.
And I am suffering for it. The seminal Horizon Zero Dawn remains half-completed in its box as I wade through all the gems arriving on a seemingly weekly basis, only to find that more are still to come. There’s never been a better time to be a gamer in terms of the sheer variety of games available, though wallets might be starting to feel the strain more keenly.
There’s still more to come, of course. E3 2017 is going to bring with it a whole host of new games, some of which are likely to drop this year. Before anything else is announced, however, we have Xbox One’s possible last hurrah, a return to Middle-earth, and possibly the truest depiction of mental health seen in a video game all to look forward to.
Until then, let’s look back at the not-at-all distant past at some of the best video games of 2017 so far. Bear in mind that these are just some of the best games from this year, so it isn’t a definitive list. It’s also in absolutely no order. We’re also excluding remasters for the sake of variety.
1. Little Nightmares
Developer: Tarsier Studios Publisher: Bandai Namco Available on: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Take Playdead’s critically beloved Inside and Limbo, add some even more distinctive visuals and somehow make it even more unsettling while you’re at it. What do you get? Little Nightmares, Tarsier’s unapologetically grim puzzle platformer.
It might not be all that long, but quality over quantity wins here. Short bursts of terror are blended with some subtle world-building to create something which will almost certainly go down as a cult classic. Check out an excerpt from our review:
“Even if it is going to grab you by the throat for just a few hours, Little Nightmares is one game you won’t want to shake free from.”
2. Resident Evil 7
Developer: Capcom Publisher: Capcom Available on: PC, Xbox One, PS4
The huge changes to the gameplay and perspective might not have appealed to everyone, but Resident Evil 7 felt like a successful refresh of an ailing franchise back in January. It made Resi scary again, which is no mean feat when you consider how many games people have been exposed to over the years.
It’s not perfect, but Resident Evil 7 represents a welcome shift in tone back to its survival horror roots while also incorporating some contemporary norms. If you’re still on the fence, check out what we thought in our review:
“This is the most impressive return to form I’ve seen in a long time. With heart-pounding scares, clever puzzles, and formidable enemies; Resident Evil 7: Biohazard is one of the best horror titles I’ve ever played.”
3. Injustice 2
Developer: NetherRealm Studios Publisher: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment Available on: PC, PS4, Xbox One
A follow-up long in the making, Injustice 2 takes what made the original so great and fixes some of its deficiencies to make itself one of the finest fighting games seen in years. That’s high praise, but when you finally make it to the other side of its lengthy and captivating campaign, you’ll understand.
There’s a lot of content outside of DLC to delve into here, too. The customisation is deep, the extra game modes are likely to take up more time than a functioning member of society show allow, and the online play will have you shooting angry laser beams out of your eyes after getting juggled to death by Deadshot yet again. Some thoughts from our Injustice 2 review:
“With its content-rich Multiverse mode and the boundless possibilities of the gear system, the thrilling Story experience, and the superlative game mechanics under the hood, Injustice 2 proves why NetherRealm are setting the pace for all fighting game developers.”
4. Persona 5
Developer: Atlus Publisher: Deep Silver Available on: PS4, PS3
For a time, Persona 5 looked like it would never come out. It was beset by delays and uncertainty, but when it did eventually land, it made the wait worth it almost immediately. Persona 5 is, quite simply, one of the best RPGs available in this current generation of gaming.
Though you might struggle to find anyone to back that up – everyone who’s played Persona 5 is probably still dead to the real world, utterly immersed in Atlus’ endlessly stylistic and charming story. We’ve barely seen Leon since he reviewed it for us, giving it a rare 10/10:
“With a gripping story, quirky characters, witty writing, and everything that you need to make a good game, Persona 5 will take hold of you for its 100+ hours of gameplay and have you wishing you didn’t need to take a break.”
5. Tekken 7
Developer: Bandai Namco Publisher: Bandai Namco Available on: PC, Xbox One, PS4
It may not be the most replete Tekken game in terms of content, but when the basics have been kept as endlessly enjoyable as they always have been, it’s hard not to become enamoured by Tekken 7 all the same. The punching and kicking is as satisfying as it was back in 1994.
More depth has been added to the gameplay, but it still retains that “pick up and play” appeal that’s made it the fighting game series of choice for dorm rooms and living rooms for decades. Button mashers will be in their element, as Ash alluded to in his review:
“The meagre selection of modes and underwhelming story in Tekken 7 might put off the lonesome player, but if you’ve got two controllers and a friend/sibling/partner to play with, Tekken 7 will keep you occupied forever.”
6. The Surge
Developer: Deck13 Interactive Publisher: Focus Home Interactive Available on: PC, Xbox One, PS4
You’ve doubtless read countless reviews of The Surge by now which claim that it’s more than just a Dark Souls rip-off. As quickly as it’s turned into a cliche, it’s actually true: The Surge is much more than what it appears to be.
With a complex, almost stressful combat system and a futuristic aesthetic that never loses its lustre, The Surge is going to keep you coming back despite the many, many deaths that will come your way. It certainly made a believer of Dean in his review:
“Although it may look to be Dark Souls with a sci-fi skin, it would be a disservice to think of The Surge in those terms. It is a punishingly difficult game, but failure rarely feels unfair. It is certainly not one to be overlooked, especially if, like me, you are looking for your latest Dark Souls or Bloodborne fix.”
7. Outlast 2
Developer: Red Barrels Publisher: Red Barrels Available on: PC, Xbox One, PS4
Taking the action from the claustrophobia of a mental asylum to wide-open cornfields might have worked against Outlast 2 in some areas, but with some clever scene changes and utterly stark visuals, it managed to be every inch as terror-inducing as its predecessor.
Red Barrel’s follow-up was delayed before release, though it’s easy to see why. Outlast 2 is a much broader, almost braver game than what the travails of Miles Upshur offered, showing that you don’t need to have millions upon millions in the bank to deliver a video game with AAA production quality. I managed to calm my shaking hands for long enough to review it:
“Its trial and error gameplay is going to irritate plenty of players, but once Outlast 2 has you, it’s a nightmare that you won’t be able or want to wake up from.”
8. The Sexy Brutale
Developer: Cavalier Game Studios, Tequila Works Publisher: Tequila Works Available on: PC, Xbox One, PS4
I hate puzzle games. Depending on my mood, I could even say that I loathe them. But The Sexy Brutale from Tequila Works did more than enough to make me see past its puzzle mechanics and look deeper into the truly special gem that it is.
Taking place in a hotel where all the guests are being killed off by the staff, it’s your job to unravel the mystery of how to stop the murders after they’ve already happened. The ability to rewind time, listen in on assailants to understand motive, and to even do something as simple as lock a door with rope are all at your disposal. You won’t always get the solution straight away, but when you do, you feel like a souped-up Sherlock with an even bigger ego. Check out some of what I had to say in my review:
“The perfect puzzle game for people who hate puzzle games, The Sexy Brutale is a darkly comedic adventure that will hook you throughout the headaches it brings.”
Developer: Mad Fellows Publisher: Triple Reverb XP Available on: PC, Xbox One, PS4
Is dubstep still around? While it’s unlikely to bring about a renaissance, Aaero’s a faithful love letter to it and other subgenres of EDM that will leave your foot tapping and your wobs sufficiently wobbed. You cannot stop the Bass Cannon.
Offering replayability in spades, Aaero is a rhythm game with a difference: you have the standard “lines” of notes to match, sure, but there’s also combat which gives you extra points if you match your attacks to the beat of the music. It really shouldn’t work, but it absolutely does. Take your eyes this way if you want to read my review:
“Even if you don’t have a soft spot for EDM, Aaero’s infectious and addictive gameplay will keep you coming back.”
10. NieR: Automata
Developer: PlatinumGames Publisher: Square Enix Available on: PC, PS4
What is NieR: Automata? It’s a bewildering mixture of different game genres which somehow doesn’t end up as a mess, but rather one of the most unique new games you’re likely to come across this year. It just doesn’t fit comfortably into any pigeonhole.
Boasting broad gameplay, a stunning landscape to explore, and enough endings to make Bethesda blush, there are just so many ways to get lost inside Automata. It also subverts expectations marvellously, so once you think you have it figured out, it flips the tables and asks you to guess again. Don’t just take my word for it, WB Mason was also keen:
“While not without its faults, Nier: Automata is an incredibly well made, beautiful and challenging Japanese action-adventure RPG.”