Checkpoint’s Game of the Year 2017 – Our Top 10 games

Feature article

The end of the year draws closer and it’s about time we highlight the most outstanding, the most creative, the most technically brilliant, and ultimately our favourite games of the past year. It wasn’t easy to pick a list of just 10 games, especially with a such a fantastic year of gaming. Although using the entire team here at Checkpoint we have put our minds and our votes together to create our Game of the Year 2017 – Top 10.

 

No. 10

Amongst all the action heavy games out there, sometimes what you really need to wind down with is a narrative driven game that feeds your imagination. For 2017 that game is What Remains of Edith Finch. This is a game full of beautiful designs, beautiful graphics and creative gameplay mechanics. As you wander through the Finch family abode, it feels akin to childhood explorations and imaginations, with dark and mysterious twists that keep you asking for more. It pulls a lot of similarities in its game style as Gone Home and The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, which were fantastic and beautiful narratives in their own right. If you enjoyed either of those titles, then you know you’re in for a good ride!

When you talk about adventure narrative games like this, what comes to a lot of people’s minds unfortunately is “walking simulator”. However, the pure creativity and story behind this game keeps you thirsty for more and engaged fully throughout. You really will be caught asking yourself “what DOES remain of Edith Finch?” as you try to unravel the history of the Finch family. This game pulled me along for an incredible journey full of mystery and genuine enjoyment. It is far from what you would call a walking simulator, and using such terms to describe this game would be a tragic and unjust insult. It is a truly unique experience and though being a bit of an emotional roller-coaster ride, it more than earns its place in our top 10 for its stunning use of storytelling. – Viv

Full Review

 

No. 9

Divinity Original Sin 2 is a masterpiece of the RPG genre. Developed by Larian Studios and released in September, the game offers a level of freedom, intricacy and depth  that very few other games have ever been able to offer. Divinity does away with the expected tropes of other RPGs with dynamic and organic questing and a living world that continues to function with or without the player. Not to mention a party system and a combat system that is incredibly varied, allowing the player to have freedom as to how they want to tackle any given situation. The turn-based combat in the game is just so impressive that it has to be played to be appreciated.

With the addition of a Game Master mode allowing players to craft their own campaigns, Divinity really is as close to a game of Dungeons and Dragons as you can get without busting out the pen and paper. Those unfamiliar with the CRPG (Computer Role-Playing Game) genre will be amazed at how much freedom and depth the game offers, and those looking to try out a CRPG for the first time should look no further. Divinity manages to be both impressively deep yet intuitive enough for any gamer to pick up and play which is why its inclusion within our Top 10 games of 2017 is most certainly warranted. – Elliot


Full Review

 

No. 8

Destiny 2 builds upon its predecessor and expands the scope in almost every way. The addition of an engaging and thrilling campaign, a robust loot system, competitive PvP modes, and of course the shared world that the guardians inhabit work together to create a worthy sequel to the original Destiny. A special nod goes to the campaign, which fills a void that was tangible in the original Destiny and helps flesh out the world and characters of the title.

My favourite thing about Destiny 2 is the social moments that happen when you grab 2 friends and jump in and just shoot the shit for a few hours. Whether it be Crucible, Strike playlists, world events, or even running the campaign together, Destiny 2 provides many opportunities for friends to come together and explore a gorgeous world. Destiny 2 earns its spot on our Top 10 list for being an engaging, social, and flat-out fantastic first person shooter. – Nat

Full Review

 

No. 7

2017 proved to be a hard pick due to the sheer volume of fantastic releases, but my heart continues to come back to Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice. To have a game sucker punch me so hard was unexpected and I couldn’t be happier for it.  Fighting back hoards of Celtic spectres, the rush of adrenaline, that sense of victory when downing a hard boss are things that other games do, but not whilst under a constant mental assault.

I’ve said it before and I’ll reiterate it here – Hellblade is not a fun game, but it is utterly brilliant.  The representation of psychosis is so brutally realistic and proves to be an assault visually and aurally.  I cannot think of another game that has so faithfully recreated the turbulent emotions that mental illness can conjure up.  It succeeds on so many levels, especially as an “indie AAA” game – at half the price of a full release game, but not sacrificing quality.  Ninja Theory have been nominated for many awards for their work on Hellblade and it’s not hard to see why. – Jen

Full Review

 

No. 6

This is how you rejuvenate a ten year old franchise. Assassin’s Creed Origins is the shot in the arm the series so desperately needed, with the stunning location of ancient Egypt proving to be one of the most memorable environments in video game history. It’s not just about looks though, with a completely revamped combat system, intriguing and entertaining side-quests along with discoveries around every corner. It genuinely feels like the world is open for you to explore, with a hefty dose of solid RPG mechanics keeping you motivated to stray off the beaten path.

Not only is the gameplay addictive, but Bayek is the most likeable character the series has seen in a long time. His backstory is worth paying attention to and feels meaningful as you progress, adding weight to what is normally just a matter of killing high value targets without consequence. There’s so much about Assassin’s Creed Origins that just feels authentic that I can’t help but keep going back to search another tomb, scale another pyramid or just get lost in a beautiful land that is begging for me to uncover more secrets.  Ubisoft have done a stellar job at reinventing an old favourite and bringing it into the modern era and I can’t wait to see where the franchise goes next. – Luke

Full Review

 

No. 5

Long before its release, Cuphead had permeated gaming culture. Every year that we didn’t see a release would incite cries from the community asking for information, a release date, any scraps we could get. Usually a game this demanded and anticipated can never appease the crowd when we finally sink our teeth into it. But Cuphead’s ability to impress despite so much hype is a testament to the punishing side scroller and its beautiful art style. The game was met with so much adoration and praise when it released this year on Xbox One and PC.

With an art style hearkening back to the unnerving hand drawn animation of the 1930’s, each character is dripping with personality and originality. Just like 1930’s animation, the plot is subversive regardless of the bright colour pallet. Our plucky protagonists Cuphead and Mugman lost their souls in a game of dice with the Devil and now it’s their job to reposes other souls that are overdue to settle their own debt. Getting these souls back is where the gameplay gets hectic in some inventive boss battles. You will die, but you’re dropped back in so quickly you won’t even notice — this adds to the fast paced moment to moment gameplay all set to a ridiculously fun soundtrack. Cuphead raises the question of accessibility based on difficulty but if you have it in you to push through, the dopamine hit from that “A KNOCKOUT!” success screen will put your hairs on end. – Cam

Full Review

 

No. 4

One of the most anticipated JRPG releases of all time, Persona 5 had a lot of hype to live up to and it was more than capable of meeting that hype, perhaps even exceeding it. The story is dark and twisted yet confidently funny, characters are complex and incredibly well written and there is so much to do in the best representation of Tokyo as a city that there’s ever been. Visually it smacks you in the face with beautiful cell-shading, smart animations and a user interface that is so funky and memorable that it even became a meme.

More than just style though, it’s the substance of Persona 5 that captivates and keeps things interesting during what is quite a lengthy adventure. Combat has a rhythm and flow that makes even the smallest battles rewarding, with a system that allows you to communicate with your enemies rather than just destroying them. On top of this, the careful blend between day-to-day school life, social interactions with friends and family along with the general exploration is starkly contrasted to the game’s elaborate dungeons filled with puzzles and monsters. It’s incredible and transcends what can feel like an exclusionary genre, making it an experience worthwhile for everybody. – Luke

Full Review

 

No. 3

Super Mario Odyssey is the ultimate form of the 3D Super Mario platformer. Combining familiar platform and challenge-based gameplay from predecessors, Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Galaxy, Odyssey lets you embark on an epic adventure around the world and beyond. The addition of more open and less linear areas, as well as Cappy’s unique ability to control creatures, creates a fresh and vibrant mix of gameplay styles, truly worthy of Mario’s biggest adventure. As always, the music in Odyssey is on point and suits the current play area well. Special mention goes to the New Donk City levels (particularly the festival) and the finale which feature bright, upbeat songs with lyrics.

Both fans and newcomers are sure to enjoy Mario’s latest adventure, with plenty of humour and callbacks for die-hard fans. Retro gamers will love the 2D sections of gameplay and newcomers will love how easy it is to pick up. With over 800 power moons available within the game, Super Mario Odyssey provides hours upon hours of fun that you’ll never want to end. This is one for the platformers, the collectors, the retro gamers and the completionists. If you haven’t played it yet, I cannot recommend it enough! – Jake

Full Review

 

No. 2

The Legend of Zelda: Breath Of the Wild is universally acclaimed and has nabbed Nintendo a bunch of awards this year so far. Selling at a ratio of 1:1 alongside the massively successful Nintendo Switch in the process. It is arguably the biggest step forward for the franchise since Ocarina of Time all of those years ago. After 5 years in development, the result is truly astonishing. Once again become Link but embark on an adventure in Hyrule like no other Zelda game before it.

On the box it’s described as action adventure – true. But the key to the success of this game is its presentation of an open world. Literally, spend some time in what could be considered a tutorial. Then off you go to figure things out and play the game your way. Breath of the Wild is so well balanced and designed in its execution. Open world games have been done before, but few if any have truly achieved their premise end to end. There is a reason why this is a system seller and  it truly deserves the success it has achieved. The only way to truly appreciate it is to actually to play it. – Kolby

Full Review

 

No. 1

Horizon Zero Dawn, in my opinion, is quite possibly one of the greatest games I’ve ever played. And its lead character Aloy is a welcome breath of fresh air in today’s male protagonist dominated gaming arena. Guerrilla Game have created a beautiful open world in Horizon that’s simply begging to be explored, but it’s not only Horizon’s beautifully designed landscapes that help make it a cut above the rest. Intricate storyline, a strong female protagonist with equally strong female support characters, supporting male characters who lift her up rather than drag her down, and ground breaking lore based around a key female influence called the “All Mother” are all part of the magic that makes this game a true stand out in today’s gaming market.

So rarely does a game full of positive female representation get so well received and it’s great to see such positive feedback overall from the gaming community. Recently we saw the addition of more content for Horizon in the shape of the game’s first expansion called  The Frozen Wilds. Set as additional content rather than end game it expands on Aloy’s adventures and holds true to the feel and experience of the core game. If you haven’t yet played Horizon Zero Dawn then there’s honestly never been a better time to start than now. This is one title I’ll be happily playing and replaying well into the future. – Rachel

Full Review

A big year down and a big list of 10 games that proved to be our favourites here at Checkpoint. Didn’t see your favourite mentioned or think one of our top 10 was undeserving? Let us know in the comments below!