Fawzi Mesmar’s Top 15 Games of the Year 2017

2017 was a very eventful year for video games, with major new installments for many top franchises and a couple of new console releases to boot with the Nintendo Switch and the Xbox One X both coming out in 2017. There are games on this list that might surprise people from Japan as they have been available for them for years but they had just made their western releases in the past 12 months.

There were loads of very high quality remasters and re-releases; and though I had some fun playing them I refrained from listing them here as they did have their fair-shot at their respective years.

All in all, I was having a hard time keeping up this year with the releases, when I think of the best years for gaming, 1998, 2011 and 2017 will come to mind.

15 – What Remains of Edith Finch


I thought I had enough of walk around and check out stuff sorts of games. Some people refer to them as walking simulators; they formed an interesting new genre at first, before it became stale with familiar tropes and uninteresting narratives. What remains of Edith Finch came across as the closest thing gaming presented to the movie “big Fish” with a much darker tone.  The tale is fascinating and as you progress through the game you become more curious to find out more about America’s most unfortunate family.

14 – Engare


Engare is a challenging puzzle game from Iran that focuses entirely on rules and tool sets that govern traditional Islamic art. I love how fresh the game is, what I love more is the promise that it brings, what new cultures and experience can bring into the gaming sphere. We’ve become fairly familiar with Japanese and western cultures and mythologies through the years. I always look forward to explore new things from unexpected places. DETENTION is another game that’s worth a mention for exactly that, but fails to make the list as it lacks the focus that engare has.

13 – Night in the Woods


It took me some time to realize what it is that I was playing when I played Night in the Woods. I had some chats with friends about it, and they too needed a couple of hours to put their heads around it. By the end of it, it was a game that made me think; about my relationship with my parents, what it feels like to come back home, and of asshole friends I had somewhere along the way.

12 – Metroid Samus Returns


Last thing I thought I’d be doing this year is play a game on 3DS, let alone being a game that would make my list of the top games of the year. Metroid Samus returns is a solid game and is a fun ride through and through. It’s nice to play classic Metroid game after such a long time; with many metroidvania game releases this year it was an absolute blast playing the genre’s namesake. Balancing the new mechanics with the familiar formula I could not put it down, and now I’m really looking forward to whatever metroid they’re announcing for the Switch next year.

11 – Nier Automata


Nier Automata is a weird ass game. it’s enjoyable, it’s infuriating, it’s sad, it’s fun, it’s anime, it’s fresh and unique and it’s deeply flawed but worth checking out.

10 – Destiny 2


Not a perfect game by a long shot, but I had a lot of fun playing Destiny 2. I often joke that destiny to me is something I do while I Skype friends. It fixes a lot of the things the first one didn’t do right, and adds a ton of features and hopefully the mentality of a game as a service from the get go. The game changer this time around was releasing the game for PC. I don’t like FPS games on the controller, and this time around in the Crucible, I actually stood a chance.

9 – Golf Story


Golf Story is an RPG that substitutes combat with Golf related shenanigans; it has a memorable soundtrack, often genuinely funny dialogue and an addictive core gameplay loop; it was perfect at home with the switch as it’s great on the go, and can be easily put down and resumed during flights and the like.

8 – Gorogoa


It’s by far the shortest game on this list, but don’t let that stop you from giving this artsy game a go. The game relies on perspective puzzle game design similar to echochrome and monument valley; rarely do games make you feel clever and have you admire the cleverness of it’s creator at the same time. Gorogoa is a treat from both a visual and a design standpoint.

7 – Resident Evil 7 


I’ve been a resident evil fan for over 20 years. I have played every single one, but haven’t liked an RE game since 4. This latest iteration is a return to form in a fresh perspective. It looks like an entirely different game yet feels like a classic survival horror resident evil game at heart. It was unnerving to play, interesting to explore and had enough new surprises to keep you coming back for more.

6 – Puyo Puyo Tetris


Tetris for me is one of the best games ever made. This match up is pure gameplay fun; with enough depth in the mechanics to make a it a real competitive game. It’s a game you can hone your skill at on many levels, not just the insane amount of pattern recognition you’ll come to develop, but also through physical speed that you need to build up by using the controller. While I really enjoyed the game when I played the Japanese version in 2015, the switch is in fact the perfect system to play the game for it’s portability and the two player action ready at any moment aspect.

5 – Cuphead


Cuphead is super-focused; it knows what it wants to achieve and never deviates, creating a strong, crisp and yell-at-your-TV experience that I haven’t had in quite some time. The visuals are focused on a specific era of early animation accompanied with the jazzy tunes of one of the best sound tracks of the year and delivering old school – both in difficulty and in design – couch co-op metal slug like shoot’em up.

4 – Divinity Original Sin II


The second iteration of this superb RPG carries the torch of delivering the best tabletop RPG experience to your screen and brutal unforgiving systems that the series has established so far. Divinity doesn’t give a shit if you stopped playing or if you feel lost. It will instead however, reward you if you dig deeper, try harder and persevere. I also recommend trying it in a multiplayer setting (online) it’ll offer a fresh new perspective on an already astonishing game.

3 – Persona 5


The most stylish game of the year, and by far the soundtrack that’s stuck in my head for years to come. The long awaited 5 installment of the franchise comes with so many welcomed additions, from hand designed dungeons to easy to track social links and some quality of life persona fusion options. Persona 5 is the most grand of all the Persona games yet, has one of the most interesting narratives, and a game i could not stop playing long after my play time passed the 100 hour mark.

2 – Super Mario Odyssey


This game is just delightful; it’s designed to be consumed in any way you like. You can spend your times to methodically explore every nook and cranny in the level, or get exactly what you need to move on to the next world. There are many reasons to go back, there’s a lot to do, there’re so many classic Nintendo touches that are guaranteed to put a smile on your face. Incredible soundtrack, masterclass in design, Nintendo AED proves once more that they are among the best game development houses in the world.

1 – The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild


It’s no secret that I’m a giant Zelda fan and have been celebrating most of the series releases. Breath of the wild is something else, it is something special. It is a game that made me feel like I was a kid again, I didn’t know what to expect of the game, I didn’t know how much or what it has to offer and I was wide eyed exploring it’s magnificently hand crafted world for hundreds of hours. This new Zelda games isn’t just a landmark achievement for the franchise, but for open world games in general; Nintendo has achieved the impossible with releasing a game that completely delivers on the concept of freedom when it comes to exploring the world, climbing everything is a game changer, and allowing you to seek out the points that interest you is something that would greatly impact open world games for years to come. This is not just the best game of the year, it’s one of the most important games of this millennia and one of the best games I’ve had the pleasure of playing.

Honorable mentions:

So many good games came out this year, I can’t just ignore them because I’m tied to a numbered list, I need to at least give these games a nod as are games you should totally check out:

  • Yakuza 0
  • Gravity Rush 2
  • Tekken 7
  • Animal Crossing: pocket Camp
  • Finding Paradise
  • Dandy Dungeons
  • A mortician’s tale
  • Everything