Editor’s Note: Mike is a new contributor to IrrationalPassions.com and you may have heard his work in some of our Roundtable Discussions. His new contributions may be in video, audio, or other forms in the coming weeks!
2017 was a year for creativity and new starts in video games that I’m very hopeful will push the industry forward
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle
I love games that defy people’s expectations
The 180 turn that happened from it being announced or well leaked I guess, with outright hatred or treating it with a meme mentality it’s going to be bad ideology, to E3 reveal and it immediately becoming one of the most exciting new takes on Mario in recent memory across social media and journalists, the passion shown from the developers that day really made it a must play for me. I wouldn’t consider myself tactically minded when it comes to video games or the kind of game I generally like to play, but the welcoming nature of this game let me ease in and by the time it started to ramp up the difficulty. I felt like I had the tools to make me think out my next moves and I was having a fun time with the game by that point and while it ultimately could be better in terms of variety, I think this is a really cool starting point for Ubisoft and Nintendo. Please keep making these more friendlier strategy games and have a fantastic series of gateway games to the genre
Horizon Zero Dawn
Horizon was a little bit of a slow burn for me at the start but once more of the true nature of the world was revealed through the game and that then opening up more combat tools for me to use made me more invested in hunting down the dinosaur robots and remnants of the past world in the world of Horizon, I’m glad I stuck with it otherwise I wouldn’t have ended up exploring on of the most visually stunning games in 2017. I loved seeing Aloy grow up before my eyes and then discovering the world along with me, I love it when a large company takes a risk on a new IP and this was such a different game from Sony first party and Guerilla Games, I’m glad it exists and what the future holds for this new franchise
I never thought a game about anime maid androids would be one of the best portrayals of human interactions and relationships
Yoko Taro really makes you think and rethink the ways of the humanities place in the world, and if those thoughts are even important at all. The dystopian world paints a nice picture even if it looks and feels like a HD remaster of a PS2 game at times, but the characters and emotionally fueled music really drove me over to see this through and it will stay with me for a while. I’m excited for what the creator does next with Nier and was just given another chance to bring more of this world to life, even if his next project is something brand new cause I know it will be worth exploring and checking out
Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus
Honestly, I don’t think I could tell you a single thing that happened in the first game
But I could tell you pretty vividly all of the moments in this game and that they’ll stick with me for a while, I tried to fight my never play on easy mentality with this game but as soon as I lowered the difficulty it let me focus on the things I felt like I really wanted to focus on and I appreciated all the moments, big and small, in the game that it made the moments and everything I was doing feel so much more impactful, cause I actually was able to focus more on the smaller moments in the boat between characters, hear all the weird dialogue between Nazi NPC’s and enemies as they patrolled around, it just made me love the world more cause I didn’t have the need to spend my time scrounging for ammo and armor in the environments and it let me explore at my own pace. I really love this game for pushing storytelling and character moments in video games and making those the forefront thing to seek out in this game.
Steamworld Dig 2
Steamworld Dig on the 3DS is probably one of my most beloved games on the handheld, and I’m amazed how this follow up blew the first game out of the water.
Game makers should look at this game when they are starting to design sequels and follow ups to their indie smash hits cause the team at Image and Form Games nail the term sequel in every regard with Steamworld 2. The game expands all the best parts of the first game and builds it out with interesting and unique puzzle sequences in one-off rooms that help you learn new ways to traverse and interact with the larger world, furthered by, Metroid style upgrades that let you traverse in completely new ways like sticky bombs that help open paths across gaps you might have made earlier and combat enemies in new ways, grappling hooks and a jetpack sound like weird items to use to explore a mine shaft and dark underground caverns but it all works and are a blast to use. It a perfect Switch game but play it anywhere you can, can’t recommend this game enough
Rime is a beautiful and mysterious game that will continue to have a lasting impact on me
As soon as I washed up on the island I was immediately asking questions and wanting answers. It keeps you guessing and wondering with each puzzle solved and new pathway opening only leads to more, what does these paintings mean? What happened here? Once the conclusion happens it answered my questions and totally blew my expectations away and became one of the most memorable moments in a video game this year for me, it kept me up at night rethinking everything I did in the game, why I did it, and what it meant in the context I now had. To me it’s one of those games that you can quickly undersell with the vagueness and talking around things in order to describe why it’s special as to not spoil anything but please check it out, it’s a short and sweet game in a year of big lengthy games.
Super Mario Odyssey
Odyssey is a game I see myself coming back to year and year again
I wouldn’t consider it my favorite Mario game, but I’ll say its hands down one of the most joyful experiences I’ve had in a video game in years. The whole time I was playing from the first moon collected to the 800th moon collected I was happy joyful and had a big dumb happy smile on my face and I can’t think of any other game to do that ever in all that time spent with the game. Every inch of that game feels lovingly crafted to the incredibly tight controls, beautiful new worlds that feel foreign to what you think of as Mario but all just work in the globetrotting sense of the game, the lovable cast of characters new and old, the truly heartfelt homages and callback to Mario’s insane history that didn’t feel like a nudge nudge wink wink to the player, you can feel the excitement for Mario’s past and future busting out from this game from the developers. I will cherish this game greatly for many years to come and how it rank among the Mario pantheon.
MUGMAN 4 LIFE
I straight up did not care for the original Destiny enough to even check it out.
I jumped on the PC version with little expectations alongside 2 of my good friends, I don’t think I could have been more surprised about how much I enjoyed Destiny 2 and still want to keep playing it after almost maxing out three characters. It started out as a really great way to just shoot the shit with a few buddies, poke at some of the cutscenes in Mystery Science Theatre like fashion and groan at the quirky character all while finding the time for feel good dancing and shooting and blowing up hundreds and hundreds of spider tanks. But one day I had very specific moment after completing the campaign that pushed it above all that for me. After mostly forgetting all the events that happened in the story, I logged on one day solo and landed on Nessus leaped off the big dumb tower and was just mindlessly sprinting towards the next marker and I just stopped and had the realization that I’m on this alien planet, and not only that, I’m shooting at this crazy alternate dimension shifting robot species and their tech is fusing with this world and I’m just alone to take it all in and it it just took me over as a lover of sci fi in way I never thought Destiny would. I really hope the weird and insane natures of the world of Destiny got more light one day, let’s say like 350 light and I’m I’ll be ready to explore it all.
The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild
This game really is exciting to me and what it could mean for the future of video games.
It feels like a redefining of the current and arguably largest video game genre right now, this game truly feels like it’ll be a reckoning or a movement and I don’t mean that as all open world games will become ‘zelda likes’ or ‘breath of the wild clones’ I feel like this will be a game that pushes more studios, developers and designers to rethink about what you can do and what makes a game an open world video game, and I think that feeling will be felt years from now even in new generations of game developers, I will try and try again as new open world games release to not compare everything or mechanics to Breath of the Wild that’s just a thing I’ll live with now, I didn’t want to stop exploring well okay im not getting 900 korok seeds, but regardless, the tools they give you are so simple but the amount of ways they just give you to interact with the world and feelings of freedom in the world made me want to keep trying things to keep moving to the next cool landscape or landmark not to mention it made the most rote thing in video games fun again! Climb this tower and you don’t know what you’ll find but I know I want to leap off it with my sail cloth and find the next adventure, even when my weapon broke I forced myself to try and tackle and problem solve my way out of a fight even if it ended up with me ragdolling off a giant mountain I loved plummeting to my death cause I know I tried. This game really made me rethink how I explore and interact with game worlds and why, which pretty much no video game has never made me really think about.
Thank you, Breath of the Wild, for making me fall in love with game worlds again and think about why I love them and want to push myself to explore the worlds around me, I’ll never forget the sensations of exploration you gave me.