It was hard to know what to expect with 2017 when it came to the games. The PlayStation 4 Pro was just released at the end of 2016, and the age of 4K console gaming was becoming a reality. Yet, with all the potential, it was not the best looking games that drew me in, it was the ones that pushed concepts and revived old ideas in new ways that captured my attention.
Diablo 3: Rise of the Necromancer
While not a full blown new release, or even much beyond a character pack, Diablo III: Rise of the Necromancer was the push I needed to dive back into the game. With new abilities, new armour, and even new voice acting for the game, Diablo III never felt closer to a near-perfect game as it has so many years after launch.
Jumping into the experience on console with a group of friends, I found myself losing full days building up my Necromancer; trying to scavenge for the newest and best gear, and pushing the skill higher to build the ideal character. Blizzard put care into making Diablo II:Rise of the Necromancer a solid experience for new and old players alike, and if you are a fan of Diablo III and have been holding off jumping back in, there has never been a better time. A great expansion to an already fantastic game, I can only hope Blizzard brings more additions as time goes on.
The development of Prey was an interesting one. I remember sitting in a press meeting at E3 where they first showed off the concept of a new Prey that was a fresh take on the franchise. Building on the universe the first game hinted at, the new Prey would end up as a bounty hunting, open-world city game. When Arcane finally took charge of the series, they crafted something very different that shared little in common with the Prey franchise at all—and you know what? I did not care.
The end result was a game that I dove into and quickly found myself hours deep without even realizing it. The world and the characters had me hooked. It was a game that rewarded innovation and allowed for some truly unique and fun gameplay methods. Should you want to decimate everything in your path or try to be merciful, Prey gave you the tools to make it a reality. The core of the game remained a first-person shooter, but the multiple story paths make the trek while worth it. Combine that with a phenomenal soundtrack that has made its way into my daily Spotify playlist and you have yourself a winning combination. While it was not a massive success when it launched, it’s now on many best of lists and has dropped in price, so it’s time to give Prey a second look.
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
I had long since given up on the Resident Evil franchise. It had some phenomenal ideas early on and even had me hooked on its gameplay for over four games, but in recent years I’ve fallen off the franchise. Resident Evil 5 was more of an action game, and Resident Evil 6 felt like a series of quick time events wrapped in a convoluted story. Resident Evil 7: Biohazard changed that. It brought the series back to its horror roots and injected a shot of freshness its zombie-like corpse was long overdue for.
The franchise moved into in a first-person perspective and presented a game that—although in the same universe as the previous games—feels out of place and time. The visuals were unnerving and beautifully twisted. The antagonists pushed the horror in new ways, and the puzzles made for a challenging yet rewarding experience.
Resident Evil 7—despite some worry from myself and other press—was one of the best VR experiences to date. Strapping a PSVR on and jumping into the horror-filled world was rewarding and nerve-wracking. Capcom hit it out of the park with the seventh instalment, and it has me excited to see what they do next.
It is no secret I am not a fan of the JRPG formula. Random battles and constant grinding never appealed to me. But after my time with Persona 5 from Atlus, I may be a convert. Everything in the world of Persona 5 had me hooked. From the story, the visuals, and the gameplay to the fantastic soundtrack, Persona 5 was overflowing with style.
The core of the game remains what past fans of the series should expect: the life simulator crossed with a dungeon crawler JRPG, and despite how odd that may sound it all works exceedingly well. Persona 5 is a rare game I not only played through once but jumped right back into after the credits rolled. If you ever had any interest in the series, Persona has never looked as good as Persona 5. Give it a shot, you won’t be disappointed.
Years in development, and with a concept that sounded difficult to realise, Cuphead from Studio MDHR was an achievement in design and concept. All aspects of the game were hand drawn, from character movement to worlds, and the game is a stunning thing to behold.
One of the most difficult games on my personal game of the year list and arguably one of the hardest games hitting shelves in 2017, Cuphead takes the conventional platformer/boss fight concept and builds something wholly unique. The small Canadian team has made something truly special with Cuphead, and anyone with an Xbox One or PC are doing themselves a disservice by not picking up Cuphead and giving it a test drive.
Retail versions of some the games mentioned were provided by the publisher for previously published. You can find additional information about CGMagazine’s ethics and review policies and procedures here.
Liked this article and want to read more like it? Check out more of Brendan Frye’s work such as his interview with EA Motive about Star Wars: Barttlefront II, and his in-depth look at the Equifax Hack!