CGMagazine Best of 2017: Brendan Picks

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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

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Diablo III: Rise of the Necromancer – gameplay image provided by Blizzard.

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.

Prey

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Prey – gameplay image provided by Arkane Studios and Bethesda Softworks.

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

CGMagazine Best of 2017: Brendan Picks
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard – gameplay image provided by Capcom.

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.

Persona 5

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Persona 5 – gameplay image provided by Atlus.

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.

Cuphead

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Cuphead – gameplay image provided by Studio MDHR.

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!

Want to see more videos? Subscribe to our YouTube channel and check out the First 15: Star Wars Battlefront II, Sonic Forces + Episode Shadow, and  Super Mario Odyssey!

Don’t forget to tune in every Friday the Pixels & Ink Podcast to hear the latest news, previews, and in-depth game discussions!

Never miss when new CGM articles go out by following us on Twitter and Facebook!

CGMagazine is Canada’s premiere comics and gaming magazine. Subscribe today to get the best of CGM delivered right to your door! Never miss when a new issue goes live by subscribing to our newsletter! Signing up gives you exclusive entry into our contest pool. Sign up once, you’ll have a chance to win! Sign up today!

No Other Games Need Apply: Super Mario Odyssey is Game of the Year

No Other Games Need Apply: Mario Odyssey is GOTY 3

Picking out a game of the year is a painful and thankless task. There are always so many options, and everyone has different criteria. For some, diving into an open world universe that sucked up the bulk of their life for weeks at a time is the only video game experience to be celebrated. For others, bang-bang shoot em’ ups and carpal tunnel-inducing fighting beat em’ ups are the height of the medium. Many gamers refuse to acknowledge anything other than arty indies as the height of the art form. And of course, there are those who demand that some sort of “woke” message be part of any game that they are willing to consider great.

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Super Mario Odyssey – gameplay image via Nintendo.

Me? Hey, I’m a simple man of simple pleasures. For my game of the year, I need something that sucks me in through “easy to learn, difficult to master” gameplay and plasters big dumb smiles across my face from start to finish. I’m unapologetically nostalgic. I loved Nintendo even through their least successful console cycles (yeah, I bought a Virtual Boy and you best believe I treasured it). I also just straight up love Mario. He’s an adorable guy and it never ceases to amaze me how Nintendo is able to come up with new ways to use their Italian stereotype mascot. I was predisposed to love Super Mario Odyssey before I even picked up a controller to try it for the first time. However, I didn’t expect it to be my favourite videogame experience of the year. That was gravy.

Nintendo had a big year in 2017 with the release of The Switch, an ingeniously designed bit of hardware that bridged the gap between handheld and home consoles. They launched with an amazing Zelda title that brought such freedom and depth to a familiar franchise that it was enshrined an instant classic. Most will be dubbing Breath of the Wild Game of the Year if they decide to give that honour to Nintendo at all. I get it. That’s a beautiful game filled with ingenious design choices. The thing is that I just happen to find Super Mario Odyssey equally beautiful and ambitious, just in a less pretentious way.

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Super Mario Odyssey – gameplay image via Nintendo.

There are few gaming franchises less pretentious than Mario. Most of the time the designers can’t even be bothered to include or story or remotely alter it from the familiar “monster kidnaps princess, plumber saves princess” trope. Obviously that’s here. It’s a Mario game, how could it not be?! But the designers behind Super Mario Odyssey were flippant and subversive with how they played it out. They know it’s silly, if required. So they mocked the plot with some winks and let it play out as quickly and painlessly as possible before letting the meat of the game take over.

Mario games are all about experience and gameplay. That’s what you sign up for and Super Mario Odyssey is no different. On the surface, the game is similar to many previous Mario titles. There’s a sandbox exploration element from Mario 64, familiar landscapes from titles dating back to the NES days, the almost psychedelic surrealism from Mario Galaxy, and all the other familiar tropes. The major new addition was Mario’s now living hat (aka Cappy, my buddy) which allowed for new platforming techniques, new attacks, and the ability to take control of villains both familiar and fresh. It was a simple new dynamic that opened up so many new platforming possibilities. Beyond that, Super Mario Odyssey offered a sense of freedom beyond what previous Mario games delivered. It was a game that could be explored at your own pace with few guidelines. Yet at the same time, it was tough to get stuck or lost. The experience feels so intuitive that you’re always acutely aware of what you need to do next without tutorials or story to guide you. My game of the year is a game that unfolds purely in the language of videogames. Nintendo is so brilliant at guiding those experiences at this point and Mario is so familiar to players that you can simply pick it up and know exactly what to do while still being surprised and challenged at every turn.

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Super Mario Odyssey – gameplay image via Nintendo.

Playing Super Mario Odyssey was like reuniting with an old friend, enjoying all the familiar pleasures, and then learning that your old friend has changed in so many ways that they are now your new favourite person. There’s so much to explore. So much to discover. So many surprises. So much originality. So much nostalgia. So much Mario. It was an endless barrage of video game pleasures, some founded by Mario and some not. There was something for every player to fall in love with, from palm-sweat challenges to goofy dress up costumes. Old players could geek out in 8-bit nostalgia levels. New players could discover all the old tropes while also getting to control a giant T-rex, because why not? It was a game of endless delights. No moment in any game this year thrilled me more than playing through the New Donk City finale, feeling like I was dabbling in original Donkey Kong, discovering the new game’s connection to the past, geeking out on a hilarious Mario-themed big band number (“run with me, grab coins with me”), marveling at the gorgeous design, and feeling elated by the firework celebration all around me. It was pure gaming pleasure on so many levels, executed by the company that got me hooked on this gaming stuff in the first place.

Super Mario Odyssey was both a celebration of Nintendo’s past and a promise to the future. Proof that the company can tickle our old pleasure centers while still providing rich and deep new gaming experiences that can match other AAA titles. My game of the year is a game that I’m still playing months later, either to find pesky stars and secrets hidden throughout or simply to re-experience moments that delighted me to no end the first time. It’s a masterpiece. Something that seems so simple that you can fall into it, yet is so deceptively massive that it rewards endless replay. Simply put, it’s hard to imagine a better Mario game. This is one title that I actually anxiously await DLC for and I know I’m not alone.

No Other Games Need Apply: Mario Odyssey is GOTY
Super Mario Odyssey – gameplay image via Nintendo.

Somehow Nintendo made us all fall in love with their ancient mascot once again while proving that they have an eye on gaming’s future. That’s a special achievement. Sure, Breath of the Wild accomplished many of the same things, but not within a design that both the smallest child with no gaming experience and the most experienced aging Nintendo fan can enjoy equally. Some might dismiss Super Mario Odyssey as puffy populist nonsense and they have a point. The thing is that making any work of art that actually achieves universal appeal is a near impossible task, especially when consuming it has to conceal all that effort. This is a game to be cherished and one that promises Nintendo will have plenty of new surprises in store for us throughout The Switch’s life cycle. Sign me up for more. I’m ready.

A retail version of the game discussed was provided by the publisher for a previously published review. 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 Phil’s take on Blade Runner 2049, Happy Death Day, and It! He also had a chance to sit down with Guillermo Del Toro. Check out his interview here!

Want to see more videos? Subscribe to our YouTube channel and check out the First 15: Star Wars Battlefront II, Sonic Forces + Episode Shadow, and  Super Mario Odyssey!

Don’t forget to tune in every Friday the Pixels & Ink Podcast to hear the latest news, previews, and in-depth game discussions!

Never miss when new CGM articles go out by following us on Twitter and Facebook!

CGMagazine is Canada’s premiere comics and gaming magazine. Subscribe today to get the best of CGM delivered right to your door! Never miss when a new issue goes live by subscribing to our newsletter! Signing up gives you exclusive entry into our contest pool. Sign up once, you’ll have a chance to win! Sign up today!

Game of the Year: Derek’s Top 5 Games of 2017

Game of the Year: Derek's Top 5 Games of 2017 2

Every gaming site across the web is likely to preface their Game of the Year awards with a similar statement: 2017 was nuts for video games. That’s because it really was. We saw a plethora of outstanding releases across every platform, both big and small, grand and intimate, spectacular and subdued. It was also the debut of what is arguably Nintendo’s greatest (or at least potentially greatest) console in decades, complete with its own small yet outstandingly robust library of diverse games. Given that I’m especially enthusiastic about RPGs, it was incredibly fulfilling to see so many dazzling titles take the spotlight this year. I honestly believe that 2017 might be the most quality-rich year in gaming since…I don’t know, 1998? This year’s releases have turned several longstanding design philosophies on their heads, and I can’t wait to see how that influence takes shape in the future. Here are my top five examples of how that innovation shone through in 2017.

Persona 5

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Persona 5 – gameplay image provided by ATLUS.

I tend to have a pretty solid finger on the pulse of my own tastes. To that end, it almost felt like I knew what my top games of the year would be before 2017 ever even rolled around. Persona 5 was destined to be one of those sure-fire wins right out of the gate. With an inimitable sense of style, Persona 5 feels like the apex of modern Japanese RPG design. It elevates the series’ signature socialization-meets-supernatural concept to such a high standard of excellence that it’s hard to imagine any game surpassing that bar until the inevitable Persona 6.

Persona 5 isn’t perfect; some troublingly regressive ideas arise throughout its nearly 100-hour narrative. It’s surprising that a game built around such a progressive theme—rebellion against an unjust society—didn’t quite nail the execution of its story, but everything else about it is so unceasingly good that it’s much easier to focus on what it does right. A nonstop spectacle of audiovisual decadence, Persona 5 didn’t steal my heart; it earned it, fair and square.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Game of the Year: Derek's Top 5 Games of 2017
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – gameplay image provided by Nintendo.

Breath of the Wild is a supremely important release in a year packed full of standout titles. Not only did it debut alongside Nintendo’s new console as a show-stopping demonstration of everything it can do, it redefined Zelda as we know it. Elegant and restrained, there’s a sense of fulfillment inherent to the mere act of discovery in Breath of the Wild. While other games incentivize exploration with material rewards, Breath of the Wild successfully convinces the player that their feats are rewards in and of themselves.

Breath of the Wild‘s sheer volume of things to do (or “content,” if the word is more palatable) is hugely impressive. It’s the sort of game that every player approaches differently, thanks to its beautifully realized mechanical language. Objects in its world behave and react with a natural sort of logic that is immediately understandable, even to unseasoned players. Plus, with two sizeable pieces of add-on content now available, there’s even more reason to revisit the game nine months after its release. Mark my words: Breath of the Wild is going to be influential for a long time to come.

Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood

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Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood – gameplay image provided by Square Enix.

Naming an MMORPG expansion one of the best games of 2017 may seem like an unconventional choice, particularly in light of the genre’s comparatively limited appeal, but Stormblood is a particularly transcendent example of an expansion done right. If Final Fantasy XIV is a Final Fantasy theme park, Stormblood is its latest attraction. It’s a bold tale of revenge and revolution that manages to feel incredibly grounded in light of its eclectic, moogles-and-magic framework. The superb quality of its writing genuinely rivals (and often surpasses) that of its single-player contemporaries.

Stormblood is also notable for introducing two fan-favourite Final Fantasy jobs that fans have been requesting for years: Red Mage and Samurai. Both handle like a dream, with unique class mechanics and visual panache that demonstrate producer Naoki Yoshida’s deep understanding of what makes an MMORPG fun to play. Did I mention the soundtrack? Twelve forfend, that soundtrack is phenomenal. Stormblood isn’t done, either, with at least another year’s worth of additional content in the pipeline. I guarantee I’ll be along for the ride.

Super Mario Odyssey

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Super Mario Odyssey – gameplay image provided by Nintendo.

Super Mario Odyssey is happiness distilled. Mario is one of the most iconic characters in gaming for a reason; his games exude a positive, whimsical sensibility that feels precision-engineered to generate joy.

Thinking about Super Mario Odyssey, it’s not necessarily the most revolutionary game in the world. It retains the tried-and-tested, go-here-collect-that formula that Mario games have pioneered since the early days of gaming. Yet Odyssey settles for nothing less than perfection in every iota of its execution. Mario’s weight and momentum make traversal a joy. Its careful consideration of the series’ history pervades its design. Every world, every character, every detail burns bright with endearing personality. There may have been more influential or even artistically significant games released in 2017, but I cannot remember a single session of Super Mario Odyssey that did not begin and end with me smiling from ear to ear.

NieR: Automata

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NeiR: Automata – gameplay image via Square Enix.

My favourite games this year all excel in at least one key area, whether it’s their reinvention of formulaic gameplay structure or sheer audiovisual excellence. NieR: Automata does both of those things to some extent (particularly in regard to its show-stopping soundtrack), but where it really stands out for me is the way it defies narrative conventions. NieR: Automata is a game that must be completed three times—yes, three—before the full breadth of its brilliance becomes evident. It’s nothing short of awe-inspiring.

A tale of troubled androids in a bleak, post-human future, NieR: Automata’s robotic protagonists grapple with existential queries that make them feel convincingly alive in spite of their mechanical bodies. The game’s stirring climax cements itself as one of the most powerful moments in video game storytelling, period. It’s a testament to the power of a well-developed narrative, and proof of the medium’s artistic potential.

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 Derek Heemsbergen’s  reviews, such as  Etrian Odyssey V: Beyond the Myth and his second look at Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age!

Want to see more videos? Subscribe to our YouTube channel and check out the First 15: Star Wars Battlefront II, Sonic Forces + Episode Shadow, and  Super Mario Odyssey!

Don’t forget to tune in every Friday the Pixels & Ink Podcast to hear the latest news, previews, and in-depth game discussions!

Never miss when new CGM articles go out by following us on Twitter and Facebook!

CGMagazine is Canada’s premiere comics and gaming magazine. Subscribe today to get the best of CGM delivered right to your door! Never miss when a new issue goes live by subscribing to our newsletter! Signing up gives you exclusive entry into our contest pool. Sign up once, you’ll have a chance to win! Sign up today!

Game of The Year: Jordan’s Top Five Games of 2017

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Another year in gaming has come and gone and boy howdy, it was a doozy. It was a year dominated by greedy publishers releasing cynical products in an attempt to fleece as many dollars from consumers as humanly (and possibly, inhumanly) possible. However, despite an avalanche of loot boxes and shoddy business practices, a few games stood above the rest, showing the best of what 2017 had to offer. Here are my top five best games of 2017.

#5: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

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The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – gameplay image provided by Nintendo

The Nintendo Switch absolutely crushed it this year, and that was in no small part due to the newest addition to the Legend of Zelda franchise. Not only was it a power-move to launch a system—a portable-hybrid system, no less—with possibly the second-most beloved Nintendo property, but one that is so far removed from any other game in that franchise, that the only question I had was, “How did no one think of this sooner?”. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, is by no means perfect; its two most glaring flaws—a weak Stamina system and an absolutely pathetic weapon durability system—marred what would have otherwise be a perfect game. However, in spite of this, BotW still manages to be the best Zelda Nintendo’s released since Wind Waker. Its world feels so lived-in and organically delivered with art direction that is absolutely breathtaking with incredible amounts of colour and details while being surprisingly minimalist. It’s a game that takes Zelda back to its roots, focusing on creating a world and giving you incentive to explore it. And while I couldn’t help wishing that some of the dungeons were a bit more “traditional,” or a few “Zelda staple items” found their way in—or that Nintendo would drop the terrible idea that Ganon is a concept and not a villain—it’s a game that constantly kept me engaged, constantly kept me guessing, and constantly surprised me even hours after I had finished it.

#4: Resident Evil 7: Biohazard

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Resident Evil 7: Biohazard – gameplay image provided by Capcom

Resident Evil 7 was not scary. I think that needs to be said right from the start. I’ll even admit that the E3 2016 game demo (despite desperately trying to be P.T.) did deliver quite a few scares, it was just a shame the finished product didn’t. And while a horror game not being scary isn’t ideal, I definitely think Resident Evil 7 earns its place on this list for not only everything it got right, but for the clear indication that Capcom has set RE back on the right track. Resident Evil has neither been scary nor that good since Resident Evil: Revelations back on the 3DS (the remasters don’t count, it was made for 3DS). Since then it’s been a fumbling of too many genres, ideas, and cooks spoiling the broth. RE7 was focused; it knew what it wanted to be and it delivered the goods. It paid homage to the series roots, while re-inventing those similar concepts. Returning the gameplay to a single location that was as much an antagonist as the villains within it felt disorienting and unnerving as you explored the creepy mansion, evading the horrors within as you were forced to retread old ground. The shift to first person added a new layer of dimensionality, as (arguably) the most immersive perspective lends itself best to horror, and the shift from zombies to a more Texas Chainsaw Massacre vibe with The Baker family as antagonists was incredibly refreshing (until it wasn’t). The fact that RE7 is a AAA horror game and was as good as it was and came without forced multiplayer, loot boxes and other industry crap is why it deserves a spot on this list.

Friday the 13th: The Game

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Friday the 13th: THe game – gameplay images provided by IllFonic and Gun Media

This game has me at a bit of a crossroads, because based on objective quality, it almost feels like Friday the 13th: The Game shouldn’t be on this list. When it first released it had myriad problems ranging from graphical glitches, incomplete gameplay, and horrible connection issues that would have you waiting literal hours to get into a game (only to be dropped moments later). However, like my feelings with No Man’s Sky—a game that made my personal Best of 2016—I saw mountains of potential amidst the problems. Gun Media has made a tremendous effort patching the game, and has it running in an acceptable state. However, problems still exist that shouldn’t exist for a game with such prestige surrounding it.

That being said, when Friday the 13th works, it REALLY works, and it is easily the most fun I’ve had with any online multiplayer-only game this year. Setting aside that Friday the 13th is my favourite horror movie franchise of all time, the game is just fun on every level. Even for a game where seven other people could easily remove you from the immersion, there is a genuine tension in being a counselor, trying to survive the night from the terror of Jason Voorhees, and a sincere horror when you see him through a window or following behind you as you run for your life. Alternatively, playing as Jason is the definition of twisted pleasure, using an arsenal of otherworldly powers to systematically murder every other player. The amount of love that has been put into this game is worn right on its sleeve and it pays tribute to Friday the 13th in the best possible ways.

#2: Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment

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Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment – gameplay image provided by Yacht Club Games

I really grappled with the choice for the number two spot. There were a few games I wanted to put on this list which I noticed were all based within nostalgia, namely: Sonic Mania, Metroid: Samus Returns, and Cuphead. And while both Sonic Mania and Metroid: Samus Returns are excellent games in their own right, I couldn’t help but feel that their spot on a “Best of 2017” is mostly attributed to the fact that they remind me of something dear from my childhood.

In the case of Cuphead, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that despite being very fun and having an incredible artstyle, I never really thought it was the masterpiece everyone claimed it to be, namely because it seemed like the dedication to that artstyle is what kept it from having a legitimate form of cohesive gameplay—i.e. having actual levels that lead to bosses, as opposed to its overworld map that throws a handful of side-scrolling levels for the sake of looking like Contra.

Then I remembered Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment which released alongside the Nintendo Switch, and I knew it deserved a place on this list. I almost wrote Shovel Knight off when I first saw whisperings of it online, judging by the concept of a knight with a shovel, I cynically assumed it would be another game involving mining in some way, trying to capitalize on the continuing craze of Minecraft. Then one fateful night, with nothing better to do, I purchased it and my life was changed forever. Shovel Knight is basically a perfect game: bold, inventive, retro in style yet modern in game design, and nothing like what I had cynically envisioned.

Unlike the last add-on, Plague of Shadows, which delivered the same game and only changed how the main character, Plague Knight, moved through it, Specter of Torment completely rebuilt Shovel Knight from the ground up, creating an entirely different game. Specter Knight is a radically different character in terms of control and attack, and as such, the levels have all been redesigned to be better suited to how Specter Knight controls. Redesigned music better suits the character’s theme and the overall tone of the game and redesigned boss fights add new depth to enemies you’ve battled countless times. New and interesting items and a tragic story the precedes the events of Shovel Knight: Shovel of Hope also provide context to the character of Specter Knight. There is so much good on offer not only with Specter of Torment, but the whole Shovel Knight: Treasure Trove pack, and I urge anyone who hasn’t played it yet to get it.

#1: Super Mario Odyssey

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Super Mario Odyssey – gameplay image provided by Nintendo

Jump Up, Superstar! This should come as a surprise to no one, but Super Mario Odyssey is the best game of 2017. Honestly, I wasn’t sure where to even start when writing this, but all it took was 10 minutes with the game and I knew. Super Mario Odyssey is pure, distilled joy—plain and simple. It would be enough if it was just fun, but this is a game that is so fun, so inventive, and so full of wonder and life that it almost seems unreal. This is a game where each new world feels familiar in theme, but are simultaneously so completely fresh and new that you are compelled to explore every nook and cranny. A game where each new world is beautifully designed, filled with colour and details, and backed by scores that are at times breathtaking, enchanting, and exuberant. Super Mario Odyssey feels to me like the definitive 3D Mario game and there wasn’t a moment I was playing it where I didn’t have a massive smile on my face. Furthermore, you can throw your hat on a T-Rex and you get to be the T-Rex. WHAT MORE DO YOU WANT?

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 Jordan Biordi’s reviews of Metroid: Samus Returns and Pokkén Tournament DX for the Nintendo Switch!

Want to see more videos? Subscribe to our YouTube channel and check out the First 15: Star Wars Battlefront II, Sonic Forces + Episode Shadow, and  Super Mario Odyssey!

Don’t forget to tune in every Friday the Pixels & Ink Podcast to hear the latest news, previews, and in-depth game discussions!

Never miss when new CGM articles go out by following us on Twitter and Facebook!

CGMagazine is Canada’s premiere comics and gaming magazine. Subscribe today to get the best of CGM delivered right to your door! Never miss when a new issue goes live by subscribing to our newsletter! Signing up gives you exclusive entry into our contest pool. Sign up once, you’ll have a chance to win! Sign up today!

The Game Awards 2017 Wrap-Up

The Game Awards 2017 Wrap-Up

The Game Awards 2017 was better than last year’s. Such has been the trend for Geoff Keighley’s pet project – ever since the infamous Spike Video Game Awards first reached saturation, you can practically see Keighley straining against the inherent restraints of his chosen medium.

Read moreThe Game Awards 2017 Wrap-Up

2015 Game of the Year Winner

2015 Game of the Year Winner

As another year ends, the CGM staff has come together to award Game of the Year to deserving titles of 2015. After a lengthy and heated debate on podcast, and a vote from the CGM staff all over the world, we have crowned our GotY picks! Eight categories that span all year and a wide range of genres. These titles are the best of the best of 2015 and demonstrate unique qualifications that set them apart and above in 2015. Here is our pick for 2015 Game of the Year.

Game of the Year is not a title that is considered lightly. This is a game that not only stands out within its genre, but stands beyond all games across all genres. It is a game that showcases extreme technical proficiency, incredible storytelling capabilities, an immersive and believable game world, and stays with the player long after they’ve finished playing. It’s a game that players not only want to talk about months after completion, but to revisit and find every last little detail. It is with great deliberation that we present these games for the title of Game of the Year.

Nominees: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
                    Fallout 4
                    Undertale
                    Splatoon

Winner: The Witcher 3

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is a shining example of what video games can be, not only technically, but artistically. Its sheer scope is baffling and the amount of content within can very well keep players engaged for an entire year. Its combat mechanics are tight and technical, rewarding precision over barbaric button bashing, and its levelling and upgrade system, while some may considering restrictive, add a layer of depth to the game that forces you to strategize every encounter.

But beyond being a technically proficient game, it’s also a deep and complex story that makes the player an integral part of it, stopping them to consider each choice as they influence momentous events. Its beautiful designs for landscapes, monsters, and people create a world that feels alive; one that’s as beautiful as it is harrowing. The Witcher 3 is a sterling example of a video game, deeply complex, awe inspiring, and above all FUN. It truly deserves the title of Game of the Year.

Game of the Year 2015: Atmospheric

Game of the Year 2015: Atmospheric

As another year ends, the CGM staff has come together to award Game of the Year to deserving titles of 2015. After a lengthy and heated debate on podcast, and a vote from the CGM staff all over the world, we have crowned our GotY picks! Eight categories that span all year and a wide range of genres. These titles are the best of the best of 2015 and demonstrate unique qualifications that set them apart and above in 2015. Here is our pick for Atmospheric Game of the Year.

Immersion is a concept often tossed around by game designers. While many try to use it, very few understand how to separate the player from the game, making them feel like a part of the world. One of the most important elements in immersion is atmosphere; creating a world that feels alive and filling it with believable characters that feel like they belong there. These games exceeds above all others at setting the stage and weaving the elaborate yarn.

Nominees: Her Story
                    SOMA
                    Until Dawn
                    Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture

Winner: Until Dawn Until Dawn is a true teenagers-trapped-with-a-killer horror experience; it follows the pacing of a slasher flick to a tee. More than that, though, it’s a very different take on atmospheric horror. Instead of leaving the player trapped in a horror scenario, it puts them in control of a group of teenagers and tasks them with their survival.

Though much of Until Dawn’s appeal will be lost on those uninitiated into classic horror culture, for those who are, this represents a very unique experience. Everyone has at least one slasher flick fan in their life, and this might just be the perfect game that 2015 has to offer for them.

Game of the Year 2015: Indie

Game of the Year 2015: Indie

As another year ends, the CGM staff has come together to award Game of the Year to deserving titles of 2015. After a lengthy and heated debate on podcast, and a vote from the CGM staff all over the world, we have crowned our GotY picks! Eight categories that span all year and a wide range of genres. These titles are the best of the best of 2015 and demonstrate unique qualifications that set them apart and above in 2015. Here is our pick for Indie Game of the Year.

The indie game scene is one of the last vestibules for truly inventive games. While the AAA scene chases fads, extends franchises for sequel dollars and creates larger, bloated yet stagnant games, independent developers are finding new ways to explore the medium, with fresh ideas and inspiring creativity. These games shows just how far a small budget and a big idea can go.

Nominees: N++
                    Axiom Verge
                    Armello
                    Undertale
                    Crypt of the NecroDancer

Winner: Undertale Few games come along that have almost everyone in agreement about how incredible and influential they are. Few games come along that are challenging, charming, sweet, scary, funny, and quirky all in one amazing package. Few games come along with a story and characters that enrapture you so deeply that you feel a real connection to them. Few games come along that stick with you months after you’ve played them. Undertale is one of those games.

Taking the best elements from traditional JRPGs, Undertale tells a deeply moving story while changing the traditional formula of turn-based combat in a way that challenges players’ pre-conceived perceptions of the genre. It wears its influences to genre revolutionaries like Earthbound and Final Fantasy on its sleeve, has an incredibly deep Meta that will keep players guessing the whole way through, and a soundtrack that easily could have won “Soundtrack of the Year.”