That time again to look back over the last twelve months and highlight my favourite games of the year. I was surprised to find that there are two remakes / remasters on this list, and that all of my top five were on the PS4 (although only two are exclusive to the platform). I have this time stuck closely to the brief, and all 5 were released in 2017. If I had decided to include all the games I’d played this year, we’d probably have Panzer Dragoon Saga on this list, but otherwise I think the line up would be pretty similar.
5) Everybody’s Golf – PS4
A series that I’ve had a passing interest in since the original PlayStation, the first time I put a lot of time into it in single player was on the Vita. That game was a joy and I still revisit it when travelling. This latest version is delightful, I’m really enjoying playing through the career mode and the multiplayer is great fun both online and locally.
4) WipEout Omega Collection – PS4
The first of two remasters on the list, WipEout Omega Collection is slightly bittersweet. After the closing of Studio Liverpool by Sony, a proper new WipEout seems unlikely at best. However, if this is to be the last game for the franchise, it’s a truly fitting finale. Containing all the content from the PS3 and Vita games (the Vita edition itself was something of a remastering of content from the PSP games), but running at a crisp 1080p resolution and 60 frames per second. An absolutely essential PS4 release. This could be a system seller all on its own, and apparently we’re getting a free update in first quarter 2018 to make the whole thing playable in PSVR.
3) Injustice 2 – PS4
If Street Fighter V was a demonstration of how not to make a fighting game interesting to the casual single player, Injustice 2 is a shining example of how it can be done. The first Injustice game was a complete surprise, a great fighting game with the DC licence being previously unheard of. It’s interesting that the Marvel licence had a run of great fighting games, that seems to have ended with the mediocre Marvel vs Capcom Infinite. Perhaps the universe only has room for one of them to be good at a time.
Injustice 2 built on the success of the first game, and despite my initial doubts about the gear system, it turned out to be a stroke of genius. I’m presently addicted to farming xp for all the characters, and chasing the loot in a Diablo-esque manner. While lootboxes are the bane of so many modern games, Injustice 2 throws so many of them at you via its Multiverse events, I’ve never felt pressured to spend any real money on micro-transactions and am regularly opening 50+ boxes of shiny new tat for my heroes.
2) Nex Machina – PS4
Since releasing Nex Machina (and Matterfall, which I bought but haven’t really got round to playing yet) the developers, Housemarque, have announced that they’re leaving the genre behind, and won’t be making any more of these Arcade style experiences. I am fascinated to see what they do next, as the quality of their output cannot be denied. I’ll certainly miss their arcade games though. Nex Machina stands alongside Resogun as one of the best games on the PS4, and deserved to sell much better than it did.
1) WonderBoy: The Dragon’s Trap – PS4
It’s possible I’ll be alone in placing a remake as my Game of the Year, but this was a real highlight of 2017 for me. The new benchmark for remakes, this smashed all my expectations. WonderBoy 3 was one of my favourite games back on the Master System, and this update was clearly produced by people who loved it at least as much as I did. I adore the new art, and it sounds great too. The fact that you can also play with any combination of old or new graphics, sound & music is also delightful. (I played much of it with modern graphics and music, and those classic sound fx).
The Dragon’s Trap gameplay holds up as well today as it did back then, and this is hands down the best game of 2017 for me. A triumph.