While 2017 has been a rough year for many people, gaming has been thriving. As we approach the halfway point of the year, gamers have been treated to many excellent titles. We here at KeenGamer know we have played a lot of good games this year, so we decided to bring up a poll voting for our favorite games that have released thus far and give you our top 5.
Keep in mind that this is purely a compilation of our opinions. You may absolutely hate every game on this list, or feel that the placement is not right. We would love to see your own personal top 5 list down below in the comments. With all that said, let's get on with the list.
#5 NieR: Automata
I haven't gotten the chance to play NieR: Automata myself, but luckily fellow KeenGamer writer Sean Rehbein has a lot to say about his love for this title:
"NieR: Automata is an impossibility made possible. It's a sequel to a game that, by every right, should not have gotten a sequel. It's the product of the combined forces of Yoko Taro, known for his brilliant stories but lackluster gameplay, and Platinum, known for their brilliant gameplay but lackluster stories. Thankfully, they knew to focus on their strengths, and created a game that's near perfect in every aspect. Platinum's mile-a-minute combat carries the players through Yoko Taro's subversive and captivating story, while one of the best soundtracks in modern gaming plays alongside you.
The gameplay is spectacular, feeling fluid and frantic, but never out of control. Though not as complex as other Platinum character-action games, like Bayonetta, it feels just as visceral and exciting. For some, the lack of a complex combo system may cause the combat to become repetitive, though the game tries to mix it up just as you're getting bored. However, the story alone should propel nearly any player forward. It's difficult to put into words fully why NieR: Automata's story is flawless, because saying too much removes some of the impact. It's hard to even share the stellar music with potential players, because the track names can be spoilers. This is a game that desperately needs to be experienced hands-on, not through a third party.
Even with its near perfection, NieR: Automata is not for everyone, but everyone should give it a try; and by try, I mean play through at least three major endings. The conditions of video game endings, and their multiplicity, has made it so hearing that NieR: Automata has 26 of them, and that getting only one does a huge disservice to the player, sounds bizarre. Make no mistake, NieR: Automata is bizarre, but irreverent. I rarely get emotional with games, but I am honestly proud to admit that the credit sequence for ending E, and for what it meant, made me shed a few tears. NieR: Automata is a testament to the beauties and horrors of the human condition, even within non-humans."
You can check out our full thoughts on NieR: Automata here in our review.
#4 Resident evil 7: biohazard
Now, this is a game that I've played multiple times through: once on normal difficulty, once in VR, and another on Mad House difficulty. But even though I've played Resident Evil 7: biohazard three times, it never ever got old to me. So many horror games have already come out this year, but for us, none of them touch the excellence that this return to form title does.
Even with the shift in perspective, bringing the series into a first-person camera, Resident Evil 7: biohazard feels more in line with the classic titles in the series. The story is wonderfully B-Horror movie feeling without compromising on quality acting. The voice work here is simply some of the best in any horror game to date, with new iconic villains in the Baker Family. The main character, Ethan, may not have the same on-screen presence as someone like Chris or Leon, but the crap that this guy goes through to save his wife makes him grow on you throughout the journey.
The game feels both freshly new and a return to form in its game mechanics. Yes, there is no third person perspective, but Resident Evil 7 brings back the classic item management, limited ammo, and healing items, and puzzle madness that made the original game such a classic. But most importantly, the game nails the one thing we were all hoping it would: it is terrifying; especially when taking advantage of PSVR, which is easily the best way to play this title as everything about the game is only enhanced. Without a doubt, this is not only our favorite horror game so far, but one of our favorite games to release in the first half of 2017.
Read our full thoughts on Resident Evil 7: biohazard in our review here.
#3 Persona 5
I was a Persona virgin coming into this game, but boy was I surprised by how much I enjoyed it. The only JRPG to make our list, Persona 5 is without a doubt an incredible experience. The game is extremely long (I completed my first playthrough at around 85 hours) and is filled to the brim with content. The battle system has been refined and works beautifully. The new way to capture Personas is ingenious and, in my opinion, works way better than the old card system. Aside from the main story quests, there is also a huge side dungeon to work through as well as the classic Persona confidant (you may remember them as "social links") quests, along with a ton of side activities to do to help improve your stats.
The game is a marvel on a technical level as well. I honestly would have believed that the game was made specifically for the PS4, but no, it was in fact meant for the PS3 originally. While it's technically a port, it fits right at home in this current gen. The music is oddly catchy as well. While I originally laughed at the battle music, now I have it on my phone and listen to it in the car, singing like an idiot.
But the true star here is the story and characters. For the most part, the story is extremely engaging and high stakes. Each dungeon and bad guy you bring down feels incredibly satisfying. Besides one teammate in particular, every member of your team has a lot of depth put into them, making you genuinely care for them and form bonds. Even the English voice acting for these characters are very well done. You can tell from the moment you boot up the game how much work, effort, and love went into this game, and you'll come out loving it too.
You can read Jordan Middler's review of Persona 5 here.
#2 Horizon: Zero Dawn
Again, I have yet to give this title a chance. Thankfully, my fellow writer Austin Fern was kind enough to share his own impressions of Horizon: Zero Dawn:
"Horizon Zero Dawn
is a game that has evolved the open world genre. While at first glance it is in the same Ubisoft template that Assassin’s Creed and Far Cry are nestled in, Guerrilla Games has managed to evolve the template to create something better. A great example of this is the Tallnecks. These giant robot dinosaurs serve as the infamous radio towers in Horizon Zero Dawn. Instead of just scattering them everywhere and forcing players to find them to unlock more of the map, Guerrilla Games placed only a few of them and had them actually be an enjoyable experience. They were perfectly placed into the environment to serve as mini puzzles or challenges rather than just force the player to do the same thing over and over again.
Horizon Zero Dawn also benefited from a fantastic story that keeps you guessing all the way through. Aloy is on a hunt to find out just who she really is and this slowly opens up to her having to save the world. This arch is done perfectly so it allows us to know the character and her motives before we are thrusted into world saving business. The mystery of Aloy’s origin never stops being the main focus of the game, and I enjoyed every little step of the journey as her story carefully unfolded before me. It is certainly one of the best open-world stories to ever be told in gaming.
Horizon Zero Dawn
may be made up of familiar concepts, but the way they are all executed so perfectly makes everything feel new. The unique story and setting make for a fun open-world adventure that is worth a try. Horizon Zero Dawn
is the new standard for open-world story telling and the fact that hunting robot-dinosaurs is as fun as it is just the tip on the arrow."
Read Alex Wetherington's review of Horizon: Zero Dawn here.
#1 The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the wild
This game easily won our poll. The Legend Of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild is our favorite game to release so far in 2017. Do I really have to explain why this game is amazing? Nintendo took the Zelda formula and meshed it together with an open world style to create one of the best games that Nintendo has ever made. Unlike a lot of open world games, there is always something to do and explore in Breath Of The Wild. Not to mention that the game has a very strong story with likable characters (although sometimes their English voice acting is a little shaky at times).
The game's only true shortcoming, for some, would be the graphics. Yes, there are games that are prettier than Breath Of The Wild, but the art style never stops charming you as you play through the game. While they aren't the highest quality graphics, things like lighting and character animations are fantastic. Fully voiced cutscenes, a first for the series, are a joy to watch over and over again.
But where this game truly shines is in its gameplay. After a short tutorial section, the entire world is open for players to explore and experience at their leisure. Sure, you can go and start the main story right away, but with such a massive world filled with enemies, quests, collectibles, and more, why would you want to rush things? That coupled with the fun and well-designed abilities that Link has access to, along with the excellent atmosphere, music, and visuals make Breath Of The Wild an amazing experience that all gamers should experience.
If you want to see me gush more about this incredible game, check out the review for Breath Of The Wild here.
This list is more or less what is expected, though Horizon is probably higher than it should be. Its more flash than substance, that game, both in its story and gameplay. But I give it props for its daring concept. Definitely a solid first entry of a series.
I too was pretty surprised to see Horizon being so high up. I haven’t played the game myself, but from what I’ve seen and heard about the game it’s definitely good, but not really #2 material.