The first half of 2017 was stacked. Honestly, its difficult to remember a year that’s seen a better lineup of games released in its first six months – this may be as good as its ever been. Usually, you wait until the end of the year to pick your favorite video games, but the first half of 2017 deserves a list all its own.
Between the launch of the Nintendo Switch and games like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, surprise blockbusters like Horizon Zero Dawn, and comeback kid Resident Evil 7, early 2017 has been a perfect storm of big name hits. There’s also been a good handful of under-the-radar indie gems like The Sexy Brutale and Little Nightmares you may have overlooked.
As we trudge through July’s somewhat barren release list, here are the top 10 games from the first half of 2017 that you absolutely need to catch up on…
Note: I only included completely original games on this list, so great packages like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy aren’t included.
Snipperclips isn’t the kind of game that grabs a lot of headlines, but it’s one of the best showcases for the Nintendo Switch hardware to date. Sure, the game could be done on other consoles, but it doesn’t feel like it would be at home anywhere but on the Switch. A simple co-op puzzler, in which you and your pals play as cute little paper people who can snip each other into an infinite array of shapes, Snipperclips serves up a good selection of endlessly inventive, pleasingly open-ended puzzles. Don’t be surprised if this is the game your friends and family end up playing most when you show them your new Switch.
Check out WWG’s Snipperclips review here.
9) Thimbleweed Park
Successfully Kickstarted in 2014, Thimbleweed Park is the brainchild of Ron Gilbert and Gary Winick, who co-created Maniac Mansion and Monkey Island. The game features glorious VGA graphics, intentionally antiquated gameplay that requires you to pick all your actions from a list of verbs, and a delightfully demented storyline. Thimbleweed Park expertly straddles the line between retro and modern, never becoming too frustrating, despite its old-school aesthetic. This is the uncommon crowdfunded nostalgia project that fully lives up to its potential.
8) The Sexy Brutale
The Sexy Brutale is a relatively rare triple threat, delivering memorable characters, sharp writing, and finely-tuned gameplay in a single package. The Sexy Brutale is a time-travelling murder mystery, which takes place in a creepy hotel and casino staffed entirely by murderers, and it’s up to you to keep the guest list alive. The game moves in real time, with events unfolding even if you’re not there to witness them, so you have to stay on your toes. The Sexy Brutale is a fantastic same-couch co-op game, and the perfect “I just need to chill out after work” experience.
7) NieR: Automata
We’re definitely not going to get anything quite like NieR: Automata for the rest of 2017…or perhaps for years to come. Yes, compared to other games on this list, NieR: Automata is a bit rough around the edges, but it’s also refreshingly different and strangely engaging. The game’s story of androids struggling to define their humanity is probably the year’s most ambitious (the game has 26 endings) and its action gameplay, designed by the masters at Platinum Games, is deeply satisfying. NieR: Automata has a learning curve, but it’s worth figuring out.
Check out WWG’s NieR: Automata review here.
6) Little Nightmares
2017 is going shaping up to be a very strong year for survival horror, and, surprisingly, this cartoony, relatively blood-free game will go down as one of the year’s best. Little Nightmares is a brief, yet potent jolt to the system that will stick with you long after your experience. Top-notch, truly disturbing art direction, solid controls, and varied, balanced level design make Little Nightmares once of the best dark-tinged indie puzzle platformers I’ve played in some time. The game is a bit short at three to four hours, but If you’re a true horror fan, 20 bucks for a creepy afternoon of this quality is a fair price to pay.
Check out WWG’s Little Nightmares review here.
5) Horizon Zero Dawn
From a technical standpoint, Horizon Zero Dawn is 2017’s Game of the Year so far, and its unlikely anything will surpass it. Every frame of Horizon is achingly beautiful (as proven by the game’s excellent photo mode), but visuals aren’t all it has to offer. Horizon Zero Dawn also features a wonderful lead character in Aloy, a solidly engaging story, and some of the deepest, most satisfying combat ever seen in an open-world game. If a new Zelda hadn’t come out this year, Horizon Zero Dawn would rank even higher, but make no mistake, this is definitely a new crown jewel for Sony.
Check out WWG’s Horizon Zero Dawn review here.
4) Injustice 2
I bet your not terribly surprised to see Injustice 2 on this WWG top 10 list. Yeah, we’re a little Injustice obsessed around here, but the game truly earns its spot as one of the best of the year. A huge, surprisingly well-balanced roster, awesome visuals and presentation, a fantastic meaty story mode, and much more – NetherRealm truly went above and beyond with Injustice 2, and have proven themselves the premier fighting game developer. And Injustice 2 is only getting better, with the addition of fantastic new DLC characters like Red Hood and Sub-Zero. Even if you’re not a DC Comics or fighting game fanatic, Injustice 2 deserves a look.
Check out WWG’s Injustice 2 review here.
3) Persona 5
Persona 5 is the most polished game released so far this year, which makes sense, as the game was in development for the better part of a decade. Persona 5 is gorgeous, slick as hell, and does an amazing job of making its rather arcane systems approachable. The game’s twisted, yet socially-relevant story is also one of the series’ best, which is saying something. Does Persona 5 deserve to be one of the highest-rated JRPGs of all time? In terms of refinement and style, it’s hard to argue against it.
2) Resident Evil 7
With Resident Evil 7, Capcom promised a return to true horror after too many years of hit-or-miss blockbuster action, and they delivered, big time. The first few hours of Resident Evil 7 are amongst the most intense you’ll ever experience, and proved Capcom could stand toe-to-toe with modern survival horror games like Outlast. But they didn’t stop there – as the game continues, Capcom expertly weaves in elements from across the Resident Evil series, including the early classics and more recent action games. Resident Evil 7 isn’t just another reinvention of the series, it’s a redemption, which fans of all types of RE games will love.
Check out WWG’s Resident Evil 7 review here.
1) The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Prior to the release of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild some fans worried – could Nintendo make an open world game that was up to modern standards? Thankfully, the new Zelda not only measured up to best games the open-world genre has to offer, it surpassed them, breaking new ground. Breath of the Wild’s world truly feels alive, with every inch packed with loving detail. Exploring Hyrule isn’t just a case of chasing random map markers, it feels like a real adventure, where you’re free to tackle challenges your way. And hey, don’t worry, all the classic Zelda puzzle solving and intricate level design is still there, too. Saying the latest Zelda game is great isn’t exactly an original sentiment, but Breath of the Wild earns its praise, big time.
Check out WWG’s The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild review here.
There you have it, the best (so far) of what’s shaping up to be a very good year. Let’s hope the back end of 2017 measures up to the first half!