The 25 Best Videogames of 2017 (So Far)

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The 25 Best Videogames of 2017 (So Far)

It’s been three months since we last updated our list of the best games of the year so far. That might not sound like a lot of time, but a good chunk of our favorites of the year hit our hard drives during those twelve weeks. As we’ve written before, there really aren’t good or bad years for games—some years might see more good games than others, but you can pretty much always find great new stuff every year, no matter what hardware you own. 2017’s no exception—from the PC, to the Xbox One and PlayStation, to the Switch and 3DS, there’s something on this list for everybody.

25. Nioh
Platforms: PlayStation 4, PC

[Nioh’s] combat is almost perfect, and I only hesitate to call it perfect because I don’t feel like I’ve mastered it. The Ki Pulse adds a dynamic feel to every battle, and even the simplicity of being able to see an enemy’s stamina bar as well as their health just makes it feel like every battle is a special, one on one encounter. Nioh’s combat feels fair; it feels balanced, and even tough battles feel surmountable.—Adam Cook

24. Tumbleseed
Platforms: Switch, PlayStation 4, PC, Mac

Tumbleseed is all about patience. Predicting the trajectory of the seed and adjusting the angle of the bar requires quick thinking, and steady fingers. The levels change every time the player restarts, and thus the layout cannot be memorized. They can only anticipate what types of enemies and obstacles may lay ahead based on the environment they’re playing in. The mountain has four separate ecosystems as the seed travels upward, and they offer a change of atmospheric pace as the game progresses. At a distance, the limited number of areas would suggest the game is short, but with the repetition the game’s difficulty demands, they’re actually quite long.—Holly Green

23. Torment: Tides of Numenera
Platforms: PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Mac, Linux

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It is both a good thing and a bad thing that Torment: Tides of Numenera is novel-like in its ambitions and scope. It’s good in that I can say that the grand narrative payoff for the game is exquisite. It’s bad in that I cannot even give you one single plot point, because if I did I think it would ruin it. I would strongly suggest that you don’t read anything about the game’s story going in. Instead, just pay attention to what everyone tells you, and eventually you get to see these micro and macro story threads build up into a beautiful latticework of narrative. It really is wonderful.—Cameron Kunzelman

22. Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap
Platforms: PC, Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Mac, Linux

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In a world of HD rehashing and the seemingly obligatory impulse to re-render old games with the latest in photorealistic graphics tech, it warms my heart to witness the stylistic human touch of Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap. It’s a splendid homage, a playable history exercise, and an unexpected touchpoint for the expressive potential of hand-drawn animation in 2017.—Dan Solberg

21. Uncharted: The Lost Legacy
Platform: PlayStation 4 

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The Lost Legacy isn’t the best Uncharted since Uncharted 2 (and the second best overall) just because it replaces the increasingly annoying Nathan Drake with two strong women of color who don’t maintain a constant stream of sitcom-level chatter. That certainly doesn’t hurt, though. The game takes its subtitle seriously. Yeah, it’s another would-be action film full of bullets and improbable parkour, but it has greater depth because it explores the lives of its co-leads, Chloe Frazer and Nadine Ross, and shows how they’re both grappling with the legacies of their fathers and the decisions of their youth. By shifting the focus to these two characters the Uncharted series has struck a narrative vein richer than anything it’s explored in the past.—Garrett Martin

20. Arms
Platform: Switch

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Arms is more than a game about fighting; it is a reminder of genre’s stagnation. Just like a bicep will atrophy in absence of exercise, so too will a category of game (“one-on-one-fighting game”, for example) become stunted by too many me-too attempts. There is both unlimited room and potential for videogames and yet the market is oversaturated with games that rely on stale conventions. Playing Arms feels both intuitive and strange. Stand in front of your TV with a Joy-con in each hand and you feel more connected to your character than in a typical 2D Street Fight. While Arms presents itself as a fighting game, in a way, it has become a sneaky demonstration of the limitations of the genre’s defining features.—Jon Irwin

19. Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle
Platform: Switch

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What originally felt like an ungainly mash-up between two properties that share almost no common ground unexpectedly turned into one of the biggest gaming surprises of the year. The Mario imagery and Rabbid humor is almost beside the point: this game works so well because it’s a smartly built and balanced tactical RPG that innovates on genre convention through its liberal approach to movement. If you like Final Fantasy Tactics and XCOM but wish you could move farther and faster across their grids, with multiple different ways to accomplish that, you should check out Mario + Rabbids. It’s a colorful strategy game that looks and feels like nothing else out there.—Garrett Martin

18. Splatoon 2
Platform: Switch

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Some have dinged this one a bit (including our own review) for sticking too closely to the formula established by the Wii U original. It’s true that, at first, it can feel more like a remake than a sequel. In time though its unique attributes become more apparent, from the variety of weapons, to the new maps, to the various multiplayer modes that supplement the standard Turf War. Splatoon 2 might not break a lot of ground but it’s one of the most purely fun games to come out for any system this year.—Garrett Martin

17. Resident Evil 7
Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

I enjoy a good horror game, and I’ve played through lots of horror titles in a variety of different genres. Nothing has bothered me as much as Resident Evil 7. There is something in the game’s specific combination of ambient sounds, level design, lack of soundtrack, and camera acceleration speed that ended up ticking all of the boxes for making me feel profoundly and disturbingly anxious while playing the game …Resident Evil 7 is so anxiety-inducing, I had to get someone to come play it with me. And I’m glad I did, because the game is probably best experienced in pairs. Its story is told in fits and starts, providing several opportunities to theorize about what is actually going on. Being a first-person horror game, there’s a lot of time spent avoiding enemies and slowly creeping down hallways, and we spent a lot of that time between story beats hollering about what the game’s story was even about at that point in time.—Cameron Kunzelman

16. Fire Pro Wrestling World
Platform: PC

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The cult classic Japanese wrestling series returned in 2017, and although it’s still in early access, it’s so fundamentally strong and feature-rich that we have no reservations with putting it on this list. Its stamina and lock-up systems capture the rhythms of real-life pro wrestling, and its creation tools and Steam Workshop have opened up an almost limitless universe of wrestling potential. If you have any love for the one true art and its videogame adaptations, this could be your favorite game of the year.—Garrett Martin

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