What a crazy year it’s been.
We have an annual tradition at Push Square where each of the staff writers reveal their top 5 games of the last 12 months as the year winds down. Some say that 2017 has been one of the best years in video games; after all, on PlayStation 4 we got Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, For Honor, Nier Automata, Tales of Berseria, and Horizon Zero Dawn, to name just a few, within just the first three months. That none of these have made my top 5 speaks volumes as to the quality of games released on PS4 in 2017.
What follows, then, are my top 5 favourite games that released on Sony hardware in the year of 2017. So, without further ado…
5. Yakuza 0
I’d never played a Yakuza game before and I feel like a fool. It offers everything I love in video games: story, character, compelling and varying gameplay, and an abundance of activities. Following the story of two protagonists, it expertly shifts between the two, weaving a tale full of brutality, whimsy, and humour. Outside of its central narrative, it also has some of the most imaginative side stories in a game since The Witcher 3. It manages to do all of this while keeping up appearances, too, because this game is just so damn cool.
4. Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
An emotional tour-de-force that is visually and audibly arresting, Hellblade is a unique experience that deals with the complicated topic of mental health – by no means a simple task. Out of the myriad of things it does well is its superb sound design; the voices in Senua’s head are also in yours, making you question your actions. Hellblade’s ability of making you experience Senua’s plight through gameplay is simply astounding. By no means an experience you will easily forget, Hellblade is one of the finest examples of the kind of experiences uniquely possible in video games.
3. Night in the Woods
Night in the Woods is for anyone who has left a place they felt centrally a part of only to return and realise how much things have changed and moved on without them. Outside of its beautiful visual aesthetic, it’s also an example of some of the best writing I’ve encountered in a video game this year. The characters, while ostensibly presented as animals, are more lifelike than in most other titles, with personalities that stand apart and develop. It also has a surprising amount of gameplay variety, but above all it’s a game full of heart that gets increasingly absorbing the more you play. A real gem of 2017.
A truly punishing experience that can exhilarate and frustrate in equal measure, Nioh is as hard as nails but with an immense payoff. I often felt like a masochist for playing it, but I’m so glad that I did. A nimbler example of the Soulsbourne formula, Nioh mixes things up just enough to stand on its own, allowing for changing stances required to overcome different situations. Action games live or die by how they play, and when you die in Nioh, you know you were at fault, not the game – and there’s no bigger complement to give to a title in this genre.
1. Persona 5
It’s been a year when those who abused their positions have been exposed, so the Phantom Thieves did their job well. By a considerable margin, Persona 5 my favourite game of the year – no, my favourite of the generation so far. The sheer variety of play here is astonishing, and despite its behemoth length, it never gets dull. The plot twists and turns, unshackling what you think to be right or wrong, or what the outcome will be, and it does this while balancing and maintaining a game that is both dark and light, serious and fun. I can’t even begin to do justice to how captivating this game is – just go and play it for yourself!