It’s about this time of year, video game writers put pen to paper (or digital ink to digital paper) and come up with their “Best of the Year” awards.
Being a small fish in a big games writing sea, I don’t get the publisher support or heaps of games to review but I like to think I’m doing a good job (you likely agree, seeing as you visit this blog) so I don’t have dozens and dozens of games to pick from. I tend to just round-up the games that I’ve enjoyed the most this year, from the publisers/developers that have supported me, then decide which ones gave me the most fun.
Before I present my list, I want to thank Nintendo Australia, PlayStation NZ, Xbox NZ, Activision, Bethesda, FiveEight Distribution, PeadPr, and any other company in Australia and New Zealand who has supported me with product/hardware to write about on the blog. I really, really, appreciate it.
So, without further ado, here is The GameJunkieNZ Games That I Liked A Lot awards.
PlayStation exclusive game that I liked the most (two winners): Horizon Zero Dawn/Uncharted The Lost Legacy
Guerilla Games and Naughty Dog absolutely nailed it this year with their open-world adventures on the PlayStation 4. HZD was a hit with me because of the strong lead character Aloy (and the new DLC was particularly satisfying), while The Lost Legacy proved that you don’t need Nathan Drake to make a great Uncharted game.
Best independent game I played this year (two winners): Hellblade & Thimbleweed Park
With Hellblade, developer Ninja Theory – the studio behind the enjoyable but slightly flawed Enslaved: Odyssey to the West – took a risk self-publishing this game – and it was a risk that paid off. It’s a harrowing tale that explores psychosis and the main character Senua’s internal struggles.
Thimbleweed Park, on the other hand, is a classic point-and-click adventure game from famed game developers Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick, and a game that I backed on Kickstarter and own on two platforms: PC and the Nintendo Switch. It is a love story to games of old with low-res pixel graphics and puzzles that make you think.
Open world game that I liked more than I expected: Assassin’s Creed Origins
Assassin’s Creed Origins was the first AC game I’d played since the enjoyable Black Flag and it’s a game that didn’t adhere to Ubisoft’s yearly release cycle: A decision that has paid off for the publisher. It doesn’t stray that much from the tried-and-true formula but Origin’s is a game that really grew on me the more I played it, much of that thanks to likeable lead character Bayek and the setting of ancient Egypt. Plus you could climb the pyramids of Giza: What’s not to like about that?
First Mario game I’ve ever finished: Super Mario Odyssey
Sure, I’ve played other Mario games in the past but Super Mario Odyssey was the only one that captured me hook, line and sinker and made we want to play until I defeated Bowser and collected as many power moons as I could. Super Mario Odyssey is absolutely stunning on the Switch, especially in portable mode, and it an addictive and captivating game that proves what a great piece of hardware the Switch is.
Best Early Access game I’ve played this year: Astroneer
I took a punt with Astroneer a year ago and am glad I did. Set on procedurally generated planets, you land an astronaut on a barren planet then mine for resources to help build a variety of vehicles, contraptions and machines. The game has just entered the Alpha stage and the developers are promising new content every month. It’s a game that’s going from strength to strength.
Best gaming hardware: Nintendo Switch
Woefully underpowered against the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, the Nintendo Switch is the console that took the gaming world by the scruff of the neck and gave it a good shakeup. It helps that the Switch is supported by an amazing library of games, too (Zelda, Splatoon, Deathsquared, Doom, Poly Bridge, just to name a few). Big name publishers have also supported the console, which is good to see, and Nintendo selling 10 millions consoles in nine months is proof that it is a truly remarkable games machine.
The most enjoyable You Tube gaming documentaries I watched this year: Danny O’Dwyer’s No Clip The Witcher/Horizon Zero Dawn/Doom series
I hadn’t really heard of Irishman Danny O’Dwyer when he started his Noclip crowd-funded video game documentaries on YouTube. A year on, and I can’t get enough of him and his indepth documentaries that tell the tales behind the hit video games. His Doom serious was superb but his The Witcher 3 six-part series was outstanding, giving an insight into aspects of game development that most other websites either gloss over or forget about completely. O’Dwyer is a bright light in a crowded game journalist sea.
This is likely the second to last post for 2017 before I head off for a two-week break (I can’t wait) a few days after January 1. Thank you for visiting, I’ve really appreciated it. Have a safe and Happy Christmas, dear readers!