Edwin Evans-Thirlwell’s favourite games of 2017

We asked a handful of our contributors to put together a list of their three favourite games from 2017. Their picks are running across the week while the rest of RPS slumbers.

I’ve been thinking about time a lot recently – how we create and manipulate histories and the present in video games and in general – so you’ll forgive me if my end-of-year choices are a bit Back to the Futurey.


Top of my list is Sloclap’s wiry 3D brawler Absolver, with its ravaged streets and palaces, devilish tapdance of a soundtrack and excellent combat deck system. One thing I particularly like about the latter is that creating combos is essentially an act of bruising prophecy. Ideally, you’ll anticipate exactly which tactics an opponent is likely to try at any point in your combo, and build in some kind of counter: if you’ve just launched a ponderous roundhouse kick, for instance, it’s sensible to stir in a few jabs to shut down any interruptions. This chimes intriguingly with how time in Absolver’s world is at an apparent standstill, only ever shifting by eerily precise increments as you pass between regions. It’s like you’re trying to construct your own sense of temporal flow within a sumptuous purgatory, doled out in elbow hooks and heel drops rather than seconds.

The Sexy Brutale

My number two pick The Sexy Brutale is also about seeing the future, any future. You awaken to find yourself trapped in a giant masquerade ball turned grisly murder mystery. At the end of each day, time resets and the slain are restored to life, to be hacked down, eaten, incinerated and lacerated anew. You alone retain a memory of the sequence of events, and must save each character by following them around and thwarting whatever dastardly machinations are in play, the main catch being that you can’t be in the same room as them. This reminds me of Walter Benjamin’s concept of the historical “constellation”, a jolting combination of historical data that disrupts any given crushing, “official” account of the past. That’s a very loose gloss of Benjamin and this is, no doubt, a deeply flawed comparison, but you could argue that in solving the game’s puzzles you are “constellating” its props, combining materials in odd ways to free people from a destructive chronology.

Sonic Mania

Last but not least there’s Sonic Mania and heavens above, had you told me back in 2007 that I’d one day mention Sonic the Hedgehog and Walter Benjamin in the same article I’d have probably gone into dentistry. Mania is great because rather than being some staid act of remembrance, it both constructs and deconstructs the past before your eyes, restoring the hedgehog’s 16-bit heyday in order to play around with and transgress upon it. This comes across most strongly in the dialogue between each classic Zone’s act, the first Act typically being a straight revival of vintage Sonic devices which the second then bursts open and stuffs full of new or cheekily borrowed concepts – a rhythm that harkens back most of all to Sonic CD, the franchise’s Majora’s Mask, in which each Zone can be played in several different timeframes. It’s a game that is always threatening to grow beyond the games it’s in love with.


  1. Nelyeth says:

    I believe I know some of those words, yes.

    By the way, since we’re talking about RPS contributors, is there a way to filter the articles here by writer? And before you ask, no, I’m not planning on binge-reading Pip’s articles . At least I wasn’t before I wrote this.

  2. Freud says:

    Sexy Brutale is a great game. It’s a bit on the easy side once you get the hang on how the central gameplay loop (pun intended) works. But it’s interesting, gorgeous graphics and soundtrack, wickedly funny and done with so much love I would recommend it to anyone with an interest in adventure games.

    • MonkeyJug says:

      Had it on, then removed it from my wishlist. Perhaps it’s time to reinstate it…

      • poliovaccine says:

        It’s not even what’s usually my type of game, but I really dig it actually. It just comes together really nicely, between aesthetic and concepts and mechanics. It’s a little like how Darkwood isn’t really an RPG, it’s not strictly an adventure game, it’s not exclusively survival or even exclusively survival-horror, it’s just sort of a really good game. I might say similar things about STALKER or Rain World. The Sexy Brutale is one of those games with true *gestalt,* if you’re asking me anyway.

        • ashleys_ears says:

          Also, it’s aesthetically fabulous. I love how it looks almost more than how it plays. And I love how it plays a lot.

  3. McGuit says:

    Great to see Sonic Mania getting some love from someone this year. Was a fantastic game and a steal at 20 quid.

  4. buzzmong says:

    @Author (or RPS Ed): seriously, who are you and why should we care for your favourites?

    All I can gather is that you’re from Eurogamer. No introduction to RPS or anything, just the lone Wolf:NC article. There’s been a bunch of new people with no introduction recently who are in a similar boat.

    I can only surmise the overlords at Gamer Network have decided it’s a good idea to spring your verbiage on RPS without thinking an introduction is in order first.

    • Premium User Badge

      Waltorious says:

      As it says at the top of the article, Edwin is an RPS contributor, who has written several articles for the site on an irregular basis. The Wolfenstein article is only the most recent of these.

      RPS has not spent time introducing any of these occasional contributors, presumably because their writing appears infrequently.

      Unfortunately, it’s not easy to look up the writings of a specific contributor, as is discussed above in this comments thread.

    • Sin Vega says:

      Oh for the love of…

      Freelancers exist and have been a common and normal part of publishing and journalism for hundreds of years (it’s how most, if not all regular staffers get hired to begin with). It’s no more necessary to write an introductory post for all of us than it is to book an appointment with everyone who ever pulled you a pint.

  5. cpt_freakout says:

    Don’t mind the people giving you flak over this and the Wolf article. I think what you bring to RPS is great and I’m sure I’m not the only one.

    Anyway cool selection – I’d love to read your Sonic Mania review.