Alyse Stanley’s favourite games of 2017

cuphead

This year it has felt like there’s been a string of quality games releases. Games that I’m proud to support, whether it be for their tackling of serious subject matter or excellent writing or unique concepts that push the industry forward. Games that are already redefining preconceived standards of play.

In short: next year has a tough act to follow.

10loathing

West of Loathing

My favorite kind of joke is one that’s committed, and West of Loathing feels like a single, glorious punchline stretched into an open-world RPG filled with bureaucratic ghosts, demonic cows, and clowns that are definitely hiding something. That same dedication extends to the game’s tight turn-based mechanics and clever puzzles, making what could have been just a funny game into a truly fun one. I can’t remember the last time I so quickly devoured an open-world game.

night-in-the-woods

Night in the Woods

Possum Springs exists in limbo, stuck between its vibrant past and a future where its place is uncertain. Its young residents share that uncertainty as they struggle to find their place in the world, something any person who’s ever been a 20-something can understand. Which is why I think Night in the Woods struck a chord with so many people. We’ve all been Mae, Gregg, Angus, or Bea at some point, or we have loved ones who have. Its poignant writing and themes have stayed with me long after the credits.

Cupheader

Cuphead

Cuphead has been one of the biggest sources of joy and frustration to me in gaming this year. The thing is beautiful, but I already knew that – I’ve been salivating over its hand-drawn, Fleischer brothers-inspired art style since it first unveiling three years ago. But nothing in the game will stop trying to kill me long enough for me to appreciate all that hard work! But I wouldn’t change any of it; that feverish, jazz-laced frenzy only added to the addictive feeling of triumph I’d get when I’d finally emerge victorious.

15 Comments

  1. ashleys_ears says:

    I appreciate all the love West of Loathing gets around here. It feels like it really slipped under a lot of peoples’ radar.

    • Crafter says:

      Really ? it feels like it was talked about a lot for a month or so.

      • malkav11 says:

        In certain very specific corners of the internet. I don’t think most of the world at large has any idea it exists.

        • espivi says:

          West of Loathing has no localization, and seen from afar, most of the jokes and references are related to american culture, which I do not know well. Thus I assumed it was not for me, but maybe I’m wrong ?

          • malkav11 says:

            There is plenty of non-referential humor in it, and, at least based on their browser game Kingdom of Loathing, probably a whole bunch of references hardly anyone will get. It’s just stuffed to the gills with silliness.

    • Carra says:

      I enjoyed West of Loathing. So few games that are humor focused and this one nails it.

  2. Meat Circus says:

    SteamSpy shows it sold about 120,000 copies on Steam.

    I think it did plenty well enough.

    Cuphead, on the otherhand, did way better than it should have done. It just goes to show how far a unique art style lets you paper over serious and persistent cracks in the game’s underlying mechanics.

    • pentraksil says:

      Because there is no way people bought it just because they liked the idea and the “boss fight” type of gameplay, it sold well just because the it is pretty? Since you mentioned serious flaws, I wonder what they are?

      • LexW1 says:

        I was going to disagree but it turns out Furi also sold 3m copies (Cuphead has sold 2m, albeit over a much shorter period), which does suggest that the combination of being a boss-battle game and getting a lot of coverage in the gaming press (which both Furi and Cuphead did) may be more important than Cuphead’s visual style (except in that that was WHY it got so much coverage).

        I suspect this is because the “Boss Battle” genre is a bit underserved, and future ones may not do as well, but it’s interesting!

    • hfm says:

      The simple fact that people raved about the challenging gameplay as well kind of refutes this in a general sense. Obviously it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea and everyone is entitled to their own opinion.
      I mean it has a 96% with over 25K steam reviews. There’s no way it does that on looks alone, there needs to be an entire package to get to that level. Gameplay, Art, audio..

      • LexW1 says:

        To be fair there are some games with pretty questionable gameplay with 96% on Steam on a much larger number of reviews. The easiest example is Bioshock: Infinite, which, at best, has “okay” gameplay – but has astonishing art design. That would support ideas that the art design was more important than gameplay. However, I suspect that as I mentioned above, the lack of other “Boss Battle” games, plus huge coverage in the gaming (and even some mainstream) press (albeit largely because of the art design) probably played a major part.

        • pentraksil says:

          The main praise for Bioshock is mostly because of the story. Art Design is great, but I think a lot of people liked the story the most.

          • Nietzscher says:

            It’s not like Senua’s Sacrifice has terrific gameplay. It has, however, awesome story, characters and atmosphere. Its marketing is also geared towards those features and people buying the game are looking for those elements.

  3. Nietzscher says:

    The more I read about West of Loathing the more it seems I have to check it out myself.

    For now, my favs of 2017 are A Hat in Time, Hollow Knight, Thimbleweed Park and Cuphead.

  4. Premium User Badge

    Benratha says:

    Hello Alyse!
    Welcome to RPS and the Horace treehouse(?)
    Will we be reading more from you in 2018?

Comment on this story

XHTML: Allowed code: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>