- Author: Julie MuncyJulie Muncy
The Best Videogames You Might Have Missed in 2017
More than 400 videogames were released this year. Four. Hundred. With a firehose like that, it's all too easy to miss some of the gems that become available, so we pored through our played list to pull together our favorite under-the-radar titles. These weren't necessarily the most popular games released in 2017, nor are they the most accessible, but they're all worth trying out as the year closes out. They're singular, strange, and—to a one—special.
Jason Roberts' game is difficult to explain. It's a puzzle game built out of interlocking image grids, moved around to reveal hidden pictures and open new areas. But it's also a game about revelations: opening up your field of perception to see realities previously unknown, to expand and redefine your frame for viewing the world, literally and figuratively. It is surprising, spiritual, and unlike anything you've ever played before.
System: Microsoft Windows, iOS, Nintendo Switch
Echo is creepy, taking place in an infinitely recursive planet-sized palace filled with copies. Of you. And they get smarter as you go. When you shoot one, they learn how to shoot: break one's neck, and they'll creep up behind you and put in a chokehold. Echo is made by former developers of Io's Hitman series, and you can tell. It's one of the sharpest, most compelling stealth games to come out in ages. And the better you play, the tougher it gets.
System: Windows PC, PlayStation 4
A deeply flawed but fundamentally intriguing first-person exploration game, Observer is a shot of cyberpunk horror straight to your eyeballs. With some lazy but fun voice work by Rutger Hauer and a hallucinatory plot about jacking into dying people's brains, it nails a genre pastiche that only the game medium could accomplish. A lot of titles try to do surreal and creepy, but Observer does it a lot better than most.
System: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Linux, MacOS
Everything is Going to Be OK
Natalie Lawhead's surprising opus about anxiety and imposter syndrome is part game anthology, part zine, and all screaming. Deliberately abrasive, Everything is Going to Be OK isn't going to be accessible or interesting to everyone. But all that noise is essential and beautiful if you're willing to wade through it. It creates a space for a heartfelt meditation on the pain of existence and the determination and hope that it takes to wade through it.
System: Microsoft Windows, Mac OS
A wild, shouting bullet aimed at the heart of every '90s PC gamer, Strafe is a procedurally generated, unrelenting gun labyrinth—perfect for the subset of gamers that miss Quake but wish it was harder and even more EXTREME. While it can be a bit much, its deftly directed '90s parody and the tight speed of its gunplay make it worth exploring … as long as that's your cup of frothing monster blood.
System: Microsoft Windows, OS X, PlayStation 4
I'm not sure how much I like Pyre. Its writing has the same flaws as all of Supergiant's previous work (Bastion, Transistor): a little too vague, a little too disinterested in making the details of its world really flow together into something magical. But if you're willing to look past that, it's original and surprising, a game about a magic sports competition with the fate of the world in the balance. Its action is crisp and deep, its soundtrack is superb, and its art style is like nothing you've seen before.
System: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Linux
A Mortician's Tale
It's hard to make you care about death in a videogame—a medium essentially built out of death—but Laundry Bear's click-based job simulator will make you wonder how you ever didn't. This game is a master class in using interactivity to build a mindspace and imbue it with meaning. As an ode to the death positivity movement, a character piece, and a rebuke to the slippery ease of gaming's death/resurrection cycle, A Mortician's Tale is a quiet triumph. You should play it right now.
System: Windows, MacOS
What Remains of Edith Finch
What Remains of Edith Finch is a striking evolution of its exploratory genre. A complicated and creative spin on so-called walking sims—in which you wander around a haunted, lonely environment as it tells you a story—it manages, in its best moments, to share stories so beautiful and strange that they can't help but provoke a reaction. This is a sentimental game, for better or worse, and it's a beautiful one at that.
System: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
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