2017 was a vintage year for games. We saw the launch of the Xbox One X and Nintendo Switch, the release of some amazing new titles like Horizon: Zero Dawn, and the reinvention of long-time favorites like Assassin’s Creed Origins and Zelda: Breath of the Wild. So narrowing this list down to 25 games was a real struggle, and ordering them required careful collaboration from the whole GR team. So how did we do it?
First off, we set rules. Only games released in the West in 2017 were eligible, and only complete, standalone titles (no DLC, no half-finished episodic titles). Remasters and re-releases too, were excluded, meaning titles like Doom on Switch and Crash Bandicoot were not available for selection. The team then submitted every game they thought deserved a spot in the list, and we made a long-list of about 50 titles to start with.
Once we had the long list, a selection of GR editors - chosen randomly - debated the final 25, regardless of how the game scored at review. Finally, the whole team ranked the final 25 games according to the order they, personally, would have them in. We added up all the scores, and the game with the lowest total became number one. The second lowest is #2 etc etc. That’s the process; here's our final list of the best games of 2017. How many have you played?
25. Star Trek Bridge Crew
Developer: Ubisoft Red Storm
Formats: PSVR, Vive, Oculus
What is it? A VR simulation of Star Trek, for up to four players, giving you full access to a modern starship - the USS Aegis - and the classic, Kirk-era Enterprise.
Why should you play it? Not only is Bridge Crew the ultimate in ‘Trek fan-service, such is the loving recreation of the bridge on both the new starship and the original Enterprise, but it’s also a damn good use of VR. That is, when you play it properly, with three other human players. Which rarely ever happens. It’s a strange thing that a game with such broad appeal is actually incredibly rarified and niche, and many people have excitedly played it then quickly dropped it because they simply couldn’t experience Bridge Crew under optimal conditions. But when you do get four players together, each assuming a key role on the bridge, this game is utterly magical and one of the best role-playing adventures you’ll find on console. That you can experience it online across all platforms is something of a technical miracle, even if it’s a little fiddly to set up at first. Solo or two-player co-op is passable, but nowhere near as joyful as the full, all-friends Trek journey you can go on, if you have that many buddies with VR set-ups. Andy Hartup
24. Battle Chef Brigade
Developer: Trinket Studios
Formats: Nintendo Switch, PC
What is it? Imagine a Dungeons & Dragons-inspired fantasy world where society is built around an Iron Chef-style cooking competition, all depicted with beautiful, hand-drawn art.
Why should you play it? As the most recently-released entry on our list, you may not have heard of Battle Chef Brigade yet. Give it time, because as word of mouth spreads, so too will its reputation. While the setup alone is unique and praiseworthy (that being a combination of 2D combat and match-three puzzles set in a gorgeous anime-esque world), it's the game's relentless optimism and charm that has those who play it buzzing with excitement. By trading strict recipes and overly complicated cooking instructions for the feeling one gets from preparing a delicious meal - plus a bit of mentally stimulating improvisation - Battle Chef Brigade makes players feel like accomplished chefs in no time. So grab a controller and dig in, already. Sam Prell
23. Injustice 2
Formats: PS4, Xbox One, PC
What is it? DC's finest heroes and its most loathsome villains duke it out in a one-on-one fighting game developed by the makers of Mortal Kombat.
Why should you play it? Fighting games are all NetherRealm does, and that singular focus shows through in how thoroughly and well-executed Injustice 2 is. With an expansive roster of characters featuring fan favorites and some unexpected surprises (nobody foresaw a game where the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles can fight Hellboy), as well as finely-balanced combat, it's easily a standout amongst its peers. But where Injustice 2 really succeeds is the way in which it elevates itself from an amazing example of its genre to something everyone can appreciate and enjoy. No other fighter infuses this much personality into its battles, or so thoroughly walks newcomers through its systems, or pays such loving homage to its source material. With an excellent (if a bit by-the-numbers) story mode and a bevy of extras to dig into, it would be a monumental mistake to think of Injustice 2 as ‘just another fighting game’. Sam Prell
22. Sniper Elite 4
Formats: PS4, Xbox One, PC
What is it? Eight beautiful miniature open worlds to shoot or snipe and stealth across as the now very grizzled WW2 vet Karl Fairburne.
Why should you play it? You mean the legendary X-Ray kill cam where you can explode testicles isn’t enough to convince you? Rebellion’s Sniper Elite series has always been a solidly dependable franchise with bonus testikills but this trip to sun-drenched WW2 Italy ups the game in every way. Every level is a sprawling open world filled with challenges and collectibles and the choice on how to, err, execute your missions is brutally exhilarating. An arsenal of silenced weaponry is ready and waiting for you to stealth your way through the beautiful villages with, or you can go in all guns blazing and tackle the sharp AI head on. Plus, if you like your worlds to have realistic physics, you can make Newton proud by cranking the settings into realism mode for truly satisfying, gravity-influenced noggin shots. Complete with the ultimate trashy Hollywood ending, and a compelling multiplayer once you’ve had enough lone wolf sniping, Sniper Elite 4 was one of 2017’s most pleasant surprises. That is, if you can describe molars shattering as pleasant… Louise Blain
21. Persona 5
Formats: PS4, PS3
What is it? A slick and stylish JRPG in which a bunch of teenagers and their talking cat battle the modern embodiment of deadly sins like greed, lust, and envy in order to save a jaded and apathetic society.
Why should you play it? Pick a reason. The incredible soundtrack. The ultra-polished visuals that are so energetic even the menus are cool. The clever dungeon design. The infinitely customizable combat options that make tinkering with your persona lineup an hour-devouring pleasure. Or maybe you just like the talking cat. But perhaps the best reason to play Persona 5 is simply because it will make you feel good. Being the chosen one destined to save the world is cool and all, but the characters in Persona 5 are just normal high school students. They have to study for tests and work part-time jobs and figure out how to ask people out on dates. They weren’t anointed the saviors of society - they chose to be. They looked around them, saw bad stuff going down and said “No.” As a member of the Phantom Thieves, you stick your neck out not for glory or gain, but to make the world a less crappy place. What could possibly be more heroic? Susan Arendt
20. Little Nightmares
Developer: Tarsier Studios
Formats: PS4, Xbox One, PC
What is it? A creepy, incredibly disturbing childlike fairy tale fable that’s definitely not for kids.
Why should you play it? There’s no getting around some of Little Nightmares' more infuriating aspects - mainly difficult camera angles an imprecise controls - BUT... it’s easy to forgive all that when this offers such an incredibly dark, magical kids story gone wrong. Think super sinister Ghibli meets Tim Burton, as a strange, faceless child in a yellow rain slicker explores a rusting, brine soaked island called The Maw. Without any obvious horror, gore or scares it creates an incredibly creepy, troubling fantasy full of grotesque creatures, like blind, shuffling men with extending, feeling arms that send their hands to chase you through tunnels. Narratively it’s very open ended, leaving plenty of room to read into the metaphorical transformations of glutinous chefs and fragile boney women, but, whatever you infer, it’s one of the most artistically and stylishly satisfying games of the year. Leon Hurley
19. Dishonored: Death of the Outsider
Formats: PS4, Xbox One, PC
What is it? A smaller scale stand alone DLC set in the Dishonored world with a new hero, powers and tying up all the loose ends.
Why should you play it? Death of the Outsider is perfect if you want a more condensed hit of that Dishonored magic, and want to see how it all ends. Following Billy Lurk, a popular side character, this takes on nothing less than a quest to kill the Outsider - the hipster god that’s responsible for the last two games with his ‘gifts’ and magical powers. What makes this such an interesting addition to the series is the finality of the plot, and how it uses its smaller scale to deliver a tighter, more immediate adventure. You only have three powers to master but they interlink and work within the smaller levels beautifully. And, while the scale is reduced, the complexity and potential isn’t, meaning you get a very similar, full-fat Dishonored experience in half the time. Leon Hurley
18. Middle-Earth: Shadow of War
Formats: PC, PS4, Xbox One
What is it? The sequel to Monolith’s surprise hit from 2014, Shadow of Mordor, and an open world action-RPG set in pre-LOTR Middle-Earth.
Why should you play it? Not everything is rosy in Monolith’s Middle-earth. If you’ve read any of the headlines regarding Shadow of War’s shoehorned loot box economy, deadbeat story, and questionable endgame content, then you’ll already know this. Yet, despite all of that, I can’t help but make return trips to Mordor to expand my army of Orcs, conquer more enemies, and keep discovering the kind of ‘you can’t make this up’ micro-stories that the game excels at telling. And the Orcs really are the star of the show here (sorry Talion, but you’re about as interesting as own-brand oat biscuits), with their offbeat Cockney slang, slapstick buffoonery, and hilariously theatrical approach to fashion. The expanded Nemesis System is the secret sauce making all of their antics possible, of course, where betrayal, redemption, and heartbreak lie at every turn of the hack-and-slash adventure. I’d never thought I’d care so much about a one-eyed Uruk called ‘Grom The Goodfink’ but, damn it Monolith, you left me whimpering like an abandoned puppy when he sacrificed himself as Caragor food to save me. Alex Avard
17. Night In The Woods
Developer: Infinite Fall
Formats: PC, Xbox One, PS4, Mobile
What is it? An adventure game about anthropomorphic animals that starts out as a simple story about returning to your hometown, but gets weird, real weird, fast.
Why should you play it? The melancholy of trying to go home after years away - to find your town changed, friends who have moved on - isn't something you'd expect a game full of cats, crocodiles and foxes to capture, but here it is. Look beyond the fur and snouts and this is an insightful game that will draw you in with shoplifting trips and smart-mouthed bickering, then reward you for sticking around with a small town mystery and trippy dream sequences. Even when it's at its weirdest the characters are all still relatable, especially the prickly heroine Margaret ‘Mae’ Borowski. Everyone is an asshole when they're 20, but Mae is a lovable asshole, and you're rooting for her even as you're making bad decisions for her. Rachel Weber
16. Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
Developer: Ninja Theory
Formats: PC, PS4
What is it? A psychological horror set in a folkloric rendition of Hell, as mentally tortured protagonist Senua hacks, slashes, and puzzle solves her way to the soul of her dead lover.
Why should you play it? A Nordic inspired journey into Helheim that may or may not feature a permadeath system and also happens to be a metaphor for psychosis? That’s a daring conceit for an indie game, but are we really that surprised by the success of Hellblade when the studio at the helm were the same people responsible for DmC: Devil May Cry, Heavenly Sword, and Enslaved? Ninja Theory’s haunting fable defies categorisation, but it’s essential playing for anyone interested in the lasting power of interactive entertainment, even if Senua’s odyssey is never a comfortable watch. Beyond that, Hellblade represents an important lesson for the industry at large, too. Ninja Theory’s decision to bill it as an ‘indie AAA game’ comes across as hokey, sure, but the studio has nevertheless proven that a visually groundbreaking and technologically powerful experience doesn’t require the budget of a small nation’s GDP. As a result, it offers the same level of production value as the best blockbusters out there, but for only half the price, and that’s an achievement to be celebrated. Alex Avard