Our personal favorites that just missed GOTY 2017

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In the effort to create a Game of the Year list we can all agree on, we here at GamesRadar+ sometimes have to make a concession or two. Sure, our pet favorite games might seem niche to some, or simply wouldn't make sense as part of the collaborative final list - but that doesn't mean we love them any less. So why not share all our personal favorites with you, and shine a spotlight on these worthwhile runner-ups? What follows are some GR+ staff picks that utterly delighted us this past year, even if our coworkers didn't share that same passion. Unlike Game of the Year 2017, there aren't any numbered rankings here - just an alphabetical breakdown of overlooked or underappreciated games that could very well become your new favorite if you give them a try. 

A Mortician's Tale 

Platform(s): PC

Dying in games is nothing new, but not many games deal with what happens after death. This pastel-hued simulation is a sensitive look at what happens behind the curtains at a funeral parlor. You'll have prepare bodies for burial or cremation, with the option to meet the families of the dearly departed. Despite getting to the real nuts and bolts of how bodies are handled - there aren't many other games where you'll be removing pacemakers or gluing eyelids closed - it's all handled with such tenderness that it never feels crass or sensational. Rachel Weber 

Brawlhalla 

Platform(s): PS4, PC

I fell deep down the Ranked play rabbit hole in Brawlhalla on PC, so it was a treat to see the potential playerbase expand when it debuted on PS4 debut in October. This colorful, charming 2D fighting game utilizes the familiar Smash Bros. structure, where you beat down your opponents to soften them up before walloping them clean off the screen for a KO. But Brawlhalla has a clever way of creating common ground between characters: in addition to their flashy signature moves, every fighter in the ever-expanding roster uses two base weapons, which are shared across the cast in never-repeated pairings. In essence, learning one character's moveset gives you a headstart when swapping to anyone who uses the same weapon. I do that often, because the F2P Brawlhalla uses my favorite kind of microtransaction: the 'buy all the characters now and forever for a small fee' option. If you've ever enjoyed a rollicking game of Smash Bros. - and really, who hasn't - you've got to give this free fighter a try. Lucas Sullivan 

Darkwood 

Platform(s): PC

I've already recommended Darkwood as one of the greatest horror games that don't rely on jump scares, but it bears repeating: if you favor atmospheric dread and morbid curiosity over in-your-face freakouts, braving the grim forest of Darkwood is a must. The top-down perspective, plodding melee combat, and richly detailed pixel art recall some of my most precious PC gaming memories playing Grand Theft Auto 2, and the pacing of this harsh survival game is just right, with fresh, deeply disturbing points of interest popping up all the time. The crafting requirements and item-drop-on-death penalties can seem harsh, but it nevers gets to the point where things look hopeless, and the fight to reclaim your stash from whatever horrible monster killed you is always a rush. I'll never forget the feeling of cowering in the corner of a boarded-up room during the dead of Darkwood's terrifying nights, sharpened shovel in hand, listening to the scraping claws and heavy footsteps of deranged invaders lurking around my hideout as they hunted me. Lucas Sullivan

GNOG 

Platform(s): PS4 and iOS

Imagine if a kid's lunch box was actually a robot head full of puzzles to be solved, and you're halfway to understanding what exactly GNOG is. It offers a selection of standalone levels where you're presented with a whimsical robot head.; start pressing buttons and lifting flaps, and you'll discover a secret world inside. The more puzzles you solve while unlocking each head, the more music you'll produce, so as you play the music swells and grows around you. It's sadly a little on the short side, but the brilliantly creative journeys you take to complete each puzzle are worth the investment. Sam Loveridge

Golf Story 

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch

In the same year that brought us The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey, many of my favorite moments with Nintendo Switch came from a weird little game about golfing. I'm just as surprised as you are. Golf Story is a proudly nostalgic revival of Game Boy Color sports RPG Mario Golf, yes, but it's more than that. It's a humorous and unexpected tale about a land where all disputes are settled on the links, it's perfect for playing both at home and on the go, and it singlehandedly justifies the existence of HD rumble. I can feel the "thwack" as I type this. Connor Sheridan 

Gorogoa 

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, iOS 

If you didn't think there was anything more satisfying than than those Reddit posts of things being lined up perfectly, it's time to discover a puzzler that will make you go "Oooh!" more than a crowd at a fireworks display. The premise of Gorogoa is simple: move comic book panels around to interact with one another. Line up floors for a little boy to walk across; place a bucket below a bird and an apple so that the fruit falls in when the bird flaps away. Terrifyingly creative, constantly inventive, and beautifully hand drawn, you'll be hard pressed to find a more fulfilling puzzler this year. Louise Blain 

Gravity Rush 2 

Platform(s): PS4

Gravity Rush 2 sees you once again taking control of heroine Kat, who's capable of manipulating gravity. The storyline is a little convoluted and involves big bosses with glowing weak points like something straight out of 1995, but the graphical style, characters, and gameplay all make Gravity Rush 2 well worth playing. There's nothing quite comparable to the feeling you get when you send Kat flying through the sky on her latest, quite literal, Gravity Rush. It's like learning to ride a bike as a child and feeling the amazing freedom of that first, stabiliser-free ride. Sam Loveridge 

Heat Signature 

Platform(s): PC

The screenshots make Heat Signature look like it's a game about sneaking around spaceships and beating guards with wrenches, but don't let them fool you. It's actually a game about giving you all the information you need to come up with an intricate plan, every tool you need to perfectly execute it, and no one to blame but yourself when the whole thing implodes and you're left bleeding out in the cold vacuum of space. Heat Signature is even the rare game to fully justify its procedurally generated nature - there's no temptation to save-scum past obstacles when each ship is different and every death is permanent. Connor Sheridan 

Hollow Knight 

Platform(s): PC (coming to Switch in 2018)

It's a comparison so played out at this point that I'm loathe to make it, but we can all agree it's a touchstone - so let's just say that Hollow Knight evokes similar feelings of deep lore, engaging exploration, and triumphant challenge as 'Sark Douls'. This stunning Metroidvania uses beautiful hand-drawn artwork, atmospheric sound design, and engrossing writing to pull you in with an imposing sense of place. Throughout the trials and tribulations of your 2D platforming journey, you'll cross paths with delightfully quirky characters (including many an NPC warrior on crusades all their own) and slowly gain mastery over the snappy, oh-so-satisfying combat - provided you don't get distracted by the slick animation. Within minutes of starting it up, I knew Hollow Knight was going to be one of those games that I would eventually 100% no matter what. It's immediately obvious that it's just that good. Lucas Sullivan  

LawBreakers  

Platform(s): PS4, PC 

LawBreakers' smart, kinetic, deliriously creative multiplayer FPS was a beautifully crafted playground right out of the virtual box, even before its developer, Boss Key, started to expand and update it (for free) with a dedication all-too rarely seen. A refined, accessible, asymmetric, class-based affair, LawBreakers injects its pick-up-and-play immediacy with a wonderful amount of fast-thinking, old-school, arena shooting depth. With a focused, transparent character pool allowing anyone to deep-dive the game from any angle - from the lumbering but aerially adept rocket-launching Titan, to the nimble, side-dashing, grapple-swinging Assassin - LawBreakers is a game that wants you to play with all of its toys, and have fun with them as quickly as possible. Alas, bad timing and slender marketing mean the audience isn't huge, but this game really deserves to grow in 2018. David Houghton  

Even more personal picks await on the next page!