The Iris’ 2017 Game of the Year Top 10

The year’s end is upon us once more and that means yearly wrap pieces. It’s been a pretty amazing year in the games industry. Microsoft launched the most powerful console ever made, and Nintendo released an altogether new one. We saw AAA disasters, runaway indie successes and an combative relationship with microtransactions as publishers figure out how to include revenue streams that don’t rub players the wrong way. With that in mind, lets take a look at what The Iris team thought ranked as their Top 5 games for 2017.

 

10. Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice (PlayStation 4, Windows PC)

Hellblade came out of left field so fast I was blown away with just how amazingly different it tried to be, in the end it was an underwhelming game experience but a fucking fine piece of story-telling that has never been done on such a deep level in a video game before now which keeps it firmly in my top 5! — David Hunter

9. Resident Evil 7 (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Windows PC)

Resident Evil 7 was everything I wanted Resident Evil to be again and there’s still more coming by the time you read this. I have not felt so deeply into this series again since probably, Code Veronica and Resident Evil 4. Playing the entire campaign the first time through in VR was incredible too. — David Hunter

8. Assassin’s Creed Origins (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Windows PC)

I’ve been waiting a really long time for Ubisoft to take a good long look at the Assassin’s Creed franchise. After a decade of almost annual releases, the series had settled into a formula that felt comfortable but not especially exciting. Assassin’s Creed Origins is a bold new start for the series, a melting pot of mechanics brought in from across the AAA spectrum that feels great, looks great and plays better than the series ever has. As a long-suffering Assassin’s Creed apologist, I’m very happy to have it back. — David Smith

7. Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle (Nintendo Switch)

The year’s most pleasant surprise bar none. No-one saw Ubisoft’s ultra weird mash up of Super Mario, XCOM and their Rabbids characters coming. When it was announced, we all thought they were insane and that it would never work. And then we were surprised again when it launched and not only did it work, it was one of the deepest and most rewarding turn-based strategy titles in a year that included the actual best XCOM game ever made. A total home run. If you gave it a miss at launch, make up for your oversight at once. The perfect travel game. — David Smith

6. What Remains of Edith Finch (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Windows PC, Mac OS)

There are few games that generate such a raw and visceral reaction as the one that I had during my run through What Remains of Edith Finch. To describe the narrative of the game would be to spoil the intensity of its impact, the strength of which carries the title. The story of the Finch family is excellently told throughout the game by a series of vignettes, each describing desolate and solitary tales of woe. The game is as close as video games come to art, and the finesse with which the emotion and story is explored is absolutely masterful, making it one of the standout games of 2017. — Leah Williams

5. Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Windows PC)

There was no AAA game to come out in 2017 with more on its mind than Wolfenstein II. From a raucous marketing campaign that told its detractors exactly what it thought of them, to a meaty single-player campaign that flatly refused to pull a single punch, Wolfenstein II is everything you could possibly want in a modern shooter. Between this and the similarly great Prey, Bethesda, for the second year running, have cemented themselves as the new home of exemplary single player shooters. — David Smith

4. Nier: Automata (PlayStation 4, Windows PC)

Blending gorgeous visuals with intriguing characters and a vast, open world turned Nier: Automata into one of the biggest surprises of the year for me. The narrative structure kept me coming back for more, as each ending was but a piece of a larger, heartfelt experience. — Matt Arcari

3. Horizon: Zero Dawn (PlayStation 4)

It’s not often that games come around and feel like instant classics, but Horizon Zero Dawn made a sudden and lasting impact upon its release earlier this year. The character design, story and world felt wholly original – a rare feat in the modern games industry. Coupled with the beautiful open world and fun mechanics, Horizon arrived looking and feeling like a brand new classic, and a worthy future mascot for PlayStation. Titles like this don’t come around often, and I can only hope that any future sequels will capture the same magic that the original created. — Leah Williams

2. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Nintendo Switch)

This is it. Like Super Mario Odyssey, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild managed to break my expectations and the mould, fundamentally altering what it means to be a Zelda game. The open world was truly something to admire, and the fact that you can go anywhere at any time constantly urged me to explore. What that exploration yielded, the things that I found and the rewards I gained from it time and time again never ceased to amaze, and has kept me coming back to this very day. — Matt Arcari

1. Super Mario Odyssey (Nintendo Switch)

There has been an ongoing argument in the office over the last few weeks between a member of The Iris games team (who shall remain nameless) and myself over Super Mario Odyssey. They believe Odyssey, and its cousin Breath of the Wild, to be fundamentally vapid, empty experiences. This opinion is, quite clearly, grotesque in how offensive it is. They are wrong, they’ve never been more wrong about anything, especially with regard to Super Mario Odyssey, and I’m going to tell you why.

Super Mario Odyssey is the distillation of everything Nintendo have sought to do with 3D Mario titles since they blew the world away with Super Mario 64. Every level functions as a kind of platforming gymnasium, allowing you to scour them for collectable moons and coins. It lets you play by your own rules — there’s always more than one way to reach any given moon — and it throws you curve balls by introducing its Cappy mechanic, Mario’s new throwable hat that lets you take on the form almost any creature or object it comes into contact with.

To be clear, the gimmick here is not that you can become an jumping onion boy, its that when you do you can suddenly see a hundred new ways to interact with the level open up before you. This happens with literally every creature you use Cappy on. The thought and care that has gone into the design of every part of every level, even the ones that don’t grab you right away, cannot be overstated.

The music. The art design. The character animations. The controls. I could easily write another twelve pars gushing about this game, I love it that much.

Super Mario Odyssey is the kind of game that is so good, so smart, so pure of heart and of spirit, so committed to making sure the player is having a good time, that it makes you wonder what other AAA developers are doing with their time. And that’s why it’s our 2017 Game of the Year. — David Smith