Why the hell would anyone release a 2017 ‘Game of the Year’ list… in June 2018? Not only is everyone done with last year, but people are already discussing game of the year contenders for 2018. Well we here at Quiet Stories never got round to it, and we actually have a unique set of choices.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild was almost universally every outlets 2017 game of the year. Super Mario Odyssey, Horizon: Zero Dawn, Cuphead, Persona 5 and Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds were all up there too, and for good reason, these are all fantastic games. I’ve discussed how PUBG and Fortnite compare on the Fist Fight podcast, and written about how; Horizon creates an immaculate open world, Odyssey is the video game equivalent of a Pixar film and how Persona 5 helped me through a break up.
So it may surprise you to learn, that not a single one of these games made in onto our Game of the Year list. Our list consists of 10 amazing games, overlooked in most game of the year discussions, and all better than Breath of the Wild (in our opinion).
10) Star Wars: Battlefront 2 (2017)
People have discussed how Breath of the Wild takes an established series and reinvigorates it with a fresh coat of paint. Well 2017’s Star Wars: Battlefront 2 does exactly that. I’ve discussed how I was let down by the multiplayer component of the game, but the single player is a great and polished Star Wars story. I genuinely believe that if the focus hadn’t been on loot boxes, this game would have received far more praise.
9) Life is Strange: Before the Storm
Breath of the Wild may be solid on a gameplay front, but it is lacking in the story department. As a newbie to the series, I had no idea why I should care about Hyrule, Link or Princess Zelda. I didn’t have that problem with Before the Storm. Despite the removal of time travelling mechanics and the original devs, I truly cared about Rachel and Chloe. Two teenage girls, trying to find themselves, deal with tragedy and connect. The writing and performances are so impressive, that it almost proves why the silent protagonist feels dated.
8) Gravity Rush 2
There is a certain charm to Japanese games, a studio Ghibli-esque feel like can’t be replicated by the west. If you’re looking for a whimsical world to explore, choose Gravity Rush 2 over Breath of the Wild. The towns are vibrant instead of barren and you’ll actually get a chance to take it all in. Instead of slogging your way about a cliff, hoping your stamina won’t run out, drift care free through the sky with gravity defying powers.
7) Uncharted: Lost Legacy
People brush aside Zelda’s lack of story, claiming that it doesn’t need it, because the gameplay is so good. But why can’t we have both? Lost Legacy totes an impressive story AND gameplay. It is still just as riveting to play as 2016’s Quiet Stories Game of the Year winner, Uncharted 4. It also creates a truly poignant relationship between protagonists Chloe and Nadine. So if you want both gameplay and story, you can have it all.
6) Injustice 2
People claim that Breath of the Wild is evolving the open world genre, but Injustice 2 did the same thing for fighting games. It managed to tell a story that was captivating and coherent, while still retaining a solid and masterful combat system. With the Arkham games done and dusted, who knew that the creators of Mortal Kombat would be telling the best DC stories in games?
5) Assassin’s Creed: Origins
But if you really want to make the argument for Breath of the Wild’s open world, I ask, have you played Origins? Yes you can climb any surface as well, yes the combat is tactical and methodical, yes the world is open for you to explore, but in Origins there is far more polish. Visually its open world is stunning and yet is far less barren than Breath of the Wild. I could enter areas in Zelda with literally nothing in them, I would enter towns, with only three residents. Not only is Origins map sprawling, but every patch of it is dense with life. One of these worlds is clearly superior, and it isn’t playable on the Switch.
4) South Park: The Fractured but Whole
In Breath of the Wild there is no reason to take interest in the characters of the world. They are for the most part bland, and lacking in personality. This can’t be said for The Fractured but Whole. Every inch of South Park is brimming with nostalgia, personality and references to be found under every nook and cranny. I was addicted to this game, never able to step away from my console, I can’t say the same for Zelda.
3) Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
Some people like item management. The challenge of finding ingredients to cook, items to prioritise or breakable weapons to manage. Yet the thrill disappeared before long in Breath of the Wild, when I was able to stock up on everything I needed. I never felt like I was down to my last few resources, having to rely on limited amounts of tools I barely touched. However in Resident Evil 7, every bullet counts. Every draw you ransack could mean the difference between life and death. I love open world games and didn’t get a thrill from Zelda. I avoid horror games, yet adored Biohazard.
Nintendo isn’t the only developer who can create a charming and breath-taking piece of art. A silent protagonist, gorgeous but simplistic visuals, and a feeling of joy while playing. Rime was barely discussed during game of the year discussions, yet evoked more pure joy and sadness than any 2017 game did for me, including Zelda.
I’ve argued this case on many forums. Whenever I point out a game that takes an element of Breath of the Wild and does it better, I get the same retort. “Breath of the Wild is the sum of its parts.” I can understand that. Alone its mechanics may not impress, but together you can experiment and improvise in ways that most games would never allow. Well there is another game that lets you do just that, Prey. It may not have the best narrative in the world, first person shooting or level design. Yet each individual part still feels great, and combine with the many tools at your disposal to provide countless possibilities. There were so many moments where I felt there was no way to succeed, just to stumble across an answer, by utilizing my imagination. Prey achieves everything that Breath of the Wild does, and in my opinion does it better. I genuinely believe that Breath of the Wild only received more praise because of the nostalgic bias most older gamers have.
This isn’t to say I hate Breath of the Wild. I enjoyed playing it from start to finish. Maybe not as much as Horizon or Super Mario Odyssey, but I still consider it a great game. The point is, I don’t believe it should sit on the pedestal it has been placed upon, without criticism. There were so many amazing games in 2017, and these are the 10 our team would like to recommend to you.