Tom Martin explores the long-awaited Orwellian inspired We Happy Few, releasing on Xbox and PC this summerWritten by Tom Martin on 16th March 2018
Redbrick’s Games of the Year 2017
This month Redbrick Gaming looks back on another great year for gaming and counts down their favourite games of 2017
10. Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus
MachineGames have pulled off a nearly impossible feat – matching their previous games. This must be the only game where you can blast away your daddy issues with dual-wield double-barrelled shotguns. As the devs seamlessly blend the very real, with the very ridiculous to produce a stupendously satisfying first-person shooting bonanza, full of quality story, lovable characters, and top-class shooting action. Oh, and you get to shoot space Nazis. In the face. On Venus. This has to go down as not just one of the games of the year, but one of the best shooters of the last decade, producing the kind of satisfaction that only comes from killing bad guys and being a total f***ing badass. This is the kind of game you’ll never regret playing. Promise.
9. Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard might not be the best game of 2017, but it may be the most important. Rewind just 5 years and the influential, and in many ways genre-defining, Resident Evil series appeared to be ready to be sent to the scrapyard after the release of two lacklustre action-focused titles. Seeing the Grim Reaper's scythe appear over the horizon made Capcom decide to return to their survival horror roots, a decision that has both saved the franchise and created the best game to have come out in the sub-genre in the last ten years. While it clearly draws heavily on the recent Amnesia and Outlast success stories, Resident Evil’s execution of the first-person template takes it to a whole new terrifying level.
Another factor that must be appreciated is that this was the first, and to date only, new AAA game to fully commit to VR. By offering players a full playthrough, Capcom demonstrated the new technology’s potential- a proof of concept, that has sadly not been subsequently followed.
8. Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp
I’d like to make something clear, Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp is not objectively the best game that came out this year. In terms of graphical quality, gameplay, amount of content, there are many games which have Pocket Camp beat. However, it is my game of the year, not because of any objective measure of quality, but because of the feeling, I get when I play it. It’s a feeling only Nintendo games are capable of creating, like sinking into a warm bath of emotion and nostalgia. Pocket Camp is my childhood, condensed into a (free!) app. Yes, it is a mobile game, and there are microtransactions. But, unlike many triple-A games released this year (I’m looking at you Battlefront 2), you don’t need to spend money to succeed in this game. Success is a camp full of animals, and a purse full of bells.
7. Persona 5
This is my first time in a Persona game and it was certainly a blast. From excellent dungeon design to amazing writing, this game is utterly superb. While not graphically ground-breaking, this game has a very memorable art style and the characters are very interesting, each with great side stories of their own. One shortcoming of JRPGs is that they often have a combat system which goes stale quickly. However, Persona 5’s turn-based combat, which features multiple options for dealing with personas, other than kill when they’re weak, gives players different viable ways to attack, improving combat experience. This is must buy for any JRPG fan! It’s a game that easily deserves your time and money and yes before you say anything, it deserves the many hours needed to finish the game.
6. NeiR: Automata
NieR: Automata is a masterpiece, and I don't use that word lightly. Yoko Taro’s brilliant creative vision has finally been realised, thanks to a collaboration with Platinum Games. Automata is a fantastic game with exceptional hack-n-slash gameplay, brilliant RPG elements, a beautiful artistic direction, and a soundtrack which will make you weep. However, it is the story that elevates NieR: Automata to the level of a masterpiece – taking all of the lovingly crafted elements and bringing it all together into a narrative which will make you question what it truly means to be alive. I simply do not have enough words to emphasise how much this game affected me, it is, however, a good thing that I don’t as NieR: Automata is a game that is best experienced completely blind.
5. Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice
Delving into the darkest, most macabre elements of the human psyche to undermine and sympathise, Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice hacks away at the shrouded insecurity we all bear: the fear of failure. Senua's moving story travelling through the Nordic realm Helheim to redeem her lover's soul walks the line between cinematic experience and game, but this insincerity serves the core of what Hellblade depicts. What is, and is not real is unclear; its sinister, transformative and sumptuous environments are punctuated by the voices of the heroine's psychosis by using eerie binaural audio to aid or antagonise the player. As fragments of her tragedy are revealed through the gruelling psychotic break, the visceral gameplay and deeply affecting atmosphere harmonise just like a Viking rune. This reserves Hellblade a well-deserved place on our Game of the Year podium.
4. Super Mario Odyssey
Expansive gameplay, beautifully rich graphics, toe-tapping music and a massive propensity for fun cement Super Mario Odyssey’s place on this list. The title remains bewitchingly different to any prior entries, offering a style of Mario never seen before that redefines the franchise. The sheer amount of content surprises and thrills, compelling you to explore further and discover all the little secrets in each vibrantly distinct locations. The ‘capture' mechanic is something I hope becomes a staple in future titles, offering unique and exciting solutions to puzzles, some wonderfully simple and some hair-tearingly hard. There is something for everyone in Mario’s latest outing, from the casual Switch user to the hardcore Nintendo fanatic - an absolute joy from beginning to end.
Cuphead does so many things right, and so well, that it’s hard to know where to begin when praising it. The most immediately striking quality of Cuphead is, without a doubt, its aesthetic. Developer StudioMDHR’s choice of 1930’s animation for Cuphead’s art style is wonderfully inspired, and the quality of its implementation within the game is nothing short of astounding.
Cuphead, however, is more than just a pretty face. Taking influence from classic run and guntitles, such as Contra and Metal Slug, Cuphead offers brutal, but surmountable, challenge. Beating one of the game’s many memorable bosses, or well-designed platforming levels, after attempting them repeatedly (sometimes for hours) is immensely satisfying, and evokes feelings reminiscent of Dark Souls titles. Cuphead rewards both patience and skill and rarely, if ever, feels cheap. Whilst its difficulty will remain an issue for some, its wholly unique aesthetic is undeniable and its game mechanics are greatly satisfying.
2. Zelda: Breath of the Wild
As soon as I stepped out into the stunning Hyrule of The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, I knew that I would be in for one hell of a journey, and I was not disappointed. Breath of the Wild is a game that somehow manages to get everything right: combat is addictive and enticing without ever feeling repetitive; gameplay is perfectly balanced between innovative and nostalgic; and the world is huge, imaginative and free but never empty. With Breath of the Wild making a lot of changes to the tried-and-tested Zelda formula, many were worried that the game wouldn’t feel like a Legend of Zelda game, but there was never a moment within my playthrough that the game didn’t have the Zelda experience at its core. Simply put, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a masterpiece that has not only redefined the Zelda series but has also become one of the best games to have ever been made.
1. Horizon: Zero Dawn
Horizon: Zero Dawn is a special game. It’s game that arrives only every few years within the industry. A game in which you’re completely enticed by the world and its characters, and more importantly, its excellent gameplay. Journeying through the dystopian world is a joy to visualize; its story is enticing, mysterious, deep, and unique within the world of video games. Aloy is relatable, imperfect, and empowered protagonist. Adventuring across frost-ridden mountains, open deserts, and dense forests, while completing an abundance of interesting side-quests is what this single-player game is all about. Hunting a variety of machines to upgrade your equipment, in preparation to hunt even bigger machines, is a loop of gameplay that illustrates the capacity for just how addictive games can be. It borrows the best ideas from other games in the industry, and perfects them. We love Horizon: Zero Dawn, and you will too.