2017 was an odd year in gaming for me. My list of games contains new games, old games, replays of games, remastered games, and Zelda games. I began 2017 hoping to put a dent in my backlog. With everything that ended up happening, 2017 became the year of my comfort gaming. I have a whopping twenty games on the list this year, which surprises me. This list is ordered in the order I started to play the game in 2017. Each game gets its own special category. I also include some stats about my play sessions. All stats are captured from this year; the stats do not include older playthroughs. Let’s begin.
This is not Portal, pesky human
The Turing Test (PC)
Release date: 8/30/2016 Number of hours played: 7.5 Number of achievements earned: 15/15 Number of screenshots taken: 81
The Turing Test does nothing wrong. The graphics are great. The sound design creates an eerie atmosphere. The puzzle mechanic is unique. Overall, the gameplay is solid. Everything comes together to create a good game, but not a great one. The premise is interesting. You wake up on a space station, and are informed your team has gone missing on Europa. You are guided by an A.I. named T.O.M. Once on the ground, you discover the ground team has setup puzzles that only humans can solve, hence, the title of the game, The Turing Test. The narrative between T.O.M. and the main character is alright, but the story never surprises or does anything interesting. The puzzle mechanic is unique, but the puzzles are mostly bland. A few puzzles I struggled with, only to realize I was not properly introduce to a new mechanic. The game is fine, but that is mostly because it is not a full priced game. It’s a good budget title.
Just Cause 3 – Air, Land & Sea Expansion Pass (PC)
Release date: 3/15/2016, 6/11/2016, 8/18/2016 Number of hours played: 10 Number of achievements earned: 13/19 (56/66 for full game) Number of screenshots taken: 22
The Land, Air, and Sea Expansion Pass for Just Cause 3 is the perfect excuse to jump back into the world of Just Cause. I played the base game back in 2015, but I wanted to wait until all three DLCs were released before jumping back into the chaos. The three DLCs are separate, and each one tells a different story. Of course, Rico has to save the day in each one. Each DLC adds something new. The Air adds the Bavarium wing suit. It allows you to fly around the map and reach new heights to solve the problems found in the sky… or just cause (ha!) more chaos. The Land adds mechs to the Just Cause universe. They add new ways to destroy. The Sea adds the Loochador rocket boat. It’s a boat designed with rockets, because, just ’cause. The Expansion Pass is the perfect excuse to return to the game. The new modes of transportation and destruction is well worth the extra price.
Fun, the sequel
Dishonored 2 (PC)
Release date: 11/11/2016 Number of hours played: 104 Number of achievements earned: 50/50 Number of screenshots taken: 121
Dishonored 2 is my favorite kind of game. I loved the first Dishonored, because it let me play how I liked. I love sneaking around, exploring the levels, and stabbing/knocking out every single enemy in sight. Of course, you don’t have to play like that. You could run around in plain view, and fight everything that gets in your way. Dishonored 2 is more of that, but with even more unique and interesting level design. Entire levels change up the formula defined by the first game. Rooms can change with the pull of a level in Jindosh’s mansion. In Stilton’s manor, you travel between the past and present. Plus, the developers added a second playable character. She has a completely different set of skills than her father, Corvo. I would have been happy with a fresh coat of paint for a sequel, but the level design and the new skills really make this a sequel that surpasses the first.
Why would I use fast travel?
Horizon Zero Dawn (PS4)
Release date: 2/28/2017 Number of hours played: 86.75 Number of achievements earned: 56/56 (56/58 post patch) Number of screenshots taken: 91
Horizon Zero Dawn may very well be the best game I have ever played. The open world is rich, and filled with discovery. I chose to walk to my destination over using a mount or fast travel. The enemies (dinosaur robots, for Pete’s sake!) require study and strategy to successfully take down. I could never just run into combat with a random weapon, and mash buttons; I would die. The lore and story run parallel with one another. As the mystery of the apocalypse untangles, so does Aloy’s story. I cared what happened to Aloy, because I cared about the world (and vice versa). Plus the world is absolutely breath taking.
Crawling in vents
Deus Ex: Human Revolution and Missing Link DLC (PC)
Release date: 8/23/2011 and 10/18/2011 Number of hours played: 31 Number of achievements earned: 40/59 Number of screenshots taken: 57
Deus Ex: Human Revolution scratches my sneak around and knock people out itch. It does not do as good of a job as Dishonored, but it has the cyberpunk angle. I did not really like the combat in Human Revolution too much, but I had a blast finding every nook and cranny in each level. I tried to play the game when I first bought it, but it did not grab my attention. I stopped playing after an hour or two. I started over in 2017, and I had a lot of fun. The level design and lore/story made the journey worth it.
Punching through walls
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided (PC)
Release date: 8/23/2016 Number of hours played: 44.75 Number of achievements earned: 35/81 Number of screenshots taken: 35
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided was the main reason I tried Human Revolution again. Sneaking around and knocking out enemies in a cyberpunk setting sounded cool, so I gave it a shot. I liked Human Revolution. On paper, Mankind Divided sounded like a proper sequel. Better graphics and more cool skills. The game has a lot of hidden nook and crannies, but the level design was not as interesting to me. I came to dislike Prague, where I spent most of my time. The city is split into two parts, and has a loading screen between the two areas. Missions constantly have you move back and forth between the two areas. It is annoying. The story is interesting, but not as interesting as Human Revolution. At this point, I am invested and will most likely get the next game in the series, if they make one.
The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening DX (GBC)
Release date: 12/15/1998 Number of hours played: 16? (forgot to track; rough guess between How Long To Beat and the other Zelda GBC games) Number of achievements earned: NA Number of screenshots taken: 2
By the time July rolled around, I needed some comfort gaming. I went back to my very first Zelda game, The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening. I originally played it on my gray Gameboy, but this time I played the DX version on the Gameboy Color. I had a very strong sense of adventure as a kid, so Zelda should have appealed to me. I could best the first dungeon in Link’s Awakening, but I had trouble figuring out how to get into the second dungeon. Even though I could not get to the second dungeon, I would still play the game over and over again as a kid. In high school, I played through most of the Zelda games, and I finally beat Link’s Awakening to completion. Turns out I needed to find Bow-Wow to progress. Playing Link’s Awakening in 2017 really hit the spot for me. Nostalgia makes this my favorite 2D Zelda game. It also started a new Zelda binge in 2017.
Not as relaxing as I had hoped
The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons (GBC)
Release date: 5/14/2001 Number of hours played: 18.5 Number of achievements earned: NA Number of screenshots taken: 5
After completing Link’s Awakening, I was still craving more Zelda on the Gameboy. I decided to tackle the Oracle series, starting with The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons. I played the Oracle games for the first time during my Zelda high school binge, but I remembered very little about them. I remember really liking them for some reason. Oracle of Seasons plays very much like Link’s Awakening. You get a staff that can change the seasons if you stand on tree stumps. Changing the seasons is a really cool mechanic. You can also ride animals, including a kangaroo. However, Oracle of Seasons is not as much fun as I remembered. I actually died a lot; the enemies are kinda brutal. Changing seasons is still a cool mechanic, and the puzzles are top notch for the series.
Hah! System link… get it?
The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages (GBC)
Release date: 5/14/2001 Number of hours played: 18.75 Number of achievements earned: NA Number of screenshots taken: 1
The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages was my favorite of the two Oracle games. Where Seasons only allowed you to change seasons in a limited number of locations, Ages allows you to pretty much switch between the past and present almost anywhere. This makes the mechanic a lot more interesting. I probably liked it more because of the linking system between the two games. Linking allows you to unlock more items, as well as play the combined ending. The payoff for linking the two Oracle games is very satisfying.
The beginning of items
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (SNES)
Release date: 4/13/1992 Number of hours played: 15 Number of achievements earned: NA Number of screenshots taken: 3
After completing the Gameboy Zelda games, I was still craving more 2D Zelda. So, I played through The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. My cousin owned this game on the Super Nintendo, and I would watch my brother and him play it (they were kinda mean to me and wouldn’t let me play). I really did not remember too much about it from my childhood. I completed it during my high school Zelda binge, and loved it. I remembered quite a bit about this game when I played through it again in 2017. Everything from the story, map, dungeons, and items are Zelda staples of more modern Zelda games. Pretty much everything that makes Zelda, Zelda, was either started in this game, or refined. If I were to toss nostalgia out the window, I think The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past would be my favorite 2D Zelda game.
Buttery smooth on PC as well
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor (PC)
Release date: 9/30/2014 Number of hours played: 37.5 Number of achievements earned: 59/74 Number of screenshots taken: 27
Normally, I play games two at a time. When I started my Zelda binge, I was playing one game at a time. When I got to A Link to the Past, I decided to start a second game, but I did not want it to be a Zelda game. Instead, I chose Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor. Yeah, the game made the list in 2014, but that was the PS4 version. Also, I had never played the DLC. I bought it the game of the year edition on PC, and needed to get some achievements. The base game was as great I remembered. Killing Orcs (or whatever the hell they are called in this game) is a ton of fun. The Lord of the Hunt DLC is more orc killing fun, but with new mounts and more Tovin, the wise-cracking, hunter dwarf! Sneaking up on orcs while mounted on a Caragath is entertaining, and ridiculous. Like, how the fuck can’t they see me while I am on the back of a very large wolf-creature? The Bright Lord DLC, sounded cool, but really wasn’t. It disappointed me and I never finished it. Expanding on the character Celebrimbor is cool, but removing almost everything that made the game fun is not cool. Overall, revisiting the game on PC was worth it.
Shiney but the same
Starcraft: Remastered (PC)
Release date: 8/14/2017 Number of hours played: 44 Number of achievements earned: NA Number of screenshots taken: 12
Starcraft: Remastered was the perfect excuse to play through the story again. I love the lore of Starcraft. I am not good at Starcraft. I can beat the Terran campaign, and part of the Zerg campaign without cheating. However, to finish the story, I used cheats, and I don’t care. I still had fun. The remaster is a faithful remaster. The graphics have been redone, and they look great in widescreen and 4k. All of the mechanics and physics are the same, for better or worse. Starcraft 2 is infinitely better in the gameplay department, but I still love revisiting this game for its story. Thank you Blizzard for making it playable on modern systems.
Shiney but also better
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D (3DS)
Release date: 6/19/2011 Number of hours played: 28.75 Number of achievements earned: NA Number of screenshots taken: 103
Speaking of remasters, I played The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D after completing A Link to the Past. Where Starcraft was a faithful remaster (keeping the gameplay and everything intact), Ocarina of Time 3D remasters the original designers’ intentions. I played Ocarina of Time on the Nintendo 64 for the first time in high school, and it had not aged well by that time. The graphics were awful, and the frame rate was atrocious. It actually affected gameplay in things like the Water Temple. However, Ocarina of Time 3D, fixes all of that. The game is just beautiful, and it runs at a respectable 30 FPS; compared to the N64 version, it is silky smooth. The touch screen makes the inventory management bearable, as well as easy access to the map without pausing. The remaster designers also made some visual tweaks to dungeons, making navigation in the Water Temple logical, and easy to figure out without backtracking too much. The remaster actually bumped this game up to one of my favorite Zelda games, if not my most favorite.
A bump of HD
The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD (WiiU)
Release date: 9/20/2013 Number of hours played: 37.75 Number of achievements earned: NA Number of screenshots taken: 8
Wind Waker was my favorite Zelda game, so I had to play The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD for the WiiU after playing Ocarina of Time 3D. I actually got this game when I bought the Wind Waker edition of the WiiU, but I never got around to playing it. My Zelda binge was the perfect excuse. Wind Waker did not really need an HD remake, but boy does it look great in HD. The touch pad is also very handy for item management and referencing the map. They did make one tweak: they made the game less tedious. They added a sail where you go faster, and you don’t have to manually change the wind directory when sailing. It is the perfect minor tweak, that does away with a lot of tedium that sailing and exploring can cause. Wind Waker is as good I remembered. The Ganon in Wind Waker is my favorite version of the character. It’s difficult to choose between Ocarina of Time 3D and Wind Waker HD for favorite Zelda, but I think Wind Waker edges it out. I think Wind Waker will continue to age well, but Ocarina of Time 3D might not because of art style.
Touch screen controls suck
The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass (DS)
Release date: 10/1/2007 Number of hours played: 2.25 (unfinished) Number of achievements earned: NA Number of screenshots taken: 4
Normally I don’t put games that I didn’t complete on this annual list, but I decided to make an exception with The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass. I tried to play Phantom Hourglass when it was first released, but couldn’t get into it; I put it down after an hour. After having so much fun with Wind Waker, I just wanted more of the world. So I decided to give Phantom Hourglass another go since it was a direct sequel to Wind Waker. Nope, still did not like it, but I did decide to at least complete one dungeon. I hate the touch screen only controls. I think the movement should at least be tied to the D-pad. Completing the first dungeon was such a chore. I completed it, and made it back to the central dungeon, and then I turned it off. I found out I would have to go through the central dungeon several times, and I was not having any of that. The story did not grab me, the gameplay sucked, and so I was not going to waste my time.
Poorest implementation of a stamina bar
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword (Wii)
Release date: 11/20/2011 Number of hours played: 45 Number of achievements earned: NA Number of screenshots taken: 18
Speaking of bad Zelda games, I also played The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. Unlike Phantom Hourglass, I actually completed Skyward Sword in 2017. I originally played it when it was first released, and I got pretty far before losing interest. I could not remember why I lost interest, so Zelda-Binge 2017 was the perfect excuse to replay. It does three things wrong. First, the motions controls are a problem. After getting used to it, the sword fighting was cool, and the one-to-one movement with the controller added strategy to sword fights. The motion controls were great for most of the items. The Wii Motion Plus elevated the motion controls from a shallow gimmick to a cool feature. However, the motion controls leave little room for mistakes, which can be very frustrating, especially in the heat of a boss battle. Minor gestures have you doing things that you did not plan. Also, mainly because of the motion controls, this game has some of the longest tutorials ever in a Zelda game. The second issue is the stamina bar. It serves no good purpose. It can’t be upgraded, so all of the obstacles are perfectly spaced so you can get through them without depleting your stamina. It depletes in a matter of seconds, and takes three times longer to replenish. It makes “running” around the world annoying as hell when you have to stop every three seconds and walk for 10. This leads into the third issue, which is backtracking. You are constantly backtracking, and the sky, hub world is filled with so much empty space. It is really a shame Skyward Sword has these issues. The music and sound design is some of the best of any of the Zelda games, and maybe of any game period. The story adds a lot to the Zelda lore, and has some of the best characters in the series. The dungeon and item design is some of the best in the series as well. It is hard for me to recommend, but it is also a sin to not play this game if you are a Zelda fan.
Complete the story
Starcraft 2 (PC)
Release date: Wings of Liberty - 7/27/2010 Heart of the Swarm - 3/12/2013 Legacy of the Void - 11/10/2015 Number of hours played: 52.75 Number of achievements earned: Lots Number of screenshots taken: 23
After finishing Starcraft Remastered, I decided I needed to play Starcraft 2. I never finished the last expansion, Legacy of the Void, so I figured I might as well start at the beginning of Starcraft 2, and finish the story. I really love the lore and characters from Starcraft, and Starcraft 2 is a lot more intimate with the characters. Wings of Liberty is focused on James Raynor, and trying to save his love. Heart of the Swarm is about Sarah Kerrigan getting revenge on the one she hates the most. Legacy of the Void is a little more larger scale; save the universe from a great evil. In the end my favorite part of the three campaigns is how the ending tied up the story of Raynor and Kerrigan. It was fun to watch it from the beginning in the first Starcraft, to the end of Legacy of the Void.
Best use of time
The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D (3DS)
Release date: 2/13/2015 Number of hours played: 30.75 Number of achievements earned: NA Number of screenshots taken: 32
My high school Zelda binge was missing Majora’s Mask. For my 2017 binge, I decided to play The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D. To some Zelda fans, Majora’s Mask is their favorite, and boy do I see why. It’s different, but still feels like Zelda. I am surprised no one has successfully pulled off the time mechanic like Majora’s Mask did. If you don’t know, you have three days to save the world. If you run out of time, time resets back to the beginning of the three days, and you lose most of your progress. However, you get to keep your masks. The masks do some cool and clever things to help you progress in the world. The time mechanic should have made me stressed, but I had a lot of fun with it. It’s implemented just right, and would be very difficult for another game to pull off without stressing the player. Being on the 3DS, it runs and looks great. It is not my favorite Zelda, but I can definitely see why so many people love it.
I guess it’s HD
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD (WiiU)
Release date: 3/4/2016 Number of hours played: 42 Number of achievements earned: NA Number of screenshots taken: 6
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD takes place in the same timeline as Majora’s Mask, so I decided to play it next. I played it on the Wii when it first came out; in fact, Twilight Princess was the reason for my Zelda binge in high school. The graphics definitely look better in HD, but definitely not as good as The Wind Waker HD‘s graphics. It has to do with the art style. Twilight Princess went for a gritty look with a lot of greens and browns. The Twilight realm is pretty, but everything else looks like a HD release of a Wii game. Graphically, Twilight Princess will continue to age poorly. However, that’s not why one plays Zelda. I love Twilight Princess. It checks all of the boxes of a fun Zelda game. Unique items. Fun dungeons and puzzles. Epona. A sidekick. It even goes beyond by introducing Link’s wolf form and the Twilight realm. However, I can’t stop feeling a little bit of disappointment. It’s definitely a great game, and a great Zelda game, but I feel like it has more potential that it did not achieve. I can’t really explain why I feel that way, but that’s how I feel. Maybe I am just getting tired of Zelda after playing so many games in the series in a row.
Swearing at Toad has never been more fun
Mario Kart 7 (3DS)
Release date: 12/4/2011 Number of hours played: 25.25 Number of achievements earned: NA Number of screenshots taken: 195
Originally, I did not think Mario Kart 7 would make the cut for 2017. However, I visited family, and had a lot of time to kill riding in the car. Between the traveling in the car, and downtime during the holidays, I was able to get at least one star on all of the grand prix races, and put in a lot of races online. It is odd having played Mario Kart 8 before 7; it is a de-evolution of the series. Many things I praised Mario Kart 8 for doing are present in Mario Kart 7 in a simpler form. However, Mario Kart 7 does offer some of my favorite tracks ever created for a Mario Kart game (three of them appear in Mario Kart 8; one I hate also appears in 8). Overall, I like having a portable Mario Kart, even if it is a step down from 8.
2017 Gaming Statistics
Total number of games played: 24 Total number of hours: 725+ Total Number of gaming sessions: 315+ Oldest game played: The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (4/13/1992) Newest game played: Starcraft: Remastered (8/14/2017) Game with most achievements earned: Horizon Zero Dawn (56) Game with most hours played: Dishonored 2 (104) Personal game of the year: Horizon Zero Dawn (PS4)
As I mentioned, I needed some comfort gaming. Zelda, Starcraft, and Shadow of Mordor all filled that role. I was able to put a small dent in my backlog by playing the two new Deus Ex games, and the Just Cause 3 DLCs. I also played some newer games. The Turing Test had come out just a few months before I played it, as well as one of my personal favorites, Dishonored 2. If it weren’t for Horizon Zero Dawn, Dishonored 2 would have won my personal game of the year for this list. Horizon Zero Dawn came out, and I knew I had to play it right away; it is so good.
How was 2017 for the health of the video gaming industry? Pretty damn good. Nintendo is kicking ass with the Switch, with outstanding titles like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and Super Mario Odyssey. Arkane put out two single play games I need to play this year: Dishonored: Death of the Outsider, and Prey. Nier: Automata and Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus are also on my play list. For shorter games with AAA shine, Uncharted: The Lost Legacy and Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice look great. I also hope to play them in 2018, but we will have to see. I am not a big multiplayer fan, but I love to watch Muyskerm play Playerunknown’s Battle Grounds (PUBG). I am also not a fan of horror games, but it looks like Resident Evil 7 brought the series back on great footing. There has also been a ton of indie games, like Cuphead and Everything getting critical acclaim. I could go on and on listing the great games of 2017.
2017 was not all good for gaming, but no year is completely without controversy. Loot boxes and pay-to-win game design were huge controversies in 2017. However, these things have been in gaming for a lot longer than most people realize. Most of the games in the previous paragraph (the exception being PUBG) do not have loot creates and/or pay-to-win mechanics. I will reiterate what I said last year: gamers need to buy fun games. As a consumer, gamers have many resources at their disposable to make educated purchases on what game they think will be fun, and which ones won’t. There is no need to boycott a publisher. People forget that EA published Titanfall 2, which was showered with praise and free updates. At the same time, if you think the loot boxes in Battlefront 2 (also EA) will affect the amount of fun you will have in the game, then do not buy it; buy something else. Gamers have all of the power in this relationship.
I did not get around to too many new games in 2017. Honestly, there are only a handful of games coming out in 2018 that I am excited for. I am hoping I can make a huge dent in my backlog in 2018.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post. I spent a lot of time gathering the screenshots you see here; I hope I captured some shots you think are cool. I am a numbers guy, and I manual track many of the statistics shared in this post. You probably do not care, but I think it adds some context to my opinion of the game. Generally, the higher percentage of achievements I get, the more I like the game. It’s not always true; sometimes the achievements are just really easy to get. The hours played should fill in the rest of the context. I hope you enjoyed reading this post. I hope your life will be filled with fun in 2018.