2017 has been a stellar year in gaming. The past twelve months have brought the resurgence of a seemingly doomed Nintendo, outstanding innovation in games like Horizon Zero Dawn, and breakout hits like PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. Our games editorial board sat down to decide on a few titles which we thought showcased the best that this year had to offer, but picking the cream of the crop was more difficult than ever.
Best Single Player
This award goes to a title that delivered an exceptional single player experience.
Winner: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Without a doubt, exploring this iteration of Hyrule was a truly magical, awe-inspiring experience. Reinventing the formula which served as the blueprint for the series design since Ocarina of Time was no small task, but the result was a game that has an unconventional though well paced story. The narrative is made more enjoyable by a slew of unexpected episodes that occur naturally from interactions between the games systems peppered throughout.
This award goes to a title with exceptional visual art.
Cuphead manages to look like a classic cartoon, and somehow even play like one. This game feels as hectic as it looks. Every animation, every background and every sprite was laboriously hand-drawn by a small team to achieve a striking visual style.
This award goes to a title that showcases the best of multiplayer modes, challenges and embodies what we think multiplayer should be.
Winner: The Nintendo Switch
Is this a cop-out? Yes, it absolutely is. But we had so much fun playing all manner of games on the go with our switches this year. The ability to hand a joy-con to a friend anywhere and delve into Mariokart 8 Deluxe, Splatoon 2, Snipperclips and more makes the Switch this year’s biggest multiplayer innovation.
Best Independent Game
This award goes to a the best game produced by an independent studio.
Winner: Snake Pass
Snake Pass is an example of a simple idea, executed flawlessly. Inspired by the original Snake, Snake Pass is a 3D collect-a-thon where you play as a snake named Noodle. The simple mechanics are backed up by realistic snake-like controls, encouraging you to “think like a snake” (as the designers describe it) to overcome obstacles.
This award goes to a remake or remaster of a game that has excelled in modernising the original title, making it just as playable today as ever.
Winners: Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5+2.5 Remix; Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue
Kingdom Hearts’ convoluted plot has been somewhat of a running joke in the games community for many years. Largely because of its mainline releases being spread across three different portable consoles since 2006, even fans of the series have had a hard time keeping up. 2017 saw Square Enix release the entire compilation of Kingdom Hearts titles in two collections on PS4. These re-releases are even improved mechanically to hold up to modern standards. While the story is still as confusing as ever, at least now you can play it all in one place, allowing lapsed fans to catch up before the release of Kingdom Hearts III next year.
This award goes to a title that excels in delivering a cohesive vision.
Winners: Sonic Mania; Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy
In an era of nostalgia-driven media, Sonic Mania and the Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy showcase how to breathe new life into classic titles . Both games share one vision: to remain faithful to the original game, whilst providing new players with a modernised experience. We were delighted to see Crash and Sonic come back in a familiar way, but also fit in with today’s more evolved gameplay.
This award goes to a studio that exceeded expectations and showed exceptional talent in game production.
Winner: SFB Games (Snipperclips)
In 2015, Tom and Adam Vian created a co-op centred game called Friendshapes. This went on to become Snipperclips, a launch title for the Nintendo Switch and one of this year’s most loved multiplayer games. The Vian brothers’ first published title is as delightfully creative as it is hectic, and a true success story for aspiring developers.
This award goes to a title that presents an exceptional soundtrack, score or audio design.
Winner: SteamWorld Dig 2
SteamWorld Dig 2’s music is sometimes soothing but more times mysterious. It draws players into the game’s world and sets the stage for the story by using riffs from the previous game as recurring motifs. These riffs are remixed in a way that adds another dimension to the story telling. These allusions to the first SteamWorld Dig are a treat for returning fans of the series.
Most Disappointing Game
This award goes to a title that presented great potential, but ultimately did not deliver.
Winner: Mass Effect Andromeda
This game disappointed the millions of fans who were eager to explore a new galaxy in the Mass Effect universe. As the follow-up to one of the most beloved series in gaming, Mass Effect Andromeda had players expecting a lot. Unfortunately, the game was plagued by bugs and other issues at launch. Despite regular updates and fixes, the damage to the Mass Effect legacy has been done, and the series has reportedly been shelved indefinitely.
Game of the Year
Winner: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
A case could be made for this game in any of the above categories, with outstanding direction, design and brilliant gameplay. Breath of the Wild is the product of six years of experimentation. It employs lots of different elements trialed in The Legend of Zelda: a Link Between Worlds and The Legend of Zelda: Triforce Heroes as well as incorporating ideas from non-Nintendo games such as Minecraft and Skyrim. It uses these elements to create something truly unique. This is an elegantly designed adventure game that offers players an experience like no other. The one thing more exciting than a masterpiece is its legacy. We cannot wait to see what kind of games it will inspire and that is why The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is TN2’s game of the year.