The Best Games of 2017 (So Far)

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The Best So Far

We’re now halfway through 2017, and we’ve already gotten more fantastic games than we know what to do with. Ahead are the games exemplary enough to be considered some of the best of this year so far. By the end of the year, a number of these games could become candidates for 2017’s Game of the Year awards. Click ahead to see what we’ve chosen.

Which games do you think will be good enough to be included in our Game of the Year awards? Let us know in the comments below.

Gravity Rush 2

Author: Peter Brown | Score: 9

“With a wealth of stories big and small to chew on, Gravity Rush 2 fulfills the needs of both a sequel and a prequel. The first Gravity Rush had enough going for it, but Gravity Rush 2 is stuffed with things to love. While its stealth missions are lame and it’s disappointing to experience camera issues from time to time, Gravity Rush 2 excels in almost every other respect, making its predecessor seem quaint by comparison. This is easily one of the best video game sequels in recent memory, and an adventure truly worthy of its excellent lead character.” Read the full review.

Yakuza 0

Author: Peter Brown | Score: 8

“Were it not for the wealth of activities and side stories available around every corner, Zero would still be a riveting game for its story alone. It does a fantastic job of pulling you into the plight of its main characters and holds your attention through every step of their winding journeys. But, when you take in everything the game has to offer, Zero becomes something special. Yes, its presentation leaves a lot to be desired at times and the fights aren’t always as engaging as they could be, but the rest of the game is incredibly diverse and engaging. The sheer amount of activities at your fingertips would feel overwhelming if they weren’t so inviting–you’re never pressured to do one thing or another.” Read the full review.

Resident Evil 7: Biohazard

Author: Scott Butterworth | Score: 8

“By the end of the campaign, I was ready for the game to be over, but that’s okay. RE7 ends just as it starts to outstay its welcome, and after the fact, I felt like I’d survived a truly harrowing journey. The boss fights may be slightly inconsistent and certain sections might drag after a while, but RE7 is still a remarkable success. It has a clear vision and executes it with impressive patience and precision. By returning to horror, Resident Evil has once again become something special.” Read the full review.

Nioh

Author: Miguel Concepcion | Score: 9

“Although the spectre of potential failure hangs heavy over any play session, dying in Nioh is never genuinely disheartening. This is thanks in part to the various avenues of character growth and many approaches you can utilize to tackle a difficult section or boss fight. It shouldn’t be surprising that the foresight and patience needed to survive a battle in Dark Souls translates well to the fundamentals of samurai combat here. Nioh’s most invigorating and intimidating moments occur when you feel you’re at equal footing with your opponent. And it’s during these encounters that one careless move can result in your demise or the right string of thoughtful actions can make you feel invincible.” Read the full review.

Sniper Elite 4

Author: Richard Wakeling | Score: 8

“Sniper Elite 4 feels like a natural progression for this series, as Rebellion continues to refine its systems and put a greater emphasis on the long-range shooting it does so well. Its stealth and action mechanics may be simplistic, but they’re functional and regularly enjoyable. And the maps–with their impressive scale, open-ended objectives, and clever level design–coalesce these disparate systems into a creative and fulfilling whole. There are still some issues with AI inconsistency, a bland story, and some dull competitive multiplayer, but it finally feels like this series is living up to its long-standing potential.” Read the full review.

For Honor

Author: Matt Espineli | Score: 8

“After slaying countless foes, it’s clear the impact For Honor’s combat has had; its fundamental tenets of discipline and restraint are bestowed upon you permanently, forever changing the way you perceive a melee-combat encounter in a game. In its highest moments, For Honor is difficult to put down. Its slow combat pace and narrative shortcomings might turn off those unwilling to take the time to dive deep into what it has to offer. However, make no mistake–those who do will be rewarded with some of the most satisfying multiplayer melee fighting conceived in recent years.” Read the full review.

Horizon: Zero Dawn

Author: Peter Brown | Score: 9

“This is the first departure from the Killzone series for developer Guerrilla Games, and though you might think the team took a risk by stepping out of its FPS comfort zone to create a third-person open-world action game, you’d never know it was their first rodeo. For every minor imperfection, there’s an element of greatness that recharges your desire to keep fighting and exploring Zero Dawn’s beautiful and perilous world. Guerrilla Games has delivered one of the best open-world games of this generation, and redefined its team’s reputation in the process.” Read the full review.

Night in the Woods

Author: Kallie Plagge | Score: 9

“Both intensely personal and widely relatable, Night in the Woods doesn’t just tell a story–it gracefully captures complex, often unpleasant feelings and experiences. From the quiet melancholy of doing nothing on a rainy day to the emotional vacuum of severe depression, I felt deeply, sometimes too deeply, while wandering through the cartoon-animal version of a small Midwestern town. Its witty writing and character development keep its crushing existential themes grounded, making Night in the Woods one of the most evocative games I’ve played in a long time.” Read the full review.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Author: Peter Brown | Score: 10

“No matter how gorgeous its environments are, how clever its enemies are, and how tricky its puzzles get, the fact that Breath of the Wild continues to surprise you with newfound rules and possibilities after dozens of hours is by far its most valuable quality. It’s a game that allows you to feel gradually more and more empowered yet simultaneously manages to retain a sense of challenge and mystery–which, together, creates a steady, consistent feeling of gratification throughout the entire experience. Breath of the Wild is a defining moment for The Legend of Zelda series, and the most impressive game Nintendo has ever created.” Read the full review.

Nier: Automata

Author: Miguel Concepcion | Score: 9

“Thanks to Platinum Games’ knack for riveting and gratifying combat, Automata is Yoko Taro’s most exciting game to date. The combat mechanics click after hurdling a low learning curve, and the end result is a skillful dance where balletic dodges complement wushu-inspired aggression. Moreover, this multi-ending trip is generously peppered with surprises and revelations, as well as easter eggs that call back to the first game and the Drakengard series from which Nier spun off. It’s a meaty, often exhilarating trek that showcases Platinum Games’ and Yoko Taro’s unique blend of genius.” Read the review.

Torment: Tides of Numenera

Author: Daniel Starkey | Score: 9

“Torment wants you to dig through its hamlets and delve into its dungeons on your own. It isn’t about cutting down waves of foes, it’s not about being the one true hero, and it’s not wish fulfillment. Narrative is an end in itself. Story is the everything, and the play that backs that story, while minimal, gives the experience a weight that’s too often lost in other games. Torment defines itself as codified opposition to current trends, but that’s also not all it is. Using pools of points to set limits on its players and driving player expression through curiosity are novel additions to one of gaming’s oldest genres.

Taken together, Torment is far more than just a phenomenal role-playing game. It’s a challenge to restore the depth and nuance for which the genre was once known.” Read the full review.

Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment

Author: Edmond Tran | Score: 8

“Specter of Torment is a finely-crafted 2D platformer that is satisfying in all respects. Simply controlling Specter Knight–flying through the air and slicing through enemies–is a joy in itself, and being able to push your ability to control these skills in overcoming the game’s cleverly-designed and challenging levels is always an exhilarating feeling. Specter of Torment is a focused, polished, and satisfyingly challenging game that’s well worth experiencing whether or not you’ve had the pleasure of playing Shovel Knight.” Read the full review.

Persona 5

Author: Lucy James | Score: 9

“Within Persona 5 is a complex set of interconnected gameplay mechanics, and in almost every aspect Atlus has executed on its vision exceptionally, barring the pacing issues towards the end. At every turn, it presents something to marvel at, whether it’s the fluid combat, vibrant world, or the many memorable characters….It’s stuffed to bursting point with gameplay ideas and presentation flourishes–there’s an overwhelming level of artistry in every part of Persona 5, making it a truly standout entry in the series. It’s a refined, effortlessly stylish RPG that will be talked about for years to come.” Read the full review.

MLB The Show 17

Author: Richard Wakeling | Score: 8

“MLB The Show 17 continues the series’ fantastic tradition of consistency and refinement. Improvements to its various game modes give you more ways to play the game how you want to, and the action on the field has never been better, with smarter fielding AI, and enhanced ball physics that bring the hitting to life. Commentary is still a little too stilted for my liking, and there are other blemishes lurking throughout. But when you connect with a fastball and send the ball spiralling into a gap in center field, any issues retreat to the back of your mind. This is America’s National Pastime at its best.” Read the full review.

Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition

Author: Scott Butterworth | Score: 8

“For longtime fans, Full Clip Edition doesn’t offer much to be excited about. Additions like Overkill Mode and the upgraded visuals are certainly welcome, but fundamentally, this is the same game they already played in 2011. That said, the experience absolutely holds up: the skillshot system remains wildly fun and inventive, the weapons are still a gruesome joy, and the writing…well, it’s as distinctive as ever. If you missed Bulletstorm when it originally released–and based on sales numbers, you probably did–now’s the time to treat yourself to a clever if cringe-worthy blockbuster.” Read the full review.

Mr. Shifty

Author: James O’Connor | Score: 8

“Mr. Shifty isn’t a huge game in terms of length, but the three- to four-hour campaign is ample. It’s like a shot of adrenalin, offering an exciting, intense experience, and it’s easy to forgive the game’s performance flaws when it so consistently makes you feel like a badass.” Read the full review.

Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap

Author: Heidi Kemps | Score: 8

“Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap shines as one of the best retro remakes yet. It knows not to tamper too much with the enjoyable, exploration-driven gameplay that made the original so good, instead focusing on updating the presentation to reintroduce the game to a new generation of players. While it’s a bit on the short side–you can probably beat it over the course of a lazy Saturday–its small world is packed with personality. Whether you’ve played the original or are completely new to the weird, wacky world of Wonder Boy, The Dragon’s Trap is an adventure well worth embarking on.” Read the full review.

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

Author: Kallie Plagge | Score: 9

“For Mario Kart fans, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe might look like more of the same with small Double Dash-inspired tweaks. But thanks to a series of updates both big and almost unseen, it’s the version of Mario Kart to get. If you don’t own a Wii U or skipped out on Mario Kart 8 the first time around–or even if you’ve played it before–Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is worth your time. It plays beautifully on Switch in both handheld and docked mode, and its core racing is as exciting as ever. And, most notably, it completely revamps the original’s lackluster Battle Mode, rounding out an already great racing game.” Read the full review.

Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War III

Author: Daniel Starkey | Score: 8

“Dawn of War III is a game at odds with itself. Matches start with a lot of momentum and expand quickly before settling into a soft balance for long stretches. Careful control of elite warriors on the front line is essential, but so is constantly nurturing your base and marshalling upgrades for your armies. Despite that, Dawn of War III holds its own, offering delicious tooth-and-nail fights that will push both your technical skill and strategic aptitude to their limit.” Read the full review.

What Remains of Edith Finch

Author: Justin Clark | Score: 9

“Developer Giant Sparrow managed to strike the delicate balance between joy and sorrow in 2012’s The Unfinished Swan, but What Remains of Edith Finch transcends even the latent sadness of that game, finding the beauty–even sometimes the fun–in what’s always fundamentally a tragedy. It’s not often that a game’s plot slips past the bitterness of grief to finally get to the acceptance, but that’s the triumph in What Remains of Edith Finch. Ultimately, if the game has any resemblance of a moral, it’s that the bravest, most beautiful thing every one of us does is choose to keep going, despite knowing what’s coming.” Read the full review.

Puyo Puyo Tetris

Author: Jason D’Aprile | Score: 8

“Overflowing with colorful personality, Puyo Puyo Tetris revels in its weirdness. It provides solid versions of both puzzle games and merges the two in bizarre, frantic ways that adds a fresh dash of style to these long-running series. With an array of game variations spanning single-player, along with on- and offline multiplayer, it’s an incredibly meaty package that should satisfy gamers for a long time to come.” Read the full review.

Dragon Quest Heroes II

Author: Miguel Concepcion | Score: 8

“Dragon Quest Heroes II is a JRPG on fast forward. The gradual addition of new party members, the rollout of plot twists, and other typical genre roadmarkers come at you at a fast clip. If it normally takes 100 hours to amass a kill count of 10,000 enemies, this game lets you reach such milestones in less than 10. And, as one of the many spinoffs of the 20-year-old Dynasty Warriors series, it retains the best elements of the franchise’s trademark combat, where you decimate armies with rudimentary, albeit flashy, combos. Dragon Quest Heroes II distinguishes itself from its equally great predecessor with its free roam-friendly fields of battle, which feel like an homage to the open expanses of mainline Dragon Quest games.” Read the full review.

The Sexy Brutale

Author: Leif Johnson | Score: 8

“The Sexy Brutale’s puzzles are fun enough, though they’re never precisely challenging. Instead, the game is likely best understood as an interactive art piece. Seen as such, it succeeds on almost all fronts. There’s dramatic tension as you discover each of the gruesome ways your fellow guests meet their end in ever more fascinating wings of the mansion, and there’s a dark commentary on the banality of death as you grow accustomed to using the sounds associated with specific murders in distant rooms as a form of a timer. Over and over again, The Sexy Brutale hammers home the brutal truth that you just can’t save everyone.” Read the full review.

Little Nightmares

Author: Matt Espineli | Score: 8

“It’s likely you’ll finish Little Nightmares in one or two sittings; its brief length may diminish the spark of its highs, making you wish there was more to prolong the time it takes to overcome its tense set pieces. But regardless of how you view the time you spend with the game, its strange and distorted world is enough to pull you back in for a second playthrough. The journey to reach its provocative conclusion is filled with unnerving questions and imagery that take hold of your morbid curiosities and pull you deep into introspection. While its puzzles are at times too straightforward, Little Nightmares is a chilling odyssey well worth taking.” Read the full review.

Super Rude Bear Resurrection

Author: Chris Pereira | Score: 9

“On the strength of its pacing and basic mechanics alone, Super Rude Bear Resurrection would make for an extremely engaging platformer. The addition of its corpse mechanic elevates it to something greater, allowing it to simultaneously serve as an extreme challenge for the most diehard platforming fans as well as a game that can be enjoyed by the novice crowd. Super Rude Bear Resurrection demands a lot from you, but the satisfaction of success is immense in the end.” Read the full review.

Strafe

Author: Michael Higham | Score: 8

“At first glance, Strafe looks as if it’s resting on the laurels of the old-school, hyper-fast, and gory first-person shooters from the ’90s. Oftentimes, it actually does lean heavily on the likes of Doom and Quake, but working within those confines and introducing a roguelike structure, Strafe emerges as a uniquely thrilling shooter with plenty of charm in its own right. It teeters between being mindlessly fun and cautiously strategic to the backdrop of a perfectly executed electronic soundtrack, teaching you something new with each run.” Read the full review.

Injustice 2

Author: Peter Brown | Score: 9

“With AI battles, online and local versus matches, the diverse and ever-changing Multiverse, and an impressive story mode, Injustice 2 offers numerous ways of engaging with its characters and testing your abilities without feeling repetitive. This variety is further bolstered by gear. Despite the needlessly complex economy tied to item management, the value of customization and expression that comes with gear ultimately makes up for it. And with over 25 characters to explore, it’s easy to look forward to watching your next character grow while your understanding of the game continues to expand. NetherRealm has delivered a fighting game that can be enjoyed by new players and pros alike in ways that go beyond pure competition. It’s a bar that every fighting game should meet, but one that has up until now seemed out of reach.” Read the full review.

Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia

Author: Heidi Kemps | Score: 9

“Fire Emblem Echoes is a fantastic remake and a striking departure from modern Fire Emblem staples. What it lacks in interpersonal character relationships and user-controlled ‘shipping,’ it makes up for in meaty, challenging strategy gameplay, engaging exploration sequences, and a tighter overall narrative. Taken both on its own and as part of the larger Fire Emblem franchise, Echoes’s unique elements help it stand out from its contemporaries. If you feel like you’re up to a lengthy, engaging challenge, then Echoes will satisfy in spades.” Read the full review.

Endless Space 2

Author: Brett Todd | Score: 8

“4X space sims have long been known as the territory of the serious strategy gamer, but Amplitude has broken away from the pack here. Outstanding depth and tactical challenge have been preserved, although not at the expense of the strong storytelling needed to emphasize the sense of awe and wonder in galactic exploration that’s always been a huge part of the genre’s appeal. Amplitude has done a masterful job combining these two elements into a single game, where the quests and strategy and politics and economy are all tied into a whole much greater than the sum of its parts.” Read the full review.

Tekken 7

Author: Peter Brown | Score: 8

“Tekken 7’s diverse roster is packed with a wide range of personalities and fighting styles, bolstered by a raucous attitude that begs to be taken seriously while simultaneously mocking its more peculiar whims in the process. Tekken fans will find their next favorite game–one that’s the product of decade’s worth of refinement. And while some of this depth will be lost or out of reach for newcomers, there’s enough fun to be had outside of hardcore competition to keep players from all walks of gaming thoroughly entertained.” Read the full review.

Dirt 4

Author: Richard Wakeling | Score: 9

“With daily, weekly, and monthly community challenges also on the agenda, plus competitive online races in each of its three racing disciplines, Dirt 4 is certainly packed full of content. It might not have the same pomp and circumstance of previous numbered entries in the series, but Dirt 4 maintains the robust depth of Dirt Rally’s full-blooded simulation, while smartly opening things up to a wider audience with a heaping of difficulty options. If Dirt Rally’s punishing difficulty alienated longtime series fans in any way, this commitment to accessibility should help to bring them back, and the near-infinite possibilities of Your Stage should keep them playing. Dirt 4 is a shining example of Codemasters at their brilliant best.” Read the full review.

Wipeout Omega Collection

Author: Miguel Concepcion | Score: 9

Wipeout Omega Collection is not a history lesson. It most certainly doesn’t remind players of Wipeout’s significance during PlayStation’s early years. It isn’t a greatest hits package either–given the absence of Wipeout XL and 3–although this gorgeous remastered trio of games represents a hefty helping of the series’ most recent outings. In other words, it’s sensory-overloading anti-gravity racing that sublimely blends often-chaotic vehicular combat.” Read the full review.

Steel Division: Normandy ’44

Author: Daniel Starkey | Score: 8

“Pinning down enemies with suppressing fire is a blast. So, too, is a well-executed offensive that cracks and divides enemy front lines. The adrenaline of pulling together a coordinated attack is priceless, and Steel Division is all about chaining these moments together, directed as they are by an aggressive tie to historical realism. If there’s one failing here, it’s that the game doesn’t offer many chances to explore that rich field on your own before jumping into multiplayer matches. But when it all comes together in the perfect match, Steel Division’s magic is undeniable.” Read the full review.

Nex Machina

Author: Jason D’Aprile | Score: 9

“Nex Machina is a modern revamp of Robotron 2084 in all but name, and developer Housemarque even managed to collaborate with Robotron’s creator, Eugene Jarvis, to bring the high-quality homage to life. Conceptually, the two games are nearly identical, and every aspect of Nex Machina is appropriately chock-full of nostalgia; the gorgeously trippy graphics feel simultaneously modern and retro, and the synth-wave soundtrack complements the sci-fi action perfectly. In the same vein as Pac-Man Championship Edition, Nex Machina is one of the best modernizations of a classic arcade game that you can find.” Read the full review.

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