And, we’re off with our year-end countdown of the best games of 2017. If you didn’t read our Runner Up post yesterday (and you should), here are the rules: the writers were free to choose from any platform to choose their games of choice. And…I guess that was the only rule. That’s right, our only rule was that there are no rules. I feel so metal.
For the record, I ignored this rule and kept my five selections in the mobile universe. This was due more to the fact that my list became too unwieldy when I added in other platforms. For example, there’s no way I could have left the excellent XCOM 2 expansion, War of the Chosen off my list. By ignoring Steam titles, I was able to add some mobile games that deserve the love. Also, it was easier and I will always take the path of least resistance.
Race for the Galaxy
Race for the Galaxy is the first game I remember deciding not to buy because I’d so much rather play it digitally. I feel slightly guilty about playing such a tight game suboptimally, but the ability to finish in five minutes leaves me enthusiastically racing through my turns. I suppose my hope is that I’ll learn more from many flawed games than fewer games in which I make my errors more attentively. The absence of a spatial element saps the game of most of its theme for me, but the multiple-use cards and role selection may never have been deployed more efficiently.
- Race for the Galaxy for iOS Universal, $7
- Race for the Galaxy for Android, $7
- Race for the Galaxy for PC via Steam, $7
The year’s best “Early Access” game [now in full release -ed.] has got to be Opus Magnum. Zachtronics, makers of games for nerds the world over, have really outdone themselves with this mechanical puzzler. Your goal is to create a specific output from constituent reagents by building a contraption that would make Henry Ford jealous. There’s ample opportunity to tinker and improve once you’ve solved a level and make your machine cheaper, faster, and smaller. The GIF maker is also pure brilliance for both marketing and as a way to share your creative brilliance.
West of Loathing
West of Loathing is the funniest video game I’ve ever played. It’s the video game equivalent of a classic Zucker brothers comedy, packed with so many jokes and gags that it’s nearly exhausting. As a spinoff of Asymmetric’s classic browser game Kingdom of Loathing, that isn’t entirely surprising. But instead of a relatively simple browser game, West of Loathing is a polished single-player open world western-themed JRPG. It’s a game that rewards the player for poking around in every corner or trying to break the game, usually with some funny text, but sometimes with items, side quests, or even whole features. For instance, there’s a book you can find that will enable a feature that shuffles your character’s walking animation among some ridiculous forms of locomotion. For the dozen or so hours it took me to beat the game, I was rarely without a smile and would regularly find myself laughing out loud! I don’t do that very often in games that are supposed to be funny, but West of Loathing made it seem effortless. I’m looking forward to playing it again soon, when the announced iPad version is released.
Darkest Dungeon: Tablet Edition
Darkest Dungeon is a perfect tablet game: gorgeous 2D art, challenging but easy pick-up/put-down play, and controls begging for a touch adaptation. It’s 2017’s equivalent to the 2014 mobile version of FTL and the only thing that could have marred it would have been a bad port. Thankfully, it’s an excellent port in a year that started and ended with amazing indie ports to mobile from Sunless Sea and Wheels of Aurelia to Fez and Life is Strange. What elevates Darkest Dungeon Tablet Edition from “good port” to game of the year status is that this feels like a homecoming: this is what Darkest Dungeon was always meant to be.
- Darkest Dungeon for iPad, $5
- Darkest Dungeon for PC/Mac/Linux via Steam, $25
- Darkest Dungeon for PC/Mac/Linux via GoG, $10 (on sale)
Any other year, Card Thief would have landed on a lot of lists as the best game of the year. In 2017, it barely cracks the top five. Yep, 2017 has been that good. Card Thief continues Tinytouchtales‘ mastery of making addictive mobile card games. Games are quick and offer the player a bevy of choices each turn, with rewards for playing better and nabbing more loot. Like Card Crawl, Card Thief is a beautiful game with incredibly art by Mexer. If Card Thief has one drawback it’s that it might be too complex. This isn’t your average mindless time-waster, and instead requires you to submerge yourself unlike Tinytouchtales’ other games don’t. If you’re looking for a heavier solitaire card game, however, Card Thief is the way to go.