I find it difficult to put my time with Muv-Luv Alternative into words, not because I lack words of praise, but because I'm not sure how to properly express my appreciation for it. Alternative pieces together elements of various genres, mainly mecha and romance, that by all accounts should've resulted in a hammy action story. Instead, it delivers one of the most profoundly emotional tales of love I've ever experienced in any medium. The forty-odd hours I spent playing through the game went by in a flash, and by the end of it I was weeping for the first time in years. To say that it changed my life would be a stretch, but Alternative definitely left an indelible impression on me — one allowing the game to earn its spot as my game of the year.
NieR: Automata is game that could have taken so many wrong turns on so many levels, it's a miracle that it ended up as phenomenal as it is. From its unconventional storytelling to its extremely varied gameplay sections, Automata fears absolutely nothing as it takes these enormous leaps of faith under Yoko Taro's guidance. Thankfully, his guidance proves to be more than enough, as Automata ends up being one of the most refreshing games I've played in recent memory. Admittedly, some of the social commentary in the sidequests feels completely out of place, and the mini-map is an absolute nightmare to navigate, but Automata has earned itself some leeway for mistakes considering how ambitious and bold it is in the grand scheme of things. Superbly streamlined gameplay, mind boggling twists, and a stellar atmospheric soundtrack combine to make for one of the best gaming experiences of the year and one that will be remembered for years to come.
From a technical standpoint, Danganronpa V3 improves upon its predecessors in every way imaginable. The cases kept me guessing until the final moments, the gameplay has been smoothed out significantly, and the audiovisuals saw notable improvements thanks to the PS4-focused development. But I honestly can't say that I fully enjoyed most of the thirty hours or so that I spent to complete the game. Beyond its extremely strong opening act, V3 generally struggled to break free from the shackles of predictable chapter progressions and one-dimensional cast members, making parts of the game feel more like homework than a riveting mystery. It presented several interesting ideas but failed to properly develop them at almost any point in the story, and it answered too many of my questions near the end with a meek shrug. I wanted to love V3. I really did. But it simply falters in too many areas that I loved from the previous games to avoid being my disappointment of 2017.
Hollow Knight was one of those games I never expected to get around to playing, considering it was one of the several games I purchased during Steam's autumn sale. Yet the allure of "Metroidvania Dark Souls" had me booting up the game before too long, and fifty hours later all I have to say is that this is possibly the best indie game I've ever played. Thrust into the shoes of the Knight as he ventures into the fallen kingdom of Hallownest, the parallels to Dark Souls are quite apparent from the get-go. But the great thing about Hollow Knight is that it builds off of the ideas that made Dark Souls such a great game instead of simply copying them, making for a journey that is just as memorable. The highly polished combat and platforming kept me plenty entertained while I was playing, while the deeply rooted lore and the fantastic soundtrack made sure there was never a dull moment during my post-gaming YouTube sessions. Hollow Knight is a game that keeps on giving and should be an essential part of anyone's gaming library.