The Best Video Games of 2017

Guerilla Games

For decades, video games have been part of everyday life for certain groups of people, from the '90s kids who swore by their Game Boy Colors to the college crowd who made Guitar Hero and Rock Band sound like unicorns making sweet, sweet love to "Free Bird." But with each passing year, as the quality and range of games improve, they become more and more appealing to a wider portion of the population -- it's no surprise, then, that 2017 is one of the best years yet.

While much has been made of the death of single-player games, it wasn't enough to deter anyone from the year's endless swarm of shooters, platformers, action RPGs, and narrative adventures. Hell, Nintendo launched a new handheld console in March, and nine months later, it's become a hotbed for both indies and DOOM. It's a wonderful time to be a gamer, and these 25 picks for the Best of 2017 underline why.

Daddy
Courtesy of Game Grumps

25. Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator

Release date: July 20 (on PC)
Why it's great: Dream Daddy is a robust dating sim where you play a dad who dates other dads, but its irresistible charm comes from its depth. It goes to lengths to deconstruct the importance of fatherhood and how other characters deal with their own parental trials, and it balances those emotional moments with mindful dad tips, coffee puns (Americano Football) and Pokémon-style mini-games in which you try to destroy another dad's HP by bragging about your daughter. The "daddies" themselves are aplenty, but they help turn the meme into its own full-blown genre.
Where to buy: Steam and Humble Bundle

The Jackbox party Pack 4
Courtesy of Jackbox Games, Inc

24. The Jackbox Party Pack 4

Release date: October 17 (on XB1, PS4, Switch, PC, Apple TV)
Why it's great: Whether you're with a Twitch streamer or a group of 20-something socialites who know how to throw a cheese party, The Jackbox series is there for you. This year's edition swaps Quiplash 2 and Tee K.O. for meme-friendly interactives such as Survive the Internet and Monster Seeking Monster, while Fibbage 3 shows off Jackbox's new love for pairing laughs with production value.
Where to buy: Jackbox Games, Nintendo, Steam, Humble Bundle, and Amazon

Wodner Boy: The Dragon's Trap
Courtesy of LizardCube

23. Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap

Release date: April 18 (on XB1, PS4, Switch, PC)
Why it's great: LizardCube's "retro, remastered" upgrade of the Sega Master System original is an exceptional homage to the past, future, and present of side-scrollers. It goes beyond your typical "go left" tactics by pinning its art style to wacky boss fights and a demand for exploration that utilizes the ability to switch from 8-bit visuals to hand-drawn on the fly. The hitboxes and combat can be a bit hellish, but on aesthetics alone, Wonder Boy is one of the year's best-looking games. Period.
Where to buy: Microsoft, Nintendo, Steam, Humble Bundle, and Amazon

SteamWorld Dig 2
Courtesy of Image & Form

22. SteamWorld Dig 2

Release date: September 21 (on PS4, Switch, PC)
Why it's great: Every gamer deserves a chilled-out time-killer, and SteamWorld Dig 2 is just that. Image & Form have taken everything everyone loved about its 2013 predecessor and upped the ante with new enemies, upgrades, mods, and dig tunes that make exploratory platforming feel like an art form.
Where to buy: PlayStation, Nintendo, Steam, and Humble Bundle

ECHO
Courtesy of Ultra Ultra

21. ECHO

Release date: September 19 (on PS4, PC)
Why it's great: Compared to Prey and Mass Effect: Andromeda, ECHO is sci-fi on quaaludes. In it, you play as En, a young woman who investigates a labyrinthian space station only to find said station bare and full of weird blob creatures. There's a catch: The labyrinth is monitoring En's movements and recording data to turn the blobs into copies of her -- "echoes" that learn new skills directly from her actions. The premise is weirdly Kojima-esque, and it becomes a terrifying experience when you realize you're the one teaching the enemies how to kill you.
Where to buy: PlayStation and Steam

Little Nightmares
Courtesy of Tarsier Studios

20. Little Nightmares

Release date: April 28 (on XB1, PS4, PC)
Why it's great: The thing about Little Nightmares is that for a highly stylized and atmospheric puzzle platformer, it has no business being so terrifyingly spooky. Tarsier Studios' attention to detail recalls Limbo and Inside, and it forces you to understand the ins and outs of the environments in front of you while being as a quiet as a mouse. It's what makes the macabre world even more macabre, and you're more apt to panic at your own psychological fears than at what lurks within the shadows.
Where to buy: Microsoft, Steam, and Amazon

Hollow Knight
Courtesy of Team Cherry

19. Hollow Knight

Release date: February 24 (on Switch, PC)
Why it's great: Hollow Knight suffers from being this year's Owlboy -- a standout indie hit that was released on the wrong platform at the wrong time -- but it remains one of 2017's best-kept secrets. It borrows from retro devs to forge a beautiful Metroidvania with its endless cache of "charms," boss fights, and quirky NPCs kick up 2-D head rushes that stick to you like death.
Where to buy: Steam and Humble Bundle

Assassin's Creed Origins
Courtesy of Ubisoft Montreal

18. Assassin's Creed Origins

Release date: October 27 (on XB1, PS4, PC)
Why it's great: Assassin's Creed Origins isn't an Assassin's Creed game. It's more of an offshoot that applies RPG elements of The Witcher and every Ubisoft series imaginable, and that's not necessarily a bad thing, since its story is one of the biggest surprises of the year. As Bayek and his wife Aya, you're forced to understand the practices of a Medjay -- a social protector of the people -- and how their lives intersect with the trials of ancient Egypt. You're often thrown into genuine moments of anger, love, promise, and sadness, and the way in which they help build the world around you is what makes Origins the most engaging and aesthetically pleasing iteration of the Creed formula.
Where to buy: Ubisoft, Microsoft, Steam, and Amazon

Old Man's Journey
Courtesy of Broken Rules

17. Old Man's Journey

Release date: May 18 (on iOS, Android, PC)
Why it's great: Old Man's Journey is the greatest walking simulator ever because it's an indie-fied adventure puzzler that bleeds "passion project." The game itself only takes a few hours to complete, but it makes the most of that time, slipping you into a world of picturesque backdrops and emotional storytelling -- two things Broken Rules uses to perfection to leave you in a perpetual daydream.
Where to buy: iTunes, Google Play, Steam, and Humble Bundle

Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice
Courtesy of Ninja Theory

16. Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice

Release date: August 8 (on PS4, PC)
Why it's great: Hellblade is in a league of its own. Developer Ninja Theory worked alongside a team of mental health specialists and people recovering from psychosis to funnel their experiences into a story about Senua, a Celtic warrior who embarks on a vision quest to retrieve her dead lover's soul. What follows is a jarring depiction of Senua's mental illness in which every aspect of light, sound, and perspective is recruited to make her hallucinations terrifyingly vivid. It can be rather unsettling -- especially when Hellblade's use of 3-D binaural sound starts to blur the definition of reality -- but it makes for a brutally honest contextualization of what it's like to be psychologically different.
Where to buy: Steam, Humble Bundle, and Amazon

Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
Courtesy of Capcom

15. Resident Evil 7: Biohazard

Release date: January 24 (on XB1, PS4, PC)
Why it's great: The first few hours of Resident Evil 7 are utterly terrifying. Your wife has gone missing and her disappearance has led you to the bayou of Louisiana. You hate the bayou. Everything feels off and you can't turn back. You eventually find your wife, but she's not all there, and moments later, you're bleeding out, crying, and playing hide-and-seek with a khakis-wearing dad who you wish would spend his nights binge-watching Storage Wars instead of bursting through the wall like the damn Kool-Aid Man. It's a lot to stomach -- especially with a VR headset strapped to your face -- but it's Capcom's way of taking Resident Evil and making it a paralyzing first-person nightmare.
Where to buy: Microsoft, Steam, and Amazon

Yakuza 0
Sony Interactive Entertainment

14. Yakuza 0

Release date: January 24 (on PS4)
Why it's great: Yakuza 0 is a worthy Yakuza prequel. It's still a hyper-stylish beat-'em-up that's full of eccentric NPCs and outrageous cutscenes, and it's still hijinks galore when it comes to unrelated sidequests involving pool, bowling, karaoke, and engaging in impromptu dance battles with Vincent Vega wannabes. What it does best is it never feels the need to separate itself from the main story -- which is still an immersive caricature of Japanese gangs and loyalty -- and that speaks volumes for the future of the series as Yakuza will be able to let its freak flag fly.
Where to buy: SEGA and Amazon

Night in the Woods
Courtesy of Infinite Fall

13. Night in the Woods

Release date: January 10 (on PS4, PC)
Why it's great: Infinite Fall's Night in the Woods is about a cat named Mae who ditches college to return to her hometown of Possum Springs, and like every great indie offshoot, it goes places. Its overarching narrative offers a rare look at existential terror and the overall absurdity of being human, but its characters are its primary strength, as every interaction clings to a greater sense of meaning. It's not perfect, since it's a 2-D dialogue-driven adventure that favors patience over skill, but it wastes no time in putting you in Mae's shoes and making her small world feel like yours.
Where to buy: Steam, Humble Bundle, and Amazon

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
Courtesy of Nintendo

12. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe

Release date: April 28 (on Switch)
Why it's great: At its core, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the quintessential party game -- sort of what Mario Kart 64 did for single moms, bored high schoolers, and collegiate stoners in the 2000s, but better. With 42 playable characters and 48 different tracks, it takes full advantage of the Switch and Bullet Bills its way to redefining what an arcade racer should be. Diddy Kong or not, there's no better feeling than getting a few Cups on with 11 of your friends on a Wednesday night and doing so from the comfort of your own bed.
Where to buy: Nintendo and Amazon

Destiny 2
Courtesy of Activision

11. Destiny 2

Release date: September 6 (on XB1, PS4, PC)
Why it's great: Let's make this clear: Destiny 2 is what vanilla Destiny couldn't be. Everything from loot drops to cosmetics to patrols to the overall grind for (slightly) better gear has been improved, and though there's some controversy overpaying for the experience of using a "Salt Bae" to emote over someone's lifeless corpse, it still feels like the greatest first-person shooter ever made. It's also a game that rewards exploration and anyone willing to break every ceramic pot they find during a raid in hopes of stumbling upon a secret exotic helmet that... yeah, it's still Destiny.
Where to buy: Microsoft, Battle.net, Humble Bundle, and Amazon

PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds
Courtesy of Bluehole, Inc.

10. PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds

Release date: March 23 (on XB1, PC)
Why it's great: There are two sides to the great PUBG debate of 2017. One is that it's still an early access title that's riddled with server issues and a lack of creative expression. The other is holy mother of all that's ?#@*&%! is it fun to play. Its Battle Royale mentality of letting 100 players parachute onto a remote island has helped it sell more than 20 million copies worldwide, and its impending Xbox One release and 1.0 Update -- aka tech jargon for that new "el fuego" desert map -- is bound to push it further. Why? PUBG forces you to adjust to its white-knuckle pace, and the adrenaline, gunfights, and brooding tension that follows queues up hours upon hours of replayability.
Where to buy: Microsoft, Steam, and Humble Bundle

Persona 5
Courtesy of Atlus

9. Persona 5

Release date: April 4 (on PS3, PS4)
Why it's great: Persona 5 is most certainly a niche title that was designed with Persona 4 Golden fans in mind, but it hits every button combo a JRPG fan could want. At a glance, it's a sprawling epic that sits somewhere between a bestselling novel and an immersive Japanese high school simulator, and you'll spend close to 100-plus hours with it. You'll dissect its characters, art direction, battle system, and bittersweet soundtrack in hopes of rooting yourself as a citizen of the Persona 5 universe, and when it's over, you'll spend every waking hour wanting to do it all over again.
Where to buy: PlayStation and Amazon

Nioh
Courtesy of Team Ninja

8. Nioh

Release date: February 7 (on PS4, PC)
Why it's great: Team Ninja's Nioh initially comes off as a "Souls clone" that looks like a Ninja Gaiden spinoff -- but it's that multiplied by 1,000. The action role-playing game is set in a fictionalized take on Japan's Sengoku period, and it emulates that aesthetic with some liberties -- wrapping its deep risk/reward combat system in a world that's overrun by ninjas, samurai, demon kings, and giant killer skeleton yokai. There are dozens of boss fights to encounter from the get-go, and the masterclass in character design and movement is enough to keep you on your toes and yearning for one more flurry.  
Where to buy: Steam, Humble Bundle, and Amazon

what Remains of Edith Finch
Courtesy of Giant Sparrow

7. What Remains of Edith Finch

Release date: April 25 (on XB1, PS4, PC)
Why it's great: Giant Sparrow's sophomore title took home "Best Narrative" at The Game Awards, and for good reason. Edith Finch is an interactive collection of short stories in which you uncover a family's demise -- moving from room to room in a Pacific Northwest home in hopes of piecing together their backstories. It's a remarkably heartbreaking experience, but it never leans on stale horror trope, favoring uniquely tragic storylines for each family member. The tragedies add to the overarching narrative and the house itself. They push you to think, feel, cry, and even reminisce about your own childhood home, while simultaneously longing for a happy ending.
Where to buy: Microsoft, Steam, and Amazon

Horizon Zero Dawn
Courtesy of Guerilla Games

6. Horizon Zero Dawn

Release date: February 28 (on PS4)
Why it's great: Horizon Zero Dawn is a sci-fi post-apocalyptic RPG that follows the tale of Aloy, a huntress desperate to learn where she came from. If that doesn't pull you in, then Horizon's penchant for sticking you in visually striking biomes full of flora, wildlife, and cybernetic monsters will. Every machine-animal hybrid -- from the Snapmaws to Stormbirds -- makes use of the world's breathtaking aesthetics, which as a whole is a robust example of what a developer can do with hardware when they're given more time and creative freedom.
Where to buy: PlayStation and Amazon

Cuphead
Courtesy of Studio MDHR

5. Cuphead

Release date: September 29 (on XB1, PC)
Why it's great: The genius of Cuphead is that it's a visual masterpiece that's difficult to master. The boss rush/arcade-style run 'n' gun isn't as blatantly frustrating as Shinobi or Bloodborne, but it forces you to spot your errors while being awestruck by the hand-drawn art that's in front of you. You'll spend a lot of timing dying while marveling at new boss phases, or picking up on small character details you missed the first dozen times. It all amplifies when you -- ** SPOILER ** -- reach the end and stumble into a literal boss gauntlet that's dictated by a betting table. Studio MDHR's methods are excessive (to say the least), but that's just a part of Cuphead's sick, sick charm.
Where to buy: Microsoft, Steam, Humble Bundle, and Amazon

Wolfenstein ii: The New Colossus
Courtesy of Bethesda Softworks

4. Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus

Release date: October 27 (on XB1, PS4, PC)
Why it's great: No memeing: Wolfenstein II is one of the most well-written games of the last decade. Why? It's a provocative mindfuck. You'll spend a lot of The New Colossus shotgunning your way through Nazi try-hards -- mindlessly swapping between difficulty levels as you try to adjust to its brand of "see that cover, fuck that cover" gunplay -- but you'll also spend a considerable amount of time saying the phrase "Wait, what?" No spoilers, but Wolfenstein II sets a tone early, and just when you think you've seen and felt everything, it goes places -- making every other first-person shooter look like a third-grade cardboard box production starring plastic army men. It's an action game with chutzpah, and heilege Hölle, we can't wait to see what's next.
Where to buy: Bethesda, Steam, Humble Bundle, and Amazon

NieR: Automata
Courtesy of Platinum Games

3. NieR: Automata

Release date: February 23 (on PS4, PC)
Why it's great: NieR: Automata just has a thing to it. Yoko Taro and Platinum Games undoubtedly punched it up to be a weird hyper-stylized mélange of genres and mechanics that are coded to churn out spectacularly over-the-top fight sequences. But then there's its narrative, which sticks out like an elephant in a ball pit. In NieR, you play as androids fighting to reclaim Earth from an alien infestation, but here, both humanity and alien invaders are dead, and the machines they used have survived. Most of them have been driven to madness, even imitating their interpretation of humanity in a number of unsettling ways. And that's just for starters. NieR's hack 'n' slash, bullet-hell look at humanity jettisons off into a grand total of 26 different "endings," and they are by far the least weird form of commentary you'll come across once you're fully logged in.
Where to buy: Steam, Humble Bundle, and Amazon

Super Mario Odyssey
Courtesy of Nintendo

2. Super Mario Odyssey

Release date: October 27 (on Switch)
Why it's great: Super Mario Odyssey is the greatest 3-D Mario game, hands down. It's a monumental reimagining that expands on the concepts and mechanics of Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine, and it makes a constant effort to deliver high-fives to the kid that's living inside of you. With a bit of help from Mario's new partner, Cappy, it makes collectathons great again, sets new standards for the platforming genre, and even goes to great lengths to make you understand what it feels like to be a Goomba. Throw in special costumes, Easter eggs, and an original score that's reminiscent of Koji Kondo's earlier works, and voila! Super Mario Odyssey is an instant 1-Up for a series that continues to pack every joyous moment of your childhood into a single cartridge.
Where to buy: Nintendo and Amazon

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Courtesy of Nintendo

1. The Legend of Zelda: Breath Of The Wild

Release date: March 3 (on Switch, Wii U)
Why it's great: Breath of The Wild is the biggest and most open Zelda game ever made, and it just so happens to be a 1,000-page essay on how to reupholster the open-world genre. Its characters, locations, music, and Studio Ghibli-esque art style are worth writing home about, but its ability to take the mundane -- such as cooking, crafting, climbing, and helping villagers -- and make it feel new again is deeply gratifying. In a single playthrough, you could learn everything there is to know about elixirs, but you could also spend dozens of hours fighting Lynels only to discover that most of them won't attack you unless your weapon is drawn.

That sense of discovery is hard to come by. Being able to fully invest yourself in a video game without direction or hot internet tips is usually an afterthought, but Breath of The Wild nailed it on the head in 2017. It dominated social feeds and forums for an entire month with friends and strangers sharing new discoveries that made them feel like a kid again. There weren't any loot box controversies or political agendas -- just a screen and a world that was worth living in.
Where to buy: Nintendo and Amazon

Sign up here for our daily Thrillist email and subscribe here for our YouTube channel to get your fix of the best in food/drink/fun.

Joshua Khan is a Toronto-based writer who is dreaming of a Red Dead Christmas. Find him on Twitter over at @blaremag