In many ways 2017 has been a fantastic year – politically (obvious ways), personally (I own my own home somehow and in a state where I fit in much better), anime has been pumping out mass amounts of good-to-fantastic shows every season to the point I keep falling far behind by watching ~22 shows a season (we’ll get to that in another post), and of course Japan has put out some stellar games this year. Of course the industry made plenty of garbage too, as usual – garbage that because of what it is, is worse than usual where it’s much more easy to ignore. Let’s begin there and work towards the much larger positive portion of this.
Reminder: I’m working with US release dates, not initial release in Japan.
I wrote a review about this. I hate this game, it’s shit, but we finally got news of Valkyria Chronicles 4 and even after this fat fucking turd the trailer for THAT has me incredibly excited. It looks like it might even beat out the original game for the best in the franchise. Anyway, Valkyria Revolution is just so very bad in so many ways that it’s hard to really say something in such a contained area. It’s got a mega-edge protagonist, it looks like a VERY UGLY PSP game, the gameplay has no relation to the series prior and is like an incredibly shitty musou clone that could only handle 3 enemies on screen at a time, the technical ability of the game is unbelievably shitty (massive framerate issues, very little on-screen at a time, etc), there are like 3 maps you replay 300000 times, the cutscenes are meaningless and go on fucking forever to the point I made a 15 minute video skipping all of them and it still took 15 minutes to get to gameplay, there are endless bugs and glitches, and it’s just a bad and painfully boring game. It shits all over the Valkyria name.
Maybe some day I’ll write something longer about this, but let’s just go over some main points. First off, let’s treat it as a stand-alone game and pretend Nier doesn’t exist like 90% of the people who actually love this game genuinely believe is the case anyway. The game is bad. Platinum, as per their usual result of development, have created another combat system that is bland, lifeless, uninspired, and plain fucking boring. Even many fans of this game agree the gameplay is fucking trash. It’s like if you took Bayonetta or Revengeance and removed all the nuance and skill and just put “Hold a button to never stop shooting and also spam a button to attack with your melee weapon”. That’s pretty much it and the entire game follows that rule. Even the graphics are fairly lacking – it’s not ugly by any means, but it’s a game that a PS3 could easily run.
The only reason this got big in the west is from normies hopping on – and they only did so to “prove” they don’t inexplicably hate all things Japanese after decades of mocking anything Japan has created in a time where people are being called out for hypocrisy. That and, right, the whole fact the game is nothing but softcore porn the entire time which absolutely attracts many people to it. I love that HERE it’s acceptable, but any other game from Japan with a girl character in stuff WAY LESS SLUTTY than this is automatically evil sexist misogynistic trash from those evil jap shits. But here, well, she’s dressed that way because she’s a robot! SO IT’S OKAY!
My problem isn’t the acceptance by normies though – that ANNOYS me a great deal because it’s falsified bullshit, but I’d never hate the game for that reason. Let’s stick with that specific thing I just mentioned though because it’s a fantastic example of the overall problem; the slutty outfit and constant ASS of the main character. In the real Nier there’s Kaine. She’s barely dressed, she has huge tits, she has a DICK, and she’s constantly showing her body off just by existing. Yet, this was a MASSIVELY IMPORTANT THING to the character and the story, and not “she breathes through her skin” Kojima-tier excuses. It’s an incredibly deep, meaningful, real genuine explanation that ties directly into the important lore of the world they are in and what is going on in it as well as with her character’s total confusion as to what she is supposed to be because of, well, huge spoilers that I won’t get into. It’s incredibly well done, meaningful, heartfelt, and truly emotionally powerful. Here? Eh, it’ll sell more copies. Taro even admits this was the logic behind it. And it worked! They even had the fucking gall to rehash Kaine’s theme in this game for no reason at all. The plan worked so well in fact that Taro, the one hit wonder, has openly said he wants to make adult videos in the future.
The story is worse than trash because it offensively rehashes the original’s story while also making it terrible somehow. The characters are completely generic. The gameplay is bad and boring. The lore clashes with the actual canon. Everything about this game is crap, even if you ignore the fans and the original game. Though, still, I can’t pretend Taro himself and the fans aren’t the worst part. A bunch of normies saw their first anime-story in a game and are obsessively pretending it’s the best thing ever made (similar to Kojima fans not realizing his shows are low-tier anime in terms of complexity). Many people use the term “important” when referring to game stories and never once have I seen it be true, but with the original NieR it really honestly is an important game for each and every person who plays it and has such a powerful message and emotion to it that nothing else compares with…yet Automata is just an empty shell of a “sexy butt” and a poorly rehashed EVERYTHING with no value attributed to it by it’s own fucking creator. It shits all over the NieR name and the amazing thing that the original game was.
Mass Effect Andromeda
I mean this should be an obvious one though I have to say the HILARIOUSLY SHIT animations, character models, glitches, and dialogue aren’t the only reasons this game is trash. I tried playing it to make fun of it and laugh and it was genuinely one of the most boring experiences I’ve had with a game in a long time. I didn’t even get through 5 hours before having to just send it back because I was seriously so bored that even with all the hilarious trash in it the game still just wasn’t worth playing to laugh at. It shits all over the Mass Effect name.
I wrote a whole review of this outlining and going through my big problems with this remake already, so going over it here would be redundant. In summation though it’s just an incredibly disappointing release. The gameplay is ruined and just kind of bad in general, Majima’s entire character is ruined, lots of laziness in it even in very easy to fix and obvious ways, and overall it’s a remake that’s a couple steps down from the original rather than the other way around. Thanks to the story still being intact and fucking great, this is absolutely not “one of the worst games of the year” but the level of disappointment puts it as one of my worst experiences with a game in 2017 as I had to force myself through a game that I should have absolutely adored. It shits all over the original Yakuza in the worst meaning possible.
There were other terrible games out this past year, but most I just didn’t bother with to begin with – much like with bad anime I just don’t touch it in the first place and it works out.
Things I Want To Mention
Microtransactions, Battlefront 2, and Gamers.
This is absolutely not a best or worst game, it’s a totally fine game I’m having good fun with that basically is the first not-total-shit shooter in awhile (I really wish Battlefield would stop being terrible again) – so why mention it here? Because the backlash it originally received COULD have had a meaningful impact on the industry – and the people who made that backlash happened then destroyed any chance of it mattering. The amount of negativity aimed at this release and EA for the microtransaction abuse (albeit it wasn’t planned to be worse than anything else these days, but this is what everyone targeted) was insane to the point that it actually came to a point that it mattered. EA responded; they gave in to every single threat of boycotting, every single complaint, and they listened to the consumers and changed a lot of stuff. “BUT IT’S FOR MONEY IT’S JUST TO APPEASE US SO WE’LL BUY THE GAME” well yes, just like you SAID YOU WOULD if they removed the microtransactions. Then, once they did fix it, removed those, rebalanced the credit system and unlocks, and released the game…those same people continued bitching, continued screaming about microtransactions that didn’t even exist in it, and spead around actual provable lies to try and get more people to boycott the game.
This is a problem for gaming as a whole – the fact people didn’t stop after they were given what they demanded is a huge issue as it has now set back progress of ending microtransactions as a whole, or on a large scale at least, by several years. The moment EA gave in to the demands of the gamer is the moment we finally made some progress against these really shitty tactics of major game publishers…and then the moment fucking retarded redditors and fucking idiots on /v/ who are literally from fucking reddit CONTINUED BITCHING ABOUT MICROTRANSACTIONS IN A GAME THAT REMOVED THEM and continued pushing the “NO, FUCK THEM, BOYCOTT THE GAME!” idea is the moment that “progress” went from a few steps forward to tripping back on it’s ass and rolling down a hill the wrong direction.
Someone is doing something you do not want them doing. You tell them stop or else. They stop. You continue to berate and attack them for the thing they are no longer doing. What is it that you think is now stopping them from just doing it if the reaction from you is identical in either case and one serves them better in the end anyway? You have to actually change what you are doing in exchange for them giving in to your demands for your demands to have any fucking value at all to them.
I’m not trying to defend the game, microtransactions, or EA – I’m just so frustrated by how pathetic, childish, and stupid the gaming community proves itself to be yet again. This is why you see shit like paid mods becoming more and more of a thing, because you bitch and then when something stops because your bitching is successful…you KEEP bitching. Gamers could have had a real impact on stopping a dystopic gaming future of every penny being taken from you just to be able to play the game, and instead they made it clear to every publisher that there’s no reason to stop nickel-and-diming players who will never be appeased regardless. Worse, EA has also given a pretty huge free update – something that these days would be 20~40 dollars worth of content – for free adding in more story content, more multiplayer maps, vehicles, weapons, and Finn and Phasma. But, still, FUCK EA!!!! :^) WOO! I’m sure they’ll give us free DLC content and no map packs with their next game since them doing it got them such praise this time around and DEFINITELY no microtransactions!
Doki Doki Literature Club
Please stop this “Madoka deconstructed a genre* and so I think the concept of false marketing makes something outstandingly amazing and mindblowing!” way of thinking, this shit is fucking old. HEY LOOK IT’S CUTE…heh…actually it isn’t it’s actually serious and fucked up hah you got fooled 10/10 ;)
No. It’s just proof that you can’t actually write a serious or messed up story without depending on people to be amazed at the fact it isn’t something else rather than being amazed by the writing and directing, you hope they’re distracted by the “twist” rather than paying attention to how piss poor everything (including said twist) is. This is a visual novel aimed at the lowest-tier of reader and anime fan, for those who have no experience with storytelling and who are completely enamored by the concept of normal looking anime girls dying or bleeding.
The whole “A CHARACTER IS SELF AWARE” thing has also been done plenty of times in visual novels too – actually a similar scenario but better was done in one in about 2004 already. The girl realizes what is going on and ends up invading into other character routes and starts killing them because she believes you, the player outside of the computer, belong to her because of you doing her route first. Eventually she even breaks free from the game’s window to try and get to you and, if memory serves, she ends up killing herself and also deleting the whole game. Obviously the actual plot is different and not comparable in that way, but the general concept that people were so blown away by has been done – not just that one time either, but many times especially in the visual novel medium as its the easiest to pull that sort of thing off in.
*Madoka did not deconstruct a genre nor did it do anything the genre was not already known for doing and handling much better.
Everyone knows how much I adore the Atelier franchise but ever since Ayesha, which is – well, maybe was now – my top favorite of the series the games started being just alright and having a bit of disappointment with them in terms of the plot forgetting itself and never relating to the games within their own trilogy even. Hell, Shallie was possibly the worst one in the entire history of the series which left me uncertain about playing the next titles. I did though and Sophie – even with the questionable fanservice marketing – ended up really fucking great. Then Firis came out and I think Ayesha may no longer be my favorite because this is a seriously wonderful game.
Firis feels in every single way like the ultimate culmination of what the Atelier franchise has been trying to do with each very evolved release (minus the Plus games which are counter productive garbage). The synthesis is intuitive, fun, and rewarding even more than it typically is. The combat is very enjoyable and feels like they finally hammered out a great mix of the two styles they’ve been toying around with. The cast is all very lovable especially with Sophie showing up again (making me realize just how much I actually liked her character by how happy and excited it made me when she finally appeared) and the game going back to properly building on it’s trilogy’s cast like Arland did, and of course Firis is so sweet and cute.
The strange idea of making Atelier fairly open world REALLY paid off, especially with the perfectly thought out concept of making the game cater to both crowds – those who understand the time limit system and those who REEEEE about it – by having the first chunk of the game be timed and then giving you absolutely no limits from then on. Exploring feels great and even rewards you this time around with various things including all-important recipes you won’t get otherwise. The game is so fun and everything you do in it feels exactly how you want it to feel. I’ve said a lot of times how Atelier Totori (and Witcher 3) was and still has been one of the only times in a game I felt like I was genuinely on an adventure, and they absolutely recaptured that feeling and built upon it heavily here. It felt so fun and exciting to explore into new areas, to see the big changes each area could go through, and to experience more new things in that world – and the gameplay surrounding that felt so fresh and new that it really was an adventure for me in many ways beyond the story itself as well.
I really don’t think I have a single complaint, and again Atelier is one of my top favorite franchises of all time and this might be my top favorite game of the series now. I can’t wait for the next one but it’s also hard to imagine it’ll live up to this. If you like Atelier you absolutely need to play this game – though as usual I recommend playing in proper order within each trilogy, so play Sophie first which is also great. And just as a rule I will repeat the fact that you should never play a Plus game no matter what the circumstances or which game it is.
Just last month I wrote a whole review for this really strange conceptual experiment from Gust. This truly does something no other game has ever done and it DOES IT VERY WELL, everything about it not only feels NEW but also feels VERY GOOD and gives you a feeling like no other game because this is like no other game. It’s hard to explain why it’s so good without just repeating that entire review but I can say this is a game that will stay with me for awhile. The slow peaceful pace mixed with helping normal girls through believable normal issues and the MC learning to understand them and herself while also having this layer of magical girls fighting demons with the power of the emotions you gather from helping all your friends through their troubles makes for a game that is hard to forget because you have such an intimate connection with the cast as the entire game is devoted to BUILDING that at your own pace. It does a great job at balancing drama, combat, and fun silliness as well – kind of reminds me of the feeling the Yuki Yuna anime series has though this leans far more on the side of slice of life in comparison. Even with it’s faults and stilted feeling there’s so much special stuff going on here.
Also this definitely had the best game OST of the year, sorry but Persona 5’s was mostly mediocre aside a handful of unbelievably fantastic tracks and while Berseria had some good stuff it was mostly typical Tales level of tunes – while Blue Reflection’s music is almost completely made of beautiful and memorable songs.
Tales of Berseria
I was a pretty big fan of Zestiria, it had some MASSIVE issues especially with the ending and lack of pay-off for many of the plot strings and teases it gave, but overall it was still pretty great. Berseria, while ironically being a prequel, is actually leaps and bounds forward from it’s predecessor and far more emotionally driven to boot. This isn’t a story of a goody two shoes trying to save the world like you’re used to from this franchise, it’s about a group of people out for vengeance all for their own reasons (like having your brother murdered by a man you both saw as family) banding together against a common enemy and ultimately causing the horrible problems that are thriving and destroying the world in Zestiria.
You aren’t “the good guys”, and that’s really cool – especially with how well handled it is by making you not EDGY BAD GUYS either, you’re just people with a goal and dark past – all of which are very well reasoned out and believable that they view their goals as worth causing destruction and death for – things that you will stop at nothing to reach. It felt good to finally play as someone who doesn’t buy into the usual JRPG protagonist concepts like “if you kill them you’re just like them!” (Velvet is pretty fucking intense and very willing to kill) – and really those anguished and angered screams from Rina Satou never cease to impress in their emotion and genuineness or their ability to really make a character feel alive.
You get both badass pirates AND a really emotional story about familial bonds, willpower, and inner strength – along with a uniquely bittersweet imperfect ending for the cast rather than some happy closure which fits especially well when the story is about people, especially Velvet, who all tossed aside their humanity and compassion for the sole purpose of murderous vengeance no matter how many lives it takes to end a very specific one. Revenge stories are always pretty great – but when you make the person seeking revenge become a monster (in this case somewhat literally) for it that makes them all the more intriguing.
It also seems like it’s actually very relevant to the entire Tales series so that’s kinda cool. I really loved this game and – while you’ll notice this is a trend this year – this has me questioning what my favorite game in this franchise is. Graces F is really fucking special to me and I love the hell out of everything about it but Berseria does an exceptional job with absolutely everything and has that darker revenge-based story which brings a totally different, yet maybe even better, feeling to the table (for the entire franchise, really) while also providing top-tier gameplay, fantastic characters, and an extra layer of interest from seeing this world and knowing how it turns out in a few thousand years because of what you do here as well as a lot of ways it seems to connect to the other games in the franchise too.
There is a reason this has such high ratings everywhere, even shitty websites that typically hate on anything that smells the slightest bit like a JRPG, and that’s simply because it’s a fucking good game in every single way from the superb combat to the emotional yet chaotic and fairly villainous nature of the main cast, the bonds that form between them, and the bits of humanity that still remain in them peeking out from time to time. This is definitely my top ‘runner up’ for game of the year but a few near minuscule issues keep it from taking the title.
Also, please stop blocking screen shotting on the PS4, Japan.
Honorable Mentions of fantastic releases: Akiba’s Beat (I have a half-written review of this so maybe some day I’ll finish writing it), Everybody’s Golf, Snake Pass, and Warriors All Stars. There were loads of other good games too honestly, but I had to pick some specific ones.
Game Of The Year
A game I almost skipped out on entirely and even waited for Gamefly to send to me because I refused to give money to this ‘trash heap’ actually ended up my game of the year. I hated everything about P5’s marketing, I hated the way it looked, I hated the edgy fuck the poleese fuck adults tone, I hated the fanbase screaming about how “stylish” the terrible trailers were, I hated the fact it had a generic slutty teen who didn’t go outside to pander to otaku (Futaba). Then I finally got to play it and the way it looked got to a point it was tolerable, the edge was explained exceptionally well and was even relevant in-universe as well as portrayed perfectly, and even the “generic slutty teen Hikki NEET” turned out to actually be one of my favorite characters in the game (she also wore cargo pants almost the entire time, not slut-shorts) – a game I spent over 100 hours playing and ultimately completely loving.
I wrote a massive review of P4G and how it was maybe my best experience ever with a video game and one of my favorite games of all time – well P5 doesn’t actually fall far from it, maybe with time might overtake it, even though it’s so different. Persona 4 Golden was very much an anime, very Jojo 4 specifically. Persona 5 on the other hand is like an incredibly well made action-thriller film that never lets up and makes the ~110+ hour journey feel like it’s over all too quickly.
The pacing is unbelievably perfect – seriously I can’t think of much else paced THIS well, the story is fucking fantastic and goes much further and into darker more serious places than the series ever really has (well maybe not SMT as a whole, but Persona) and in much more visceral and uncomfortable ways (actual statutory rape, actual murder, etc) while still having loads of silly fun, and the twists are some of the best in gaming and maybe even anime – AND THEY KEEP COMING FROM START TO THE VERY FINISH. As a bonus, if you’ve played prior Persona games then this will go out of it’s way to play with your expectations constantly though the experience is still great for newcomers as well. The cast (both the good and bad guys) is totally likable and/or memorable without a single exception, every social link is worthwhile and rewarding – literally and figuratively, the music like I said has some incredible tracks, the combat feels great (especially shooting for some reason) and is absolutely perfectly balanced more than almost any other game I’ve played, and I could go on and on.
Also, aside making the social links matter more by making them have valuable gameplay changing abilities (which was a HUGE addition and game changer), they felt like more care was put into them and their stories – and this also applies to girlfriends which now feel like a much more weighty thing than just a last second “otaku will like having pretend girlfriendos” thought (and with how great the entire cast is, especially the girls, it makes choosing one actually pretty hard compared to past games – I went with an obvious choice if you know me, Takemi the punk doctor). There’s also an incredible depth to the story here – and it’s relation to the past Persona titles – if you really look into it and the lore involved, making it all the better.
I absolutely fell in love with this game after about 10 or so hours and that love only grew the more I continued through it, and remember I went into this game expecting to COMPLETELY HATE IT and had shit on it for months and the entire first 5 or so hours really did come off as a mess. Even fucking Futaba who I mentioned earlier I figured I’d hate so much ended up being one of my absolute favorite characters in the game and one of the most well made and believable shut-in types in Japanese media.
Admittedly some of the same things I hated the MOST I still kind of do – the trailers are COMPLETE trash, the OP video is fucking horrible…but these things have no real relevance. The one that does actually matter would be the self-masturbatory “style” which still gets in the way of the game in multiple very literal ways (the combat UI taking up 90% of the screen, the post-battle animation taking 10+ seconds every single fight which matters as it REALLY ADDS UP in a 100+ hour game, etc) which is sad because there actually is FANTASTIC STYLE in this game, just not in the parts they show off the most. Hell, my biggest gripe is probably the fact they blocked the share button.
Everything else about it is so goddamn outstanding it’s hard to believe it’s just “another Persona game” or that it promoted itself with such a FUCK ADULTS TEENS RULE US OLD JAPANESE MEN GET YOU TEENS GO MILLENIALS! attitude and somehow turned that into a really fleshed out and important concept in the game. This isn’t just an amazing Persona game, it’s really high up there as far as games go as a whole and it’s ability to continue throwing more great very realistically created characters, Code Geass level twists without shitty writing behind them, interesting and varied dungeons, and impeccable gameplay at you for as long as it does is unbelievable and something I’ve never seen anything else accomplish at this length (again, 110+ hours and it never once slows down or quits putting in insane, yet believable and not out-of-nowhere, twists).
Persona 5 is exactly what Persona was meant to be as far as I’m concerned, and definitely a great example to game developers and writers as a whole. For all these things I’ve said it’s definitely earned it’s place as my Game of the Year even in a year with so many great releases and something I think really is a must play game for anyone.
Oh look at that, my 3 main runners up for GOTY all feature strong female lead player-characters – isn’t it strange that feminists claim no such things exist and that Japan is especially misogynistic…Oh right, one of them doesn’t care how she’s dressed and so shows a lot of skin, fucking sexist shit (*except nier)! Jokes aside, I think it’s really crazy how many great franchises came out with outstanding games this year; Persona, Tales, and Atelier (not to mention Gust doing a double-header with new IP Blue Reflection at the same time as well) – even Everybody’s Golf making a huge comeback out of nowhere – yet at the same time how many similarly historically loved and great franchises popped out some of the worst shit they ever have.
Overall a great year for games though, especially ones that took a risk to experiment a little outside of their normal territory.