Thursday, December 28, 2017

Top 15 PS4 and Xbox One Indie Games of 2017

Welcome to the PSXBoxIndies Top 15 Games of 2017! Why 15 instead of the traditional 10? Because I’m combining my favorites on PS4 and Xbox One (and a lot are multiplatform) and just didn’t think 10 was enough to give props to all of my favorite games. And it’s my site, so I do what I want. I also want to make it clear that this is just my favorite games of the year. Not the most popular. Not your favorites. MY favorites. It is also mostly indie games with no “AAA” to speak of. Triple A games don’t really need any more attention, anyway. There’s plenty of other sites to handle that. This list is a love letter to great indies and other niche games that deserve to get a shout out. Also, the order doesn’t really matter, though the top 5 are definitely my favorites and #1 is my actual Game of the year. Got it? Good. Now let’s get to the list!

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#15 - GNOG – PS4

One of the most charming, and criminally underlooked, games of 2017 is Double Fine and KO-OP’s GNOG. This problem solving game involving 3D puzzle boxes – in the form of robot heads - is amazing. The graphics are bright and colorful and wonderful and the soundtrack is just freaking perfect. It is playable either on PSVR or on a normal display (which is how I played it) and is great either way. Definitely check it out.

#14 - Vostok Inc. – PS4, XONE

I hate the dumb Wall Street in space premise (that isn’t really all that present outside of cutscenes anyway), but everything else about Vostok Inc. is incredible. It’s part shoot-em-up, part clicker, and all awesome. Fighting your way through hostile solar systems in order to colonize planets and exploit them for profit is amazing fun. Watching your bank account fill up buy millions and billions and trillions (and beyond) as you progress through the game is immensely satisfying and keeps you coming back for more and more until you’ve bought every upgrade and every planet is maxed out. I really loved Vostok Inc..

#13 - Sky Force Reloaded – PS4, XONE

Sky Force Reloaded is better than Sky Force Anniversary in pretty much every way, which is saying something because I also really loved Sky Force Anniversary. This shmup starts off a little slowly due to grindy upgrade system, but once you start earning some stars and upgrading your ship, Sky Force Reloaded is incredibly fun and addictive. It is also significantly more challenging than the previous game, too, which makes it all the more satisfying when you can tear through the late levels with a pumped up ship. Sky Force Reloaded is my favorite current-gen shmup.

#12 - Invector – PS4

Invector borrows heavily from Harmonix’s great Frequency and Amplitude, adds a few of its own twists, and matches it with an incredible 22-song set from EDM star Avicii to create one of the best new music games in a long time. The visuals are clean and gorgeous with a sci-fi motif and the music is excellent even if you don’t know if you’re an Avicii fan (you will be).

#11 - Hatsune Miku: Project Diva Future Tone – PS4

The Hatsune Miku games combine a bunch of my favorite things – cute anime girls, J-Pop and J-Rock, and rhythm videogames - to create something that is just amazingly appealing to me. The best title yet in the long running franchise is easily Project Diva Future Tone by the simple benefit of it offering more than 220 songs for the same $60 asking price of most other games. The gameplay isn’t exactly tops of the rhythm genre, I have to admit, but the full package of the anime girls, cool music videos playing in the background, and generally excellent songs make it a very enjoyable experience overall.

#10 - Puyo Puyo Tetris – PS4

Two great games that go great together, Puyo Puyo Tetris is just awesome. With a ton of modes, including a few that combine the very distinct gameplay styles of Puyo Pop and Tetris together, this game has a lot of content in both solo and multiplayer to keep you chasing high scores for a long, long time. It also is noteworthy because it is easily the best version of Tetris available on the current gen consoles, which makes it worth a look even if you aren’t all that interested in Puyo Pop. Watch Puyo Puyo Tetris gameplay here

#9 - Senran Kagura: Peach Beach Splash – PS4

Is this the only game of the year list with Senran Kagura on it? It probably is, and that’s a shame because Peach Beach Splash is actually a pretty awesome arena shooter underneath the bouncy anime fanservice. With solid third-person-shooting gameplay, an addictive upgrade system, crazy customization, and a bouncy cast (hey, I actually like fanservice), Senran Kagura: Peach Beach Splash has been one of my most played games of 2017. If you’re offended by anime boobies you’ll hate it, but I highly recommend anyone else to give it a try. Watch Senran Kagura: Peach Beach Splash gameplay here

#8 - Absolute Drift: Zen Edition – PS4, XONE

Plenty of prettier looking and more realistic driving games came out in 2017, but the one that I had the best time with is easily Absolute Drift: Zen Edition. This top-down perspective drifting game with a three color palate – black, white, and red – looks gorgeous, plays incredibly well, and has a great soundtrack and excellent sound overall. The controls take a while to get used to, but once you get a handle on precisely sliding your car around corners and between obstacles there are few racing games as satisfying as Absolute Drift. It\s intuitive and challenging with a great unique art style and is probably the best drifting game ever. Watch Absolute Drift: Zen Edition gameplay here

#7 - Spintires: Mudrunner – PS4, XONE

Slowly crawling through the mud in big trucks out in the Russian wilderness sounds boring, but Spintires: Mudrunner is one of the most engaging and satisfying experiences of 2017. It is basically Elite: Dangerous meets Farming Simulator and it’s honestly everything I ever dreamed of as a kid playing with trucks in the dirt. It’s a bit slow and grindy, for sure, but it is also immensely rewarding and fun if you’re of the right mind for it. Spintires: Mudrunner is easily my favorite simulation game of 2017. Watch Spintires: Mudrunner gameplay here.

#6 - Rabi-Ribi – PS4

Another game that checks off a lot of boxes for things that appeal to me, Rabi-Ribi is a 2D sprite-based, Metroidvania-style, platformer / shmup / RPG hybrid with an incredibly cute (and a bit sexy) anime art style that I just absolutely freaking love. The gameplay is surprisingly complex with a lot of stuff to do and items to collect, but it plays really, really well. There’s a ton of content, too, which easily justifies the $30 asking price. I know some folks are against fanservice-y things like this, but if you dig the art style, you’ll love the game.

#5 - Nex Machina – PS4

The current peak of the twin stick shooter genre is easily Nex Machina. With gorgeous visuals, awesome sound, and incredibly addictive and satisfying gameplay where you kill off screens full of dozens of enemies at a time, Nex Machina is simply amazing. It has plenty of content, too, including local co-op, that all makes it well worth the price of admission. There are few pick up and play arcade style action games as good as Nex Machina. Buy it. Watch our Nex Machina full LP here

#4 - Far From Noise – PS4

A game about a woman stuck in a car teetering on the edge of a cliff that features only dialogue and no other gameplay probably sounds boring to some folks, but if you give Far From Noise a try you’ll find one of the best overall experiences of 2017. The story is fantastic and the presentation is great and when things actually do happen (the appearance of animals, mainly) they are wonderful and fun. The writing is incredibly smart and realistic, too, which is what makes it so engaging. You give a crap because it’s relatable, which is something not many games can pull off. It isn’t an exciting game by any means, but if you like narrative driven games Far from Noise is absolutely worth playing.

#3 - RiME – PS4, XONE

The best Legend of Zelda game of 2017 isn’t Breath of the Wild, it’s RiME. Ooh, edgy, I know, but rather than a big boring open world with nothing in it, RiME captures the same feeling of exploration and adventure that Zelda games used to have. There isn’t any combat in RiME, but it has fantastic exploration and puzzle solving and gorgeous presentation with a stunningly great soundtrack that keeps you hooked. Reports of performance issues are greatly overstated, too, (there are some dips, but it is certainly playable) so do yourself a favor and just play it. RiME is awesome.

#2 - What Remains of Edith Finch – PS4, XONE

The undisputed current king of the walking simulator genre – or the newly coined “strollplaying game” which I’m also pretty fond of – What Remains of Edith Finch is great because it is more than just walking around. There is actual gameplay in Edith Finch and there is a surprising range and variety to the different gameplay types you’ll experience. With gorgeous presentation, a great story, AND excellent and varied gameplay, What Remains of Edith Finch is an absolutely incredible overall experience. Walking sim fans will love it, but the varied gameplay means genre haters can warm up to it too.

#1 - GOTY - Night in the Woods – PS4, XONE

The most memorable game of 2017 that stuck with me throughout the year is easily Night in the Woods. I really enjoyed my initial playthrough on PS4 in the Spring, but it wasn’t until a second, more thorough (and Greg-focused) playthrough on Xbox One in the Fall that I fully appreciated how great the game really is. I love the art style, I love the animal people, but most of all I really love the writing. It’s real and raw and relatable and that’s what makes it good. And, personally, I’m from a dinky small crap hole town, and I also fully relate to leaving school early despite pressures from friends and family. The handling of a sensitive issue like mental health is also very well done here. Most of all, it’s funny and fun and exploring the town of Possum Springs and interacting with everyone and everything is great. Night in the Woods is just awesome and well done in pretty much every way. It’s my favorite game of 2017 and one I highly, highly recommend.