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January 15th, 2018

Penguin DT's GOTYs 2017!

What am I doing right now?

Well, the new project is very, very slowly taking some kind of shape, with the first gameplay element tests being done. We're talking about super-rough prototyping here, without graphics and sound effects, but yes, something is being cooked.

Sadly, that's all I can type out right now on that. On something I can write about is the upcoming new update. Thanks to the awesome feedback, even more scriptable strings are being added and few remaining bugs are being ironed out. We don't have release date for this yet, but you can expect the patch to land in the not-too-distant future.

And now...

Penguin DT's GOTYs 2017

It's that time of the year again! Of course for us every section on this list should read TAGAP 3, but due to our obvious bias, we're disqualified from doing that. But it's not like we had too few games to choose from – on the contrary, despite the heavily publicised mishaps on the triple-A games scene, 2017 was pretty darn good in games (and mainly just games).

So, without further ado, here we go!

Best positive surprise:

Resident Evil VII: Biohazard

(runner ups: Gravity Rush, the fact that TAGAP 3 stayed on schedule)

I knew from the very first teaser trailer that Resident Evil VII: Biohazard could be a winner – but even then I had underestimated how excellent it would turn out. In preparation to Part 7, I played through every main series Resident Evil game available for PS4 (0,1,4,5 and 6) and from this list, I can say it's very close to being my favourite, together with the original.

In fact, RE7 plays very much like a first-person version of the classic Spencer mansion romp. And by that I mean it's like playing the classic RE, except you don't have to suffer the character tank controls or sometimes disorienting camera angles – this game isn't a first person shooter. I loved every single creepy moment of this game – and now I can't wait what Capcom has in store for the long-awaited Resident Evil 2 remake.

Best soundtrack:

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus

(runner ups: Agents of Mayhem, STRAFE)

There were some amazing soundtracks out there this year – ranging from fantastic retro-delight of STRAFE to superbly atmospheric Hellblade. But only one of this year's soundtracks features German alternate reality super-pop-group Die Käfer.

That soundtrack is obviously Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus, composed by Mick 'DOOM' Gordon and Martin Stig Andersen of Limbo and Inside fame. From brilliantly cinematic thrills to hard-hitting retro rock – and those alternate reality nazi pop groups – it's a soundtrack to remember.

And seriously, I'll be humming Changeover Day for infinity and beyond.

Best Collector's Edition:

STRAFE

(runner ups: Nex Machina: Limited Run Games CE, Wolfenstein II: Terror Billy Edition)

I've always loved cool limited editions, especially if they ship with a soundtrack. And since I last year dipped my feet into limited run indie special editions, I've encountered several really cool ones. The Terror Billy edition of Wolfenstein II is a sight to behold, while Nex Machina from Limited Run Games is a stylish package... but Special Reserve Games' collector's edition of STRAFE is something else.

The package is, simply put, bonkers. The box contains a floppy disk (yes, really). And there's the soundtrack... on a C-cassette tape. And can we just take a moment and stop to appreciate the faux sunglasses and pile of Pogs, too? Is any of it even remotely practical? No, but you can't help but to smile at all the delightful nonsense!

Best of Backlog:

Final Fantasy XV

(runner ups: Gravity Rush, Shadow Warrior, Resident Evil 4)

I was left wondering does this even qualify for a 'backlog' title, since I started it in early January, less than a month from its release, but I decided to go with it regardless. After all, it was a great 2016 game I didn't get to during our previous GOTYs.

What I loved about FFXV is its sense of adventure. It really does feel, at least for the first three quarters, like a magical road-trip with a group of friends – like a kind of 'last days of summer' tale, with leads having their final adventure before the inevitable adult responsibilities / doom comes calling. If you want a game built on the atmosphere of wonder and adventure, FFXV fits the bill.

Heck, the atmosphere is so spot-on that it's one of the very few games where I often opt not to use fast travel – why would I, when I can just relax, take in the wondrous sights while listening to a music collection comprised of almost every Final Fantasy soundtrack ever?

Timo's GOTY 2017:

Thimbleweed Park

All the other 2017 titles still await for playing, but this point & click pearl held my attention from start to finish. Great plot, awesome pixel graphics! I felt I had fallen back to early 1990s. Now where could I find time to play the rest of the 2017 titles?

– Timo

Petja's GOTY 2017:

Horizon: Zero Dawn

The game kicks off with a well written story and world introduction, just the kind I wish to see in games. Combat system feels fresh and is suitably tactical. It's a beautiful game in many regards, but the art design deserves some special praise.

– Petja

Jouni's GOTY 2017:

Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus

(runner up: Resident Evil VII: Biohazard)

First time for everything – I just couldn't decide which one I liked more! Both are laser-focused, well-written, super-high-quality single-player romps – but they couldn't be more different. One explores areas no other game has ever succeeded in covering, while the other takes its source material and runs with it to the glorious nuclear sunset (on a robot war hound... whilst humming Die Käfer songs).

I can say this – both of these games are something everyone should experience at least once. Especially so if you are into strong single player experiences that not only have something meaningful to say, but also have a super-solid action game core to wrap tale around of.

So, instead of picking between Hellblade and Wolfenstein II, I salute you both. Ninja Theory and Machine Games, I love you folks!

Honorable mentions

So many games and so few prizes to give away; Each of these games is as worthy a visit as any of those mentioned above;

  • Agents of Mayhem (Volition / Deep Silver)
    Agents of Mayhem had, at least for me, the most perfect timing; it arrived just when I had the most intense TAGAP 3 crunch going on leading to our launch. As a result, to wind down I needed one heck-of-a-stress reliever that was straight-forward, bombastic and made me smile. And Agents of Mayhem ticked all the boxes – you can't feel bummed while colourful explosions go off everywhere, Johnny Gat spews out one-liners and August Gaunt blasts over the airwaves. It's 'grindy' for sure, but perfect for turning off your brain for while.

  • Batman: The Telltale Series (Telltale Games / WB Games)
    Telltale's adventure game formula works really well for the Dark Knight, especially given how much the team is allowed to deviate from the established Batman narrative. This ensures the game is filled with surprises, no matter how big of a Bats fan you are. And Telltale's take on Oswald Cobblepot is unique – and one we highlighted in the past.

  • de Blob (Blue Tongue Entertainment / BlitWorks / THQ Nordic)
    Joy-of-joys, the reborn THQ Nordic brought de Blob (and Darksiders) back from the rubble of the old THQ – and I couldn't be happier. Since this is a game I played before, it really doesn't belong to the backlog pile, but I wanted to celebrate it here with an honourable mention.

  • Prey (Arkane Studios / Bethesda)
    It isn't the Prey 2 we wanted, but it sure is Prey we didn't know we wanted, too. A lot of controversy surrounded this game since the announcement, but if you can look past that, it's a romp well worth experiencing. Arkane Studios are masters of world building and with Prey they have created a super-smart alternate-timeline immersion sim. Plus Mick Gordon handles the score for this one, too!

  • STRAFE (Pixel Titans / Devolver Digital)
    A curious mix of old and new schools, STRAFE is a great little shooter to spend your lunch breaks with. By the way, if you played it at launch and didn't much care for it, consider giving it another go; it has improved a lot since then, with the latest Millennium Edition update especially adding tons of new features. And the soundtrack rocks.

2017 games in the to-play cue

These games are on my (Jouni's) to-play list, but since I didn't get to them yet, I can't valuate them for our GOTY awards. That said, you can look forward to seeing some of these next year in our 'Best of Backlog' category!

  • Batman: An Enemy Within
  • Gravity Rush 2
  • Horizon: Zero Dawn
  • Mass Effect: Andromeda
  • Yooka-Laylee
  • DOOM VFR (I have to get VR gear now, don't I?)

Most anticipated games of 2018

2018 is looking good – again mainly for games – and here are a chosen few gems we're looking forward to;

  • Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night (ArtPlay / DICO / 505 Games)
    This Kickstarter darling is looking so darn good and sounds even better. I can't wait to experience what Koji Igarashi and Michiru Yamane have been cooking!

  • Anew: The Distant Light (Resonator Games)
    Another, lesser known Kickstarter title, this one is also a metroidvania at heart. But oh boy, it's a gorgeous one, with bold art style and daring musical direction. Every second I've seen from this has been excellent and I can't wait to get my flippers on it.

  • Darksiders III (Gunfire Games / THQ Nordic)
    Back from the ashes, my favourite Zelda game is back with Fury. Gunfire Games consists of many original Darksiders vets, so things are looking great.

  • Call of Cthulhu (Cyanide Studios / Focus Interactive)
    Returning from last year's list, this game still has no release date, but every new snippet showcased looks promising.

  • Death Stranding (Kojima Productions / Sony)
    One can dream, right?

Well, these are our picks! Congratulations to the winners – and keep on gaming, everybody!

Until next time,

Jouni Lahtinen, the head penguin

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