The Games That Meant the Most to Me in 2017

Posted January 10, 2018 by Jean-Luc Botbyl in Video Games

It goes without saying that 2017 was a banner year for video games, and that the medium’s unique ability to act as escapism took on especially important meaning for many people, myself included. For those reasons, I feel that writing an end of year list including the best games of 2017 would be redundant, and a disservice. In part because I’m sure everyone’s read the generic lists, but also because those games didn’t impact me in the same way games on this list did.

Will there be overlap with other lists? Oh, I’m sure. But I can’t help that. I do hope that this list acts as something more for some of you. Because for me, it’s more than just a list of games I enjoyed–it’s a list of experiences that actively made my life better in a really shitty year.

Life is Strange: Before the Storm

There are sequences in Life is Strange: Before the Storm that can last forever. In my experience, these were among the game’s most powerful moments. I was allowed a moment for reflection, to bask in the relationship between Chloe and Rachel, and to let the game just sink in. Similarly to the original Life is Strange, I found Before the Storm to be an excellent vehicle for self-reflection, to grapple with some of my own experiences. Coupled with a powerful, touching character dynamic at its core, the game’s many problems faded away. So while I find the violation of the voice actors guild abhorrent (full disclosure: I didn’t actually pay for the game, but was given a code), I couldn’t help but enjoy my time with Before the Storm.


I didn’t expect Pyre to be my favorite game to come out in 2017. Supergiant’s pedigree is undeniable, but a cross between visual novel and sports game? Two genres I really don’t care for? Well, Pyre defied every expectation I had, crafting a world and cast of characters I was invested in within the first hour. I was so enthralled with the world that unlocking new pages of the in-game encyclopedia felt like a real reward. Everything from the writing to the art to the music is a prime example of the best craftsmanship in games right now. But a high level of craft in a Supergiant game is not necessarily surprising–them building a sports game that holds my attention, on the other hand? That was a shock. I could write pages and pages and pages on Pyre, but not in this forum. But I loved every second of my time with the game, and even in a year of heavy hitters, I think it stands out above every other offering.

Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds

Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds did something I thought to be impossible: it made me really, truly love a multiplayer shooter. The key is that there’s far more to PUBG than satisfying gunplay. It condenses the survival game formula of Rust and ARMA into matches lasting five to 45 minutes. PUBG is less about the moments where you’re actually locked in an intense firefight and more about the moments spent building tension before the inevitable firefight. The experience was an interesting one, and more importantly, an experience I got to have with some of my best friends. I could come home from school or work, hop on Discord, and just allow every pressure to fade for a couple hours. PUBG is still that game for me, and even if I never play it again (lol) it will always maintain a special place in my heart. And when we won? I don’t know if any drug can match that high.

Stick Fight: The Game

Stick Fight is the game my friends and I played when we needed a break from PUBG. It’s the perfect contrast: Where PUBG is a game about tension, Stick Fight is a game about sitting back, relaxing, and having a great time. The gameplay is simple, yes, but it never feels tired. Stick Fight is goofy in the best ways, an outlet in a year where I often desperately needed to just take a break every now and again.

Magic: The Gathering

Yep, there’s a 25-year-old game on this list. But y’know what? It’s my list, and the only thing I look forward to more each week than recording the Comics Dash is Friday evenings, when I get to go out and play Magic with a bunch of awesome people. Even when we aren’t playing, and just discussing our decks or theory crafting new brews, I’m having a blast. But the social aspect is, somehow, only the second most compelling reason to play Magic. I still have yet to find a game that is as demanding and skill intensive as this one, and my constant, challenging quest to improve my play is more rewarding than anything else I do.

Everything is Going to Be Ok

Everything is Going to Be Ok remains the strangest, most off-the-wall game I played in 2017, a year in which I played Doki Doki Literature Club. It’s a self-proclaimed digital zine, and honestly, that label fits Everything is Going to Be Ok better than “video game.” Its biting, dark sense of humor is virtually the only through line of the game’s many chapters, which range from writing fiction to chatting with a customer support bot. It’s a wild, hard to describe experience, and consistently brought a smile to my face.

What Remains of Edith Finch

I played and reviewed What Remains of Edith Finch right in the middle of mid-term season. I didn’t actually intend to write about it until I’d completed all my papers, but I was so taken by the story it told, and the way that narrative unfolded, I felt an aching desire to do so. Since then, Edith Finch has stuck with me, and I’ve spent more time pondering its themes of loss and empathy than most other games this year. For as bittersweet and melancholic as the game is, it ends on an optimistic note, one that carried me through my remaining papers and exams, and still resonates whenever I get the chance to think, talk, or write about the game.


I had high expectations for The Fullbright Company’s follow-ups to Gone Home, one of my favorite games of all time. And they delivered, albeit with a very different experience. The scope of Tacoma is much larger and more ambitious, swapping a house in the Pacific Northwest for a corporate space station, and a coming of age story for labor politics. And yet, Tacoma retains the profoundly personal feeling that made Gone Home so successful. The cast of characters are fully realized, and the world they live in is fleshed out and interesting to explore. And in a time where games are shirking politics and meaningful social commentary, The Fullbright Company goes all in. Tacoma was a refreshing experience, and one I’m eager to revisit in the next couple months.

Dead Cells

When I didn’t have friends around to play PUBG, Stick Fight, or talk about Magic, Dead Cells was my go-to stress reliever. Toss on some Carly Rae Jepsen, boot up the game, and spend an hour or so slashing my way through enemies in what may be my favorite rogue-like since FTL. Dead Cells never fails to be ridiculously fun to play, and learning the ins and outs of the levels, enemies, and multitude of tools was a good way to calm me down after a doom and gloom lecture about botched counter-terrorism policy.

Heat Signature

I’ll admit, I haven’t put as much time into Heat Signature as other games on this list. That being said, it’s now the game that scratches the same itch as Dead Cells. It’s more complex and has an aesthetic I respond to more positively, so in the long-run I imagine I’ll like it even more. For now, it’s my motivation to finish writing about it, because all I want to do is jump back into that world and complete a couple missions.

About the Author

Jean-Luc Botbyl

Jean-Luc is a grizzled veteran of We the Nerdy. Most days, he just wonders why he hasn't been formally fired. Follow him on Twitter at @J_LFett to make him feel validated.