Cubed3 Staff Game Awards 2017

By Az Elias 01.01.2018 6

Years like this don't come around too often in video games. The choice of top quality releases has been far stronger than in many recent years, and Nintendo also launched a system that has made playing full home console titles anywhere a very real possibility in addition to some quite exceptional new entries in its beloved franchises, with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey. Long-awaited RPGs like Persona 5 and Xenoblade Chronicles 2 came along, and there were some surprising franchise returns to form, featuring Sonic Mania and Resident Evil 7. Full-blown remakes of classics proved their worth, too, with Metroid: Samus Returns, Yakuza: Kiwami, and Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy setting the standards.

The competition is tight this year, but what comes out on top for the Cubed3 team? We run down our list of the best games of 2017.

30. DiRT 4

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DiRT 4 really does succeed in extrapolating new things from two different sides of the driving spectrum. The 'Your Stage' procedural track generator really does feel like a revelation, which will ensure that drivers remain on their toes even after clocking countless hours already. It's remarkable what this can do for drivers if they're willing to adapt and learn, and certainly helps to cultivate technical understanding and development. There's no doubt about it: DiRT 4 is one of the most exciting driving releases this year. A much-celebrated brand comes back with a bang.
- Tom B

DiRT 4 is a racer that purists need to get. Simply put, the rally driving is incredible to control, as every little movement can derail control of the car. The mechanics feel so realistic, and the vibrations and roar of the engines make every single drive a harrowing yet exhilarating experience. Put together a team of engineers, with public relations officers to find sponsors, while winning the rally courses and climbing the ladder to the World Championships. The tracks are procedurally generated meaning that every single rally track will feel fresh, with new challenges steeping into every race that will keep even the most hardcore of drivers on edge.
- Josh

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29. Destiny 2

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Destiny 2 is a noticeable improvement on its predecessor in almost every regard, but at its core, it's still just an improved Destiny. The campaign drops a lot of the convoluted plot threads that made the original's story so hard to follow, so at least it does feel like a worthy use of time before digging in to the endgame grind. Even with the improved campaign, and the greater variety of challenges to undertake in mind, the MMO-esque endgame focused grind definitely isn't for everyone. Still, the side missions and story mode are definitely worth playing through, and with a few other Guardians along for the ride, Destiny 2 and its inevitable expansions will keep players coming back for quite some time.
- Brandon

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28. Everybody's Golf

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How it has been allowed for Everybody's Golf to exist on PlayStation is beyond anyone's comprehension, but may Sony continue to get away with this tomfoolery for another twenty years because it's simply a pleasure to have this on PS4. Accessible for all ages, play styles and ability, this is a game that is the closest thing a player is going to get to being gently hugged whilst holding a DualShock.
- Sam

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27. Ever Oasis

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Ever Oasis is a masterfully crafted piece of gaming software that manages to introduce a lot of original town management elements into an action RPG without feeling overwhelming or too hard to understand even for younger audiences, all while offering a solid experience gameplay-wise, as well as visually and audibly. Its touching story and loveable characters, coupled with the smooth combat and puzzle mechanics, only further enhance what is already an excellent experience on Nintendo 3DS.

It may not be the most technically advanced game on the system, and it may not have a story to make a player embark on a metaphysic voyage to explore the mind of humanity with a tortured protagonist, but instead it chooses to keep things light, friendly, humble, and more fairy-tale like. These, however, should not be deemed absolutely necessary to be able to have a perfectly grand time on the humble Nintendo 3DS, since a cute title should not be considered any less great than the darker and more adult ones out there.
- Rudy

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26. SteamWorld Dig 2

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Anyone looking for a weekend well spent can't go wrong with SteamWorld Dig 2; it is the very definition of a great sequel. Alongside the larger world and new features is a terrific amount of refinement, with each and every aspect given a little bit of extra attention. However, the basic formula remains unchanged. The bulk will be spent mining ore and selling it to buy upgrades, and although performing these tasks isn't required to progress, it's really not something that can be ignored entirely. For what it's worth, this entry does everything possible to make the process addictive and fun.
- Gabriel

SteamWorld Dig 2 is no mere sequel by numbers, instead taking everything that was loved (and critiqued) about the original and building upon it considerably in every way possible. The sense of exploration is phenomenal, and those willing to dig deep will find the world down in the mines has so much to offer that a good 10-15 hours can easily be spent uncovering all of the secrets before even bothering to finish the main story. This almost out-Metroids Nintendo's venerable series - that is how good Image & Form's latest adventure is.
- Adam

Where the first title came up short because it was over so soon and the monotony could set in, SteamWorld Dig 2 goes the extra mile by introducing a ton of fun new abilities that open up the world in all directions, putting platforming skills to the test throughout a greater range of diverse locations. Whilst the main game is still over fairly quickly, it is time well spent with Dorothy, and there is plenty to seek out for anyone that can't get enough of all that scavenging.
- Az

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25. Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana

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Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana is everything an action RPG could and should be. Genre conventions and traditions are still in play, but they're handled with a delicacy that elevates what would otherwise be tired clichés into imaginative story beats. The narrative is as rich in thematic substance as it is in genuine human interaction, as every NPC is given ample time to grow, while solidarity is emphasized as humanity's best bet at surviving.

Lacrimosa of Dana plays like an ideal marriage between Seven and Memories of Celceta, with an equal balance of character building, fast-paced combat, and exploration. NIS America's localization could have used another draft, but it's offset by the franchise's single best story and a host of content to uncover in the base game, along with New Game Plus. Innovative with just enough familiarity, Ys has never been better.
- Renan

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24. Uncharted: The Lost Legacy

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Chloe's first lead role in the series might feel like more of an Uncharted-lite, but The Lost Legacy is still everything fans loved about Nathan Drake's adventures, with fantastic moments, an entire chapter dedicated to real exploration, and a thoroughly satisfying conclusion. Although it has flaws, this is still a memorable and very enjoyable experience that fans of the franchise deserve to play. I'm not sure this is really a game that will cement the series' legacy, but at the same time it doesn't deserve to be lost, either.
- Nikola

Lost Legacy is a brave game. Not only was it a risk for Naughty Dog to allow the intentioned "Single Mission" DLC for A Thief's End to sprawl and grow into something much more involving, but it was also valiant for them to drop their titular hero, Nathan Drake, for the first time. It is, though, a gamble that paid off, and in Chloe and Nadine, the developers may have found the characters that will move the series on PD (Post Drake).

What was so enticing about Lost Legacy was not the gorgeous vistas, the large scale set-pieces or an interesting villain (for once), but it was that the two leads struggle to share the adventure, and their combative personalities create an honest atmosphere of two humans learning how to communicate, delegate, and become genuine friends.

It shouldn't work to have two lead protagonists on screen at loggerheads for the majority of the game, but Lost Legacy is not just a perfect cross-section of the "Uncharted Experience," it's also a wonderful mirror up to relationships and how they grow, die, and bloom.
- Sam

23. Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood

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The best Final Fantasy XIV has ever been. Ever moving forward, Square Enix has managed to craft one of the most focused storylines in the game thus far, backed up by exceptional voice acting and a desire to keep quests fresh with great boss battles, characters and dungeons. The main area Stormblood suffers is postgame, where there is little desire to top that subscription back up once the main story and few unlockable dungeons and raids have been completed. Whilst it lasts, though, thoroughly engrossing from start to finish.
- Az

Stormblood is simply amazing. Not much more can be said about it. With a very well-crafted story, some tense and epic battles, two new classes, and wonderful zones, saying anything else would ruin so much of the expansion and what makes it great.
- Ian

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22. Cuphead

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Aesthetics aside, there really aren't any games like Cuphead being made anymore. This kind of running and shooting platforming action game has nigh vanished from the gaming landscape. The closest modern example that casual observers may be aware of is maybe Metal Slug or the Mega Man games, because nobody has seen Contra since 2007. This used to be a popular genre, with such amazing titles as Turrican, Gunstar Heroes and Dynamite Headdy, which used to tap into a very primal part of our brain that is addicted to adrenaline.

Thankfully, Cuphead is not style over substance. Controls are tight and responsive, and retries load up nice and fast, so time is never wasted. This is every great boss battle gaming has seen before and more, thanks to Studio MDHR's dazzling creativity and focus on creating a palpable sensation of accomplishment. There may not be many console exclusives on Xbox One these days, but Cuphead is a real standout, and is a must-own for everyone who loves fast action and crushing challenge. Come for the cool art and animation, but stay for the gameplay.
- Albert

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21. Prey

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Despite its issues, which should be addressed in short order, Prey is a stunning gem. Not since the venerable System Shock 2 has there been an immersive simulator that succeeds in everything it sets out to do. Talos-1 is masterful in both its construction and design. Players are given limitless freedom to approach every possible situation, lending the game unparalleled levels of replay value. Also, it's rare to see a purely single-player experience retain its freshness in the face of a lengthy play time. This is just as compelling in the 30th hour as it is in the first.
- Gabriel

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20. ECHO

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A passion project by a handful of very talented people, ECHO might suffer from a pretty low replay value, but the rest of it is simply fantastic. Beautiful to look at, deeply atmospheric, and with some very clever (and well-handled) gameplay mechanics, this might very well be one of the best stealth games ever - especially since it lets players face the greatest enemy: themselves!
- Ofisil

ECHO is a game brimming with smart ideas that should appeal to lovers of good sci-fi and stealth/action alike. Ultra Ultra has done a superb job in creating an intriguingly eerie world that piques interest early on, first with a slow build up, and then effortlessly drawing you in for the long haul without having to be overly reliant on a heavy narrative to drive the story forward. It's an impressive opening statement from the Copenhagen-based troupe that puts them firmly on the developer map as ones to watch.
- Gareth

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19. Yakuza: Kiwami

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An absurdly good game. The story, the world, the characters, and the distractions all add up to one thing: immersion. This is the type of game to invest tons of time in, and for those new to the franchise, it's all the better because there are so many other Yakuza titles waiting to be played! For returning fans, Yakuza: Kiwami gives the inaugural game new life. It's been long enough removed from the original release to feel special again, and, even better, it is released at a budget price.
- Drew

Yakuza: Kiwami is an extreme makeover. The combat is even more varied than it was in Yakuza 5 thanks to the four styles Kazuma has at his disposal to make up for the fact that Kiwami has only one playable character. A special mention must be given to the new remixed score that matches up with the flashy new graphics.

A major factor of the Yakuza games is that they truly do transport the player to a different culture, and the atmosphere that envelopes as Kazuma explores Kamurocho is palpable. The district itself isn't large - in fact, it is quite small even by standards set by the later games - but because of its density and attention to detail, it becomes very intimate. These are the qualities that made Yakuza such an endearing series, and the smaller scale is a reminder of just how far SEGA's action titles have come.
- Albert

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18. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Nintendo Switch)

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The only reason to avoid The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim on Nintendo Switch is if you weren't a fan of the original game in the first place, or if you were expecting something new. Other than that, Bethesda has managed to port its enormous and captivating world into what's basically a tablet, and has done so almost flawlessly.
- Ofisil

Nintendo leaned heavily on this one from very early on in the life of the system, driving the point home right from the initial Switch reveal that such a high profile third party title like Skyrim can now be played on the go on their new hybrid console. Now that it is out, this game, more than many others, truly shows how the Switch can provide solid and expansive home console style experiences, even on the go.
- Rudy

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17. Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King

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Even with its handful of changes, or regretful omissions, Dragon Quest VIII: Journey of the Cursed King on 3DS is a grandiose adventure that manages to evolve the series in terms of technical achievement and presentation, storytelling and overall convenience. It takes advantage of the enhancements of technology to help make this adventure a joy to work through, unlike some older RPGs nowadays. It is a definite pleasure, while still delivering the classic feel of a Dragon Quest title that most of its devoted fans, more so in Japan than anywhere else, expect to find with every new release that the series has seen to this day.

Lack of orchestrated soundtrack or minimal censorship should definitely not put anyone off this historical masterpiece, even on the humble and ageing 3DS hardware. This, along with perhaps Ever Oasis, might be the last major RPG release for the system, as it probably sees its last year of relevance in 2017, and it could not hope to go out with a bigger bang than with this impressive port.
- Rudy

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16. A Hat in Time

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A Hat in Time comes out in a year of video gaming excellence, so I hope it doesn't slip by the wayside, but anyone who appreciates 3D platformers should definitely play this. Behind this cutesy graphical style is a challenging and rewarding platformer that should not be overlooked.
- Neil

While no single component is particularly revolutionary or unfamiliar to the genre, this is an extremely memorable platforming experience that, unlike its main collectathon rival this year, never feels laboured. This is down to a nicely streamlined but still deep hub and world structure, in conjunction with so many neat touches and playful twists on the collectathon formula. From start to finish, it's charming and funny, with excellent art design and gorgeous visuals. The music from Pascal Michael Stiefel is brilliant (although it's a shame that only a few tracks were contributed by Grant Kirkhope in the end) while the use of real dialogue definitely makes things livelier and more engrossing. Through all this, its sheer charm, and its gratifying gameplay mechanics, A Hat in Time affords itself the ability to do what it wants, and ensures that it really goes the distance. It never overindulges in nostalgia or tribute, and it makes sure to poke fun at itself, as well as the rest, along the way. It's a collectathon gem, if ever there was one.
- Tom B

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15. Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia

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This is decidedly a very classic feeling Fire Emblem, with enough freshness to captivate even veterans of the franchise and comes with a welcome accessibility that makes it the easiest for newcomers to get into. This entry goes to show that there's room within the franchise to make different looking Fire Emblem entries that still feel true to the series, but which also dare to not only tread new ground, but do so in a great way.

It's a well-rounded package that is well balanced to please the majority of its audience, like the entire trilogy of Fire Emblem Fates before it, but while keeping it all confined to just one game with the complete epic story being accessible just from buying this one piece of software instead of it being spread out, and that's something to be thankful for. Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia, while feeling like an older entry, might very well be moving the series forward in certain aspects that could potentially return in future outings.
- Rudy

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14. Hollow Knight

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Hollow Knight is anything but hollow. Cut from the same cloth as Metroid (and a little bit of Dark Souls), its beautifully gloomy, as well as cute, hand-painted underground world, offers one of the best time sinks ever made - and one where skill is definitely in the spotlight. Its plot could be a bit more accessible, and the lack of hand-holding can sometimes be annoying, but these "flaws" can't really crack the surface of this diamond.
- Ofisil

With its bleak, yet adorable visuals, Hollow Knight sucked me in from the moment I started playing. Its weaving, Metroidvania-style map can become a bit confusing at times, but the plethora of characters to meet, bosses to fight, and secrets to find ensures that things never get boring. The day that Hollow Knight isn't a fantastic experience through and through is the day that my heart stops melting at the warbles of the caterpillars you can find and rescue. In other words: never.
- Olivia

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13. Yakuza 0

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Yakuza 0's focus on refinement over ambition proved to be the right decision. This game features a very well-told story that's filled with an assortment of great characters and memorable moments. It's also a breakout moment for Goro Majima. He tends to get the short end of the stick when it comes to characterisation, but here, Majima really comes into his own.

The style select sub-system is a fantastic addition, because it allows for a level of flexibility that hasn't been seen in any of the previous entries. The expected massive amount of side content also benefits from an increased level of interdependency. Pursuing the multitude of amenities around town is rewarding in so many ways. This entry raises the bar for both the Yakuza series and action RPGs.
- Gabriel

Yakuza 0 does a great job of bringing the series to the late 80s, improving the combat system and including a huge selection of side-quests. The main game is a mix of overly dramatic story and fight scenes reminiscent of an old-school beat 'em up, but the world is so fleshed out that you will be lost in the world that SEGA has so carefully constructed. Although it is a prequel, it truly feels like part of the main series. The characters are as brilliantly written as ever and never fail to make the game feel genuinely fun, without any pretentiousness or overly serious tones.
- Chris G

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Read Chris G's review

12. Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy

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Activision has played the nostalgia card like a seasoned Vegas pro, and will no doubt enjoy seeing the sales figures of N. Sane Trilogy skyrocket as a result. Vicarious Visions deserves major props for doing a fantastic job of eliminating the "Whoa… This is way blockier than I remember it to be" factor and delivering a 'coot heavy package that manages to enhance the core experience without straying too far from the original templates.

That's not to say that it isn't without its issues, as the regular, jarring difficulty spikes can be frustrating at times and seem at odds with the needs of its primary target audience (kids) - though, admittedly, this is an observation coming from somebody with the age-dulled reaction times of a gamer long past their prime. It's safe to say that we haven't seen the last of Crash yet...
- Gareth

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11. Metroid: Samus Returns

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This is right up there with Super Metroid in terms of sheer class, taking the spirit of Metroid II: Return of Samus and transforming it so wondrously for the modern day that it is barely recognisable, with a plethora of brand-new extras thrown in. Metroid: Samus Returns is no mere remake of a Game Boy classic; it is a love letter to the Metroid series, and a thorough reimagining of the core concept, adding in some favourite elements from later releases, and new content that fits hand in glove. Lay any concerns down, as this is top notch entertainment through and through.
- Adam

Any new 2D Metroid is always a joy to behold due to the severe rarity of them actually being made. The fanmake released the year prior, AM2R, was an expertly and respectably crafted retelling of the original title, which added plenty of unique ideas of its own. Nintendo took a different approach with its 3D visuals, but this offered much more dynamic cutscenes and gameplay, showcasing the athletic abilities of Samus, and presenting her in a different light, as well as the Metroid world itself, which had only been seen previously in all its pixelated black and white glory on Game Boy (up until a brief visit in Fusion).

Metroid: Samus Returns is a necessary and long overdue remake, but one which goes back to Samus' roots. The game it has been moulded from to begin with means it does fall short in areas such as exploration and boss variety, but it overcomes these with some new twists, fleshing out of the lore and environments, fun gameplay, and a cracking 3D effect that is going to be missed once the 3DS says its goodbyes.
- Az

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10. Splatoon 2

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Splatoon 2 is a brilliant and refreshing competitive multiplayer experience, both online and offline, which really fills a void in that regard for the system. Although the changes are fairly minor, it's hard to see the existing fan-base not leaping on-board in hordes, since more than anything else, the quirky franchise needs a more sustainable home platform and Nintendo Switch has proved itself to be just that. While this sequel will feel initially quite familiar to established fans, a great deal of attention has been paid to the nuances of the multiplayer dynamic, leading to an altogether much improved sequel, which is worthy of anyone's attention, whether an existing fan or a newcomer. It's a shame match-making options couldn't have been broadened, but with things such as voice chat finally introduced, this is a step in the right direction.

It will be interesting to see how Splatoon 2 expands. It is presumed DLC will be offered to support the multiplayer domain, but the much-improved Hero Mode might also open up the door for better and even more expansive single-player content in the future. Splatoon 2 is one of the best games available on Nintendo Switch.
- Tom B

Very few games get me to play online (call me an old fart if you want); however, Splatoon 2 had me hooked for the best part of this year. Colourful, frantic and challenging, this sequel builds upon the original and improves upon the formula, offering one of the must-have games on the Nintendo Switch.
- Neil

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9. Nier: Automata

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In spite of all the odds against Yoko Taro's career, he has finally created a true masterpiece that delivers on all fronts that includes gameplay. Environmental detail aesthetics lacking aside, Nier: Automata is an unbelievable game, and one that just might make even the most stone cold-hearted gamers well up into a weepy emotional mess. This is a landmark in storytelling in games that is one that embraces the fact it is a video game and does not try to imitate film in the way most story driven games do. Nier: Automata is bold and weird without being pretentious, but, most importantly, it knows how to be a fun video game thanks to masterclass action game design.
- Albert

There's no other JRPG like Nier: Automata out there. It blends all sorts of genres, although not flawlessly; it looks cool and has an awesome atmosphere, despite it being a tad rough around the edges; and its plot is simply an amazing piece of sad, thinking man's sci-fi storytelling, even though it disappoints quite a lot every now and then. Yoko Taro's newest creation isn't perfect… but this humble gamer is happy that it exists.
- Ofisil

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8. Nioh

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It's almost shocking that Nioh turned out as well as it did. While Team Ninja is an exceptional talent, it took a pretty huge risk in crafting this game. It takes a lot effort to develop a polished 3D action game, let alone one that relies heavily on RPG elements such as levelling and equipment. Thankfully, the team managed to put out a winner. Every single one of the game's multitude of sub-systems co-exists with one another in perfect harmony. There is a consistent feeling of joy thanks to the phenomenal combat and acquisition of sweet gear. Popping open a demon to see colour-coded weapons and armour pour out of its lifeless body like candy from a piñata is actually fun again.
- Gabriel

To simply label Nioh as "Souls-like" would be to imply that it is in any way derivative of the Dark Souls formula. It shares its similarities, yes, but Team Ninja has crafted a different beast entirely. William's journey to recover Saoirse runs brilliantly parallel to Japan's journey to recover order. Combat is fluid and variable thanks to quick weapon switching and an emphasis on recovering stamina mid-action instead of simply exhausting it in bursts. The overall presentation and aesthetic of Japan is breath-taking and unforgettable. The enemy variety is lacking, but that's easily overlooked by just how engrossing each boss is. With all the DLC present, Nioh: Complete Edition is an excellent way of experiencing Team Ninja's masterpiece for the first time, or just revisiting William Adams for another trek through Japan.
- Renan

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7. Horizon: Zero Dawn

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There are exclusive titles on every console that epitomise the system; titles that are indelibly linked with that hardware through future generations. Adventures like The Last of Us, Kingdom Hearts, GoldenEye, and Super Mario 64. Horizon: Zero Dawn stands worthily alongside these iconic releases. The story is enthralling, the open world is lush and inviting, the gameplay is extremely addictive, and the sheer scale of it all is amazingly vast. Simply put, this is a phenomenal game.
- Drew

The draw of Horizon: Zero Dawn is not its perfect blend of mechanics and story, or indeed its magnanimous world, which breathes with vibrancy and variety. However, the use of colour and detail in the game is superb. Everything pops off the screen and sings with life, and the wide palette of verve and vitality makes it such a wonderful world to inhabit.
- Sam

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6. Xenoblade Chronicles 2

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Xenoblade Chronicles 2 tries its hardest to match the grandest of grand RPGs out there on the market, attempting to become Nintendo's own Final Fantasy. It is undoubtedly wonderfully vast in its scale, and gripping in how things play out during the lengthy escapade. There is indeed a lot to love about this new adventure. Exploration of the fantastic world is truly breath-taking at times, and unearthing all sorts of hidden goodies is extremely rewarding, showing off how talented the team at Monolith Soft is when it comes to overworld creation. Even the innards of bustling townscapes are thoroughly impressive, with plenty to see whilst wandering around.

In many ways, this is a real labour of love from experts in the field, even down to the actual combat system, which is highly complex and enthralling for those that have a penchant for taking their time, patiently working out every little detail to get the most out of each and every enemy encounter.
- Adam

Capping off a packed calendar year for Switch, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 continues the best of its series hallmark traits, while introducing an addictive sidekick development system. A fantastic storyline, together with memorable voice acting and lush imaginative environments to explore for RPG enthusiasts.
- Shane

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5. Sonic Mania

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Very few stones have been left unturned to create what is a contender for the best Sonic title ever made. More than just an anniversary celebration, Sonic Mania is full of fresh ideas, balancing its source material and addition of all-new elements to elevate it beyond many other platformers that rely heavily on the same old formulas. It is a great pity that Sonic 4 exists, because no game deserves that name more than Sonic Mania; this is the Sonic 4 you have all been waiting for. The hope now is that it does not prove to be a one-off; a sequel with even more original zones and ideas needs to happen down the line. For now, though, it is a time to appreciate Sonic Mania and the incredible work Christian Whitehead and his fellow developers have done.
- Az

Sonic Mania doesn't just stand shoulder to shoulder with the classics of yesteryear; it surpasses them. The level design is absolutely incredible. Each zone features a wealth of obstacles and secrets, and they're all superbly implemented. Players are given ample opportunity to explore, though there's also incentive in speeding to the end. This is no simple "hold right to win" affair, either. A lot of finesse is required to evade all of the hazards. The controls are tuned to perfection, leaving absolutely nothing to chance. The special stages and boss battles are enjoyable, which is a rarity for the franchise. Unsurprisingly, the soundtrack is also quite excellent. It's a Sonic game, after all; even the worst entries have great music.
- Gabriel

There is no doubt that this is the best Sonic game of all time. Sonic Mania is the culmination of frustrated fans knowing they can do a better job than Sonic Team - and they were right. The revised levels, music and controls are all perfect, and this game has finally brought back some dignity to the blue blur. It is a must-play game for everyone, not just fans of Sonic.
- Neil

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4. Persona 5

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Persona 5 is unrepentantly stylish, and absolutely seamless in keeping its players immersed in its world. Every moment is exciting, from traversing the masterfully crafted dungeons, to living it up with Joker's friends and acquaintances. There are some moments that don't mesh perfectly with the tone of the story, but even they help to paint a portrait of a group of teenagers dissatisfied with the world at large. Persona 5 is a joy from start to finish, and it never drops its fashionable facade - not even for a second.
- Brandon

After the breakout success of Persona 4, the fifth game in the series was hotly anticipated, and somehow managed to live up to those lofty expectations. An engaging, realistic, but still fantastical tale, coupled with a super solid battle system and character development, makes Persona 5 easily one of the best RPGs of the generation.
- Shane

It took a while for Persona to hit the mainstream. With its third instalment, the popularity began to grow, and then exploded with the fourth. Persona 4 was absolutely phenomenal, and will remain on many players' "Best Games of All Time" lists forever - mine included - and with good reason. Persona 5 had a lot to live up to. Most importantly, it needed a solid story with a cast of truly likeable characters. It needed to build on what had come before, balancing the social interactions with the dungeon crawling.

It delivered. This wonderful tale of Phantom Thieves and stealing hearts is a truly special story that requires and justifies multiple playthroughs. Those who have come to appreciate the quality of Persona 5 have a lot to look forward to soon, too. The Persona 5 anime will be hitting next in 2018, and a rhythm game title will be landing shortly thereafter, major merch is landing from acclaimed creators like GoodSmile Company, and late 2018 sees Persona Q2 on the cards with chibified Phantom Thieves promising to steal our hearts all over again. Joker and crew were one of the best parts of 2017, and now they'll be a big part of 2018, as well.
- Drew

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3. Resident Evil 7: Biohazard

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Go tell Aunt Rhody she needs to play Resident Evil 7, as it's an absolutely stunning rebirth and return to form for survival horror. This soft reboot has reinvigorated the franchise and brought AAA survival horror back. The future of Resident Evil looks very promising.
- Drew

Don't let the change in perspective or the different aesthetics fool you; this is definitely a Resident Evil game, and, even more importantly, one that returns to the core of its roots in the best way possible. Perfect? No. Will players miss the more comic book-like vibe of the original? Sure. However, while Resident Evil 7: Biohazard isn't everyone's cup of stagnant swamp water, it's a cup that everyone should get a taste of, at least once.
- Ofisil

Resident Evil 7: Biohazard is Capcom's little survival horror that could. With so much contention about this entry being in first-person and the complete lack of returning protagonists, many felt wrongfully disgruntled about this truly innovative and expertly crafted survival horror that plays the way classic Resident Evil would play in the current generation. The developers finally figured out what made Resident Evil tick, and they did it by taking a long and introspective look at the most beloved entries in the series and putting a new spin on them. PSVR and Resident Evil 7 together is by far one of the most successful experiments since Resident Evil 4.
- Albert

Read Ofisil's review
Read Drew's review
Read Albert's review

2. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Image for Cubed3 Staff Game Awards 2017
This is the pinnacle of adventuring, Zelda style. It takes the core elements that fans know and love from Nintendo's long-standing series, and mixes it smoothly in with the gorgeous open-world exploration of Xenoblade Chronicles to craft something so breath-taking and absorbing that hours upon hours will pass by without notice, and barely any progress will have actually been made in the main story because there were so many other aspects to take in and play around with, as well as sub-missions that fit so naturally into the core quest. Nintendo has outdone itself with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Absolutely sublime work.
- Adam

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is undoubtedly the most ambitious project to come from Nintendo since Super Mario 64 revitalised the platformer more than two decades ago. Its first attempt to bring Zelda into the open-world era isn't just a formidable attempt, it's one that ticks all the right boxes and shows other, more genre-seasoned, developers how it should be done. If it really is the last major title that the Wii U ever sees, then it's a fantastic way to bow out - The Legend of Zelda has never been so perfect.
- Lex

Image for Cubed3 Staff Game Awards 2017


Is Breath of the Wild one of the best in The Legend of Zelda series? Yes. It's addictive, immersive, insanely atmospheric, varied and deep, and, most of all, fun… but it's a few tiny steps behind perfection. Maybe that perfection will come if Nintendo ever combines this flavour of open-world goodness with some of the franchise's more "traditional" concepts. Fingers crossed.
- Ofisil

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is not only the game of the year, but could easily be the best game of all time. A truly captivating experience from start to finish across a large sprawling world that is intensified by outstanding DLC content. This is a game that will be revered for many decades to come and has redefined what an open world video game should be.
- Neil

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Read Lex's review
Read Ofisil's review

1. Super Mario Odyssey

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The wait is over; the pinnacle of 3D adventures has arrived in the form of Super Mario Odyssey. It beggars belief just how much Nintendo has packed into this latest outing, without compromising the core Mario goodness of the past. Just as with The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, the Mario series has now reached a special new level of greatness that will be hard to surpass in the future. The Nintendo Switch is fast becoming the hottest platform, crammed full of sublime quality gaming experiences like this fantastic new escapade.
- Adam

Super Mario Odyssey was the type of 3D Mario game I had wished to see made again ever since Super Mario Sunshine came out. Not only did it blend proper open world exploration perfectly with HD visuals exactly how I had originally hoped for when Nintendo moved on to the Wii U, but it's also a damn fine game in its own right. It is therefore, in short, what I had hoped Super Mario 3D World would be. Best game of the year.
- Rudy

Returning to the familiar control foundations of his 64-bit outing, yet venturing into lands no one would expect him to, Mario's odyssey on the Switch is the textbook definition of a fun video game, delivered in the highest of quality from Nintendo's greatest minds.
- Shane

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Did you know you can be a T-Rex in this game? Because you can.

Super Mario Odyssey is the gift that keeps on giving the more you play. Expression is something the developers at Nintendo seemed to embrace in the creation of this game, but it isn't just in the loveable animations and faces Mario pulls, or even in the incredible open worlds full of artistic variety, or even in the sublime soundtrack that used vocal songs and still managed to have them not feel out of place. No, one of Mario Odyssey's greatest examples of expression is in Mario's moveset.

3D Mario games have always allowed for a vast degree of freedom and many abilities to ensure players feel completely in control of the little plumber and that he is able to explore worlds with as few hindrances as possible. Generally, Mario's moveset has evolved in each 3D title, despite being scaled back slightly in 3D World. Super Mario Odyssey triple jumps far ahead of its predecessors, though, by incorporating Mario's largest box of tools yet - mainly in the form of his sidekick Cappy.

Image for Cubed3 Staff Game Awards 2017


The new sentient hat perched on Mario's head offers him an incredible range of manoeuvrability, designed to allow advanced players to play the game in a totally different way to the more casual player. The best part is that missions for Power Moons have been created to permit - and even encourage - players to try offbeat tricks and moves, rewarding those that pull off the seemingly impossible, scaling the heights of what look like unreachable buildings, or skipping entire sections of areas to cut out the naturally intended path.

What is so good about this is that Odyssey is still a game for all types of players, and can be completed by taking either approach. Just about every Power Moon can be obtained by those that don't master or utilise Mario's full moveset, and since this is, without question, an excellent title to boot, no one would feel hard done by for not putting all of his abilities to use; it simply grants everyone a choice in how to tackle the game, but goes out of its way to acknowledge when players perform skilful - and often even risky - feats of accomplishment.

This is why Super Mario Odyssey is so expressive. It can be seen in so many variations across the entire game, and different people will pick up on different aspects that resonate with them, but the fluidity and options for both casual and advanced types of players in the moves at Mario's disposal typify the expressiveness that Nintendo has plastered throughout one of Mario's greatest adventures to date.

Did I also mention you can be a T-Rex? Because you can be a T-Rex.
- Az

Read Adam's review

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An unforgettable year concludes with Super Mario Odyssey coming out on top of Cubed3's game awards for 2017, but it was certainly tight margins between that and Nintendo's other crowning achievement this year: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Whatever your preferences - even if you haven't played either of these titles yet - there is no doubt that we have been spoilt for choice with what has been on offer over the past twelve months. Long may the gaming goodness continue into 2018 and beyond!

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Glad Sonic Mania scored so well! Personally Zelda is my game of the year by a long shot!

Good job putting this together!

Zelda would be mine, too. Not been so hooked on a game in years, and I still have over 200 koroks to find in my 200+ hour playthrough so far.

But still hugely impressed by Mario. That game seemed to offer something new and fun with every passing moment and new world you came across.

These two were the frontrunners by a large margin by our staff voters!

It's quite amazing how many amazing games didn't actually make the cut! Like, Neil, you mentioned Mario + Rabbids, which Rudy actually rated really high in his review! Just one example.

Adam Riley [ Director :: Cubed3 ]

UNITE714: Weekly Prayers | Bible Verses

Yeah, its a surprise that no one nominated Mario+Rabbids. Same with ARMS as well. I couldn't really get to grips with Arms. I think it would be more fun against friends locally, but I got frustrated with the difficulty and controls. 

It was a tough year, especially trying to decide between BOTW and Mario Odyssey. For me, the GOTY game down to which of the two games I enjoyed more and am still playing and Mario won out for me. The accessibility was a major win for me, and being able to jump into Mario at any stage and navigate the world looking for moon's was a huge draw factor.

Whereas with Zelda, jumping in for the first time in three months left me troubled at the beginning figuring out the controls again until I was comfortable to proceed adventuring. 

But it's quite an amazing list, and one that I will hope to plow through during the year and catch up on the many games that I have missed. Mario + Rabbids, Nioh, Horizon Zero Dawn and Nier Automata is sitting in my pile of shame >_< 

Hahaha! Pile of Shame! I love that term!

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