Welcome to the first of my “Best Games of 2017” lists. This year was an absolute boon for new games, but sometimes you might just want to revisit an old friend. And with so many games getting HD remasters these days, I occasionally hop back into a game I’ve already played before. Here were my Ten Best Revisited Games in 2017.
10. Kingdom Hearts Re: Chain of Memories
During one of the early year lulls, I picked up Kingdom Hearts 1.5 + 2.5 thinking I’d try and play through all of them since I’d only ever played the mainline games and about half of Chain of Memories on Game Boy Advance. Heck, I was even streaming the games back then…
But even with its graphical upgrade, I was quickly reminded why I didn’t stick with Chain of Memories all the way through. I just don’t connect with the card combat style. But my enjoyment of Disney still put this up over the incredibly shitty Ultra Street Fighter 2 The Final Challengers so it squeaks its way onto the list.
9. Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age
Final Fantasy XII has long been near the bottom of my Final Fantasy rankings. I kind of hate Vaan as a character and most of the rest of the cast is just bland. The story never really clicked for me and I was not a fan of the Gambit combat system. And the idea that I had to spend license points to unlock every skill in the game, as well as buy them felt unnecessary. But at least in the original game I appreciated that everyone worked from the same License Board so I could level up all of my characters as I saw fit.
The Zodiac Age forces characters down separate License Boards in a way that drastically limits party composition and just left me aggravated. It gave me the 2x and 4x speed boost that I need from these games for grinding and I still enjoy the game’s Hunts but I definitely didn’t get too far into this one. I think I made it to Belias before I decided to bail.
8. Kingdom Hearts
Man this feels and plays like an old game. But it was pretty amazing how much of it just comes right back. Namely remembering all of the various voice actors from back in the day. Still an enjoyable enough time playing through this bizarre time capsule mashup of Disney and Final Fantasy. I wish they’d given these games the same kind of updated treatment the Final Fantasies get with the buffs and all but having the four games (and two mobile ones converted to movies) that I can play all in one package is nice.
7. Stories: The Path of Destinies
Stories was one of my favorite games last year: a nice little bite-size hack and slash choose-your-own adventure story. So at the beginning of the year, I decided to hop back into the game and play through the rest of the paths to collect the Platinum trophy. A charming little action-adventure game well worth picking up.
6. Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy
I got the PS2 to PS4 version of this game as a free download with Uncharted: The Lost Legacy. I missed the game in its original PS2 iteration but finally played it a couple of years ago in the PS3 Remaster and enjoyed it. It was even one of my earliest Platinums. I definitely prefer this Jak and Daxter over the more Grand Theft Auto influenced follow-ups.
I loaded this onto my PlayStation and played it a bit before heading out to Irrational Passion Extra Life just because I’d packed all of my other games I think. I definitely didn’t think I’d wind up streaming it at like 3 or 4 in the morning while other people played some tabletop stuff behind me. Logan Wilkinson and I would up bonding over the game but we also became incredibly glossy-eyed as the sleep deprivation sunk in. I’m fairly certain I just ran around in circles for a good fifteen minutes unable to figure out anything I might do next.
5. The Witness
The Witness was my favorite game last year. An absolutely brilliant puzzle game filled with a wonderful world design and even better puzzle designs. In the same way that people have been praising Zelda all year, The Witness gives you all the tools you need to solve every puzzle in the game without ever holding your hand. It will through some of its most challenging puzzles at you right off the bat and you’ll have to return after thoroughly exploring the island in order to solve them.
I didn’t put too much time back into The Witness this year (the main reason it isn’t higher) but I was looking through my digital library one night trying to figure out what I was in the mood for and this made its way back onto my cross media bar. I spent a couple nights with it, enjoying the notion I had predicted, that some of the mechanics had slipped out of my memory so it was like re-learning the game all over again at points. When my mind starts to go (so like… in a year or two), this will be my own personal Brain Age that I use to try and keep myself sharp.
Oxenfree was another of my favorite games from last year and I enjoyed it so much that I picked up the official pins of the characters when I saw them at PAX South this year. That also happened to be when Limited Run games released a physical version of the PS4 version of the game so I nabbed a copy. When it arrived, I was all too eager to hop back into the world and play through it a couple more times.
The bonus was that the PlayStation 4 version included the “new game plus” mode that was added after launch. I hadn’t gone back to it on the original Xbox version of the game because I just didn’t boot that system up enough but I was eager to see how it changed the game. For the uninitiated, Oxenfree puts you on a haunted island where your actions and dialogue decisions affect your relationships with your fellow classmates on the island. But originally, when the game ends, it is implied that you’re actually stuck in some kind of time loop as the game starts anew. But in the unpatched original version, you the player were aware that you’d been through everything before but your characters were not. This new game plus mode alters at key points in the game to reflect the idea that Alex, our protagonist, remembers what came before, at least in part. With this in mind you can finally get a true “happy” ending that saves you and your friends (because even the best endings of the base game still led you back to the island to repeat events for all time).
It’s this added bit of content that actually managed to push it past even my game of the year last year when it comes to this list of best revisited games.
3. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
Mario Kart 8 was one of the many games I picked up but didn’t pour too much time into when I finally grabbed a Wii U (but at least I played it, unlike probably half of the Wii U games I actually bought). I definitely didn’t pick up the DLC and honestly I don’t think I even played through the eight cups in the base game.
Since I had already played through Breath of the Wild on my Wii U by the time I grabbed a Switch, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe was the main thing I wound up playing on it in those first few months. I mostly kept to myself though. I dabbled a couple times here and there with multiplayer but had one particularly bad night where I was so angry I refused to hop into the discord chat with my friends and bounced after only a few races. I eventually got better but it still took me most of the summer before I finally gold starred all of the 150cc cups (fuck 200cc right in its face). But what I really wound up enjoying was just winding down against the AI in some Battle Mode matches before bed. Most of my friends were only interested in the racing so I didn’t really bother trying to place with them but I enjoyed the Battle Mode additions a ton. Except Renegrade Roundup. That sucked too.
I put over 300 hours into my original playthroughs of Skyrim. It’s the rare game I played on PC in the last decade (but since it ran like shit on the PlayStation 3 and I didn’t have an Xbox 360, it was my only option). And I’ll freely admit that I scoffed, when it appeared in that initial Nintendo Switch commercial. But damn, if I haven’t had fun hopping back into that world on my handheld as I fly across the country to see friends or just explore a Cairn before drifting off to bed.
My only real complaint with the game is that it’s too dark and I have no way of adjusting the brightness. If I’m playing against any kind of glare, I can’t see what I’m doing because I’m just staring back at my own damn face. Not exactly the greatest when so much of your game takes place at night or in caves and poorly lit castles and stuff.
Still. It’s Skyrim on the go and that’s really damn cool.
1. Dishonored Definitive Edition
Way back at the beginning of the year, I was still riding high from having just completed and Platinumed Dishonored 2. And rather than jump into some new games or 2016 games I missed right away, I decided to keep the Dishonored love going and revisit the original (which had conveniently been included with my purchase of the sequel. Notably, I had never played the first game’s DLC so I was eager to hop into it, especially since its characters played so prominently in the sequel.
I remember playing through the game when it first game out and pretty much swearing off the idea that I’d ever manage to do a full stealth run of the game. Stealth games just never really resonated with me, so I appreciated that I could try going stealthy but if I would up accidentally killing a few guys, it wasn’t game over. I missed out on those trophies, but as long as I didn’t kill too many people, I’d stick to the Low Chaos path and Dunwall wouldn’t go all to hell.
With Dishonored 2 freshly under my belt though, I was pretty easily able to breeze through the non-lethal, full stealth playthrough of the game. I missed the Quick Save/Load functionality they added in Dishonored 2, but overall, it was a fairly painless endeavor.
And then I got to play through the DLC where, as the Assassin Daud, I got to meet Billie Lurk and Delilah, who would go on to be key figures in Dishonored 2. It was great getting a sense of their stories, now knowing where they would end up in the later game. I also greatly appreciated the look at the first game’s events from Daud’s perspective. It helped flesh out his character and gave me rationale for why he murdered the Empress.
Even writing about it know and reflecting back makes me regret a bit that I wasn’t able to make the time for Dishonored: The Death of the Outsider this year. But it’s among the top of my “finally get around to it in 2018” pile so hopefully, I return to that world sooner than later.