The 20 Best Games You Might've Missed in 2017
This year was an amazing year for triple-A games, including big names like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Horizon: Zero Dawn, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, and Destiny 2. But in the midst of a wealth of top-tier big-budget releases, there were still plenty of amazing lesser-known games that are well worth checking out. In this gallery, we've compiled a list of our favorite PS4, Xbox One, PC, and Switch games that we think you should play if you haven't already. Click ahead to see what we chose.
What are some of your favorite games this year that you think others might've missed? Let us know in the comments below. And if you're looking for game recommendations you might've missed for specific platforms, you can check out our features focusing on the best Xbox One games, best Switch games, best PS4 Games, and the best PC games.
Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator (PC)
Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator is a visual novel published by the Game Grumps in which you play as a dad who romances other dads in your town. It became an instant cult hit among dating sim fans when it was released in July, but even if you don't really consider yourself the type to date dads, you should give it a shot. It's filled with pun-based dad jokes and has at its core an incredibly heartwarming story about raising a daughter on your own. It's also inclusive without feeling like the diversity is just posturing; gender and sexuality issues are presented in a straightforward manner, but for the most part, the dads' narrative arcs are about fatherhood. In that sense, Dream Daddy is widely relatable. Most everyone has an opinion on dads and can find something among the game's many routes and endings relevant to their own life, even if it's not their next fictional crush.
Enter the Gungeon (Xbox One)
Being a roguelike-style shooter, Enter the Gungeon naturally draws comparisons to games like The Binding of Isaac and Nuclear Throne. And while that does offer a decent starting point for understanding what to expect, Enter the Gungeon manages to rise above being a pale imitator. It feels fantastic, with a dodge-roll ability that allows you to satisfyingly evade damage with a well-timed use. There are ridiculous weapons, such as those that fire bees or a gun that shoots guns which themselves fire bullets. The well-crafted procedurally generated environments help to keep each run feeling fresh, as do the wide variety of items and secrets to uncover along the way. And co-op support makes for an especially fun, chaotic experience (although it's unfortunate that the second player isn't able to play as the different characters that the main player has access to). The entire game is also overflowing with personality and color, making for an experience that is as fun to look at as is to play.
Fast RMX (Switch)
Nintendo, or at the very least Shigeru Miyamoto, has made one thing clear: F-Zero is a series that's as good as dead. The last proper F-Zero game was F-Zero GX, released 14 years ago for the GameCube, with repeated requests for a new game shot down by Nintendo time and time again.
Thankfully, Nintendo fans aren't entirely out of luck when it comes to high-speed racing games. In comes Fast RMX, an upgraded port of Wii U's Fast Racing Neo. This fast (duh), futuristic game offers 30 tracks and 15 vehicles, as well as online and local multiplayer options, and it features both shield and boost mechanics that closely mirror F-Zero in practice. No, it doesn't have Captain Falcon, but Fast RMX manages to capture the thrilling speed and, to an extent, the attitude of F-Zero GX--with a little influence from the WipeOut series' eye for graphic design.
Forza Horizon 3: Hot Wheels DLC (Xbox One/PC)
Forza Horizon 3 was already arguably the best racing game of the generation--if not longer--and it's only gotten better since launch with the release of two expansion packs. The first, Blizzard Mountain, went the more obvious route of taking players to a region inundated with snow, which was great, but the Hot Wheels expansion is the stuff of childhood fantasies.
Whereas the Forza series has traditionally focused on delivering realism, this DLC allows you to get behind the wheel of classic Hot Wheels cars and drive them around wild courses comprised of loops and huge jumps. Making this all the more delightful is the way these are made from the classic orange Hot Wheels tracks and weave through an otherwise standard island setting that would not have been out of place in Horizon 3. Thanks to the track layout and boost pads, there's a sense of speed you don't get in the standard game, and it's downright exhilarating when you leap across a chasm or go zooming past a giant animatronic dinosaur for the first time.
Little Nightmares (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
Little Nightmares is a haunting adventure that instantly pulls you into its world of existential conundrums. Having released this past April up against bigger games like Persona 5 and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, it's likely this eerie journey passed you by. You play as Six, a nine-year-old girl trapped in The Maw, an underwater resort filled with monstrous, disfigured inhabitants. The background details are never explicitly explained, but it's clear from the beginning that your goal is to escape. It's a simple adventure that displays an enthralling sense of mystery throughout, pushing you from one tense cat-and-mouse-style chase to the next, as you explore the mysterious exteriors of The Maw. Clocking in at around two hours, it's likely you'll finish Little Nightmares in one or two sittings, but its strange world and distorted inhabitants makes it well worth checking out.
Nex Machina (PS4, PC)
If you're unfamiliar with Housemarque--creators of arcade-style action games like Resogun and Super Stardust--then you need to check out its stuff. The studio's latest project, Nex Machina, effectively channels the classic twin-stick shoot-'em-up action of games like Robotron 2084 and Smash TV. But that's because Eugene Jarvis, the creator of those games, collaborated alongside the studio to create it. The game is an intense display of frenetic action that takes the best from the work of both creative forces, combining it into an exhilarating experience of non-stop shooting. If you want to make things even more hectic, you can jump in with a friend to play cooperatively. Nex Machina's exhilarating action makes it well worth your time, but be wary, the game is tough. Expect your patience and reflexes to be tested.
Night in the Woods (PS4, PC)
Imagine a relatively quiet town in the American midwest populated by anthropomorphic animals. That's Possum Springs, where Night in the Woods takes place. And as Mae, a cat-human, you experience a readjustment to your hometown after getting the boot from college. This comes in the form of a side-scrolling adventure where conversations, character interactions, and mini-games propel you through a complicated and emotional tale of modern young adulthood.
Jump the town's power lines to get to the rooftops and meet an amatuer astronomer who will show you the stars at night. Get the band back together when you reunite with your friends and play bass for a song you haven't practiced. Commit "crimes" with your bubbly homeboy Gregg, or shoplift (more criminal activity) with your seemingly apathetic homegirl Bea. Every story beat, hidden tidbit, line of dialogue, and optional interaction encourages exploring the beautifully painted world of Night in the Woods. The game isn't for everyone, but it hits what it aims for. Through the uniquely charming artwork of Scott Benson and the quirky, yet emotive soundtrack from Alec Holowka, the poignant storytelling is wrapped in elements that elevate it above many games this year.
Severed is a traditional dungeon-crawling RPG with modern sensibilities. Its mechanics favor touchscreen devices, not simply for the sake of convenience, but to facilitate a combat system with demanding enemies that must be cut in the right location at the right time with a well-placed swipe of your finger. On Switch, Severed gets a slight upgrade from the Vita version, and a big upgrade from the iPhone version, thanks to the system's larger display.
Beyond the clever integration of touchscreen controls and traditional gameplay, Severed presents the fascinating tale of Sasha, a one-armed warrior with a magical sword, caught in a hellish dreamscape in search of her loved ones. The monsters she faces are creatively nasty, accentuated by developer Drinkbox Studio's easily identifiable visual style, with sharp edges and expressive use of color. It's no surprise then that Severed makes a strong first impression, but it's not a fluke: the game is just as interesting to play as it is to look at. It's everything you'd expect from a dungeon crawler, but thanks to Drinkbox's inventive spirit, it's also packed with interesting motifs and ideas that you never see coming.
The Sexy Brutale (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
The Sexy Brutale is a quirky little puzzle game co-developed by Tequila Works, the studio behind beautiful adventure game Rime. Its essentially Groundhog Day: The Game--you play through the same day over and over, but with each runthrough you learn more about the creepy mansion you find yourself in. After seeing one character shoot another, you might go and find the gun and prevent the bloody murder by replacing real bullets with blanks. A number of these murders are interconnected--solving one puzzle might prevent one murder, but that could change another branch of time elsewhere in the house. There's no way of preventing every murder in one go, but discovering and tinkering with the different timelines is where the fun lies. We've played it over and over again--groundhog day indeed.
Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment
Shovel Knight is 8-bit gaming not as it was--glitchy and fuzzy--but as we choose to remember it--pixelated, vibrant, and cleverly detailed. The sequel-by-expansion, Specter of Torment, is a similar retro action-platformer that is by all appearances on par with the original. The key difference is that the star, the lead character you control, is a villain from the first game: Specter Knight. His identity obviously plays into a narrative differently than Shovel Knight's did, but more importantly, Specter Knight moves and attacks in new ways, too.
This is all to say that Specter of Torment is an excuse to revisit Shovel Knight's wonderfully nostalgic world and undergo a new range of challenges that call upon a unique set of skills. And the reason it's worth playing at all is because developer Yacht Club Games' work rises above the team's inspirations, and ultimately our rose-tinted memories as well. If you see any value at all in classic 2D platformers, Shovel Knight and Specter of Torment will more than likely make your day.
Snake Pass (PS4, Xbox One, PC, Switch)
At first glance, Snake Pass' colorful art style makes it seem reminiscent of classic Rare platformers like Banjo-Kazooie and Donkey Kong 64. However, its mechanics differ wildly from those games; there's no jumping here. You control a snake named Noodle, maneuvering and curling around objects with his serpentine body, navigating intricate obstacles to reach collectibles, and solving a multitude of physics-based puzzles. The challenges you encounter are each meticulously crafted around Noodle's unconventional physicality, demanding you to know the ins and outs of his physics to fully master. It's quite unlike many games out there, which is more than enough reason for you to check it out, if only to discover how charming and different it is.
Snipperclips: Cut It Out, Together (Switch)
Snipperclips may not have the name recognition of Mario Kart or Splatoon, but this unassuming little Eshop game remains one of the best multiplayer experiences on Switch. Its premise is deceptively simple: players control a paper-like character and must snip each other into the appropriate shapes to solve puzzles. These start out easy enough; early challenges will have you simply trying to fit into a designated shape. However, the puzzles quickly ramp up in complexity, requiring some clever thinking and precise snipping to complete; one has players trying to retrieve and pop a balloon, while another challenges them with figuring out how to throw a basketball into a hoop.
While the entire game can be played solo, Snipperclips is undoubtedly meant to be played with friends. The game supports up to four players, and trying to snip each other into the right shapes is surprisingly addictive, hilarious, and maddening all at the same time. This is accentuated by the game's charming animations; it's impossible not to smile at the faces your character makes when it squats or gets snipped. Snipperclips is the perfect showpiece for Switch's "play anywhere" portability and one of the hidden gems in the console's growing library.
Strafe (PC, PS4)
As a love letter to 90's first-person shooters, Strafe captures the frantic pace and thrills of its reference material. From the retro visuals and blocky blood splattering to the variety of weapons and abundance of secrets, Strafe is still worth playing even after the campaign's final encounter...if you even make it that far. Each run is a thrill as you violently dance through the game's 12 procedurally generated levels, and the roguelike structure heightens the stakes as get further along. You may be stuck in the dark corridors of the game's opening area before learning to skillfully cut through goblins and robots, but each world opens up to stage for increasingly frenzied firefights.
Strafe has its own unique charm with comical self-awareness and silly, yet threatening enemies. But the soundtrack is what weaves all the game's elements together to elevate the experience beyond that of the standard FPS. Each level has its own synth-laden electronic rock track that instills a sense of wonder, inspires you fight through the hordes, or intensifies feelings of danger--or often all three at once . Once you get to grips with Strafe's systems and devise an effective play style, the looming threat of permadeath doesn't seem so bad.
Super Rude Bear Resurrection (PS4, PC)
Particularly in the wake of 2010's Super Meat Boy, there have been plenty of super-tough platformers released. And while, like many of those others, Super Rude Bear Resurrection is happy to kill you over and over again, it also gives your deaths a purpose. Whenever you die, you leave behind a corpse, which essentially serves to make a given level easier: It might block a laser from hitting you, cover up a set of deadly spikes, or give you a boost to make a jump easier. For an extra challenge, you're free to play without the assistance of those corpses, though doing so will cause you to miss out on some fun opportunities to see how they can modify a level.
But even without the corpse mechanic, Super Rude Bear Resurrection is still a worthwhile platformer. The sense of satisfaction it provides when you're able to make it through particularly difficult section is immense. It also provides a steady stream of new ideas from beginning to end; you never go long without some new adversary or mechanic being introduced. Throw in some memorable boss fights, and you have a must-play game for anyone with a passing interest in platformers.
Thimbleweed Park (Xbox One, PC)
Thimbleweed Park is a point-and-click adventure by famed ex-LucasArts duo Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick. It was first revealed via Kickstarter back in 2014, but it finally released this year. The game deals with a murder in the small town of Thimbleweed Park where two FBI agents, Antonio Reyes and Angela Ray, are tasked with investigating the killing. The game rides a thin line between nostalgia and reinvention, balancing its comically written remembrances for the time-honored genre with a sliver of modern design choices. While it sometimes sticks too closely to the point-and-click genre's long-held tenets, Thimbleweed Park is great for experienced adventure game fans eager to experience its whimsical narrative, solve its multitude of puzzles, and uncover its secrets.
Thumper (PS4, Switch)
Do you remember when rhythm games were in style? It's been awhile, but that doesn't mean the genre is devoid of potential. No game in the past few years has proven the relevance of music as a driving force in game design as successfully as Thumper, the so-called rhythm-violence game from developer Drool.
Mechanically, Thumper is a simple call and response game with added layers of complexity as you complete subsequent stages. Spiritually, Thumper is a disturbance. It heaves and crashes with unbridled intensity, with tracks that grow faster and time signatures more irregular the deeper you venture into its well of madness. Call it dramatic, but this is the effect Thumper's relentless speed and atmosphere can have on a person--the perfect argument to give it a try. They say music soothes the savage beast, but in Thumper's case, music makes way for the savage beast within us all. Play it on a TV, play it in VR, play it pressed up against your face on Switch; however you can, play Thumper.
What Remains of Edith Finch (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
What Remains of Edith Finch is a game in the same vein as Dear Esther and Gone Home; that is to say, it's a "walking simulator." Some might be turned off by the genre, but it tells a hauntingly beautiful and compelling tale that should not be missed.
The premise is that the Finch family carries a supposed curse that leads every family member to die in unexpected and bizarre ways. It's very Final Destination in that aspect. You play as Edith Finch, as you explore the huge, mysterious family manor to unearth how members in your family tree have passed away. This opens the door to creative flashbacks, where you get to play the last strange moments leading to people's deaths.
The story is powerful, gripping, and dark like an episode of Black Mirror. It's full of unexpected twists and turns and could only effectively be told through the video game medium. Considering you can beat it in under three hours, you should play it as soon as you can.
Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap (PC, PS4, Switch, Xbox One)
Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap is a game that sets out to bring the retro platforming adventuring series to the present day, while also celebrating its beginnings in the classic era. As a full remake of the original of Wonder Boy III: The Dragon's Trap for the Sega Master System and TurboGrafix-16, it features a brand new artstyle that's lush and vivid, giving off a greater depth in its atmosphere--along with a fully orchestral soundtrack based on the original music. In keeping with its respect for the original, the remake allows you to shift between classic and modern styles of music and graphics on the fly. Feel like playing the original game in HD? You can do that, but if you're feeling crazy, you can mix things up and play with modern graphics along with retro sound and music. It even allows old passwords from the classic game to be used again, just like the old days. Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap is a wonderful send-up to the classic era, while showing that retro titles still hold up incredibly well to this day.
Yakuza 0 (PS4)
The Yakuza series is an incredibly popular long-running franchise in Japan, but historically, it has had little impact in the West. At first glance, you might gather the series' latest western release, Yakuza 0, to simply be an action-game with a serious crime-drama narrative. But it's so much more than that. The game embodies what has made its predecessors so endearing to fans of the series, effectively combining its melodrama and seriousness with a dose of offbeat, absurdist comedy. While these extremes don't seem like they'd work together, the game manages to pull it off, handling both tones with ease. The result is an entertaining experience that pulls you in with its involved narrative, makes you break into laughter with its outlandish humor, and immerses you with its authentic take on a Japanese culture. It's also a prequel to the entire series, so If you've never tried a Yakuza game before, you owe it to yourself to play Yakuza 0.
Yooka-Laylee (PS4, Xbox One, PC)
Developer Playtonic Games billed Yooka-Laylee as a "spiritual successor to Banjo-Kazooie" when it first pitched the game on Kickstarter, and that certainly wasn't an exaggeration. Like the classic N64 platformer, Yooka-Laylee stars an eponymous duo (in this case, a lizard and bat) and has players use their unique abilities to explore expansive, colorful worlds and pick up all manner of collectibles. In fact, Yooka-Laylee channels the spirit of Banjo-Kazooie so well that it genuinely feels like a long-lost N64 platformer, for better and sometimes worse; like many of Rare's titles, the game occasionally succumbs to some frustrating design decisions, and the number of collectibles to find could have been scaled back to make the overall experience tighter.
That said, even during its moments of frustration, Yooka-Laylee remains one of the most charming releases of the year thanks to its tongue-in-cheek writing, beautiful art style, and whimsical soundtrack. The game more than succeeds in its mission of reviving the long-dormant genre, and while it may not top Banjo's first two adventures, it certainly sits alongside Rare's N64 output nicely. Anyone who grew up with '90s platformers and has a fondness for Rare games in particular will find a lot to love about Yooka-Laylee.