The 20 Best PC Games You Might've Missed In 2017
By GameSpot Staff on
PC gamers have experienced a new multiplayer phenomenon in Playerunknown's Battlegrounds, which has finally reached 1.0. A few masterclass PC exclusives like Divinity: Original Sin II and Total War: Warhammer II, and two console classics--Bayonetta and Vanquish--hit the PC this year in all their glory. But while those games have shined in their own respect, plenty of other great games may have flown under your radar. In this gallery, we list our favorite games on PC that you might've missed this year. 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 on other platforms, you can check out our features focusing on the best Xbox One games, best Switch games, and the best PS4 games. You can also check out our feature focusing on the best games you might've missed in 2017 in general.
The Disney Afternoon Collection
Licensed games may have a (largely deserved) reputation for being cheaply made and poor quality, but as Capcom proved during the NES era, a talented developer could turn even a TV or film franchise into a gaming classic. Such was the case with the studio's Disney titles. During the late '80s and early '90s, Capcom was the steward of the Disney license, and it produced a number of excellent games based on Disney's most beloved cartoons and movies.
The Disney Afternoon Collection compiles six of these, each one based on a popular Disney animated series: DuckTales, DuckTales 2, TaleSpin, Darkwing Duck, Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers, and Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers 2. Nearly every game in the collection is still enjoyable to this day, and they've been supplemented with a handful of new features like time trials, save states, and the ability to rewind. That last feature in particular is a welcome addition, as it makes even the more unforgiving titles in this compilation much more manageable. The best thing about the compilation, however, is that it gives players a chance to experience some of Capcom's rarer efforts like DuckTales 2. The Disney Afternoon Collection is a must-have for any retro gaming fan.
Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator
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.
Forza Horizon 3: Hot Wheels DLC
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.
Gonner is a procedurally generated action platformer, and quite the looker, with surreal neon chalk lines outlining abstract environments that come together and break apart as you trot and hop across its stages. Enemies aren't particularly cunning, but they are numerous and overwhelming in the face of your gun's limited ammunition. Gonner gets difficult pretty quickly, and thus becomes a game where you chase high scores, and tailor new sets of abilities to eek out a new strategy with each successive attempt. It's kept interesting despite its simple mechanics by the procedurally generated levels that not only come together, but ultimately work together too. In other words: it's more than random for randomness' sake alone. You may never see everything it has to offer, but any time spent with Gonner is an enjoyable test of skill and a feast for the senses worth seeking out.
Graceful Explosion Machine
Graceful Explosion Machine falls into the category of frantic, 2D spaceship shooters, but it's not quite a bullet-hell experience--no dense curtains of seemingly unavoidable projectiles here. Still, it offers a challenge that speaks to the little Space Invader player in us all, albeit in a controlled environment.
Rather than waiting for wave after wave of enemies to come your way, you pilot a (cute) spaceship through corridors and face off against swarms of enemies using both traditional laser cannons and a small but varied selection of special weapons. Dashing--boosting through groups of enemies--is an empowering and useful tactic that recalls the feeling of playing Resogun, a great game for a dev to draw inspiration. The trick to Graceful Explosion Machine is to quickly juggle your various weapons while also boosting through groups of increasingly stronger enemies, and once it's under your skin, the dance is an adrenaline-rush fight to survive, and to climb the leaderboards. As far as Switch games are concerned, this is one of the best examples of arcade action you can currently find.
Linelight revels in simplicity. You control a bright segment along a long line riddled with obstacles and puzzles to the tune of a relaxing and rich soundtrack that seems pulled from a Disney-Pixar film. The complexity of the challenges increases as you trod along the different stages, so you should expect to sharpen your logic and timing skills the further you get with Linelight. You'll activate platforms to connect segments, avoid threatening lines, and sometimes guide them towards your goal by manipulating the path forward.
It's the perfect change of pace from the action games and open worlds we often find ourselves in. Linelight feels like a stress ball in video game form; it's tranquil and soothing, but manages to be engaging with a minimalist presentation.
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.
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
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.
The Sexy Brutale
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.
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.
As a love letter to 90s 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 to fight through the hordes, or intensifies feelings of danger--or often all these things at once. When you get to grips with Strafe's systems and devise an effective play style, the looming threat of permadeath doesn't seem so bad.
Sundered is an action-adventure game that closely follows the Metroidvania style, but in doing so, it manages to iterate on the best parts of the genre while introducing fresh new concepts. You play as Eshe, a wanderer who discovers an ancient monument that sucks her into a vast, otherworldly cavern. Stuck within this hostile realm, you're forced to journey forward under the guidance of a malevolent entity known as the Shining Trapezohedron to find a means of escape. The game utilizes procedurally generated rooms, which often imbues exploration with a sense of unease, as you await the randomized onslaught of enemy swarms. Fortunately, the game sports a combat system that's as fulfilling as it is flashy. While rare instances of unfair difficulty hold it back, Sundered is a compelling and rewarding experience that you should give a shot.
Super Rude Bear Resurrection
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 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.
Micro Tokyo lies in the sky, atop the buildings and skyscrapers that make up its dystopian cyberpunk future. It's vibrant and lively on the surface but creepily sterile and violent as you fight back against unjust authority. Or to distill it further, you shoot, slice up, and blow up hundreds bad guys since they're after you for a murder you didn't commit. Tokyo 42 is an isometric action game that blends elements of top-down shooters with a little stealth in an open world. Its story takes you down the rabbit hole of joining a secret organization of assassins, but it doesn't take itself too seriously. Despite the brutal nature of firefights and the unforgiving (sometimes frustrating) bullet-hell-like enemy encounters, Tokyo 42 still manages to be...cute. It's probably the allure of neon signs and adorable cats.
What Remains Of Edith Finch
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
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.
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.