I’ve reviewed a lot of games in the past 6 months.
Since my inclusion on to the Sick Critic team in late June, the team at SC and I have reviewed a variety of smush from all resides. We’ve played perfection, we’ve played… not-perfection, but those are the games we felt the most strongly on. Hundreds of games are released monthly and sometimes, you can’t get to them quick enough before they no longer matter in some cases. However, since December is the month of retrospection, it’s time to look back and focus on the games that definitely deserved a higher spot in the limelight.
There’s no real specification for this list, other than the fact that they’re considered to be in the indie game market, and that there wasn’t an official review on Sick Critic. As the curator of this piece, 2017 material is games that were released on the Xbox One, my gaming platform of choice, in 2017. When it comes to games like Shadow of War, Nioh, PUBG or other such nonsense, you might have to get your kicks somewhere else. They’ve already had their time though, so without further ado, let’s give awards to the grubby kids no one gave attention to.
Sylvio – Dead Silent Hills (PS4/XB1/PC)
Fiiiiiiiiiiiirst up, Sylvio, Stroboskop’s unashamed tribute to the works of David Lynch and Keiichiro Toyama, that manages to find its own identity, without seeming like that fan-fiction drivel. I’ve spoken about this title before, in a different Op-Ed, but that doesn’t stop me from recommending the game once more to you, since it’s still brilliant in its own rights.
What starts out as Question Time for ghosts, turns into a surreal and ultimately uncomfortable experience that’ll have you shivering in your bed long after the interviews have passed. Pair that with a bulky shooting mechanic that never overstays its welcome, along with the soothing score from Trad, and you have one of the best horror games of 2017.
8DAYS – God’s Tuition (PS4/XB1/PC)
Next up on the list is 8DAYS – Peace is Our Business, a top-down shooter from Santa Clara Games, a Spanish studio who unfortunately cannot escape the fact that they took heavy influences from Hotline Miami. That doesn’t stop 8DAYS from being a fun time regardless, as there’s a few little flicks of difference; like the difficulty being a helluva lot harder.
What starts out as some PMC mumbo-jumbo, turns into a trek through different lands and scenarios, with a bunch of different gameplay styles to boot. Despite the general public’s reaction to it, disregarding it as fanboy trash that didn’t get the point, there’s definitely something happening that’s interesting. Boss fights, a multitude of weapons, and beautiful visual and audio design make 8DAYS a surprisingly fun experience.
Riptide GP: Renegade – Aquaman Kart (PS4/XB1/PC/iOS/Switch)
No game has any right being this fun, let alone a kart racer wearing nostalgia glasses, but Riptide GP: Renegade goes ahead and destroys that law. Vector Unit’s blast to the past manages to stay effective in this day and age, and even manages to improve on a few design choices that existed in previous kart racers at the time.
The story is cheesy and nostalgic, and the gameplay is simplistic, along with being an unbelievable amount of joy with every race. The tricks are magnificently animated, the music gets you pumped, the tracks are designed to near perfection, and the set pieces aren’t incredibly intrusive into natural gameplay. Grab 3 or 4 mates and just have fun, dammit.
Blackwood Crossing – Movin’ on Up (PS4/XB1/PC)
No game this year has come out rougher than Blackwood Crossing, for real.
A disgustingly slow pace, with no sprint button, an unbelievably annoying brat pestering you all game, and visual themes and symbolism that can make it ultimately come off as pretentious and lifeless. On the surface, it was doomed to failure, but despite all those handicaps, Blackwood and its developer, PaperSeven, managed to come out on top and make a heartbreaking 2 hour adventure.
The child acting is actually well done, the presence of surreal horror is effective, and the visual themes, while predominantly handled with grade-school symbolism, do enough to make an emotion or feeling from it all. It’s a walking simulator like everything else, but leaves you with the same feelings objectively better walking sims do.
Flinthook – Saturday Morning Cartoons (PS4/XB1/PC)
There’s something inherently childish about Flinthook. There’s a kids movie feel to it, like Hook mixed with the Han Solo side of Star Wars, Tribute Games’ laid back approach to the rouge-like genre makes Flinthook an incredible charmer, right out of the gate. What also makes Flinthook work, is it’s amazingly beautiful and detailed pixel art.
While the brightness is jacked up to 11 in the gameplay, the amount of detail and density to environments and animation is incredible, and even if you don’t like the gameplay of it, you can still say “well, the dame looked damn good doin’ it!” Thankfully, the general consensus is that Flinthook kicks ass, from the looks to the punches.
To Be Continued..
For now, 5 games getting their air time is good enough, and we shall return to give out these awards at a later date. Obviously, you’ll want to know more about the games that actually rocked the planet, from Breath of The Wild to Cuphead, and they’ll get their day. In the meantime, I urge you to check these games out, and I sincerely hope you come out with a new favourite game.
Owner of the largest collection of indie games in the Western Hemisphere, and TimeSplitters’ biggest fanboy.