Every year at Player 2 we sit down over dinner to sort out our game of the year awards. That dinner then turns to arguing, then fighting and finally some sort of grand melee in which kitchen furniture becomes projectile weaponry. After the wounds are healed we then head back to our own corners and just write an award winner each, thus avoiding having to come to any sort of conclusion with each other. It now time for Indies to shine.
2017’s Best Indies
Dylan Burns – Golf Story
As I said in my review, there’s something nice about a world in which all problems can be solved by whacking a ball. Golfing games are a bit like driving games to me – I always feel the interested urge to play them but rarely get super hooked. Golf Story’s golf isn’t too amazing, but the whole RPG-lite aspect of the game, combined with its cheeky writing and themed areas with heaps of little problems to solve, provided hours of enjoyable gaming, which is all you can ask for, really.
Adam Rorke – Cuphead
Some could say it’s the Dark Souls of 2D platformer’s (he said in jest hoping to get a rise out of some specific Game Journalists). But in all honesty, I feel in love with this title whilst covering an EB Expo one year, the gameplay, art and general feel of the game just cliqued with me.
Like so many others out there, I can safely say that the game lived up to every expectation I had. Cuphead provided a challenging yet rewarding experience whilst simultaneously oozing personality with its audio and visuals. I can’t stress enough that everyone should own this game.
Jenn Christodoulou – Death Squared
There’s a tradition in my family to sit and watch all the numbered card UFC fights altogether. And after we watch people punch each other into a paste, we normally pull out the Nintendo Switch and play some sort of cooperative game (because if that’s not fitting I don’t know what is). One of the more recent ones we played was Death Squared, and the amount of fun I had was insane. Though you’re meant to work as a team to solve each puzzle, there is something hilarious and fun about screwing over your teammates at any given opportunity, and Death Squared allows for the perfect balance of teamwork and blowing people up.
Matt Hewson – Hand of Fate 2
Oh shock, Matt likes Hand of Fate 2. Considering the rest of the team has accused me of being a part of the Hand of Fate PR team this isn’t really a surprise. Hand of Fate 2 is a wholly unique experience that improves on the original in every single way. The mix of action, RPG and card collecting genres shouldn’t work but it does. Sublime original gameplay developed right here in Australia, what more could you want?
Sarah Ellen – Putty Pals
I still love Putty Pals. I love how carefree it feels and how challenging it really is, all rolled up in one little ball of putty. I want to note that there were plenty of games that took on the AAA machine this year and successfully surpassed expectations, and I am sure that they are going to be gracing the lists of other Player 2 writers. The reason why I love this game is because it shows off the talent of our Australian game developer graduates can achieve locally and with the support of government funding (hint hint!), and it is an easy-to-pick up puzzle game for the Switch as well!
James Swinbanks – Pyre
With its stunning art, inspiring music, beautiful writing and wildly varying cast of characters, Pyre is one of the most unique and memorable gaming experiences of 2017, and my choice for overall game of the year. I’ve heard from a number of folks that Supergiant’s games tend to leave an impression, and Pyre did that with me instantly. I was immediately won over by the strength of its look and presentation. It’s mix of a stellar soundtrack, bright and colourful artwork and its gorgeous writing hooked me, and its weird space orb game kept me delighted the entire way through its story. The turns it takes, and the agency afforded to the player to alter the outcomes of the story in meaningful ways were second to none.
Paul James – Steamworld Dig 2
I’m an unabashed fan of Image & Form’s previous works, but they had a mountain to climb this year, given they faced the likes of Cuphead, Golf Story, Hellblade, and many other exceptionally promising indie developed games. What SteamWorld Dig 2 is, is one of the finest displays of platforming and MetroidVania style play that we’ve seen in many years. It oozes class and humour from every pore but is also a game that shows just how far the studio has come since the release of the original game. Thank you for another exceptional adventure Image & Form.
Stevie McDonald – The Journey Down
I’ve always had a soft spot for point-and-click adventures – something about clicking on every item that looks vaguely interesting and smashing them together into all sorts of weird and wonderful combinations just soothes my soul. Roll that up in a big ball of excellent story-telling, gorgeous art and funky Afro-Caribbean beats and you get The Journey Down series, the third and final chapter of which released earlier this year. I have been a fan of this series from early on and it was more than a little bittersweet to finally reach the end.
Royce Wilson – Bomber Crew
It’s no secret I love military history, and one of my favourite games in the flight sim genre is the old Microprose classic B-17 Flying Fortress, which puts you in charge of all aspects of the iconic WWII American bomber. But you know what would be better? Managing the crew of a British Avro Lancaster bomber! Enter Bomber Crew, which despite its slightly cartoony graphics and initially casual approach is an extremely solid and challenging crew management simulator which is also a lot of fun. Did I mention you get to fly a British aircraft, too? Tally ho, old chap!
Stephen del Prado – Yonder
Going back over 2017, the indie title I enjoyed the most also happened to be homegrown which is a nice bonus. I’m talking of course about Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles. A lovely jaunt available on the PlayStation 4 and PC, Yonder is easily the most relaxing games I played all year thanks to a complete lack of combat and a mellowing soundtrack. I’m still kicking myself for not picking up a physical copy and can’t wait to see what developer Prideful Sloth come up with next!
Push Start on a unique look at Australia’s gaming landscape