Tokyo Xanadu eX+ is easily my favourite game of 2017 regardless of it only coming out in December. If you like Persona and enjoy the break up of action with social elements such as getting to know your colleagues and walking around doing day-to-day stuff whilst preparing, then this is the game for you. To put it into perspective, Persona 5 took me 241 hours to platinum, Tokyo Xanadu eX+ took me 196 hours to platinum – so it isn't quite as long and it is possible to complete it faster if you skip things, but where is the fun in that?
PixelJunk Monsters 2 is a masterpiece, it looks amazing, it plays buttery smooth, and the core mechanics are solid. If you just aim to 'finish' the game and play through all 15 levels, then you're looking at about five hours, but if you aim to achieve a 100% completion on all 15 levels at each of the three difficulties, then expect over 20 hours easily. The length, in combination with the low price and the brilliant, and cheap, DLC which has been announced basically makes this the easiest game to recommend which I have played to date. Fans of tower defence games need this title within their library and are only letting themselves down if they don't grab it.
428: Shibuya Scramble is, by far, the best narrative based visual novel you’ll ever experience. Sure, there is no voice-overs and the text is presented as a ‘wall of text’ from the point of a narrator, as you would see within a book, but the whole presentation, delivery, emotion and overall narrative is simply amazing. You’ll laugh, cry, shout, become emotionally attached, and pray for each and every character throughout their ten-hour adventure. However, even though it’s ten hours for them, expect many more hours on your side as you work your way through over five separate stories which are all connected in some form to one another, even if our protagonists aren’t 100% aware of this.
If you don’t buy Death Mark then expect to wake up tomorrow with no memory and a scar on your arm. This visual novel is among the best I’ve played this generation with its dark themes, horrific imagery, disturbing sound effects and overall feeling of uneasiness. The whole experience, from start to end, will last you around 20-25 hours if you read all the dialogue options and play it blind from beginning to end. Add about 3-4 hours on top of that if you unlock the bonus chapter and even more if you have to replay the game to unlock the other ending to each chapter. Death Mark is an adventure visual novel so expect puzzles, riddles, exploration and traps.
Zanki Zero: Last Beginning is the best Dungeon-Crawling RPG I’ve played to date, you need to buy this game! As soon as you begin to play this masterpiece, you’ll become absorbed by the beautiful environments, addicted to the combat, obsessed with uncovering 100% of the maps, and in love with the banter being thrown about within the narrative. For a game with so many parts to it, such as survival, combat, exploration, puzzles, and narrative segments, every aspect is presented perfectly to create a rock-solid experience.
Judgment is basically Yakuza crossed with Ace Attorney, the perfect combination of Power, Corruption, Crime and Mystery. Expanding upon everything we’ve seen the developer do previously, what we have here is a game which is so familiar yet different at the same time – familiar surroundings and places combined with new games, events and people to interact with. Although the game is heavy on the tried and tested mechanics of the Yakuza series, Judgment brings a lot of its own unique gameplay elements such as investigative segments as you stalk your prey, searching for evidence, and even dressing up in various disguises. Judgment has a deep and intriguing story encased within a multitude of separate narratives, not many games can pull that off yet Judgment did it flawlessly. I honestly can’t recommend this game enough to both Yakuza fans and people new to this style of game.
If you're looking for something different and enjoy platforming, puzzles and rhythm games, SongBird Symphony is for you! Each new area and species of bird you meet has its own soundtrack as well as fun and entertaining song-battle for you to take part within. I couldn't help myself from singing along, cheering for our small protagonist's achievements, becoming heartbroken when bad things happen, and cheering him on when all hope was lost. I've not been this emotionally attached to a video game for a while, I wanted to step into the game and give Birb a massive hug and never let go.
If I was able to award a game more than a perfect score, AI: The Somnium Files would be one of the few which would easily break the barrier. Everything from the brilliantly scripted narrative adventure, to the frustratingly fun time-management Somnium segments, are beyond what I was expecting. I couldn’t stop playing until I had the platinum trophy on my account, which I achieved at around fifty hours, very few games grasp me like that yet the humour and narrative direction drew me in and had me hooked instantly. I don’t think I’ve played a game this generation (bar the Zero Escape remasters) which changes the storyline, interactions and outcomes quite as much as I experienced within AI: The Somnium Files – this game is a masterpiece and needs to be played by all fans of Spike Chunsoft and Kotaro Uchikoshi.
Raging Loop isn’t just one of my GOTY titles, it’s one of my favourite Visual Novels of all time. The brilliant combination of horror, thriller, comedy, excitement and mystery all combines into a perfect package which I never wanted to end. KEMCO has done an outstanding job of turning a party game into a branching Visual Novel experience which fully immerses you within its world of beasts, Gods and fantasy. For the squeamish out there, the game relies heavily on verbally describing the horrific deaths rather than visually showing them, so don’t worry about it getting too traumatic! All I can say is, Visual Novel fans need to buy this game – it’s bloody brilliant!
Voxelgram is a brilliant 3D Picross game, exactly what the Switch has been waiting for. Whether you wish to use your Joy-Cons and play on the TV, or utilise your fingers and touch the screen, the game is very simplistic and intuitive in its design, ensuring that everyone can simply pick it up and play without any issues. My personal preference was to use the official Nintendo Stylus as it filled me with nostalgia for similar games back on the Nintendo DS and 3DS. If you’re a fan of Picross puzzles, or simply logic-based puzzles in general, Voxelgram is a no-brainer – you should buy this game.