10 best moments in gaming for 2017 – from Little Nightmares to Super Mario Odyssey

While 2017 was an interesting year with lots of controversy over loot boxes and publisher actions in the gaming world, I would be lying if I said the good didn’t outnumber the bad in this area of media. For this list, I’m going to do something a bit different. Instead of a Best Games list, I’m going to talk about my favorite moments in gaming.

Warning: This list will contain spoilers, so view with caution if you haven’t played yet.

10. The Sexy Brutale (The First Save)

One of the most underappreciated video games of 2017, The Sexy Brutale is a low key Indie game about solving murder mysteries. You know who the killer is and who will be killed, but the twist is to prevent that from happening indirectly. You can never share the same room as a victim or murderer, making for some clever puzzles you’ll have to think hard about.

The moment the game let me know what kind of ride I was in for, was when the second big game-play mechanic was revealed: Rewinding time. In the first area, you follow a man named Sixpence around a back area of the Sexy Brutale, our casino mansion setting. As the game explains the mechanics to him, you watch him die horribly twice before being able to pick something off of him, his pocket watch. You are then given the power to rewind time allowing you to save people from a cruel fate. It’s a simple bit, but its satisfying getting to save someone after watching their death.

9. Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle (Phantom’s Song)

Not underappreciated, but quite possibly one of the oddest and most enjoyable titles to come out this year, Mario + Rabbids was a fine addition to the Nintendo Switch lineup. It was a surprisingly good tactics-based shooter with less of the hairpulling that X-Com provides and more about movement and setting up your turn. It was an energized and goofy game from start to finish.

My highlight of the game is the Phantom. As you venture through Spooky Trails, you keep getting messages about finding a legendary hero named Tom Phan (GET IT?!). Surprise surprise, it’s a trap by Bowser Jr., who has a new boss fight for you. Combining a balloon, phonogram, and Rabbid together, we get an opera-belting boss known as the Phantom, whose opening introduction is glorious. He sings an epic opera tune insulting Mario and his pals in every way, while cracking references and talking about how great he is. It gets even better when half-way through the fight he belts out another verse of the song, even funnier and more threatening than before. It’s an amazing moment that left me, and many others, cracking up.

8. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Wandering Off the Path)

Breath of the Wild needs no introduction or explanation, having been named one of the best games of 2017 by several outlets and the Game Awards (Editor’s Note – AND ME!) Everyone knows this game and can name tons of moments that they loved, from the Final Memory to taking on a Divine Beast. The true moment that has connected with most who played the game is something that varies slightly from person to person – wandering off the path.

As the game lets you go anywhere you can see, it is easy to ignore the story and plot, setting you up for a moment when that wandering leads Link straight into a massive problem. For me, it was exploring a forest not too far from a stable and suddenly being chased down by a gigantic skeleton. For others, it could have been running straight into a Lynel by mistake or discovering a Stalker Guardian that sprung to life. Everyone has their own version of this, but that first time you accidentally bite off more than you can chew certainly sticks in your memory.

7. The Evil Within 2 (Saying Goodbye)

The original The Evil Within was a polarizing game due to its messy narrative, wonky controls, and a drastic tone shift late game. While I enjoyed it regardless, the sequel was far more enjoyable. Better story, better characters, better gameplay, better horror, and most importantly, actual drama and emotion that didn’t feel tacked on. It still had problems, but it was a stronger experience altogether.

This lead to another stand-out 2017 moment for me: Sebastian saying goodbye to Myra, his wife whom he thought he lost years ago. Throughout the game, you play as Sebastian as he tries to rescue his daughter, who is trapped in this dream-like world-creating machine (it’s complicated). You fight off monsters, psychopaths, people pulling the strings, and eventually discover that Myra is there as well and has been corrupted. Sebastian manages to free her and rescue his daughter, but the only way to guarantee the getting out is for Myra to stay behind and take control of the machine herself. While a bit melodramatic in its writing, the voice actors, music, and the buildup to this scene absolutely sell the tragedy and heartbreak here. They are finally a family and together again after so many years, but now they must say good-bye for good. It’s heartbreaking and made me tear up a bit I admit and any piece of media that can do that easily deserves a spot on any of my lists.

6. Miitopia (Welcome to Greenhorne)

I’ve written about this game before, but Miitopia is a simple and fun RPG where all of the characters are Miis that you and others have created. Charming and silly, it is a game for all ages, though I’m not sure how well it holds up now that the Miiverse has been shut down. It could make things a bit strange and not as fun.

The highlight that stuck with me was coming into the first town, Greenhorne. This is where the series shows you its goofy tone, setting up all the characters as random Miis and leading to some hilarious moments. You meet the Dark Lord, the evil villain of the game, which you can also set up as any Mii you like. From what I’ve played and from watching other people, this leads to some truly goofy as hell moments. There’s been times where Peter Griffin was the mayor, Beast Boy and Rei Ayanami were a love-struck couple, and Iron Man was one of the citizens that only gave the hero five bucks for returning his stolen face to him. A silly opening, but one that sets that the tone perfectly for the series and was what initially got me to try out the demo.

5. Freddy Fazbear’s Pizzeria Simulator (Salvaging an animatronic)

Now here’s a controversial pick, but one that I stand by. Released at the tail end of 2017, I really enjoyed Freddy Fazbear’s Pizzeria Simulator (aka Five Nights at Freddy’s 6). It felt like a good mixture of the old mechanics with new ones, leading to a unique and different experience from the original games. Part FNAF and part tycoon game, this entry in the series was a creepy but funny time that brought the franchise to a satisfying close, at least for now. You never know if the creator will bring out another title this year.

For a game with a surprising amount of memorable moments, the one that made the list was the Salvaging mini-game. After almost every night in the game, you are presented with a dangerous task: determining whether it is worth salvaging a mysterious animatronic that has appeared at your restaurant. Salvaging successfully gains you a lot of money, but failure to do so will result in a new threat. Here you are treated to a creepy mini-game where you watch and listen to the animatronics to see if they react to certain mechanical and creepy sound ques. It’s a tense scene, especially if you’re not sure what to do, but pulling these moments off correctly makes things all too satisfying.

4. Super Mario Odyssey (Escaping with Peach & Bowser)

My favorite game of 2017, even though it’s here at #4, the recent Mario game has been one of the most upbeat, happy, and joyful experiences I had in gaming. Exploring colorful worlds, dressing in silly costumes, fighting larger than life baddies, and collecting hundreds of Power Moons in tons of ways. Some of the moons are easy to find, but then there are the ones that make you feel clever for figuring things out or through experimenting when you see something that seems out of place. There’s so many moments that just put a big smile on my face when I figured out a problem or completely blindsided me with a clever moon placement.

But for my list, I had to choose the epic ending sequence. SPOILER ALERT: After several worlds, you track Bowser down to the Moon Kingdom where he’s trying to force Peach to marry him. You beat him up and save the day… but ah-oh! You fell too far inside the Moon and the whole place is about to explode and crumble all around you. What’s the escape plan to get you, Peach, and even Bowser out of there? Simple, take control of Bowser via Cappy, your trusty Hat companion, and smash your way through the stage as it all falls apart. It’s crazy, glorious, and hilarious as you control the big baddy both in 3-D and 2-D, eventually blasting out on a randomly placed powerline. Wild and over the top, it’s the perfect last moment of gameplay for Super Mario Odyssey to close things out on.

3. Splatoon 2 (Salmon Run when the Lights Go Out)

I never owned the Wii U, so I missed out on the original Splatoon. I remember watching a lot of videos of the game, wishing I could experience it myself, so when I got a Switch, I knew I had to jump in on the sequel when I could. Having played a lot of it, I absolutely love its competitive gameplay, fun weapons, different modes, and even really enjoyed its single player campaign (which I still need to finish). It’s just been a blast splatting my competition and often scoring the highest points on my team.

However, nothing compares to the rush of Salmon Run, where you have to collect salmon eggs from the crazy Salmonids and Salmonid bosses in three waves. It’s often hectic, hard to stay alive, overwhelming, but so satisfying to play. Favorite moment here? When the sun sets and the lights go out during this game mode. When this happens, you have to be at your best because the game is about to throw you for a loop with a very tough challenge. You could have a Mothership challenge where enemies are about to drop off coolers that spawn tons of enemies if you don’t deal with them quickly. The sewers could be overflowing and you have to find the correct sewer gusher to spawn a Goldie to farm eggs off of quickly. Worst of all though is the Griller and Rush challenges where dangerous swarms of enemies or one-shot UFOs rise from the sea to wipe you out. There’s nothing that puts you on edge more when you hear the announcement, especially the one about the Salmonids being restless. One of the most intense and panic-inducing moments for competitive shooters last year.

2. Resident Evil 7 (Garage)

After a disappointing disaster with Resident Evil 6, Capcom managed to bring the series back to form with the seventh game. A mixture of old ideas and new concepts, this entry blended together an exciting and heart-pounding horror title set in the swamps of Louisiana. Despite turning more action towards the end and a weak last boss fight, Resident Evil 7 was a great start to the year with thrills, chills, and even laughs at points. It also had some of the best DLC I’ve ever seen in a video game with each piece being something wholly unique and different, from a high stakes Blackjack game to an escape the room puzzler.

When it comes to the game, there are plenty of stellar moments to pick from, like the ending or the chainsaw fight. But my pick, the one that stuck with me after all this time and that set the tone for the game perfectly, had the be the Garage sequence. After managing to sneak past Jack Baker and get into contact with a patrol officer, you meet the policeman down in the garage to make an escape. Unfortunately, the officer is beheaded by an out of nowhere Jack and you become locked in the garage with the crazed killer. With no escape, you hop into the nearby car and try to smash your way out, even running down Jack a few times. But then, it gets even crazier with a roof ripped off, an explosion, and a shot to the head. There’s so much terror, insanity, and even a hint of wonderful dark humor in this small section that any doubts I may have had about the game were instantly washed away. This moment cemented that this game was going to be an amazing thrill ride.

1. Little Nightmares (The End)

When you think horror and atmospheric platform puzzlers, your mind may turn to games like Limbo and Inside. Both are good, creepy, and make you feel smart at times, leaving you puzzled about what exactly you were just playing by the end of it. Little Nightmares is in the same vein and personally, I think better than both of them. The setting of the Maw, its monstrous denizens, the puzzles built into it, and its style make for a visually memorable and horrific experience that I haven’t seen enough of in games. Plus, going for a more three-dimensional approach instead of being 2-D adds to the uniqueness and allows for more creative puzzles and solutions.

Like with Resident Evil 7, Little Nightmares is a game filled to the brim with memorable, stunning, shocking moments. Its base game and DLC have enough memorable scenes that you can easily do a top ten just about the game itself. However, the thing that I keep coming back to several months after its release, is the ending. Unlike the other moments on the list, this is something I dare not spoil, for you need to really experience it in all of grisly, vicious, and haunting glory. The visuals, the slow march towards the end, the music that grows stronger and stronger throughout, and those final seconds as you fade away have been permanently burned into my mind forever. There’s no moment quite like it that I’ve ever seen, easily ending the game on a pitch perfect moment instead of something as vague and sudden as Limbo or Inside. Little Nightmares may not be my favorite game of the year, but it truly has my most favorite moment in gaming of 2017.

Have your own moment? Want to discuss, disagree, or challenge one of mine? Let’s hear from you in the comments as to what made your list for 2017.