18 Games You Might've Missed in 2017

By Kotaku on at

By Laura Kate Dale, Keza MacDonald, Kimberley Snaith and Richard Stanton

While we endeavour to report on the most interesting games we find throughout the year at Kotaku UK, there are always a few gems that fall through the cracks. These are the games released in 2017 that, fantastic or interesting as they may be, might have slipped under your radar.


Another Lost Phone

While conceptually flawed, given that it makes players snoop uncomfortably on the private life of a vulnerable individual, Another Lost Phone tells a brilliant story of a human life by means of examining how much can be deciphered from their social interactions. The phone’s owner feels like a real person, fully nuanced, whose life had substance. If you’re looking to experience a character that feels like they’re real, and perhaps think a little about how our online lives relate to that, Another Lost Phone excels at that portrayal and is well worth checking out.

Available on PC and mobile


Statik

Statik is a PSVR puzzler that has the quite brilliant notion of putting your ‘hands’ in a box. Why so brilliant? Well, because when you’re using a PS4 pad that’s how your hands will be fixed anyway. It uses this 1:1 sense to build a series of short puzzle rooms where everything is about working how to get the box off your hands, while a Portal-esque scientist watches on and makes withering comments about your intelligence. One of the most immersive, surprising and smart uses of VR this year.

Available on PS4


Danganronpa V3

A visual novel about solving murders while trapped inside a school, full of over the top stereotypes. You get to know your fellow classmates, before one of them gets murdered, and you either work out who the killer is and survive, or get it wrong and die as a result. The cast of Danganronpa V3 is over the top in all the right ways, and you’ll grow to love everyone just in time for them to end up dying horribly in front of you. It’s not as excessively dark as it sounds, promise.

Available on PS4, PC and PS Vita


Polybius

Llamasoft has always made super-intense skill-based shooters. Strange thing is that, in translating these skills to VR, the developer found a new vibe. The synaesthetic elements of Jeff Minter’s style, built up over so many years, combine beautifully with the all-enveloping nature of the technology. Polybius builds up to a place where it absolutely absorbs the player, sure, but at its core this almost feels like a languid skiing game. Albeit one with an abstract visual style, thumping tunes, and a big dose of British humour.

Available on PS4


Use Your Words

While the Jackbox Party Packs have largely cornered the market on party games where you type a silly answer on your phone and it then gets displayed on a screen for everyone to laugh at, Use Your Words brought something new to the genre this year. Focused exclusively on creating funny answers rather than trying to trick your friends into thinking your answers are real, the game contains unique gameplay types that have not appeared in the Jackbox games: watch a public domain movie clip in a foreign language and make up fake subtitles that appear under the film as it plays, add fake headlines to newspaper images, etc. Other rounds pair visual elements in real time with creative silly responses in a way that’s consistently amusing.

Available on PC, PS4, Xbox One and Switch


Ken Follett’s The Pillars of the Earth

While the premise of The Pillars of the Earth doesn’t sound the most inspiring — it’s based on a novel about the construction of a twelfth-century cathedral — the gameplay and visuals set it apart. Playing like a classic point-and-click adventure, the heavy story is delivered through rich characterisation, great voice acting and interesting dialogue, set against a gorgeous backdrop. Seriously, its art style is I-want-screenshots-as-wall-art levels of sumptuous.

Available on PC, PS4 and Xbox One


Kamiko

If you’re a Switch owner, then Kamiko really needs to be in your library. Costing under a fiver, there’s very little to dislike about it, especially if you’re an old-school Zelda fan. It’s a short romp through four pixelated worlds, filled with monsters to slash and traditional bosses to defeat. Oh, and its four protagonists are all female. Girl power and all that.

Available on Switch


Oh… Sir! The Hollywood Roast

Beat ‘em ups are cool because you get to, well, beat people up. But how about a game where you can destroy someone with words? Oh… Sir! lets you and an opponent take it in turns to string together insults from a list of random words and phrases, and the person with the most ridiculous insult wins. This Hollywood Roast edition has the added benefit of being filled with famous movie stars and characters — how many other games let you compare someone’s face to “Jonah Hill’s humid undercarriage”?

Available on PC and mobile


Impact Winter

Survival game Impact Winter from Mojo Bones and Bandai Namco had a bit of a rocky start in life earlier this year thanks to a number of bugs that needed ironing out. It’s unfortunate, because beyond those issues – which did get fixed in numerous patches from the developer – Impact Winter is hugely enjoyable. I’m not a massive lover of survival games generally, but this one won me over with its easy to grasp gameplay, likeable characters, robust upgrade system and interesting world to explore. Sure, most of it is buried under several metres of snow, but with plenty of buildings to sneak into and loot, there’s a lot to get your teeth into. Providing you can survive longer than just a few days.

Available on PC


Knee Deep

I’ve never played anything quite like Knee Deep before, and I mean that in a good way. Imagine if Twin Peaks was a stage play with a Telltale Games-style slant, and you’re getting closer. While theatre productions and video games are not something we generally think of working well together, that’s exactly what Knee Deep is: a game that’s set out like a play, complete with stage directions, backdrops and scene transitions. Telling the story of a murder in a small, backwoods town, it follows three protagonists, each with their own agenda for finding out what happened. There’s a lot of sitting back and watching the action unfold, but it will grip you for the duration.

Available on PS4 and Xbox One


Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles

Ahhh, Yonder is beautiful! Look, forget about action-packed video games filled with guns, swords and violence for a minute, and imagine a serene little world where nothing can hurt you and only adventure awaits. While Yonder is pretty short, it may be one of the most relaxing games I’ve played this year. There’s a multitude of quests to complete, all taking you on a journey across a varied and pretty landscape. It’s certainly a great game for younger players who want a pain-free introduction to RPG-style gaming.

Available on PS4 and PC


Let Them Come

You’re probably not used to standing still in video games - generally, you see a monster and move towards it to kill it. Not in Let Them Come. As the name suggests, you, er, let them come to you. Stood in place behind a fixed machine-gun, you’re trapped on a spaceship that’s being invaded by all kinds of nasty aliens. All you can do is shoot ‘em and blow ‘em to smithereens with grenades and other weaponry at your disposal. It’s the simplest idea for a game, ever, but that’s what makes it so damn brilliant. It’s constant action from start to finish, with blood and guts and ectoplasm flying every which way.

Available on PC, PS4 and XBox One


Million Onion Hotel

A totally madcap mobile game from Japan that’s a sort of dadaist match-3. All you do is tap onions and other, increasingly surreal vegetable-themed creatures to create rows of 5, but what’s interesting about Million Onion Hotel is the bizarre and wholly unpredictable stuff happening in the background, the music, the brief “story” interludes, the unexpected boss battles… it’s a microtransaction-free £3 or so, and well worth the price of a coffee.

Available on mobile


Reigns: Her Majesty

The follow-up to last year’s surprise hit Reigns: Her Majesty is a deceptively simple game where you step into the gilded slippers of a queen and swipe left and right to make decisions about your kingdom. The wit of the scenarios and writing, and their capacity to surprise, are what make it more than something to while away train journeys with. It’s only been out for a couple of weeks at the time of writing, but don’t let it slip by.

Available on PC and mobile


Golf Story

Golf Story is a golfing RPG for the Nintendo Switch in the mould of the old Mario Sports RPGs on the Game Boy Colour, a pixel-art voyage from amateur golfer to… less amateur golfer. It’s a decent 2D golf game but is elevated by the cute sense of humour and strange plot, and it’s remarkably addictive too.

Available on Switch


Pyre

A high-profile indie-game from the developer of Bastion and Transistor that might nonetheless have passed you by in the blur of amazing games in the first half of this year, Pyre is a mystical strategy game with sports elements whose writing and characterisation will stay with you for a long time. Poetic without being pretentious, it is a journey that has as much in common with arcade old text adventures as anything modern.

Available on PC and PS4


The Sexy Brutale

The Sexy Brutale is set amidst a big party where (almost) everyone’s been murdered, and is now re-living their own death over a 12-hour period. You enter and replay this short loop of time, looking for the places where you can make a difference to someone’s fate and, as you save more and more, the possibilities open up. This is a hard one to pigeonhole: it’s much more game-y than many narrative adventures, only requires you to solve each mystery once, and unfolds in a genuinely satisfying manner. It gets compared to Groundhog Day a lot, which is fair enough as an elevator pitch. But The Sexy Brutale’s unique approach and unwavering focus on the player experience means that, essentially, this delivers time manipulation without all the boring bits.

Available on PC, PS4, Xbox One and Switch


Tacoma

Tacoma, the second game from Gone Home developer Fullbright, takes place on an automated space station around 70 years in the future. A couple of hours long, players are tasked with exploring the now derelict station, learning about the human staff who once oversaw the ship’s AI, and how they came to no longer be on the ship.

The game makes use of an interesting rewindable and fast-forwardable AR interface to allow players to see a multi-perspective story from multiple angles, and ultimately tells a story of the struggles humanity may ultimately face in a world of automation oversight.

Available on PC and Xbox One