The year was full of classics that resonated through the hearts of gamers. However, not every game gets the recognition it deserves. A game that’s seemingly a contender for top-tier status may only be experienced by a few thousand people. Meanwhile, the newest yearly sequel just keeps racking in those sales months after release. Nonetheless, these games will live in our hearts and serve as a reminder of how good we have it as gamers.
Otus’s journey in Owlboy is one that we can relate to. As a likable Owl, Otus is mute and tries his hardest to prove his worth, often times to failure. However, when his entire village is kidnapped by pirates, Otus has to be the hero and save everyone. It’s not just a journey of transitional status that makes Owlboy so enamouring – it’s the presentation and treatment. From the classic 8-bit music and down-to-earth characters to charming enemies and fluid mechanics, Owlboy simultaneously captures the magic of old-school platformers while taking them forward for a new generation. It’s a shame then that it has roughly tens of thousands of players on Steam.
Rez Infinite VR
This remake of Rez, the Dreamcast and PS2 classic, seemed destined to remain niche. Releasing on a new hardware platform (PlayStation VR), having a limited physical release and just being outlandish as possible, Rez Infinite was never going to be for everyone. However, while its sales may not be anything amazing, it’s still one of the – if not the – best VR games this generation. Combining the smooth synethesia and rhythm-based shooting that defined the original, Rez Infinite offers fluid VR immersion and a brand new open exploration mode to let you travel at will and make music where you go.
Steins; Gate (Steam Edition)
Visual novels often have their own dedicated audiences and isn’t too odd to see strong followings on Steam. That being said, Steins; Gate on Steam should have been more popular than it actually was. Because, well, it’s Steins; Gate! This is the visual novel that moved an entire generation to tears with its plot twists and character development (especially given how much better it is than the anime). The complex if ambiguous use of time travel adds to the story-telling and each decision feels significant. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that the cast is fully realized and easy to love.
Odin Sphere Leifthrasir
A remastered version of the 2D side-scrolling action RPG, Odin Sphere Leifthrasir may feel odd to today’s hardcore JRPG fan. What it lacks in mainstream appeal, it makes up for with gorgeous 2D visuals, excellent combat and an intuitive system of mechanics. The narrative is similarly compelling, mixing Norse mythology and fairy tales with a medieval fantasy war story. It also helps that Vanillaware and NIS America fixed many of the issues plaguing the base game and Leifthrasir, despite its PS2 origins, remains a must-play title on PS3, PS4 and PS Vita.
Otus does it again and for good reason. Owlboy is simply staggering in its level of polish – which seems obvious since it took almost nine years to make. In the end, D-Pad Studio’s love for the medium clearly overtook any obstacles in its path. Even now as Owlboy is one of the more niche titles on Steam – and gaming in general – it stands as a triumph for the medium of video games and a title we hope to see more people playing in 2017.
Note: GamingBolt’s Game of the Year categories, nominations and awards are selected via an internal nomination, voting and debate process. You can check the rest of categories and the respective winners here.