2017 was a year of excitement and growth, both personally and professionally. After two years of building up the team, the pieces started to fall into place for MonsterVine. I was happy to see this team find its voice and identity as we launched The VineCast. Getting out of the comfort zone is instrumental for this. Out of my experiences this year, I learned to embrace success as well as failure as a teaching moment. One thing is for certain. The games industry has passionate and welcoming folks and every interaction has motivated me to do better. So going into 2018, I want to continue helping every person on my team embrace their personal voice and make their footprint in games media. Without further ado, here are my personal favorites from 2017.
Yakuza 0 and Yakuza Kiwami
With the Yakuza series making its resurgence in the West, it was high time for me to jump aboard and boy it does not disappoint. Fast becoming my favorite Japan simulator, Kiryu’s adventures follows a serious narrative story similar to a J-drama. Yakuza is a wacky and endearing playground where the absurd is normal.
While Kiwami is more cut and dry, Yakuza 0 features management sim aspects that I truly enjoyed. From buying up properties as Kiryu to managing hostesses at a cabaret club as Majima, I delayed beating the main story so I could spend more time raking in more cash.
Besides all of that, the punchy combat, cast of characters, and the amount of side activities makes me want to travel to Japan. Mainly to spend endless time at the UFO Catcher machine.
Best Moment: Coaching an aspiring dominatrix so she can fulfill her true potential.
Uncharted: The Lost Legacy
Naughty Dog manages to surprise time again with gorgeous environments and experiments by tacking on an open world section which is a delight to explore.
The Lost Legacy never outstayed its welcome and Chloe/Nadine prove to be a formidable female duo. It even manages to poke fun at itself at points. Remember moving those obnoxious crates?
While I appreciated Uncharted 4’s approach, I felt that some combat encounters and level design were a bit too tedious. The Lost Legacy remedies this with a condensed, back-to-basics approach that is very much welcomed.
Best Moment: Scouring for Hoysala tokens so I can unlock the bracelet that lets me know good things are nearby.
Life is Strange: Before the Storm
It’s no secret that Life is Strange is one of my favorite video game series. I came into the prequel with apprehension because Chloe, my least favorite character, was the main lead. But as I played through the first chapter, my apprehension turned into admiration.
Chloe’s bond with Rachel Amber may be one of my favorite pairings since Max and Chloe. It was a pleasure to see their friendship develop over the course of three episodes.
With time travel out of the picture, the stakes were higher than the original and seeing how everything plays out was satisfying to watch. It’s also remarkable that this sort of narrative lends itself to water cooler moments. Discussing my choices and plot points with our Associate Editor, Jessica were very enjoyable times.
Best Moment: Pulling that parking brake so I can score that sick Firewalk t-shirt.
To preference this, Persona 5 is my first Persona game but it is a special one for me. I’ve only heard of the Persona series through the chatter of Diego, Austin, and Spencer so when the game finally came out, I decided I was all-in. A video game that’s very similar to an anime, the characters and narrative drew me in and never let go. The slice of life social sim aspects prove to be a welcoming respite from the game’s dungeons.
I’m about 40 hours in and still thoroughly enjoying the twists and turns in both story and combat. If you’re looking for a grand adventure, look no further than Persona 5.
Best Moment: Hanging with my boy Ryuji.