The time has come to write an end of the year post, with end of the year lists covering all of the things I have enjoyed in 2017 and also some things I didn’t enjoy particularly much.
2017 has been a shit year if you look at it from a global perspective, but for me personally it has been a really good one. Fast Travel Games, the company I co-founded in 2016 has doubled in size and we’re getting close to finalizing our first game, Apex Construct. Fruktan’s latest book, Zonen Vi Ärvde, was published at the Swedish Book Fair by Free League Publishing. Writing for one the best RPG publishers in Sweden was a great experience.
Anyway, let’s get on with the lists.
THE GAMES, IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER
I keep complaining that I don’t have time to play games, but looking back I realize I’ve played quite a few of them this year. Very few to “completion” whatever that means, but I did put in a lot of hours.
Zelda Breath of the Wild
I bought my Switch for this game and it’s probably the one I’ve played the most, whenever I can tear it out of my children’s sweaty hands. I found it surprisingly hard the first few hours until I realized that my weapons are supposed to break, and the game is forcing me to try different ones out, because I won’t have my favorite sword around all the time. It basically doesn’t want me to do anything of what I would normally do in a Zelda game, even though it tries to trick me into believing it is a typical Zelda by playing the “chest opened” stingers etc. I mainly roam around the countryside, maybe try to tame a horse once in a while or looking for Korok seeds. I haven’t even got around to actually fighting a divine beast yet.
Super Mario Odyssey
It’s a Mario game, there’s not a lot more to say about it. It’s basically fantastic and while it doesn’t reach the same heights as Mario Galaxy, it gets really close.
I loved Gone Home and looked forward a lot to Fullbright’s next game. When it finally arrived it was a very different game than its predecessor, but also a superior one. The AR play-fast forward-reverse mechanic is implemented to perfection and untangling the fate of the crew on space station Tacoma is a sad and exciting experience. The ending felt a bit tacked on though, and not really relevant to the other stories onboard.
Another title I had been following for quite some time. I am so happy it has worked out financially for Ninja Theory (at least I think it has?) who built one of the last generation’s best action titles while everybody was looking in another direction. If you haven’t played DmC yet, please do. It takes everything great about Devil May Cry and gets rid of those last few PS2-era annoyances that DMC4 still clung to.
Hellblade is a very different fighting game. Where DmC is fast and over the top, Hellblade is slooow and heavy. Every attack you perform feels like it’s draining the last remaining energy in Senua’s body. Senua spends (almost) the entire game looking like she’s going to just lie down and give up. Playing the game can feel exhausting at times. It is also visually stunning and has some great puzzle-solving sequences. I love how the story unfolds through (conflicting) commentaries and narrated folk tales. The game does drag on a bit toward the end, but that’s my only complaint.
A great exploration and puzzle solving game with a surprisingly emotional story. Everybody who has played it mentions the end scene, and once you get there, you’ll understand why. Tequila Works did a great job with the trailers where they only showed the first parts of the game, meaning that once you get out of the first area, there is a lot more to explore.
Finally, a great Team Ninja game again! The meta-structure is very much Dark Souls, but the combat is 100% Team Ninja, with controller-destroyingly tough combat sometimes. The rush you feel when you take down a boss is second to none. For some reason most enemies are Diablo-like monster pinatas so you accrue tons of loot, most of which isn’t very useful, but I still found myself crafting and upgrading stuff between every mission. It’s weird how designs like that work on me.
You can always trust Housemarque to create good games. Sometimes, like in the case of Resogun and Nex Machina, they are beyond great, getting as close to gaming perfection as I think is possible. I can’t count the times I’ve started, excelled, oh shit lost my combo counter, argh, restarted, get a grip on yourself Erik, oh no not again, ok just one more try, ok maybe one more, one more, argh, no, one more try then I’ll quit. Ad nauseam.
Divinity Original Sin 2
I never got around to playing the first one for some reason. Playing the sequel, I can’t for the life of me understand why not. This is as close to tabletop role playing as I’ve ever come playing a computer game. Combat is frustratingly hard sometimes, and I’m not sure if the game is the better for it, but fucking up and moving your mage to that oil slick and then setting him on fire and then exploding that barrel and killing the character with the last remaining Resurrect scroll, just as you were about to finally win an encounter is a lot of fun in a masochistic way.
Games I wish I have played, but haven’t yet, or that I just started
I will get around to these: Wolfenstein 2 (because some great friends have worked on it, and you get to shoot nazis), Assassin’s Creed Origins (because everybody seems to like it, even people who are super tired of the series, just like me, and even though I think there should be a law against naming a game Origins by now), Life is Strange: Before the Storm (because I loved the first one, and all episodes are out now so there’s no excuse for me to not to), Prey (I have just started this. It feels a lot like System Shock 2, in a good way) and The Invisible Hours (which seems to do some really interesting things with VR storytelling)
THE MUSIC, IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER
Rediscovering Totalt Jävla Mörker. I listened a lot to this great band a few years ago, and when I decided it was time to get serious with my running exercise, it turned out listening to very angry men while doing it made me reach the end line faster.
Cop Shoot Cop’s best album Release is now available on Spotify. Oh, how I’ve missed listening to this. Even if I knew where my old CD was, I don’t own a CD player anymore, so here’s to streaming services!
The latest (and last?) Dillinger Escape Plan is ace. So was the gig in Stockholm.
The new Godspeed You! Black Emperor is ace. Looking forward to the gig in April next year.
The new Propagandhi is also fantastic. I would love it if they could come here and play for us northerners.
The new Metz is stupendously great. They’ve been here a few times to play, but I’ve managed to miss it every, single, time.
I remember reading a lot of books on my summer vacation, but they can’t have made deep impressions on me, because I can’t remember which ones.
Right now I’m reading Gnomon by Nick Harkaway and it’s his best since The Gone-Away World, on of my top ten books ever. It’s the first book I regret buying and reading on my kindle, because it is the kind of book where you want to flip back the pages and re-read passages, or compare what you remember with what you actually did read. It’s incredibly complex in a way, but written so fluidly, you never really think about it. I have ordered it in hardcover now too. I have a feeling this is going to be one of those books I keep in my bookshelf and return to time and again.
I did manage to find time to go to the cinema a few times. Some movies I caught were really good (Logan Lucky, Murder on the Orient Express), but the following stood out more for me.
I can’t even imagine how different it would be to watch this at home, with my crappy sound system (ie, no sound system, just the tv loudspeakers). If there’s one movie you just have to go to the cinema to see, and preferably one with a proper audio setup, it’s this one. A friend compared it to two hours of sitting in the passenger seat next to a friend who is drunk, and who is driving a ferrari at top speed against traffic. That pretty much sums it up to me. I am sure people will still talk about Dunkirk in fifty years.
Blade Runner 2049
I loved this, even though it was a little too long and even though it had a few callbacks to the first movie that made me wince. It’s probably a better movie as a whole than the first one, but I don’t think it will leave such a lasting impression. That’s not 2049’s fault. It was just made 30 years too late. And holy shit, it is beautiful. Every frame, a painting.
This was a surprise! A really good King adaptation that got the most important thing right: Treating the story as an epic where the kids are on a quest to stop the Big Bad Evil that lurks below Derry. The scares are good and the actors all do their parts justice. I’m certainly looking forward to the follow-up where we get to see the adult versions take on the evil once and for all. Bonus points for Bill Skarsgård who did a great Pennywise and for not going overboard with the nostalgia, just because it worked for Stranger Things.
Star Wars The Last Jedi
This was actually pretty good. I didn’t expect to laugh as much as I did. It’s not as beholden to history as The Force Awakens and Rogue One and that is in my eyes only a good thing. Generally though, people really need to stop caring so much about Star Wars. There are more important things out there, such as for instance writing and filming the next big original sci fi saga. Star Wars deserves, just like the Jedi, to end.
…and that’s it I guess. Happy new year! Remember to always eat the rich if you can. They taste better.