The Best Games of 2017: Day 3
The games of 2017 cast us in some odd roles: sibling, space salvager, survivor, and... mortician?
Header image by Janine Hawkins
Welcome to Waypoint's Pantheon of Games, a celebration of our favorite games, a re-imagining of the year's best characters, and an exploration of the 2017's most significant trends.
The Hero's Trial: Surviving the Night in Darkwood
Every door is closed and every door is open. Every radio is clear and every radio crackles. Every farm is thriving and every farm is dead. Every branch buds and blossoms, every branch burns and cracks. Every shadow stoops, still. Every shadow flickers and scrambles. The farmer is alive and the farmer is a strangled shape dragging a plow through the mud. The man by the campfire has the head of a wolf. The dog you killed moves on the end of its chain. The neighbor means well and then he rushes you through the dark, a swooping bird, a nightfall, and then he means you well. Boil the mushrooms in the old pot on the stove. The gas will keep you safe.
Spirit of Curiosity: Amy Ferrier (Tacoma)
Fullbright’s games, starting with Gone Home and now Tacoma, are explorations into voyeurism. The games aren’t just about exploring a setting, but taking what you find and crafting the entire narrative. In order to even play Tacoma, you have to get uncomfortably close to a group of strangers.
Amy, the protagonist and audience surrogate, is mostly following instructions aboard the Tacoma, but her need to check every drawer, log into every desktop, and listen to conversations over and over again seems to fall outside of her simple task. You lean into it, since you have to, but you always wonder how far Amy can go. Luckily with Fullbright games, being as nosy as possible is always rewarded.
The Sibling Deities of Ingenuity: Joey Claire & Jude Harley (Hiveswap: Act I)
Joey and Jude are the brother & sister pair that make up the earthly heroes of Hiveswap. Bright and talkative, Joey & Jude are all too eager to tell the player of what they know and how they know it. Jude is a young inventor, and a crack shot with a flare gun. Joey is a novice ballerina, and friendly, even to those she doesn't quite understand. It's their knack for quick-thinking and curiosity that guides Joey through danger and to a final escape.
Shepherd of the Dead: Charlie (A Mortician’s Tale)
A Mortician’s Tale is the kind of of succinct, single playthrough experience that may be hard to justify for players looking to maximize their fun on a budget. And that’s okay, because its true value lies elsewhere. The candid and educational way this game tackles the business of death (literally) is invaluable, since most people (nevermind games) don’t usually care to explore the topic.
We have countless preconceptions about how a death has to be handled, countless taboos around discussing it openly, and we place a profound degree of trust in those that help us handle it. And when the time comes for us to be educated consumers in this particular area, let alone making decisions that last an eternity, we’re not always in a state of mind to do our research. Playing Mortician’s Tale ultimately feels like doing your future self a tremendous favor, and that’s not a claim many games can make.