2017 is shaping up to be a banner year for video games. With a bevy of new releases flooding the first quarter of the year, GadgetMatch is here to help you pick out the best.
Based on order of release:
Resident Evil 7
Miss the genuine terror of being vulnerable in the old Resident Evil games? The seventh installment in the hallowed survival horror series gets back to basics, thrusting you into a labyrinthine estate of a deranged, murderous family. You have only your wits and whatever you can find in that madhouse to survive. It also marks a franchise first, as the whole game is set in first-person, shoving every jump scare right in your face. Play the whole game on PlayStation VR if you dare!
Available on Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One (January 24)
Fans of the cult Japanese gangster sim finally get the origin stories for antiheroes Kiryu and Majima in Yakuza 0. Showing their struggle as they rise through the ranks of the Tojo clan, this prequel also works as an introduction for series newbies to the twisting intrigue and occasionally wacky world of Yakuza. It uses the economic bubble period of 1988 Tokyo and Osaka to maximum effect, casting a light on the politicking, backstabbing, and brawling of organized crime with glitz and grit.
Available on PlayStation 4 (January 24)
Hardcore action RPG gamers who love the challenge of Dark Souls need not worry about the end of that particular franchise. Nioh is a worthy successor to the unforgiving tactical combat throne. It’s set in a fictional feudal Japan where demons are wreaking havoc across the war-torn lands, and it’s up to you, the Irish swordsman William, to put an end to this yokai menace. With responsive controls, a varied arsenal of medieval weaponry, and intense boss battles, Nioh is the “Samurai Souls” you’ve always wanted.
Available on PlayStation 4 (February 7)
If fighting AI-controlled opponents has gotten too predictable but you still want to live out that middle ages power fantasy, then For Honor is for you. It’s a competitive online multiplayer brawler that pits knights versus vikings versus samurai. There is a single-player campaign that serves as a short tutorial to the frenetic large-scale battles and intricate duels. When you’re ready to face actual humans, jump into team fights and one-on-one affairs where you clash for control over multi-tiered maps littered with computer mobs, or just see who can slay their enemies more.
Available on Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One (February 14)
Night in the Woods
Compelling conflicts in games don’t always involve extreme competition. Sometimes, they take on the form of an existential crisis, such as finding your once ambitious college-educated self returning to your backwater hometown, realizing you’re not the hotshot you thought you were. This is Night in the Woods, a charming, introspective story-heavy adventure game where you talk to fellow anthropomorphic animals rendered in punchy 2D cartoon art, and make small but weighty decisions.
Available on Windows, macOS, Linux, and PlayStation 4 (February 21)
Horizon Zero Dawn
Ever had that childhood dream of fighting and taming cool robot dinosaurs? Horizon Zero Dawn fulfills that fantasy through a gorgeous post-post-apocalyptic wilderness where long-lost technology is as mystical as magic. You play as the determined, redheaded hunter Aloy on a quest for redemption. Master a vast open world chock-full of savage mechanical beasts and majestic vistas that rival Uncharted 4‘s visuals. It’s also the best reason for getting a PS4 Pro, as the game’s graphical fidelity takes full advantage of the upgraded console’s 4K resolution and HDR lighting capabilities.
Available on PlayStation 4 (February 28)
Torment: Tides of Numenera
Old-school CRPG enthusiasts who hail the cult hit Planescape: Torment as the gold standard of the genre are raving about this crowdfunded spiritual sequel. Torment: Tides of Numenera wears its forebears’ influence proudly, with its classic isometric camera, pre-rendered backgrounds and 3D art, and pages and pages of text for dialogue and world-building. If complex characters and difficult choices are what you’re looking for, then you’ll enjoy the well-written narrative Torment weaves based on your every action.
Available on Windows, macOS, Linux, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One (February 28)
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
What better way to say goodbye to the Wii U and hello to the Nintendo Switch than with a boldly ambitious title from a flagship franchise? The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild isn’t revolutionary, taking on sandbox and survival game conventions such as a sprawling map, stamina and equipment management, and crafting. It’s how Nintendo refines these mechanics and melds them with familiar Zelda trappings, resulting in an immersive world of dynamism and discovery on an unprecedented scale. Play it on the Switch for the optimum experience, but the Wii U version is fine if you’re on a budget.
Available on Wii U and Nintendo Switch (March 3)
In case the new Zelda isn’t enough for you to get a Switch, Snipperclips might just do the trick. Take control of Snip and Clip, two anthropomorphic shapes with meme-worthy reaction faces, and solve a variety of puzzles by cutting each of the two into the appropriate, well, shapes to interact with the environment. You can play through the game by yourself, but it truly shines when you’re sharing the joy (and the frustration) with friends and family.
Available on Nintendo Switch (March 3)
Plenty of sci-fi stories across all media have meditated on consciousness, sapience, and morality through the lens of artificial intelligence. There just hasn’t been a video game that does so with the perfect balance of style and substance until Nier: Automata. It blends super cool swordplay with breakneck bullet hell into a ballet of brutality, all the while philosophizing over what it means to be human. Pro-tip: keep playing after the credits roll, and get ready to have your mind blown and your heart broken.
Available on Windows and PlayStation 4 (March 7)