From indie titles to major AAA releases, from RPGs to racing simulators, from fighters to some truly excellent online experiences, there was something for everyone on PC this year. The platform received one excellent game after another almost constantly throughout the year, and as a result, what we are left with as the year draws to a close is a twelve month-catalogue of some of the best games we’ve ever played.
It wasn’t an easy task, but we’ve somehow managed to narrow that down to ten of our favourites- ten nominees to win our PC Game of the Year award. So without further ado, let’s take a look at these ten nominees, before moving on to talk about what we feel was the best PC game of the year.
STEAMWORLD DIG 2
Steamworld Dig 2 is everything an ideal sequel should be. Where its predecessor was a game with excellent ideas that were occasionally held back by a lack of refinement or polish, Steamworld Dig 2 is the perfect realization of those concepts. Digging and mining are still the name of the game here, but the improvements to level design and mechanics that have been made make the experience so much better than what we expected it to be. On top of that, the game goes out of its way to deliver in other areas as well- from its narrative and its characters to its slick visual style and great soundtrack, Steamworld Dig 2 continues to surprise and delight for the entirety of its 10-15 hours.
PROJECT CARS 2
Project CARS 2 is a game that rewards you the more time you’re willing to invest into it. For automobile enthusiasts, that experience becomes even more rewarding. This is a game that is loaded with incredibly detailed and well-built cars, with excellently designed tracks, with tons of customization tools for players to tinker with. Driving a car in Project CARS 2 feels and sounds better than you’d expect, especially if you’re playing with a wheel instead of a controller. The game is admittedly held back by a lack of polish in some areas, as well as other issues that can pop up as minor hindrances every now and then, but this is still an incredibly satisfying experience that begs players to sink dozens upon dozens of hours into it.
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is the success story of the year. It came out of nowhere, entering Early Access on Steam in March 2017, and went on to break every record on the books from then on. And even though the game is technically unfinished, and doesn’t have all that much content to begin as things stand right now, it’s incredibly fun- and in the end, isn’t that what matters? PUBG’s enduring popularity is testament to how well executed its core concept is, and we can only see it going from strength to strength in the future from here on out.
If you’re a fan of Metroidvanias, you want to play Hollow Knight. Its ingenious level design and the staggering amount of things it allows you to do, without ever forcing you in any particular direction or prodding you towards any specific activities, make it a constant delight for even hardened veterans of these kinds of games. Even dozens of hours in, you will continue to find interesting new quests, new places to explore, and new ways to try out your in-game skills and abilities. Throw in a gorgeous, soulful art style, and a melancholy that pervades everything in the game, and you’ve got yourself a winner.
NIGHT IN THE WOODS
Night in the Woods has to be one of the most under-appreciated gems of 2017. This is a game that has a very clear vision in mind, one that it sticks to, and one that it puts into motion with grace. Night in the Woods tells a hard-hitting story and tells it very well, and though this is definitely a narrative about meaningful topics, the game never becomes overbearing in that regard, always making sure to break up the tension with endearing moments of wit and humour every now and then. What helps is that the cast of characters in Night in the Woods is incredible, written expertly and with great passion, with tiny details and quirks that add so much charm and personality to everyone you meet. Night in the Woods may not be the glossiest, shiniest release of the year, but it is, without a doubt, one of the best PC games we’ve played in the last twelve months.
DIVINITY: ORIGINAL SIN II
Divinity: Original Sin II is a staggering achievement. With a rich setting and textured lore, , a memorable cast of expertly written characters, a wealth of things to do, both on the main path and off it, and actual meaningful choices with tangible consequences, Original Sin II stands out from other games in the genre, including its own already-excellent predecessor, in stunning ways. It will surely go down in history as one of the all time RPG greats. It’s that good.
For the glory of mankind! Nier: Automata marries the eccentricity of creator Yoko Taro with the pitch perfect mastery over action gameplay that Platinum brings to the table, showing a streak of eccentricity and genius that you don’t often see in this industry. Everything about Nier is incredible- the memorable soundtrack, the fantastic game design that has no qualms with all too often switching perspectives and even genres, the incredible story and the way it is told. Nier: Automata is one of the most uniquely great games ever made, and far and away a stunning triumph of video game storytelling.
It’s hard not to fall in love with Cuphead, right from the moment you first see it. Cuphead’s beautiful and imaginative art style simply cannot be praised enough, but even beyond that, the game backs up its style with real meaningful substance, as it really does play as well as it looks. Truly the Dark Souls of action platformers, Cuphead is a gruelling, exacting game that has no qualms about punishing sloppy players- and yet it never gets unfair. It’s a game where you’ll come for the art style, and stay on to conquer it for trying to kick your ass- and when you’re done, it will stay on with you for a very long time.
TOTAL WAR: WARHAMMER II
The first Total War: Warhammer presented an interesting argument for how two unique strategy play styles could come together for a single, cohesive experience. Warhammer II comes along and, rather than re-inventing the wheel, builds upon that idea with flawless execution, making tons upon tons of tiny little improvements that all come together for what is one of the better strategy games of the last few years. The campaign here is top-notch, and in terms of moment-to-moment gameplay, the combat and the map design are absolutely stellar. Total War: Warhammer II is an incredible experience, one that you should by no means miss if you’re a fan of strategy games.
WHAT REMAINS OF EDITH FINCH
What Remains of Edith Finch is not a conventional game. It is not concerned with implementing its mechanics to perfection, or with introducing new ways to play a game. No, what it is, is a game that is concerned with telling a collection of beautiful and heart-breaking stories, all of which come together for one of the most memorable and enriching experiences we’ve had in a video games in the last few years. What Remains of Edith Pinch plays with storytelling conventions every step of the way, delivering one strong story after another unrelentingly, all the while sticking with a singular larger vision. As a video game, What Remains of Edith Finch may fall short in some areas, but viewed simply as a story, it’s hard to think of a lot of games that are better than this.
WINNER- DIVINITY: ORIGINAL SIN II
A lot of games claim to give you hours upon hours of content that is both meaningful and is actually shaped by player choice, but very few have ever done it as well as Divinity: Original Sin II. The game is packed full of excellent writing and personality, its characters will stay with you long after you’re done with the story, it has some of the greatest side quests we have ever seen in an RPG, its turn based combat system is incredibly addictive, and it is set in a fantastic world ripe with rich and fascinating lore. Divinity: Original Sin II is an instant classic, the kind that deserves a spot in the hall of fame of video games even so shortly after its release, and will always be remembered as one of the greatest RPGs ever made.
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.