It's easy to forget what happened last week, never mind six or seven months ago, but looking back, 2017 has been a bountiful year for PC games. We've already got Game of the Year contenders in every genre, and the year isn't over yet.
There's still much more for us to review, but for now here are the highest review scores we've given out so far in 2017. We'll update this article as we approach the end of the year, and conclude with our usual Game of the Year Awards.
Football Manager 2018
Verdict: The quintessential football management sim is back with its most ambitious undertaking in years.
Hand of Fate 2
Verdict: Hand of Fate 2 is a satisfying sequel and a meatier dungeon crawler, but still somewhat hampered by limited combat.
Verdict: This journey through a dreamscape of loss and absolution is unique, if a bit uneven at times.
Assassin's Creed Origins
Verdict: A brilliant setting, new systems, and familiar features blend together for a strong prequel to the Assassin's Creed series.
Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus
Verdict: The New Colossus is a fun and frantic FPS, even if it doesn't feel quite as fresh as The New Order did.
Verdict: Gorgeous guns, a glittering universe, and a great port. Destiny 2 is an endgame away from true excellence.
Battle Chasers: Nightwar
Verdict: Battle Chasers: Nightwar is a gorgeous, challenging RPG that’s light on story but big on tactically satisfying battles.
A Mortician's Tale
Verdict: An approachable and thought-provoking meditation on life's only certainty.
South Park: The Fractured But Whole
Verdict: A slick RPG with superb tactical combat, a detailed world to explore, and a gleefully crude sense of humour.
The Evil Within 2
Verdict: An intense and thrilling psychological survival horror sequel that improves on its forerunner in almost every way.
A Hat in Time
Verdict: Some scuff-marks aside, A Hat in Time is a creative, playful, and polished tribute to a genre that doesn’t get nearly enough love on PC.
Verdict: An improvement in every area, including The Journey mode.
Forza Motorsport 7
Verdict: Light performance problems and a poor loot box system can't quite distract from Forza Motorsport 7's accommodating difficulty, stunning beauty, and lavish racing options.
Tooth and Tail
Verdict: Tooth and Tail is an elegantly simple RTS that’s perfect for newcomers or anyone wanting to play on the couch.
Verdict: Not just for the masochists, Cuphead is a demanding but supremely rewarding modern 2D shooter that looks and sounds fantastic.
Verdict: Dazzling, dangerous, and dripping in style, Ruiner is a superb, if short, whirlwind of cyber-violence and sightseeing.
Total War: Warhammer 2
Verdict: A maximalist sequel that improves on almost every aspect of the first game.
Verdict: By making excellent use of its procedurally generated world and wacky gadgets, Heat Signature is a mission worth taking.
Disclosure: Heat Signature creator Tom Francis used to work at PC Gamer, but we don't hold that against him.
Divinity: Original Sin 2
Verdict: Divinity: Original Sin 2 is a sprawling, inventive adventure and one of the best RPGs ever made.
Dishonored: Death of the Outsider
Verdict: Not as consistently intricate or surprising as Dishonored 2, but still a worthy epilogue that adds depth and atmosphere to the series' world.
Project Cars 2
Verdict: Serious racing for serious racers. Extraordinarily convincing at each of the disciplines on offer.
Verdict: A breakneck platformer that uses classic Sonic as a foundation for something fresh and exciting.
XCOM 2: War of the Chosen
Verdict: The new classes and super villains are excellent, even if the expansion bloats the campaign a little.
Verdict: It's like, how much more Nidhogg could this be? And the answer is none. None more Nidhogg.
Verdict: Like having a drunken conversation with a friend who really loves music, but it's a videogame and good.
Verdict: Nimble, graceful, and original, LawBreakers' movement sets it apart from other FPSes despite a few aesthetic weaknesses.
West of Loathing
Verdict: The turn-based combat isn't the best, but it's a delightfully written RPG absolutely packed with humor.
The Long Dark
Verdict: Deep, brutal, and hauntingly atmospheric, The Long Dark is a survival game done right.
Verdict: A smart and thoughtful science fiction mystery featuring a cast of believable, nuanced characters.
Verdict: Slight in form, but deep and consistently satisfying. Nex Machina is a gem of a shooter.
Verdict: A varied, challenging platformer that's adept at forcing improvisation and punishing mistakes.
Final Fantasy 14: Stormblood
Verdict: Stormblood’s rousing tale of rebellion and exceptional boss fights aren’t just exquisite by MMO standards, but rival even the most beloved Final Fantasy games.
Rising Storm 2: Vietnam
The same 64-player, tactics-heavy shooting of the Red Orchestra and Rising Storm series, shifted from WWII to Vietnam. With automatic weapons in every hand, RS2 makes positioning, smoke grenades, and battlefield intel even more important. The new Supremacy mode disappoints somewhat, but the linear point-by-point Territories matches remain great.
Verdict: A fiery test of awareness, speed and accuracy which upholds the series' devotion to teamwork and authenticity, but doesn't nail the asymmetry of modern era combat.
The 2010 console game finally made its way to PC, bringing us another shot of Platinum's brand of third-person combat. "It was a product of its time, in that it felt like a response to—maybe even a subversion of—the wave of cover based shooters that emerged in the wake of Gears of War," wrote Phil in his review. "It's got the third person view and the waist high walls, but also lets you rocket slide across the map, slow-mo decapitating robots as you go. It's a dumb, brash shooter, but clever with it."
Verdict: A great port of an entertainingly subversive cover shooter. It's short, but the core loop never gets old.
A roguelike platformer that's more forgiving than Spelunky, made great by its grappling hook. "The hook has a limited range, but it doesn’t bend or bow and there’s no cooldown," wrote Shaun. "Basically, if you’re not moving around each room with the erraticness of a beheaded chicken, shooting and dodging bullets with your hook all the way, then you’re not playing the game properly."
Verdict: A satisfying, moreish take on the roguelike formula, and one that's most likely to appeal to genre naysayers.
| | Buy it: CDKeys, ,
An immersive sim in the style of the classics. The combat is disappointing, but the horrible mimics, who might be a chair or a coffee mug waiting to pounce, the gorgeous, open space station, and the freeform creative problem solving make Prey (not to be confused with the 2006 game it shares little in common with) a great success. It also has one of the best intros we've played in a good while.
Verdict: It's let down by lacklustre combat and some annoying enemy design, but Prey is still a compelling, beautiful immersive sim.
What Remains of Edith Finch
A series of stories about a strange, deceased family, each told with different first-person formats. The interactivity is sparse—it's often a guided experience—but the stories themselves are fantastic. "What Remains of Edith Finch is a masterful piece of storytelling: gorgeous, skillfully told, uplifting in places, and devastating in others," wrote Andy Chalk. "Avoid seeing too many spoilers— seriously, I can't think of a game more in need of being unspoiled than this one—and play it."
Verdict: Touching, sad, and brilliant; a story worth forgiving the limited interactivity to experience.
| | Buy it: GOG, ,
Inhabit a cow and tumble end-over-end, or become a microbe, or a galaxy. Everything lives up to its name—though it obviously doesn't include literally everything, it lets players become the tiniest molecules or entire islands, planets, and beyond. Mixed in with this surreal playspace are audio recordings of philosopher Alan Watts. It's a slow burn, but worth the silly, life-examining trip.
Verdict: Funny, philosophical, and deeply, deeply weird, there’s nothing else quite like Everything on PC.
| | Buy it: GOG, ,
You're exploring a cave, but you can't see in the dark—except with LIDAR, which paints every surface with colorful dots. It's a unique premise that conveys space (the sound design helps, too) and natural beauty without rendering a single rock texture.
Verdict: A beautiful but short-lived expedition that left me wanting more of its best ideas.
| | Buy it: GOG, ,
First-person horror at its most disgusting, Outlast 2 suffers from some confusing stealth segments, but makes up for it with pure horror. "Long after the final minutes of Outlast 2, I felt queasy, uncertain that what I saw had actually happened," wrote James. "It’s one of the most bizarre ending sequences I’ve witnessed, tapping into a fear I’ve known since my first week at Sunday school."
Verdict: Stealth and pursuit haven’t changed much in Outlast 2, but it excels as a beautiful, brutal journey through extreme spiritual anxieties.
Zero Escape: The Nonary Games
A double feature which includes two puzzling visual novels, 999 and Virtue’s Last Reward, The Nonary Games is "like submerging your brain in a jacuzzi," wrote Andy. For fans of branching paths (and horrible deaths, as Andy put it), point-and-click puzzles, and philosophy lectures.
Verdict: Smart without being overbearing, Zero Escape: The Nonary Games continues to set the bar for its genre.
The Sexy Brutale
| | Buy it: GOG, ,
A curious adventure game in which the player returns to the start of the same costume ball again and again on a quest to prevent a series of murders that take place during the evening. The beauty and cleverness of it make up for the built-in repetitiveness.
Verdict: A stylish and creative adventure with a clever time-rewinding hook.
Good things come to those who wait: the PC now has the best version of one of the best hack-n-slash games ever made. Bayonetta's fluid fighting style—combos, dodges, hair-based attacks—and absurd story deserved 4K and 60 fps support, and we're happy it's finally joined us.
"Bayonetta is about flow," says Phil. "In part, this is thanks to an advanced combat trick that brings everything full circle. If you dodge in the middle of a combo while holding down either punch or kick, you can resume the combo out of the dodge. This offset speaks to the fluidity of Bayonetta's fighting style—as does the way she so smoothly transitions from dodge into attack, or from melee to guns."
Verdict: A great port of what is still one of the best action games around. Bayonetta is the essential hack-'n-slash.
"If you want to build a giant Dyson sphere around a sun to steal all of its energy and make any planets that depended on it freeze to death, you can do that," wrote TJ in our review. And who doesn't? Stellaris' Utopia expansion overhauls politics, adds factions to your population, and introduces Tradition trees—which are how you might blot out the sun. The add-on gives Stellaris a big push in the right direction, filling out the previously light mid-game.
Verdict: Paradox’s biggest expansion yet brings Stellaris closer to its original promise with a stellar rework of internal politics and new endgame goals.
The Signal From Tölva
Big Robot, which is headed by former PC Gamer contributor Jim Rossignol, brings us a sci-fi shooter mystery that's two parts exploration—hopping and stomping around—and one part "crisp, satisfying combat," as our review states. It's slow-paced, but smart, lean, and a step above the developer's previous game, Sir, You Are Being Hunted.
Verdict: A fascinating setting and fizzing gunplay make for a lean, thoughtful exploration-led shooter.
Like XCOM with lower stakes and axes instead of guns, Battle Brothers is pure fun. Manage a band of mercenaries, earn money to expand your operation and reach more distant contracts on the wide-open map, and fret over decisions in turn-based battles. "I kept humming with the victory and despair I usually reserve for XCOM campaigns," wrote Ian in our review. "The archer who makes a wondrous 19% headshot; the swordsman who blocks and dodges his way out of certain death; the veteran soldier suddenly gutted, lost forever behind the veil of permadeath." (It's also surprisingly gory given its cute little big-headed character sprites.)
Verdict: Don’t let some clunky inventories scare you off from this excellent strategy RPG.
A throwback to '90s adventure games, but not a nostalgia-driven rehash—Thimbleweed Park builds on the genre and is great on its own merits. It's funny, and full of smart puzzles that "rarely require the absurd leaps of logic that would have you dialling the LucasArts hint line in the '90s," as Andy put it in his review.
Verdict: A quality adventure game with challenging puzzles, oddball characters, and an intriguing, mystery-laden plot.
If you aren't turned off by the obtuse introduction and constant, crushing challenge, Rain World rewards with unforgettable gloom. "The early hours are taxing, and in all honesty, it continues to be taxing," wrote Shaun in our review. "It’s not relaxing. It’s not a game to wash away your daily worries with. But the variety of the world’s barren landscapes will keep the determined pushing on, and the seemingly insurmountable challenges are, well, surmountable, but not thanks to 'tricks' per se. You just have to be smart about it. You have to learn—and then very vaguely know—how to survive."
But at least slugcat is cute!
Verdict: Few will see the more remote corners of Rain World’s relentlessly dire stretch, but those who do are unlikely to forget the experience.
An office favorite, Nier: Automata is bizarre open-world RPG with PlatinumGames' signature speed-comboing combat—but that can seamlessly transition into twin-stick shooting whenever it wants. The combination works, as does the mournful, weird story and all its quirks. "Automata is a remarkable game with an incredible amount of style, personality, and flair," said Andy in his review.
Verdict: A beautiful, melancholy action RPG that’s effortlessly stylish and utterly unpredictable.
Mass Effect: Andromeda
Andromeda is a contentious game, even—or maybe especially—among PC Gamer's staff and writers: some despise it, some enjoy it. It was burdened by high expectations, and didn't succeed at everything we hoped. But BioWare games are nearly always unmatched in certain aspects, and Andromeda is an accomplishment in scope, with some great missions and moments buried within its hours of dialogue and exploration.
Verdict: Marred by inconsistency and in need of a polish pass, this vast new sci-fi frontier nonetheless rewards dedicated exploration.
The Elder Scrolls: Legends
Tim couldn't help but to compare Legends to Hearthstone in his review—how could he not, given the obvious parallels—and found that its deeper, less RNG-heavy systems provide a good alternative to Blizzards' hit CCG. It lacks the same charm and vast playerbase, but delivers on the strategy.
Verdict: A deep, and potentially rewarding alternative to Hearthstone that suffers from underwhelming art design and desperately needs an injection of players to grow the scene.
Styx: Shards of Darkness
A pure stealth game that stars a cynical, sweary goblin, the second Styx game is another lowkey release with a lot of good in it: "A generous game with a huge amount of stuff to do, some wonderfully realised levels, all of it augmented with an admirably flexible skill system that encourages and rewards creative thinking," said Jon in our review.
Verdict: A mean-spirited character leads a big-hearted game; you’re unlikely to dwell on its lore but its features combine well to create a satisfying stealth experience.
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided — A Criminal Past
A maximum security prison provides the stealth-action playground in this Mankind Divided DLC, and while the story isn't brilliant, the level itself is fun to puzzle out for six to seven hours. "While previous DLC System Rift felt like a retread of Mankind Divided, this mission is much more distinct," said Andy. "The prison setting is radically different from anything else in Eidos Montreal’s rebooted Deus Ex, and the restrictions it places on you forces you to really dig into the game’s systems."
Verdict: A well-designed level that forces you out of your comfort zone and fills in some of Adam Jensen’s backstory.
You're playing a text adventure, but not on your PC—on a virtual computer on a virtual desk. And as you explore, strange things start happening in your virtual room. Stories Untold is "a wonderfully creepy idea," wrote Andy, which is told in four episodes that form a "fascinating, subversive experiment in storytelling that delights in messing with your head."
Verdict: An atmospheric collection of clever, surprising interactive short stories with a gorgeous retro aesthetic.
Night in the Woods
Light platforming and incongruous Guitar Hero-style bass playing complement a funny, sad story about a young cat—well, a person who looks like a cat—returning home to her family and friends after dropping out of college. "Night in the Woods is a pretty special game," wrote Andy. "It’s a celebration of why life is awesome, but never shrinks away from the fact that it can also be really shitty as well. And it wrestles with difficult issues in a way that made me think about my own life and relationships."
Verdict: A beautiful, heartfelt coming of age story that says something about life, and cracks a few jokes in the process.
Torment: Tides of Numenera
Planescape: Torment probably wasn't going to be outdone by any successor, but Tides of Numenera succeeds at delivering the same style of text-heavy, philosophical roleplaying in a strange new setting. "A little bit more humour would help disarm some of the game's more self-serious moments, but I found the quality of the writing and the genuine philosophical complexity of Tides of Numenera's questions compelling in a way that games rarely achieve," Chris wrote in his review. "To say this is an RPG written of shades of grey is an understatement: in fact, given the multi-hued Tides of the title, you could say that it's written in shades of everything."
Verdict: A slow start gives way to a thought-provoking adventure in a remarkable setting. A fitting follow-up to a beloved RPG.
Sniper Elite 4
The story can be safely ignored, but Sniper Elite 4's big sandboxes for stealth and sniping are the series' best. Nearly every complaint we had about the game that came before it has been addressed in some way, and Italy makes for a beautiful setting—at least until you watch a slow-mo x-ray shot of someone's kidney exploding.
Verdict: A hearty improvement on Sniper Elite 3 that embraces freeform play, gets better in co-op, and most importantly lets us shoot things from very far away.
Resident Evil 7
A reset for the Resident Evil series, RE7 moves away from the action movie stylings of the last few games for a creepier, first-person horror adventure. " It takes an industrial pressure washer to the series, blasting off years of accumulated filth and grime," wrote Andy. "And you’re left with a lean, polished survival horror that borrows from its legacy, but isn’t afraid to look to modern horror games for inspiration too."
Verdict: Not the dramatic reinvention we expected, but this is tense and refined survival horror with a brilliantly bleak, grimy atmosphere.
What makes Hollow Knight stand out, above all else, is how expansive and lush its subterranean kingdom of Hallownest is. It's a Metroidvania you could easy spend 30 hours playing and still have more to discover. Its bug-themed world is a wonderful mix of dark and depressing tones with adorable characters and hand drawn art. Hollow Knight is a surprise hit of 2017, and truly one you don't want to miss.
Verdict: Hollow Knight is a new classic, with a dense and detailed world full of secrets to discover.
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