The best video games of 2017 (so far)
Summer's in the air, and that can only mean one thing: it's time to staple your curtains together, irreparably cancel any friendships you've got going on and get far too involved with some of the best videogames 2017 has to offer:
(PlayStation 4, Xbox One)
All the best lycra-botherers from DC's multiverse are back to boot each other in the tonsils and show-off their MySpace-era haircuts. Now that the Batman Arkham series is taking a well-deserved rest, this follow-up to 2013's highly-rated Injustice: Gods Amongst Us is undoubtedly the greatest – and best looking - superhero game on the market.
Having said that, the decision to base the story mode's Joker on Jared Leto's "twisted" portrayal in Suicide Squad is a baffling, cringeworthy decision that robs the character of any menace. Lucky then, that producers NetherRealm included loads of new gear and abilities to make up for it.
Sony has always struggled for a first-party mascot, in the vain of Nintendo's Mario, Microsoft's Master Chief or Sega's Sonic. By 2006 they'd basically given up, and just opted for a space hopper for PSP launch title Loco Roco.
The platform-puzzler picked up a cult fan-base on Sony's first handheld and now, 11 years later, it's become the first PSP game to get adapted for the PS4 - and in these ultra-stressful times, it's easy to see why. The idea is simple: you grow bigger as you eat berries, and control your surroundings by tilting the controller, traversing different obstacles and just, chilling out a bit for once in your life? Nothing wrong with that, even if it is clearly for children and nobody can ever know you play it.
(PlayStation 4, Xbox One)
A complete reimagining of 2006's eponymous original, sci-fi shoot-em-up/RPG Prey takes place in an alternate timeline where John F. Kennedy survives his assassination attempt, leading the American President to pour more money into the country's space program and accelerate the global Space Race.
This provokes an alien species called the Typhon into attacking Earth, forcing the US and U.S.S.R to band together to defeat their cosmic rivals. Then a load of other stuff happens and, long story short: you'll spend 50 solid hours shooting aliens in the face, and you'll have no regrets.
Brilliant as Zelda and Mario Kart may be, the Nintendo Switch library is still looking pretty stark. Luckily there's a bunch of impressive indie titles available, and Tumbleseed is probably the best yet.
On first play, the game is nightmarish – and not just because everything has a giant, judgemental eye plastered onto it. The physics are aggravatingly tricky to get your palms around, which is especially annoying in a game based around motion control and balance. You move through an obstacle-cluttered course on a balance beam, defeating enemies and all that lark. If you manage to go long enough without putting your Switch into a can crusher, you'll learn to love it.
(PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC)
Ever played LittleBigPlanet? It's good fun, but a grown man can't leave the cutesy-wootsy experience with any sort of dignity intact.
Luckily, Swedish developers Tarsier Studios have gone much darker with their new puzzle-stealth-platformer, Little Nightmares. You play Six, a raincoated kid trapped in The Maw – a surreal, nightmarish resort from which you must escape by solving loads of brain-scratching obstacles.
As you've probably noticed, it's aesthetically and thematically similar to the groundbreaking Limbo, but it features richer level design and a stronger emphasis on story. Creepy music, too.
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
Mario Kart 8 on the Wii U was as close to perfection as a multiplayer game could possibly get, and a zenith for a series that has blown away all challengers and copycats since 1992. It just seemed un-improvable, so we were pretty skeptical about Nintendo's ability to deliver on the 'Deluxe' aspect of its Switch re-release.
But they've gone and bloody managed it, haven't they? With a selection of new characters, items, and a brand new multiplayer mode that'll transport you back to the balloon-popping days of N64 yore.
Two tiny qualms: Nintendo have included a 'smart steering' mode to help newcomers to the series, a cowardly option for weak men that we simple can't countenance. There also seems to be an increased frequency of blue shells this time around, which is doing a number on our blood pressure. Apart from that, 10/10 stuff.
EVE: Valkyrie was the stand-out game from PlayStation's VR launch catalogue - but considering the space shooter was available on the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive too, it didn't provide Sony with the exclusive they needed to set their hardware apart.
So when Starblood Arena was announced, it was easy to spot the glaring similarities between the titles. But while EVE provided a relatively calm and dazzling fight'n'flight experience, Starblood ramps up the action and shrinks the maps to provide a very different game.
Sat in zipping space-ships, Starblood engages you in high-octane, gravity-defying grudge matches. It's not a game of great depth, but it doesn't need to be – in terms of pure fun, it's up there with Rocket League.
(Wii U, PlayStation 4, Xbox One)
Scottish developers Rare produced a number of era-defining titles for the N64 back in the nineties – including GoldenEye, Perfect Dark and Conker's Bad Fur Day – before being brought out by Microsoft in 2002.
What followed was a sharp decline in quality, and several key members of the team left Rare to form their own companies - one of which being Polytonic Games, who released their first title, Yooka-Laylee, earlier this month thanks to a crowd funding campaign.
Seen as the spiritual successor to Rare's Banjo-Kazooie series, you play a ukulele-strumming chameleon named Yooka and a female bat named Laylee as they get up to the kind of stupid nonsense you'd expect of zany anthropomorphic musicians. Jumping. Collecting. A puzzle here and there. All that good shit.
Yooka-Laylee stands as a simple, nostalgia-tinged tribute to platformers past – and that includes the dodgy camera work.
(PlayStation 4, Xbox One)
You play Blake Langermann, an investigative journalist searching for his wife after a crash-landing in the Supai region of North Arizona.
As you explore your surroundings, you come to find that - uh-oh, classic you - you're knee deep in death cult county, with no way out and a target on your head. You can't swing a cat for ritual sacrifices in this joint. It's really, really not very nice.
What follows is an ever-moving, panic-stricken search for safety as all manner of evildoers set their terrifying sights on you. One of the scariest horror games you'll ever play - and a big improvement on the original.
Horizon: Zero Dawn
Not just beautiful, but single-solitary-tear-rolling-down-your-cheek, phone-mum-and-tell-her-you've-found-the-one, yes-actually-mum-it's-perfectly-normal-to-fancy-a-videogame-loads-of-my-friends-do-too, well-yes-mum-they-are-all-from-Reddit-but-I-don't-see-what-difference-that-makes-ingly beautiful.In development since 2011 by the same team behind the glorious Kill Zone series, Horizon: Zero Dawn is set in a post-apocalyptic future in which the world has been overrun by killer robots after an unknown calamity left the human race ruing their technological ambition. You play Alloy, a young orphan who is shunned by the tribe, who must prove her worth by demonstrating her abilities in the violent wild.It's of the most immersive RPGs you'll ever play, and feels like a creative and technical zenith for the PS4.
(Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Linux, Windows, Mac)
A psychological indie first-person thriller set in the blizzard-stricken Canadian village of Atamipek in the winter of 1970, in which you play a private eye hired by a wealthy copper magnate to investigate a mysterious vandalising of his property. Needless to say, it all gets unexpectedly messy.Sounds right up your street, that, doesn't it? Bit Twin Peaks-y. Full of puzzles, plot-twists and all that good stuff. What's more, this is just the first episode of four that are planned for release.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
It's Zelda, but not quite as you know it.Yeah, fine, you still play as the same flaxen-haired sword-waver "hurrghhya"-ing his way through the rambling plains of Hyrule, and you'll experience almost all of the familiar Zelda tropes you know and crave along the way.But for once, the goliath boss battles aren't the most intimidating part of the game. This time around, it's the sheer freedom that you're offered to explore the game's world, and non-linear story, in any way you see fit. The expansive nature of the game is reminiscent of the first time we played GTA III - it's immediately awe-inspiring. You're even aided with the majority of your integral weapons within the first half an hour of the game. It's being lorded as a genre-defining masterpiece and a perfect start for Nintendo's new console, but we'd be lying if we said we're even half-way through the game. It'll take you absolute ages, and that's no bad thing at all. It feels like the realisation of vision that the creators of Zelda had from the very start.
(PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch)
On the back of Minecraft's unfathomable success, Lego have released the world-building sandbox game they were always destined to. There's not much to it. You have thousands of Lego bricks available to you, and the freedom to craft whatever you want and show it off to the internet. That's it. No story. No action. Just bricks. And it's everything we could have hoped for.