Sometimes publishers turn down ideas that sound risky. That sound too different from current fare and what the marketing decks say are the current hottest thing. It is in the indie space that new ideas, new mechanics and exploration happens. Sometimes it is deeply personal. Sometimes these games are charged with the creator’s emotions because they made the game in a tiny team, or completely solo. 2017 had so many games, more than we could reasonably play, but some stood out. The games you tell your friends about when they mention wanting something new, something inspiring.
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
Hellblade dares to do what many mediums don’t. It delves into psychosis and mental health issues, completely immersing you in a world where you can’t trust your ears, eyes or the very rules of reality. Senua’s journey is powerful, emotional and thought-provoking. Ninja Theory did a lot of work with people who treat psychosis to work out how to illustrate the delusions and illusions that people suffer, from hearing voices to visions and hyper-association. It isn’t just a great adventure game about fighting Norse gods. This is an exploration of the mind and a showcase of what happened in a time period when dementia and psychosis were seen as curses or witchcraft.
Runner-up: Night in the Woods
Honourable mentions: Pyre, Cuphead, The Sexy Brutale, Hollow Knight