Thursday, 28 December 2017

Favourites of 2017

Coming up to the new year the internet is ripe with posts about the best releases from the year, but for ordinary humans like us you may only be playing, reading or watching stuff that may have been out for some time already. So, here's a brief collection of my favourites from 2017. Let me know what you think!

Handheld Game - Metroid: Samus Returns

My favourite handheld game this year has definitely been on my trusty 3DS. Metroid: Samus Returns is a glorious homage to Metroid 2 on the game boy, utilising the same setting and story but with revamped graphics, sound and gameplay. New abilities and equipment keep the tried and tested Metroidvania gameplay fresh, and I found this really easy to dip in and out of after gaps away from playing. It's quite difficult in places especially with my big hands around the smaller form of the regular 3DS.

I also plumped for the collector’s edition with this game, which is an absolutely stunning package maintaining the homage to the Game Boy original by packaging the 3DS game with a download code for the Game Boy game and a Game Boy Cart steel case, as well as an art book, pin badge and Metroid collectible that I'm yet to open. Really worth the extra money.
Stunning to look at, especially in 3D, fun to play and really absorbing, this is a must for anyone's 3DS collection. 

Console Game - Dragon Age: Inquisition

I've played a lot of games this year after making more of an effort to do so, so this choice was hard but purely for hours wasted on a specific game I've opted for Dragon Age: Inquisition. Released in 2014 it's taken me a while to get around to this game, only starting it at the beginning of 2017. I'd really enjoyed the original Dragon Age so was looking forward to another good RPG to become engrossed with. I wasn’t disappointed.

Dragon Age really sucked me in to its main story, and there are many side stories that sort of tie in to the main tale, as well as a shed load of other side quests and stories completely unrelated. How you complete things can have direct impact on how relationships between characters develop and how the plot progresses, yet when RPGs normally do this I sometimes feel like I’m missing out from the choice I didn’t make, whereas Dragon Age absorbs you so fully I never felt this way. I enjoyed obtaining resources and quests from the War Table, exploring the different regions as they became available, developing equipment and places of residence, and the combat whilst strategic always feels action packed thanks to the need to execute your main attack manually whilst waiting for abilities to become available again. 

Even on my old PS3 it looks good, though it is very glitch. Nothing game ruining but you can tell the PS3 isn’t really cut out for the level of detail included in this game.
I know this won’t be for everyone, and it’s hard to dedicate the time needed to take everything you can from this game – I’m not sure I’ve really done it justice, but for hours put in and enjoyment obtained it definitely deserves this spot on my game of 2017.

Album – The Menzingers: After The Party

This album is so fun. It’s incredibly addictive and instils the desire to dance wildly which can only be a good thing.

Essentially a pop punk album for grownups; by musicians who are actually musical and some ace lyrics to boot. Catchy melodies and guitars with grunt, but never overly predictable. Recommended for the rock fans.

Gig - Kevin Devine: Birmingham Sunflower Lounge 12/07/2017

I’ve seen other gigs where I’ve had probably a better, more alcohol driven time, but I think this was the one where I was most impressed with the headline act.

Devine’s vocals can be downright haunting in a small venue like the Sunflower Lounge. His arrangements of his indie rock songs as simple acoustic numbers works for every single song and his performance was outstanding. He also seemed like a genuinely nice guy, chatting with the audience between numbers and never seeming arrogant or boring. Really beautiful human being.

Film - Ingrid Goes West

Because I’ve still not seen Star Wars, I’m going with comedy/drama Ingrid Goes West as my favourite film, where the excellent Aubrey Plaza plays a mentally unstable young woman who becomes infatuated with an Instagram account and attempts to make that life her own by moving westward to begin a relationship with the owner.

An excellent insight into mental health issues and the reliance we place upon social media, Ingrid Goes West is often hilarious, sometimes dark but always engrossing. Truly original.

TV Series – Archer

Can’t believe I’ve only discovered Archer this year, as it truly is one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. Ever.

About a comically disorganised group of secret agents with various issues including alcoholism, drug misuse and sex addiction, Archer is really compelling to watch; nice and short episodes, an interesting cast of characters and it’s really well voiced throughout.

There are so many recurring jokes and the frequency of the hard hitters is relentless, often leaving you without sufficient time to regain your composure. If you’ve not seen this, go and pay for Netflix now. I mean right now. And watch all 9 seasons. You’ll thank me – promise!

BookThe Axeman’s Jazz by Ray Celestin

I’ve read A LOT this year, so narrowing down a favourite has been hard. I remember when reading the Axeman’s Jazz, a murder mystery set in New Orleans just as Blues music was erupting onto the scene, this story had so many unique, interesting and relatable characters and locations, as well as appealing on a musical level to me, I really struggled to put it down. If you like murder mysteries or even just blues music, check out my mini review and give this a go.

Board Game - Hare And Tortoise

I loved this fiendishly addictive and strategic race game! Instead of using dice to progress, you have to spend an amount of carrots; represented by cards. The more you spend the more you move, but run out too quickly and your progress will quickly be hindered.

You also need to get rid of 3 lettuce cards on your way around, only doable on certain squares. There are only certain ways to regain carrots requiring moving to certain squares and a good level of patience. Then, to mix things up there are hare squares, where you pick up what is essentially a chance card, which could help or hinder you. One for the risk takers in your game group!

Great for families or friends, this was a really nice surprise upon playing and I’d recommend to anyone who has a little knowledge of some of the more unusual games, but after one play through you’ll be chomping the bit to play again! Ace stuff. 

Thanks for reading!

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