If all y’all play only one game other than Nier Automata this year…well, arguably it should be Breath of the Wild just because no one’s going to stop gushing about it.
But for a game as a sum experience, I haven’t experienced a more consistently beautiful, engaging, and complete an example of the craft than Pyre so far in 2017. It’s a genuine masterpiece. Had it come out in another year or era that wasn’t so fucking flooded with tremendous indie and mid-tier titles (say, 2011, when Bastion was enough to make big waves) I have to imagine it’d be setting the scene on fire.
In a lot of ways Pyre feels like a western “answer” to all the classic character-driven Japanese strategy RPG franchises like Fire Emblem, Final Fantasy Tactics, Disgaea et al re the party dynamics and the effects of your strategic choices on character narrative and vice versa. At least insofar as everything but the battles are concerned (which are absolutely not turn-based strategy but a blast for anyone who likes the sound of 16 bit-era arcade sports games fused with real-time fantasy combat).
Greg Kasavin’s writing and worldbuilding are so good. Jen Zee’s art is so fucking good - hands down the most visually absorbing game of the year for me, with all due awe to Cuphead. The interface is a goddamn dream, borrowing the best bits of diagetic interaction from adventure games and a world map movement system reminiscent of a light take on Oregon Trail or the Banner Saga. It’s hard to describe but even just clicking around menus in Pyre feels good for reasons other than it just looking amazing all the time. The level of polish down to the tiniest detail is astounding, especially for a team of Supergiant’s size.
Narratively there’s a lot of interesting shit going on - certainly more interesting than your standard save-the-world fare. The plot’s on the simple side (at least at first) but where the game shines is in its personalities and - without getting into spoilers - the impact of your choices on your party both strategically and in the way their individual stories play out and the way those two things feed back into each other.
Anyway. I think Nier Automata is easily the most “important” title of the year in terms of interesting things done with the medium, and it’s probably my actual GOTY, but I can’t honestly say I’ve enjoyed anything in 2017 more wholeheartedly than Pyre.