Games: Samus, Zelda and Resident Evil among our top picks of 2017

Zelda: Breath of the Wild – A Studio Ghibli movie brought to life, it represents Nintendo’s design magic at its most enchanting
Neil McGreevy

2017 in Games – Five of the Best

WITH 2017 on its last legs, there's no better time to cast a bleary eye over the year's finest. If Santa's sack-emptying has left you heavy with console, this eclectic quintet is prime gift voucher fodder when braving the sales...

Metroid: Samus Returns (3DS)

A reimagining of 1991's Metroid II that keeps the basic structure but updates everything else, bounty huntress Samus lands on the titular parasites' home planet and must eradicate 40 of the blighters. Gorgeous visuals revamp the original's Etch-a-Sketch visuals, while the handheld's oft-overlooked glasses-free 3D is used to subtle effect. For gamers of a certain vintage, this handheld space odyssey is likely to be the last cartridge they feed their hoary old 3DS, but what a send-off.

Little Nightmares (Multi)

A haunting, beautiful labyrinth that gets inside your bones, Mario meets Silent Hill in a grim adventure that should only be attempted by young 'uns if you can afford the therapy bills. Playing out like Dr Seuss by way of Edward Gorey, a girl in a yellow mac attempts to escape a surreal underwater resort stuffed silly with all manner of grotesques. Fans of oddball platformers like Limbo and Inside will dig this, even if its paltry five chapters leave you slathering for more.

Horizon: Zero Dawn (PS4)

A kitchen sink epic of RPG conventions and post-apocalyptic survival, Horizon boasts more caveman types furrowing their brows at technology than Stig of the Dump in a technical barnstormer that blends immersive environments and characterisation in a way not seen since Red Dead Redemption. As tribal outcast Aloy, players set out to discover the fate of the old world in a grand slice of philosophical ideas that'll seduce the brain as much as its robot dinosaurs scratch your trigger finger. Zero Dawn may be a patchwork of tropes we've seen in other games, but you can't deny the quality of the stitching.

Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Switch)

It's an unbridled sense of freedom that Breath of the Wild brings back to Zelda's much-loved but oft-repeated dungeon-crawling formula, even if its dizzying scope makes the 1986 original feel like a window box by comparison. Here you can make a beeline to the final boss within hours, should you wish, but then that would cock a snook at its vast, barrier-free world stuffed with stories and where there's always something new over the next hill. A Studio Ghibli movie brought to life, BotW represents Nintendo's design magic at its most enchanting.

Resident Evil 7: Biohazard (Multi)

A welcome coffin nail for the series' bloated action entries, 7 brings the horror back to a franchise that lost its scare tactics in the recent wilderness years. A plantation romp that channels the southern discomfort of Deliverance and Texas Chainsaw Massacre with a good dose of Saw's torture-porn thrown in for good measure, Ethan Winters travels to Louisiana in search of his missing wife and ends up captive with a family whose skeletons in the closet are actual skeletons in the closet. The southern backwater is soon filled with more screaming than Ned Beatty on date night, and with zombies sooo noughties, going bump in the night this time are your country-fried captors and gloopy, mould-infested humanoids. A puzzle and exploration-heavy mash-up of classic Resi tropes served entirely in first-person and with a sweaty-palmed snuff ambience, as the first triple-A VR-release, it's also the best experience to be had behind Sony's headset.

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