2017 is far from over, and the big fall release period is still to come, and yet there have been an astounding number of games already released this year. You likely heard that Resident Evil 7 or Mass Effect: Andromeda came out, but numerous other games have launched in 2017 that you may have missed. Despite that, they are well worth checking out, and you might even be able to do so with the benefit of patches or lower price tags.
But where to begin? We’ve rounded up 13 such games for Xbox One spanning a variety of genres for you to check out in the gallery above. We’ll also have recommendations for other platforms in the coming days.
- Best Nintendo Switch Games You Might’ve Missed In 2017 [coming Monday]
- Best PS4 Games You Might’ve Missed In 2017 [coming Tuesday]
- Best PC Games You Might’ve Missed In 2017 [coming Wednesday]
- Best Games You Might’ve Missed In 2017 [coming Thursday]
Crypt of the NecroDancer
Roguelikes (or at least roguelike elements) have been one of the most popular trends in gaming over the past handful of years, but few have taken as interesting of an approach to the genre as Crypt of the NecroDancer. Originally released on PC in 2015 before making its way to other platforms, including Xbox One earlier this year, NecroDancer tasks players with navigating a dungeon to the beat of the music. Rather than simply move in the direction you wish or attack the enemy that’s in your path, you and your enemies’ actions are tied directly to the (always excellent) soundtrack.
It’s essential that you always be doing something–not taking an action at the next beat resets your combo, meaning you’ll earn less gold or deal less damage, depending on the items you’ve acquired. Particularly as the music becomes more fast-paced, this lends a real sense of tension and excitement to every moment: you need to constantly be considering your next action while accounting for how nearby enemies will react to your movements. It’s an experience with few points of comparison, but it’s nonetheless one that you’ll certainly want to try.
The Disney Afternoon Collection
Licensed games may have a (largely deserved) reputation for being cheaply made and poor quality, but as Capcom proved during the NES era, a talented developer could turn even a TV or film franchise into a gaming classic. Such was the case with the studio’s Disney titles. During the late ’80s and early ’90s, Capcom was the steward of the Disney license, and it produced a number of excellent games based on Disney’s most beloved cartoons and movies.
The Disney Afternoon Collection compiles six of these, each one based on a popular Disney animated series: DuckTales, DuckTales 2, TaleSpin, Darkwing Duck, Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers, and Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers 2. Nearly every game in the collection is still enjoyable to this day, and they’ve been supplemented with a handful of new features like time trials, save states, and the ability to rewind. That last feature in particular is a welcome addition, as it makes even the more unforgiving titles in this compilation much more manageable. The best thing about the compilation, however, is that it gives players a chance to experience some of Capcom’s rarer efforts like DuckTales 2. The Disney Afternoon Collection is a must-have for any retro gaming fan.
Enter the Gungeon
Being a roguelike-style shooter, Enter the Gungeon naturally draws comparisons to games like The Binding of Isaac and Nuclear Throne. And while that does offer a decent starting point for understanding what to expect, Enter the Gungeon manages to rise above being a pale imitator. It feels fantastic, with a dodge-roll ability that allows you to satisfyingly evade damage with a well-timed use. There are ridiculous weapons, such as those that fire bees or a gun that shoots guns which themselves fire bullets.
The well-crafted procedurally generated environments help to keep each run feeling fresh, as do the wide variety of items and secrets to uncover along the way. And co-op support makes for an especially fun, chaotic experience (although it’s unfortunate that the second player isn’t able to play as the different characters that the main player has access to). The entire game is also overflowing with personality and color, making for an experience that is as fun to look at as is to play.
Forza Horizon 3: Hot Wheels DLC
Forza Horizon 3 was already arguably the best racing game of the generation–if not longer–and it’s only gotten better since launch with the release of two expansion packs. The first, Blizzard Mountain, went the more obvious route of taking players to a region inundated with snow, which was great, but the Hot Wheels expansion is the stuff of childhood fantasies.
Whereas the Forza series has traditionally focused on delivering realism, this DLC allows you to get behind the wheel of classic Hot Wheels cars and drive them around wild courses comprised of loops and huge jumps. Making this all the more delightful is the way these are made from the classic orange Hot Wheels tracks and weave through an otherwise standard island setting that would not have been out of place in Horizon 3. Thanks to the track layout and boost pads, there’s a sense of speed you don’t get in the standard game, and it’s downright exhilarating when you leap across a chasm or go zooming past a giant animatronic dinosaur for the first time.
Little Nightmares is a haunting adventure that instantly pulls you into its world of existential conundrums. Having released this past April up against bigger games like Persona 5 and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, it’s likely this eerie journey passed you by.
You play as Six, a nine-year-old girl trapped in The Maw, an underwater resort filled with monstrous, disfigured inhabitants. The background details are never explicitly explained, but it’s clear from the beginning that your goal is to escape. It’s a simple adventure that displays an enthralling sense of mystery throughout, pushing you from one tense cat-and-mouse-style chase to the next, as you explore the mysterious exteriors of The Maw. Clocking in at around two hours, it’s likely you’ll finish Little Nightmares in one or two sittings, but its strange world and distorted inhabitants makes it well worth checking out.
The Sexy Brutale
The Sexy Brutale is a quirky little puzzle game co-developed by Tequila Works, the studio behind beautiful adventure game Rime. Its essentially Groundhog Day: The Game–you play through the same day over and over, but with each runthrough you learn more about the creepy mansion you find yourself in.
After seeing one character shoot another, you might go and find the gun and prevent the bloody murder by replacing real bullets with blanks. A number of these murders are interconnected–solving one puzzle might prevent one murder, but that could change another branch of time elsewhere in the house. There’s no way of preventing every murder in one go, but discovering and tinkering with the different timelines is where the fun lies.
We’ve played it over and over again–groundhog day indeed.
Shovel Knight: Specter of Torment
Shovel Knight is 8-bit gaming not as it was–glitchy and fuzzy–but as we choose to remember it–pixelated, vibrant, and cleverly detailed. The sequel-by-expansion, Specter of Torment, is a similar retro action-platformer that is by all appearances on par with the original. The key difference is that the star, the lead character you control, is a villain from the first game: Specter Knight. His identity obviously plays into a narrative differently than Shovel Knight’s did, but more importantly, Specter Knight moves and attacks in new ways, too.
This is all to say that Specter of Torment is an excuse to revisit Shovel Knight’s wonderfully nostalgic world and undergo a new range of challenges that call upon a unique set of skills. And the reason it’s worth playing at all is because developer Yacht Club Games’ work rises above the team’s inspirations, and ultimately our rose-tinted memories as well. If you see any value at all in classic 2D platformers, Shovel Knight and Specter of Torment will more than likely make your day.
At first glance, Snake Pass’ colorful art style makes it seem reminiscent of classic Rare platformers like Banjo-Kazooie and Donkey Kong 64. However, its mechanics differ wildly from those games; there’s no jumping here. You control a snake named Noodle, maneuvering and curling around objects with his serpentine body, navigating intricate obstacles to reach collectibles, and solving a multitude of physics-based puzzles.
The challenges you encounter are each meticulously crafted around Noodle’s unconventional physicality, demanding you to know the ins and outs of his physics to fully master. It’s quite unlike many games out there, which is more than enough reason for you to check it out, if only to discover how charming and different it is.
Thimbleweed Park is a point-and-click adventure by famed ex-LucasArts duo Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick. It was first revealed via Kickstarter back in 2014, but it finally released this year. The game deals with a murder in the small town of Thimbleweed Park where two FBI agents, Antonio Reyes and Angela Ray, are tasked with investigating the killing.
The game rides a thin line between nostalgia and reinvention, balancing its comically written remembrances for the time-honored genre with a sliver of modern design choices. While it sometimes sticks too closely to the point-and-click genre’s long-held tenets, Thimbleweed Park is great for experienced adventure game fans eager to experience its whimsical narrative, solve its multitude of puzzles, and uncover its secrets.
Micro Tokyo lies in the sky, atop the buildings and skyscrapers that make up its dystopian cyberpunk future. It’s vibrant and lively on the surface but creepily sterile and violent as you fight back against unjust authority. Or to distill it further, you shoot, slice up, and blow up hundreds bad guys since they’re after you for a murder you didn’t commit.
Tokyo 42 is an isometric action game that blends elements of top-down shooters with a little stealth in an open world. Its story takes you down the rabbit hole of joining a secret organization of assassins, but it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Despite the brutal nature of firefights and the unforgiving (sometimes frustrating) bullet-hell-like enemy encounters, Tokyo 42 still manages to be…cute. It’s probably the allure of neon signs and adorable cats.
What Remains of Edith Finch
What Remains of Edith Finch is a game in the same vein as Dear Esther and Gone Home; that is to say, it’s a “walking simulator.” Some might be turned off by the genre, but it tells a hauntingly beautiful and compelling tale that should not be missed.
The premise is that the Finch family carries a supposed curse that leads every family member to die in unexpected and bizarre ways. It’s very Final Destination in that aspect. You play as Edith Finch, as you explore the huge, mysterious family manor to unearth how members in your family tree have passed away. This opens the door to creative flashbacks, where you get to play the last strange moments leading to people’s deaths.
The story is powerful, gripping, and dark like an episode of Black Mirror. It’s full of unexpected twists and turns and could only effectively be told through the video game medium. Considering you can beat it in under three hours, you should play it as soon as you can.
Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap
Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap is a game that sets out to bring the retro platforming adventuring series to the present day, while also celebrating its beginnings in the classic era. As a full remake of the original of Wonder Boy III: The Dragon’s Trap for the Sega Master System and TurboGrafix-16, it features a brand new artstyle that’s lush and vivid, giving off a greater depth in its atmosphere–along with a fully orchestral soundtrack based on the original music.
In keeping with its respect for the original, the remake allows you to shift between classic and modern styles of music and graphics on the fly. Feel like playing the original game in HD? You can do that, but if you’re feeling crazy, you can mix things up and play with modern graphics along with retro sound and music. It even allows old passwords from the classic game to be used again, just like the old days. Wonder Boy: The Dragon’s Trap is a wonderful send-up to the classic era, while showing that retro titles still hold up incredibly well to this day.
Developer Playtonic Games billed Yooka-Laylee as a “spiritual successor to Banjo-Kazooie” when it first pitched the game on Kickstarter, and that certainly wasn’t an exaggeration. Like the classic N64 platformer, Yooka-Laylee stars an eponymous duo (in this case, a lizard and bat) and has players use their unique abilities to explore expansive, colorful worlds and pick up all manner of collectibles. In fact, Yooka-Laylee channels the spirit of Banjo-Kazooie so well that it genuinely feels like a long-lost N64 platformer, for better and sometimes worse; like many of Rare’s titles, the game occasionally succumbs to some frustrating design decisions, and the number of collectibles to find could have been scaled back to make the overall experience tighter.
That said, even during its moments of frustration, Yooka-Laylee remains one of the most charming releases of the year thanks to its tongue-in-cheek writing, beautiful art style, and whimsical soundtrack. The game more than succeeds in its mission of reviving the long-dormant genre, and while it may not top Banjo’s first two adventures, it certainly sits alongside Rare’s N64 output nicely. Anyone who grew up with ’90s platformers and has a fondness for Rare games in particular will find a lot to love about Yooka-Laylee.