Phew, what a year! So many games were touted for a Game of the Year in 2017. Almost too many. Team Ready Up have been tying themselves up in knots trying to pick just one and only one game as their personal favourite game of the year for 2017. We are mean to them but it had to be done. In this series, we see which games the team loved last year, and why.

Kieran – NieR: Automata

NieR: Automata is one of those games that turns out to be so much more profound and complex than you think. Developed by Platinum Games and directed by Yoko Taro, the game initially sets up a post-apocalyptic world with an intriguing story of a war between androids and robots. However, as you progress, the game expands, both in narrative and mechanics, in unpredictable ways. It results in one of the most beautiful endings to a game I have ever played, and it is something I am going to remember for a long time to come.

The gameplay resembles Bayonetta-style hack and slash combat. You carry large weapons that feel powerful and satisfying. But what is most impressive about the gameplay is how it so easily flows between different genres. At one moment you will be playing a shoot ‘em up, the next a 2D platformer. The shifts between genres never feels uncomfortable or disorienting. You spend a lot of time with the game so having these different modes of gameplay keeps things engaging throughout.

The game’ s soundtrack is also very impressive. The music, along with the narrative, evolves as you progress. Towards the beginning, childlike motifs set a tone when first meeting allies, then later operatic war cries assist in making a jaw-dropping spectacle even more audacious. The music reflects the environments, characters and even themes in subtle but very effective ways.

However, it is NieR: Automata’s story and themes that really captured my attention. The game is about humanity and the human condition: how wonderful it is, how depressing it is and how complex it is. But the game has no humans in it; instead robots and androids are the catalysts to explore these existential questions. These machines begin to think and feel, desperately trying to imitate humanity. They want to experience all the joys and all the hardships that come with being human – they want to be part of a community, have belief in a faith, have sex and feel empathy. But they also make a lot of the same mistakes humans have made in the past. This leads to some surreal but fascinating sequences.

Never have I come across a game that tackles such multifaceted ideas and pulls them off so well. It is a game that encouraged me to think about these subjects a lot. I love that a game is interested in challenging me on a philosophical level, which is why NieR: Automata is my game of 2017.