GOTY 2017: Game Jam Edition

For most online magazines, “Super Mario Odyssey”, “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” and “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds” are the Games Of The Year 2017. While these titles surely are great games in their own way, we asked us who thinks about all the amazing game jam entries of 2017? We do! That is why we compiled a list of forty jam games, sorted by eight categories, just like last year.

The categories are: Concept and GameplayJuice, Audiovisual Representation, Storytelling, Puzzle and Level Design, Atmosphere, Unconventionality and Nostalgia.


Concept and Gameplay:


“The Treachery of Game Dev” by Friedrich Hanisch & Chill Carrier.

One part “Snake” clone, one part puzzle game, one part metagame – “The Treachery of Game Dev” is a wonderful combination of different games, providing an atmosphere similar to “The Beginner’s Guide”.

Read more about “The Treachery of Game Dev”.


GIF of "The Deep"

“The Deep” by RAC7 Games (Jesse Ringrose & Jason Ennis) & Gordon McGladdery.

With all its different mechanics, “The Deep” is one of the most complex and interesting jam games of 2017. The ‘translation’ of analogue movements into game mechanics is top-notch.

Read more about “The Deep”.


“Signal?” by Thomas Purnell.

The concept of “Signal?” is based on a time rewinding mechanic, which will help you to explore each part and the rhythm of your hostile, glitchy environment.

Read more about “Signal?”.


GIF of "Path of the Rabbit"

“Path of the Rabbit” by Daniel Linssen​.

While “Path of the Rabbit” is played on a very small game board, it can get pretty difficult thanks to the tile stacking mechanic. This way, players need to be foresightful and focused to win.

Read more about “Path of the Rabbit”.


“Definitely Real Football” by Jonathan Rousseau, Ariel Contreras-Esquivel, Connor Halford, Julien Berthou & Alex Dixon.

“Definitely Real Football” is one of the most goofy sports games in the whole history of jam games.

Read more about “Definitely Real Football”.


Juice:


“Dungeon In a Bottle” by Joe Hanna & Andrew Jones.

In the frustrating and at the same time awesome “Dungeon In a Bottle” you have to wall jump for your life, but not just to avoid something, but to also alter the level itself.

Read more about “Dungeon In a Bottle”.


GIF of "air mail"

“air mail” by rubna.

The controls in “air mail” feel so smooth, that you will not like to stop to fly in circles and all over the little world.

Read more about “air mail”.


“Goblins 2 Go” by Tom Vian, Adam Vian & Catherine Unger.

In “Goblins 2 Go” you have to find the right proportions of eight different potions to create a goblin, which should fit the needs of your customers. The concept is simple, but well-executed.

Read more about “Goblins 2 Go”.


GIF of "Melon Poppers"

“Melon Poppers” by Jukio Kallio & Joonas Turner.

Jumping on giant watermelons to get seeds to plant new and more giant watermelons? That is what we would call some real game juice – and no, we are not sorry for that pun.

Read more about “Melon Poppers”.


“Planetone” by Michael Shillingburg.

By placing different musical plants on this planet, you can create some sweet beats and sounds. That is why it is so much fun to try out the different combinations and interaction possibilities in “Planetone”.

Read more about “Planetone”.


Audiovisual Representation:


“HE BEAT HER.” by Angela He.

You can find an impossible high amount of high-quality images in the wonderful “HE BEAT HER.”; the whole art style is absolutely gorgeous.

Read more about “HE BEAT HER.”.


Screenshot of "Den"

“Den” by La Mécanique du plastique (Alice Suret-Canale, Nicolas Liautaud, Hugo Paquin & Nicolas Dubois) & Kilosaurus (Bastien Stefani & Lucas Curci).

Sweet pixel art for a giant monster? In “Den” you will see exactly that.

Read more about “Den”.


“The Lights Were Off” by Franklin’s Ghost.

The explicit choice of neon colors in combination with the motion animations gives “The Lights Were Off” an unique art style that we felt we have to honor with a place on this list.

Read more about “The Lights Were Off”.


Screenshot of "GardenGarden"

“GardenGarden” by Concrete Games (Corentin & MatLab), Romain Renault & Cyril Savary.

In “GardenGarden”, you will be the master of a stunning looking world made out of clay, which wants to be filled with whimsical formed plants.

Read more about “GardenGarden”.


“iD” by Matthew John Frith & Paul Zimmermann.

“iD” is another jam game of the year 2017 which was made with some excellent pixel art. The level of detail is breathtaking.

Read more about “iD”.


Storytelling:


GIF of "Wake Up"

“Wake Up” by Inverge Studios (Anna Fabrés Martí, Javier Gerona, Ana Martínez Alemañ, Pablo Martínez, Vicente Quesada & Jorge Quesada), Alexey Anisimov & Carlos Estella.

What makes the storytelling in “Wake Up” so special is the rhythm of its narration, which is perfectly timed with each action performed by its players.

Read more about “Wake Up”.


“Between Stations” by Sand Gardeners (Sam Machell & Colin Le Duc).

The usage of different television programs in “Between Stations” to tell something about the inner life of the character is a very clever and creative way of storytelling.

Read more about “Between Stations”.


“A Mind Is A Small Place” by Juju AdamsDaniel MarquesChris Anselmo & Jan Vorisek.

The serious topic of “A Mind Is A Small Place” – mental health problems, especially suffering from depression – gets told with the help of the unsettling game world, making this jam game a little masterpiece.

Read more about “A Mind Is A Small Place”.


“The Cat In The Hijab” by Andrew C. Wang.

In “The Cat In The Hijab”, you will face daily racism as well as islamophobia, but it will be in your hands how to react to it. An informative, empathy rising game for the good fight.

Read more about “The Cat In The Hijab”.


GIF of "and i made sure to hold your head sideways"

“and i made sure to hold your head sideways” by Jenny Jiao Hsia & AP Thomson.

In “and i made sure to hold your head sideways”, the choice of genre is a narrative strategy to tell the story itself, which is absolutely fascinating. The creation and ‘destruction’ of the images as well as their context lets the player feel involved.

Read more about “and i made sure to hold your head sideways”.


Puzzle and Level Design:


“Pip Sweep” by WeaverDev, pikopik & Taxiderby.

Want to be kind, cute or cheeky? “Pip Sweep” has the perfect puzzles to express yourself each way, as you do not have to solve them all and each of them will need another kind of solution. The different types of interaction with the game world are simply hilarious.

Read more about “Pip Sweep”.


GIF of "Smalltrek"

“Smalltrek” by impbox.

While the kind of puzzles are about classic sorting (“A does not like B and wants to stand besides C, while C also wants to stand besides another C”), the amount of well-designed levels in “Smalltrek” is insanely high. The game features a great learning curve as well as different kinds of puzzle elements.

Read more about “Smalltrek”.


“(Un)Marked” by Oddly Shaped Pixels (Renaud Despinois) & Le Gone.

If you want to find all of the eight endings in “(Un)Marked”, you will have to be very creative about your style of play. Violence is an option just like pacifism, but other things should also be considered.

Read more about “(Un)Marked”.


GIF of "Snail Island"

“Snail Island” by cobcris.

While the puzzles in “Snail Island” are not that difficult, the game needs its players to be observant about its world.

Read more about “Snail Island”.


“You’re Winding Me Up Harvey” by Lewis Tolonen.

In “You’re Winding Me Up Harvey”, the player needs to have a good sense of timing as well as space, because certain puzzle elements in one room might influence some in another room.

Read more about “You’re Winding Me Up Harvey”.


Atmosphere:


“Wonders between Dunes” by Moshe Linke.

With its brutalist architecture and all the monuments, “Wonders between Dunes” is a paramount example for the statement that certain kinds of world designs lead to certain kinds of atmosphere. A simply amazing exploration trip awaits you.

Read more about “Wonders between Dunes”.


GIF of "Ignorance is Bliss"

“Ignorance is Bliss” by Aurel Bílý & EidoVolta.

In the cyberpunk surveillance simulation “Ignorance is Bliss”, you have the power as well as the burden to be part of a nearly omnipotent intercepting machinery. The relevant data could occur anywhere and anytime, giving the game a certain ‘wickedness’.

Read more about “Ignorance is Bliss”.


“Engolasters January 2021” by Deconstructeam (Jordi de PacoMarina GonzálezFingerspit) & Pablo Gómez.

Thanks to the steady uncertainty what exactly is happening in “Engolasters January 2021”, a strange feeling is the constant companion of its players.

Read more about “Engolasters January 2021”.


GIF of "Peridium"

“Peridium” by Barney CummingDave LloydLouis D. Meyer & Adrian Vaughan.

Even if it features some kind of ridiculous moments, “Peridium” has an always present grim atmosphere which never breaks.

Read more about “Peridium”.


“Stray” by rxi.

Little secrets, sad monsters and a melancholic world make “Stray” a moody and very special dungeon crawler experience.

Read more about “Stray”.


Unconventionality:


GIF of "DONATA"

“DONATA” by Garlic Kisses (René Rother & Sarah Marie Hiebl).

What makes “DONATA” so remarkable is the fact that you have to interact with the game in unusual ways to understand it entirely. Just playing it is not enough.

Read more about “DONATA”.


“To do list” by Four Quarters team (Dmitry Karimov, Alexander Goryeslavets, Alexander Vartazaryan & Dmitry Lagutov).

It all starts off as some weird, silly fun, but to find the path out of your illusions is the last difficult thing on your “To do list”.

Read more about “To do list”.


“August 25th 2017” by Edu VerzinskyBeícoliMohammed Bakir KhawamJosué MonchanQuike Zárraga & Fernando Labarta.

At the time of its release, “August 25th 2017” featured five non-player characters to speak with. But each five days, one of them got erased out of the game and thereby ‘died’. This game is an interesting piece, that made its audience think about mortality in video games and hopefully in general, too.

Read more about “August 25th 2017”.


“Senseless” by Sven Ahlgrimm.

In “Senseless”, you will be confronted with your expectations of the shooter genre in an absurde way.

Read more about “Senseless”.


GIF of "地獄・Hell"

“地獄・Hell” by babylon brooks.

This nearly unbelievable, but still working mix of genres – cooking simulations, virtual pet games as well as dungeon crawlers – called “地獄 ・ Hell” features eggs, pixel art and a pinch of Dante’s “Divine Comedy”.

Read more about “地獄 ・ Hell”.


Nostalgia:


Screenshot of "Melone in the Dark"

“Melone in the Dark” by Marius Winter & Nick Maierhöfer.

“Melone in the Dark” is like a quirky, delightful remake of “Alone in the Dark” made in an alternative universe, where watermelons are the national food of each country in the world.

Read more about “Melone in the Dark”.


GIF of "Little Lands"

“Little Lands” by Robin Field & Billy Hobson.

A strategy city-building simulation game with isometric grids, castles and pixel art? All of that applies to “Little Lands”, showing off some pure retroness in a not outdated style.

Read more about “Little Lands”.


Screenshot of "Stop That Tank!"

“Stop That Tank!” by Mike MacDee.

“Stop That Tank!” is like a wacky version of “Battlezone”, but with a duck and a dog in the cockpit.

Read more about “Stop That Tank!”.


GIF of "The Treasure of Loch Inch"

“The Treasure of Loch Inch” by Simon Reid.

Besides the good old pixel art, “The Treasure of Loch Inch” follows a humorous puzzle design which may remind you a bit of the “Monkey Island” series.

Read more about “The Treasure of Loch Inch”.


Screenshot of "Retro Island War"

“Retro Island War” by David St-Louis.

With its straightforward ‘Who owns more islands wins the game!’ concept and some old-fashioned art, “Retro Island War” definitely deserves a seat at the nostalgia winner table.

Read more about “Retro Island War”.


Thirty-three of the games featured in this list can be found in our itch.io GOTY 2017 collection.

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