It’s time for my top two games of 2017. Both titles were examples strong core concepts which were further enhanced. It came down to the amount of work that was done to improve them that determined #2 and #1.
Asura by Ogre Head Studios was an impressive first full title from the developer who was previously known for making mobile games. With Asura, the team wanted to take their love of rogue-likes and action games in a different direction for the genres.
With Asura, we have an action rogue-like with procedurally generated levels with a similar structure to the Binding of Isaac; one of my all-time favorite games. Where Asura goes further, and is quite brilliant, is with procedurally generated skill trees on each new play.
Not only do you have the random nature of what items you’ll find, you also had different combinations of skills to use. That extra randomness helped to make Asura play out vastly different on each new play. And just like the Binding of Isaac, you could have runs where you would make it by the skin of your teeth, or overpowered builds of absolute death.
At launch, Asura was a good game, but the developers hit it out of the park with post release support and the free Vengeance expansion. Quality of life updates were introduced to smooth out the difficulty curve and make the game easier to play.
What makes Asura great was how much Ogre Head was inspired by the genres to make their own, while still keeping a critical eye to what works and doesn’t work in terms of design. I’m still shocked that games like it and Shadowhand weren’t mentioned more in the public space due to how unique their designs were.
The only thing that stops Asura from being #1 is that game went even further in terms of a system-by-system teardown and rebuild through the design. And with that said, tomorrow is my #1 game, and the only clue you’re going to get is that it should be obvious by now based on what hasn’t been mentioned yet.