[Best visuals] [Best FPS]
Terrific FPS with a wonderful artstyle. The level selection feels a little scattershot and the campaign doesn't end up feeling as coherent, but most of the way it's a fun shooty bang.
[Best cyberpunk] [Best neon signs] [Best Ayane]
Pretty cool cyberpunky exploration/side scrolly action hybrid. The story eventually moves away from the cyberpunk a bit too much and veers straight into anime, but it's still a fairly enjoyable, earnest romp.
[Best fox] [Best manual] [Best mystery]
Very cute and charming adventure, with a wonderful manual system and a central mystery that builds up into a massive game encompassing puzzle I had a great time figuring out.
Go in blind, don't spoil yourself.
[Best metroidlike] [Best airships] [Best islands]
Unexpectedly cute and charming metroidlike with a satisfying ending. Very overlooked. I was charmed! Like Tunic, it's mostly made by one guy. Super impressive stuff!
Kirby and the Forgotten Land
[Best Kirby] [Cutest game] [Best music]
A colourful adventure full of sugary cuteness and sudden fucked up details just like a Kirby game! Finale goes full-on Bayonetta and it's wonderful.
[Best atmosphere] [Best writing] [Best swamps] [Best monkey]
Surreal and moody adventure through industrial swamps and suburbs of exploited New Orleans. It's got a tone and it goes hard.
[Best skating] [Best visuals] [Best characters] [Best music] [Best Dad]
Fun fun fun skateboarding platforming score attack.. thingie. Wonderful artstyle, superb character art and fun writing, lots of levels and tons of customization options. Going for the highest scores
will absolutely cramp your hands, but staying at a more leisurely pace and focusing on getting all the little challenges was great fun.
I still need to play the new DLC. Voidriders was fun.
Pocky & Rocky Reshrined
[Best tanuki] [Best shrine maiden] [Best visuals] [Best remake] [Best sprites] [Best animation] [Best unlockable characters]
Absolutely wonderful reimagining/remake of the first Pocky & Rocky, with gorgeous spritework and animation, attention to detail and charm. Great cast of the characters that are all different to play and fun to use.
It's really tough too, but it's so much fun.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge
[Best turtles] [Best April] [Best nostalgia] [Best visuals] [Best sprites] [Best animation] [Best music]
This is just an absolute feast for a TMNT kid like me. Not a remake, but a proper new sidescrolling beat em up entry in the series and it's incredibly charming and fun, with tons of attention to detail
and love and humor everywhere.
(it came out on Steam in 2022 so I'm counting it)
[Best 47] [Best Diana] [Best murder] [Best levels] [Best suits]
A superb finale for a superb trilogy of exceptional stealth games. The business and distribution model is still fucked, but the game itself is fantastic. Some of the best level design in the series
and they even managed to make the story engaging and it closes on a very satisfying note. Looking forward to seeing what they do with the roguelike Freelancer mode.
[Best shoot em up] [Best music] [Best setpieces] [Best attention to detail] [Best time paradox]
Team Ladybug gave us an exceptional 2D scrolling shmup that took the best lessons from Gradius V and managed a compelling little story as well, with a very satisfying conclusion. Extremely customizable
weapon system allowing for tons of player expression and trying different playstyles. It looks amazing, it sounds greats, it plays well and it's fun fun fun.
[Best styyyyle] [Best fighting] [Best visuals] [Best modding] [Best ending]
A very tough and demanding fighting game, with exceptional visual flair. There's some stunning sequences of dreamlike colour and sounds and shapes that flow wonderfully in the levels. Finding items
in levels that can be brought back into previous levels to unlock new paths and short cuts is a neat system, adding replay and world building. Modding is also really cool. This is a confident, strong debut piece from an incredibly talented developer and I can't wait to see what they do next.
[Best soulslike] [Best world] [Best lore] [Most weapons] [Best music] [Best Ranni] [Best Malenia]
I dunno if there's anything left to say about Elden Ring at this point. It is a superb soulslike, taken to the open world, massive in scale and scope, while still elegantly managing its more traditional soulslike structure. It's not always a success, but good god are the highs high. This has easily some of the best sidequest narratives From has ever managed and after Demon's Souls this is hands down my favourite.
I played it through twice. I put a 186 hours into it. It has to be doing something right.
[Best horror] [Best scifi] [Best world building] [Best sadness] [Most heartbreak] [Best visuals] [Best posters] [Best music] [Best endings]
An incredible survival horror full of surrealism, overwhelming sadness and deep, slowly growing dread. Masterful world building, incredibly strong art design and a wonderful visual style that I cannot get enough.
I will be replaying to get the fourth, secret ending... once I stop tearing up.
[Game of the Year] [Best cyberpunk] [Best music] [Best writing] [Best character art] [Best endings] [Most cry] [Best Mina] [Best Bliss] [Best Tala] [Best AI] [The Made Me Cry Award for making me cry]
I struggled for a moment between this and Signalis, but then I just think back to Citizen Sleeper and it just.. makes sense. I love Signalis. I love Elden Ring. I'm IN LOVE with Citizen Sleeper. It's so good. It's so mesmerising. It's so well written and engaging and touching and good god what a treat. A wonderful narrative/text adventure set on a slowly dying space colony, it presents a bleak dystopian cyberpunk setting, but it has a gentle, compassionate, humane heart.
I wrote a big ol steam review on it because I loved it so much so I won't repeat it here, but if you like narratives in games and CARE about things, there's so much to care. So much to feel. So much to think about.
Wonderful, essential stuff, and easily my favourite game of the year.