[Point & Click Adventure Game of the Year] [Best Wadjet Eye Game of 2016] [The Ben Chandler Award for 2D Adventure Game Sprite Excellence]
Another lovely little point & click adventure from the reigning champions of the genre, with some wonderful world building, melancholic atmosphere and multiple endings depending on your choices. Doesn't quite reach Gemini Rue or Primordia, or even Technobabylon, but well worth playing through. And the sprites are absolutely lovely.
[Cutest Game] [Best Music] [Best Collectibles] [Best Third Samorost] [Best Second Samorost Sequel] [Best Dog] [The "Amanita Design Game of the Year" Award For Best Amanita Developed Game] [Best Space]
Amanita gives us another gift and Samorost 3 is more Samorost, but on a level of polish far beyond even Botanicula. It's an adorable, funny, surreal little adventure and one of the most charming titles of the year.
[Best Hard Cuts Of the Year] [The "Seriously Those Hard Cuts Were Really Fucking Great" Award For Some Surprisingly Well Done And Neat Hard Cuts] [Last Game I Played of the Year Award] [Second Best Wordless Narrative] [Most Annoying Cryptic Sequences] [Most Unexpected Little Sequence That Made Me Tear Up That Wasn't Really Meant To Be Particularly Sad]
My feelings towards this game shifted from positive to negative to positive to negative to contemplative and hesitant in the span of its very brief 2 hour run time. It's an achingly beautifully crafted linear path through a set of several mysteries, filled with absolutely stunning little touches, from the use of music and dialogueless narrative, to the superb cuts that completely delighted me. Then it'll throw you into sequences that you won't understand and at times it's spellbinding while other times it's just deeply frustrating. There are sights and scenes that make no sense, whether you try to interpret them literally or symbolically, and the last stretch of the game left me feeling disappointed initially. The more I've thought of it, the more I've warmed back to it, but it is a difficult game to enjoy outright. After sleeping on it, I've come to realize I did very much enjoy the journey, even if the conclusion could have been more satisfying. In either case it's a fascinating, ambitious and in many ways rewarding experiment in first person and video game narrative. It's just that there's another game on this list that does all that so much better.
[Best Zoe] [Best Writing] [Best April] [Best Crow] [Second Most Unexpected Game to Make Me Cry] [Best Episodic Game] [Best Continuation of Dreamfall] [Best Consequences for Choices] [The "Man I Hope They End Up Making The Longest Journey Home" Award For Hoping For A Final Chapter To April's Story Now That Zoe's Is Done]
I sat down and played through The Longest Journey, then Dreamfall and then Dreamfall Chapters almost back to back. People should not play Chapters without playing through the first two games in the series first. Chapters is very much a continuation (and in many ways a conclusion) of past events and the destinies of old characters people like and care deeply about. It's a beautiful adventure, with slight attempts at consequences for choices, but nothing actually major. You are essentially just observing a sequence of events that are only a minor part of much bigger things. And it's really good. Basically play The Longest Journey and Dreamfall. Chapters is fantastic and absolutely worth it. Norwegians are still fantastic storytellers.
[Best Stealth] [Most Emily] [Best Stephen Russell] [Second Best Delilah of the Year] [Best Supernatural Powers] [Winner of The Best Level of the Year Award: The Clockwork Mansion] [The Most Unexpected Brandon Keener Award for Unexpected Brandon Keener]
It's more Dishonored. It's got a paper-thin main story. Its characters aren't particularly engaging. Its world building and flavour text are terrific. Its stealth is really fun. It's got a few absolutely fantastic levels. It's really pretty. It's really great if you like Dishonored 1.
[Best Single Player First Person Shooting] [Best First Person Platforming] [Best Use of Music in Combat] [One of the Biggest Surprises of the Year Award] [The FURY ROAD Award For Unexpected Old Franchise Revival That Actually Turned Out Really Fantastic]
I had written this game off as garbage several times since it's first E3 reveal. It looked like crap. It turned out to be really fucking good. It successfully takes the spirit of what a lot of people love about Doom and splices it with more modern technology and trappings. The focus on exploring the levels is absolutely terrific and they reward exploration and it's all completely perfectly in line with the vast levels and oh my god it's so good. Just the way simply moving around and navigating the levels and shooting feels genuinely good and satisfying is incredibly impressive to me and should be celebrated. It loses some of its steam like two levels or so before it ends, but this is one of the best first person shooter campaigns of recent years. The fury and fun are just wonderful.
[Depressing Danish Game of the Year] [Best Animation] [The Geez That's Messed Up Award For Implied Dark Stuff] [Best Follow-up to Limbo] [Most Violence Towards Children] [Creepiest Underwater Segment]
It's a worthy successor to Limbo. And I really liked Limbo. It's bleak, it's dark, it's beautifully paced, it's got gorgeous animation and environmental design, it's a very memorable cinematic platformer that doesn't overstay its welcome.
[Best Multiplayer] [The Most Hours Played Award For Most Hours Played] [Best FPS]
I don't like competitive multiplayer games but I put 200 hours into Overwatch so it has to be doing something really well. It's bright, colourful, fast-paced, fun, pretty and has a world and characters that are charming and memorable enough to add that extra bit to the game. Blizzard are really good at making shiny things.
Hyper Light Drifter
[Best Graphics] [Prettiest Game] [Best Music] [Best Combat] [Best Wordless Narrative] [Awesome Architecture] [Best Atmosphere]
A slightly non-linear Zelda, but with less reliance on gadgets and more focus on combat and exploration. It strikes a good balance and the atmosphere, environmental storytelling and stunning visuals are enough to keep you playing. This was my favourite game of the year for several months.. until I played the next three.
[Best Graphics] [Prettiest Game] [Best Music] [Longest Development Time] [Best Finale] [The Delightful Award For Being Genuinely Surprising And Wonderful And You Should Play This Game] [Made Me Cry Award For Making Me Cry] [The Unexpectedly Emotionally Involving Award For Making Me Cry And Not Expecting It] [Most Unexpected Game to Make Me Cry] [Best Hug] [Best Grass]
Nine years it took them to make it, it feels unreal that it's actually done and here and really quite wonderful. Owlboy is a beautiful little metroid-lite adventure, set in a gorgeous world of floating islands, mysterious ruins and ancient, forgotten technology. Play it. It's absolutely wonderful and charming and beautiful to look at.
[Best Writing] [Prettiest Game] [Best First Person] [Second Best Dialogue System] [Best Delilah of the Year] [Spookiest Moment In A Not Spooky Game] [Second Spookiest Moment In A Not Spooky Game] [Best Walkie Talkie] [Best Character Creation] [Best Drinking] [Best Voice Acting]
Holy god damnit I did not expect this game to win me over. Beautifully subdued in pretty much everything, it's a meticulously crafted, quiet, unassuming little walk through the lives of two lost adults, as much a character study as it is a mystery to uncover. It is a stunning use of interactive narrative and I can't wait to see what Campo Santo does next.
[BEST GAME OF THE YEAR] [Best Writing] [Best Voice Acting] [Spookiest Game] [Best Island] [Best Radio] [Best Music] [Best Dialogue System] [Best Alex] [The "Another Unexpected Emotionally Involving Game" Award for Being Unexpectedly Emotionally Involving For What Is Essentially A Teen Horror Trope Plot, Especially The Moments Where A Confused Alex Gets To Talk To Her Dead Brother In The Past Were Incredibly Well Done And Subtle And Hit Me Right In The Feels And Yes They Made Me Cry Ok]
Well this is it. My favourite game of the year. A completely wonderful little ghost story, with a fantastic dialogue system, terrific writing, lovable characters and a surprisingly engaging narrative and emotional punch. A remarkable debut work from a highly promising developer who know what they're doing. I love this game so much and I want to see what Night School does next.