So yeh this is late. My Laptop decided to break and had to go for repair and then there were issue with Destructoid and password recovery. So yeh that's why this has taken so long. As per usual some new awards are in and some old are out. This year the Best use of a Zombie award isn't here because I've not played anything that used a Zombie well enough to in a strange way to give it an award.
Awarded to the best mobile game of 2018 because the mobile market is becoming more and more of an open sewer in gaming.
Yes the hype might be long gone but Pokemon Go has soldiered on getting better and better. The latest improvements finally bringing in features like battles and trading. Raid battles add more co-operative things to do; the revamped gym system meaning gyms can't be easily perpetually held and lets people with lower powered pokemon stand a chance at being able to take gym if they're in the right place at the right time. Oh and also you can now sync the game to some Google adventure thing meaning you can get walking distance essentially stored up and added to your progress on eggs etc when you next open the game (this also doesn't require you to have mobile data turned on either).
Given to the game I WANT NOW DAMN IT!
Seriously I've picked lesser known games in previous years but this year I only know of a few coming and with Witch House having stalled and seeming so has Seedscape too I couldn't put either of them as my most wanted of 2019 so it feels like a good idea to give this award to a damn good looking game that stands a chance of releasing this year. Cyberpunk 2077 is deinately the winner here.
Yes this is why there is the NSFW tag.
Fairy Tale Adventure (which I won't link to but I'm sure you can find on your own) - Well if ever there was a lawsuit probably waiting to happen it would be Fairy Tale Adventure but all credit to them for making a game that imagines adult versions of Disney princesses in a plotline that is pretty imaginative to say the least. Yes I said plotline because there very much is a narrative plotline that runs through the game one that I think may still be getting worked on as I didn't get to the end despite a lot of hours put in.
I mean this is a porn game that actually has puzzles and at least one minigame. What can I really say it's a game where Liesel van Helsing can be found in the same world and Elsa from frozen and they somehow make it all make sense almost.
Given to the game that pulled itself up from the depths and fixed itself up from a fairly bad state (be it due to one reason or another).
Paladins - Holy fuck did this game manage a full on 180 in 2018. With cards unbound being met with a shitty fan art protests on the subreddit I can only speculate that the executive responsible for that decision at Hi-Rez was taken to a hidden Hi-Rez sound proof blacksite and beaten to within an inch of their life. Whatever happened, cards unbound (for those who don't know it was a close to a pay to win system where you had to stack cards to power them up) was removed . Cards Unbound being gone wasn't all though: somehow game the game shifted gears bringing in Battle passes which replaced the previous complicated VIP system; removed one of the currencies and gave everyone all the cards by default making the game more balanced for new players even compared to before cards unbound; Added more maps and an even a specialised game type involving a team based competitive tower climb system ending in a death match battle.
This year Paladins looked over at its main competitor of Overwatch and decided to make Blizzard look like fools 5 new champions in 2018, a number of new maps, the event tower climb thing. Blizzard should feel ashamed that a smaller studio is giving players a better experience, innovating more and not merely seemingly treading water like Blizzard have mostly been.
Questr - From the developer of last years best joke game comes oddly enough their previous game. Questr is a weird title that I can only describe as being a cross between Reigns, a choose your own adventure game and social media in general. The premise is pretty simple, you are in charge completing a long adventure the issue being to reach the end you'll have to complete a number of small sidequests (which you can select from) and some main quests (which offer no other quest options) by gathering groups of adventurers to take them on and of course paying them to do all the dirty work.
The first stage sees you using a Tinder style like or reject system to pick party members (or bribe them if you really want them), run out of options and you'll have to hope the ones you have picked are enough or you can pay out for some more potential matches.
Once you've selected your likely candidates comes the first bit of fun the game throws at you. You see just because you like them doesn't mean they'll like you so some of your potential party members might reject you. The second bit of fun the game throws at you to screw with your plans are the potential for catfish adventures who are actually very different to their Questr profiles be they a different class, a different race, a different personality trait or a different alignment house.
After you've selected your party it's off to adventure with the game generating events that happen with some based on interactions between the characters: classes, races, personality and faction houses. Other events however give you more control over them letting you choose which party members possible solution to an event you prefer. Find a solution that works and you gain morale, try a solution that doesn't work and you lose morale.
Finally at the end of the quest the game calculates your chances of success based on a combination of the quest suggested party level, your parties level and your morale adding to or subtracting from a areas of a wheel. The Wheel is then spun and you see how well you did with higher morale and higher total party level giving you greater chances of getting a higher levels of success beyond merely succeeding for the standard pay.
After each quest you can spend whatever gold you earned on upgrading your campsite with things that will give you advantages in future quests. You then get to invite one of the party to join you at the camp as a friend who can then be brought into the next quest for free.
While some of the game is pop culture references and memes it's just the moments the game produces that make it deserving of the award. For example the fact I once failed an encounter because a female Elf I hired turned out to be bisexual so I failed an encounter with sirens as the rest of the party were dudes and so the entire party fell for the allure of the sirens. Prompting me to say the phrase "Damn it I didn't know the parties Elf was bisexual". With this and encounter solutions like starting a party with a bunch of trolls to avoid having to fight them or feeding hellhounds left over soup bones, the game very much has a sense of humour I enjoy.
The power of media to make you question your beliefs and explore complex ideas is very much part of its power. For me I'd say it's rare a game truly make me question things much. This award is to the game I feel truly left an impact.
Fort Meow; how the hell does a game about building a fort to fend of cats wanting to cuddle in a person's lap become a game that left an impact? Well when the overall story is about ideas such as growing older, relationships, life, a person's own mortality and trying to make sure family are able to cope once you're gone.
Headliner is a game that could have come off as a preachy concept about how media should be used to fight, to be "On the right side of history." It doesn't! Not only does it not come off as preachy but it's a title that on so many levels just works. It offers almost a deconstruction of the workings of media and how publications end up becoming more politically polarised, all while not focusing on real world countries or mostly real world political issues. The game also teaches you the importance of the power of the media and the responsibility that come with that power by showing the impact not just the in game world but also the reactions and impact on an in game family. I really feel this should be a part of actual journalism courses that people should have to play through this game to get a sense of thinking through how their actions could impact people and how as the saying goes "The road to hell is paved with good intentions". Be warned this game may not be for the faint of heart but it sure did leave an impact on me.
Some games define a genre. Other games make their own. The spork award is for those titles that while seemingly a little silly might actually be the brave first steps of evolution for existing genres or a birth of a whole new genre.
Death's Life is a game that is either an evolution of the hidden object genre or an entire new genre all of its own, I'm not sure which. It can best be described as a game where you play death, but death as represented in the Final Destination films. Your job is simple, set up a Rube Goldberg esc series of events that result in the death of the intended victim. You start by identifying the elements in the scene which you need and then setting them up to cause the required reaction. Some levels offer multiple possible ways to kill the victim and slowly more mechanics are added such as being able to break certain things in the scene rather than merely move them. It's certainly innovative and unique and hence why it won this award.
Given to the game that looks or sounds like it should be bad but really isn't.
Fort Meow wins this award because somehow it manages a quite engaging story about love, growing old and human mortality with a fairly rarely used gameplay idea of having to build a structure that can survive an onslaught of cats. While in places you can feel the developer really wanting to do more but being restricted by time or programming limitations the game is very solid as is with a variety of ways people will likely find to finish levels. This game is both charming and surprisingly deep both mechanically and thematically.
Friday the 13th Killer Puzzle. Blue Wizard's follow up to what won my game of the year last year, it is just more of the sliding puzzles but with the voxel graphics replaced with smoother more cartoon styled one and of course getting the Friday the 13th licence. It's more of the same as Slayaway Camp but its free content lasted me about 7 hours or so and it's hard to argue with 7 hours of gameplay for free.
Faeria. Initially a free to play game that launched during the CCG gaming explosion it was kind of buried under better known titles such as Hearthstone. While other titles collapsed entirely, such as Scrolls, the developers of Faeria soldiered on. I ended up getting a free copy with a certain UK magazine and thought I'd give it a try. Faeria has ditched the Free to Play model and gone with selling the game itself it's expansions and then selling cosmetics for the most part. The game is great. Very complex and in the 15 hours I've put in, so far, I've not decided to play online. You see Faeria has a huge amount of single player content such as strategy puzzles requiring you to figure out how to win in only a few rounds to having different shapes boards and special requirements or elements to some of the battles.
Gravity Rush 2. This is what a sequel is about. I've yet to complete the very last bit of the story but what I've played of it the game is great. It's very much an improvement on the original in most ways with a variety of different mission types to play though even at one point seeing Cat have to play detective.
Blue Wizard manage to claim the top spot on my list for a 2nd year running with Space Tyrant. It's a single player only 4 x space game that's designed to for people who don't want to spend hundreds of hours micro managing stats screens. The gameplay is a mix of risk style dice rolls to capture planets and real time space combat where you don't control the ships directly but can control when commanders and ships use their abilities (assuming your energy levels are high enough to use said abilities). Energy levels rise on their own throughout combat. Oh and each time you capture a planet you might get a sort of choose your own adventure text adventure which could help or hinder you depending on: the event, your choices and the traits you have for your tyrant.
The game is also weirdly structured as you play a quite lengthy overall campaign but is split up into a series of different missions in different sectors to choose from. Each mission has its own galactic map and you start from scratch (or whatever upgrades you have unlocked to give you a better start). Each mission is bite sized taking around an hour to complete. After a certain number of missions you can try to fight the Galactic Senate to finally take over the galaxy. The game mission screen though also has a game element to it as each mission you do will cause the senate to send forces to secure a sector, if the senate gets 4 reinforcements in a sector it's game over. Thus you mission selection might not be based on mission rewards but sometimes just trying to stop the senate taking over another sector.
The game also has a rogue lite element to it with both permanent progression unlocks and unlocks that reset each campaign. In terms of permanent unlocks you get: new commanders to lead your faction fleets; unlockable abilities for your commanders to use outside of combat; 2 additional races to unlock; more cards to play to give let you do things in campaigns and finally new powerful ship classes for the races. In terms of non permanent unlocks that change each play through there's the sort of perk system which gives you starting advantages each mission; there's also your Tyrant's traits which allow you to tackle certain events differently and there's the relic system which tend to give you yet more perk advantages but you can switch them out each mission as needed.
This all sounds like some super dense 4X game but it's been so streamlined. The best way I can describe it is the game is a number of different games combined: The missions are a bit like risk with dice rolls to capture planet; there's an element of old style RTS games where each mission you get 1 commander and fleet and to get more you have to free a commander from a prison planet or hire one for money (or get one via certain random events); the ship battles themselves are real time but you can't control targeting only when abilities are used or when fleet tactics (another permanent unlockable) are used in a fight finally the landing party sections are a choose your own adventure with chance based dice roll outcomes but extra options if you have acquired the right traits to use them. All this also feeds into the Tyranny system as if you reach high enough Tyranny you can use your death ray to attack enemy fleets but you have to be careful as unrest will cause your tyranny to drop, so go easy on the use of public floggings.
There's tons of content to discover with 2 playable races to unlock (giving 3 total playable races). Each race has their own race specific perks and disadvantages. The starting race of the Hoplite Dynasty (space rabbits) who have ships that can heal others and specialised in fighting more than anything, on the downside they are awful at oppressing planets (which increases their resource output) and some of their ships use missiles which can end up getting blown up prematurely by space weather (oh yeh there's space weather to deal with in the game too lol) also they get less options when picking tech upgrades. The next race you unlock are The Bzzerk Union (Space insects) who have the cheapest ships but also the weakest ships in the game the advantage being later upgrades that let destroyed ship launch fighter craft (tiny ships that deal damage and without flak upgrades or fighters of your own or the right fleet tactic you can't stop them) the race also gets the most bonus income. The final playable race being The Techno Slug Party (Space Slugs) who have the most expensive ships but also most of their ships have shield meaning you unless you lose the shield you won't have to dock at a friendly planet for a turn to repair. Space Slugs can also move two planets per turn (with a heavy penalty in fights if you do so) but gain an advantage when oppressing planets and defending them as between each fight a fleets shields will fully recharge.
Space Tyrant is my game of the year because it is a Saturday morning cartoon but as a 4X game but streamlined such that you don't need a 5 hour tutorial to be able to easily play it.
Well Elder Scrolls online got to claim it was an MMO of the year during its 1st year after release so I hand out an MMO of the year award so almost anything can claim it's MMO of the year.
Wait what, this is actually close to be an MMO, a turn up for the books considering the past winners of this award. Defiance 2050 is supposedly a remastering of the last gen Defiance game and well it is that. It doesn't seem like they've overhauled that much, the game is still janky, the cutscenes do seem last gen still but the game is a fun looter shooter but also an MMO with large scale events most of the server will show up to fight through to get cool loot. You might be in the middle of a mission and suddenly there's another player next to you helping you fight through waves of enemies and this isn't the game cynically matchmaking you, it happened organically as you were both on the same mission or a mission in the same and ran into one another (loot is instanced so don't worry they won't nick your loot). This feels like MMOs used to where you run into people more organically. This is a Looter Shooter and also an MMO combined and while it's no Warframe it's still fun with huge raid like bosses to take down and a fleshed out Sci-Fi world and story of its own (and a pretty complex one that reaches near what you'd expect from old Bioware).
This is also a game with serious enemy variety moving from the mutants of the starting area to the vicious Hellbugs and raiders on the plains to even cyborgs later. With random Arkfalls (world events) that spawn massive bosses for the server to work together to take down for more loot.
Defiance 2050 is my MMO of the year.
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