The award for Best World Design of 2014 goes to...


...a place both new and familar

[Image credit: Mike Lambert]

Growing up, a lot of kids I knew liked to try to sound grown up by saying they played videogames "for the story". Maybe they had adapted the phrase from the adults they saw on TV who said they read Playboy magazine "for the articles". Regardless, the stories in the games they loved were often terrible, and they weren't the only ones. I'm not one to point fingers. There was a time when this was some of my favorite storytelling ever, in gaming or otherwise. 

So why are we so enthralled with bad stories? I can only speak for myself when I say that the world crafting in a game can often compensate for failings in narrative. When we watch a good movie or read a good book, effective storytelling can transport us to other worlds. A game doesn't need to rely on storytelling to do that. Instead, we can skip over the storytelling part through methods unique to gaming as a medium, planting us directly into their worlds through techniques that we're still learning to truly understand.  

This year in videogames brought many amazing worlds to life. The write-in votes for this category, including Tomodachi Life, Shovel Knight, Broken Age: Act 1, Bayonetta 2, Hohokum, and Extrasolar are about as varied a bunch of games as you could expect to see. That came across in the voting as well, where our staff's preferences were on full display. One staff member would give nearly every vote to South Park, where another would place the game at the bottom of the barrel. In the end, we had yet another three way tie for third place between Valiant Hearts, Five Nights at Freddy's, and Dragon Age: Inquisition. That left two games to fight it out, Bravely Default and Alien: Isolation, with just a vote between them deciding the winner. Read on to find out who came out on top, and don't forget to vote in our reader's poll on the way out

Alien: Isolation won, you guys. As imaginative, inviting, and endlessly charming as the world of Bravely Default may be, it just couldn't beat out the dark hallway, half-open lockers, and claustrophobic air vents of The Anesidora. Like with the original film, the ship in Alien: Isolation is arguably the most important character in the game. While the titular alien takes the spotlight, the game is really about the player's relationship with the environment.

How well you know and understand your surroundings will determine if you live or die, or more like if you live for another 20 minutes or another 60 seconds. Likewise, the game itself lives or dies by how deeply convincing it is to the player. If you don't feel like The Anesidora is a real place, then there is no reason to feel that your plight is real, that the alien is real, or that you're in any form of danger worth being invested in. Thankfully, the game pulled it off better than many expected after a recent failed attempt, which is part of why it won our award. 

Congratulations to the team at Creative Assembly for their win, and tune in tomorrow when we crown the winner of Destructoid's overall Game of the Year. Don't be mad if Bayonetta 2 doesn't get the top spot. Instead, buy it for a friend. Then everybody wins. 

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Jonathan Holmes
Jonathan HolmesBad Joke Uncle   gamer profile

"Where do dreams end and reality begin? Videogames, I suppose."- Gainax, FLCL Vol. 1 "The beach, the trees, even the clouds in the sky... everything is build from little tiny pieces of stuff. Ju... more + disclosures



Filed under... #Destructoid Originals #Game of the Year #Top Stories



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