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The winner of Destructoid's Best Narrative Design of 2014 is...

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...not just one game

[Image credit: Mike Lambert]

Any game can use cut scenes to tell a great story. That trick was impressive back when CD-ROMs were cutting-edge technology. Today, the expectation for story-focused games is to work towards interweaving narrative techniques into every aspect of the design. Videogames can do so much more than pure linear storytelling devices like text or film. The best Narrative Design award is Destructoid's way of acknowledging the games that best proved that in 2014. 

Telltale had two games nominated this year. Neither won the award, though they didn't do half bad either. The Wolf Among Us and The Walking Dead Season 2 found a place next to Broken Age: Act 1, Either One, and Dragon Age: Inquisition near the middle of the pack. Notable write-in votes include The Talos Principal, The Banner Saga, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, Wolfenstein: The New Order, Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, Danganropa 2, Civilization: Beyond Earth, 80 Days, Wasteland 2, and Valiant Hearts, among others.

In what some would call a Christmas miracle, two games got the exact same amount of votes to win, making them Prom King and Queen of this year's best Narrative Design award ceremony. I know a lot of people hate ties, but I love them, so I'm going to embrace it. Sometimes two things are equally successful, standing side by side with their own important roles to fill. It's hard for me to find anything not to like about that. If you don't feel the same, go on and vote in our Reader's GOTY poll and make your tie-hating voice heard. The two winners of today's best narrative design award will be waiting for you below when you get back. 

Jazzpunk and Transistor have nothing in common in terms of tone, but a lot in common in terms of delivery, or lack there of. Instead of sitting you down and telling you a story, they allow the player to inhabit a story, to actively turn the wheels of emergent narratives as they unfold around them. They don't deliver. They transport.

Jazzpunk is an absurd comic romp where emergent punchlines are common rewards for effective gameplay. The player is made to feel like they are the ones creating comedy, as opposed passively receiving it. Likewise, Transistor doesn't exactly "tell" you a story. It talks to you, not at you. Sometimes you feel like you're leading the conversation. Sometimes it feels like you're following it. Most of the time though, it feels as though the story is unfolding parallel to your progress, growing with you at the same rate. You are not the audience in either of these games. You are on stage alongside them, interacting with them, creating something between you that's larger than the sum of your parts. 

These are not choose-your-own-adventure games or fragmented "cut scene, gameplay, cut scene" experiences. These are games that work to make "story" and "play" one and the same. That's my guess as to why they earned the popular vote of Destructoid's staff for this year's awards. Congratulations to the teams at Supergiant Games and Necrophone Games for your wins. Next up, we'll look at games with the best world design of 2014. 

[Disclosure: Jim Sterling, former Reviews Editor at Destructoid, did voice work for Jazzpunk. No relationships, personal or professional, were factored into the Game of the Year voting process.]

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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... #Awards #Game of the Year #Top Stories

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