Game of the Year
A1. Splatoon 2
"The game that sold me a Switch is the sequel to the game that sold me a Wii U. I've not spent much time playing a shooter since Halo 3, but something about Splatoon just ticks all my boxes - unsure if it's the unconventional weaponry, the unorthodox strategy, customisation of kit, or maybe even just that the rounds last between three and five minutes depending on mode.
It looks like an explosion in a sweet factory, sounds like a nervous breakdown for anyone over the age of 21 and yet is full of charm. Stepping into the plaza feels so welcoming and taking part in the battles feels like it's supposed to be fun. Splatfests have been a constant source of unintentional amusement too - nothing quite like planting your flag when it comes to important issues like which way you hang the toilet roll. [185hrs]"
A2. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
"I was going to wait for Splatoon 2's release before buying a switch, but one week after the console's release the universally glowing reception to this was too much to ignore, even for someone like me who has a pretty rocky relationship with Zelda titles. From the moment you set foot outside the cave in which the game starts you're free to begin exploring the new, soft-focus Hyrule. Just existing in the world and discovering new things is amazing enough, but the way the game funnels you through the world and introduces its mechanics so subtly is baffling. Or maybe I'm just an idiot.
The bosses are a bit crap and I'd have liked some post-game content, but really. Breath of the Wild is just absolutely magnificent isn't it? [55hrs]"
A3. Nier: Automata
"Many years ago when I had fewer chlidren and much more time I put over two thousand hours into Phantasy Star Universe.
Two thousand! What the fuck was I thinking? It's not even that good.
Anyway this is the closest I've come since to that ultra-clean Japanese sci-fi feel - a barren world, sparse soundtrack and impeccably-turned out characters. The combat is almost a distraction from the plot - the main appeal of which is how it unravels over multiple playthroughs.
Absolutely has to be played with the Japanese voice pack though - the English one turns one of the main cast into a twat and makes the machines sound as menacing as C3PO. [35hrs]"
A4. Doki Doki Literature Club
"It's difficult to go into too much detail without spoiling things. This is free on Steam; download it, set aside a few hours, and yes - if you don't get on with visual novels, the first section will be a slog.
Avoid spoilers. [4hrs]"
A5. Super Mario Odyssey
"I feel like I'm yet to really get to the business end of Mario Odyssey - suggestion is it occurs after the 500-moon mark. I'm only just past "the end" but getting there was a string of great ideas, stupid ideas and surprising moments. The rate at which you discover new moons is really well-paced, each one feels like a reward for doing something cool or poking around somewhere interesting, and we haven't even got to the inventive uses of the hat.
I'll get back to this eventually. I'm probably not giving it enough credit due to not getting far enough into the post-game content - and the only reason I've not done that is because it's been a fucking brilliant year for games and I don't have enough time to play them all. [~12hrs]
Most Disappointing Game of the Year
Z1. Persona 5
"Persona 5 sold me a PS4, and it's... pretty good I guess? Persona 4 was so good I played it twice in quick succession, Persona 3 very much the same. Despite being full of improvements on paper, 5 just did enough things to put me off and I wound up tailing off halfway through the final dungeon. It's just so long and there's so much distance between save points. It has a great cast, wonderful soundtrack and it looks amazing - but just lacked that something that made the previous two games so enticing. [~70hrs]"
Z2. Xenoblade Chronicles 2
"There's nothing wrong with XB2 as such, but having heard endless good things about the first game and positive previews of this one, I expected more than a RPG-ass RPG with a decent enough combat system, and abysmal wayfinding. It's fine, and it keeps drawing me back in (and I cannot stop myself from salvaging I have a problem), but unless something incredible happens towards the end I don't expect to be raving about it in years to come. [65hrs]"
Z3. Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
"The moment-to-moment in Mario Kart 8 is sublime, but absolutely fuck that single player mode. Fuck off [12hrs]"
Sound Design of the Year
S1. Nier: Automata
S2. Persona 5
S3. Splatoon 2
Visual Design of the Year
V1. Persona 5
V2. Splatoon 2
V3. Nier: Automata
Writing of the Year
W1. Doki Doki Literature Club
W2. Nier: Automata
Gaming Format (System) of the Year
F1. Nintendo Switch
"I was always going to buy one for Splatoon 2, but after seeing the universal love for Zelda I picked one up a week after launch, and couldn't be separated from it for a good two months. The release schedule was a little patchy at first but it already has more games than I'll ever have time to enjoy - and next year's lineup will add to that list."
Publisher or Developer of the Year
Best Supported Game (from pre 2017) of the Year
Games that missed the cut because five is far too few: