ŴGame of the Year 2021
A1. Guardians of the Galaxy
if only because, unlike a lot of other great games this year, I really wasn’t expecting it to be good at all.
like all the others, it isn’t perfect (particularly the combat drags towards the end and it’s basically unplayable with however I’ve set my soundbar up - half the dialogue just fades out when your team aren’t directly in front of you, though that can be fixed with headphones).
A2. Last Stop
For the pitch perfect scrum session and an actual contemporary take on London.
A3. Psychonauts 2
for existing, and really showing what can be done with inventive, stylised art and some imagination - rather than another grim, grey and brown dystopia.
A4. Forza 5
I’ve played a lot, and the very short cycle times to playing it more really help. Of the games here, this is the one I’m most likely to play more of this year.
A5. Deaths Door
A Zelda game on other platforms!
Game of the Year (premiered anywhere pre-2021)
B1. Yakuza: like a dragon
i bounced off all previous Yakuza games, but it turns out I just needed it to be more of a ridiculous rpg than a brawler and have an Afro haircut at its heart.
B2. Miles Morales.
Which was in many ways better than the first game because it tightened everything up. On this list because I didn’t get a PS5 till this year…
B3. Hitman 1, 2, 3
which is cheating a bit, since it’s really Hitman 3: but bringing all the games together in one giant murder simulator, along with all the additional levels I’ve bought and never succeeded in completing over the years, got me through the best part of January and February.
with, finally, a couple of silent assassins too.
Biggest Disappointment of the Year
Z1. They’re all scum.
I’m not so sure it’s a disappointment, because that would imply some level of surprise. Perhaps the disappointment would be the bit where California seem to have screwed up part of their case against blizzard in some federal horsetrading.
Z2. Forza’s networking issues.
A surprise for something so polished.
Z3. Ratchet and Clank
Bought for the shinies, and the innovative use of the SSD. The shinies were shiny, but in service of a game that took zero risks with art or gameplay: none of the invention of Psychonauts or the Artful Escape or Genesis Noir or (you get the picture, or in the case of R&C you don’t). The SSD use was precisely what we’d cynically guessed from the trailers: canned footage which may as well have been a video, portals to (with one exception) tiny areas elsewhere in the map.
Sound Design of the Year
S1. Guardians of the Galaxy
actual funny voice acting
i suspect: certainly I could hear what the zealots have been talking about when I’ve played in headphones.
Visual Design of the Year
V1. Psychonauts 2.
variety, but a cohesive sense of style.
V2. The artful escape
barely a game, but lovely to look at.
Writing of the Year
W1. Psychonauts 2.
W2. Guardians of the galaxy
W3. The forgotten city
timey-wimey in multiple ways.
Format of the Year
F1. Game Pass. If not Game Pass, then Xbox.
Led to me playing far more varied games than I otherwise would have done. The whole of Outriders, MLB The Show, a whole range of indie games on both PC and Xbox.
The PS5 is simply rendered a Sony exclusives machine.
Publisher or Developer of the Year
almost solely for their NFT video.
I’ve not played enough returnal for game of the year voting, and similarly I’m only halfway through it takes two. They’re both clearly very good though. See also Unpacking, which I intended to play before this post… (now completed: I think what it does with its storytelling is nice, but it’s not going to shift my writing nominations).
I have briefly started inscryption and wintermyth (?) - and suspect wintermyth would score on the writing front if this voting was in February. But they’re on PC which limits the time I can be bothered to spend playing them.