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The RLLMUK Game of the Year Awards 2020 - VOTING CLOSED!


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Game of the Year

A1. Ghost of Tsushima - Been waiting ages for an open-world samurai adventure, love the minimal UI, audio & my eyes bleed at the visuals.

A2. Animal Crossing New Horizons - Because everyone needs this lovely bundle of joy in their life. Especially in this fucked up year!

A3. The Last of Us 2 - Yes it's horrific in it's violence but what another masterpiece from Naughty Dog

A4. Final Fantasy 7 Remake - I actually like the remake approach, I don't want to experience the same game again with shiny graphics.

A5. Desperados 3 - Great real-time strategy title that plays really well on console.

 

Biggest Disappointment of the Year

Z1. New Console Launch thanks Covid19!

Z2. Crunch, Crunch Crunch! Not just at CDPR.

 

Sound Design of the Year

S1. Ghost of Tsushima

S2. The Last of Us 2

S3. Animal Crossing New Horizons

 

Visual Design of the Year

V1. Ghost of Tsushima

V2. Animal Crossing New Horizons

V3. The Last of Us 2

 

Writing of the Year

W1. Ghost of Tsushima

W2. The Last of Us 2

W3. Desperados 3

 

Format of the Year

F1. Playstation 4

 

Publisher or Developer of the Year

P1. Nintendo

 

Honourable Mentions

Mainly for games I've completed that were not released this year. Loved playing Death Stranding, Beyond Two Souls, Concrete Genie & Need for Speed Payback finally scratched that racing game itch I have had for a long time.

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Game of the Year

A1. The Last of Us 2

A2. Animal Crossing : New Horizon

A3. Assassin's Creed Valhalla

A4. Streets of Rage 4

A5. Tetris Effect Connected

 

Biggest Disappointment of the Year

Z1. AAA games publishers

Z2. Games players, for being weird horrible incel like cunts. 

Z3. 

 

Sound Design of the Year

S1. Tetris Effect Connected

S2. Streets of Rage 4

S3. Last of Us 2

 

Visual Design of the Year

V1. Ori and the Will of the Wisps

V2. Tetris Effect Connected

V3. Assassin's Creed Valhalla 

 

Writing of the Year

W1. The Last of Us 2

W2.

W3.

 

Format of the Year

F1. Xbox Series X. It can survive a drunken scotsman pissing in it. That's one hardy console. 

 

Publisher or Developer of the Year

P1. DotEmu, Lizardcube, Guard Crush (All 3 developed Streets of Rage 4)

 

 

 

 

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Again, will complete/amend as the year progresses...

 

Game of the Year

A1. Half-Life: Alyx

A stunning example of what VR is capable of delivering in terms of technical achievement and storytelling within the medium. The game is a joy to play, with endearing characters, brilliant monsters, and just a brilliant tie into the main Half Life games. 

 

A2. The Last of Us Part II

I never wanted a sequel, but here we are, with a sequel that is truly worthy. Another stunning technical achievement on aging hardware, but this takes the characters from the first game into uncharted (hoho) territory. A brilliant tale of revenge told in an interesting way. A fantastic game. 

 

A3. Assetto Corsa Competizione

I love racing sims, and I got a taste of racing sims in VR thanks to Gran Turismo Sport on the PSVR, and Project Cars 2 on PC. But it's this sim that has held my attention. I play exclusively in VR, and the feel of the GT cars is like nothing else I have played. Add to that the attention to detail for every little bump and kerb on each track, and the actual racing against other highly talented, knowledgeable, and friendly forumites, and you have a game/sim that is unmatched for me. I got a PS5 on launch day, but the best gaming experience I had that day was racing in this game against other forumites at Suzuka in torrential rain. It was phenomenal

 

A4. Cyberpunk 2077

A visual tour-de-force, with excellent world-building and also some very good writing. If the actual main story was a bit better, and Keanu not such a let-down, this would likely be higher up. As it is, it's still an excellent game with some excellent characters and stories. 

 

A5. Spider-Man: Miles Morales

A game with heart. Miles Morales is a wonderful character to play as, and the setting of the game at Christmas is just perfect. Yes it's arguably more of the same if you've already played the original Spider-Man, but this game trims off the fat from that game and provides a tight, focussed story with a satisfying conclusion. It's also a stunning early example of what the PS5 can do, and also a great example of HDR done right in gaming. 

 

Biggest Disappointment of the Year

Z1. All the big publishers being cunts to their staff - CRUNCH AND HARRASSMENT GALORE!

Z2. Keanu Reeves in Cyberpunk 2077 - the character is fine, but he proper phoned it in...

Z3. Control: AWE dlc - what a load of fucking shite. Utterly terrible. 

 

Sound Design of the Year

S1. Half-Life: Alyx

S2. The Last of Us Part II

S3. Demon's Souls

 

Visual Design of the Year

V1. Cyberpunk 2077

V2. Half Life: Alyx

V3. The Last of Us Part II

 

Writing of the Year

W1. The Last of Us Part II

W2. Half-Life: Alyx

W3. Cyberpunk 2077

 

Format of the Year

F1. Sony Playstation

 

Publisher or Developer of the Year

P1. Kunos (tiny dev team that produced the amazing Assetto Corsa Competizione for PC)

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Edits will assuredly be incoming, as I strain to remember what actually happened this year that didn't involve COVID, but for now:

 

Game of the Year

A1. Paradise Killer

A2. Paper Beast

A3. Yakuza: Like A Dragon

A4. Streets of Rage 4

A5. Umurangi Generation

 

Biggest Disappointment of the Year

Z1. CDPR, Ubisoft and Naughty Dog crunching/abusing the ever-living fuck out of their developers...

Z2. ...and so many Gamers™ deciding that the appropriate response to this was sending harassment(?) and death threats(??) to programmers(???) and voice actors(????) involved in the projects. Class.

Z3. Nintendo's new and exciting venture into selling rompacks tied to limited-time release windows

 

Sound Design of the Year

S1. Cyberpunk 2077

S2. Streets of Rage 4

S3. Astro's Playroom

 

Visual Design of the Year

V1. Paper Beast

V2. Umurangi Generation

V3. Cyberpunk 2077

 

Writing of the Year

W1. Paradise Killer

W2. Yakuza: Like a Dragon

W3. Cyberpunk 2077

 

Format of the Year

F1. PC

 

Publisher or Developer of the Year

P1. Supergiant Games

 

Edit: on reflection I've decided to keep Tetris Effect out of my awards, as even though I love it, I don't really want to vote for more or less the same game in two separate years!

 

Edit: Boxing Day Special: having spent three (3) days playing Yakuza: Like A Dragon, I've had to at least add it to the GOTY and Writing of the Year awards; sorry, Hades and Murder By Numbers :(

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Ooh, looking forward to the accompanying event! I like writing bollocks on the internet!

I'll give some further thought to this before the Christmas lock-in (hur hur), but here's a temporary spurge of brain juice:

Game of the Year
A1. Yakuza: Like A Dragon - For a game that literally started as an April Fools gag, it did alright. A fantastic Yakuza game in its own right, which is brave enough to try a new genre and mostly succeed at it. Diversions and stories as generous and rich as Yakuza 0, while establishing itself as a new chapter in the game's life and moving on from the foundations that Kiryu left from beating the crap out of everyone with a pushbike. It's also the game that officially brought Virtua Fighter 5: Final Showdown to the PC, so it's instantly GOTY by default anyway, and you're full of shit for saying otherwise.
A2. Deep Rock Galactic - In a year where my videogame time has been overrun with co-op shooters because lots of people had a lot of time on their hands for some reason, this was the one which honestly delivered the most unexpected amount of joy and discovery - the gameplay itself is buried deep in the same vein as games like Left 4 Dead and Vermintide, where the funniest things to come out of the game were the emergent pratfalls your team would have and the things you had to do to un-fuck the situation. Also, space dwarves are incredibly rude and thoroughly charming.
A3. Hades - Supergiant Games makes another great game, not a big surprise all-round. Amazing art direction, wonderfully scripted and voiced characters, and ultimately a big, bad roguelike that was incredibly tactile and fun to play.
A4. Animal Crossing: New Horizons - As others will probably say, this was absolutely the epitome of 'Right place, right time'. For a lot of people, AC was a cheerful time sink to tend to when the world really wasn't that cheerful. I enjoyed my time playing it and keeping a big dumb boxing ring out back on my island hovel, but it came at a point where others really wanted to be distracted, and I can respect it for that too.  
A5. Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1&2 - Your last game of a franchise will always be the one that others judge you by - in that regard, Tony Hawk has been fucking shit for five years. Vicarious Visions deserves a round of applause by effectively providing a series a do-over - They took all the good parts that made the original THPS games great, and made it look and sound fantastic on modern hardware.

 

Biggest Disappointment of the Year
Z1. Game developers being cunts (Ubisoft/CDPR) - Sex pests, workplace abuse, transphobia, apolitical theming, crunch culture, questionable quality control, and awful press management for all the above. The whole gang's here!
Z2. Fall Guys - Honestly, the game got it right when you play it for the first time - it's fun, unbridled chaos in a battle royale format that was bafflingly unaccomplished by anyone else. Problem was, after the first hour, you've seen all the course variants and all you've got left is grinding out wins before everyone else figures the game out. Not for me, unfortunately.
Z3. The Not-E3 Summer of Fucking Nothing - Not exactly much to talk about, because there was nothing of note to talk about. Probably for the best, considering the best thing to come out of the new consoles this year is 'playing old games'. Yeah, that includes Demon's Souls, too. Sorry.

 

Sound Design of the Year
S1. Tony Hawk Pro Skater 1&2 - this is solely on the strength of 'Holy shit, they have all the songs on it except two you probably didn't care about'. That, and the songs they added were actually worked for the game. Shocking!
S2. Hades - A really good dynamic soundtrack, but the star is the voice acting giving all the Greek pantheon real individuality between them, and enough of it to make every run during the game a pleasure to just, well, listen to their entire dialogue.
S3. Yakuza: Like a Dragon - This was going to be Streets of Rage 4, but then I realised that I was clicking on some of the final boss music to this game even now after beating the bloody thing 55 hours on. There's like 5-10 different boss themes throughout the game, and they all fucking slap. Hours and hours of Subbed and Dubbed voice acting, too, which is really commendable.

 

Visual Design of the Year
V1. Destiny 2: Beyond Light - Yeah, I know it's based on an older game, but as we're talking visual design, GOOD FUCKING GOD some of the environments, lighting setups and effects on Europa are fantastic once you get away from the miles of snow that envelops the planet. combined with a high FPS and more of the fruitier things that Next Gen/PC provides (VRR, HDR), it's a magnificent looking game that's as smooth as butter, which works well considering it's a game where shooting the thing(tm) is the best thing to come out from it.
V2. Tony Hawk 1&2 - Incredibly faithful to the original games, while feeling incredibly relevant and detailed in 2020, with some of the environments like Venice Beach looking absolutely incredible. Also, a game that is prioritised to run at 60fps across everything, which is essential for a fast-paced score game.
V3. WORLD OF HORROR - It's a Junji Ito inspired horror game made in 1-bit pixel art. And it's as wonderful and creepy as it sounds.

 

Writing of the Year
W1. Wasteland 3 - Cut from the same cloth of New Vegas' 'fuck around and find out' story-driven decisions. Actual choices, that lead to actual consequences. A rare and welcome feat, if on the wild side at times.
W2. Hades - Supergiant's compelling narrative and voice acting just wouldn't work if there wasn't a solid script behind it. And it's at its finest in a roguelike format - dropping subtle and not-so-subtle elements of the story in bite-sized format, fed through the dynamics of the rewards, meetings and eventual deaths that occur every single time you go through an attempt of beating the game.
W3. Yakuza: Like A Dragon - This only loses to the other two because the cutscenes for this game are long enough to put your controller to sleep, and then not turn on again because of a bug during my time playing it. Otherwise, it's an immense crime drama like the other Yakuza games - Doesn't hit the highest notes like Yakuza 0 did, but that's deeply unfair because 0 was something very special. As the start of a new era for Yakuza, it's going to be a very tough act to follow. 

 

Format of the Year
F1. PC (Including Oculus VR, namely Quest 1) - Next verse, same as the first. Even with the clusterfuck that was supply on graphics cards,  It's still the way to enjoy accessible contemporary VR wirelessly, sidestep next gen tax, play your old games on the best hardware you have, and enjoy the best indie games out there before anyone else (and successfully predict the next RLLMUK darling when it lands on Switch the following year like a bullshit Nostradamus. That'll be Disco Elysium, btw)

 

Publisher or Developer of the Year
P1. vanripper (Helltaker) - I'll be blunt - It takes a lot of nerve to look at your fetish of suit-wearing demon girls, and think 'Hey, if I make a cute, SFW hour-long game on Steam and put it out for free, maybe people will understand me and draw the girls in this game doing degenerate shit to each other without me lifting a finger'. A literal field of dreams scenario, fielded by a single Polish developer. Did it work? Yes. Yes, it did.

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First Pass with edits to come

 

Game of the Year

A1. Murder By Numbers

A2. Hades

A3. In Other Waters

A4. art of rally

A5. Telling Lies

 

Biggest Disappointment of the Year

Z1. Ubisoft

Z2. Gamers Reactions to Abuse / Crunch Delays

Z3. 

 

Sound Design of the Year

S1. Hades

S2. Lonely Mountains Downhill

S3. Telling Lies

 

Visual Design of the Year

V1. In Other Waters

V2. Assemble With Care

V3. art of rally

 

Writing of the Year

W1. Hades

W2. Telling Lies

W3. Murder by Numbers

 

Format of the Year

F1. Switch

 

Publisher or Developer of the Year

P1. Devolver Digital

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Top of me head:

 

Game of the Year

A1. Streets of Rage 4 - I've played this for 82 hours which is the equivalent of about 40 playthroughs! An absolute gameplay behemoth - crunchy and satisfying action with a great combo system, beautiful visuals and a soundtrack that slaps harder than a baseball stadium full of big bens - it's a total triumph, the best beat em up since part II . The only bad thing I can say about it is a constant reminder of how criminally underused Sega's legacy IP is.

A2. The Last of Us Part 2

A3. Mafia : Definitive Edition

A4. Ghost of Tsushima

A5.

 

Biggest Disappointment of the Year

Z1. Doom Eternal

Z2. Resident Evil 3 Remake

Z3. Both new consoles being offensively ugly 

 

Sound Design of the Year

S1. Streets Of Rage 4

S2. 

S3.

 

Visual Design of the Year

V1.

V2.

V3.

 

Writing of the Year

W1. The Last of Us Part 2

W2. Mafia : Definitive Edition

W3.

 

Format of the Year

F1. 

 

Publisher or Developer of the Year

P1. 

 

Spent most of the year playing retrogames so not many new releases to choose from, though I am looking forward to Astro's playroom, 2077 and Yak Like A Drag

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Work in progress....

 

 

VOTING TEMPLATE

Game of the Year

A1. Noita

A2. Half-Life: Alyx

A3. Astro's Playroom

A4. Demon's Souls

A5. Phasmophobia

 

Honourable mentions: A Monster's Expedition, Cloudpunk, Hades.

 

Biggest Disappointment of the Year

Z1. Gamer types. You know the sort.

Z2. Crunchgate.

Z3. Spelunky 2.

 

Sound Design of the Year

S1. Demon's Souls

S2. Noita

S3. Half-Life: Alyx

 

Visual Design of the Year

V1. Cloudpunk

V2. Noita

V3. Half-Life: Alyx

 

Writing of the Year

W1. A Monster's Expedition

W2. Astro's Playroom

W3.

 

Format of the Year

F1. PC

 

Publisher or Developer of the Year

P1. Nolla Games

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Updated with tentative Yakuza placing...

 

Game of the Year

A1. Final Fantasy VII Remake

"It has a few issues. The camera can be a nuisance in smaller combat areas, assessing and managing materia for elemental weaknesses can make progress feel slow, some of the sidequests are weak and the Enigmatic Spectres were uninteresting. However, it nailed the core characters, delivered a fun take on ATB combat, looks absolutely stunning most of the time, has some great music and was generally a journey worth going on."

A2. Yakuza: Like A Dragon

”The turn-based party format works most of the time, which is an achievement in itself, but this has a really likeable cast, an engaging story and a nice range of minigames as distractions. There were definitely several moments that have been a bit difficulty-spikey, and it can’t match FFVII in terms of stirring the emotions, but they’ve succeeded in making Yakuza feel new again, and I’d love to see more games in the series adopt this format.”

A3. Persona 5 Royal

"My feelings about Royal are pretty much the same as P5 - the update adds some great new mechanics and a really interesting chunk of additional story in the new semester... but it still has moments that drag on a little more than I would have liked - the rat maze in the cruise ship, the airlocks in the space station, and *that* room in the new palace. Even so, the good bits make up for these issues."

A4.

A5.

 

Biggest Disappointment of the Year

Z1. Ubisoft

"It's always disappointing to hear about allegations of harassment, abuse and misconduct - especially in the space year 2020, post-Gamergate, when you'd think that people were making an effort to be a bit more progressive and diverse. Everything I heard about this sounded pretty gross, and maybe I'm lucky that I don't care about Ubisoft's franchises anyway, but to say that it wasn't a great look is something of an understatement."

Z2. CDPR

"Does Cyberpunk look good? Sure. Would I be interested in playing it in the future? I dunno. But no consumer demand or reported release date is worth putting staff through the kind of stress and pressure that has been reported. The game's already been a long time coming, and there's plenty to play in the meantime - why run a studio full of overworked, stressed-out staff when you could ask people to be more patient and improve your working conditions?"

Z3. Games retail ignoring safety guidelines during a pandemic

"I mean, I wasn't affected by any of this because I've been terrified of doing anything but what's been advised... so I've tried to avoid going out to the high street and doing shopping for luxuries that I could get digitally or online or whatever, but when I heard about Game and Gamestop's decisions to ignore guidelines and keep their stores open it seemed like the most tone-deaf attitude... and as the stories continued to come in the retailers just looked more and more daft"

 

Sound Design of the Year

S1. Final Fantasy VII Remake

"This just edges it over Persona 5 Royal for a couple of reasons. Firstly, there's still lots of music in Royal that we already heard in vanilla P5, so there aren't quite as many wow moments. However, this is also the only game this year (so far) that's led to me going and buying the soundtrack digitally. Okay, so takedowns stomping on YouTube videos were kind of responsible for that as well, but it's worth picking up because there are so many good remixes of familiar themes, not to mention some great original tunes"

S2. Persona 5 Royal

”As battle themes go, I don’t think Take Over is quite as good as Last Surprise (although the chorus does give me weird P3/Mass Destruction vibes, which is nice), but the tunes in the new semester are mostly brilliant (especially during the final visit to the palace, and the final boss battle) and the decent tunes from the vanilla game - the casino theme, the pyramid theme, etc - are still as good as they ever were.”

S3. Code Shifter

"This isn't a game that I feel great about putting in my overall Game of the Year list because it's kind of average at best, but in addition to the great pixel-art versions of Arc System Works heroes, the game also features some amazing chiptune-style renditions of tunes from modern ASW titles. Personal favourites of mine include "Lust Sin" (Jin's theme) and "Magnolia Eclair" (for Ky Kiske) but there are a bunch of other catchy tracks in there as well. I even went so far as to capture the audio for a few video tweets because it was hard to find the tunes online at the time..."

 

Visual Design of the Year

V1. Persona 5 Royal

"I mean, it's basically the Persona 5 aesthetic again, but it's a killer aesthetic so there's nothing wrong with going back to it. Persona 5's key colour is red (compared to the yellow of 4 and the blue of 3), and it helps to deliver a strong and confident style once again. As you'd expect, the menus and presentation are great, the environments are lively and the character designs are decent. P5's hyper-stylised environments seem like the polar opposite of FFVII's attempts at realistic environments, but both result in some good looks."

V2. Final Fantasy VII Remake

"What can I say - this is pretty much how we imagined the game at ground level. It's better than that, even - the locations haven't just been recreated, but SE has elaborated on them and fleshed them out to an impressive degree. Similarly, I find it hard to complain about the designs of the central characters when they're so faithful to my mental image of them. And even weirdos like Sahagin and Hell House are recreated in a way that I can appreciate. It does suffer from some texture pop-in if you stand still and pay attention to surfaces, but otherwise it's pretty decent."

V3.

 

Writing of the Year

W1.

W2.

W3.

 

Format of the Year

F1. Switch

"I don't own one but it's going to win anyway... wait, didn't I say this last year?"

 

Publisher or Developer of the Year

P1. Square Enix

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Game of the Year

 

A1. Final Fantasy 7 Remake aka "The clusterfuck that kills the series."

 

Where the PS1 game was a masterpiece of microcosmic suggestion, using snapshots to evoke a much grander whole, the Remake sometimes faltered in its hyper-literal presentation of a world only previously imagined. Structurally, it was laboriously uneven at times, even disregarding the side quest dumps. And mechanically, it failed to teach you exactly how to appreciate its rich, challenging and rewarding combat systems. It is certainly not a game without flaws.

 

And yet, in the many moments where the ambition was realised, when the past and present converged most symbiotically, it was so uniquely joyous that no other game this year could compare. I must have watched the opening titles twenty times, swooping down into the Bombing Mission, wiping away a tear with a big fucking grin. I love that the Chapter structure allows you to jump back to particular locales in New Game Plus: Wall Market, Seventh Heaven, Sector 5, Shinra HQ...Jessie's house! Similar to the New Donk City finale, it's the weight of a life's experience and love for videogames, and the endless anticipation of what this Remake would bring which make these moments resonate even more deeply.

 

Despite the comical furore in some quarters, it is a game for the original fans. It's a game about the original fans. It's a remake about how it's even possible to remake something you hold so dear. Driven by enormous self-regard and narcissistic affection, it harnessed the emotive power of nostalgia as a springboard to create something unseen, unpredictable and ultimately something new. Nobody knows what the future of Final Fantasy 7 will bring, and for a lifelong fan with hitherto low expectations, that's very exciting. It's a sprawling, stuttering, soaring, spectacular, heartfelt mess. It's easily my GOTY.

 

A2. The Last Of Us 2

A3. Demon's Souls

A4. Missile Dancer (Switch)

A5. Road To Guangdong (Switch)

 

Biggest Disappointment of the Year

 

Z1. Nintendo. I long for the first year of the Switch when they set out a roadmap of upcoming releases. I find the current 'on a need to know basis' approach to communication very disengaging. The first-party software this year has also done almost nothing for me, and because of the dearth of information there is nothing I'm looking forward to.

Z2. Gamer tantrums. Laughable at first, then vaguely pitiful, now they can fuck off.

Z3. CDPR. Obviously a bunch of bell-ends despite the apologists.

 

Sound Design of the Year

 

S1. Demon's Souls

S2. The Last Of Us 2

S3. Paratopic (Switch)

 

Visual Design of the Year

 

V1. The Last Of Us 2

V2. Final Fantasy 7 Remake

V3. Miles Morales

 

Writing of the Year

 

W1. Road to Guangdong (Switch)

W2. The Last Of Us 2

W3. Paratopic (Switch)

 

Format of the Year

 

F1. PS4.

 

FF7R, TLOU2, Ghost, P5R and Miles Morales is a better run than any other format has had since the Switch in 2017, I reckon.

 

Publisher or Developer of the Year

 

P1. Supergiant.

 

I find Hades as arch, self-satisfied and irritating as everything else they've done, but they sound like a decent bunch.

 

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Very likely to change my mind, but:

 

Game of the Year

A1. Paradise Killer

Sometimes it takes something violently unworldly to really get to grips with reality. Everything from the surreal set up to the lurid colours, preening characters and open-ended investigation harmonises to prompt us confront our notions of justice.

A2. Final Fantasy VII Remake

I can’t separate the experience of playing this a new game from the nostalgia it provokes. Just seeing those characters, those places, those scenes like this was a big deal. But Remake also plays on that nostalgia in unexpected ways and successfully reworks the combat. Honestly it’s almost enough that they just didn’t mess it up.

A3. Hades

What’s left to say? Loved the way it used the Roguelite formula to create an iterative narrative and its representation of the Greek pantheon with so many standout characters. The action was pretty good too.

A4. Vigil: The Longest Night

As good as 2D Souls gets. As with the best Souls games, it’s all about the exploration, mystery and discovery. It’s pleasantly surprising how much the map opens up, how little direction you’re given, and how much horrible stuff there is to find.

A5. Streets of Rage 4

I’ve often wondered whether this genre could push on from its roots without giving in to RPG progression systems or turning into 3D action adventure. SoR 4 says yes and strikes an expert balance, sticking to the classic template while coaxing out notes of depth that don’t intrude or demand any grind.

 

Biggest Disappointment of the Year

Z1. Just about everything leading up to Cyberpunk's launch (crunch, 'edgy' advertising, reviews procedure) and then the fucking state of the thing when it arrived (although there's still a pretty good game underneath it all)

Z2. PS5 stock shortages which mean I haven't played Demon's Souls yet

Z3. Resident Evil 3 Remake

 

Sound Design of the Year

S1. Hades

Voice over work that instantly fills static illustrations with personality. And a perfectly judged soundtrack.

S2. Huntdown 

Pure 80s action movie indulgence, from the pumping synth music to the snippets of speech and above all the echoing booms of souped-up firearms. 

S3. Paradise Killer

The laidback jazzy muzak that's piped around the island is another inspired choice, lulling you into its groove in a way that makes the place feel even more coldly terrifying.

 

Visual Design of the Year

V1. The Last of Us Part 2

It says something that I often preferred sifting through the debris of people's lives in abandoned buildings more than taking down zombies (although those look and move wonderfully horrible too). Or stopping to photograph the skyline of a ruined Seattle, with the clouds looming or rain beating down. Or breaking windows just to enjoy the way the glass shatters. 

V2. Final Fantasy VII Remake

The old blocky models and blurry locations brought up to date to meet the expectations of my imagination. That intro, looking up from the slums to the plate, the light streaming through the hole in the church roof. It's all so intensely evocative. 

V3. Paradise Killer

That lurid vaporwave palette to signify extreme decadence is the perfect accompaniment to the game's themes. As are the nods to Bloodborne in the scenery. And the outlandish character designs, simultaneously disgusting and alluring.

 

Writing of the Year

W1. Hades

A lightly humorous take on the Greek pantheon that highlights the arrogance and boredom of their immortality, coupled with a context-sensitive delivery system that adapts to your exploits. Very well done indeed. 

W2. The Last of Us Part 2

The interplay between characters is as detail-oriented and naturalistic as games have so far managed. And there's a clear theme running throughout, using the different characters to explore different perspectives. Still it is lacking a little variety in its voices - most characters talk like people who might work for a successful California game developer. Just coincidence, I'm sure. 

W3. Cyberpunk 2077

It's a mixed bag that includes some real clunkers, especially when it's trying to deal with big themes. But it does a lot better with the lower-level, more intimate conversations, and works in branching dialogue in a way that usually retains the flow. At its best it's even a little ahead of TLOU2 in terms of signalling nuances of emotion. 

 

Format of the Year

F1. PS4

I can't recall a console having so many great releases in the year leading up to its successor.

 

Publisher or Developer of the Year

P1. Supergiant

Not only did they release one of the best games of the year in Hades, they've done it in a commendable way, avoiding excessive crunch and properly refining the game through early access before its full release.  

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I am realising that I haven't played much titles from this year and if it wasn't for gamepass then I would really struggle!

 

Game of the Year

A1. Streets Of Rage 4 - This is everything I wanted and more from a SOR sequel. As someone who didn't really enjoy '3', this riffs more on the second in the series but adds in a lot of modern fighting game staples like juggling and bigger combos. An absolute joy from start to finish and plenty of unlocks for those that replay. Special mention to the music which may even be my favorite from the series as a whole. 

 

A2. Minecraft Dungeons - Basic gameplay, sub standard graphics and a bit janky, yet this helped me and my daughter get through the peak of the Summer lockdown and provided a lot of fun hours which will stand as one of my highlights of the year. Simple enough not to put her off and a gameplay/loot loop with enough to keep me coming back for more. Sometimes an overall game experience is more than a sum of it's parts. 

 

A3. Tetris Effect - Not had really enough time to sink in fully, but what a game. Yes it's Tetris, but some of the sound and visuals are amazing and the experience as a whole is grade A. Plenty of modes and opportunities to learn the game. 

 

A4. Tony Hawks Pro Skater 1&2 - A late entry but any fears I had of this being not as good as it should be have been swiftly swept to the side. It's the same games as before but lovingly redone. Yeah I could moan about a couple of missing tunes that have been replaced with worse ones, but that is just nipicking. The peak of arcade skateboard games and now the best version available. Feel a little bad for including a game this (technically) old in my top 5, but it stands the test of time. 

 

A5. Hotshot Racing - A fun retro racer. Not perfect but big on fun, and one of the wee low key gems of the year. 

 

 

 

Biggest Disappointment of the Year

 

Z1. Xbox Series S/X launch - Yes gamepass is ace, but this was a half arsed launch. No exclusive games and no real reason to push aside my Xbox One X for the moment. I have always felt that Microsoft's main weakness is a lack of great exclusives. They have doubled down on this by having absolutely nothing of note available that you can't get elsewhere. Yeah they put free upgrades to older titles, but in reality it's just window dressing for a sadly empty shop. Add in insufficient storage for a digital future and not enough units for sale, and what you have is a completely botched launch. 

 

Z2. Doom Eternal - Jump run away shoot. Jump run away shoot. Run out of ammo. Chainsaw. Jump run away shoot. Not my idea of a Doom game I'm afraid. Looks pretty amazing though. 

 

Z3. Small text in games. Not exclusive to this year but still worth a rant. I have perfect vision and I struggle to see a lot of in game text on a 50 inch TV. It's time that developers started fixing this and not lazily using the same as they do from the pc. 

 

Sound Design of the Year

 

S1. Streets Of Rage 4- Nothing comes close. The best music of the generation and the way it blends from one area to the next with transitional sequences is amazing. 

 

S2.Tetris Effect - Perfect music and sound that matches in with the gameplay. Sounds absolutely stunning and adds so much to the experience. 

 

S3. Tony Hawks Pro Skater 1 & 2 - The (mostly) classic soundtrack with some new sound effect work makes a lovely comfy reassuring soundtrack for a year of unrest and stress. 

 

Visual Design of the Year

V1. Streets Of Rage 4 - Exactly how a modern sequel should be done. Respectful to the original yet contemporary. 

 

V2. Tetris Effect-Yeah it's Tetris, but the visuals and themes add so much into the game. Proof that style will always win out over fancy visual effects. 

 

V3. Tony Hawks Pro Skater 1&2 - How to visually update an old game without shitting on it. Just like you remember, but not really when you actually look at the original graphics. A lot of care and consideration has clearly went into this. If only all reimaginings/remasters were as good. 

 

Writing of the Year

W1. There isn't such thing as good videogame writing. 

 

 

Format of the Year

F1. Xbox One/Gamepass - The gift that keeps giving. Amazing value and always something new to try. Now with added SPORTS via EA. Microsoft should be applauded for rolling this out to PC and Mobile too, but it's the Xbox versions that really get the juices flowing with an embarrassing amount of goodies to play for every taste. 

 

Publisher or Developer of the Year

P1. 

 

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I’ll have to double check but I don’t think I bought anything released this year except for one title - which has been a common theme for the last few years. My most played game was Horizon, but we’ve lost that category so... does Shovel Knight’s final expansion count as a 2020 release?
 

Game of the Year

A1. Star Wars Squadrons

A2.

A3.

A4.

A5.

 

Biggest Disappointment of the Year

Z1. FFVII Remake not being what we thought it was (I didn’t play it for that very reason, if that invalidates this vote so be it)

Z2.

Z3.

 

Sound Design of the Year

S1. Star Wars Squadrons

S2.

S3.

 

Visual Design of the Year

V1. Star Wars Squadrons

V2.

V3.

 

Writing of the Year

W1.

W2.

W3.

 

Format of the Year

F1. PSVR

 

Publisher or Developer of the Year

P1. Hello Games 

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Game of the Year

A1. Animal Crossing: New Horizons

A2. Paradise Killer

A3. Super Mario 3D All Stars

A4. 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim

A5. Murder by Numbers

 

Biggest Disappointment of the Year

Z1. 

Z2.

Z3.

 

Sound Design of the Year

S1. Paradise Killer

S2. Super Mario 3D All Stars

S3. Murder by Numbers

 

Visual Design of the Year

V1. 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim

V2. Paradise Killer

V3. Animal Crossing: New Horizons

 

Writing of the Year

W1. Paradise Killer

W2. 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim

W3. Murder by Numbers

 

Format of the Year

F1. Switch

 

Publisher or Developer of the Year

P1. Nintendo

 

Honourable Mentions

51 Worldwide Games

Hades

Paratopic (Switch)

Fall Guys

 

Notable Non-2020 Stuff I played a lot/finished

Stellaris

Tangle Tower

God of War

Islanders

New Super Mario Bros U Deluxe

Golf Peaks

 

I think it has been a very good year for video games overall and I am looking forward to my Series S + Gamepass!

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Game of the Year

A1. Xenoblade Chronicles DE - it's my favourite JRPG. It's always been my favourite JRPG. And now it's prettier with extra bits. 

A2. Paradise Killer - Honestly, it's such a strange game - a murder mystery with the strangest bunch of characters you'll ever come across with possibly the best soundtrack of the year. Criminally overlooked in most places. 

A3. Hades - I don't love this as much as most, but I still enjoy the gameplay loop and characters. It's got that 'One More Go' hook. 

A4. Lonely Mountains: Downhill - Yes it came out last year but it got a Switch port this year and deserves to be recognised. It's like Trials - only better. 

A5. Huntdown - A fantastic old school run and gun. Another one that seems to have been overlooked, but the artstyle, music, great boss battles and sense of humour means it deserves this spot. 

 

Biggest Disappointment of the Year

Z1. Ubisoft proving to be an utter shitshow with the stories of harassment.

Z2. CDPR and transphobia/crunch stories.

Z3. Resident Evil 3 remake being rubbish.

 

Sound Design of the Year

S1. Paradise Killer.

S2. Lonely Mountains: Downhill

S3. Star Wars Squadrons

 

Visual Design of the Year

V1. Paper Mario: The Origami King

V2. Paradise Killer

V3. Star Wars Squadrons

 

Writing of the Year

W1. Paradise Killer

W2. Paper Mario: The Origami King

W3. Spiritfarer

 

Format of the Year

F1. Switch - it might not have had as many big hitters as the PS4, but the smaller stuff this year has really, really hit it's stride. I've ended up buying something new most weeks. 

 

Publisher or Developer of the Year

P1. Devolver Digital.

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Game of the Year

 

A1. Animal Crossing: New Horizons

 

In terms of wider cultural impact there’s no competition, but it was also the game we needed at the time we needed it. We burnt through the content of course. No developer could have expected to launch a slow burn game into the midst of a global pandemic. And I’m not still playing it, even though I did log on this week and picked up a pumpkin.

 

A2. Hades

 

Let’s call it “properly” released this year. Mechanically and narratively perfect. Each run a fresh delight. Each useless build suddenly less useless when that one boom drops. I’m rubbish, of course.

 

A3. Flight Simulator 2020.

 

Microsoft find the power of the cloud seven years too late.

 

The future is here, and it’s basically the reason I’ve just replaced my PC. Just an amazing demonstration of what can be done with big data, and - again - something breaking out from our hobby in the way that hades and the last of us could only aspire to. Broken, of course, but getting fixed.

 

it’s also escapism writ large, and something to come back to, which means it trumps the next game on the list which is the epitome of one and done.


(the figures given by blackshark.ai for the generation of the machine learning elements are just nuts: I’ll have to go and look up the notes I took during a recent big data conference presentation)

 

 

A4. The Last Of Us 2.
 

The PS4 swansong. Destroyed beauty, but with some aspects that just don’t get matched by anyone outside of Naughty Dog and Rockstar North: no one else is going to be demonstrating rope physics as a pretty throwaway puzzle piece for use twice in a forty hour game, or programming a playable guitar. This may, for the sake of making a commercial return and not burning out your staff, be a really good thing (though I suspect those two features were really interesting for the folk who made them).

 

but the story is too long, and too predictable. There’s also that classic we-have-an-important-story-to-tell aspect that means you’re going to play this character doing precisely this thing, and player agency is therefore thrown aside. Some folks like this, but that’s what movies are for.

 

A5. Should probably be Half Life Alyx, but the combination of the faff of putting the VR headset on, and the fact that my setup is in the loft where I work, means I’ve barely played it. So instead I’ll choose Assassins Creed Valhalla.

 

it’s too long. And it’s yet more open world escapism (I’m a little amused that after thinking Ubisoft was nuts for releasing three such games in the last three months of 2020, I’ve bought all of them, albeit one free with a CPU, one free with a GPU and one for £22 or so in the Epic Store sale). But England is actually quite pretty and I don’t miss Greece at all. The characters are an improvement over the previous entries in the series: I mean I can actually remember what some of them look like, and how they act, a month since I last turned it on.

 

what they have fucked up is pacing the start - they desperately need to find a way of ensuring you unlock enough tools before you start running about freely.

 

Biggest Disappointment of the Year

 

Z1. The loss of E3. I think it’s clear that the new console hype train really benefits from that E3/gamescom focus and hands on impressions. Slowly dribbling out news over the course of three months isn’t the same.

 

Z2. The inability of online stores to manage stock and preorders. At all. If there’s ever a case for saying they only have one job...

 

Z3. Ghosts of Tushima. If it had been published by Ubisoft, the consensus would be that it’s an uber-Ubisoft game, from about 2015, without any of the more distinct and interesting aspects that have been introduced into later Assassins Creed or Division games. Given it wasn’t published by Ubisoft, it got hyped to the heavens.

 

Sound Design of the Year

 

S1. Fuser.

 

or “not just dropmix”.

 

it unlocks too slowly, if deliberately, and the campaign mode requests don’t really lend themselves to something that sounds all that good all of the time. But there’s a lot going on here, and a lot of tricks and freedom to manipulate the music through the medium of every button on your controller.  Harmonix music systems showing how they’ve moved to making games a system.


it’s also got no hope of placing in this category against “look it’s a JRPG with a theme tune and high pitched voices “ - however ignored this category otherwise is. Releasing it on next gen launch day at £60 made damn sure of that.

 

S2. Cyberpunk 2077

 

in places extraordinary with headphones and atmos turned on. They’ve got the bustling marketplace foley down, in a way that I don’t recall from other games.

only game to make me jump from my seat when a gigantic barge pulled up behind me blowing its foghorn when I was standing by the riverbank. Additional marks for it being foggy too.

 

S3.

 

Visual Design of the Year

 

V1. Flight Simulator 2020.

 

“but it’s just recreating what exists! Where is the artistry?”

The sheer amount of incompatible, awful, incomplete sources of data that Asobo et al. have taken and made work together, along with the technical art that’s their weather and cloud simulation is unreal. Taken together on a high end PC and TV (and I make no apology for this) with every setting turned right up, and you could easily be there taking photos.

it falls down a bit when there’s no photogrammetry, but when there is - there’s simply nothing like it.

 

V2. Cyberpunk:2077, non-potato edition

 

On a top end PC this blows everything else away at times. It’s not consistently pretty, but then cities aren’t. But it’s extremely dense, open and where there are planned vistas they’re amazing.

 

and the character models, and the poses they use, knock everything else into a cocked hat. There’s a realism to some (but not all) of them, and their use of body language, that is genuinely impressive: Evelyn, Judy, Panam, initial guy whose name I’ve forgotten :). Your stock models on the street, and even some of the secondary quest givers, less so.

 

V3. Hades

 

whereas this looks good from 4K on a PC to playing on a switch, and scales like a champ. It’s easily deciphered at speed and with chaos going on around you (once you know what you’re looking for). The art style is consistent, the biomes don’t tire themselves out over multiple rounds of playing etc.


(Honourable mention - TLOU2. I mean this is on base PS4, ffs. Visually cohesive unlike anything else, incidental detail all over the shop etc. But clearly a budget above and beyond anything else too, and in the end it’s pretty corridors - unlike the first two games above.

 

Writing of the Year

 

W1. Hades.

 

Something to come back to, in a rogue-like? Partial stories running in parallel and being exposed as you play? It’d be half the game without it.

 

W2. What the Golf?

 

actually funny, and linked to the gameplay, unlike a lot of games writing.

 

W3. Watchdogs Legions

 

Simply because they didn’t chicken out of the podcasts. Everything else is so-so, but you’d never see Microsoft, Sony, Activision having a talk radio station that explicitly criticised white supremacy, fascism, techno-bros and releasing it the week before a US presidential election. No both sides here.

 

Format of the Year

 

F1. Game Pass

 

Flight Simulator. Gears Tactics. Ori.

Age of Empires 2 Definitive Edition. Crusader Kings 3. Golf with your friends.

Minecraft Dungeons. Carto. Children of Morta. Gris.

Spiritfarer. Supraland. etc.

Another couple of hundred games I’ve not played or listed...
 

Publisher or Developer of the Year

 

P1. Sony.
TLOU2, GOT, Astrobot, DS, Sackboy, Miles. If you’re going to launch a console, launch with some games.

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Game of the Year

A1. Persona 5 Royal

A2. Animal Crossing

A3. The Last of Us Part II

A4. Streets of Rage 4

A5. Paradise Killer

 

Biggest Disappointment of the Year

Z1. 2020 (all of it)

Z2. Super Mario 3D All Stars

Z3. Gamers being their usual scumbag self

 

Sound Design of the Year

S1. Persona 5 Royal

S2. Streets of Rage 4

S3. Paradise Killer

 

Visual Design of the Year

V1. The Last of Us Part II

V2. Persona 5 Royal

V3. Yakuza: Like A Dragon

 

Writing of the Year

W1. Persona 5 Royal

W2. The Last of Us Part II

W3. Yakuza Like A Dragon

 

Format of the Year

F1. PS4

 

Publisher or Developer of the Year

P1. Sega

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Placeholder, I'll return to full it out and think about final placings

 

VOTING TEMPLATE

Game of the Year

A1. Hades

A2. COD: Warzone 

A3. Neon abyss

A4. Murder by numbers

A5. Streets of rage 4

 

Biggest Disappointment of the Year

Z1. Final fantasy 7 remake

Z2. Last of us 2

Z3. Doom eternal

 

Sound Design of the Year

S1. Hades

S2. Murder by numbers

S3. Streets of rage 2

 

Visual Design of the Year

V1. Hades

V2.

V3.

 

Writing of the Year

W1. Hades

W2.

W3.

 

Format of the Year

F1. Switch 

 

Publisher or Developer of the Year

P1. Supergiant

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Game of the Year

A1. Ringfit Adventure

 

I know it actually came out at the arse end of last year. But it barely caused a ripple at release, then underwent a kind of relaunch and surged in popularity due to this year's unique circumstances. I really think it should be eligible for consideration in this year's awards. It helped keep me sane during the current horribleness, so it's going at the top of my list.

 

A2. The Last of Us Part 2

A3. Hades

A4. Yakuza 5 Remastered

A5. Call of Duty: Warzone

 

Biggest Disappointment of the Year

Z1. Avengers

 

This year's Anthem, 'nuff said.

 

Z2. Doom Eternal

 

Not a bad game by any means, but the bizarre focus on turgid lore nobody cared about, meme humour,  overly fussy mechanics and clunky platforming really soured things and meant it wasn’t a patch on the original for me.

 

Z3. Final Fantasy Remake

 

Again this was a actually good game. But the last quarter really went knocked a bunch of points off for me. Not because I'm a purist who can't stand any changes, but because I've thought every modern thing Nomura has scribed has been godawful barely coherent cobblers. The end of this felt like a mashup of Kingdom Hearts and Advent Children, two bad tastes that taste even worse together and as a preview of what's to come it immediately sucked away hope I had for future instalments.

 

Sound Design of the Year

S1. The Last of Us Part 2

 

The 3D audio was absolutely stunning if you had the right headphones.

 

S2. Final Fantasy VII Remake

 

Incredible soundtrack.

 

S3. Hades

 

That voice acting. :wub:

 

Visual Design of the Year

 

V1. Ghost of Tsushima

A decent, if somewhat generic experience, but by God it was pretty.

 

V2. The Last of Us Part II

If this is what games look like now, what the hell can we expect by the end of next-gen.


V3.

 

Writing of the Year

W1. The Last of Us Part II

W2. Hades

W3.

 

Format of the Year

F1. PlayStation 4

 

Publisher or Developer of the Year

P1. Supergiant

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Really sorry @Harsin, but I can't make an exception for Ring Fit Adventure. I've got to keep some semblance of order. 

 

Please vote for something else or I'll shift all your other games up one when I come to calculate the totals. Thank yooooooooou. 

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VOTING TEMPLATE

Game of the Year

A1. The Last of Us 2

A2.

A3.

A4.

A5.

 

Biggest Disappointment of the Year

Z1. Xbox Series X launch non-lineup

Z2. Next-gen pre-order clusterfuck

Z3. Playing Star Wars Squadrons after selling my VR helmet

 

Sound Design of the Year

S1. The Last of Us 2

S2.

S3.

 

Visual Design of the Year

V1. The Last of Us 2

V2.

V3.

 

Writing of the Year

W1. The Last of Us 2

W2.

W3.

 

Format of the Year

F1. PS4

 

Publisher or Developer of the Year

P1. Naughty Dog

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I would say this is unlikely to change much by year end...

 

Game of the Year

A1. Hades - just an enormously impressive achievement in so many different ways. Story, characters, compulsion, playfulness, and above all one of the most consistent overall design visions I think I've seen in a game in years. It beat my dream game this year, so it's on to something.

A2. Star Wars: Squadrons - I didn't believe anyone could follow up X-Wing and Tie Fighter, let alone actually get the go ahead to make such a game. It may not quite be up to the heights of those games, but the spirit of them is alive and kicking.

A3. Animal Crossing: New Horizons - my lockdown game of choice for the first several months. There are very few games that I can put on which result in me becoming almost completely relaxed and content. Breath of the Wild was the last one to do this.

A4. Streets of Rage 4 - Apparently not everyone loved this, which I find strange, as it's better than Streets of Rage 2. Yes, I said it. It's better than Streets of Rage 2. Deal with it.

A5. Crusader Kings 3 - they made two important upgrades to the last game: an interface that wasn't impenetrable, and a tutorial that gives you at least an idea of what the hell you can do in it. Turns out that was all it needed to be an infinite story engine and instant classic.

 

Honourable mention to: A Short Hike. It came out on Switch this year, and hopefully more people play it as a result, because it's wonderful.

 

Biggest Disappointment of the Year

Z1. Ubisoft. Full of cunts.

Z2. CD Projekt. Not exactly encouraging treatment of staff and still making questionable marketing choices.

Z3. Nintendo doing the limited availability thing even digitally.

Z4. Nvidia stock shortages. Cry more.

 

Sound Design of the Year

S1. Streets of Rage 4 - that soundtrack. It's responsible for one of the most epic sequences in a game I've played this year.

S2. Hades - despite some very strange usages of the word "mate", a genuinely impressive amount of great voice work and music brings the world to life.

S3. MS Flight Simulator - an absolute masterclass of detail

 

Visual Design of the Year

V1. Star Wars: Squadrons. The kind of game VR was made for.

V2. Animal Crossing: New Horizons - somehow everything is precisely calculated for maximum joy.

V3. MS Flight Simulator - an absolute masterclass of detail. 

 

Writing of the Year

W1. Hades - more wit and flare than you'll find in pretty much anything this year.

W2. Crusader Kings 3 - what's my chancellor been up to now... He did what?!

W3. Animal Crossing: New Horizons - For Blathers alone.

 

Format of the Year

F1. PC - in any other year I would probably put Switch here, as is written into the contract of anyone joining the forum. But what with supposedly exclusive titles like Horizon coming to the format and the indie sphere going from strength to strength and, of course, Game Pass, there's never been a better time to play stuff on a modest box or laptop.

 

Publisher or Developer of the Year

P1. Supergiant Games. I'm not familiar with their earlier titles, and I'm told they can be quite divisive, but what they've achieved with Hades for a studio that size is beyond impressive.

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I've got a few big hitters still to come this year (Fuser, Tetris Effect Connected, HYRULE WARRIORS) so this is subject to change. 

 

Yes, that's 3D Allstars in both Game of the Year and Disappointment. I have Stockholm Syndrome.

 

Game of the Year

 

A1. Animal Crossing: New Horizons 

A2. DOOM Eternal 

A3. Lonely Mountains: Downhill

A4. Dreams 

A5. Super Mario 3D Allstars 

 

 

Biggest Disappointment of the Year

Z1. Super Mario 3D Allstars 

Z2. The physical design of the PS5 

Z3. Resident Evil 3 Remake 

 

 

Sound Design of the Year

S1. Paradise Killer

S2. Lonely Mountains: Downhill

S3. Fuser

 

 

Visual Design of the Year

V1. Tetris Effect: Connected 

V2. Dreams 

V3. Paper Mario: The Origami King

 

 

Writing of the Year

W1. Paper Mario: The Origami King

W2. Paradise Killer

W3. Murder by Numbers 

 

 

Format of the Year

F1. Nintendo Switch

 

 

Publisher or Developer of the Year

P1. Nintendo

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  • Jolly changed the title to The RLLMUK Game of the Year Awards 2020 - VOTING CLOSED!
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