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Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Game of the Year 2019! Arthouse game of 2019


Awards by the DDNet Team

It's that time of year again, where we look back at the year that was, and pick our top three games across a host of categories! As with years past we'll reveal one award winner per day, and this year we've got a massive 17 different awards to share out. It was a difficult process to choose the winners this year! While 2019 might not have had quite as many spectacularly big blockbuster releases as years past, the quality of games that were released with far less fanfare than they deserves is truly incredible. 

The video game industry gets so wrapped up in its obsession with big budget blockbusters and esports that at times it seems to forget that, as an artistic medium, it's not what a game cost to make that actually matters. It's the ideas behind the game, and how it conveys those ideas. It's the game's theme, philosophy, aesthetics and thought that ultimately help it prove that video games are an art form.

We created this category precisely so that we could celebrate those video games that are made as pure art. These games might not be the prettiest or most "entertaining" in a traditional sense, but they will make you think, and each and every one of them would not be out of place in an art gallery.

BRONZE


The Friends of Ringo Ishikawa (Read our review here)

What a fascinating game this turned out to be. You'll go into it expecting a beat-em-up in the vein of River City Ransom, but that's just a bait-and-switch. Before long you're exploring an lonely open world, experiencing the existential crisis and feelings of intense loneliness that leads a bored kid at school to become a punk. Ringo Ishikawa is an essay on youth culture and isolation, and ultimately a reflection on just how badly society tends to fail those kids that do go wrong.




SILVER


Tokyo Dark: Remembrance (Read our review here)

This horror adventure game is dark. Really, really dark. It also has a fascinating background story, coming from a team of westerners that had spent substantial time living and working in Japan. It's a Japanese game, effectively, but one told entirely from an outside perspective. Its themes - the way various subcultures within Japan exploit (and get away with exploiting) girls and women is not that uncommon for Japanese storytelling, but it's done so effectively here, and in the context of such a sharp horror story, that it's really quite vivid and hard to forget as a piece of social analysis. This is one of those rare games that will really stay with you long (long) after you've finished playing.




GOLD


The Liar Princess And The Blind Prince (Read our review here)

The Grimm Brothers are a favourite topic in game development, and with good reason. As old and archaic as those stories are, they are a formative part of western culture, and from Disney to horror you see their influence everywhere.

What you see less often is a comprehensive effort to deconstruct the fairy tale, such as we see with the Liar Princess and the Blind Prince. On the surface this is a fairly simple puzzle-platformer, but that is really underselling the fundamental genius of this game; the way it pulls apart the various elements of how fairy tales are constructed and the way they deliver moral messages, rooted in Christian faith. Often The Liar Princess subverts your expectation for the genre. Sometimes it upholds the traditions in an unsettling way. At all stages and at every second, the Liar Princess makes you think hard about what you're experiencing, and that, ultimately, is what good art is about.



Stay tuned for the next award tomorrow!

- DDNet Team



Game of the Year 2019! Arthouse game of 2019
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