This year – 2015 – has been one of the finest years for games ever. The new console really hit their strides, and we saw some superb games really start to leverage the power that they offered. At the same time, the independent developers really started to break out and produce games that are creative and artistic, but every bit as refined as the finest of the AAA-titles.
Every year we run a series of awards, celebrating the finest games that we’ve seen across each platform, and a number of key categories (art, narrative, sound, and so forth). Each day we’ll unveil the winner, as well as the key runner’s up, one category per day.
What were your favourite games of the year in each category? Be sure to let us know in the comments!
This year was something special for Australian games, with developers from all around the country managing to beat all expectations to produce some of the best games that have ever been developed in the country (and this in a year where the last local AAA-game developer closed its doors).
It was actually impossible to differentiate between three different games for Highly Commended this year, so this category actually has four award winners. We hope to see the quality and frequency of game releases hold up into 2016 as well.
Ninja Pizza Girl
Ninja Pizza Girl is a clever little running platformer, with the goal to get to where you need to be quickly and efficiently. That in itself isn’t all that unique, but what really sets Ninja Pizza Girl out is its narrative. Dealing with some pretty serious topics around bullying and self identity, it’s a platformer with smarts and a point to make, and it succeeds at both. And it looks unbelievably cool.
Armello is a board game that could only possibly work as a video game. So complex are its systems and rules that any attempt at a physical edition would struggle to be a success, as it would require tracking too much, and the rulebook to explain its underlying mechanics would be too thick. But when the game manages all that by itself, all that’s left for the player to do is play the game, and Armello is a brilliant game, offering plenty of strategy layered on plenty of charm, as the Animals of Farthing Wood-like creatures duke it out with one another.
Hand of Fate is a triumph of a game. A mix of brawler, roguelike, gamebook and card game, it involves a “fortune teller” laying out cards on a table that represent a dungeon that your hero is making his way through. Combat takes place in small arenas, lending a fast and furious edge to an otherwise cerebral adventure. It is, effectively, an endless game thanks to a high score challenge, and it’s an easy way to bust through a weekend.
This one took us all a little by surprise when it was released. We knew it would be gorgeous; the screenshots make that much clear, but Submerged is much more than that. An exploration-heavy adventure game about a girl trying to save her brother after rising ocean waters have destroyed much of the world, Submerged has some quite serious points to make, and the melancholic atmosphere, coupled with the vision of nature taking back the world that humanity has destroyed, has a direct, and quite poignant relevance to the real world at the moment. Slammed by many critics for not having enough action (or something), this is not only the best Australian game of the year, but one of the most underrated releases across 2015.