Welcome to the DDNet Awards, our annual celebration of the best and brightest games that we’ve been playing throughout the year.
It has been a really good year for games in 2016, with great examples of every genre popping up through the year. Across 15 categories over the next three weeks, we look at the winner, runner up and three bronze medalists for each category.
In order to qualify for selection, a game needed to have been released for the first time on a new platform, between the first of December 2015 and the end of November 2016.
Let us know what you think of the award winners in the comments!
Without new IPs, the game industry would stagnate and become very dull indeed. As much as we do like sequels for our favourite games, we’re also so very grateful for those developers and publishers that take the real creative and financial risks involved in pulling together a new IP and franchise. This award recognizes the new IPs that had the biggest impact on us, and the franchises that we most keenly hope to see spin into major franchises with many sequels ahead of them.
Before playing Yomawari you might never expect that games with such simple, cute graphics could be so terrifying, but thanks to some intense writing and direction, Yomawari is, in the same vein of Corpse Party, one very effective horror game. But it’s a completely different game to Corpse Party, too, being more traditional Japan in approach and scope. It’s relatively short and to the point, and this of course is a major benefit to a horror game, as it never allows you to get settled or at ease; from start through to finish it pounds you with some very traditional Japanese horror themes and art style, and you’ve never played something quite like it.
We’re not sure if Unravel has a future as a franchise, as what it offers is perfect and self-contained. We’re not sure we even want a sequel, because it is so perfectly complete as a single experience, but what we do know is that as a new IP, there aren’t many that have had more of an impact on us than this one. This is a beautiful, heart-wrenching little game, and is remarkably effective in exploring the emotional depths that games can lead us. Equally, we are sure that if this game were to get a sequel, the developers would be able to blow us away all over again.
Australian-developed Tahira really impressed us this year in taking on a similar aesthetic and tactical approach to gameplay as we saw in the wildly popular The Banner Saga franchise, and then did something very different in it. Set in a fantasy Middle East, this is a game with a wonderful cast (including one of the best female leads that you’ll come across), a fantastic narrative, and tight, highly strategic gameplay. There are a lot of tactics games out there, but we wouldn’t mind if Tahira grew to become another fine example of the genre.
No Man’s Sky was a controversial release, and we all know that story by now. That controversy might also spell the end of the franchise, as we simply can’t see people allowing themselves to get excited about a No Man’s Sky 2. And that’s a real pity, because playing the game that it turned out to be was a really special experience. No Man’s Sky has captured the open loneliness and utter hostility of space like no other game out there, and as an existentialist experiment and survival game, it’s really quite effective. That ending, too, when you finally reach the center of the universe, is a deep and philosophically dense one. Not necessarily easy to unpack, but wonderful for it, No Man’s Sky is truly unique and special.
Of all the new franchises that we played this year, Tokyo RPG Factory’s I Am Setsuna was the one that impressed us the most. Combining a strong theme with excellent storytelling, a beautiful art style and soundtrack, and classic, entertaining gameplay, I Am Setsuna never puts a foot wrong through its substantial play length. Retro players will love the way it calls back to classic Final Fantasy, while the more modern player will be drawn into its complete refinement and the sheer quality that is evident in every single second through this adventure.