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!
I think it’s safe to say that for many who read DDNet, the Sony PlayStation is their default gaming platform. As we’re all fans of Japanese games, it is the PS4 that is flying that flag, but in addition to that we have had an endless stream of creative indie games, and of course the console gets all the big blockbusters too. This is the console with something for everyone, and it doesn’t surprise us in the slightest that it is proving to be the most popular console this generation. This year’s award winners reflect that sheer diversity of gameplay experiences that we so love with the PS4.
You can dismiss Gal*Gun for being a pervy game all you like. What we see is quite the opposite; here is a game that is quite brilliantly subversive and satirical in design. Throw in some genuinely tight on-rails shooting game, and what we’ve actually got is a game that is easy to become very addicted to, once you move past whatever discomfort you might feel from its initial presentation. It’s also a particularly attractive game, with excellent character design, and bright, pleasant environments to explore through. It’s not often that we find an on-rails gun game this effective, but this one is a rare exception to the rule.
I Am Setsuna is one of the most impressive new IPs to come out of Japan in many years. A gorgeous throwback to JRPG tradition on the one hand, it also has a deeply modern narrative and structure that makes it easy to play for everyone. It’s also one of the most distinctive and beautiful games that’s we’ve seen in years; set in a realm of perpetual snow, there’s something endlessly graceful and melancholic about the world itself, and this perfectly complements the story of sacrifice that the game is relating.
You can read our review of the game here.
One of the real veterans of the strategy genre, Romance of the Three Kingdoms has been around for as long as game consoles have. Many wouldn’t be aware of this, because the series has had a long hiatus from western shores. Now, however, it’s back, and the first game that we’ve seen in the series in quite some time is a masterpiece in both strategy and historical storytelling. Set in the same world as the Romance of the Three Kingdoms historical novel, there’s some real learning to have, along with the tight, carefully thoughtful strategy action. Hopefully the game is enough of a success that we never have to go without it ever again.
If you’re a fan of Final Fantasy, then World of Final Fantasy is a nostalgic dream. You’ll find yourself meeting with friends from the previous games all over again, even as you’ll be capturing classic monsters and having them battle your enemies, Pokemon-style. Anyone who is a fan of Final Fantasy will find that to be a nostalgic dream. Meanwhile, if you’ve never played a Final Fantasy game before, the spectacular music, beautiful character art, and tight gameplay will draw you in anyway. If you like fun, you’ll love this game.
Yeah, we know that this is going to be a controversial choice, but the entire DDNet team agrees that No Man’s Sky is a powerful, impactful game that simply does not deserve the reputation that it has. Play it without expectations that may or may not be warranted based on the PR campaign leading up to the release of the game, and what you’ll have left is a game that captures the empty loneliness of space unlike any other game. This is a game that is philosophically dense, masterfully produced, and really hard to put down once its unique design has a chance to really hook its claws in. No Man’s Sky is one of the best examples of games as art yet, precisely because art doesn’t have to be universally loved, or even appreciated, to be important and worthy.