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Monday, November 26, 2018

Game of the Year, 2018: Best Australia/ New Zealand game release


It's that time of year again! Each year, DigitallyDownloaded.net recognises the best, most interesting, most artful and most creative games across a wide range of different categories, and 2018 was no different. In fact, this has been one of the best years for releases, from big blockbusters all the way down to the tiniest of indies.

As always our selection process is as follows: Games released on any platform between December of the previous year (2017 in this case) through to November this year can qualify. If a game was released on one platform last year, and then a different platform this year, it can still qualify for awards (as has been the case in a couple of examples this year). The game doesn't necessarily have to be released in the western market, though for obvious reasons we'll reward games that are accessible and available for English-speaking players ahead of those that are too hard for most people to experience. The entire DDNet team comes together to shortlist, and then vote on the award winners in each category - awards are not based on reviews or review scores (because that's one person's opinion), so it's entirely possible that the winner of a category will have a slightly lower score than a silver or bronze medalist, or a game that didn't even make the finalists.

And without further ado, the first DDNet award category for 2018! As an Australian-based publication, we love to support the local industry (and that of our close neighbours in New Zealand, too), and all the great work that developers are doing to support and grow A/NZ game development. We might be a nation of indies, but when it comes to the quality and quantity of great games that Aussies and Kiwis put out there, there's no comparison.

BRONZE



Florence 

Florence is the latest work of Ken Wong, an artist that has been around in the industry for a long time now, and has been involved in projects as far ranging as Monument Valley to American McGee's Alice: Madness Returns. This beautiful little mobile game is about love, relationships, and life, and was made when Wong and his team looked at how effectively films and novels explored themes like love and emotion, but how games often struggle to do so in the same way. The result is an utterly memorable and heartfelt little game.



SILVER


Paperbark: Story of a Wombat

Often games made by Australians aren't explicitly about Australia. Indeed, there aren't all that many games that use Australia's unique landscape and environment in a mature fashion as a setting. Paperbark: Story of a Wombat is what happens when a talented development team set out to make something that is explicitly about Australia. It features an iconic Australian animal, and the harsh, rough environment that characterises the country. It's also a beautiful, painterly game that's a lot of fun, showing the very best of what Australian creativity can drive. 



GOLD


Hand of Fate 2 - Nintendo Switch edition (Read our review here)

Hand of Fate 2's PC and console release scored a bronze award in last year's A/NZ category, but the Nintendo Switch edition is, if anything, even better than that game was. The Switch edition gives you that awesome blend of choose-your-own-adventure, collectible card game, and action RPG in a handheld form, and the style and nature of this game makes it perfect for on the go gaming. Hand of Fate 2 is right up there with the must-haves on the Nintendo Switch; a console that is aboslutely full of them. 



Game of the Year, 2018: Best Australia/ New Zealand game release
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