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.
It’s become very tough to stand out in the mobile space. There’s a glut of games, and a certain approach to design has become so standard that it’s hard to work in any other way. Sadly, that approach is also not always conducive to creative ideas. Luckily, this year there have been plenty of great games anyway, and these award winners are all quite brilliant, and perfect for mobile gaming on-the-go.
We do love a good simulator at DigitallyDownloaded.net, and Project Highrise is a really, really good one. You start out with nothing but a tiny block of apartments, and from there you need to create soaring high rises, filled with business offices, luxury apartments, hotel rooms, retail stores and restaurants. It’s a game that contributes to the idea that in the future, cities will be made up of self-contained vertical towers… and based on the lives that the people of Project Highrise seem to live, that doesn’t seem so bad.
Australian developers have proven to be rather good at mobile development, and this year has been no different. Paperbark: Story of a Wombat is a delightful little game about an iconic Australian animal, in a game that’s the Australian aesthetic and personality to its very core. This is by no means a typical mobile game, but at the same time, it’s the kind of small, self-contained, and intimate experience that feels most at home on mobile, where you can play for short bursts of time on your own terms.
Florence is a game that has been turning heads ever since release earlier this year, and with good reason. It eschews just about everything typical of video games – there’s no violence, no fanservice, and no “epic” story or fantastic adventure to follow. Instead, it’s a story about life, love and romance, told with intelligence and verve, and really explores the storytelling capabilities and potential of video games. Florence is another Aussie game, too, which is a nice bonus!