It’s that time of year again, where we look back at the year that was, and pick our top three games across a host of categories! As with years past we’ll reveal one award winner per day, and this year we’ve got a massive 17 different awards to share out. It was a difficult process to choose the winners this year! While 2019 might not have had quite as many spectacularly big blockbuster releases as years past, the quality of games that were released with far less fanfare than they deserves is truly incredible.
The Non-Violent Game of the Year is a new category for these awards. We decided that with so many games having some kind of violent loop to the game’s core – be it a realistic military shooter or the nicest of JRPGs – it would be a good idea to highlight that it is possible for video games to be unburdened from what, at times, feels like an inevitable loop that in order to have a game you’ve got to be hurting something at some point.
Japan’s anime and manga industry has itself relied overly heavily on violence and bloodletting over the years, but Doraemon has always stood out as the iconic wholesome alternative. For the wholesome blue robot cat to be paired up with Harvest Moon (sorry, Story of Seasons), is such a natural blend that we’re surprised this hadn’t happened sooner. We’re glad that it has happened, though, because Doraemon: Story of Seasons is bright, funny, entertaining, beautiful, and charming. And not a single violent action in sight. Well… except for those poor turnips, that is. Torn right out of the ground, they are… and in such numbers!
Okay sure rhythm games might be a bit of a cheating way out when it comes to non-violence, but nonetheless rhythm games are (generally) an oasis in the industry, and the perfect proof that there is room for entire genres to be engaging and entertaining without relying on maiming and killing. Persona 3 and 5 have excellent rhythm games attached to them, that blend fan service (both for the characters and the music in their respective titles), with excellent choreography and a healthy level of challenge. You might want to break your controllers when playing these on the highest difficulty setting, but that’s on you. It’s hardly the game’s fault.
Okay, so look. The goose in Goose Game isn’t exactly your friend. Actually he’s a bit of an arsehole. But that’s just why Goose Game is so perfect as the non-violent game of the year. It proves that you can have a truly nasty anti-hero and do so without a single gun, sword, or magic wand in sight. I mean, sure, that poor kid whose glasses you steal is probably going to step on a rake and hurt himself. And you do cause the farmer to hit himself with a hammer. But can we really blame the goose for that? I would argue not. The goose is just playin’. It’s not his fault if misfortune befalls others.
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