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Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Game of the Year 2019! The Best Narrative Of 2019


Awards by the DDNet Team

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. 

It's safe to say that at DDNet we are fans of a good narrative. In fact, when we get down to it, it's the story that we're being told that hooks us in and keeps us playing. A good narrative will inspire and challenge. It'll present us with ideas, philosophy and emotion to go with a great bunch of a characters, and long after we've forgotten what buttons do what, we'll have fond memories of that story.

Every year we get more mature and interesting stories, and 2019 is no different. While the overall video game industry seems to slide ever more towards content-driven esports, where narrative is shallow and secondary, those developers that do fly the flags for games being art continue to find new ways to surprise and delight us with the stories they tell.

BRONZE


AI: The Somnium Files (Read our review here)

It should come as no surprise that the creator of the Zero Escape series would tell a blistering good story with his new project, but I don't think many people anticipated that AI: The Somnium Files would be quite this good. As a truly masterful example of the noir genre, mixed with the modernity of science fiction, AI's plot twists and turns, and every time you start to think you've got it pigeonholded, it does something to shock you right back into reality. The reality that you're on a wild narrative ride, and AI's the one with the royal flush in its hand. What a ride it is though. Raymond Chandler himself would admire this game.




SILVER


London Detective Mysteria

We actually missed reviewing this one back when it released in August. But you should play it, because it is a truly wonderful visual novel. You'll get to interact with a bunch of characters based on literary and cultural figures as varied as Jack the Ripper through Sherlock Holmes in this otome visual novel masterpiece. Originally released on the PSP in Japan only, the game finally landed in English this year, courtesy of XSEED, and though it doesn't seem to have set the charts alight (at least, looking at the number of Steam reviews it garnered) it is right up there among the greatest of otome novels, and while it is gorgeous, it's the intricate and consistently surprising narrative that does it.




GOLD


Spirit Hunter: NG (Read our review here)

Proving that Death Mark was by no means a one off bit of lighting in a bottle, Spirit Hunter: NG is every bit as good at taking the genre horror, and giving us something more than just chills and ghosts. These games are intelligent, in the way that the defly blend everything from humour and fan service to the most grotesque of imagery, and meld Japan's very different sense of horror - it's about tragedy rather than existential monstrosity - with the occasional jump scare and visceral moment to keep us alert and receptive. Where Death Mark focused on urban legends, however, Spirit Hunter instead throws is into ghost stories and folklore, and I've got to tell you, yurei and yokai and kami and all those things? So much more terrifying to their very core. Through Spirit Hunter: NG, we get a sense of why Shinto, as a religion that is unique to Japan, is the reason that Japan's ghosts are nothing like the rest of the world, so not only will this game terrify you... if you pay close enough attention you might just realise that it's a true cultural artifact and therefore you'll learn something from it too.



Stay tuned for the next award tomorrow!

- DDNet Team



Game of the Year 2019! The Best Narrative Of 2019
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