DDNet Awards 2020! A/NZ Game of the Year

5 mins read

Awards by DDNet Team

It’s that time of year again, where we roll out the red carpet and celebrate the best that 2020 has offered us. In a year that has otherwise been so terrible, the fact that we’ve had a steady stream of such excellent games to play has been nothing but a relief.

It really has been a great year for games, from the big blockbusters right down to the most humble of projects. We’ve had surprises that have come out of nowhere, and long-anticipated games that have managed to meet and exceed our expectations when we’ve finally got our hands on them.

This year, for the DDNet awards, we have 16 different categories to recognise, and as we always do, we kick things off by celebrating the finest that the Australia and New Zealand game industries have provided. Australia and New Zealand has a modest-sized development industry by global standards, but it punches well above its weight, every year offering a wide range of entertaining, thought-provoking, charming and powerful games to enjoy. This year has been no different.

BRONZE: Best Friend Forever

Part pet simulator, part visual novel dating simulator, Best Friend Forever comes to us from New Zealand, and it is all about finding many different kinds of love in a new life. You need to care for your puppy pal and shower them with love and affection… and then you need to find yourself a romance with a wonderfully diverse cast of singles. This game is warm, wholesome, and so downright positive that it’s impossible not to love it. As the game’s blurb states: “Be whoever you want, love whoever you want.” We most certainly will. These are the kinds of games that “indies” are really getting a handle on – an opportunity to explore a wide range of ideas and present a vision for the world that is, amazingly-enough, good. With so many dystopian nightmares out there, Best Friend Forever is a breath of fresh air. 
SILVER: Umurangi Generation

Unless you live in Australia, you’ve probably never heard of Lismore (and, frankly, there’s a good chance you haven’t if you live in Australia). This charming little town of less than 30,000 people was responsible for Umurangi Generation, this is a science fiction photography simulator set in New Zealand, and in this future you need to run around, taking photos, and being graded on those photos. Think Pokemon Snap, but dystopian. Think “dystopia,” but without the hyperviolence of certain other science fiction first-person games that are out there or on the horizon. Umurangi brings this strong concept and gameplay loop together with an incredible aesthetic and uniquely realised world. Good job, regional Australia. 
GOLD: Quantum Suicide (Read our review here)

It was many years in the making, but Quantum Suicide delivered what its strong premise has always promised, and then some. It combines the Game Theory horror theme of Danganronpa (i.e. a group of hot things are trapped in an isolated environment – in this case a space ship – and forced to play death games to slowly whittle their numbers down) with dating game elements (i.e. you can totally date the hot things), and packages this up with some gorgeous aesthetics and well-written storyline. Quantum Suicide is smart, meticulously well thought out, and one of the better visual novels that has been released in recent times. The fact it comes from an Australian is so much the better.

Of course, we very much welcome your own picks for each category, so be sure to let us know your thoughts, and we’ll see you tomorrow for the next category!

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