It’s that time of year again, everyone, where we celebrate the best games of the year. Despite being a heavily disrupted year thanks to the ongoing impact of COVID-19, 2021 produced some incredible games, almost from day one, and as a result, our awards this year has the most variety of games ever – almost 50 different titles got at least one award, and as you’ll see as we announce each category, it really is an endless stream of incredible experiences.
This year we had a special, expanded judging panel, with the entire DDNet team participating, but we also invited some prominent people from independent game publications outside the Website to participate, so we could get a broader range of insights and thoughts into the winners from each category. Our additional judges this year included Pete Davison from Rice Digital, Thomas Knight of Nook Gaming, Robert Allen of Tech-Gaming, Matt Ryan from Shindig, and academic and freelancer, @TsuChanJohnson on Twitter. The total judging pool for the awards was ten people this year around, and there was some heated discussion about the worthiest titles in each category indeed!
And now we’ve arrived at the three big awards, as well as the overall GOTY to be announced on Thursday. The first of the “main” awards is for the best music. Music can be the overlooked quality in games because, by nature, it sits in the background. It’s not visual and it’s not (typically) interactive, making it more of a framing device for the action. But try playing any of these games without the music on. It’s a very different (and always) inferior experience. Good games use the music to deepen the experience, and these four games are all excellent at just that.
This would have been a bigger challenge than I think a lot of people would think. The Persona series has always offered stellar soundtracks, with Persona 5’s blend of Jpop and jazzy themes combining to give the game’s funky aesthetics an additional punch. But Persona 5 Strikers is a very different game to Persona 5. It’s a heavy action brawler, and that requires a different kind of music. As we’ve seen with Koei Tecmo’s Warriors series, the chill beats of Persona 5 would not have translated so well.