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!
We like our RPGs and visual novels at DigitallyDownloaded.net, so it should go without saying that we hold narrative very dear to us indeed. A good narrative keeps us playing, and gives us meaning beyond the game itself. Like a good book, a good game narrative can be insightful or philosophical, share thoughts about the world around us, or, simply, educate us about something we hadn’t thought about before. In short, this category is the most important, as far as video games developing as an art form is concerned.
Bustafellows has a bit of it all – it has noirish tones, and heist sub-plots. It has romance and danger. It has a cast of characters that are funny and personable, but also have their darker edge. This game is recognised as one of the all-time great otome, and having finally had a chance to play it in 2021, we can all start to appreciate why.