Sunday, December 9, 2018

2018 Winners

Avantgarde Award: 
Lucas Pope, maker of Papers Please, strikes again with his time-traveling murder mystery involving the unlucky crew of an 18th century sailing ship.  While the concept is fairly original, it's the visual presentation that feels uniquely reminiscent of a game for the Apple Macintosh.  I won't go into the details (because you can read about them here), but suffice it to say even though this game draws inspiration from the past it ultimately looks like nothing that has come before.

Backlash Award: 
When people are pissed about a game they tend to be very vocal about it online via forums, twitter, user reviews (and even threatening Emails sent directly to the developers).  I'm sure the makers of Kingdom Come: Deliverance got some of the above, but they also got quite a bit of the silent treatment.  Waypoint, Giantbomb and a lot of other gaming websites pretty much ignored it despite there being little else worth covering at the time.

Canvas Award: 
To quote the RPS description of this game, "a ragtag group of animes, their doctor dog, and their pet tank are out to save semi-magical notEurope from the notNazis during notWW2 through the powers of friendship and turn-based tactical squad combat." It also looks pretty as ever thanks to the canvas rendering engine in addition to skillful application of various color schemes that are more varied than the original game.

Ecology Award: 
When it comes to gameplay, the Metal Gear series has always had a fairly linear progression in terms of mechanics from one game to the next.  Some ideas get scrapped while others are improved on.  Unless you skip a couple games in a row though the "DNA" is pretty similar.  That said, Survive feels completely stripped of any original ideas.  Everything is copied directly from MGSV or else take from the deluge of survival themed games that have come out in recent year...and that includes the zombies.  I guess no Kojima means no innovation for this franchise.

"Engrish" Award: 
In actuality there's no spoken dialogue or even text in this game.  My understanding is the developers are based in the Netherlands which might mean English is not their strongest suit, especially since they were able to win this award based solely on the title.  What's "FAR" and why is it written in all caps?  It is an acronym for something?  How can it be "Lone Sails" if "sails" is plural?  Yes, the landship in the game has multiple sails, but they can't be alone if there's more than one of them, right? 

Esoteric Award: 
At the bottom of the options menu there is the choice to set the game to "bird" or "worm."  Nowhere does it explain what this does, or even if it does anything...that's Cultist Simulator in a nutshell.  It's not a real simulator for cults or the occult, but rather vaguely Lovecraftian.  Even players familiar with the Cthulhu Mythos will be at a loss though because there's no familiar terminology.  What's a "percussigant"?  I don't know, but according to the text description it likes to dance...

Lemon Award: 
What can I say?  Well...for starters it's a Bethesda game which, come to think of it, is all I really need to say.  All the usual suspects are here in terms of glitches and bugs.  The always online component loves to boot players causing a long pause, not to mention autosaves being messed up resulting in a loss of progress.  The targeting system is also busted, but don't worry they've patch it...and in the process introduce a whole slew of new bugs.  Better hope mod makers come to the rescue.

Testosterone Award: 
Based on the long running manga and anime series, Fist Of The North Star: Lost Paradise is a game adaptation that sets out to capture the post-apocalyptic franchise's most distinct iconography (namely, the leather-bound beefcake protagonist, Kenjiro, who has  a neck so muscular it's wider than his head!).  The game mainly consists of him punching other meaty dudes in pressure points (sensitive parts of the body) so hard that they swell up and explode in a shower of bodily fluids.  Oh, and the death screams of the enemies appear as on-screen text...which your character can pick up and use as an improvised weapon to beat up other enemies with.

Underdog Award: 
When describing Frostpunk, Noah Caldwell-Gervais (of Youtube fame) described it as a member of a very small subgenre of games he dubbed "survival strategy."  Other entries he cited include Outpost 1 and 2 along with Surviving Mars.  Like those games Frostpunk has the player perpetually waring with a hostile environment, but unlike those games the story is front and center.  In other words, the player is charge with both the micro and macro decision-making.

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