2011: NGD’s GOTY
I sure do love me some acronyms.
You know, for awhile I was all but certain Deus Ex: Human Revolution was going to win the prize for my Game of the Year (the value of that prize being somewhere in the negative zone). I loved that damn game. I even said it was better than the original Deus Ex.
But looking back on it, I think I may have jumped the gun. DX:HR had far more refined and functional gameplay than DX1, especially in the stealth department. I still stand by that statement. It also had a fun hacking minigame and a shockingly interesting and intuitive persuasion system. But on the whole, I just feel like it wasn’t quite as memorable as DX1. HR does pose some very interesting questions surrounding the concept of transhumanism, but DX1 had a myriad of ethical dilemmas and a wonderfully complex web of conspiracies, and I still rate the ending as the best ending of any game ever, and a perfect example of how to do the whole Big Ending Choice trope correctly.
I think the reason I loved DX:HR so much was because it’s such a perfect fit for me that I sometimes wonder if Eidos Montreal made the game specifically for me. It’s a stealth/shooter RPG set in a cyberpunk dystopia where you get to jump abnormally high, backstab unsuspecting guards, and wear a badass coat. I honestly can’t imagine anything that would be more appealing to me personally, except maybe if it also featured space pirates or ninjas. But it seems like nobody else liked the game quite as much as I did, and I guess that’s fair enough. Maybe it wasn’t that amazing.
But hey, you know what was kind of amazing? Bastion. A brilliant independent action-RPG with a virtually unprecedented art style and method of storytelling, one that presents a thoroughly fleshed-out world and an engaging, sometimes heart-wrenching narrative while rarely interrupting the flow of gameplay. This game took a lot of risks and played with a lot of big ideas, and it’s refreshing to see how well it sold and how much acclaim it received.
Honorable mention goes to Portal 2 and Skyrim. They were both great, if for very different reasons, but I think Bastion deserves the pedestal today.