Every time we come to consider the action adventure genre, we’re always caught out by just how broad and all-encompassing the genre description is. You have the likes of Uncharted going up against the latest Assassin’s Creed, you’ve got the tense stamina-based combat of Nioh competing with the equally tense and fraught Resident Evil, and so on.
Naturally that makes it one of the most hotly contested genres and one that’s so often leads directly into the final deliberations for the overall Game of the Year. This year’s discussion boiled down to two main contenders, two platform exclusives, but as close as the vote was, we have to choose a winner.
There’s still time to vote for your Game of the Year in our community poll!
With The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Nintendo graced not one, but two generations of home console with one of the finest video games of all time. Through the series’ 31 years, it’s had many moments that have defined the series, but none have been quite as bold as this.
With Eiji Aonuma at the helm, Breath of the Wild started anew. A huge and freeform open world of Hyrule lies before you to explore however you see fit, taking on the Divine Beast temples, tackling puzzling and challenging Shrines as you come across them, while combat has borrowed from the stamina-led style of the Souls-like genre of action RPG.
It’s outstanding as it blends new ideas with the familiarity of the Zelda universe, likely setting the course for the series’ future. If you own a Nintendo Switch or a Wii U, this is practically essential.
Horizon Zero Dawn – Runner Up
For Guerrilla Games to step away from the first person shooter genre was a bold decision, but it’s one that paid dividends, resulting in the fantastic open world action adventure of Horizon Zero Dawn. From Aloy, its great new heroine, to the intriguing post-apocalyptic setting it’s no wonder that it struck a chord with PlayStation owners this year.
At its core are the tense and fraught battles with the machines that now roam the world. The way that you have to hunt these mechanical beasts with primitive bow and arrow or grappling hook is especially compelling, meaning that you’re always walking a fine line between being the hunter and the hunted.
It also helps that Horizon is a truly gorgeous game, and it’s incredible just how much Guerrilla were able to draw out of the base PlayStation 4, not to mention what it can do on PlayStation 4 Pro.
Understandably, this game ran Breath of the Wild pretty close, as perhaps the best and most memorable exclusive on PlayStation 4 this year.
Yakuza 0 – Runner Up
Yakuza 0 is both a great new entry for fans of the series, as well as being the perfect entry point to the Yakuza franchise. Yakuza 0 draws you into a serious Japanese crime drama, with characters that exude criminality in style and a tense and dramatic story that will shock you. With that alone Yakuza 0 was already a contender in this category, but then you have the other side of the coin.
Mixed with the harsh realities of Yakuza life are the weird and entertaining side quests and activities. The game has a side mission where you discuss tax with someone and it somehow manages to be one of the most memorable side missions I’ve played – there’s literally nothing else to it. Another mission has you pretend to be a girl’s boyfriend and attempt to impress her father. Again, memorable because of how bizarrely fun it is.
The world of Yakuza 0 itself is fascinating to wander through despite its small size, because you never know what event will pop up next for its two excellent lead characters, Kiryu and Majima. Yakuza is a series that has been around for a while now, but Yakuza 0 is the game that has the ability to open the franchise up to a wider audience.
Honourable Mentions (in alphabetical order)
- Assassin’s Creed Origins
- NieR: Automata
- Resident Evil 7
- Uncharted: The Lost Legacy
With such a broad genre and category on offer, I’m sure you’ve got plenty of standout action adventure games from your year of gaming. Sound off below about what you’ve played.