For many people, a game is nothing without great gameplay. Though we’d argue that games can be immersive experiences for other reasons, the reason why so many of us love this past time is for playing games that get your brain ticking over, your thumbs twitching, your pulse racing as you try to overcome whatever challenges lie before you.
Our winner is one that perfects those elements, making you think, learn, and adapt how you play in order to succeed.
There are a lot of things that make the gameplay in Hades so damn enjoyable. For starters, each weapon manages to feel like you’re playing a completely different game. While the enemies remain the same, your ability to interact with them is completely different depending on which tool your bring into the run. Then you’ve got the aspects of each which help further define what kind of playstyle you want on top of that.
Then, as if that’s not enough, you’ve got the boon system which allows you to craft a uniquely powerful experience in each run. As you get better at the game you’ll find better boons, and when you can mix and match your favourite ones together you’ll feel like a proper god. It’s not just the weapons though, the dodge feels excellent, the magic is great, and each boss fight feels fair even when they’re stopping you back into the River Styx.
– Jason C
Runner Up – Ghost of Tsushima
Following on from inFamous, Sucker Punch have once again proven they have the chops to make some of the best open world experiences around. Instead of fully diving into the roleplaying game genre with Ghost of Tsushima (which they could have definitely done) their talented team stood at the precipice, cherry-picking elements to enhance their vision for an action-heavy ode to samurai cinema.
Ghost of Tsushima allowed players to seamlessly blend strategies and playstyles, swapping from stealth to ranged to melee in a deadly dance against the island’s Mongol invaders. While there wasn’t anything ground-breaking about any of these individual parts, the way they came together made each combat encounter fun and experimental, whether slashing your way through the campaign or buddying up for some Legends online co-op.
One particular highlight here is how Sucker Punch innovated with their exploration gameplay to make it feel more organic, Jin being guided between checkpoints by a gust of wind instead of having giant arrows pointing you in the right direction.
– Jim H
Runner Up – Astro’s Playroom
Astro’s Playroom is indelibly linked to your first experience of the PlayStation 5 and its new DualSense controller. Here’s a new gadget that’s filled with new technology that can truly transformative for how a game feels as you’re playing it, and Astro’s Playroom takes advantage of every single trick the DualSense can perform.
Sure, it’s a bit gimmicky at times – literally nobody actually wants to play a ball rolling game using the touch pad, and I thought we’d left behind blowing into microphones with the Nintendo DS – but nothing outstays its welcome as you explore the four worlds themed around different parts of the PS5’s internals. The game swiftly moves from one idea to the next, whether it’s regular 3D platforming, shooting with a bow and arrow, the spring-loaded hopping, or wall-climbing like a monkey. Each new idea is pulled off perfectly, only to be augmented further by the DualSense.
Honourable Mentions (in alphabetical order)
- Nioh 2
- Risk of Rain 2
- Spider-Man: Miles Morales
To catch up on the Game of the Year awards we’ve handed out so far, here’s a handy list!
- Best Independent Game
- Best Visual Design
- Best Original Soundtrack
- Best Multiplayer Game
- Best Ongoing Game
- Best Remaster/Remake
With so many great games to play this year, I’m sure you have your own opinions. Let us know if you agree, or what you think should take the award home?