For our first year as a site, we modeled our site-wide end of the year awards loosely off of the Game Awards model. Trevor, Frank, Cameron, and Logan served as the panel as submitted up to their top three games in each category. Those games were then scored and tallied, with the highest scoring game taking the top prizes and all other nominees earning an Honorable Mention. These awards will be presented throughout the week with the website’s Top Games of 2019 featured on Friday, January 17th. On Monday and Tuesday, we highlighted the various genres. Today focuses on the categories around design and performance.
That Performance: Troy Baker as Higgs, Death Stranding
Death Stranding has many incredible performances within its campaign but for us, the standout was Troy Baker as one of your primary antagonists Higgs. From Cameron Abbott’s review: “Troy Baker as Higgs is a delightful experience, even as he taunts your efforts throughout the game. Baker’s use of slipping in and out of an accent is one of the many ways he establishes a sense of terrifying calculation in what otherwise would appear as a misstep. He maintains an undeniable charm and his chemistry with Norman Reedus’ Sam is a dynamic that effectively serves their adversarial relationship.”
Honorable Mentions: Ashly Burch (The Outer Worlds), Sam Witwer (Days Gone), Norman Reedus (Death Stranding), Mads Mikkelsen (Death Stranding)
That Art Direction: Control
Remedy endowed Control with a lot of incredible design moments. The use of color to contrast the many shades of grey. The Director’s Pistol that can transform itself into a variety of different guns. The Oldest House as a wonderful mash-up of ’60s-era technology and bureaucratic simplicity mixed with the occasional bit of the outlandishly extraordinary. Even the titles pop with a larger-than-life feel when you enter a new area. One of the game’s most striking and fantastical design elements, the Ashtray Maze, was one of the stand-out sequences in all of gaming in 2019.
Honorable Mention: Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, Concrete Genie, Ape Out, Resident Evil 2
That Sound Design: Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order excels at nearly all of its design elements from the related films, with the sound design being a particular standout. The blaster bolts of a Stormtrooper. The mechanical stomping of an AT-ST. The beeping or your droid ally BD-1. And perhaps most obviously, the hum and crackle of Cal’s lightsaber. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order was not without its flaws, but it nailed the sound and feel of Star Wars.
Honorable Mentions: Control, Gears 5, Ape Out, Resident Evil 2, Apex Legends
That Narrative: Devil May Cry 5
As a peek behind the curtain, this is Trevor writing all of these little award blurbs and this is the only one I have absolutely no context for. Frank and Cameron rated Devil May Cry 5 high enough that it took the award in a category I wouldn’t have even thought about because when I think about Devil May Cry, I think about its action and combat. But at least for those two, the game’s narrative bringing together Dante, Nero, and V to face off against the demon Urizen and a demonic tree called Qliphoth (that is killing folks for their blood, of course) apparently makes way more sense.
Honorable Mention: Life is Strange 2, Fire Emblem: Three Houses, The Outer Worlds, Death Stranding, Metro Exodus, Ape Out, Katana Zero
That Score and Music: Ape Out
Composer Matt Boch provides Ape Out with a fantastic jazz soundtrack to accompany your rampages as a giant ape escaping all of the cages the scientists and military personnel try to secure you in. And the jazz style makes the drum and cymbal crashes that play when you smash someone into a wall or blow something up a natural fit with the flow of the musical tracks. The levels themselves are structured as tracks on the game’s four chapters/discs. Perhaps one of the best things I can say about the music is that it never gets old, even when you might here musical phrases over and over if you have to die and restart an area a lot of times before finally succeeding.
Honorable Mentions: Life is Strange 2, Katana Zero, Super Mario Maker 2, Sayonara Wild Hearts, Devil May Cry 5, Death Stranding
That Game Direction: Death Stranding
Hideo Kojima had a very particular vision for his first project out on his own away from the confines of Konami and he executes on that vision with an incredible amount of care and attention to detail (even if some of those details are meticulously recreated ads for Monster energy drink or Ride with Norman Reedus). He directs not only a stellar cast of talented performers and a truly cinematic story, but he has also crafted a world that directs the player ever Westward in their quest to reconnect the country, one delivery at a time.
Honorable Mentions: Life is Strange 2, Control, Resident Evil 2, Ape Out, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
Stay tuned for console-specific awards tomorrow and our site-wide top games of 2019 on Friday.