Distinguished guests, welcome to round two of our game of the year article. You’ll be happy to know that, once again, we have a bunch of super talented writers with us to talk about their pick for GOTY, and once again, you may be dismayed to know that it ends with me talking about another one of my picks because nobody can stop me. Anyway…
Crusader Kings 3 – Ruth
Sometimes the escapism you need from [gestures] is a heaping dose of melodrama, and Crusader Kings III delivers that in spades. Despite the surface flavours of crusading and conquest, the win conditions are only what you decide they’ll be in your heart. With every character on the map acting according to their own personality and interests, each generation of play becomes a wide-spanning web of drama and politics. Your story can be one of spite, betrayal, murder and love – all because your illegitimate son slept with your wife and tried to steal your crown, that bastard.
BPM: Bullets Per Minute – Henry
Best described as a mix between DOOM Eternal and Crypt of the Necrodancer, BPM: Bullets Per Minute made for a fantastic experience when it launched last September. Combining rhythm and roguelike elements within an FPS game, you played a Valkyrie sent to stop an underworld invasion of Asgard.
Taking place in a series of procedurally generated dungeons, all actions need timing with the beat and this was backed up by an intense electro-rock and heavy metal soundtrack. If you die, it’s back to square one. Like many roguelikes, it proved quite challenging (even on easier difficulties) but if you can get past that, this is one shooter worth your time.
Coffee Talk – Michael
Coffee Talk is the antithesis of 2020. In a year marked by horrible tragedies and political turmoil, Coffee Talk lets us explore a space of serenity, punctuated with its gorgeous pixel art and lo-fi beats for brewing too. A varied and fascinating cast of characters blends fantasy and science fiction in an honest and believable way, making the sight of an alien and a half-orc buying cafe au lattes in Seattle both believable and immersive. Coffee Talks rewards your barista skills with both story beats and an ever-growing notebook of delicious beverages that keeps you engaged with the mechanics whilst devouring the complex stories of your patrons. Coffee Talk is lovely, kind and warming – like a finely brewed cappuccino.
Umurangi Generation – Khee Hoon Chan
From its distinctly Maorian graffiti to the traditional huia feathers worn by the city’s inhabitants, Umurangi Generation–the other cyberpunk game–is confident enough to weave its identity and purpose within its neon-soaked dystopia, rather than ape the cyberpunk cities of classic stories. Explicitly rejecting the tenets of its genre, it breezes past these to deliver a cautionary tale that’s actually grounded in current affairs, rather than plucked from rotting remnants of American exceptionalism. That’s why Umurangi Generation is uniquely articulate in its distaste for institutional oppression–and oh, you get to take nifty pictures of its collapsing city, too.
Baldur’s Gate 3 – Aimee
Baldur’s Gate 3 is probably what would happen if you went camping with all your gay friends if they were goths, and if they all hated one another. Oh, and you have a tadpole stuck in your head that will kill you.
A fantasy/comedy flick that you can’t help but watch. It may sound like trash on paper, but Larian Studio’s combination of the exciting Forbidden Realms from Wizard of the Coast’s Dungeons and Dragons, with the excellent writing that made Divinity Original Sin 2 the RPG of the century… Who doesn’t want to play a game like that?
Hades – Jason… again
I’m back baby, because I never left. Hades is, of course, one of the best games of the year no matter what sphere of gaming you exist in. For starters, everyone is hot. Also, the game is exceptional, plays smoother than an anti-grav skateboard, and the story-telling is unparalleled in a roguelike. Play this damn game.