Ruth Wynne Jones and I were lucky enough to be able to attend the 33rd presentation of the Golden Joystick Awards on October 30th! After being suitably impressed by the fancy décor, taking advantage of the free bar, and trying somewhat awkwardly to talk to other journalists, we’re here to present to you the winners from each category, with a little bit of commentary.
Just so it’s easier to follow, Ruth’s comments will be in italics, and mine will be in the regular font:
Best Original Game – Bloodborne
So, you have any strong feelings on Bloodbourne getting best original game?
I have to take this with a grain of salt since I have yet to actually play Bloodborne, BUT… I’ve watched bits and pieces of it via playthroughs, and it is one of the most visually and thematically stunning games I’ve ever seen. I love gothic, Victorian-esque horror, and everything about it is right up my alley; I just don’t know how the plot is. But then you run into the problem of stacking AAA games against indie ones like Life Is Strange, The Talos Principle, and Her Story, all three of which are fantastic concepts. It almost feels a little unfair
I was just about to comment that I like the fact that these original games are so diverse. You’ve got Ori and Bloodborne, which is 90% dying and failure. (I don’t want to wade into the ‘is Bloodborne actually difficult’ debate), and Life is Strange and Her Story.
But is it fair to stack AAA games against ones most people may not have heard of, from relatively unknown studios?
As for Bloodborne winning- I don’t doubt it’s quality at all- but calling it an original game when it’s so close to the Souls games?
That’s very true.
I really don’t know. Undertale’s going to be many people’s GOTY’s for sure, and that was made on a shoe-string.
But in a world saturated with run and gun shooters, it stands out, which is why I’ll give it more of a pass.
This is very fair-minded of you. Considering that The Talos Principle was nominated for the category..
): My baby was overlooked.
Best Storytelling – The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Now this is a tricky one, since I haven’t played the Witcher.
You assumed it’s standard Western fantasy and… it kinda totally is… and, to be honest, it wasn’t so much the story-telling in The Witcher that got me so much as the presentation of said story.
But since it’s up against Sunless Sea, Life is Strange, Dragon Age: Inquisition, and my beloved Talos Principle, I don’t wholly agree on this one. EVERYONE I’ve spoken to says “if you don’t like Skyrim, you won’t like this.”
In a world chock-full of RPGs were you don’t have much of a clue what your objectives are with each side-quest, The Witcher 3 stands out. It has a massive world but it has cutscenes for so many quests. I understood what I was doing on a moment to moment basis. Contrast that with DA: I where I’m closing fade tears every ten minutes… It’s light on filler. But I feel it subverts the usual father/ daughter relationship we’ve seen in The Walking Dead, The Last of Us, Dishonoured, etc…
Best Visual Design – The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Okay, this is a straight up nope. Bloodborne should have got that.
I would have gone with Ori or The Vanishing of Ethan Carter. I love the contrasting colours in Ori and the ethereal atmosphere. And the visuals for Ethan Carter are incredible considering they had such a small, indie team developing. But Bloodborne is pretty too! It’s definitely one of the prettier girls at the dance.
But this is the thing; how do you judge? Is it fair to judge massive teams against smaller ones with less resources?
I would say so. Photorealism doesn’t necessarily make a work visually appealing. Especially considering the uncanny valley. Should the developers disclose how much the project cost them so we can see how much they achieved in relative terms?
I don’t think so? It just seems hard to judge Steam only games with tiny teams versus AAA titles. Ethan Carter looks gorgeous though!
But I do think I should note that The Witcher 3 was visually impressive. The city of Novigrad – the attention to detail is incredible. It feels like a living, breathing world. The Witcher is certainly the grandest game in my mind. But Ori’s style was distinct, and Ethan Carter’s visuals are a very solid technical achievement.
Best Audio – Ori and the Blind Forest
It went to Ori. Which I think is fair- but I believe the visuals were the better part of the game. Although, they complimented each other very well.
I’m actually surprised Talos wasn’t on THIS list considering all the reviews I read praised the soundtrack
I do have an actual pertinent criticism of the audio in Ori that has nothing to do with the actual sound of the thing… and that’s… in Ori… you die. A lot. And so you’ll hear the same dramatic, tension-building music ad naeseum until all tension has been killed. To be honest, I would have given this one to DA: I for the tavern songs alone. Let me just say that hearing a redux of ‘I Am the One’ from Origins was a high-light of DA: I for me.
…I haven’t played any of the games on this list so I have nothing to say -ducks and runs-
Best Multiplayer – Grand Theft Auto Online
How did Splatoon NOT get this?! At work, we always recommend it for families because you rarely get split screen co op anymore
Yes. I would have preferred if Splatoon had won this. Splatoon feels like more of an inclusive game. Considering the differing roles you can take in-game. But GTA Online is fine. Nothing to be complained about.
Best Indie Game – Kerbal Space Program
Kerbal Space Program won it, but this was a hard category for me. There’s so many games on this list I quite like… none I’m real passionate about.
I would have honestly preferred Everyone’s Gone to the Rapture for concept alone. Kerbal hasn’t been on my radar at all.
But Her Story stood out to me because I like the format. Invisible Inc. was great too. You had a ridiculous amount of cutomization options open to you that I appreciated. The visuals were lovely too. Very clean cut and elegant. I want to see more games that take cues from Her Story’s presentation. Games with minimal game-play are becoming more popular (see Telltale)… so I could see it happening.
Best Innovation – First Person Mode in Grand Theft Auto V
I don’t think GTA should have won it. Mostly because Project Morpheus is a LOT of fun. and the FF XV team have put a lot of effort into listening to their fans and adjusting it to what they have to say; it’s lovely to feel listened to for once. And I got to meet Hajime Tabata because of it, so…
But how did GTA get this? Haven’t people been modding it in for years?
Yeah, this is like saying a Fallout mod for better textures is innovative. It’s not.
Best Gaming Moment- The Bloody Baron Quest in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
This one was dark. Can I first of all say that ‘saving Kate’ in LiS should not be an option because it doesn’t happen for everyone: in some play-throughs Kate just dies.
I voted for summoning Ramuh, because it’s beautifully intense. You can only do it when Noctis is about to die and it is STUNNING.
I don’t know how to feel about the Witcher quest. I wrote in my article on the Witcher that it can make you take the side of a domestic abuser… and so… maybe it’s a trifle problematic because the wife in question can go back to her husband. But, it’s an interesting quest-line that touches on intense familial relationships in a way that’s at least emotive.
Most Wanted Game – Fallout 4
How is Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst not at least a nominee? But I know what yours is…all too well.
Nah, sorry, Fallout 4. If you know the fandom, you’d know why.
Is the fandom really great?
The fandom is old, obsessive about tiny details, and has been waiting feverishly for four years.
Can I add that I don’t like the category? “Most Wanted” Game. It could be terrible!
And on that note where the hell was FF XV?
Gaming Personality- Pewdiepie
Studio of the Year – CD Projekt Red
Not Konami. Next!
Would be cool if it went to Kojima Productions… because that’s as close as you can get as payback.
I actually didn’t like any of them, though apparently Bungie did better with the Taken King than the disaster that was Destiny; cutting out all the plot will never endear me to a game. Ever.
But I do think C D Projekt Red deserved the win. Because: 1] The Witcher 3 was good and there was so much attention to detail paid, 2] They own GOG and so their digital games have no DRM, 3] because they provide free DLC and their paid for DLC are proper expansions.
Best Gaming Platform- Steam
I think the PS4. We had some great games
I like that one guy shouted “PC.” I’m with him on that. I’m happy that Steam has finally introduced refunds and they have great sales. But they also have a rep for shovelware that’s entirely fair. I think the new 3DS would have won for me on account of the eye-tracking. Possibly. PS4 had some good exclusives this year but I hate exclusives so…
Best PlayStation Game – Bloodborne
Until Dawn got runner-up. Bloodborne winning is the only option, to be honest.
Until Dawn is something I appreciate in terms of it’s structure and presentation. And taking a horror-flick and turning it into a choice-based video game is a stroke of genius. But I felt the story was far too conventional for my liking. I didn’t care about the characters. They all seemed kinda… well… there were betrayals aplenty for bad reasons, in my opinion.
I don’t like any of those games, so yay for Ori!
Ori is a platformer/ action game. Really beautiful, but not an exclusive so I don’t know how I feel… in a category with perhaps too many shooters though…
Best Nintendo Game – Splatoon
I absolutely agree.
Fallout Shelter was the only one I actually played. It’s a simple. cute tie in for a big release, and there’s minimal microtransactions. What’s not to love?
I am not a mobile gamer. You’ve seen my phone. Don’t even have Snake.
Most Played Award – Grand Theft Auto V
I have no emotional reaction to this. But it’s probably accurate. GTA is a game you can spend… a lot of time in. What with it being a sandbox and all. I do wonder about the category..
It would be better suited to MMOs.
… I mean… numbers of hours played… are they no fair indicator of quality? Or are they a pure one?
Well I’d assume the longer it’s played, they must be doing something right.
Best Family Game – Splatoon
Why was Her Story considered a breakthrough?
Well, it was a non-cheesy (in the eyes of most people) FMV game. and that’s possibly a world-first. The narrative was non-linear. I couldn’t care about that. You know, there’s this very easy way that written into the game’s design to see all the videos in order. So, as a game, it doesn’t pose any kind of challenge. Except in the sense that you never solve the mystery for definite. They leave things open.
I see your point, and I think it deserved it.
I think MGS was fantastic in its own right.
I also felt that Freddie Prinze, Jr. did such a good job voicing IB. It was such a memorable voice that commanded authority. And, at the same time, IB is a ridiculously fun character. He nailed comedy, drama and the complicated middle-ground.
GOTY, though… How do you judge that?
Arkham Knight got runner up. Which is just terrible. I mean, that PC port still doesn’t work! Life is Strange came third which is fair, but I really do feel that The Witcher deserved this win.
I’m impartial, I liked neither
In terms of pure presentation- like… I wish all RPGs were so dense and detailed. Anyway, maybe next year will be the year of Fallout 4?
God, I hope so.
I thought it was nice that Danny Wallace, who was presenting, had a clue. And that he called out the issues with Unity and Arkham Knight.
Not really, I thought it was pretty fun. Saddened by lack of big screen Fallout trailer, and why were we not allowed at the after party?
So, I feel we’ve learnt about the struggle of people not liking the things we like as much as we like them.
Individuality is truly terrible.
And bring on Fallout 4!
Truer words were never spoken.