The Otaku’s Study End of Year Awards // Video Game of the Year 2013
With Siren Visual’s release of Tiger & Bunny just walking away with the first major award up for grabs this year (Australian Anime Release of the Year 2013), it is finally time to determine which of the eleven nominees will walk away with the Bronze, Silver and Gold awards in the fourth annual “The Otaku’s Study Video Game of the Year” ceremony.
Developers and publishers alike have provided us with a number of interesting titles this year from a variety of genres which has made it hard to determine which one is well deserving of the top prize. However before determining what game will be named the best, lets stall a bit and look at the requirements for a title to be considered a nominee.
Requirements to be Eligible for Video Game Release of the Year 2013
- The game MUST have been published in 2013
- The game MUST have at least been published in Australia, PAL Regions and/or North America.
- On occasions where a game was originally region locked to a console, the Australian release date takes precedent over all others (Eg. Persona 4 Arena).
- Must have received at least an A- grade when reviewed OR received an A+ score in the key review subcategory for the title.
- The game must not have won any awards in previous years.
Keeping it simple like has been the case in the last few years, there will be no specific genre or console awards. Instead all games released during the year are vying for just one of the three positions. These winners will join The Otaku’s Study Hall of Fame which includes the following others:
The Otaku’s Study Video Game of the Year Awards // Previous Winners
- Alan Wake (Xbox360)
- Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten (PlayStation 3)
- Catherine (PlayStation 3 / Xbox360)
- Rayman Origins (Multi-platform)
- Persona 4 Golden (PlayStation Vita)
- Assassin’s Creed III (Multi-platform)
- Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2 (Nintendo DS)
Bronze Award: Bravely Default on the Nintendo 3DS
As was the case with my previous post, it was very tedious to determine what game of the nine remaining would receive the bronze award considering that every title on the list was nominated for a notable merit. In the end however I chose to go with Bravely Default: Flying Fairy over the others, an RPG recently released for the Nintendo 3DS by Nintendo and developed by Square Enix / Silicon Studio.
I originally fell in love with the RPG genre because it often challenged my mind in battles and despite the occasional grind and infuriating random encounters always offered something new during an experience often lasting dozens of hours. While developers such as Nippon Ichi Software have continued to find success in their tactical RPG titles and others have found success in their own different takes and twists to the genre, there haven’t been many titles that draw from the success of the original Final Fantasy games. If anything, the Final Fantasy franchise in particular seems to be more about fast-paced battles, easier difficulties and flashier visuals than their earlier titles, where it could take several minutes a turn in battle to plan things out.
While still adding their own twists to the genre, Bravely Default: Flying Fairy embraces the job systems, random encounters, turn-based battle systems and more to provide an enjoyable and sufficiently long gaming experience. While it may have fared better on a home video game console rather than a portable device, Bravely Default still offers more than enough to earn the Bronze Award and has set a standard for 3DS games going into 2014.
(Review on the 15th December 2013)
Silver Award: BEYOND: Two Souls on the PlayStation 3
After Quantic Dream and Sony Computer Entertainment first released Heavy Rain on the PlayStation 3 back in 2010, I was left intrigued about how far they would be able to take the interactive storytelling genre – and how it would handle other plot types. While it inevitably ended up with mixed reception from gaming media and gamers alike, as someone who is always after a strong storyline I found BEYOND: Two Souls to be a highly enjoyable title that was well deserving of Silver Place in my Video Game of the Year 2013 awards.
There are a few flaws that kept it from being perfect – the non-chronological storyline that could make it hard to pick up the plot at times and brief attempts at integrating third-person shooter mechanics into a Heavy Rain like control system. However in contrast, the game provided a intriguing plot that offered a different perspective of life / death, strong visuals with solid motion capture work and proficient dubbing by talent such as Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe.
Most interesting however is the ending, and I look forward to seeing how Quantic Dream handle it in the future.
(Review on the 27th October 2013)
Gold Award: Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch on the PlayStation 3
After failing to meet the bar they initially set for White Knight Chronicles (PS3), development studio Level-5 came back to the console a couple of years later by enlisting the artistic talent at Studio Ghibli to co-develop Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch. It is this collaboration which serves as the main draw to this game, with the approach to design meaning that the characters and some degree the environment designs look like they have come straight out of a Ghibli film using cel-shaded visuals.
But Ni no Kuni is more than just a pretty game to look at and also features a charming storyline surrounding a young boy granted the power of magic to not only save an alternate world from a tyrannical queen – but risk everything to resurrect his mother who recently passed away. The storyline is rated PG and was one of the few RPG’s from the last generation of consoles that I feel is approachable to gamers of all ages.
When coupled with the diverse number of gameplay mechanics, an experience worth several dozen hours of gametime, age-appropriate voice acting and background music by acclaimed Ghibli composer Joe Hisaishi, Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch proved to be an enjoyable gaming experience from start to finish and well deserving of the title of “The Otaku’s Study Video Game of the Year 2013″.
(Review on the 26th January 2013)