Microsoft has announced that it’s partnering with non-profits to launch a hackathon that will aim to build solutions for women and children facing domestic…
The BAFTA Games Awards (British Academy Games Awards) is an annual awards ceremony that celebrates and honours the outstanding achievements and contributions in the video game industry.
This year we witnessed the event in its fourteenth iteration and, out of the 16 accolades awarded, 11 of them went to indie games (that’s considerably more than half if you’re really bad at maths).
In this list we will take a brief look at the overall winners and why they are celebrating their well-deserved victories.
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
Awards: Artistic Achievement, Audio Achievement, British Game, Game Beyond Entertainment, Performer (Melina Jurgens)
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice totally stole the show at this year’s BAFTA Games Awards, taking home a staggering five out of the 16 awards.
Hellblade puts players in control of Senua, a member of the Celtic Pict tribe who is on a quest to rescue the soul of her deceased lover from the Norse underworld of Helheim. But beyond the perilous journey to reach Helheim, where Senua battles against a range of disturbing and hostile undead warriors, she also struggles with increasingly severe psychosis, which causes her to hear bickering voices in her head and see strange symbols layered over the waking world.
Thanks to advanced motion capture technology Melina Jurgens, who took the award for Best Performer, was able give a sublimely unnerving live performance as Senua, especially considering that this was her debut as an actress in any capacity (she was originally hired as a video editor).
The game itself acts as a metaphor for the struggles of mental illness, especially psychosis. To ensure that Hellblade accurately conveyed the effects of, and dispelled the ignorance surrounding, mental illness, the development team worked closely with various sufferers of mental illness, neuroscientists, and mental health experts. This, coupled with the brilliant sound design and the fact that the game was developed by a mere twenty-strong indie team, is one of the many reasons that Hellblade is praised as such an incredible achievement.
What Remains of Edith Finch
Award: Best Game
What Remains of Edith Finch is a magical first-person narrative-exploration game wherein the player takes control of the eponymous Edith who is visiting her old family home and ends up unearthing a plethora of heartbreaking and inspiring secrets left behind by various generations of her now-deceased family. The game was created by indie team Giant Sparrow who have already won the BAFTA awards for Game Innovation and Debut Game in 2013 for their debut title, The Unfinished Swan.
The game has been praised for its immersive and atmospheric level design and the lingering emotional impact of each of the Finch family’s stories. For a game that takes a meagre two hours to complete, the short but emotive stories of What Remains of Edith Finch boast both greater depth and narrative potency than most +20 hour video game sagas to date.
Award: Best Debut Game
Gorogoa is a charming and unique story rich puzzle game where players take on the role of a young boy on a quest to find a divine creature stalking his nameless city’s streets. Gorogoa was created, for the most part, by Jason Roberts who had developed this, his debut game, over the course of seven years. According to Roberts, the titular creature is based on a monster he had dreamt up when he was little boy.
Gameplay requires you to shift various layers, or panels, of drawings in a certain sequence to progress through the game’s absorbing story. The game is comprised of thousands of hand-drawn illustrations done by Roberts, which lends the game its lively and vibrant atmosphere. Coupled with its intriguing story and a range of enchanting soundtracks, Gorogoa is an especially memorable puzzle game.
Award: Evolving Game
Overwatch has been a massive contender in the team arena-shooter scene since it was released back in 2016. Its blend of fast-paced tactical gameplay, brilliant level design, and a range of over twenty distinctive playable characters has seen it rapidly grow into one of the contemporary gaming world’s biggest competitive multiplayer shooters.
Blizzard’s dedication to consistently providing new content such as maps, heroes, and game events has also garnered the game a faithful and ever-growing fan base that reached over 35-million players at the end of 2017.
Super Mario Odyssey
Awards: Family Game, Game Design
It has been more than three decades since our beloved Mario made his debut in 1981’s Donkey Kong (back then he was still called “Jumpman”), and to this day our favourite Italian plumber is still capturing the hearts of millions around the world.
This time around it’s Super Mario Odyssey, a fun and quirky 3D platformer that once again tasks Mario and his iconic hat (now a companion called Cappy) with saving Princess Peach from the evil clutches of Bowser. To do so, the team will (as usual) run, jump, and stomp their way through a range of distinctive and fantastical landscapes with a few welcome additional features such as companion Cappy being able to take control of other characters and objects.
Since its release last year, both fans and critics have regularly expressed that they feel this is one of the best Mario games in the franchise. And that’s saying quite a lot when you consider that Super Mario Odyssey is one of 18 highly popular core Super Mario games.
Legend of Zelda: Breath of The Wild
Award: Game Innovation
Link, the hero of the Legend of Zelda franchise, is another iconic character that has stood the test of time. Since his first appearance in the original Legend of Zelda in 1987, the little Hyrule warrior has been the star in 18 core Zelda games.
Breath of the Wild reinvents the Legend of Zelda series by adding a string of new features such as an advanced physics engine, chemistry engine, professional voice acting, and enchanting HD visuals. It sets you loose in a massive open-world (12 times bigger than the Overworld in Twilight Princess) filled with magical creatures and a plethora adventures, which you can approach at your own pace.
Freedom of exploration and gameplay experimentation was Nintendo’s big focuses with Breath of the Wild and, according to its almost religious and ever-growing fanbase, they pulled it off with true class.
Award: Mobile Game
Golf Clash was quite a surprise win for the Mobile Game BAFTA award considering it was up against very strong contenders such Gorogoa, Monument Valley 2, and Stranger Things: The Game.
In essence, Golf Clash is pretty much your standard golf game, but its strong emphasis on user-friendliness, competitive multiplayer, social features, and customisability has turned it into the undisputed champion of mobile golf games (some even argue it’s the best regardless of platform). And it achieved this in a little over a year since its release in January 2017.
Divinity: Original Sin 2
This was another surprise win to come from the BAFTA Games Awards as Divinity: Original Sin 2 was competing against equally deserving multiplayer game nominations including Fortnite, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, and Star Trek: Bridge Crew.
Divinity Original Sin 2 is a high fantasy RPG that has received critical acclaim for its immersive world, intricate roleplay mechanics, and rich narrative. But what earned it the multiplayer award this year was the attention given to its online gameplay mechanics, which allows co-op players (or any member of your party for that matter) to independently explore and experience the in-game world as they wish. Some also strongly believe that the facilitation of in-depth multiplayer mechanics also lead to a better single-player experience.
Cuphead is a tough-as-nails run and gun indie platformer where Cuphead and his brother Mugman have to defeat a series of eccentric but dangerous bosses in order to pay back a debt they owe the devil.
Beyond the game’s surprising difficulty, Cuphead is also known for its dedication to its artistic vision.
From the authentic rubberhose animations (popularized by Fleischer Studios and Walt Disney in the 1930s) to the live recorded early 1900s-inspired jazz and big band soundtracks, this title does an incredible job of evoking the atmosphere of the American “roaring twenties” era, which perfectly complements the game’s energetic and action-packed gameplay.
Night in the Woods
Night in the Woods is a narrative-driven platformer developed by indie studio Finji that places you in the shoes of college-dropout Mae Borowski, a 20-year-old cat that has just returned to her small hometown of Possum Springs, the kind of place where there are no secrets and every deed, be it good or bad, is vividly remembered.
For a game that exclusively features animal characters, Night in the Woods boasts an incredibly relatable and human story. Where most games empower you and are some form of escapism from reality, this title pits you against all the hopelessness and insecurities of real life.
“This goes out to all the people who don’t get the chance to tell their stories: the burnouts, the folks fighting their internal demons, the underpaid, the overworked, the left behind, the struggling, the people whose stories don’t get a chance to be praised at fancy awards shows. These are the real histories of our time, and you are our best historians,” said Alec Holowka, co-creator of Night in the Woods, in his BAFTA acceptance speech.
“This award is for you. Tell your stories until the rest of the world listens.”
Horizon Zero Dawn
Award: Original Property
With the current nostalgic craze of reboots and remakes in the gaming industry, new original titles (especially single player games) have become few and far between. That’s why Horizon Zero Dawn takes such a special place. It’s a title that proves a high-budget single-player game can still hold its ground against today’s multiplayer juggernauts, and that players are looking for new gaming experiences.
Horizon Zero Dawn is an action RPG that takes place in an alternative future where humans and machines struggle for survival in a hostile world. You play as Aloy (voiced by Ashly Burch who was also nominated for the Best Performer BATFA), a huntress and outcast who sets out so explore and find her place in a dangerous world.
Beyond the string of awards that Horizon Zero Dawn has to its name, it also the most successful IP on the PS4 having sold over seven million copies as of February 2018.
The BAFTA Games Fellowship Award is the highest accolade that BAFTA can bestow upon an individual, a lifetime achievement award given to someone who has made immense contributions to the gaming industry throughout their careers.
This year the award went to the legendary Tim Schafer, the founder of Double Fine Productions and the creative mind behind multiple critically acclaimed gaming titles such as Grim Fandango, Day of the Tentacle, and The Secret of Monkey Island.
As one of the most influential and creative creators in the history of gaming, few, if any, are more deserving of this award than Tim Schafer.