It’s Christmas Eve and the twelfth day of our 12 Days of Game Awards. We’ve saved the best for last and are presenting you with our first inaugural Game of the Year award for 2017.
Game of the Year Nominees
The title of Game of the Year is not one handed out lightly and there were several contenders this year that could easily have won our award. Some were expected, others were surprises, but none impressed us as much as Horizon Zero Dawn from Guerilla Games.
Game of the Year – Horizon Zero Dawn
What is there to say about Horizon Zero Dawn that we haven’t already said when we awarded it with our award for Best Visuals of 2017, or gave it our vote for Best Open World Game of 2017, or even when its DLC Frozen Wilds won our Best DLC of 2017 award? In order to win the Game of the Year title, a game must do more than just impress in the visual department. It must do more than provide a world that feels alive and enticing. It must offer more than simply the length of its campaign to bring gamers back for more. Horizon Zero Dawn does all of that, and then some.
I would argue that it’s easier for a new IP game to win a Game of the Year title because it won’t be weighed down by comparisons to any predecessors. Horizon Zero Dawn was a brand new experience for gamers. Aloy was a new character that we quickly fell in love with and wanted to learn more about, spend more time with. Guerilla Games’ ability to create a world that was interesting enough to make me want to play a game on a console, is high praise coming from someone like me. The game’s design overcame the typical excuses I make about not wanting to fire up my PlayStation 4. The environments were gorgeous, the controls intuitive, and the visuals on par with what anyone could expect from their living room gaming experience.
But perhaps it’s the intangibles that made Horizon Zero Dawn gain the edge over its competitors. There was something special about learning about this new universe. It was all brand new, yet felt familiar and comfortable. Sure, we’ve roamed worlds freely before and performed quests in deep story lines and grown to love characters. We’ve never quite experienced it in this fashion though, in a world with robot dinosaurs and advanced technologies of days long gone. We’ve never grown quite so attached to a character, wanting to see Aloy succeed against all odds, wishing for that positive outcome while always being aware of the risks and dangers in the world that Guerilla Games created.
Horizon Zero Dawn managed to mix together the best elements of many genres. Skills management and inventory customization met with innovative combat and stealth techniques, while the story was broad and yet detailed. The game looked beautiful even on an aging platform and it never felt like there was anything critical missing from the game. The fact that the story was brand new, didn’t feel regurgitated, and involved no micro-transactions of any sort, were just the cherry on top of the ice cream. For those, and so many more reasons, we decided that if you were to play only one game in the entire year, it should be Horizon Zero Dawn, our Game of the Year 2017.