The Dread Game of the Year List 2019 – Special Awards
Yes, Strategy Can Also Have Horror Elements Award – Age Of Wonders: Planetfall
I’ve gotten in some pretty lengthy arguments with people about whether or not genres like strategy or card games can ever be “horror.” Personally, I think there’s nothing in the entire catalog of Resident Evil or Silent Hill that can compare to the sheer dread of playing your bomb and seeing your opponent tapping their blue mana in response. When you drop the need for jump scares and closets to hide in, there’s something to the scale of strategy that conveys a whole new dimension of dread. Case in point, Planetfall‘s Assembly faction. A race of ancient cyborgs, the Assembly long ago lost the ability to reproduce naturally. Conquering new people, they harvest all of their organs and convert their brains into extra RAM. Each faction is littered with these macabre little details, painting a world far more gruesome and terrifying than some psycho at a summer camp.
Most Potentially Amazing After Some Expansions – Remnant: From the Ashes
When I reviewed Remnant: From the Ashes, I acknowledged that it was ultimately a victim of its own ambitions. The game was fantastic for the first 20 hours. When you’re discovering new things, Remnant delivers a remarkably diverse and satisfying experience. It’s only once you start seeing the limits of the world that the cracks begin to show. There aren’t quite enough bosses, weapons, armor sets, and variable objectives to really make the premise work. It’s the kind of thing you only notice when you’re on your second playthrough. The bitter irony is that Remnant is good enough to keep you playing long enough to see its shortcomings. With a few more content packs, I could easily see this being a 5/5. So for what it’s worth Remnant, I believe in you.
Best Depiction Of The Grimdark Future of the 41st Millennium, Where There Is Only War – Battlefleet Gothic: Armada 2
It’s damn near impossible to do the Warhammer 40k universe right. This is a world where the good guys frequently nuke their own planets when someone has the audacity to suggest that maybe we should have some democratic reforms. Galaxy devouring space bugs sweep the cosmos looking for their next meal, and a swirling vortex of demons is the cosmic equivalent of a freeway. It’s absolutely bonkers, and anything close to a relatable character is textbook heresy. This is why the Battlefleet Gothic: Armada series deserves praise for embracing the premise so wholeheartedly. Sure, Admiral Spire is as close 40k gets to a Mary Sue. But the opening scene of Armada 2 is an Imperial battleship trying to suicide gloriously into the Chaos fleet, only to find that the nefarious Chaos objective was to suicide even harder into a planet. That’s pure Grimdark goodness.
Boldest Destruction of Own Timeline – Mortal Kombat 11
You have to respect a game that realizes it’s fucked up its own story so bad that it just throws up its hands and calls a mulligan. Mortal Kombat has done that not just once, but twice now. You may recall that MK9 was just titled Mortal Kombat, and served as a reboot for the series nonsensical canon. It was a bold play that worked out and established an entirely new world where most of the good guys were now undead antagonists. MK10 expanded this, introducing a whole new generation of heroes. I’m guessing these new kids on the block didn’t resonate with audiences, since MK11 backpedaled so hard on this new timeline that it literally destroyed its own universe. While MK9 was content just starting over from MK1, MK11 is starting over from before the dawn of time. When the credits roll, everything you know about the Mortal Kombat universe is done. There is no universe to even continue. Even the dinosaurs didn’t happen. I’m guessing that Ed Boon just wanted a blank slate to start over with. Well, you got it. Just don’t chicken out with MK12 and bring everyone back as Black Flash time ghosts.