PSX 2015 Awards
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PSX was about a week ago, so an extremely timely article was necessary. Since this is the awards season, what with Oscar Buzz, the Golden Globes, and of course the Video Game Awards, I felt it would be a good idea to give awards to some of the games at the show in San Francisco. (All awards and views are my own and do not necessarily represent those of other authors on this site…although they should)
BEST NON-KILLING GAME – Abzu is a game all about swimming in the ocean. It’s a bit like Journey with flippers and manta rays. The art style has a lot of blues and greens and is stylized, similar to the aforementioned game about scarfs. You also don’t kill anything, so it was fairly boring.
BEST USE OF PARTICLES – Developed by Housemarque, makers of Super Stardust and Resogun, it’s hardly surprising Alienation, a top-down multiplayer co-op twin stick shooter is a looker. The gameplay however, looks similar to many games we’ve seen before such as Helldivers and another Housemarque game, Dead Nation.
BEST GUITAR HERO CLONE – Although the concept of traveling down a track pressing buttons along to a song seems to be ripped from the famous Activision property “Guitar Hero” the soundtrack in Amplitude is surprisingly good. No plastic peripherals that make you look incredibly dumb, which is a negative for Amplitude in my book.
BEST MOBAFPS – Battleborn, from the developers of Borderlands (as the developers would really really like you to know), is another entry in the Multiplayer online battle first person shooter genre and will be forgotten once Blizzard’s Overwatch comes out, it wins the award however since Overwatch was not at PSX.
BEST USE OF WILLAM DAFOE – The PS4 version of the very late PS3 title allows you to play it in chronological order, which apparently makes the Beyond Two Souls’ story somewhat more coherent.
BEST EXPANSION – The expansion to Bloodborne, which is an extremely hard game that I haven’t played due to knowing it would make my blood pressure increase 30 points. I didn’t play the expansion, but I’ve heard its good. It’s also out now.
BEST ARTSTYLE – This recently announced game looks BEAUTIFUL. Bound appears to be a 3D platformer where the platforms and background are constantly shifting, and we’ll have to see what the full game is like, but it makes a great first impression.
BEST USE OF PUN – Brawlhala is a Viking-themed beat em up in the style of popular games such as Playstation All-Stars, Small Arms and of course Cartoon Network: Punch Time Explosion XL.
BEST USE OF BRO – Typically I hate the use of “Bro” in any context, but Broforce, which has been out on Steam for a few months, conjures up the muscle-bound 80’s movies we all know and love and puts copyright safe versions of these characters into a side-scrolling shooter in the vein of Metal Slug and Contra.
BEST USE OF @ – Announced at the PSX press conference and surprisingly, playable on the show floor, Brutal is a rogue-like with an awesome ASCII-inspired art style and god of war-esque combat. It’s kicks @ss! (Feel free to use that last line marketing team)
BEST USE OF A SEMICOLON – CODBLOPS or Call of Duty 12, is the second attempt at future warfare by the Call of Duty franchise. It’s already out but there were new maps for the multiplayer at PSX.
BEST RPG – To be perfectly transparent, I backed this game and am very excited for it, which isn’t something I can say about any of my other backed kickstarter projects. It’s a 2D sci-fi turn based RPG reminiscent of some great SNES RPGs and I can’t wait to play it.
BEST HARD GAME – I died in about 30 seconds and was kicked off after waiting in line for an hour. I guess these games are popular? Thumbs Up!
BEST USE OF INSANITY – Darkest Dungeon is a rogue-like RPG with horror and lovecraftian elements where your characters can go insane. Darkest Dungeon is currently out on Steam.
BEST OTAKU GAME – This game has tentacles in it. It’s also a classic and well-loved adventure game from the Tim Shafer Lucas Arts era called Day of the Tentacle.
WEIRDEST GAME MODE – The best part of Destiny is the first person shooting. You couldn’t do that at PSX, just race around on wannabe speeder bikes.
MOST DLC TOYS – An archway filled with all of the available Disney Infinity toys was appraised at $9,999, the arch cost $10.
BEST BATTLE SYSTEM – Divinity Original Sin has been out on PC for over a year, with the PS4 and Xbox One editions releasing in October. However, this is a great game with my favorite battle system in an RPG ever.
MOST XTREME GAME – From David Jaffe, Drawn to Death has a unique art style but is yet another multiplayer third person shooter. It also seems to be trying a little too hard to appeal to the angry 12 year old in all of us who drew skulls on the back of our binders while listening to Metallica.
MOST SIMILAR GAME TO NO MAN’S SKY – I was really looking forward to playing No Man’s Sky at PSX, so its absence was disappointing. But in Drifter you can travel all over the galaxy. The game focuses on trading, which may be interesting to some, but I want to discover planets, and the dinosaurs on them, shoot robots, and dig caves…
MOST TORQUE – A paid expansion for DriveClub, a game mired in controversy but surprisingly fun, Bikes allows you to do wheelies while going 200 MPH on a motorcycle in first person, your only chance to do so (without dying that is).
BEST AUTORUNNER – Earth Night was at PSX last year and was one of my favorites. You side scroll run along the backs of dragons and then stab them in the face, jump off into an over the back view sky dive and fall on another dragon. I have no idea how the final game will work but it has a cool soundtrack and tight gameplay.
BEST MONSTER COLLECTING GAME –Taking the elements of Far Cry with its first person stabbing and marking of beasts of various natures, Far Cry: Primal allows you to tame a saber tooth tiger and use him to tear out the throats of neanderthals, your move Pokemon.
BEST WALKING SIMULATOR – What is Firewatch you say? It’s a first-person park ranger simulator with some mysterious elements thrown in. No fire was watched during the process of playing this game.
MOST VISCERAL COMBAT – We haven’t seen anything of a promised single player for For Honor, but the multiplayer was playable at PSX. The combat system is great, rewarding patience without the complexity of something like dark souls. Throw in some Vikings and Samurai, and that sounds like a good time to me.
BEST USE OF CRAYONS – There have been a number of games that have used gravity as a mechanic, especially in regards to using planetoids to gain momentum to grab stars and/or coins. The unique art style of Gravity Ghost is what stands out about this game. It looks like your 9-year-old niece made it, in a good way.
BEST USE OF GRAVITY – A well-liked but underplayed Vita game, Gravity Rush is being remastered for PS4 in anticipation of the sequel Gravity Rush 2 coming to PS4 as well. The combat is fast and frenetic, similar to the devil may cry series and you use gravity to traverse the world in interesting ways.
BEST USE OF EXCLAMATION POINT – Guns Up! was at PSX last year and is currently out now. It’s a F2P army game where you deploy various troop types and try to take over various bases. I’m always wary of F2P games and this one is no exception, but maybe I’ll be proven wrong?
BEST GUITAR GAME – I actually Guitar Hero: Live so I didn’t play it at PSX (honestly didn’t even see it there) but the game allows you to play Pretty Fly for a White guy, so it’s alright.
BEST USE OF A PIGEON – Hatoful Boyfriend: Holiday Star is a dating simulator where you date various other pigeons (oh yeah, you’re a pigeon too, or else that’d be weird).
MOST UNEEDED EXPANSION – An expansion to the Vita game Helldivers, Helldivers: Democracy Edition is outclassed in terms of visuals and gameplay by Alienation.
BEST MOBILE PORT – Hitman GO is one of the best games on mobile devices and perfectly encapsulates the Hitman experience while making it playable on a touchscreen. I don’t think putting in consoles is really necessary though.
Horizon Chase – BEST USE OF PARRALAX – Out now on mobile devices, the PS4 version of Horizon Chase adds some new modes and levels to the Outrun inspired series. The music is also composed by the guy who did the music for San Francisco Rush 2049, so it’s awesome.
BEST USE OF SPACE – The physics based game about escaping the constricting embrace of the Earth’s gravity has been out on PC for years, but I heard NASA uses Kerbal Space Program to teach physics, engineering and astronomy, so it’s a sure-fire hit with the kids.
BEST TOYS TO LIFE GAME – Lego Dimensions combines characters from DC, Scooby-Doo, WB, Lord of the Rings and Dr. Who and lets you mix and match those characters, unlike that other game.
BEST UNEEDED SEQUEL – LEGO Marvel Super Heroes had more characters and wasn’t tied to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But if you want to play through all the movies in LEGO form, this game is for you.
BEST RANDOMLY GENERATED GAME – Lost Sea is a randomly generated Action RPG where the player starts with nothing and has to accumulate crewmembers with various skills, who can open otherwise locked paths and chests of booty. The developers cited the original Legend of Zelda games as an influence on the combat and it shows.
BEST PORTAL CLONE – The award may seem pedantic, but it’s actually an honor. It’s a shame more games don’t try to accomplish what Portal did, using first person puzzle solving in a stark environment with very few enemies and a focus on ingenuity. Manifold Garden also reminded me of Antichamber but with less psychosis.
BEST USE OF PAUSABLE REAL TIME BATTLE SYSTEM – Masquerada is a game whose combat is explicitly inspired by Dragon Age and other CRPGs, three characters run around with masquerade ball masks which I suppose give them abilities? Didn’t see any type of loot system or RPG elements in my short time with the game, but its hopefully there.
BEST USE OF MATHS – Metrico+ is a strange game that I fell in love with. It’s a side scrolling puzzle-platformer with no combat that apparently incorporates statistics into its level design.
OLDEST GAME PLAYABLE AT PSX – This game came out in March 2015, and the new version comes out in three months. Not sure why MLB the Show 16 wasn’t at PSX.
BEST USE OF ANIME – Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm 4 lets you fight battles in 3D using characters from the Naruto universe. I assume that’s something like Dragonball Z.
BEST BASKETBALL GAME – NBA 2K16 has been out for 3 months so there were not many willing to wait to play it at PSX. It plays like a basketball game. Also Steph Curry is in this, so it wins automatically.
BEST FREE GAME – Given to all attendees of the conference, I haven’t played it yet, but I know it’s a rogue-like shooter made by Vlambeer, who makes awesome games. It was also given away, so that’s cool (if you went to PSX that is).
BEST USE OF HYPERBOLE – Pavilion is purported to be a “fourth person puzzle game” I looked it up and there’s no such thing as “fourth person” so either these developers have developed a new narrative motif that will change culture forever…or they came up with a gimmicky tag line, we’ll see I guess.
BEST USE OF CONJOINMENT – Push Me Pull You is a local multiplayer game where teams of two are essentially CatDog from the classic Nickelodeon show, with arms and a head on each end but an attached body. Your goal is to move a ball to your side of the field and keep it away from the other team.
BEST USE OF ZOMBIES – There was a surprising lack of zombies at this year’s show, making it quite easy for Resident Evil 0 to take this award.
BEST GAME THAT MAKES PEOPLE WHO HATE SOCCER PLAY SOCCER – Showing off a canyon themed expansion, Rocket League, the little game that could, continues to plug along and be a hit with its audience and is expected to take many more awards this season.
BEST USE OF ROCKETS – Congratulations to RocketsRocketsRockets for coming out on top of this crowded field. It’s a local multiplayer game (perfect for conventions, not so perfect for gamers with girlfriends who view a dual shock controller as a Netflix remote), but there’s a uniqueness to the movement that’s fun.
BEST SOULS-LIKE – Salt and Sanctuary has often been called a “2D Dark Souls” and its hard to disagree. It’s a metroidvania that’s painfully hard. I’m not sure why, but making it 2D makes it seem more approachable than the daunting behemoth that is the Dark Souls series.
BEST GOLDENYE CLONE – Screencheat reminds me of the good old days of playing goldeneye with cardboard dividing the TV screen so that the other players couldn’t see your part of the screen. This game is all about that, as players are invisible on your portion of the screen and you have to look at the other player’s section to figure where they are.
BEST GTA CLONE (2D EDITION) – In Shakedown: Hawaii you shoot people and steal cars and then shoot people while driving those stolen cars.
BEST USE OF PACIFICISM – Another in the genre of shoot em ups where you can’t shoot back, Soft Body combines music and enticing yet minimalistic visuals. Being that this is the creator’s first game, I’m excited for this game when it releases but possibly even more for what he does after Soft Body.
BEST GAME THAT COULD HAVE COME OUT IN 1985 – There’s really no reason Space Dave, the sequel to Woah Dave, could not have appeared in an arcade at your local Pizza Hut back in the day. It’s essentially space invaders with a few tweaks thrown in.
BEST MULTIPLAYER CONTENT THAT NEEDED TO BE INCLUDED IN THE BASE GAME – Star Wars Battlefront is a fun game. There I said it. For about 2 hours. Then you run into a lack of content that is…disturbing. The Jakku maps will help, and next year an all DLC-included version of the game will be well worth the price of admission, if that price is about $30.
BEST USE OF STORYBOOK MOTIF – Stories: The Path of Destinies is an action RPG which shows some glint of uniqueness by allowing the player to make choices which change the story. Each play through apparently lasts about 6 hours and can be replayed multiple times with different experiences. Wish the gameplay was a little tighter and more responsive though.
MOST LIKE STREET FIGHTER IV – I’m sure there are plenty of people excited for Street Fighter V, but as Capcom is trying to entice non-fighting game fans to join the community, it has a strange way of going about it. From the art style that’s all to similar to SF4 to the extremely similar gameplay, I don’t see it expanding beyond core fighting game fans.
BEST USE OF MARBLES – This “racing” game implores the user that cheating is winning. In Super Impossible Road you play a round ball traveling down what looks like rainbow road in neon and a white background and you can just jump off the track and land much further down, surpassing your law-abiding opponents.
BEST MINECRAFT-LIKE – Tomorrow Children is a strange game combining the mining of minecraft with the art style of Russian Nesting dolls made out of clay. It’s hard to get a sense for a game like this at a convention so I’d hate to be too critical, but it was hard to know what to do next, which to many is the appeal of these types of games.
BEST AUTO-RUNNER – A compilation of old, but well liked games, is out right now. The Bit Trip series was one of the first to combine auto-running side-scrolling action with the beats of a soundtrack.
BEST USE OF MICROPHONES – Featuring star voice talent, like that guy from Star Trek The Next Generation…no not Patrick Stewart, the Internet one. Their Came an Echo is played solely using the player’s voice. It’s the only game I could have played while writing this.
BEST USE OF DOORS – At PSX last year, To Leave is about a boy hanging from a door trying to escape…from somewhere. Essentially a one-button game, its helicopter-like controls and one hit deaths provides a challenging experience.
BEST MULTIPLAYER PUZZLE GAME – Another local multiplayer game, a popular genre at the show, Tumblestone stood out by having players race to finish puzzles in the vein of bubble bobble without the skill. Players have to select three of the same colored blocks, often with only one way to complete the pattern.
BEST USE OF NATHAN DRAKE COSPLAYERS WITH FAKE DIRT ALL OVER THEIR FACES – Players lined up for hours only to discover they were forced to play the Multiplayer of the upcoming Uncharted 4. Which is what everyone is buying that game for so everyone was happy.
BEST COLLECTION – Surprisingly, there were no Nathan Drake cosplayers around the demo stations for the Nathan Drake Collection, also this game is out now.
BEST USE OF DRUGS – Wattam is insane, it’s made by the developer of Katamri Damacy and Noby Noby Boy, so that’s hardly surprising. Your main goal is to hold hands with various characters and then blow them up with a bomb that’s in your hat.
BEST USE OF TANKS – World of Tanks is a F2P tank multiplayer similar to Battlefield…but everyone’s a tank. Tank.
BEST USE OF JOHN CENA – This was a contentious category, so it’s a big accomplishment for WWE 2K16. This game has wrestling in it, so you’d expect John Cena to appear, but he has been on a break lately, so it was unclear if he’d show up.
BEST MYST GAME – If you’ve ever played Myst then you have a good idea of what Xing: The Land Beyond is. If not, it’s a first person puzzle adventure game with very little (if any) combat.