The best graphics, music, remake, and storytelling are all honoured in the annual GameCentral video game awards.
Weve already revealed what we think are the 20 best games of the year but there are plenty of titles that didnt make the list that are still worth celebrating. A game doesnt even have to be that great overall in order to have one standout feature, but youll find that most of the following are as good as any other game released this year. Well, except for the one thats in the running for the worst game of the generation…
GRIS (Nintendo Switch and PC)
This is only the first award and already theres an incredibly difficult choice to make, between the most technically accomplished game of the year and the most artistically impressive. It really depends on how you view things but for us the near photorealism of Red Dead Redemption II still never resulted in as much jaw-dropping as GRIS. As a game it has its problems but in terms of its visual presentation its absolutely flawless, with the beautiful, hand-drawn animation and gorgeous art design working perfectly in time with the music, sound effects, and gameplay. While one day Red Dead Redemption II will look old-fashioned GRIS will remain a timeless beauty thanks to its artistic, rather than technical, feats.
Runner-up: Red Dead Redemption II (Xbox One and PlayStation 4)
Normally wed give this award to a specific gameplay mechanic or hardware feature but Return Of The Obra Dinn counts in its entirety, for the feat of finally making a detective game that works. The way the games presented, and its striking visual style – a cross between the Apple II and 19th magazine artwork – would be innovation enough for most games but by making detective work accessible and engaging for everyone it becomes a work of genius. It does require some fantasy assistance, in the form of a magic watch, but its the only real crutch youre offered. The end result is one of the most engrossing puzzle games in years and hopefully the first of a new genre of proper detective games.
Runner-up: Spirits – Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (Nintendo Switch)
Format of the year
This was a surprisingly easy category to decide on, and it didnt involve any of the major consoles. The PlayStation VR might have been out for a while now but 2018 is when it came into its own, with an amazing line-up of games that are amongst the best released on any format. Astro Bot, Moss, Firewall Zero Hour, Tetris Effect, Beat Saber, Borderlanders 2 VR, Sprint Vector, WipEout Omega Collection… the list is almost endless – and thats just this year. It doesnt hurt that all this coincided with an official price drop and even bigger bargains during Black Friday, which, given many of its games arent full price, even makes the PlayStation VR surprisingly good value for money.
Runner-up: PlayStation 4
Shadow Of The Colossus (PlayStation 4)
Even if you ignore all the Wii U ports coming to Nintendo Switch theres been an incredible number of remakes and remasters this year, with no sign of them ever stopping. But while the likes of Dark Souls Remastered do little more than improve the performance to match current gen standards Shadow Of The Colossus is a complete remake from the ground up. Many wondered why Sony were bothering, given the original PlayStation 2 already has a competent remaster, but the remake feels like a totally new experience. The gameplay is exactly the same but the visual majesty that has been lost as the generations have passed is now full reinstated and more awe-inspiring than ever.
Runner-up: Pokémon: Lets Go, Pikachu!/Lets Go, Eevee! (Nintendo Switch)
Octopath Traveler (Nintendo Switch)
Square Enixs ode to 16-bit Japanese role-players was a triumph in many ways, but never more than in terms of its music. While so many modern soundtracks try to ape current fashions in cinema this instead pulls upon the traditions of video games themselves, updating and enhancing the simple melodies of yesteryear in a similar manner to the reimagined graphics. Yasunori Nishikis work somehow manages to hit every nostalgic beat but still avoids feeling overly clichéd. Instead it sounds surprisingly modern, despite all the retro references, and becomes one of the best soundtracks to come out of Japan in a long time.
Runner-up: Below (Xbox One and PC)
God Of War (PlayStation 4)
There are some very strong contenders for this award, including Red Dead Redemption II, but theres no question in our mind that God Of War is not only the best storytelling experience of the year but the most surprising – in terms of the content and the nature of the previous games. Kratos was transformed from a one-dimensional antihero into a believable, conflicted figure who felt remorse for his past deeds and frustration at not being able to bond with his son. This change did not come quickly though, but organically over the course of the game in what is one of the best, and most consistent, character studies ever seen in an action game.
Runner-up: Celeste (Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC)
The Quiet Man (PlayStation 4 and PC)
Some of these awards have been incredibly difficult to decide upon, others incredibly easy. This is one of the latter. Never mind worst game of the year, this may well end up being the worst game of the generation. The Quiet Man is essentially a beat em-up but with the gimmick that the protagonist is deaf. Which actually seems like quite a good idea for a game, except that the combat is absolutely terrible and theres no sound in the game… even though your character is clearly lip-reading and understanding everything thats going on. Theres now a patch to hear dialogue on your second playthrough, although we fear for anyone masochistic enough to want to go through it all twice.
Runner-up: Past Cure (Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC)