The Glass Ceiling

  • I think it's inevitable that not all games were created equal. Some are stuffed with heart-stopping visual details, are part of a well-regarded series and they're empowered by the backing of a renowned director or developer. Then there are the lesser-known indie games trying so very hard to get noticed but end up needing to scratch and claw for a modicum of relevance.

    When it comes to GOTY season and we all pick one game we hold dearly above all the rest, the likelihood is we choose a game that many others also hold aloft in the same fashion. No problem with that of course, but are we picking GOTY games that do something truly special to you or are they simply extremely good and you consider them the best simply because they do everything very well and don't surprise you.

    The reason why I selected Huntdown as my 2020 GOTY is it's done something no other game 2020 did for me-surprise me from out of nowhere, staggering me with awe at how awesome this little 2D retro Cyberpunk old-school shooter recommended by the venerable Don Casanova could be. When you're caught off guard and genuinely surprised it can be a delightful thing.

    Y'see we expected The Last of Us Part II and Final Fantasy VII Remake to be great, we saw the trailers enrapturing us with an inebriated level of hype and enthusiasm, we played them and yes they were excellent and perhaps subverted our expectations-but I think most of us knew these superb games were going to reach into their burlap bag of tricks to rock us like hurricanes-because we've been hyped about them for years beforehand.

    Triple A games will always have an advantage because they're able to light their fuse of anticipation years before they finally show up for us to play. We lap up all the screenshots, feast on every trailer like a greasy Viking ripping up a chicken leg with his gnashing teeth and we'll chew on any morsel of information or piece of media about our most-anticipated games.

    The summation of the big triple A reveals is mega excitement for games that will likely be dead ringers for GOTY in the year they are released. Breath of the Wild, Bloodborne, God of War, Sekiro and many others are groomed to be the best not only because they arguably deserve it because of the forward-thinking strides they've made technically, but because they are the games we see, they're massive and they're astonishing to behold.

    The way I see it if a game can look great, be epically lengthy and in some instances make us feel deep emotions-then that is the quintessential Game of the Year. Yet with the new innovative technological advances in games, we'll possibly pick the one that makes our jaws drop the most due to unbelievable scale we've never seen before thanks to next-level hardware capabilities.

    People already think Elden Ring or this so called "Breath of the Wild 2" will be the best games of 2022-but why? Both of them are essentially evolutions of what came before, they don't look like vast game-changers, they look like what we've already experienced before. Sorry to put a damper on these juggernauts, but I don't think going through the motions is enough anymore.

    The little ones should always be taken notice of because they harness the power to truly give us something unique in a medium of me-too.

    Untitled Goose Game showed us you can play as a goose and create off-the-cuff mischief in a way I personally find giggle and chortle-worthy.

    A Plague Tale: Innocence crafted a sense of urgency as you aim to reach safer pastures as a responsible girl looking after her little brother amidst the perils of the Hundred Years War in Aquitaine France.

    These examples demonstrate that fresh concepts and settings do a lot more than following the familiar. I get many of us crave familiarity because it's safe and it coincides with our values but I personally find the chancers are more likely to impress me because they're showing me how expansive videogames can be as a medium.

    The smaller games tend to be more refined but I get the sense they sit uncomfortably under the big-budget and massively produced epics, almost squashed under their weight. Thankfully these lovely curios do get recognized especially when they are very good, and heck some may even snag a GOTY-but it always seems like an uphill battle for them to get the attention they deserve.