Day 2 of MonsterVine’s Game of the Year Awards continues with our picks for Prettiest Game, Best Indie Game, and Most Disappointing.
Prettiest Looking Game – Destiny 2
Shannon – I didn’t play much Destiny 2, but I like looking at it. It’s got graphical style in spades and it’s so damn pretty I want to leave it running aimlessly on a second monitor.
Diego – Destiny was a pretty bland looking game so I wasn’t expecting much going into this but damn did Bungie surprise me. From the very first moment you’re treated with some amazing work by their artists and this is easily one of the best lit games I’ve seen in a while. Seriously, just look up some levels like the haunted forest or Pyramidion.
Austin – Bungie has only gotten better with time at making beautiful games. When Destiny launched in 2014 it was flawed, but the art direction and visual design is strong just look at those sky boxes! It’s easy to see how without the need to run on older consoles and coming to PCs the visuals in Destiny 2 could stretch its legs. One of the most technically impressive and beautiful things I witnessed this year is that mission when you go to the Sun. That, combined with the extravagant designs of the setting for the raid easily makes Destiny 2 a shoo-in for this category. Look at the weapons and their respective brand cohesiveness, look at the armor sets and their extravagant uniqueness. I might have gotten tired of the end game quickly, but I’m still not tired of looking at it.
Runner Up: Xenoblade Chronicles 2
Indie Game – Cuphead
Shannon – This game is way too hard for me but I am a sucker for how thoroughly they captured the look, feel, and style of classic animation. It all seems very familiar while managing to be quite unique.
Diego – Everything about this game’s aesthetic appeals directly to me. It’s been a brutal and long wait for this game since its initial reveal and I’m so relieved it delivered. Also big middle finger shout-out to that flower boss.
Austin – I never thought I’d see a game replicate an existing art style as perfectly as Cuphead. Cell-shading graphics has always been able to give a feeling of classic 2D art, but everything about how Cuphead animates looks like it’s been ripped from a different era. The gameplay is absolutely brutal, and some of the animation gets in the way of the combat, but the satisfaction of overcoming the most difficult bosses is powerful.
Spencer – Cuphead is such a treasure of a game. The visuals and sound bring me back to watching weird old 30’s cartoons in first grade, while the gameplay can make me feel either the strongest or weakest man on the planet. Nothing feels better than finally beating that boss you’ve been stuck on for an hour, largely thanks to the tight and meticulously thought-out gameplay. The fact that Cuphead came from a Canadian studio makes me incredibly proud, as it is one of the best pieces of media to ever come out of the Great White North.
Runner Up: Battle Chef Brigade
Most Disappointing – Mass Effect Andromeda
Samantha – Despite some misgivings ahead of Andromeda’s launch, I was thrilled to get a new Mass Effect game, only to wind up disappointed. It’s not even that it’s really a bad game, just a mediocre one that wastes its potential. I was never thrilled with the prominent role of The Illusive Man in Mass Effect 3, but I’d take him over the Archon any day.
Will – While I put aside Andromeda’s clumsy delivery on launch, it is clear the final product from Bioware is poorly executed almost all fronts. The premise heralded a lot of potential. Exploring new planets and facing the unknown is a great way to start a new trilogy. However, a bland, uninspiring level design filled with tedious open-world trappings is not what I was expecting. After putting 26 hours into the narrative slog, I asked myself, “Why?” And with that, the answer was clear and I never looked back.
Shannon – Andromeda always felt like it was shoved out the door to please shareholders, not players. While it may have worked for the quarterly figures, it also torpedoed a beloved franchise without using Jar Jar binks.
Diego – I’m a pretty humble person who doesn’t like to tell people that I told them so, but I saw this shit show coming a mile away. I witnessed all my friends build their hype up for months only to experience crushing disappointment as I shook my head at them. The only impressive thing about Andromeda is how spectacularly EA managed to kill off what’s arguably its biggest franchise ever.
Spencer – What can I say that crowbcat hasn’t said better, but without any words?
Austin – What’s this? A new Mass Effect game? That can’t be right. I love the Mass Effect series. I enjoyed every part of the trilogy. Even after they switched publishers from Microsoft to EA. Even after the trilogy wrapped up and there was a bit of an uproar (I enjoyed all of my time with ME:3). If there was a new entry in the franchise from developer Bioware I would have heard about it, and it would be great! Mass Effect has such a rich and interesting universe of stories, settings with an endless potential for creative storytelling, engaging gameplay systems and beautiful exploration. I really hope we get a fourth entry in the franchise. Maybe it’ll come out around the same time as that rumored sequel to The Matrix….
Runner Up: Middle Earth: Shadow of War, Animal Crossing Pocket Camp, Life is Strange: Before the Storm