Black Friday celebrates the end of the Great Depression in the 1930’s, an American holiday that – like so much of America’s culture – has made it’s way to the UK because of how staggeringly profitable it is, but I’ll come down from my political high horse before I get the urge to ride into the sunset yelling Viva la Revolucion!
Alongside some pretty huge deals on great titles, Steam are also running their own award ceremony as voted for by the gamers. So while you pick up a stack of games for a fiver, take some time to nominate some of your favourite titles and get another pointless badge for doing so. Why not? It’s nice to give back occasionally. Here’s my picks for the categories:
The “Test of Time” Award
This feels almost too easy, but 230 hours of gameplay can’t be wrong. Skyrim is five years old, and the reason I talk about it a lot about it, cite it as an example of great design, and discuss it’s many facets and flaws. I am still a long way from discovering every corner, I’ve never even been to Blackreach, or played the DLC content (apart from building a Hearthfire house), hell I’ve never even picked a side in the war or played the storyline much past finding some guy under Riften.
The remastered edition may put a fresh coat of paint over the fifth Elderscrolls title but it is still a great and lovable game. Roll on TES 6, you have big nord boots to fill.
The “I’m Not Crying, There’s Something In My Eye” Award
I like a game that kicks you in the feelings every so often, but there are very few that have gotten me really emotional. Plenty have given me some touching moments, but I decided to go for a game that had me by the heartstrings from the first few steps.
Dear Esther is a walk around a Hebridean Island, a narrator offers segments of letters to an unknown woman named Esther. The game is evocative, beauty, loneliness, and mystery wrap together painting a picture of sadness and regret. I love this game because there’s nothing to do but walk, discover, and listen, a real narrative experience with just enough gameplay to keep you paying attention.
The “Just 5 More Minutes” Award
Gaming compulsion is a terrible mistress, but when life can’t quite drag you away and sleep can wait for another quest or two, maybe just reach the next save-point, sell your excess junk and then close down for the evening, gaming is always there for you.
My 5 more minutes always ends up going to Borderlands 2. It’s another game I talk about way too often on this site, I swear I play a lot of games it’s just that there are a few titles I particularly love. Sometimes you’re just a little too close to next level, or a quick job you can finish, maybe you’ve got too many guns… there’s always something else to do, and another 5 minutes in which to do it.
The “Whoooaaaaaaa, dude!” Award
Games with positively mind blowing moments are plentiful, I gave this one to Portal 2 for those gut-dropping moments of vertigo and dizziness that it inspires on a regular basis, but really that’s not all.
There are some gloriously cinematic moments in Portal 2 that inspire that kind of awe-struck look we unwittingly wear when a game grabs us by the jaw and pulls down. Those opening moments as you push through the forgotten test subject storage, first laying eyes on the old asbestos towers of Aperture’s early days, that finale, and the turret’s aria. It’s one hell of a rolelrcoaster, and deserves the award.
The “Villain Most In Need Of A Hug” Award
I struggled for this one, I like my villains too much to want to see any of them mellow out. I went with one where no amount of hugging will fix our villains, South Park: The Stick of Truth, it’s cheap but it’s not going to win the category with that premise.
Battling your way through kids pretending to be elves with the hammer you borrowed from your dad’s toolbox, unveiling the grand treachery of your closest friend, these are kids who could do with a little more parental supervision. You also end up in the lair of drug addicts, set a few fires, and steal a lot of other people’s property. All of these kids could do with a little more love.
The “Game Within A Game” Award
We did something on this a while back. Why not take a break from saving the world and play the slots? The Elite Four can wait, I’m entering my Eevee into a beauty contest! My pick here went to Assault on Dragon Keep, the Tiny Tina DLC for Borderlands 2.
Game within a game… only a narrative thing, the gang of vault hunters from the first game are playing a game of Dungeons and Dragons as characters from the second, slinging dice and fighting fantasy beasties and the like. The second time I voted on a Borderlands title, it was nearly three at one point, but it was a fitting choice.
The “I Thought This Game Was Cool Before It Won An Award” Award
Chance to show off the games you loved before anyone else. I couldn’t give to the Grim Dawn Kickstarter, but when I discovered the team who worked on Titan Quest were working on a new isometric hack-and-slash set in a dark and gothic fantasy world I knew I had to give what I could. Iron is the new currency, salt is a weapon, and you start the game by dying. Grim Dawn is awesome.
I knew about this game before it began actual production, barely a screenshot or two to it’s name, I watched the end of the crowdfunding campaign with tightly crossed fingers, and have kept an eye on every development since. It’s design is as beautiful as it is bleak, it has a fantastic narrative, and watching a game grow is an oddly rewarding experience no matter that you’re not involved.
The “Best Use Of A Farm Animal” Award
Goat Simulator. Please argue with me on this one, it’s Goat Simulator. It is a farm animal, destroying everything in it’s path. I really shouldn’t need to go further into this, if there are any kind of rewards issued to the designers at the end of these award nominations, I want to see some kind of trophy being handed to Coffee Stain Studios.
Everyone gets a slot to enter their own category, in the absence of better ideas I just trawled my library for a favourite that wasn’t Skyrim or Borderlands and offered it my own slice of recognition, and awarded The “Most BATMAN!!! Game of All Time” Award to Arkham City.
No other experience puts you more in the combat boots of the Dark Knight of Gotham than swooping around Hugo Strange’s super-prison taking on the worst of the rogues gallery with a fully stocked arsenal of gadgets, and a cool story to go along with it. Granted Arkham City already has plenty of awards to its name, but this is only a little one, one more can’t hurt, right?
But don’t let my decisions sway you. Care to share your submissions for the Steam Awards? Any of my nominations you’d like to disagree with? Bought anything?
Because I’m going to! Sine Mora for £1.99? It’s been a while since I’ve been this tempted.