Young Horses GOTY’s 2011 Pt. 2
Welcome to part 2 of the Young Horses games of the year!
Keep going after the break to find out what the rest are…
Jeff’s GOTY, contract artist extraordinaire:
There have been a lot of great games that have come out this past year, but no game has taken up as much time, both while playing and in conversation, as Dark Souls. It is by no means a perfect game, but the sense of accomplishment that the game inspires is amazing. Dark Souls (and the previous Demons Souls) are known first and foremost for their difficulty, but to consider it nothing more than a difficult game does Dark Souls an injustice. Instead of throwing aggravating puzzles and perfect timing, Dark Souls is a difficulty that is conquerable without requiring luck. Most areas in the game are designed to kill the player over and over again, but learning the encounters and understanding the mechanics of the game can turn a deathtrap of snakemen, swinging blades, and precarious walkways into a walk through the park. If the belief that one cant appreciate victory without first tasting defeat can be personified in a game, this would be it. The addition of excellent level design, a story that requires detective work to fully understand, and a world full of life (not always in the literal sense), I can’t think of any other game I would give Game of the Year to. If you talk about encounters in other games, other players probably can relate and nod. But discussing a boss in Dark Souls inspires tales of woe and stories of triumph.
Some other excellent games I’ve played from this past year are Skyrim, Catherine, and Dungeon Defenders. Also a good deal too much Warcraft 3 custom maps!
I’ve been a longtime fan of Rayman ever since I first played it on PlayStation. I was drawn in by the creative environments and wacky atmosphere. When the Wii came out, I was the guy in line on day 1 who ended up buying Raving Rabbids rather than Twilight Princess. So, you can imagine how excited I was when they announced a return to the traditional 2D platformer gameplay with Rayman Origins. Though the game unfortunately came out in a crowded holiday season, I have to say that the game has been a blast to play. More and more, I’ve tended to play games that were for multiple people, so I’m glad to have obtained another game that supports 4 people locally. The art in the game is absolutely gorgeous, opting for a very painterly, animated 2D look, while the sound compliments it perfectly. Definitely some of the most fun I’ve had in a platformer in quite a while.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
To be honest there were many many amazing games this year, but none of them have held my attention as closely or for as long as The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. It’s the first game I’ve played in a long time that has caused me to actually care about the characters and story. I don’t really understand what everyone’s fuss is with having to play with motion controls because I think Skyward Sword is the best use of them in a “traditional” game that there has been so far. There were missed swings of the sword here and there, but overall I think it was my favorite combat system out of any Zelda game to date. This coupled with the amazing soundtrack from Koji Kondo and Hajime Wakai really made the game for me. The temple based structure is also back and much more concise than in previous games. I spent less time traveling with no purpose and that kept the pacing of the game for me feeling much more consistent than say Wind Waker.
My GOTY for 2011 is Skyrim. I know, I know, hear me out. The reason I love the game isn’t for its sprawling, beautifully rendered landscape, nor the complex plots and quests, and especially not for whole ‘the screaming dragons out of the sky’ thing. Wait. No. I love all those things, but the real reasons Skyrim is my game of the year is the personal stories it generates.
My friends and I love talking about the things that happen in the game to us and adding more story then what was there in the first place. For instance, in almost every town is a man or woman that will get into a punch fight with you. They bet 100 gold that they’ll win. You bet 100 gold you’ll win. Engage in fight win or lose fight, win or lose cash. Simple. My friend gave one these guys 100 gold, got into a fistfight with him and won. The NPC looked at him, turned and left without giving him the gold he’d won. My friend chased him out into the street where he tried to talk to the character again, but the NPC just went into a default speech.
“That jerk just stole my money and now he’s acting like nothing happened!” Cue the NPC getting rammed through the chest with a sword and 100 gold, plus extra, for my friend. Obviously it was a glitch, but the implication that the NPC made the choice to leave after winning, and then getting brutally slaughtered, is whats fun. Ask anyone who’s played Skyrim to tell you a story of something hilarious that has happened to them while they’ve been playing. I’m sure they’ll have a story to tell.