End of Year 2019: Favorite Atmosphere/Presentation

Favorite Atmosphere/Presentation

Sometimes a game comes along and you just lose yourself in it. Hours go by without notice; suddenly it's way past your bedtime. And let's face it, the real world is an awful place. Losing yourself in the worlds of video games can be a welcome, if brief, respite.

This category is for the games that stimulated our senses like no other. Truly great presentation can actively transform an experience. It could be spectacular sound design that totally immersed you in the world, or it could be beautiful art and environments that took your breath away. Or perhaps it was a game that instantly transported you into a time and place. What games captivated you with their sights and sounds?

Discussion Thread

This thread is all about discussing your favorites! The end of the year is always a great opportunity to look back and reflect on what we loved, but it’s also a great time to remind ourselves of what we missed and want to come back to next year. So give a recommendation, get a recommendation, and above all please be respectful and have a good time!

Be sure to check the Q&A section below if you have questions, otherwise feel free to reach out to one of us! We hope you enjoy this event and we’re excited to see what sorts of discussion each category inspires!

Please Note: We’re planning to write-up a summary thread at the end of the event and include various members’ quotes from the discussion threads, just like last year. The quotes that we select will be attributed to their authors and only posted on this forum (forum.waypoint.vice.com). If you would prefer to not be quoted in the summary thread, please indicate this in your posts.


Q: End of Year? What's that?

A: I’m glad you asked! Just head over to our pinned topic if you need a catch up! You can also find details on the process for the event here.

Q: What can I discuss in this thread?

A: Anything that you think fits the topic! Feel free to share your favorite experiences of 2019, whether they occurred in media that released in 2019 or media from a previous year.

Q: Where are the nominations?

A: This year we’re structuring things a little differently: we’ll be posting discussion threads over the second half of December, and nominations won’t begin until January. This will give you a few more weeks to play more games before you’ll need to lock in your votes. We also hope that by focusing on open discussion threads, the event will be more inclusive of folks who haven’t been able to play many games from this year.


Oh, for me this is 100% Outer Wilds. I don’t know if any game has ever made space so simultaneously beautiful and terrifying. And the way each planet has it’s own little thematically interesting microcosm to explore is just fantastic. Probably one of the most impressive atmospheric achievements in games ever.


Fully and 100% this one goes to Control. Nothing all that scary happens in that game, and it isn’t like the monsters you’re fighting are that much of a threat to you after a point, it’s just a corridor shooter. But everything about that game scared the shit out of me. And I couldn’t help but want more.

That game is my GOTY mostly because of the atmosphere. The gameplay is pretty good, but okay, the story is maybe even sub-average once you find out the twists, but man, the way it’s presented carries everything. Just how fucked everything seems to be here - and that your character is actually loving it.


Ape Out is a fun enough action game, but it wouldn’t have attracted my interest the way it did without its audio/visual style. The dynamic percussion, beyond just sounding good, adds a real sense of momentum and force to your play. The art feels secondary, but it is also a style I haven’t encountered in a game before.


Outer Wilds is my favorite game this year, so it definitely gets the gold medal. But I want to highlight Devotion, a genuine diamond in the rough of horror games.

Speaking frankly, it’s another game born from the wave that P.T. brought about. You relive the past in a mundane living space that grows sinister over time – check, check, and check. Saying that, though, undercuts just how vibrant it is. The audiovisual experience is permeated with Taiwanese folklore and culture, and Red Candle’s usage of it is so goddamn unnerving (and, according to some Taiwanese players, very authentic!). I love the attention to detail, and even the more cliche bits are at least supported by some interesting twists and adjustments to the formula.

There’s a specific sequence involving going to the underworld in search of your daughter’s detached soul that completely uproots the visual presentation, and even expands the scope of the game in a way that was kind of bewildering. You go through some shit in that part, and it’s a chunk of game that will take a while for me to forget about.

From the broken links of a child’s dinosaur fanpage to the gif-intense biker’s dedication to his dead wife, Hypnospace Outlaw is a perfect snapshot of an internet that never was but might as well have been. HypnOS is a bit broken, if you shake your mouse it loads pages faster and if you play too long, the whole thing slows to a crawl and you have to ‘reboot’ the OS. It’s a fun mix of late 90s/early 00s nostalgia and an alternate world with different tech (and different trennis), a world with dream!internet but also the same annoying viruses I remember from my youth.

I would say Ashen, plays around with a low texture detail but large amount of lighting and particle effects look, very successfully.
The simple texture look gives the world a storybook quality that fits with the theme of the game nicely.

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I mean, Control for sure.