The GILM Awards 2017 Favorite Big Developer Game


#1

Favorite Big Developer Game

What was the blockbuster that broke through the bloat? Who had the budget to realise their sweeping vision? What game survived executive or publisher meddling to keep its magnum opus status intact? This is the category for the games made by the big developers and the sizeable studios.

This is a counterpart to Favorite Small Developer Game and the distinction is not firm. In our view, you should look at the game, consider the circumstances around its development, and make your judgement accordingly. Speak with your gut and speak honestly, asking whether this was worked over by hundreds of people or by a select few. That is the distinction, rather than pricing, ‘indie’ status, or game length.

With that said, we feel the category speaks for itself. Now, the red carpet is waiting for the big launch–get ready to step into the limelight, make your nomination as bold as it gets, and enjoy the show!


Q&A

Q: Uhhh, sorry to ask, but... what are the GILM Awards?

A: Nothing to apologise for! Just head over to our pinned topic if you need a catch up! You can also find details on the process for the awards here.

Q: How do I nominate a game?

A: To nominate a game, you have to write the game in your post and bold it, ideally at the top of your post. If we don’t know what you’re picking, we can’t count it. You get one (1) nomination. For a game to be eligible for the voting phase, it must have two nominations.

Nomination: (GAME)
(Rest of Post, full of lists and good takes)

You can make a list as long as your arm, just be clear chose. We welcome thoughtful posts about how you made your decision and discussion, as long as we keep it positive and respectful.

Q: I disagree with someone else's choice!

A: As per our Code of Conduct, be considerate about other people’s perspectives. There’s no need to puff out someone else’s candle to make yours a little brighter. Negativity is only going to hurt your case for what you love. What’s said in the thread stays in the thread. The mod team frown deeply on people taking disagreements thread-to-thread, like bringing up a user’s nomination in a previous category in a case against the present one.

Q: Someone already nominated the game(s) I wanted to twice, what do I do?

A: We still want to hear your thoughts! Be mindful of what has already been nominated, but as always, this topic is a conversation, so feel free to write about other nominated games.

Q: When does the nomination process end?

A: The period of time to make your nominations will end 12/10/2017.

Q: Can I nominate ports, re-releases, or remasters?

A: Generally, only games that saw their first release in 2017 are eligible. Full remakes may be eligible, but games like White Day: A Labyrinth Named School, which is a full remake of a game released in 2001 from 2015 that was ported to PC and PS4 this year, are still not eligible if they are ports. Expansions on existing games that stand alone, like Uncharted: The Lost Legacy or Dishonored: Death of the Outsider are eligible, but please consider these games on their own, separate from their full game companions. Please see the pinned topic for more information on eligibility criteria.

Q: Wait, is this game Big or Small…?

A: Good question! We have a few games that we think are pretty big ‘edge cases’, so we’ve taken the liberty of indicating where we think they fall. If you have an edge case in mind, talk to us and we’ll adjudicate.

  • Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice: Big Dev.
  • PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds: Big Dev
  • Sonic Mania: Big Dev

#2

Wolfenstein: The New Colossus.

Given that I haven’t finished Nier yet, this is a shoo-in category. TNC is everything good about the first game but louder and bigger. That’s a good thing and sometimes a bad thing, but mostly a good thing? It’s packed with characters and some surprisingly smart writing.

I was extremely worried that after the splash hit TNO was that the sequel would underdeliver, or, worse, capitulate into a bland mess of “maybe the Nazis have a point”. TNC did not do this, famously, and went even harder into how it the USA was implicated in and played a part in legitimizing the rise of Nazism. It doesn’t shy away from topics that AAA games don’t usually tackle, and manages to handle them surprisingly well.


#3

NieR: Automata

This game is going to get its dues in several categories, I feel, but I also want to let it be known that its my personal overall game of the year. I’m in a second play-through and I’m fairly sure it may be my favorite game I’ve played in my life.

The word for NieR: Automata is layers. It starts you with a few simple layers and just starts peeling and peeling stuff back, story-wise, gameplay-wise, EXPERIENCE-wise until you finally see everything, a slightly more hopeful version of director Yoko Taro’s bleak philosophy that has been so close to how I feel this year that it’s comforting.

The combat is not the best–it is, in fact, the poorest element of the game–but NieR is my top game of the year in every other way. It is a game for people who are feeling tired of games; that has been me. This year I bounced off Zelda, nearly bounced off Mario–game after game that was widely acclaimed left me feeling like I didn’t love them anymore. It was this tale of androids and machines that reminded me of everything only games can do, that every time I sit down with a game, I am initiating a connection of interactivity between myself and a team of creators. I am opening myself up to an experience, and it’s been a long time since I felt like a game experience reached back into me the way this one has.

It has changed me forever, really changed me, and I truly believe you will not be the same after you finish it.


#5

Persona 5

Kinda weird to think of Atlus as a big developer but they come a long way from working on a previous gen systems and push to get P5 on PS4. It ends up benefiting them now they got experience with current systems and understanding how to make their next big title.


#6

NieR Automata
I loved a lot of games this year. But NieR Automata is the most important game I played this year, and perhaps ever.


#7

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild from Nintendo EPD

It would be downright silly not to see Nintendo as a big developer so I’m sure both Mario and Zelda will be nominated here.
I’ll take care of the second one and nominate Austin Walker’s Game of the Year The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, or as I like to call it, The Legend of Zelda: Breadth of the Wild.

This game truly is a breath (hehehe) of fresh air for the Zelda franchise which I felt was in danger of becoming stale and overly reliant on callbacks and nostalgia. What we got instead was Nintendo’s take on the open world adventure RPG sandbox. Replete with a wide range of abilities and tools with which you can find your own solutions and approaches to problems and (perhaps more importantly) without most of the open world jank and lack of polish that you usually find in games like this.


#8

NieR: Automata made me burst into tears for a solid 10 minutes, and for extremely non-trivial reasons. Nothing I’ve played, read, or watched in the past 10 years has even come close to that.


#9

Prey

This could have been awful. The weirdly unrelated sequel to a game barely remembered, whose development followed the canning of a promising, more fitting sequel to said game, this didn’t have the most auspicious of origins.

And yet, somehow this little sci-fi thriller was a triumph. The first-person space shenanigans plus corrupted humans as enemies thing brought about comparisons to System Shock - and indeed that was a frequently cited inspiration on the developers - but that’s far from its sole source.

In its use of many and varied tools locked behind long-term choices to offer each player a very different experience the game evokes the original Deus Ex, while it doubles down on the Metroidvania structure to a degree rarely seen in 3D titles, much less big budget shooters. Indeed, just in general this can be seen as something of a throwback: a single-player, non-open world, non-linear adventure with no multiplayer component. And, for me, that’s pretty much ideal!

Thankfully, it succeeds on more than just a conceptual level, too. The writing is solid, the story compelling, the soundtrack fantastic. The evolution of the game’s mood from hypertense thriller to high-stakes action is masterful. The freedom of approach is almost as delightful as Deus Ex (alas, it turns out the setting of an overrun space station isn’t quite as flexible when it comes to offering wildly diverging paths), and does a good job in staying balanced despite the player’s ever-increasing powers; never going too far and leaving the player quite as overpowered as in (the still lovely) Dishonored.

In all, Prey was just a magnificent experience, from start to finish. I would never have expected it to be my game of the year when looking at the release list in January, but despite the undeniable quality of the competition nothing else could quite top it. Just a crying shame that it didn’t find the audience it deserved.


#10

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

People said Zelda needed to change. For years. And years. And years. People said Zelda needed to change.

Zelda changed. To the point that the people screaming that it needed to change went “…well did it have to change this much?”

Nintendo ripped apart almost every core convention the series had and built something brimming with ambition, care, and wonder. They took open world games, a genre I historically have not liked at all, and made me care about them. For the first time I looked at an open world and didn’t just see a bunch of buildings and obstacles in my way. It truly felt like an open world where the point wasn’t to get to a waypoint cough for the next story beat but to just get to wherever it is you think you might want to go, and to have fun on the way. I didn’t ride a horse for more than 10 minutes in this game. I walked, I savored, I went places I might not have been ready for but I used the mechanics the game gave me to get through anyway. If I tried something that didn’t work out? No big deal. Death only ever set you back a couple of minutes and I could bail out with fast travel if things felt too overwhelming for me. I always got back out there and tried again. I was always wondering what was over the next hill, what was on top of that far off mountai-what is that is that a FUCKING DRAGON WHERE DID THAT EVEN COME FROM???

I will always remember what I felt getting to the top of a tower in this game. One of the best design decisions in the game is how they handle the towers. They fill in map topography but nothing else. You just stand up there and you look. You look out onto the world and decide your own path through it. It seems simple and that’s what Nintendo does best. They made a beautiful, ambitious game that executed so well on everything it wanted to do. Their first stab at a well worn genre felt like nothing else in it. Big Developers should have certain luxuries. They should have ample time to design, a budget to play around with, and the resources available to build things we wouldn’t expect. Zelda was the game from a Big Developer this year that lived up to and then broke clear through my expectations.


#11

Nomination: Metroid: Samus Returns

It’s a new Metroid. A new 2D Metroid, it’s been 13 years since the last one. That alone would honestly maybe be enough to make Samus Returns a top contender for GotY for me - but it helps that Samus Returns is a Very Good Game.

While it is hamstrung a fair bit by being a remake of one of the weaker titles in the Metroid series, MercurySteam manage to pull something genuinely great out of it and that’s because they focussed on the one area that - in my opinion - 2D Metroid games have always struggled with, the combat. The change from 8 directional aiming to a full 360 freeaim system is something that should have happened a while ago, but that’s not the best part of Samus Returns’ combat revamps. While contentious, I think the parry system is a fantastic addition to the game, and making the enemies more proactive in attacking you to complement the system is a welcome change as well.

But what I love about the parry system is how it plays into this fantasy of Samus being an extremely skilled fighter, she disables her targets then goes for the weak spot - as she would. And it’s not only the parry system that plays into this image, through the animations, through the cutscenes, Samus is shown as a deft and skilled fighter who effortlessly cuts her way through this inhospitable planet, you can truly feel that this is a woman who is experienced and very good at her job.

While I’m still surprised that An Actual Metroid game didn’t manage to be my favourite metroidvania this year, Samus Returns is still a fantastic game and a welcome return for the series.


#13

Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds

I don’t know what I could say here that I haven’t said in my Favorite Moments nomination, aside from the fact that it was BY FAR the game I spent the most time with this year, between the 150+ hours I’ve got playing it and the countless hours I’ve watched people stream.


#14

Prey

I don’t know how it happened. Arkane Studios took a property with one of the most promising sequel announcements in the history of video games and not only avoided getting caught up in that disappointment, but almost completely escaped the orbit of its namesake. And what’s more, it’s a fun as hell immersive sim. I would say more, but @Wiper makes a great case for the game already and says pretty much everything I would have said, but better. In a year full of big games which don’t appeal to me, Prey hits all the right notes.


#15

Does this count as a big dev game?


#16

Considering their partnership with Bluehole (and also Tencent) I think they’re definitely a big dev game.


The GILM Awards 2017 Favorite Small Developer Game
#17

Played so many excellent big developer games this year. If I go with my gut, it has to be Yakuza 0. So many crazy, entertaining moments that I never saw coming, I could list them for paragraphs. Kiryu and Majima are possibly the worlds best protagonists. I thought this would be a pretty good prequel to a series I already really enjoyed, maybe a place holder until the next real game- then it turns out to be the best Yakuza game I’ve ever played.


#18

NieR: Automata

Much has already been said about this game but no game has really affected me in the same way this game has. Once the credits rolled I genuinely broke down crying which no game has ever done before. While I loath to say this I feel NieR: Automata is simply a narrative that simply could never be told if it was in any other medium even if people view the combat to be flawed. (Side note: maybe it’s just because I played the original NeiR to completion & it was not great the combat in this game actually felt perfect for me personally, a person who genuinely cannot do intricate combos like in Bayonetta).


#19

Seconding The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

I am historically fucking horrible at finishing open world games. I’m actually going to finish this one.


#20

Horizon: Zero Dawn
Guerilla Games’ shift from developing the Killzone series to making Horizon Zero Dawn is one of the most interesting things to happen in the AAA space in years for me. Not only did they set out to make something completely fresh in a genre they had very little experience with, but they nailed it in almost every way. Movement and combat feel great, the story goes some really wild and fascinating places (narrative-wise it’s second only to Wolfenstein this year for me), and the world is ridiculously gorgeous, bursting with color and life. It seems increasingly rare for big studios like Guerilla to get a chance to break away from their usual projects and try something new, and the final result is such a pleasant surprise.


#21

Horizon Zero Dawn

Now, to be upfront, I want to nominate this game for this category but it’s actually not my personal favorite game of the year — that distinction actually goes to Super Mario Odyssey. But I feel like Super Mario Odyssey is comparatively a lot less surprising and awesome coming from Nintendo than Horizon Zero Dawn is coming from Guerilla Games. Here’s why:

Horizon Zero Dawn got me hooked to it in no way that any Guerrilla Games had before, and I honestly had expected, even against multiple media showcases, that the game would ultimately make me come away from the game with the same sensation of mediocrity that I felt from the half-dozen or so Killzone games that the studio put out. No disrespect intended by that statement, I still played and mostly enjoyed Killzone games, but they did ultimately fail to feel to me like “top 3” FPS games in any given year that any of them came out. Many of the characters — heroes AND villains — felt kinda “Hollywood-tropey,” some even to extreme detriment, and while technically impressive almost across the entire franchise, the aesthetics of each game often felt indistinctive with their desaturated colors, their dilapidated war-ravaged off-world landscapes, and their industrial mechanical design. Hardly anything about Killzone felt unique or inspired, IMO, even if the games ultimately felt largely competent. They had a difficult time being memorable.

With that impression of Guerrilla Games, the fear that Horizon’s weird and bizarre robo-dinosaur-dominated naturalistic landscapes would also fall into that category were very real. Much to my surprise, Horizon Zero Dawn actually ended up being my favorite non-Nintendo title to release this year, and perhaps my favorite PlayStation exclusive title of all time. It has a great main character, who largely stands on her own despite the player’s ability to make dialogue choices on her behalf (none of them feel entirely disengenuine to the character she is on her own, IMO); it features some really great combat gameplay that feels like it encourages satisfying use of its wider toolset and less of an emphasis on just equipping your absolute highest-damage-output weapon and taking on everything the same way; it has a fantastically-realized world with an interesting backstory and a great series of “current timeline” events that feel like they naturally go together.

It’s a very nice and refreshing project coming from a studio that I personally felt was rather unremarkable outside of their technical prowess, but here we are in 2017, and I feel like they absolutely deserve credit for their achievement with Horizon Zero Dawn — it’s a fantastic game from a technical standpoint, but it also features really fun, rich gameplay and a great main character and story to contextualize it all. It’s the full package.


#22

Nomination: Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 5

Not gonna play politics on this one and see how everything shakes out in the next few weeks and just gonna slam that second nomination in as hard as I can for the game that will likely be my Game of the Year.

I think all I really have to say is that, despite the problems it has (and there are many), it managed to exceed my expectations as a sequel to my favourite game of all time in nearly every capacity, which is incredible.

Now someone nominate Super Mario Odyssey already, jeez.