The GILM Awards 2017 Favorite Big Developer Game


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.


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.


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.



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.


Does this count as a big dev game?


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

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.


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).


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.


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.


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.


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.

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Seconding Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus.

Probably the most fun I have had with a shooter in years, including everything from PUBG to Splatoon, but the story is what takes the game from great to damn near perfect. Only thing it was missing was more Horton and Paris Jack.

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Zelda: Breath of the Wild

No contest. No other game held my interest for as long. I haven’t had that kind of buzz from a game in years.

Wolfenstein 2 gets honourable mention just for the way in which it tackles certain elements of our society so well and subverting the FPS as a genre.

Also Destiny 2, because I just love playing it, and I love playing it with friends. I’m even starting to get sucked down the rabbit hole of the game’s lore, which allows me to appreciate the aesthetic design even more.


Super Mario Odyssey

It’s not on the list so far and it is a delight. Zelda is cool and all, but I really enjoy the bite-size entertainment I can get out of SMO. Just get one moon, five to ten minutes, super charming, can’t do wrong.


Etrian Odyssey V: Beyond the Myth

I know Persona 5 is probably more likely to take the “best Atlus game” nomination vote, but Etrian Odyssey V: Beyond the Myth has been a constant companion since it came out. I don’t have the time to sit down and just dump entire days into a game. Because EOV is on the 3DS, I was able to play it during my commute, on my lunch hour, and during quiet moments while travelling. 2017 has been a year of near-constant anxiety and dread, and the quiet comfort of drawing some maps, exploring cool, expertly designed dungeons, and playing around with a pretty robust cooking system has been a complete lifesaver.


I do think PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds needs serious consideration, as I don’t remember the last time has actually caused me to form friendships. But for me… it’'s NieR: Automata, a game that haunted me the first time I played it and has stuck with me and become a part of me since.


I second Super Mario Odyssey


Nomination: Divinity Original Sin II

My first pick for nomination would have been Horizon: Zero Dawn, but you lovely people have already beat me to it. Nier also left a massive impression on me this year, though it’s sort of a no-brainer choice. (And for what it’s worth, I’m just about to start playing the new Wolfenstein.) As a back up choice that I haven’t seen get nearly as much love on this forum, I think Divinity Original Sin II is well worth everyone’s attention.

A major theme in games this year seems to have been “accessibility,” by which I mean everything you can see in front of you can be accessed and utilized by the player. Items, places, people, you name it—they are all part of a holistic living world that’s right at your fingertips. I absolutely love this quality in games, and I think the ability big developers have to bring accessibility to their massive games is largely what keeps their work unique from smaller teams.

DOSII revitalized old-school CRPGs for the modern era with this kind of all-encompassing gameplay, and it’s truly something special. You don’t so much follow quests and storylines as you inhabit a world where seemingly anything can happen. It’s almost become a cliche to say this, but every choice you make truly matters. Often you’ll make major decisions without even realizing their greater impact. It’s not so much an “open-world” game as it is an “open-possibilities” game. I genuinely think you could play through DOSII multiple times and have completely different experiences, should you so choose. For a game that massive, I think that’s an incredible feat.


With a lot of good games already having 2 nominations, I would say Nioh.

Probably my third(?) favorite game of the year so far.