The GILM Awards 2017 Favorite Narrative

Favorite Narrative

You spin that yarn right round, right round, like a really good story, right round right round~

What were the narratives that grabbed you the most this year? Which stories had you staying up late at night to see the next beat? Or eschewing side quests to see how the main-line resolved? Or, which side quests had you putting the main quest on permanent hold because the small stories were so well crafted?

From Visual Novels to implied narrative told through flourishes in the environment, we want to hear about the games that made the deepest impression to you, whether with the content of their message or their way of delivering it.

Feel free to explain why certain narratives stuck with you this year long after you finished them. This category is for the holistic narrative of a game. If you want to talk about your favorite moment, we have a whole category for you. Make sure to bold the title of your nomination, and respect each other’s experiences and views while we look back at the great tales of 2017. See you in the voting round!


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.

Nomination: Nier: Automata

What it means to be alive? What the reason for a living being to keep living? What if our only reference of human beings is what they left behind, including their creations? That the question Automata ask and with decent combat from Platinum and concepts that only work in games, it the Yoko Toro game that hit big. Even in it game play, Automata test your beliefs in how basic games work.


NieR: Automata

I’ve been a fan of Yoko Taro’s for several years and, before, NieR was the only game that ever came close to discussing philosophy in a way that I really appreciated. The first game contained a lot of parallels to Baudrillard with the simulacra discussion as well as an interrogation of binaries within conflicts, how social perceptions are manipulated by powerful forces, etc. The game makes a great deal of emphasising the material conditions in which we live in and how they affect our history and societies.

NieR: Automata takes all that and amplifies it by around tenfold. The simulacra discussion changes from being about a reality that is made alien to the ways in which reality becomes alien, the whole game feels like an extended Marxist screed against interpreting the world through idealism and you even fight a big factory called Engels in the first 30 minutes just to hammer the point home that the androids are opposed to materialism. The namedrops are also fantastic; the Forest Kingdom is a recreation of the kinds of failing utopias Ernst Bloch wrote about in A Principle for Hope, Simone is representative of The Second Sex, Kierkegaard is a pretty vicious parody of Sickness Unto Death etc etc. It’s also the only video game I’ve ever seen reference Hegel, which is kind of amazing.

Also the end of the game is you very literally smashing the (state?) machinery that oppresses the characters by using collective effort to defeat the developers themselves. Game of the fucking millenium.


Nier: Automata

The way Nier reveals its narrative to the player over the course of multiple play throughs was astounding to me. I’d never seen a game do that before (I hadn’t played the first Nier yet) and so after the first time the credits rolled I was overjoyed that there was more. Route A was good, but every route after that–including B, which a lot of people seem to dislike quite a bit–was better and worked to give just a bit more context until it all came together. It has the strongest narrative arc and conclusion of any game I’ve played this year. It does ask a lot of philosophical questions. It does examine the nature of being. But it does those things while delivering a strong and memorable narrative that is well-paced and constructed.

It is extremely important to me.


Nomination: Pyre

“Who shall rise again? Who lights the way for the Aimless?”

Pyre makes a fantasy setting feel fresh again. The world of the Downside, and the events that happen to the player character, allow the game to touch upon themes of spirituality, solidarity, and struggle in ways that feel real, which is extremely rare for games.

In Pyre, the player helps to user their character, and a team of literal societal misfits, through the trial of living in the wastes of the Downside, a fate meant as punishment for those deemed unfit to live among the rest of society. The player makes choices that help to drive the narrative, on a small level and a larger level. One of the biggest feats Pyre pulls off is making the individual struggle of the character feel important while also involving the character and the Nightwings (the aforementioned team of misfits) in things much larger than just them.

For Pyre, the game is the story and the story is the game. A large part of the game is a visual novel style game, yet what happens within the more sports-game sections also help to propel the story, and those matches hold a weight few sports games do because of the narrative ramifications. Other bits of the story are tucked away in every corner, from seemingly throwaway dialogue, to a book full of lore, to the soundtrack itself.

Pyre is a game where gameplay and narrative intertwine to tell a story that uses familiar tools but ultimately feels fresh, and scratches story itches games so rarely do.


Seconding Pyre

Pyre is my choice by a country mile. Though Night In The Woods and Prey aren’t far behind. And actually Wolfinstein II is also pretty close. So less a country mile and more a country apartment complex

Absolutely Pyre as well. One of the big things I find so remarkable about it is there are so many variables to how it can play out, who stays and who goes, but they all intertwine with each other and every permutation feels right. There doesn’t seem to be a “bad ending” for anyone, just ones that are simply different. Everything feels earned.

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Nier: Automata

After Automata I’m not sure how I can enjoy android scifi stuff any more, it all seems so simple in comparison. Even stuff Like the new Blade Runner didn’t come close to the complexity of this game.

Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus

I’d like to nominate Wolfenstein 2: The New Order. It’s rare when we see a narrative balance humor, drama, and heartache with such grace. It’s a narrative that’s not afraid to be outrageous. Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus takes meaningful swings at how we perceive violence, race, and abuse (among many other topics) in ways that we haven’t seen in games before. It’s filled with an amazing cast that each has their own quirk and each is unique and charming. BJ’s character development is outstanding and is fleshed out in such a way that we feel bad that he’s stuck in a cycle of violence. The twists and turns truly catch you off guard. We’ve experienced some great narratives but nothing hits home or resonates the way Wolfenstein 2 does. What Wolfenstein 2 has that no other narrative this year had was that human element, that reliability. It doesn’t shock the player because it can, it shocks the player in order to show the gravity of the situation.

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Realistically, I’m pretty sure this year is going to be a three way race in narrative between the three already mentioned, with Nier likely being the winner. But like Best Moment, I’m gonna hold off on making a choice until I’ve had more time to play through some games and their stories.

There has been sooo many great narratives this year alone, in a way I’m kind of surprised and encouraged by. That being said, there is one that stands definitively above all others, and that’s definitely Nier Automata. So much has been said about it so I won’t go on, but there’s something truly special here that pushes the medium forward in a way that no other game has this year.

NieR: Automata

I’ve played through Persona 5 and Horizon Zero Dawn from start to finish, and yet I couldn’t stand to play NieR: Automata beyond its 12th hour. However, I did spend probably ~30 or so hours sifting through spoiler threads on various forums across the net, listening to spoilercasts, listening to the story of the game come together and disseminate in the minds of others. I loved the art style, I loved everything it was trying to do narratively, trying to portray existential struggle in a universe of uncaring, cycling artifice. Regardless of my disappointments in NieR from a gameplay perspective, it still stands with me as one of the year’s most impacting games, largely because I think the themes it explores and the characters and scenario that it props up to make those explorations are the absolute best the industry had to offer this year. Someday, maybe, Yoko Taro will make a game I’m actually interested in playing from start to finish, but to his credit, I have always found myself taking pleasure in watching others openly discuss his outlook of the world and the imagination he pours into crafting his games around it.

Nier Automata

It hard to talk about it, since it better to experience it less spoiled as possible, so what I can say - it that one most amazing and unique stories, with some very emotional moments that surprised me a lot.

Hmm… gotta finish Nier…

I think NieR: Automata absolutely deserves a place on this list but I loved that game more for its mood, the world it steeped me in than the point by point story beats. So I’m going to put forward Wolfenstein 2 just for how in tune with modern times that game manages to be in the world it creates, and the characters that it chooses to drive the story forward. While at the same time providing some of the wildest story beats in recent memory.


Prey is the first “-shock” style game I’ve been able to get into. I loved finding all the notes around the station and the opening was one of the best setups I’ve played in awhile. For whatever it’s worth I have yet to try Neir so maybe it doesn’t play the same notes as well about humanity and wants makes us… well … us. But PREY is my pick this year.

Nomination: Night in the Woods

High-minded, aspirational stories tend to get lost in the weeds very easily, and that happened a few times this year. Grounded, realistic storytelling is often the most affecting, and that’s exactly what Night in the Woods does. The character interactions are core to the experience. As such, it helps that the characters in this game are perhaps the most fleshed out I’ve ever seen in the medium, especially in a game of this scope. Every step of the way, Mae’s interactions with that world and those characters spin an engrossing slice of life narrative. It is at once personal and universal. Even though the later parts of the narrative gesture at something grand, it is all left up to the player’s interpretation-- and not in the “oh come on now” way that most open endings are typically presented.


I’m definitely going to second Night in the Woods for Favorite Narrative.

It’s story more personally effected me than any other this year. Those characters will also stick with me forever.

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Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is my pick. I think it deserves some recognition for how it constructs its narrative. Game mechanics, visuals and (most notably) sound comes together to set Senua herself as the story as you learn of her history and share some of her joyful moments but also the fears that haunt her. It’s a deep dive into a very specific topic. You might just come away from it with a better understanding of and empathy for it.