Another year of Game Awards has come and gone. There were awards, but mostly there were more trailers for upcoming games.
The Game Awards has been a vehicle for big reveals and surprises for a good few years, and this one was no exception. Franchises like Perfect Dark, Ark, and Mass Effect stood alongside brand-new games like The Callisto Project. Of all the trailers shown last night, which was your favorite?
Mass Effect Mass Effect Mass Effect Mass Effect.
The stars of the night for me were the indies, though. Open Road, Season, and Route 96 all appealed to me. If we’re in the age of road trip indies as the hot new trend, I’m all for it.
Road trip games sure are a thing now, huh? On the one hand it seems like other studios are playing catch up with Kentucky Route Zero—in another, it feels like everyone has this urge to just get the fuck out of Dodge (can’t imagine what that’s about). I’m excited to see more from Fullbright’s Tacoma follow-up Open Roads and curious about Route 96, which seems to share a similar vibe to Red Thread’s upcoming game Dustborn, but goodness gracious did the trailer for Season make my eyes go wide.
Pitched as a bicycle road trip game, Season just has a look to it that immediately clicked with me. Comparisons to Studio Ghibli works get thrown around a lot just on the basis of anime stylings and delicately detailed landscapes, but here I feel it most in the framing: those scenes of third-person gameplay at the end, with the camera pulled far back behind the protagonist, really give a grand-yet-intimate sense of scale that Ghibli always nails. I also love it when a game can pull a Paris, Texas moment off; just leave the camera at a remove while I wander toward some far off, gorgeous vista. If I can do that in Season, then great.
I’m going to be the cynical one: I didn’t have a favorite reveal. Most were forgettable, and a few were outright tacky (a Swedish Chef bit where he promoted a special version of Overcooked?). More than ever, I’m tired of The Game Awards scrambling to make as much room as possible for announcements while pushing the actual awards—the so-called “celebration of gaming”—off to the side. The Game Awards need to decide what they actually want to be, whether that’s Winter E3 or an actual awards show and industry showcase. As it is, it’s just an embarrassing venue for bored celebrities and mid-tier trailers that celebrates only a handful of big-budget blockbusters. The video game industry is grown up now; it’s a mainstream concern. It’s time for it to act like one.