The 2017 PSC Writers’ Awards


There can be no doubt that Sony’s box of tricks has had what Tori Amos might call a pretty good year.  So much so that we’ve decided we should dish out some awards for our favourites.  Initially we had thought about splitting our votes between disc and digital games but those lines are so blurred these days that we’ve decided to instead vote for one full retail game and one budget title each.  The boundary there being £25, or as we like to call it, the price Star Wars: Battlefront 2 will be in a week or two’s time.


RICHIE

Full Price

Bulletstorm: Full Clip Edition

PSC Score – 9/10

Aside from the price, there was a lot to like about the remaster of Bulletstorm.  It’s still as intense and hilarious as I remembered and those remastered visuals look splendid on PS4.  In a time where finding a good, linear, single-player game is getting all too rare, Bulletstorm is a reminder of why we all got into gaming in the first place.  Ubisoft and EA need to take note.   Not everything needs to be a fucking open world game.

The game itself is a brilliant FPS which uses its unique lasso mechanic to set up all sorts of murdering possibilities, all of which are rewarded with points that you can use for weapon upgrades.  It also has plenty of exciting and impressive set-pieces.  It’s basically what games should still be like.

Budget

Jydge

PSC Score – 8/10

There have been plenty of great indie games on PSN and I wasn’t expecting to love 10TonsLtd’s third top-down shooter, Jydge, as much as I did Neon Chrome but I did.  Visually it wasn’t up to much but the gameplay was a brilliant mix of twin-stick shooting and stealth that took advantage of some fantastic level design and some superb upgrading mechanics.

The game ended up being a bit of an obsession for me, all the way up to the platinum trophy.  This meant that I played each level a lot of times and while the game was a maybe a little samey and required four playthroughs, I was constantly impressed by how tight the gameplay was.  And that’s why its my budget game of the year.


GARETH

Full Price

Nioh

PSC Score – 9/10

You know it’s a great year for games when I give out five 9/10s and I didn’t even review many of the biggest releases. It’s a game I didn’t review that I’ve chosen for my Game of the Year. Nioh takes the Souls formula and adds layers of complexity to it whilst changing the structure and, although it doesn’t dethrone the master, it does a fantastic job of making the well trodden fresh again. Splitting up the levels instead of one big world makes it less magical but allows for areas to be reused and restructured. The loot and levelling systems can be overwhelming but also add a personal element to your loadout and the levels and boss fights give that same feeling of satisfaction once you beat them.

If you’re a fan of the genre then you should do yourself a favour and give this one a chance and I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

Budget

Cosmic Star Heroine

PSC Score – 9/10

There have been some fantastic low budget offerings this year, something for a fan of any genre. Being a JRPG fan I’ve got to go with Cosmic Star Heroine however, a love letter to SNES-era JRPGs that respects your time. It moves at a brisk pace, allows you to save anywhere, retry when you fail and isn’t all that long for the genre. JRPGs often ask a lot of the player, whether it’s to play for long periods without saving, grind out levels just to progress or to play fishing mini-games of all things. A lot of JRPGs can make enjoying things difficult.

Cosmic Star Heroine enthralled me for a couple of days and then let me go on my way, which made me love it all the more.


STEVEN

Full Price

Horizon Zero Dawn

PSC Score – 9/10

Horizon Zero Dawn is easily my full price game of the year by a mile.  This offered an engaging open world and a top notch science fiction story to go alongside it. On their own these two aspects would just make a good game but these are coupled with some fantastic creature design and some truly compelling and visceral combat.  The creatures all react differently giving the combat a truly organic feel to it, and playing on the harder settings is quite the challenge.  I was also impressed by the female lead, Aloy, as she was presented as a fully rounded character without resorting to oversexualising her, as is so often the case in videogames. Rounding out the year Horizon Zero Dawn has also received a great DLC expansion in The Frozen Wilds which serves as a reminder of just how good this game is.

Budget

The Turing Test

PSC Score – 9/10

The Turing test is my pick for budget game of the year, in what has been a really strong field.  From looking at screenshots you’ll know pretty much what you’re going to get here. A first person narrative adventure with a puzzle structure similar to Portal. Yes you play as a scientist, yes you get a special gun as your only means to interact and solve puzzles, yes there is an AI keeping you company throughout and yes things aren’t all as they seem. As clichéd as that sounds The Turing Test managed to present a really well-crafted story and some proper mind bending puzzles which kept me engaged throughout. It also looks the part with some fantastic science based design and just a touch of a spooky atmosphere when needed.  It also has a killer opening section when you enter the atmosphere of the planet, easily the best moment of the year.


MIKE

Full Price

Nioh

PSC Score – 9/10

For a pretty strong year, I’ve let quite a lot of the big releases pass me by. As a result, the big release I feel the strongest for was released back in February. Nioh landed after a lengthy development and proved to be worth the wait.  Nioh provides a strong challenge with some tight, risky combat and a compulsive loot game. It’s punishing but I spent a large part of my year coming back for more.   It might overload you with systems and mechanics but it’s been supported well with some impressive DLC. Team Ninja have managed to craft a rich experience worth your time. Taking liberties with Japanese history, it does provide an interesting setting for which leads to some fantastic arenas and battles. It takes the traditional souls combat and adds ideas of its own which have really helped Nioh carve its own path within a niche genre that remains relatively strong.

 

Budget

Rabi-Ribi

PSC Score – 8/10

In a year filled with strong indie efforts, Rabi-Ribi managed to hook me. The story is nonsense but this Metroidvania executes everything else strongly. Combat is satisfying with a combo system being put to great effect. You have options and they come in handy with the game’s many frantic bosses. Sometimes it delves into bullet hell but it’s presented with such colour and fun. The world is cohesive with a lot of charm and there’s a grand incentive to explore everywhere for loot, power ups and items.   It’s all accompanied by a joyful soundtrack which might be the star of the show.  The genre might be well-worn but Rabi-Ribi manages to nail so much with a daft, whimsical charm. I can’t help but play it with a smile on my face.  It’s a memorable jaunt that never stands still for long.


GRIZZLY

Full Price

Injustice 2

PSC Score – 9/10

In the wake of the disappointing Street Fighter V and the stumbling re-invigoration of the fighting game genre, we needed a new hero to come along and take charge of the situation. NetherRealm Studios answered the call and emerged from the blackness, delivering one of the finest one on one fighters of recent years.

Injustice 2 surprised in so many ways, Not only was it beautiful to look at with some of the best depictions of DC’s finest, but it also was one of the best and most honest attempts at exploring the DC universe with its interesting and varying narrative. Before Netherrealm, the storyline of a fighting game was relegated to the background, Now it is an absolute necessity. That is all thanks to Injustice 2, fighting game of the generation by an seemingly unbeatable wide margin.

 

Budget

Sonic Mania

PSC Score – 10/10

I knew that I was going to love Sonic Mania the moment it was announced, but never did I expect that it would ramp up the enjoyment factor from my all time favourite game, Sonic 3 and Knuckles.

Mania could have existed only to sate the old guard of the Sonic fandom, by simply recreating the things we loved about the series in the 90’s and calling it done. But Christian Whitehead and friends took it all that one step further and created something that not only the older fans can enjoy, but one that welcomes new blood with open arms.

The music is fantastic, the new levels fit right in while the old see new life and the gameplay is as refreshing as it is familiar. It is the best Sonic game out there and well deserving of the score I gave it and any attention you can muster.


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *