The 2017 Adventure Game Of The Year Awards
This past year introduced many adventure games that excelled in storytelling, as well as pushed the boundaries of how narrative and story intertwine. Some, like Thimbleweed Park, gave adventure fans a remarkable homage to a beloved era, while others told impactful stories about mental health and coming of age, like Night in the Woods. Here are the best adventure games from 2017.
Best Narrative – What Remains of Edith Finch
What Remains of Edith Finch tells a handful of short stories about a family that meets both grisly and untimely deaths. Its riveting narrative keeps you invested, with interactive vignettes that are simultaneously whimsical and somber. Whether you're playing from the perspective of an infant in a bathtub or seeing reality and fantasy become indistinguishable from one another, these narrative moments are some of the best we've seen all year.
Best Setting – Observer
Observer, a horror adventure with cyberpunk themes, puts you in the shoes of a specialized police officer who can enter the minds of others to recreate crime scenes. Your search for your missing son takes you to a rundown apartment complex, where you scour through the building for clues. Dark terrors lurk everywhere, even in the memories and terrifying pasts of the residents. Observer makes use of its environment well, where you are constantly second-guessing what's real and what's not, as both the walls and confines of reality crumble around you.
Best Graphics – Tacoma
Tacoma, an adventure game by the creators of Gone Home, has you exploring an abandoned spaceship and watching holograms of its lost crew to find out what happened to them. The station is fun to explore and its graphical fidelity is top notch, making the station feel lived-in despite the protagonist being the only living human aboard.
Best Soundtrack – Life Is Strange: Before The Storm
Deck Nine's prequel to the Life is Strange series puts you in the shoes of Chloe before she reunites with Max. We see a gripping relationship blossom between two young girls, and its licensed music tracks capture the emotions of tumultuous teenage love perfectly. It does this either by amping up the action with quick-paced music, or by accentuating the quieter moments with somber tunes.
Best Character – Mae (Night in the Woods)
Mae is stubborn, reckless, and at times misguided. This anthropomorphic young adult cat doesn't really know where she's going in life, but that's one of the most compelling things about her. Despite her flaws, and sometimes even because of those flaws, Mae is incredibly relatable. Night in the Woods excels in many ways because of its strong female lead, who is quite different from most video game protagonists.
Most Touching Moment – Life Is Strange: Before The Storm
Before the Storm tells one of the best queer love stories in gaming, and the relationship between Chloe and Rachel can make for some emotional moments. Whether you're supporting Rachel after a traumatic family conflict or going on wild adventures with her, she's always loyal and looking out for you too. One of the best moments is when you unexpectedly have to act in a high-school play. Both Rachel and Chloe rely on each other to get through it, showing just how strong and unwavering the bond is between them.
Best Plot Twist – Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony
The Danganronpa series has always balanced a wacky and morbid tone, and Killing Harmony is no exception. One of the more satisfying moments from this entry is an early plot twist, which boldly turns the story on its head. Saying more would spoil this moment, as it's best experienced yourself.
Biggest Surprise – Dream Daddy: A Dad Dating Simulator
Game Grumps' Dream Daddy may seem like a parody of dating simulators at first glance, but it's a surprisingly endearing and heartfelt game. Not only are you a dad dating other dads, but you're also balancing being a father to your daughter and helping her through adolescent struggles. It has a cast of well-written characters that have deep complexities that unravel as you progress.
Best Dialogue – Night in the Woods
Much of Night in the Woods is about conversing with townsfolk and friends. Luckily, this adventure game has dialogue that is snappy, clever, and natural, making its characters that much more relatable. Whether you're listening to a neighbor telling you her short but thoughtful poems, or making a fool of yourself at a party, Night in the Woods' excellent dialogue brings these moments to life.
Best Ending – Thimbleweed Park
This homage to older adventure games pokes fun at the genre as well as embraces it. Thimbleweed Park feels new and nostalgic at the same time, and it has one of the best endings we've seen this year. How the story wraps up and how it takes its self-aware jokes to crazy levels, makes this a wild ride.
Adventure Game Of The Year – What Remains Of Edith Finch
What Remains of Edith Finch is by far the most satisfying adventure game of 2017. It weaves an emotional tale that is whimsical and surreal, and it simultaneously ponders the meaning of life and death. Despite wandering through an empty home, the house feels as alive as ever through the memories of the Finch family, whose stories you play through in interactive vignettes. Even exploring the house itself is a joy, with secret passages and rooms that are decorated and furnished in personal ways that reflect the personalities of the family. These fantastically told short stories, along with the overarching tale, make for an adventure game you don't want to miss.