There will always be a time of the year when people wish to crown a game as “game of the year.” Sometimes, it’s easy to pick a winner, whether it’s because there weren’t that many stand out games in the year, or because said title is more-or-less regarded as a universally loved title. Other times, it’s difficult, because there were so many games that all had amazing merits, and the opinions of what makes an undeniably amazing experience are vastly different than others.
It seems to be the case, that most people regard The Witcher 3 as the undisputed game of the year. But why? I thought about this question for a long time as I decided on what game offered the most holistic gaming experience. During a livestream session, viewers asked me what my top pick of the year was and why, and I thought about it, then delivered my from-the-heart response (which you can see in the above video.)
To be my personal pick for game of the year, said title needed to be a visual delight, either through graphical fidelity, or through strong art direction. It needed to have a soundtrack that made me smile every time I started the game. It needed to have a story that grabbed me by the balls, and held onto them for as long as possible, with characters I cared about and wanted to see develop, keeping me guessing as to what will happen next. This game needed to have gameplay mechanics that made me excited to get to the next part, and its limitations couldn’t get in the way of any enjoyment of the game. If said game gave you the options of doing certain things, I need to know that what I decide to do actually makes a difference in the way things progressed in the story. And there are a few games to come close to achieving all of these things, but there’s only one on my mind that quenches that thirst, and that is the Witcher 3.
Don’t take this article as a total praisal for this title, as it has a few issues that get in the way of it being a perfect game. Navigational controls left a lot to be desired including platforming, swimming, and riding Roache (seriously, the worst horse in gaming history!) The fast travel system is abysmal- needlessly requiring you to run to sign posts to fast travel to others (please CD Projekt Red, implement a patch that lets you fast travel to any previously discovered location!) Your moveset is a bit limited in the fact that you can only use 12 ability slots, meaning you can only use a limited number of abilities. There were also a number of bugs, some of them completely game breaking, which didn’t allow you to progress further (looking at you werwolf endless loop glitch!) But no game is perfect, and despite all of it’s issues, it does many other things brilliantly.
The music is top notch, blending tribal high tempo battle music with soothing crashing waters, flutes, and violins during exploration. The environments are gorgeous, vast, and a delight to explore. On top of that, the side missions and seemingly random occurrences in the game always keep you guessing as to what else you can find. The icing on the cake are the characters; the cast of characters are unique, interesting, and fun to interact with. What recently blew my mind, was when I thought I was at the end of the game, but gamers on stream notified me that I wasn’t even close to beating it. I had just reached the 50% mark. I couldn’t believe it, because I spent countless hours already on the game, doing main and side quests, and most other games would have already finished long ago.
This game, is EPIC, and totally deserving of game of the year. This game has potential to define this current gaming generation.