2012 Aggie Awards


Best Setting: Primordia


From the very first screenshot, it was clear that Primordia was going to be a truly distinctive game, and the final game didn't disappoint. The debut effort from indie developer Wormwood Studios turned out to be quite good overall, but by far the biggest standout was its locale. Set not in Earth's own future, but rather on an alternate world with a fabled history of machine replacing man, the game uses a limited colour palette restricted almost exclusively to shades of brown and gold, but this post-apocalyptic sci-fi adventure combines a familiar retro aesthetic with wide-ranging artistic influences to create some absolutely unforgettable scenery and characters. It's more than just a simple backdrop; its dreary desolation is an essential component of a tale that couldn't be told anywhere else, and for that Primordia narrowly earns our Best Setting award over stiff competition.

The once-proud city of Metropol and the radioactive desert wasteland around it are the very definition of beauty in decay. The struggle for survival of robots Horatio Nullbuilt (v5) and his floating sidekick Crispin in this harsh mechanical landscape is WALL-E by way of Alien and Dune, and it works exactly as well as that sounds. Ravaged by now-ancient nuclear war, the world that Primordia’s robots inhabit was once impressive in its grandeur but is now full of dilapidated buildings and dead robots half-buried in the sand. Even the vaunted “City of Light” is essentially a bunch of shanties stapled together into a raggedy analogue of Blade Runner’s endless cityscape. It’s a haunted world, one that oozes history far more detailed than the events laid out by the game’s exposition, and one that stuck with us long after we left it behind.

Runners-Up: Deponia (series), Botanicula, Journey, The Unfinished Swan
 



Readers’ Choice: Botanicula


In another tight race, it seems you were also tempted to choose the harsh post-apocalyptic environs of Primordia. But instead of the dreary browns of radiocative desert dunes, you went with the insanely cheery, surreal tree world of Amanita's Botanicula for top setting. A few giddy hours spent exploring with Feather, Poppyhead, Lantern, Twig, and Mrs. Mushroom proved a delightfully imaginative experience that made even fighting off invading parasites a joy to experience.

Runners-Up: Primordia, Deponia (series), The Dark Eye: Chains of Satinav, The Walking Dead
 



Next up: Best Graphic Design... the envelope, please!

Continued on the next page...




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Comments

Primate Ryan Primate Ryan
Feb 20, 2013

Reading through the first five pages, I was kind of shocked how everything matched my votes, but fortunately the last two categories diverged from mine.  The story award for The Cat Lady came especially as a surprise, since I expected The Walking Dead to win, but it was my favourite as well.

I picked Sherlock for gameplay, because of the variety in its puzzles, but Resonance was actually my runner up and I haven’t played Papa and Yo for lack of a Playstation, so my concept of the year went to Resonance.

Give me something to disagree with! What’s the internet without vehement discussions about what’s marginally better than something else?

VinceTwelve VinceTwelve
Feb 20, 2013

Best Gameplay!? Awesome!! Thank you editors and readers! That’s amazing.  I so want to 3d print myself an Aggie award now…

zane
Feb 21, 2013

loooks like about half of the remaining readers choice winners will be the walking dead. Smile

A.A
Feb 21, 2013

You was robbed, Vince! Best writing, The Walking Dead? Humbug!

TWD already has 80 game of the year awards from mainstream publications. It should be disqualified!

Plus, it’s not even a REAL adventure! (Kidding! Wink)

I also feel a bit for Cognition. It deserves some reCOGNITION (Pun intended…sorry!), but there’s just too much competition!

DaveyB DaveyB
Feb 21, 2013

The most important award there for me was that Resonance won the award for Best Gameplay - that’s where to me it’s one of the best (maybe THE best) adventure I’ve ever played. It did that, so I don’t mind about the other results. I did vote for it too for Best Writing, but it was the puzzle design & innovations with Short & Long term memory that really made it stand out.

Agree with A.A. re Cognition but ultimately I felt that Resonance was better than it in most of the relevant categories, so I only voted for it once or twice myself. I do hope it wins something though.

Guran75
Feb 21, 2013

I think Cognition deserves a win for Best Music. It’s the best I’ve heard in any game from 2012!

Looks like The Walking Dead will win most of the categories in Reader’s Choice. Not a surprise since more people have played it than any other game and that it has a lasting impression. I still feel a bit bad about siding with Kenny in the storage room!

Great to see Resonance win, although that one is still on my “to play” list. And to be honest I had never heard about The Cat Lady before. Good thing that you highlight unknown games like this! I have now voted on The Cat Lady on Steam Greenlight, hope it fares well.

KatieHal KatieHal
Feb 21, 2013

Thank you so much, AG & Readers both, for the Best Music Award!!! Austin is truly amazing and talented.

And congrats to the rest of today’s winners as well—man, talk about tough competition this year!

badlemon badlemon
Feb 21, 2013

I agree with the awards so far (little sad that Botanicula didn’t win for music but I haven’t played Cognition so the least I can do is check the soundtrack). And I’m especially happy that Resonance and Primordia won the awards that they absolutely deserve. Haven’t played The Walking Dead yet so I can’t judge the awards it got but phew indeed that it didn’t win the gameplay award Smile

A.A
Feb 22, 2013

Resonance should have won more than it has, but I’m very happy Cognition won best music.

Really, can’t complain too much about the results. There’s been some pretty good stuff lately. Smile

titipoco
Feb 22, 2013

“Best Music: Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller – Episode One: The Hangman”

This is huuuuuge shock for me. I would easily pick Erica Reed if there was a Worst music category.

ozzie ozzie
Feb 22, 2013

I love such year end lists, they highlight the stuff I should pay closer attention to, in this case The Cat Lady and Primordia.

One question: How come Journey was never reviewed? Did it simply fall through the cracks? It’s quite a surprise to see that it counts as an adventure game for the Aggie awards. I wouldn’t have an opinion on that, haven’t played it, but it felt odd after the lack of a review.

Jackal Jackal
Feb 22, 2013

Our Journey review is coming soon. I’d originally dismissed it as a not-enough-adventure until it was time to make the Aggie lists, when I came to realize differently.

Guran75
Feb 22, 2013

@AA: “Resonance should have won more than it has”

The awards Resonance did win were big ones though: Best Gameplay, Best Indie Adventure, Best Traditional Adventure! Cant wait to play it!

I’m very happy with the selections this year as well!

tsa tsa
Feb 22, 2013

I played the game you haven’t played (The Sea Will Claim Everything) and really, it is underexposed. Play it, people!

Zifnab Zifnab
Feb 22, 2013

This is why I don’t watch awards like Oscars, Grammies etc. One thing always wins all the awards and it becomes ever so predictable.

Disappointed to see Harvey’s New Eyes not get anything. “Most overlooked game” category, perhaps?

A.A
Feb 22, 2013

Yay for Resonance picking up some more on the last day!

-ma- -ma-
Feb 23, 2013

Walking dead is reallyreallyreally overrated, yes it’s an entertaining game, but it’s soooo linear.. It delievers more or less nothing but an illusion that the player is participating in the development of the story.. Intriguing story for the moment (but nothing that lasts).. I actually enjoyed The Walking Dead but I’m starting to dislike it because of this exaggeration within giving it ZzZzzo much attention. Edna and Harvey is forgotten in this context but I’m glad that Resonance was honored for “best indie game”

subbi subbi
Feb 23, 2013

Awesone 2012 Aggie awards with a clear and just winner. Seems like this year the AG editors and uservoting results are actually in line :-)

And now onto sone well deserved updates on the TOP100 Alltime list!

-ma- -ma-
Feb 23, 2013

I totally agree Zifnab

Jackal Jackal
Feb 23, 2013

One thing won all the awards? You mean, besides the other NINE games that also won one?

subbi subbi
Feb 23, 2013

I fully second that. One thing that’s really good about the Aggies is that although there is a clear winner (the GOTY) other games get recognition as well. And this is already the case since the beginning. I don’t think we’ve had a year yet, where the GOTY also won all the other awards as well.

-ma- -ma-
Feb 23, 2013

No Jackal, didn’t mean to be that negative about the results. In my opinion Walking Dead won more than it deserved, for example Cat lady has way better writing. Also I feel Edna and Harvey should get way more attention. Still, I can’t argue with the fact that Deponia won cause I haven’t played it..

Advie Advie
Feb 23, 2013

This Year Aggies was A Battle Between Adventures from Indies Devs and established ones and sadly the established got the share of the lion .. and i say that because at least the AG Staff Choice should had considered the Interdependent (hell of) Work behind games Such games as Cat Lady Primordia and Resonance (Vince12 had 6 years of his life dedicated for this One!).. but life never fair ? ...

Sorry Jack, i am not debating here i just feeling sad for the people who made Great Adventures this Year but because they hadn’t got the updated outlook they were considered not up to the big price .. i wish judging had been more academically than commercially.

Primate Ryan Primate Ryan
Feb 23, 2013

Well, while the users voted an awful lot for Resonance and The Walking Dead, the staff itself had quite a bit of variation in their awards. WD didn’t really get all that much votes and it isn’t all that strange that it won both the unconventional and best adventure of the year.

The slight lack of variation in user votes is probably because the most popular adventures of the year garner the most votes by virtue of them having been played by most people. Games like The Cat Lady, The Sea Will Claim Everything. Primordia etc. can’t compete in such a situation. Not necessarily for a lack of quality, but because quite a few people won’t have played them before casting their vote.

But as I mentioned before, 2012 was a really good year for adventures with lots of variation between games and there wasn’t really any game that excelled in everything for me. The Aggies reflect this as well, with quite a few different games popping up in the awards, especially in the first two days. And there was virtually no filler in the nominations, with practically every game deserving its spot.

And having played practically every worthwhile adventure released last year besides Harvey 2, as I want to play the first game first, I largely agree with the awards and gave a few votes to The Walking Dead as well. I just really enjoyed its characters, story and tense moments. The choices were also great in how they determined who/which Lee you were and how other characters saw you, not necessarily in how they affected the overall plot.

And my votes didn’t always line up with the results, but because of the degree of variation in the games and the overall quality there were always several worthy winners for the categories. As such, I don’t think you should look at the end results too hard, as it might have been a flip of the coin that decided it in the end or the mood of the day as it did for me in several instances. I find it hard at least, to choose between such games as Deponia, Botanicula, The Testament of Sherlock Holmes, The Sea Will Claim Everything, The Cat Lady, Resonance, Primordia, The Walking Dead, as they all excel in different things, have different moods, different kind of gameplay etc. Which is also the reason that I don’t really try to make any best of lists. It’s already hard enough to rank excellent games within genres, now how am I supposed to compare RPGs, shooters, sims, adventures etc..

But yeah, a good year for adventures and good choices for the awards. 

A.A
Feb 23, 2013

Credit where credit’s due…when you first play The Walking Dead, it FEELS like your choices matter. That’s still a pretty impressive accomplishment, even if on a second playthrough, it’s evident they don’t change an awful lot of the story.

But after playing Heavy Rain, it did disappoint in the choices department.

diego diego
Feb 23, 2013

Thanx for the round-up, but how about “Interactive movie” instead of “Non-traditional” and “Traditional” awards?

Jackal Jackal
Feb 23, 2013

Advie, I have no idea what awards you’re looking at, but it can’t be the Aggies. All three of the games you mentioned won awards, as did several other indies. If you’re really just complaining about The Walking Dead, two of its five awards were for best writing and character(s)—categories that have nothing at all to do with budget or team size—and those were the main reason it won the other three.

Diego, not all non-traditional games are interactive movies. I’m not even sure most of them are.

Advie Advie
Feb 24, 2013

Thanks Jack for Reply!.... but what I meant was the game of the year (the Big Price) i think it was expected for that the readers choice is going for TWD but i thought that you and the Staff would consider the hard work behind those other three(Indies) .. or at least out of honoring them, so it would look like this; readers enjoyed/chosen the walking dead but AG choice was judged/picked far away from sales or success only just by covering all its elements ... you sure know the difference between The Oscars and The Grammy Awards (something like that)... and again i am not complaining or debating i just pointing out at something that got me disappointed , and that’s OK i guess .. its just me in the end (one man point of view)

Jackal Jackal
Feb 24, 2013

Sales and success had nothing to do with our decisions, but nor did the supposed amount of effort or obstacles faced by the developer.  All those are nice to point out, but just like our reviews, only quality matters in the end.

And I think it’s very wrong to assume that one person’s part-time efforts for five years is somehow more worthy of respect than 30 people’s full-time efforts for a single year. (Not real numbers.) I suspect if Telltale’s developers were asked, they’d say they all worked their butts off for many long hours, with every bit as much care invested to make their games the best they could be.

Big team or small, if the result is good, it’s because of the blood, sweat, and tears that went into it that made it that way.

Primate Ryan Primate Ryan
Feb 24, 2013

I’ve always found the the-developers-put-their-sweat-blood-and-tears-in-this-game-so-you-should-appreciate-it kind of argument weird. I’ve seen it before and it doesn’t make much sense to me. It’s great that they show so much devotion to their project, but it doesn’t matter a single iota to my enjoyment of the end product. For the viewer, reader, player, listener the only thing that really matters is the quality. Now, I celebrate the fact that small teams are able to rival or surpass big developers with their stories, characters, gameplay or sometimes even graphics and most of the games I play are actually indie (not only adventures, but also other genres and the past several years, my GotY went to independent productions), because they are often more interesting, challenging or otherwise different from the so-called AAA-games, but if a big budget game is better it’s simply just that. I’m not going to subtract or add points based on the hours invested per person or the size of the team.  And I guess this goes for most people as I never encounter the following exchange: “Why did you like that game (more than another game)?” “Well, the story was good, the character development was outstanding, I loved the puzzles, and the developer spent long hours on the development.”

As for honouring the independent developer*. As has been mentioned before there are quite a few rewards going out to the indies, and Resonance won the traditional award, which is also a biggie. I also feel that the story award for The Cat Lady and gameplay for Resonance are big ones when compared to many of the other categories that aren’t as important to me. There is certainly no shortage of rewards and nominations for indies, and they’ve all been awarded because of their particular merits. It would have been different if every nomination had gone to a big budget game, which of course is quite hard for adventures, but does happen in other awards where indies are often truly snubbed, robbed and neglected and money talks. 

I guess I’m also not that invested in which game won GotY because of aforementioned reasons (see post a bit higher up). Especially for the GotY-award people should look at all the nominations and not merely the end result, as they are all great games that deserve to be played. Only one can be the winner, but I feel that’s very trivial in such a great year.  I’m already glad that there is as much diversity in the awards as there was in adventure games last year. 

Now, the only thing I’m quite confused about is the user vote for the Walking Dead for best concept. That doesn’t make much sense to me, especially when there were quite a few adventures that introduced fresh ideas (perfectly reflected in this site’s nominations) and I had to do a double take when I read that. It just never crossed my mind that TWD was even a contender for that category. 

*Isn’t Telltale also an independent developer, depending on your definition of it, albeit larger than most? But I guess we shouldn’t enter into a discussion about what is indie and what isn’t. We would never escape its murky depths)

Iznogood Iznogood
Feb 24, 2013

The Walking Dead is hardly a surprise as Best Adventure, given the many awards it has already won, and the many players that love it. (even if i personally disagree)

I am however very happy that the AG Staff showed more variation then the users, and didn’t “let” TWD win in every category it could possible be consider eligible for. (Seriously TWD as Best Concept ?!?)

My only real disapointment is that Harvey’s New Eyes didn’t even get an Honourary, but i guess that is the nature of awards. Not every great game can win something, and there was many great Adventure Games in 2012.

Panthera Panthera
Feb 25, 2013

I think Journey is a lovely, beautiful and unique game, but if you think that platforming is easy, you need to check your privilege, because you’re obviously a competent platformer!

I’m not a platform gamer, I don’t have the precision or skill, and I barely got through Journey. Worst level for me was the Pagoda level, where my poor companion stood there trying to show me how to do the jumps and waited patiently while I struggled my way up again, showed me again, until he gave up and finished the level, so that I only had to struggle with the top part platforming (the cloud kept lifting me up), where I still fell down and had to do everything again over 5 times until I finally figured out the floating technique.

If I hadn’t played it many, many months after its release and didn’t meet some many competent, patient and skilled companions as I did, I don’t think I’d gotten through it. I’d never have to patience to wait over half an hour for me to try and fail, and then try and fail again some more to get me through the level!

Then I went and got my entire scarf eaten in the monster area, and spent over an hour trying to get a new scarf bit in the underwater area.

Finishing the game with only a tiny scarf is really hard, you have to recharge all the time, and you have no leeway on the jumps.

What really segments it as a platformer for me is how harshly it punishes you for failing. In the Cave you just poof up again, when I missed the jump in the near end winter-area, I fell all the way down and had to do the whole level again, three times(!) until I finally figured out that I didn’t need to jump, the companion I followed were just going for the achievement (“jump the ravine without completing the bridge”).

All in all the environment, hint of a story (I don’t think telling bits of the story as reward for finishing a level can qualify as story-heavy) and unique experience made it a positive experience for me, even though I struggled the whole way, and it’s a game I would like to play again, but because of the multiplayer I wont, because I feel like I’m hampering and being a burden on the other players experience, instead of adding to it.

For me, even though it is a beautiful, engaging, open-world experience, it fills all the “demands” for a platformer: It requires precision and skill, the gameplay is integral to everything; exploring, progressing, solving puzzles and the game has clear levels you progress though one at a time, ending each with a “reward”, here with a story element you only get by completing that level’s requirements.

If there was one game I played on the Playstation 3 this year I’d consider an adventure it would be the unfinished Swan.

Advie Advie
Feb 25, 2013

Please AG would you add a page with full spoiler list to all the awards ?

... Thaaaaaanks for the GREAT efforts (and whether someone agrees with all the results or not) i am honored to be a member (and also a previously Staff member) here at the one and only page that reliably decides the current state of the adventure gaming all around the world !!.

Jackal Jackal
Feb 25, 2013

Yes, we also consider The Unfinished Swan to be an adventure game, and our review of that one is forthcoming as well.

Detective Mosely Detective Mosely
Mar 4, 2013

Personally I’m thrilled to see The Walking Dead and Resonance clean up.  They’re not just the best two adventure games I’ve played this year, they’d both make my top 10 list of ALL TIME.

And that’s not something that I could say about any other adventure game since The Longest Journey was released 13 years ago.

I haven’t yet played some of these other games, but expecting them to place on my top 10 list of all time would be a stretch.

And for those bashing TWD, I was so emotionally involved in its story by its end that it made me weep like a baby.  No other game in my 20+ years of video game playing has ever made me shed a single tear, but this one literally made me weep.  That’s quite an accomplishment.

What a great year for adventure games.  Certainly the best since the late 90s.  And with all the games funded by Kickstarter coming out this year, the future of adventure games looks very bright for the first time in a very long time.



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