Every year, it seems as though writing in games just continues to get better and better. Not all games need some robust narrative, but there are plenty of ways to design a game to feature one. That doesn't mean their full of gut-wrenching sadness and "grit," either. There's plenty of room for all kinds of stories and writing styles, which 2019 may be the best candidate to show off gaming's range. In just our five nominees, we have the serious and dour, the bizarre and mysterious, and the downright unique.
Here's the list of nominees (and here's the list of nominees for all award categories):
- A Plague Tale: Innocence (Our Review)
- Control (Our Review)
- Disco Elysium (Our Review)
- Life is Strange 2
- The Outer Worlds (Our Review)
Readers' Choice - The Outer Worlds
Developer: Obsidian Entertainment | Release Date: October 25th, 2019
When Obsidian showed off The Outer Worlds for the first time, everyone was on-board immediately. The team that made what many consider to be the best Fallout game making their own Fallout-like in their own universe? Not only is The Outer Worlds more than that, the belief that their high standard of excellence in writing would continue was well founded. With what may be the biggest breakout character of the year, maybe even the last couple of years, there's no surprise as to why our readers loved The Outer Worlds' writing.
Third Place - A Plague Tale: Innocence
Developer: Asobo Studio | Release Date: May 14th, 2019
By William Worrall
A Plague Tale: Innocence was a big hit in 2019 for a variety of reasons. One of the best things about the game was how well written the plot and two main characters were. It can be a struggle to have children as your main protagonists and not make them annoying, but Sébastien Renard managed to pull it off.
The player is taken along for the deep and emotional journey which Amicia and Hugo go on, and that is in large part thanks to how the two interact. All of the characters are written believably, they all react realistically to the situations they're put in, and they all do the best with what the world of the game throws at them.
Combine the shining star that is the main character with an intriguing plot and you might just have the best-written game of the year on your hands.
Second Place - Control
Developer: Remedy Entertainment | Release Date: August 27th, 2019
By Sam Guglielmo
I love a good mystery, and I think that's what attracted me to Control in the first place. Not just the mystery of what happened to Jesse's brother, although that's a perfectly good mystery as well. It's the mystery of literally everything in Control. Every part of the Oldest House has some sort of mystery and spending time unraveling it is well worth it. Reading documents is a must, and I had a blast sitting down and giving each document in the game a read. shines in its world-building, and there's a reason it's getting the recognition that it is.
Winner - Disco Elysium
Developer: ZA/UM | Release Date: October 15th, 2019
By Andrew Otton
In a classic RPG like Disco Elysium, the game is going to live and die based on the writing. There's likely no other genre, aside from maybe visual novels, where the writing is more important. Great games make the writing—whether that is in the characters, the choices players make, or the overall narrative—and integrate it into the gameplay. No game does it better than Disco Elysium.
So many mechanics are not only reflected in the writing, but reinforced and integral to the experience. Personifying the attributes of your character in the writing is the key way you interact with the world, its characters, and learn about the main character in Disco Elysium. It was a brilliant idea executed to near perfection. I will never forget my character having a discussion with himself and asking "why are you always so mean to me" to a part of his mind.
Never before have I genuinely laughed at any piece of writing more than while playing Disco Elysium, either. The eccentric and carefree personality of the main character lives in the prose and dialogue, creating one of the most enjoyable reading experiences I have ever had.
I have also never looked up who wrote a game while playing it just to see if they had a novel or two I could buy (he does have one that will be translated to English this year!). Disco Elysium is just that good.
What did we get right? Wrong? Miss anything? Let us know in the comments below!