The 25th annual Design, Innovate, Communicate, Entertain (DICE) Awards ceremony honouring the best titles and outstanding achievements over the past year in the video game industry was held on February 24.
Organised by the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences (AIAS) since 1996, the DICE Awards aims to recognise games, individuals and development teams that have contributed to the advancement of the worldwide entertainment software industry.
Awards were presented to winners across 23 different categories, with cooperative platforming title It Takes Two winning Game of the Year, which is for “the single game, without regard to system or delivery mechanism, voted by the membership of the AIAS that best utilises the chosen medium to entertain users”.
Developed by Hazelight Studios and published by Electronic Arts, It Takes Two, which also won Outstanding Achievement in Game Design, is described as “a genre-bending platform adventure created purely for co-op”. It sees players assume the roles of the clashing couple Cody and May, two humans turned into dolls by a magic spell.
“Trapped in a fantastical world, they’re reluctantly challenged with saving their fractured relationship by the suave love guru Dr Hakim. A huge variety of gleefully disruptive gameplay challenges stand between them and their return to normal.”
PlayStation 5 exclusive Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart had the biggest haul at this year’s ceremony, garnering four awards for Outstanding Achievement in Animation, Outstanding Achievement in Art Direction, Outstanding Technical Achievement and Family Game of the Year.
Developed by Insomniac Games, Rift Apart is an action-adventure platformer which sees intergalactic adventurers Ratchet and Clank go dimension-hopping as they take on an evil emperor from another reality. The game also introduces Rivet, a brand new playable character to the series.
Fellow PlayStation 5 exclusive Returnal won two awards for Outstanding Achievement in Original Music Composition and Outstanding Achievement in Audio Design.
Returnal is a third-person rogue-like shooter developed by Housemarque, and sees players take on the role of Selene, an explorer who crash-lands on a shape-shifting alien planet where she has to fight to survive. However, each time she is defeated, she is forced to restart her journey.
Two awards also went to Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, which won Adventure Game of the Year and Outstanding Achievement in Story. In this third-person action adventure title developed by Eidos Montreal and published by Square Enix, the player is Star-Lord, leading the unpredictable Guardians of the Galaxy “from one explosion of chaos to the next”.
A pair of awards also went to virtual reality adventure title Lone Echo II for Immersive Reality Technical Achievement and Immersive Reality Game of the Year. Developed by Ready At Dawn for the Oculus Rift, this sequel sees players return to the role of an android named Jack as he embarks on another adventure alongside his friend and Captain, Olivia
The awards for Action Game of the Year and Online Game of the Year went to first-person shooter Halo Infinite. Developed by 343 Industries and published by Xbox Game Studios, Halo Infinite is described as “the most ambitious” game in the ever popular Halo series, featuring an expansive campaign as well as free-to-play multiplayer.
Another first-person shooter Deathloop won the award for Outstanding Achievement in Game Direction. Developed by Arkane Studios and published by Bethesda Softworks, the game sees two rival assassins trapped in a mysterious time loop on the island of Blackreef, where the only chance for escape is to end the cycle by assassinating eight key targets before the day resets.
In addition, Outstanding Achievement for an Independent Game went to Unpacking. Developed by Witch Beam and published by Humble Bundle, Unpacking is described as “a zen puzzle game about unpacking a life”.
The Outstanding Achievement in Character award went to Capcom’s survival horror title Resident Evil Village for its character Lady Dimitrescu, while Guilty Gear -Strive- by Arc System Works won Fighting Game of the Year. Mario Golf: Super Rush by Nintendo won Sports Game of the Year and Forza Horizon 5 by Playground Games and Xbox Game Studios won Racing Game of the Year.
Meanwhile, Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker by Square Enix won Role-Playing Game of the Year, Age of Empires IV by Relic Entertainment and Xbox Game Studios won Strategy/Simulation Game of the Year, and Pokémon Unite by TiMi Studios and The Pokémon Company won Mobile Game of the Year.
Another accolade presented at the ceremony was the AIAS Lifetime Achievement Award, which went to Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer.
In a statement, President of AIAS Meggan Scavio said, “Phil Spencer has demonstrated both passion and leadership throughout his entire career at Microsoft. He’s responsible for countless impactful and pivotal initiatives that have reverberated throughout the entire
The event also honoured the Chief Creative Officer of NetherRealm Studios and Mortal Kombat Ed Boon, who was selected as the 25th Hall of Fame inductee.
As the AIAS President said, “From his early work on pinball machines to his monumental achievements co-creating the Mortal Kombat franchise, Ed’s dedication and perseverance to the craft and art of games has left an incredible legacy for fans and game developers alike.”