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    Spotlight on innovative video games

    Danial Norjidi

    Developers and studios behind the most innovative video games of 2022 were recently celebrated at the 26th annual Design, Innovate, Communicate, Entertain (DICE) Awards ceremony.

    Organised by the Academy of Interactive and Sciences (AIAS), the DICE awards have been taking place since 1996, recognising games, individuals and development teams that have contributed to the advancement of the multi-billion dollar worldwide entertainment software industry.

    The event saw awards presented across 23 different categories, with Elden Ring 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”. The action role-playing game by FromSoftware also won awards for Outstanding Technical Achievement, Outstanding Achievement in Game Design, Outstanding Achievement in Game Direction and Role-Playing Game of the Year, taking its awards haul to five.

    In Elden Ring, players journey through the Lands Between, a new fantasy world created by creator of Dark Souls Hidetaka Miyazaki and best-selling author George R R Martin. According to the game’s website, “Elden Ring features vast fantastical landscapes and shadowy, complex dungeons that are connected seamlessly.”

    Players create their character and define their playstyle “by experimenting with a wide variety of weapons, magical abilities, and skills found throughout the world. Charge into battle, pick off enemies one-by-one using stealth, or even call upon allies for aid. Many options are at your disposal as you decide how to approach exploration and combat”.

    ABOVE & BELOW: God of War Ragnarok and Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope. PHOTOS: SIE SANTA MONICA STUDIO & UBISOFT


    Another standout winner was God of War: Ragnarok, which earned a total of seven accolades, including Adventure Game of the Year as well as Outstanding Achievement awards for the categories of Animation, Art Direction, Character, Original Music Composition, Audio Design and Story.

    A PlayStation exclusive developed by Sony Santa Monica, Ragnarok is a November 2022 sequel to the critically acclaimed and award-winning God of War first released in 2018.

    Ragnarok continues the story of Kratos and his son Atreus, and sees them “embark on an epic and heartfelt journey” as they “struggle with holding on and letting go”. As the PlayStation website describes, “Fimbulwinter is well underway. Kratos and Atreus must journey to each of the Nine Realms in search of answers as Asgardian forces prepare for a prophesied battle that will end the world. Along the way they will explore stunning, mythical landscapes, and face fearsome enemies.”

    Red Matter 2, a virtual reality (VR) adventure that takes place during a dystopian Cold war, won two awards, winning Immersive Reality Game of the Year as well as for Immersive Reality Technical Achievement. The game tells the story of how people trapped in a reality created by their rulers “rebel against their destiny and fight to do the right thing”.

    Also among the winners was Vampire Survivors, which won Action Game of the Year.

    Described as a “gothic horror casual game with rogue-lite elements”, Vampire Survivors is a title where the player’s choices can allow them “to quickly snowball against the hundreds of monsters that get thrown at you”.

    Meanwhile, tactical role-playing game Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope won Family Game of the Year. Released last October, Sparks of Hope is a sequel which sees a crossover between Nintendo’s Mario and Ubisofts’ Raving Rabbids franchises.

    Fighting Game of the Year was won by MultiVersus. This free-to-play crossover platform fighter features various playable characters from Warner Bros Entertainment, such as the DC Universe, Scooby-Doo, Space Jam: A New Legacy, Gremlins and Looney Tunes, to name a few.

    PlayStation exclusive Gran Turismo 7 won Racing Game of the Year.

    This latest release in Sony’s long-running driving simulation series launched in March last year, features more than 400 cars from more than 60 automotive manufacturers. The title features a variety of modes, including the reintroduced GT Simulation mode where players buy, tune, race and sell their way through a solo campaign as they unlock new cars and challenges.

    Kick-flipping its way to the Sports Game of the Year award was OlliOlli World, a skateboarding action-platformer title set in Radlandia, “a vivid and vibrant world” where the player meets colourful characters as they “grind, trick, and air” their way on a quest for ‘Gnarvana’.

    Dwarf Fortress garnered the award for Strategy/Simulation Game of the Year. In this construction and management title, players build a fortress and try to help their dwarves “survive against a deeply generated world”.

    The award for Online Game of the Year went to Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker. Set in the fictional land of Eorzea, Final Fantasy XIV is a long-running massively multi-player online role-playing game (MMORPG), while Endwalker is the game’s fourth expansion pack.

    Tunic, an isometric action-adventure title where players “explore a land filled with lost legends, ancient powers, and ferocious monsters”, was also among the winners, earning itself the accolade of Outstanding Achievement for an Independent Game. The Mobile Game of the Year award was won by Marvel Snap, a deckbuilding a card battle game in which players choose members from the Marvel multiverse to build their own teams of super heroes and villains.

    The event also saw the AIAS present its Hall of Fame award to Tim Schafer of Double Fine Productions. The Hall of Fame award is reserved “for individuals who have been instrumental in the development of highly influential games. These individuals are usually associated with having moved a particular genre forward”.

    According to the AIAS, Schafer was honoured “for his amazing contributions to the video game industry over his illustrious 30+ year career”.

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