Bronze: Gone Home by The Fullbright Company
I don't hate the much loved Gone Home, one of the indie darlings that took the video game industry by storm. It just doesn't do a lot for me. It is a well realized environment that is filled with some great super high-res textures which allows you to engage in its core "mechanic" of exploring this abandoned house, picking up and examining various objects. The parts where I fall off the Gone Home train is that the early 90s nostalgia of its setting simply doesn't do anything for me as I have no fondness for an era which I was barely alive for, and I don't think the story is all that remarkable or interesting. It is a coming of age love story. It's a type of story that isn't the most popular in video games as a whole, but compared to films and literature, Gone Home doesn't even measure in terms of its plot progression, characters or writing.
Simply put, I appreciate Gone Home and what it does for the people that love it, but it just doesn't do anything for me. I hope that perhaps that The Fullbright Company's next project will be the one that I can connect with, because Gone Home isn't it.
- Isaac Wagner
Silver: MirrorMoon EP by Santa Ragione
MirrorMoon EP starts off remarkably strong with a great introduction to its spaceship and the tutorial planet. But unfortunately after that, MirrorMoon lingers in the boring and mundane. Its concept of exploring a huge universe with a ton of players, naming planets as you go is brilliant, and indeed it's remarkable how similar the recently announced No Man's Sky's pitch is to MirrorMoon EP. But there's no point exploring a galaxy and its myriad worlds if they are all super boring and generally feel copied and pasted. For a puzzle game that promises some really interesting mechanics in terms of manipulating the, ahem, nearby mirror moon that is a reflection of the planetoid that you are on, most of the worlds I discovered just involved me doing the same three-step process over-and-over again ad nauseam. Despite a solid art style and good sound design, I just got super tired of MirrorMoon EP. There's probably a ton of cool stuff in that game, but it wasn't worth digging through all of the repeated content and gameplay for.
- Isaac Wagner
Gold: Proteus by Ed Key
Proteus is super weird. Like, really weird. So weird that it almost broke out of its 3 out of 5 rating into something higher. It's a gorgeous, gorgeous game that takes you to some fascinating places and has a deeper level of play to it that was a great surprise to me. The problem is that Proteus had some distinct flaws, like a disappointing draw distance and its overall thematic message was better told in other video games in recent years, specifically the simply outstanding Journey. And the complete lack of a save system was frustrating to me. But despite that, I still think you should play Proteus. It's probably the best example of this recent surge of First-Person Exploration/Adventure games, and I think it really shows the potential greatness that this genre could to offer.
Also Proteus is super weird. Like, really weird.
- Isaac Wagner