Bronze: Grand Theft Auto V by Rockstar North
Grand Theft Auto V has already won awards in both the Best Technical Graphics and Best Sound Design categories, so it's not too surprising it has appeared again to win a Best Atmosphere award.
Both of the excellent visuals and amazing sound design come together to make a game world unlike any other out there. The convincing graphics and sound combine together to give GTA V a thick, unsettling atmosphere. The game feels fairly realistic but everything is just left of centre, resulting in a very strange game world that constantly feels alive. It always feels like something is going on in the background, whether it is a gang battle or a random police chase.
It will take some doing for another developer to create an open world as immersive as the one featured in Grand Theft Auto V.
- Ross Hartley
Silver: The Swapper by Facepalm Games
Creepy, empty spaceships are an environment that we're all familiar with in video games.The Swapper is, a creepy, empty spaceship video game which defines itself with its cloning mechanic that becomes more and more unsettling as the game progresses. Spawning a little clone man up high and watching him fall, quietly hit the ground, with bones shattering and body collapsing was an eerie experience that the game forces you to do it over-and-over again to complete its myriad puzzles. Adding to that is its handcrafted look which gives the environment you're traversing a lived-in feel that's entirely unique to The Swapper. Atmospheres in puzzle games are pretty much nonexistent, so it's a feat that The Swapper is able to craft one despite you doing more systems-driven tasks like pushing buttons and swapping between clones.
- Isaac Wagner
Gold: Papers, Please by Lucas Pope
Papers, Please is one of best examples of a game that left a potent feeling long after I finished playing it. The feeling of dread and despair that it instilled in me was greater than almost any other game I've ever played, including most horror games. The reason for this is because Papers, Please so closely recreates the tedium and the frustration of corporate bureaucracy and the reality of the morally corrupted job of finding reasons to turn people away from the border that it tasks you with. Through its intentionally stark production values and physicality of its gameplay, Papers, Please immersed me completely in its experience, even if I didn't really want to be invested in such a bleak, bleak world.
- Isaac Wagner