Puzzle Game of the Year 2017: Monument Valley 228 Dec 2017 0
To kick off our 2017 Game of the Year awards, the rather excellent Monument Valley 2 nabs the top spot for the Puzzle genre this year. While it’s no longer one of our ‘hot’ genres in terms of the games we review, there’s been plenty of quality puzzle titles that have graced our desk this year.
The follow up to 2014’s highly successful Monument Valley would be a very likely GOTY candidate, and it certainly clinched your vote. Mark was very taken with the game, awarding it 4-Stars in his review. Sadly, we couldn’t get hold of him to supply some thoughts on how he feels on the win, but here is a choice excerpt from his article:
The game is designed as an experience more than a challenge. The puzzle mechanics are clearly defined and the levels flow in a linear fashion. What gives Monument Valley 2 the worthy title of ‘sequel’ is the story. Story, perhaps is a loose description, with brief cut scenes between levels only providing cryptic thread beats behind a messenger who is never explained. But the game does incorporate a visually narrative thread that incorporates themes of motherhood, growth and separation. The game begins with - while neither are necessarily ever defined - a mother called Ro and her unnamed daughter. With the impressionable daughter following behind her mother’s every step.
The game quickly attempts to form an emotional bond, as you’ll be split from your daughter across most levels, and the focus is always on finding a way back to her. The moment when you come together at the end of the level for an emotional brace is heart-warming and works as an effective motive - an effective trade off for the decrease in difficulty that was prevalent in the original. And this is the key difference between the two games: the original grabs you on a technical level, while the sequel aims for emotion. Though the two still tread in each others territory, as Monument Valley 2 is still both technically and visually engrossing. Levels open up like Russian nesting dolls; environments split in two while still interconnected, with mother and daughter on either side, working together to find switches that will help to reach the end goal.
A well-deserved victory. Will there be a third game do you think? Only time will tell!
Runner Up: Cosmic Express
Public voting means you can sometimes get counter-intuitive results – in this case, Cosmic Express went down better with Michael in terms of the score it got (5 Stars) but the people have spoken! Here’s what we said:
Not since last year's The Witness has a puzzle game haunted me so. Whereas The Witness was achingly tendentious, Cosmic Express is mute and hopeful. The latter's puzzles, I would argue, are even more deftly plotted and lovingly laid out for your discovery. Both in terms of raw content and hours of playtime, the game is a steal. It is a singular exercise in training the vital capacity to respect and consider what you don't yet know.
I recommend Cosmic Express wholeheartedly, not merely because it is an excellent game, but because it has remained both challenging and friendly, all the while good-naturedly teasing and encouraging its players to new, dazzling heights.
Staff Pick & Honourable Mention
It was actually a reverse scenario in terms of the staff picks – Cosmic Express won out against MW2, which follows the score trend, but both games featured in every staff vote bar one so there was a consensus of sorts on the year's top brain teasers.
In terms of honourable mentions, Potion Explosion was categorised as a Puzzle game this year and came third in terms of voting, so we’d be remiss if we didn’t give it a quick a plug. You can read our full review here.
Matt nominated Euclidean Lands as his Puzzle pick of the year, which only got 3% of the public vote.
Congratulations to Ustwo Games & Draknek Limited! Recognition well deserved.
To keep track of all the winners and runner-up’s during the 2017 Awards, please see the 2017 Awards Index Page.