COGconnected’s Game of the Year Awards 2020: Best Narrative
For most of us, we play video games to do escape the world for a brief time and find a way to experience the things we could never do in the real world. We race cars at break-neck speeds, battle aliens, or just have enough money to build a nice home and be financially secure. Games captivate and move us not only through their cinematic qualities and unique gameplay, but most importantly through their ability to tell a compelling story. Video games are an art form. Just like reading a book, a great narrative is one where you are engrossed in its world, completely lost to anything outside of the tale before you. There are countless games this year that told captivating tales, but only a handful delivered on a truly spectacular tale. Here are our nominees and winners for COGconnected’s Game of the Year Awards 2020: Best Narrative.
6. Kentucky Route Zero
From the truly stellar Annapurna Interactive, you’ll traverse this point and click adventure as Conway, a trucker looking to make his final delivery for an antiquities company. Told in multiple parts, Conway attempts to make the delivery to an address he can’t seem to find while traveling along the mysterious Route Zero. Along the way, Conway encounters a diverse cast of characters who join him on his journey as the narrative turns into a sprawling mystery with engaging dialogue and unique perspectives. The story of Kentucky Route Zero is entirely about the narrative you create, often giving the player multiple choices in any given situation with no right answer, the game merely adapts to include your choices as fact.
Written in a true Greek fashion, Hades follows the story of Zagreus, son of Hades, as he attempts to escape his father’s realm in the Underworld. As a roguelike, the story can only progress the further you delve into the game, however, the further you get the more of it’s fantastic narrative is revealed to you. The dialogue and narrative writing of Hades is profoundly engaging with each character coming to life in glorious fashion. Zagreus’ intentions become apparent as this combination Greek tragedy and hero’s quest unfurls, with each new tidbit of information convincing you to play just a little longer to find out what happens next. Not only has Hades been incredibly well-received for its gameplay, but its fascinating and compelling narrative as well.
4. Spider-Man: Miles Morales
When the previous Spider-Man game launched, Peter Parker was already established as the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. We met Miles in a few missions, but it wasn’t until the end of the game that we learned he too had gained powers. This years sequel sees the titular character come into his own after being taught by Peter and left to protect New York on his own. Spider-Man: Miles Morales is a harrowing tale of overcoming adversity and becoming your own person. It introduces multiple levels of humanity to Miles as he balances his family, personal, and superhero life. Miles Morales gives us a new take on Spider-Man, one that is arguably even more interesting than Peter. One that has a far more diverse and complex story to tell.
3. Final Fantasy 7 Remake
It was years in the making, but Final Fantasy 7 finally got its remake. The iconic entry in the long-running Final Fantasy franchise was not only brought up to modern standards with gorgeous graphics and a complete gameplay overhaul, but the narrative of the game has fundamentally changed in a drastic and exciting new way. This game only covers the beginning portion of the gargantuan adventure, but at its conclusion we see a massive change in narrative from what happened in the original game. Not only does FF7 Remake have much more complex and profound characters and narrative, but we are left with the promise of an entirely new story in the future which could be completely different from the narrative we already know. Seeing the advancement in storytelling and character development has been exhilarating to say the least and we can’t wait to see where it goes from here.
2. Ghost of Tsushima
No one expected a game like this to exist when it was announced. Every tiny detail of what you experience on screen adds to the games pure, unadulterated narrative. From the dynamic characters who are truly complex individuals with their own flaws, to the questions of morality and a code of honor, right down to the way the wind blows in the game to set the scene. Ghost of Tsushima was already stunning gamers from the moment it was announced, but it continued to garner praise well beyond its release. The story of Jin is a heartfelt, moving tale of loss and what someone is willing to do to right a wrong. This is a game that explores the intricacies of humanity and does so with a cinematic flourish we have never seen before. It is true artistry in motion.
And the winner of COGconnected’s Best Narrative of 2020 is…
1. The Last of Us Part II
If the runner up to Best Narrative of 2020 is the poetic, artistic examination of humanity, than The Last of Us Part II is the raw, unfettered look at what it means to be human. Carrying on from the grim conclusion of its predecessor, The Last of Us Part II is a tale of broken humans and what it means to survive. Each character is an incredibly murky shade of grey in which their actions and choices are neither good nor bad, simply consequences of the situations they find themselves in. It’s a sobering and often times unsettling sight to see, but one treated with such gravitas and realism as to show the horrors of the world while being respectful to the subject matter and not making it graphic for the sake of being graphic. Every moment of the game is a reflection of the characters and narrative that Naughty Dog wants you to feel, and their message comes through loud and clear.
Which game this year do you feel had the best narrative? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter, or the Comments section below. Be sure to check out the other awards for COGconnected’s Game of the Year such as Best Character, Best Surprise, and Best Performance.
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