2018 BAFTA Games Awards
Last night saw the fourteenth British Academy Games Awards featuring some of the biggest names in the video games industry and hosted by popular comedian and avid gamer Dara O’Brien.
While it was an exciting night, some moments funny and entertaining, others cringe-worthy, awkward and embarassing (Johnathan Ross being a tool as usual), it really only came down to two games; Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice and Super Mario Odyssey, both of which stole the show being nominated in almost every category and picking up seven of the sixteen games awards between them.
A notable change this year was the inclusion of a new games award; the “Game Beyond Entertainment” award which recognises games going the extra mile to portray something in a game other than pure entertainment such as shedding light on an issue or helping poeople to learn something while using games as the medium by which to do so.
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice is a dark fantasy action-adventure game developed and published by Ninja Theory. Self-described as an “independent AAA game”, it was created by a team of approximately twenty developers led by writer and director Tameem Antoniades. It was released worldwide for Microsoft Windows and PlayStation 4 in August 2017, with an Xbox One version released on April 11, 2018.
Inspired by Norse mythology and Celtic culture, Hellblade follows Senua, a Pict warrior who must make her way to Helheim by defeating otherworldly entities and facing their challenges, in order to rescue the soul of her dead lover from the goddess Hela. In parallel, the game acts as a metaphor for the character’s struggle with psychosis, as Senua, who suffers from the condition but believes it to be a curse, is haunted by an entity known as the “Darkness”, voices in her head known as “Furies”, and memories from her past. To properly represent psychosis, developers worked closely with neuroscientists, mental health specialists, and people suffering from the condition.
The game blends several genres, including hack and slash, puzzle solving, and psychological horror. Voice acting is an integral part of the game, while its cutscenes combine performance capture by Melina Juergens, and live action performances by other actors. Hellblade was a commercial success and was well received by critics, who praised it as a work of art and applauded its uncommon choice of revolving around psychosis, the quality and uniqueness of its approach of the condition, and its story and main character.
Hellblade Games Awards
The game was nominated in almost every catergory and won a total of five BAFTA games awards for the following:
- Artistic Achievement
- Audio Achievement
- Best British Game
- Game Beyond Entertainment
- Best Performer (Melina Juergens – “Senua”)
Super Mario Odyssey
Developed and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo Switch. An installment in the Super Mario series, the story follows Mario and Cappy, a spirit that possesses Mario’s hat and allows him to take control of other characters and objects as they set out on a journey across various worlds to save Princess Peach from his nemesis Bowser, who plans to forcibly marry her. In contrast to the linear gameplay of prior entries, the game returns to the primarily open-ended, exploration-based gameplay featured in Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Sunshine.
Development began after the completion of Super Mario 3D World in 2013. Various ideas were suggested during development, and to incorporate them all, the team decided to employ a sandbox-style of gameplay. Unlike previous installments such as New Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario 3D World, which were aimed at a casual audience, the team designed Super Mario Odyssey to appeal to the series’ core fans.
Super Mario Odyssey Games Awards
This title was also nominated in almost every category and won a total of two BAFTA games awards for the following:
- Best Game Design
- Best Family Game
Worth mentioning is that the same team behind Super Mario Odyssey also received an award of “Best Game Innovation” for The Legend of Zelda: The Breath of the Wild.
There were many other games awards given to various titles mostly going to creatively artistic indie games:
- Best Debut Game: Gorogoa
- Best Evolving Game: Overwatch
- Best Mobile Gam: Golf Clash
- Best Multiplayer Game: Divinity: Original Sin 2
- Best Music: Cuphead
- Best Narrative: Night in the Woods
- Best Original IP: Horizon: Zero Dawn
BAFTA Games Awards 2018 Best Game Award
A surprise best game award went to, no, not to Hellblade, but:
What Remains of Edith Finch
What Remains of Edith Finch follows the titular character, a young woman revisiting her old family home as she recalls or discovers the stories of deceased family members. The game was met with very positive reception from critics, who praised its story and presentation.
The Finches are an American family living on the coast of Washington state. Dubbed “America’s most unfortunate family,” the Finches believe they are being pursued by a curse; every member of the family, going back at least five generations, has died an untimely death, and only one child from each generation has survived to have children of their own.
BAFTA Games Awards 2018 Fellowship
This year’s fellowship was given to Tim Schafer.
The American founder of Double Fine Productions was responsible for point-and-click classics including The Secret of Monkey Island, Day of the Tentacle, and Broken Age.
Other fellowship winners include Will Wright (Sim City/The Sims), Peter Molyneux(Black & White) and John Carmack (Doom).
A Typical Affair
It was a fun night with a few entertaining guests and respect-worthy attendees and nominess. Hardly any AAA titles were nominated for awards with Call of Duty: WWII and Assassin’s Creed Origins only being nominated once each, which may or may not reflect a shifting attitude in the game industry.
There were some awesome displays of artistic achivement but with E3 and a possible PlayStation 5 reveal just around the corner, could it be that indie games have had their day in the sun or with Sony pledging more support for indie developers, are they just getting started?
Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did,
Michael – Editor – ChartX Games.
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