Game of the Year 2011

Dave Yeager's Awards
5) Avernum: Escape From The Pit (PC)
Perhaps with an earlier release date, this gem from Spiderweb Software would have ranked higher, but I simply haven't had enough time to let it digest yet. I also haven't had time to finish a second playthrough, which the game definitely warrants. I'm a big fan of what Spiderweb Software is doing these days, and as possibly the oldest guy on the RPGFan staff, that probably doesn't come as a surprise since it appeals to my old guy sensibilities.

4) Radiant Historia (DS)
Probably the last game I will ever purchase for the DS, but if all good things must come to an end, this is a very good end. A beautiful game with a fun combat system that showcases what the classic JRPG style can still bring to the table.

3) Dark Souls (PS3/360)
I'll admit that I struggle with this game as it throws in my face the inadequacy of my old man reflexes. But something about it keeps me coming back for the ass kickings anyway. It's impossible not to admire what From Software has accomplished here.

2) To The Moon (PC)
Something inside me wanted to make this my Game of the Year, but in the end the gameplay just wasn't enough to justify it, especially since I preach that gameplay must be the top priority. Consider the story THAT GOOD then that, despite thin mechanics, this game still makes it to #2. To The Moon is something special and I think in a few years will be regarded as a watershed moment in video game storytelling. If you care about games getting consideration as something more than a diversion, this is required playing. You have your homework. Go get it.

1) Avadon: The Black Fortress (PC)
I played more of this game from Spiderweb Software than any other game this year, and enjoyed every playthrough. It's old school and unabashedly so, but that's precisely why I love it. The game also seems to have represented something of a renaissance for Spiderweb Software, as its sales on Steam and on the iPad were apparently quite good. This is great news for guys like me who love good old fashioned turn based RPGs in something of the style of the old Bioware Infinity Engine.

Special Mention
Star Wars: The Old Republic (PC)
As much as I played Avadon this year, it seems extremely unlikely that 2012 will be anything but the year of Star Wars: The Old Republic for me. Which is terrifying considering a couple of highly anticipated titles coming out. But BioWare has something very, very special on their hands here, and I think we may at long last be seeing the beginnings of the game that can stand alongside World of Warcraft.

Game From 2009 Still Being Played Regularly
Torchlight (PC/XBLA)
If it were allowed, I'd put this game in my top 5 every year. I am constantly amazed by how perfect the gameplay seems to be in Torchlight, and I can't fathom what improvements Torchlight 2 and/or Diablo 3 will be able to make on this model. I look forward to finding out.

Game From 2010 Still Being Played Regularly
Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale (PC)
It was my Game of the Year for 2010, and I'm still playing it regularly, which is something of a relief and validation for me after giving it my own personal nod over Mass Effect 2. But it is still just as fun as ever, and there are new tricks always revealing themselves (perhaps only to my old brain, but still).

Biggest Disappointment
Dragon Age II (PS3/360/PC)
I know our illustrious Editor in Chief didn't mind this game, and I know the general consensus seems to be that "hey, well at least the story was okay", but honestly I don't know what any of those people are talking about. This game is easily the worst product that Bioware has ever released, and beyond that, it just flat out sucked. I don't even know how Dragon Age III can recover from this piece of garbage short of starting from scratch. The story is full of ridiculous holes, the gameplay is absolutely abominable, the graphics are duller than mud, and the encounter design is putrid. That said, the game sold very well and still pulled lukewarm reviews, so maybe this is just a sign of the times and the series has moved past old dudes like me – which is fine. It's a great time to be a gamer with so many indie shops and big companies bringing so many types of games that EVERYBODY has something to play. But if this is the future of fantasy with BioWare, the proud company that brought us the Baldur's Gate games once upon a time, count me out. They'll still get my money with Star Wars: The Old Republic and Mass Effect 3 anyway.

Biggest Surprise
To The Moon (PC)

Best Story
To The Moon (PC)

Best Soundtrack
To The Moon (PC)

Made Up Award for the Purpose of Giving To The Moon More Awards
To The Moon (PC)

Overall Awards
Traditional RPG Action RPG Graphic Adventure Strategy RPG Indie RPG Downloadable RPG Mobile Downloadable Content (DLC)
And the winner is...
Best RPG of 2011
Editors' Picks
Abraham Ashton Liu Andrew Barker Dave Yeager Derek Heemsbergen Dennis Rubinshteyn Eric Farand John McCarroll Kimberley Wallace Kyle E. Miller Liz Maas Mike Salbato Neal Chandran Robert Steinman Stephen Meyerink

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