Winner: Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker
Few other games have led me to tears just by asking a simple question such as “Has your journey been good? Has it been worthwhile?” But Endwalker‘s deeply human and hopeful story reaches out from the screen and touches your heart in ways other video games have tried and failed. This latest expansion triumphantly concludes Final Fantasy XIV‘s Hydaelyn and Zodiark arc, and asks you to reflect on everything that came before it. But it also enhances the narrative of every single previous expansion. Most importantly, it celebrates humans as they come, and teaches and enriches you in how to believe in and embrace hope. There’s no way anyone could’ve predicted the direction Endwalker‘s story would take, from the characters introduced, to the events that unfold, and barely any of it feels forced or unearned. It is, quite frankly, beautiful, and one of the most incredible stories in video games, ever.
by Alana Hagues
Runner-Up: The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles
The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles engages you from the very beginning, detailing the misadventures of trainee lawyer Ryunosuke Naruhodo in a dramatic, mysterious, and often bizarre version of Victorian England. Chronicles deftly balances ambitious narrative setup with equally ambitious payoff, rewarding those who become invested in its wide webs of conspiracy and legal reform. In doing so, The Great Ace Attorney spins a lot of plates, so it’s impressive how successfully it manages to stick the landing on plots that spread across both of the games included in the collection. At the same time, the two games remain personal, with plenty of unique character stories to prop up its loftier plot in addition to memorable surprises that make this collection a worthy runner-up for best story!
by Adam Arter