Winner: New Pokémon Snap
Over twenty years ago, Pokémon Snap launched on the N64. For many of us kids, this was the first time we got to see many of these creatures in 3D. At the time, it was a sight to behold — Pokémon living in their natural habitats, frolicking around as you throw apples at them and snap candid photos of their reactions. Two decades later, New Pokémon Snap manages to recapture that feeling I had as a child. Everything about New Pokémon Snap is bigger and better while retaining that signature charm. It’s calm, relaxing, and most importantly, it’s fun! Trying to beat your own records can be addictive, and finding new paths or triggering exciting events can be really rewarding. However, much like the original game, the greatest part of New Pokémon Snap is immersing yourself into a living, breathing world and watching Pokémon interact with one another.
by Des Miller
Runner-Up: Loop Hero
You couldn’t fit a summary of what Loop Hero is onto one of its cards. The game implements resource management, roguelike elements, city building, RPG combat, deck building, loot, and more, but interestingly, it wrests control away from the player. You can’t control your hero, and instead have to watch them walk around and around a loop as you craft a world for them by placing cards down. No one mechanic overrides another, and they all bleed into each other to create this beautifully relaxing, and sometimes heart pounding, autobattler that’s sure to stick in people’s minds for years to come.
by Alana Hagues