Best Writing - Drama: Gray Matter
There's a reason Jane Jensen is considered one of the finest authors ever to grace the adventure genre. From King’s Quest VI to the Gabriel Knight trilogy, her trademarks have been tight-knit, spellbinding plots; multi-faceted and compelling characters; thought-provoking, often mature themes and superb dialogue. But she’d been away from the genre a long time prior to her most recent endeavour, Gray Matter, a game marred by troublesome development delays that cast plenty of doubt on the success of the project. And while the game was indeed marred by some underwhelming production and design issues, the master storyteller proved she hadn’t lost her touch, as Jensen's deep, often touching, always sharp writing shone brightest among last year’s serious adventures.
The script’s most impressive achievement is its suspenseful ambiguity. Something strange is happening in Dread Hill House, home to the reclusive but brilliant Dr. David Styles, but players are left hanging until the very end between a rational, scientific explanation and a supernatural, metaphysical one. This cognitive uncertainty blends well with the game’s themes, like the difference between reality and illusion, and the power of the mind to influence the physical world. And then there are the characters, including street magician Samantha Everett as the other protagonist and the reluctant members of the Lambs' Club, each and every one of them richly detailed and skillfully crafted with distinctive personalities and interesting backgrounds to explore. And of course the dialogues are always believable and filled with references from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to Harry Houdini, from Homer to Harry Potter. Overall, Gray Matter may not have been the masterpiece Jensen’s fans were ardently waiting for, but it is a marvellous accomplishment where it really counts, and is fully deserving of this year's Aggie for best dramatic writing.
Runners-Up: Gemini Rue, L.A. Noire, To the Moon, A New Beginning
Readers’ Choice: Gray Matter
Even without that Gabriel guy, once again Jane Jensen delivered a taut, riveting tale that walks the fine line between mystery and myth, as a rebellious young street magician helps a tormented neurobiologist in his potentially dangerous psychic experiments. The success of this haunting, emotionally-charged story is due largely to its compelling script, which you agree was the finest example of best dramatic writing last year.
Runners-Up: Gemini Rue, Black Mirror III, L.A. Noire, To the Moon
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Next up: Best Character... the envelope, please!
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