2014 Aggie Awards - Readers’ Choice poll

Aggie Awards Readers’ Choice
Aggie Awards Readers’ Choice

Each year in February, we stop and take time to show our undying affection for those nearest and dearest to our hearts. We’re speaking, of course, about the Aggie Awards and the games we adore! (You thought we meant that other, overly-commercialized day of chocolates and flowers? Pfft. But don’t forget about your loved ones, too.)

Yes, it’s time once again for you AG readers to cast your votes for your favourite adventure games of the past calendar year. You’ve seen our nominee finalists, and probably second-guessed those to pieces. But now it’s time to stand up and be counted.

As always, only one vote per category is allowed. To make your choice, simply select the appropriate game from the drop-down list available for each award. If you wish to pass on certain categories, simply pick the "No answer" selection from the menu. There are two write-in votes for Best Character and Best Concept; if submitting an entry for these, please write the name of the character and/or brief description of the concept you’re nominating and the game in which each appears.

No ballot-stuffing permitted, as one submission per person is how voting works best. We also ask that you vote only for games you feel are deserving of victory. This is all just for fun, but spoiling votes just ruins the fun for everyone.

Voting will end on Monday, February 16th, and winners will be unveiled in our final Aggie Awards presentation over the course of three days, beginning February 18th. You don't have to participate, but some categories in the past have literally come down to a single vote making the difference. Besides, if you stay on the sidelines, you forfeit the right to complain.

So vote early, vote... well, once, and stick around to see how things all shake out.

One of the core components of any adventure, the game’s narrative must engage the player’s interest and imagination. Entertaining in its own right, a good story also immerses the player in a believable game world and serves as motivation to overcome the challenges presented. While often accompanied by quality writing, the plot is a distinct feature that may or may not be ably supported by the actual dialogue.
Arguably the hardest genre to write well, comedy done right has the ability both to amuse and uplift, finding humour in the ordinary and laughter in the unexpected. Often dismissed for not being “serious writing” (oh, the irony!), comedy has long been a beloved adventure staple and deserves appropriate recognition.
If comedy lifts the soul, then drama explores and challenges it. Though sometimes misrepresented as dry and boring or overly theatrical, a gripping drama simply engages players on a deeper emotional level. Quality writing is essential in maintaining the player’s connection to the characters, game world, and the story unfolding.
Gabriel Knight... April Ryan... Guybrush Threepwood. These names roll off the tongue of any adventure gamer as a testament to the importance of compelling protagonists in an adventure. But just as important are the villains, sidekicks, and significant supporting characters, which are often the juiciest parts. This category recognizes those who have made the most memorable contribution, regardless of role.
Puzzles are an integral aspect of adventure gameplay, but not the only one. Good pacing, rich exploration, and variety of activities are all factors in player enjoyment as well, all suitably integrated into the storyline. The best games seek the right balance of these elements for the most rewarding gameplay experience.
A somewhat ambiguous category meant to highlight any unusual, distinctive element. A creative concept can run the gamut from story premise to game mechanics, from stylistic choice to technical innovation. It doesn’t even need to have been successfully implemented, as it’s the idea itself that deserves the acknowledgement in a genre renowned for its conservative approach.
Adventures can transport us to memorable places we’ve never been before, including those we never even imagined. Or perhaps to locales we’ve visited before, but never quite like this, making them feel fresh and new and awe-inspiring all over again. In these games, the setting is like an integral character of its own, inseparable from the story taking place within its borders.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, this category speaks volumes. Regardless of style, this award recognizes games that are not only visually attractive but stylistically distinctive. One look at a screenshot should elicit a “Wow!” followed by “Hey, that’s from…!” This award includes both game world and character design, but not cinematics.
From “bustling” city streets that look deserted to clouds that never move, animation in adventure games is rarely a genre strong suit, often the victim of budget constraints. But richly animated adventures add so much to player immersion that any game that goes the extra mile in this area is deserving of appreciation. This category includes in-game character and ambient animations, plus cinematic cutscenes.
As a complementary element playing in the background, often a game’s soundtrack is noticeable only when it becomes intrusive, but a strong score and attention to timing can add so much to a game’s ambience. A catchy theme song can likewise make game music memorable, and an in-game musical number even more so. Whatever its particular strengths, the game that excels musically deserves its accolades, even if its impact is subtle.
Often under-valued by publishers but never by gamers, quality voice acting can enhance a player’s investment in characters as surely as poor acting can ruin it. With so much international localization, voice-overs can be difficult to skillfully oversee, but any game benefits greatly from proper direction and believable acting. This category refers to the overall quality of vocal roles in a game, not to individual characters.
As with music, sound effects are frequently given short shrift in adventures, but effective use of audio adds a vital layer of moody ambience. You may not be able to put your finger on the reason, but some games make you feel like you’re really there, and often the atmospheric sounds have drawn you in subconsciously.
The home console and handheld platforms haven’t quite championed a genre resurgence like we once hoped they might, but there were still several quality titles released in the past year. To avoid duplication, the following includes only those games exclusive to non-PC platforms. Ports of past games are not deemed to be original releases, and are therefore ineligible.
For a genre that’s remained largely unchanged for decades, it’s actually got a rich history of experimental titles that push the creative envelope in unique, memorable ways. They don’t “evolve” or “redefine” adventures, but rather expand our understanding of what an adventure can we with their bold vision. Purists may resist, but this award honours those games that stretch beyond traditional genre conventions to offer something completely new, or at least present the familiar in imaginative new ways.
Why mess with a good thing? While innovative adventures provide a welcome breath of fresh air, the lifeblood of the genre continues to be the many games that closely adhere to the comfortable, tried-and-true design formulas. Full of inventory and logic puzzles, memorable character dialogue, epic storylines and immersive exploration, they may not have changed much since [i]Monkey Island[/i] and [i]Myst[/i] – or even the original [i]Zork[/i] for some – but they’re no less enjoyable when done well.
Need we say more? From these choices will emerge the crème de la crème of adventures: the one and only winner of the highly-coveted Reader’s Choice Aggie Award as Game of the Year for 2014!

Final Notes:To be eligible, a game must have been launched through digital distribution, self-published online, or commercially released in either North America or the United Kingdom in the calendar year 2014. Although their respective first episodes were released in 2014, Dreamfall Chapters, Game of Thrones, and Tales from the Borderlands will be carried over to 2015.

Feb 9, 2015

Why isn’t “A Bird Story” a choice in these lists?

Jackal Jackal
Feb 10, 2015

A Bird Story is just an interactive story, not an adventure game (by our standards).

Conditional Love Conditional Love
Feb 10, 2015

WOW this is hard, so 2014 was a good year after all.

Also, I hope 1954:Alcatraz doesn’t clean-up the awards with default votes. 1954:A is not a bad game, it’s just that there are better IMO.

rsommerer rsommerer
Feb 10, 2015

Sharing the thoughts about 1954 maybe having too much influence on the results as it is the default setting in almost every category.

Also, I was not able to submit my votes - first of all, because the form had expired. That may have been caused by taking too much time on my behalf, so I had to reload the entire thing. Then it always showed “Missing Data.(DIFFERENT_IP)” - no matter which way I tried.

My mind is made up about my favourites anyway, I just would like to have them considered here as well.

Iznogood Iznogood
Feb 10, 2015

Some tough choices here.
Best game, best story etc. is imo an easy win for Blackwell, and best gameplay an equally easy win for Memento Mori 2. But in some of the categories I had 2-3 games tied for 1st places.

FrasierCrane FrasierCrane
Feb 10, 2015

I agree, default should have been “N/A No Answer” so that you don’t vote by accident for 1954: Alcatraz.

Miranna Miranna
Feb 10, 2015

I really like that there are now two different categories with “traditional” and “non-traditional”, that makes voting much easier and makes a lot of sense.

A bit sad that the Gabriel Knight wasn’t eligible, I love it. maybe next year there could be a “Best remake/remaster” category?

And yeah, the default vote should have been “N/A No answer”

Feb 10, 2015

Loved Tesla Effect so much, but only played a couple of the others this year. Guess I need to write down this whole list and go shopping.

For the Best Concept write-in vote, are we allowed to vote for a concept that is well over 20 years old, but is extremely rare these days and rarely used properly? For example, I am thinking about voting for the FVM in Tesla Effect for this one.

Jackal Jackal
Feb 10, 2015

There was a technical reason for listing N/A last, but rest assured that we’ll account for an inordinate amount of Alcatraz love if it comes to that. We did this the same way once before, however, and it wasn’t a problem.

Jackal Jackal
Feb 10, 2015

AGF, I don’t see why not. Throw in something about extensive use of green screen and it sounds good to me. Grin

SamuelGordon SamuelGordon
Feb 10, 2015

Sherlock for me Smile, also it’s painfully obvious i’ve missed tons of adventure games.Time to catch up Meh

Skywalker333 Skywalker333
Feb 10, 2015

I understand the policy of not making remakes and remasters elligible (aka taking out Gabriel Knight which would win most categories) but I wish JULIA was included since this was its final version, the original was a much poorer freeware version. Oh well, it doesn’t matter, there were a few other jems as well this year Smile

Jackal Jackal
Feb 10, 2015

The original JULIA wasn’t freeware. If it had been, Among the Stars would be eligible this year.

Skywalker333 Skywalker333
Feb 10, 2015

sorry, i should have said “almost freeware” since it looks like a alpha version of the finished product that was released this year. net lingo leaves too much for interpretation.
anyway, like i said there were a few other good games as well so its okay.

Nic the Swede
Feb 10, 2015

For me it was a mix between Broken Sword 5, Blackwell 5, and Tex Murphy.

rsommerer rsommerer
Feb 11, 2015

Best Non-Traditional Adventure for me in 2014 would be Lumino City - of course. No other game that year could beat it in terms of intimacy or creativity.

Best Traditional Adventure for me in 2014 would be Space Age - basically for the same reasons as for Lumino City: There is a feeling about it that the creators loved doing what they do, despite some probable technical issues. Technical issues not so much with Lumino City.

Best Adventure of 2014 would in my opinion be The Blackwell Epiphany. That´s because it just sets the course right for the future of adventure games. Somehow crossing the borders between traditional and innovative gameplay, as well as following a storyline, that would help mature adventure game topics, but still let them remain competitive in the mainstream.

Sefir Sefir
Feb 11, 2015

Best game of 2014 for me is by far the Talos Principle (as it is also the best non-traditional adventure of course). It has such an excellent concept that makes it an instant classic. Excellent in almost all aspects.

Haven’t played The Blackwell Epiphany though, which seems something like a must, judging by the rescent contest in the forums.

Certainly very few votes for Tex or BS by me. I expected much more from Tex and I will not have nostalgia blind my judgement….

For those of you doing some last minute playing of games before the poll closes, the following eligible games are currently discounted on Steam:

66% off: Broken Sword 5: The Serpent’s Curse
50% off: Kentucky Route Zero
50% off: Lifeless Planet
80% off: Memento Mori 2: Guardians of Immortality
60% off: MIND: Path to Thalamus
33% off: Sherlock Holmes: Crimes & Punishments
75% off: Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure
50% off: The Vanishing of Ethan Carter
50% off: The Wolf Among Us

Conditional Love Conditional Love
Feb 13, 2015

If FRACT OSC doesn’t win the best soundtrack, well… I dunno: FRACT OSC is literally one big interactive soundtrack.

@Jackal - Usually if you put a symbol in front, then the list-item will be first when alphabetically sorted - ! N/A

Have the errors for this form been fixed? It works for some people, but has an error for others. I think more people have had luck with using Chrome. Also, what time does the poll close on Monday?

Jackal Jackal
Feb 15, 2015

What errors? The time-out problems seem to be very isolated incidents. (And for those who encountered it and can’t resubmit, try clearing cookies/cache, etc. and trying again.)

The poll will probably be closed prior to noon Eastern.

ChronoWolf ChronoWolf
Feb 15, 2015

Some users on other forums are reporting an error that says:

Missing Data.(DIFFERENT_IP)
Return to Previous Page

...I didn’t have the issue when I voted though. But at least half a dozen people said they got that when they attempted to vote first time. Chrome fixed it for some.

Jackal Jackal
Feb 16, 2015

If anyone has tried the suggestion above, and/or tried using a whole different browser altogether and still can’t submit the form, feel free to email me your votes at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) and I’ll make sure they’re included. But it has to be by tomorrow… and no double dipping! Wink

Jackal Jackal
Feb 16, 2015

I’m told by someone else who had the same problem that simply hitting the browser’s back button from the error page and refreshing the form (without losing the original selections) before resubmitting worked fine. 

I assumed people were already trying that, but if not, hey, sometimes the simplest solutions work! Smile

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