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2019 Aggie Awards – Readers’ Choice poll

Aggie Awards - Voting
Aggie Awards - Voting

It’s voting day! Fortunately, no need to head out to the nearest polling station, as you can cast your ballot for the Aggie Awards right from the comfort of your own home. (Or, you know, wherever you happen to be.)

Yes, it’s that time of year again where YOU, the readers, get to decide on the best of the best adventure games from 2019.

You’ve surely seen our list of final nominees, but you aren’t limited to those choices. You can vote for whatever games you like from a whopping list of 180(!!!) eligible games. With so many great games to choose from, trust us that it’s harder than it looks.

But adventure gamers don’t shy away from a good challenge, and if you have an opinion then you need to make your voice heard. The reader Aggies really can (and have) come down to a single vote deciding between winner and runner-up, or runner-up and nothing at all. So cast your ballot now, or risk seeing your favourite game miss out! Every. Vote. Counts.

You are stuck with our list of eligible games, leaving out any unfinished episodic series or anything that isn’t quite “adventurey” enough to qualify. You may disagree where that line should be drawn, but 180 options are more than enough to choose from.

As always, the poll operates largely on the honour system. We will keep an eye out for suspicious activity, but rarely do we encounter such problems. Which is good, because the only way this thing works is one vote per person; no ballot stuffing

Most categories have a drop-down menu of games to choose from. You are NOT required to vote in every category if you don’t feel you’ve played anything worthy of being the winner. Anywhere you wish to abstain, simply leave the list set to its no answer default. There are two write-in categories, and for these we require both the game title and the character or concept you’re nominating for their respective rewards. So please specify!

It’s not worth quibbling over which games made the “traditional” vs. “non-traditional” categories, as it’s always subjective and every game makes ONE of the lists, so nothing is overlooked.

Now, with all the rules and disclaimers out of the way, let the voting commence!

The poll will be open for one full week, ending Sunday, February 2nd  and winners will be unveiled in our final single-day Aggie Awards presentation on Friday, February 7th. See you there!

 

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 – if in fact it has dialogue at all.
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, whatever the approach.
A somewhat ambiguous category meant to highlight any unusual, distinctive element. A creative concept can run the gamut from unique story premise to clever game mechanics, from stylistic choice to technical innovation. For the purpose of this award, 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. (Note: VR is a shared evolution among many new adventures, so that alone does not constitute an individual game concept.)
Adventures can transport us to memorable places we’ve never been before, including those we never even imagined. Or perhaps to locales inspired by real-world locations, 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 technique, this award recognizes games that are not only visually attractive but stylistically distinctive. One look at a screenshot should elicit not only jaw-dropping admiration, but intuitive recognition of the game to which it belongs. 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 is rarely the genre’s 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 music is noticeable only when it becomes intrusive, but a strong score and attention to timing can add so much to the ambience. Dramatic escalations can heighten tension at just the right moments, while a catchy theme song can make a soundtrack truly memorable, and an in-game 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, good 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. Live acting, meanwhile, adds an entirely new realistic dynamic, but the added realism makes it that much harder to pull off successfully. This category refers to the overall quality of performances in a game, not to individual characters.
As with animation, 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.
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 be 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. Note: The winner of your Best Adventure Aggie should also win either Best Non-Traditional or Best Traditional adventure. These categories are not intended solely for runner-ups to the grand prize.
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/or logic puzzles, memorable character dialogue, epic storylines and immersive exploration, they may not have changed much since Monkey Island and Myst – or even the original Zork for some – but they’re no less enjoyable when done well. Note: The winner of your Best Adventure Aggie should also win either Best Non-Traditional or Best Traditional adventure. These two sub-categories are not intended solely for runner-ups to the grand prize.
This is it! 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 Adventure of the Year for 2019!

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