Choosing a game of the year is never easy. Each year, we’re blessed with tons of great games, and to choose just one above the rest is very tough. Case in point: I copped out last year and picked two games as my “games of the year” for different reasons, but never definitively picked one over the other. I’m sure that the process for selecting a game of the year can be even harder for major gaming publications, who have to weight out multiple opinions before coming to a ‘definitive’ conclusion.
Having played many of this year’s biggest releases, I did a lot of soul-searching in order to choose a game I feel is worth of the game of the year distinction. When it was all said and done, I came to a conclusion. Was it Batman: Arkham City? Uncharted 3? Portal 2? Could it be another big release I haven’t listed here? Or maybe I went completely out of left field with my choice?
Without further ado, In Third Person’s 2011 game of the year is…
Yes, Catherine. And why not?
When I first saw the promo trailer for this game, I thought it would simply be one of those Japanese dating/sex simulators that never make it to North American shores. Man, did I end up being off the mark on that. Instead, Catherine is a wildly fun puzzle game that plays nothing like anything I’ve played before. In my first sitting with the game, I must have played it for a good 5 hours straight because of how into it I was. Giving context to the puzzle game was a really entertaining mix of a story that dealt with truly mature themes and a dating simulator component that made you feel like every decision mattered.
When I wasn’t playing the game, all I could think about was Catherine. I’d think deeply about the time I responded back to Catherine’s text by telling her how hot she looked in the picture she sent me, or about how I weaseled my way out of a situation with Katherine and how those decisions could possibly impact the outcome. I’d also think about some of the crazy puzzles I’d played through, possible techniques I could use going forward and wonder what I could possibly face next. On paper, this game sounds like steak topped in chocolate syrup, but Atlus found a way to make all of these disparate elements into an amazing package unlike anything else that I’ve seen before.
In a year filled with high-budget blockbuster sequels, creativity and originality were certainly a factor in my decision. Almost every game that was considered this year for game of the year were sequels, which built on the known quantities that came before them. Sure, those games were excellent on their own, but Catherine’s amazing package plus the newness of it all were enough to make it stand above all else.
With that said, Catherine is In Third Person’s game of the year for 2011.
I’m certain that you’ll have your own take on what was the game of the year in 2011, and I’d love to hear from you in the comments!
One more thing…
Not to take away from Catherine, as I stand by my choice. However, since Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is probably going to be the landslide favourite for everyone else’s game of the year, I’ll at least touch on it. I only got Skyrim a few days ago, and based on the few hours I’ve played it, I think it’s incredible. However, I don’t think it’s fair for me to change my mind at this point, as I’m not far enough in Skyrim to fairly give it the title of Game of the Year.
If this turns out to continue rocking my face until I’m finished with it, I’ll make a note of it in my eventual review, but I don’t plan on retroactively changing my pick. As it stands, Catherine is my game of the year and that’s that 🙂