The Free Cheese Game of the Year 2017 concludes with our nominations and awards for:

  • Best Score/Soundtrack
  • Best Debut
  • Most Anticipated
  • Hall of Fame
  • Game of the Year

It’s been a fantastic year for video games and it made these conversations that much more difficult to have. Congratulations to all of our winners!

Best Score/Soundtrack

NieR: Automata

Music, like anything else, is incredibly subjective. Our appreciation of music is predetermined by so many different factors and it’s difficult to always agree on taste. For this category, we looked at which score or soundtrack complimented its respective game the most. We asked ourselves which game would be fundamentally different without the music it was accompanied by. There were a few that fit the bill but ultimately, NieR: Automata had this year’s Best Score/Soundtrack.

You can hear but a note from this score and instantly know where it took place in the game. Even a partial listen to any of the moments in the game will transport you right back to them. In particular, we called out the use of blending between the 8-bit style music and the orchestral score and how well it paired the two. We couldn’t have found the appreciation in ending E without its coupling with the score. There is so much to love about NieR: Automata and its score is right up there.

Runners Up: Doki Doki Literature Club • Splatoon 2

Best Debut

Cuphead

This category is designed to celebrate the game that made its entry into the world of video games. In many ways, these games might be kicking off a brand new franchise or series. They might otherwise be something we only see this one time. Regardless, we’ve never seen anything in these universes before this year. Of them, we had to choose which game had the best presence as an introduction to its ideas.

Cuphead by Studio MDHR is our winner, as it truly shines above the rest. Few games are able to realize a world as well as Cuphead did and seeing it finally come to life before our eyes was well worth the wait for the game’s release. Not only did Cuphead release and meet our expectations, it exceeded them. We kept going back for more, despite how punishing the game can be. The art, design, sound, and gameplay all blended so perfectly to create the world that is Cuphead.

Runners Up: Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds • Horizon: Zero Dawn

Most Anticipated

Red Dead Redemption 2

This award goes to the game that we have been waiting for. It’s the one thing that is meant to be there just around the bend. Of all the rest, there’s one game that we just need to get our hands on.

Rockstar announced Red Dead Redemption 2 late last year and we were expecting its release sometime this fall. We learned in May that the game wouldn’t be out until sometime next year. As a followup to one of last generation’s greatest video games, this game acts as a prequel to the story of John Marsden that we played through in 2010. With all that GTA Online has become, we’re welcoming the addition of another big Rockstar single player campaign, and really curious to see what its online component will be.

Runners Up: Metroid Prime 4 • DragonBall FighterZ

Hall of Fame

Grand Theft Auto III

We wanted to give more than award to a game. We wanted to recognize something that has been so impactful, both to us and we believe to the video game industry as a whole. We’re proud to induct Grand Theft Auto III as the first entry into The Free Cheese Hall of Fame.

Game of the Year

NieR: Automata

When we decide which game wins our Game of the Year award, it comes down to how we feel about it collectively. We ask ourselves, which game transcends the others and made us think differently this year? Which game challenged us in more ways than we expected? As a whole, which game was greater than the sum of its parts?

NieR: Automata impressed us from the beginning. When we first played through the game’s demo at the beginning of the year, we felt it was something special. The way that gameplay flows between different perspectives and styles of play was something we hadn’t seen before in a game. The strange setting of the game and the precedent it set right from the start was filled with mystery that kept unraveling as we played further into the game.

The way that the story was crafted and cut up into multiple endings changed the way we approached and digested the game. We became intimately involved with the world as we played through each character and we learned more about the strangeness of everything.

Ultimately, NieR: Automata left us different on the other side of it.

2. Cuphead

3. Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
4. PUBG
5. Super Mario Odyssey

Posted by Joe Dix

Joe is the creator of The Free Cheese. He eats a lot of pizza and takes thousands of pictures of his pugs Oswald and Earl every day.

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