The DashGamer Awards 2020

2020. Am I right? A trying year for humanity as we deal with the grips of a global pandemic that set the world in complete disarray. If anything, it gave us an excuse to stop and reflect. Taking time to understand things that are taken for granted, and tomorrow is not a guarantee. One thing was for certain, gaming and entertainment was sure to peak as we all entered hibernation with nothing but the control of technology at our fingertips. New fans of tastes and genres began to acclimate themselves within the world of video gaming and anime, two of our favourite categories here on DashGamer. So it’s only fitting that we celebrate the very best this year with the DashGamer Awards 2020. While the Awards have evolved through the years we decided to head back to its roots, scale down to six of our most important categories, but highlight our Top 5 Gaming titles of the year. We’re no strangers to ties, but we didn’t want to do that again. It’s not a permanent fixture for our Awards, as we would love to revisit the Dash Community Awards again in the future, but we certainly wanted to highlight our personal picks for this year. Enjoy!

The first recipient if The Chameleon Award in 2014, Laura Bailey continues to cement her legacy as one of the industry’s well accomplished, and esteemed voice actors to grace the mic. Bailey’s lengthy resume has seen her established career cross many surprising roles throughout the years including Young Trunks in Dragonball Z, Rise Kujikawa in Persona 4, Abigail “Fetch” Walker in the inFamous series and of course, her latest leading role as Abby Anderson in The Last of Us Part II. Laura has certainly paved the way for many VO’s within the industry, providing her variable range across a myriad of mediums within entertainment. 

Whether she’s Eating Donuts or Drawing Dicks as the cobalt shaded Tiefling Jester, or asserting her dominance while wielding a long-bow as the stern and stoic hald-elf rogue Vex’ahlia, Bailey has demonstrated her ability to provide excellence in any role she undertakes. Although her latest role may have been Bailey’s most polarising to date, Laura has attained critical acclaim, establishing a new character within a beloved franchise which is why we are proud to present Laura Bailey as the recipient of The Chameleon Award, this year.

The suave and swanky jazz funked out the overture of Persona 5’s overall presentation. An aesthetic unmatched, Persona 5 had dominated the JPRG market in 2017, when it bursted onto the western scene and revolutionised the way we understood role-playing titles. Like its predecessors, Persona 5 presented a sublime soundtrack that backed its powerful proliferation in propagating an encroaching narrative. Re-released earlier this year with exclusive content, the title extended its highly regarded campaign along with its musical compilation, composed by the legendary Shoji Meguro. 

Lyn Inaizumi once again provides her powerful pipes to belt out new arrangements including Persona 5 Royal’s new theme song “Colors Flying High”. An assortment of other musical compositions include “Take Over”, “I Believe”, and Mementos’ new backing tracks that change the dynamic of the underground dungeon’s overall delivery. It was a tough decision as there was a long list of many worthy nominees, but Persona 5 Royal takes our heart, and the takes away The Score for 2020.

The most anticipated title of 2020 certainly became one of the most controversial releases this year. None the less, Naughty Dog continues to show the gaming world why they are the benchmark. Pushing the industry further and swinging the pendulum beyond gratification, “The Kennel” strive to out-do themselves with every development cycle. Long gone are the days of the Crash Bandicoot’s and the Jak and Daxter’s that no doubt may be deep-rooted into the foundations of this settled Santa Monica based studio, but Naughty Dog are king in the interactive cinematic experience. The studio has literally changed the game – pardon the pun – becoming a global sensation in the box office market under the guide of their new co-president Neil Druckmann. The highly regarded, long time developer for the PlayStation Studio had shown his creative chops after The Last of Us’ initial release in 2013. Drawing inspiration to the highly acclaimed television series “The Walking Dead”, and amalgamating it into the Uncharted universe along with the series’ engine, The Last of Us franchise cemented itself as a pillar in gaming, setting itself alongside such perfection and class as Ocarina of Time. The Last of Us Part II pushed the envelope this year and sought to once again cause a stir. It’s actions such as this that make waves, and we can respect. That is why we’re proud to present Naughty Dog as The Best Dev of 2020.

There have been a litany of rogue-like RPG’s throughout the years that are mirror images of each other. The top-down hack-and-slasher with RPG tropes that further campaign progression that had grown stagnant with little to no imagination tied to its tale. Hades changes all this while keeping all facets of what makes a rogue-like epic a captivating. Its simplistic framework remains familiar with the addition of an artistic palette of vibrant design and aesthetic which has become a hallmark for Californian development Studio Supergiant Games. 

With titles such as Bastion, Transistor and Pyre under their belts, Hades provides a cinematic hellscape of animation beyond its initial premise. The small team of 20 had the idea including Greek mythology within their next role-playing title that involved Zagreus, the Son of Zeus dismembered by Titans and reborn as the prince of the Underworld. The title follows the once great deity, besting his adoptive father Hades, in hopes of reaching mount Olympus.

The expeditious pacing and silky smooth sequences make for one of the best RPG’s of the year. We’re proud to present Hades, with the 2020 Indie Scene Award.

It was the year where we were all cooped up inside, meaning less time for cinephile’s to see their favourites on the silver screen, and more time for on-demand viewing. There was no time greater to view the very best in Japanese Animation this year. We were spoiled with some of the best within the industry, but there was one we continued to revisit over and over. Demon Slayer’s incredible plot ingrained itself within the minds of many Anime fans, and dominated globally as one of the greatest serialised adaptations from the established 2016 Mangaka. 

While the light novel series may have ended earlier this year, Japanese animation studio Ufotable continue their retelling of this epic saga. With an extended season of 26 episodes, and a feature length film, the franchise has carved a path of glory with its unique story of loss and redemption. Delivering a intense tale, action sequences that go above and beyond the expected, a cast of lovable and relatable characters, backed by some of the industry’s most highly regarded voice actors including Max Mittelman, Robby Daymond, Steve Blum, Abby Trott, Laura Post, and Johnny Yong Bosch, Demon Slayer is most deserving of The Anime Award, this year.

It’s hard to express my love for Crash, but It’s About Time was surely a love letter from Toys for Bob. There’s no doubt that the studio itself is a congregate of life long fans of the old Naughty Dog IP, now owned by Call of Duty publisher, Activision. After its fathering studio had retired the tang tinged marsupial to establish a new brand of high octane intensity within its Uncharted series, many a development team saw dollar signs behind the highly regarded series, but failed to obtain the sensation that encapsulated Crash’s mystique. The once PlayStation mascot was abandoned for a near decade before returning in the N. Sane Trilogy which saw Crash’s return to prominence.

Crash 4 seemed like a pipe dream, but came to realisation after Spyro Re-ignited developers sought to reprise their remastered roles and develop an all new Crash Bandicoot adventure, retconning the entire franchise post Crash 3: Warped. Crash Bandicoot 4: It’s About Time was a complete return to form, bringing players back to old school platforming with a refreshing spin on the entire genre. It seats itself comfortably at #5 of our Top 5 Games of this Year.

The Sly Cooper founders had something to prove this year, with the inaugural release of their newest property in Ghost of Tsushima. After the launch of inFamous: Second Son at the beginning of PlayStation 4’s lifecycle, the studio had many unanswered questions for what was next. Were they to explore Sly Cooper, develop another inFamous title, or discover an entirely new experience beyond anything the Bellevue based development team had visited prior. Choosing the latter, they first party PlayStation studios decided to dive deep into the rich history of Tsushima Island.

The peninsula off the coast of Japan saw its share of war during the late 13th-14th century, with Samurai’s and rebel clans seeking to claim the Isle for themselves. The infamous (no pun intended) Mongol invasion being the most prominent was loosely translated within Ghost of Tsushima’s premise. Portraying Jin Sakai, the head samurai of the Sakai clan, he leads his clan into war in hopes of halting the impending invasion of his home island. With his entire clan murdered and his uncle Lord Shimura imprisoned, Jin seeks redemption after being left for dead. An incredible story, and such engaging gameplay makes it #4 of our Top 5, this year.

If there was anything to take away from Persona 5 Royal’s release this year, is that its franchise could re-release a plethora of versions within its entrenched universe, yet still walk away feeling unique. Many questions were raised after Persona 5 Royal’s announcement upon its reveal, if the series was straying from its established partnership that remained exclusive to PlayStation – other than the “Persona Q” series – and may have been heading to the Nintendo Switch. Alas, while it was not meant to be, Persona fans were elated to experience an entirely new chapter within their favourite iteration of the once niche JPRG now global sensation.

Its lengthy 150+ hour campaign had seen a slight extension with “The Royal”, with exclusive content and additional cast members joining the fold, furthering its original campaign, separating itself from Persona 5’s initial release. This wasn’t your typical remaster, rehash, or re-release. It was a retelling, an alternate take on the title, experimenting with groundwork that had been successful, just adding some touches that tears the fabric of Persona 5’s world apart. While much of its facets and foundations remain somewhat intact, the subtle differences between the original rendition and its Royal entry are enough to make it an entirely new title. Persona 5 Royal remains a pillar of the JRPG market, and seats itself firmly at #3 of our Top 5 of 2020.

Amassing critical acclaim, winning multiple Game of the Year Awards from respected outlets and shifting the industry into a box office attraction, The Last of Us Part II has dominated 2020. The highly anticipated follow-up to the 2013 Naughty Dog epic saw the continuation of gaming’s most popular survival-horror. The triumph and heartbreak that emanated from Ellie and Joel’s initial escapade to Seattle, changed the landscape of the third-person 3D platformer with tantalising demonstrations of cinematics, story, and delivery. Ashley Johnson and Laura Bailey are proliferant in their respected field of voice acting, but taking it above and beyond the VO booth and encapsulating their entirety in mocapping their respective characters just heightens the title’s comprehensive tale.

The complexity of The Last of Us Part II’s dubious and contentious plot will have gamers questioning Neil Druckmann’s creative drive and motive behind its prequel. The impact felt from story beats within the title’s onset reverberate through gamers to this day, showing its devout retention and adherence fans had for the series’ resolve. The Last of Us Part II provides us with its creator’s vision of events that transpire after that one small promise. A flurry of fury, a revenge story, and a tale of two sides. Quite fitting that The Last of Us Part II, is our silver placed second of 2020.

13 Years after Final Fantasy VII’s initial release on PlayStation, developer Yoshinori Kitase was ready to revisit one of the greatest video games, of all time. Final Fantasy VII: Remake was an instant rush of nostalgia remixed with an all new original experience. Lifting facets from the popular Crisis Core, and utilising Final Fantasy XV’s core engine design, Remake was 2020’s biggest surprise that encompassed action, adventure, narrative, cinematics, world design, character redesign, graphics and most importantly its engaging combat system. Such a fascinating rebound from a timeless tale that adorned its tireless JRPG loop, in dire need of revitalising and re-introducing to a new generation of gamers, everywhere.

Final Fantasy VII: Remake remains familiar to its faithful while taking the essentials that made the original a juggernaut that changed role-playing titles forever. The hack-and-slash freeform approach that meshes with Cloud Strife’s demeanour, contrasting with the feisty assets of Tifa and Barrett, along with the enriched charm of Spellcaster Aerith, and further establishing the impact of Jessie Rasberry’s role within Final Fantasy VII’s lore elevates this title above a mere revisiting, or any subpar remake. Final Fantasy VII: Remake’s perspective on the deep-rooted, well-established story is an exhilarating joy-ride for its devout, and certainly deserves the accolade that we’re proud to give it. Final Fantasy VII: Remake is The DashGamer 2020, Game of the Year.

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