This is it. The final award is also the one that celebrates the games that exhibit the highest level of quality, production value, artistic vision, sound and gameplay design and much more. It is not a matter of bigger is better, but rather what games spoke to us on a deeper level. This award is about games that moved genres forward or moved players in different ways. With that in mind, here are the recipients of this year’s Golden Lance Award for Game of the Year.
Winner: Elden Ring
The release of Elden Ring was a pivotal moment in the video game industry. What was once an enthusiast and niche genre, FromSoftware smashed through its typical audience barrier and reached mass adoption, as the game sold 17 million copies across all platforms. Elden Ring was the main gaming zeitgeist from February to April.
It was a phenomenon on the level of heavy hitters such as Skyrim and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild could only achieve. The game brought hordes of new players to the soulslike formula. But it did so in an accommodating way that still felt true to the challenging but fair formula it is known for.
No doubt Elden Ring is FromSoftware’s crescendo, building from the decade-plus experience it has accumulated in developing its formula. The game truly feels like it is a culmination and elevated the game in every aspect. From combat, build diversity, art direction, world design, and everything in between. Elden Ring will continue to resonate well with gamers for years to come. It is the cornerstone title that will be meticulously replicated by other titles and set the standard for future games. And there is no greater flattery than imitation.
Runner Up: God of War Ragnarök
Runner Up: Horizon Forbidden West
Horizon Forbidden West is the best game I have played all year. The open world design is more dedicated than the linear paths in God of War. The terrain, voice acting, and animations make Elden Ring feel like a previous gen game. I love what Guerilla Games has done to America all over again. This year nothing has compared to the post apocalyptic re-creation of Las Vegas and San Fransisco. I loved seeing the Hoover Dam, Big Sur, and the Vegas Strip.
While I do appreciate the challenge and design of Elden Ring, Horizon Forbidden West has 23 different options to customize the gameplay. You can tune Horizon to play like Elden Ring if you want, yet the options in Elden Ring are incredibly limited. With the end of 2022, I can honestly say there are five or ten games that deserve GOTY but, Horizon Forbidden West is the most modern.