2016 Game of the Year: INSIDE

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Playdead

In a meta-commentary about video games and our own free will, INSIDE developer Playdead’s second game (also its second masterpiece after Limbo) forces players to question the nature of control. The story tasks players with guiding a nameless boy through a series of puzzles and platforming levels in a gloomy, harsh world. The resulting journey leads players to escape from armed guards and infected animals, use mind-control helmets, and genetically modify the boy’s body to complete puzzles.

2015 Game of the Year: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

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CD Projekt

Though The Witcher game series dates back to 2007, Polish developer CD Projekt Red seems to have broken through with its third installment. Based on Polish fantasy novels by Andrzej Sapkowski, the games follow Geralt of Rivia, a witcher (or monster hunter, for those who aren’t well-versed in Witcher lore), searching for his adopted daughter Ciri.

2014 Game of the Year: Sunset Overdrive

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Microsoft Studios

The first full year of a new console generation is always cause for trepidation among gamers, and admittedly, 2014 (the year after the release of the Xbox One and PlayStation 4) is one of the weakest gaming years in recent memory. Still, that shouldn’t take away from the Insomniac Games’ excellent Xbox One-exclusive, Sunset Overdrive.

2013 Game of the Year: The Last of Us

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Sony Computer Entertainment

To me, Uncharted developer Naughty Dog operates on another plane of existence in the gaming sphere. The studio’s story-driven, guided experiences aren’t for everyone, but its games are my Platonic ideal.

The Last of Us takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where a zombie-creating fungus has overwhelmed civilization. Arguably the best story ever told through a video game, the game follows Joel, a smuggler trying to make ends meet in overrun Boston, and Ellie, a teenager who is apparently immune to the infected, as they travel across the United States in hopes that Ellie’s immunity can lead to a cure.