2019 game of the year was announced and surprised many folks as the winner was Sekiro. Not Death Stranding nor Control as the internet was discussing (and complaining).
Sekiro is a “souls-like” game developed by FROM Software. It is hard to define what is a souls game. It all began with Demon Souls for PS3 (still the only platform available), but got popularized in Dark Souls for PS3 and XBox 360. Later they release a really bad port for PC that was practically impossible to play without patches made by fans.
I record buying Dark Souls on Steam for around R$11 (~$4) to play on my laptop (think on a Nvidia 640M). Also, I did not have a proper joystick. Anyway, I proceed installing the game as usual and starting it (took time in a 2 Mbit connection). Well, it did work. Normally, games on Steam works because… then have a QA to check this trivial things right? RIGHT?
It was using Windows 7 that time (still using for gaming, but shhhh) and the game was complaining about the Games for Windows Live or something like that. It was a attempt from Microsoft to provide some kind of cloud services like saving games and authentication. It did not last long, in fact, at that time it was gone already, but the game insisted asking for it. Later they fixed that issue.
After some hours playing around in strange forums and trying solutions that did not work, eventually I manage to start the game. Yey! The first screen appeared, I pressed the gamepad button and… nothing. Oh boy, I need to configure the joystick now. There I went to find a solution. I remember having to download an wierd software that helps you to configure the inputs, that one was specially for Dark Souls as I need to put on the game folder and such (what?). This, my friends, is how you get keylogger on your machine :d.
I started the game again, the screen appears, I pressed the button and voila! I was tired at that point but proceed to create my character and begin my adventure. It was an hot afternoon in Brazil and the table wasn’t that confortable. I can’t remember how I beat the first boss, but I did, probably took some good hours to get used to the joystick. Remember, it was a generic low budget old gamepad. “GIT GUD” on me, I know.
I remember the game being MEH! How come? All the excitement was gone, I arrived in the firelink shrine and felt like “whatever, it is not fun”. Not even all the hype from my friends about this game were sufficient keep me on the game. I leaved this there and never opened again.
Fast forward one or two years I bought it again for the XBOX 360 (please don’t judge). The I had a proper joystick and a game that does not need to be configured to start, plus a big screen. That time I really liked the game, it was hard and feel like I was abandoned without any hope. The NPC were depressed, everything wanted to kill me and I had no map. That was amazing! I played a bit but it was too laggy on xbox (oh the frames…) and I re-installed on my PC, which were a bit better. Bought a better gamepad and started to play the game properly.
After some point I was more interested in seeing the speedrunners and challenges that LobosJr did. I for sure spent way more time watching the game than playing it.
The community around the game, the memes and discussions were still hot years after the game being released. Even after that garbage PC port they made. Technically Dark Souls had its flaws but the game design is so good that keeps the game alive. The reason behind it is because Hidetaki Myazaki. The lead designer at FROM Software which made Demon Souls, Dark Souls and, Sekiro. He basically defined a new genre in a world of video games that many started to copy.
I’ve been playing and talking about video games for, at least, 20 years. The more I play more I realize that the best feature a game has to offer is its gameplay mechanics. The history, the plot, the graphics, they are all secondary and will not hook you long in a game (ok, we have some exceptions here). In this sense, the GotY is in good hands as Sekiro gameplay is way superior and polished compared to the other contenders.