No Man’s Prize: The 2016 alternative PC Gamer awards

PC Gamer’s science division has done it again! By donning lab coats, holding clipboards, and throwing a comically large switch resulting in a shower of sparks, they’ve opened a portal to a shadowy alternate dimension where our Game of the Year awards turned out quite a bit differently. Step into this dimension with us, won’t you? And don’t worry about the painful genital tingling, sudden hair loss, and violent nosebleeds as you cross through the portal. That just means the science is working.

Best face scanning: NBA 2K17

I don’t actually know if any other games incorporated face scanning this year, but it definitely doesn’t matter, as none could’ve done it better than NBA 2K17. Tucked away in a separate mobile app, NBA 2K17 allowed me to hold my phone arm’s length from my face in the sickly fluorescent lighting of my office and create a perfect replica of my mug. From my pocked, mineral-depleted cheeks to my dead, pathetic eyes: there is no doubt that this is me. The game even captured the expression of grunting, primal fear that seizes my body when I hold a basketball. Beautiful. —Tyler Wilde

Best use of billions of dollars of tech development: making Tim scream

Countless billions have been poured into VR development, all to create a modern miracle of gaming technology that a handful of people will wear for 20 sweaty-faced minutes of Minecraft before taking it off and never using it again. Was it worth it? Absolutely, because it made Tim scream like a startled goose while playing Paranormal Activity. You can’t put a price tag on results like that. And here we thought James licking a controller would be our most embarrassing video of the year. —Everyone besides Tim

Best Geralt: This nude dude

Only the most loyal, frequent, and sharp-eyed readers of PC Gamer have noticed that we are somewhat fond of a particular image from The Witcher 3. It’s a screenshot of Geralt sitting in a tub with his big dumb wet feet sticking right in everyone’s face, and to date we have posted this image on our site at least three times. Possibly four. That’s why we were so excited to discover another fan of the image, a cosplayer named maul_cosplay who recreated it with a real tub and his real body. It’s part of a sizzling hot Geralt 2017 calendar that will soon be gracing our office wall (pending HR approval), though we suspect tub month, for us at least, will last all year. —PC Gamer

The 'I'm at least glad they made it' award: Mirror's Edge Catalyst 

I was disappointed that this year's Mirror's Edge didn't totally fix the issues of the original—namely the combat—and instead added a couple of mandatory combat sequences that were a total disaster. I knew it couldn't get anywhere near my game of the year choices for that reason, but I'm still glad that DICE made Catalyst. The free-running in Mirror's Edge still feels better than the movement in any other first-person game to me. It's empowering, but also challenging, and to get to do that in an open world setting this time felt like a real treat—even if the game still falls far from its potential. It may sound like damning praise, then, but I'm at least glad DICE tried to make another Mirror's Edge—even if it's arguably as flawed as the first one. —Samuel Roberts

Best stealth: No Man’s Sky

The perfect stealth system is difficult to come by, but very occasionally someone manages to pull it off—and this year it wasn’t Dishonored 2 or Deus Ex. On the day it launched, two players of No Man’s Sky found themselves in the same system, and arranged to meet. Despite standing in the same exact spot at the exact same time, the players—amazingly—couldn’t see each other! It’s an astounding feat of stealth when players who actually want to meet each other can’t because they’re just too damn stealthy. We tip our caps to the chill space sim that was the most effective stealth game of 2016. —Chris Livingston

Deleted tweet of the year

This has happened to all of us at one time or another: you get a personal text, and try to reply to it, but you accidentally write your reply to it on Twitter, and you’re logged into Bethesda Softworks’ Twitter account because you’re its Global Community Lead. Look, we’ve all been there, right? On the bright side, it’s nice to see a corporate account taking a break from endless hashtag-infused promotional tweets to show a little tenderness. —@pcgamer

Easiest clicks for a day: Genital Jousting

Here at PC Gamer we work tirelessly to bring you the latest industry news, game reviews, hardware profiles, interesting stories, opinions on topical matters, and everything else we as PC gamers think our readers will find important and illuminating. Sometimes, though, we just want some clicks, and the best way to get clicks is with dicks. Genital Jousting, a game about dicks sticking themselves into other dicks, was just the ticket. Thanks for the easy clicks, dicks. —Chris Livingston’s dick

Darkest dungeon: Darkest Dungeon

Despite plenty of competition from fellow roguelikes like Enter the Gungeon, Dark Quest 2, and Dungeons & Darkness, we've got to give the award for dimmest dungeon to Red Hook Studios' Lovecraftian death management game, which is also our RPG of the year. Darkest Dungeon's torch mechanic is basically a flame-shaped throttle for controlling how dangerous the game is, and how much loot you could potentially earn. Snuff the fire, and you'll crit more and get more treasure, but be more susceptible to ambushes, stress, and face stronger foes. The system integrates with DD's other grim ideas wonderfully. —Evan Lahti

Most impressive mount: a damn frog

It’s hard to think of a game with better mounts than Ark: Survival Evolved, which lets you tame, saddle, and ride the fearsome T-Rex, the toothy Megalodon, the soaring Quetzal, and even the Titanosaur, a dino so big you can build a base on its back. Me? I ride a damn frog. She wears glasses and eats bugs. She’s pretty good at hopping. Pretty darn good at hopping. And yeah, that’s a monkey wearing a hat clinging to my back. Why wouldn’t it be? —Chris Livingston

Best triangles: Yankai’s Triangle

Triangles, the classic shape. They’re always there when you need them, especially when you need a triangle shape to put in triangle hole, like in those toys I used to play with as a toddler. I never could figure them out, but Yankai’s Triangle is bringing me one step closer to the answer. It’s a creepy, psychedelic puzzle game “about the beauty and joy of infinitely tapping on TRIANGLES for some reason.” And that’s really all you do. Match the corners of each triangle while zooming out in a series of ever expanding triangles. Sometimes they snap and click into place, sometimes they’ll smoosh and squish. You might overhear the hushed whispers of conversation in the background or muffled cries of despair. Pretty typical triangle stuff. Otherwise, the corners you’re looking for are there—yep, all three of them—and you’ll never see a fourth side anywhere. Yankai’s Triangle knows triangles from tip to tip to tip. Pythagoras would be proud. —James Davenport

Best abomination: Cosmic Cow

The purpose of a mascot in Planet Coaster isn’t really to entertain guests, but to distract them from unpleasantness: long lines, puddles of vomit, the fact that a soda costs $17. And there’s no better distraction from one’s own misery than witnessing the misery of someone else. Enter Cosmic Cow, a nightmarish humanoid bovine forced to bounce around the dirty pathways of your theme park using her own swollen and aching udder as a Hippety-Hop. Perhaps she’s just a sweaty employee in a costume, perhaps she’s the result of a mad scientist’s genetic experiments. Either way, Cosmic Cow is an abject horror. When gazing upon her, a guest’s complaints will be instantly forgotten. “Sure, I barfed on myself and the restrooms cost $5 to use,” they’ll think, “but at least I’m not that.” —Chris Livingston

Most liberal interpretation of history: Battlefield 1 

The two World Wars sit very differently in the imagination. We're used to seeing World War II represented in lots of different forms of pop culture, but that isn't the case for its predecessor. When I was at school, World War I was the war of Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon, a colossal tragedy. World War II was the war my great-uncle died in, but it was also the war of Medal of Honour and Saving Private Ryan. This year DICE bravely decided to even the scales, bringing us a take on the first World War where rogueish yankee airmen leap into the Thames from the hull of flaming German mega-blimps and where a horse will give you a gun if you don't have one already. The last time I played it, my friends and I spent most of the match trying to extract a motorcycle-and-sidecar from a trench before forming a human pyramid on top of it and riding around laughing uproariously. Our generation is doomed. —Chris Thursten