Last month's Steam Autumn Sale featured quite a number of really good deals on games, and also the return of the Steam Awards, a jokey sort of fan-selected showdown with nonsensical categories like "Mom's Spaghetti" and "Whoooaaa, Dude!" The nomination process was wide-open, meaning that anyone could nominate any game in any category they liked, but now those noms have been winnowed down and this is what we're left with.
The “Choices Matter” Award - Games are about agency, and this award is for the game that has it in spades. Maybe it’s because there are 31 ways you can breach into a villains lair. Perhaps there are dozens of potential partners for you to build a romantic future with. Or maybe you find yourself constantly saying “Where oh where should I plant those turnips”? In all three scenarios there is a common bond: the choice was always yours.
- The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
- Divinity: Original Sin 2
- Life is Strange: Before the Storm
- The Walking Dead: A New Frontier
- Dishonored 2
The “Mom's Spaghetti” Award - There are games that make you excited. There are games that make you happy. Then there are games so intense that they elicit a physical reaction. We’re talking weak knees. We’re talking sweaty palms. We’re talking fear-induced accidents. We’re talking your friends reminding you to breathe. We’re talking about mom’s spaghetti.
- Playerunknown's Battlegrounds
- Outlast 2
- Resident Evil 7
- The Evil Within 2
- Alien: Isolation
The “Labor of Love” Award – This game has been out for a while. The team is well past the first unveiling of their creative baby, but being the good parents they are, these devs continue to nurture and support their creation. This game, to this day, is still getting new content after all these years.
- Team Fortress 2
- Titan Quest Anniversary Edition
- Path of Exile
- Crusader Kings II
The “Suspension of Disbelief" Award – Let’s be honest: games can have some pretty ridiculous elements in them… from the stories that drive the action, to the items required to conquer obstacles, to even the protagonists themselves. This award is for the game that has a key component, which when described out of context, seems totally insane, but while playing the game doesn’t even make you bat an eye, because in the moment it makes total sense.
- Saints Row IV
- Goat Simulator
- South Park the Fractured But Whole
- Rocket League
- Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus
The “The World Is Grim Enough Let's Just All Get Along” Award – Games delight and entertain us, giving us much needed breaks from the sorrows and low points of our lives… and let’s be honest, for a lot of people it’s been a rough 2017. That is why the SASC has chosen to celebrate a game that doesn’t involve combat or conflict.
- Stardew Valley
- Cities: Skylines
- Slime Rancher
- To the Moon
The “No Apologies” Award – This award is for the game that you love unconditionally. Does it have some faults? Maybe. Do other people not understand your love for it? Sure. But make no mistake. There is no guilt here. Only pleasure.
- Mount & Blade: Warband
- Gothic II: Gold Edition
- The Witcher: Enhanced Edition (The Witcher 1)
The “Defies Description” Award - This game is like... well actually it's more similar to...picture a combination of... ya know what, I can't describe it, just play it.
- Garry's Mod
- The Stanley Parable
- Pony Island
- Doki Doki Literature Club
The “Cry Havoc And Let Slip The Dogs of War” Award - The Bard said it best. This game doesn't necessarily offer the biggest explosions... it offers something better. Potential. Potential to be a rampaging force of nature. Or not. Who knows. You're an agent of chaos and no one is going to tell you what to do.
- Just Cause 3
- Total War: Warhammer II
- Red Faction: Guerilla Steam Edition
- Middle-earth: Shadow of War
The “Haunts My Dreams” Award – This award is slightly a misnomer, because this game doesn’t just haunt your dreams. It consumes your thoughts every waking moment of the day. This game doesn’t demand your time. You give it willingly.
- Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
- Dota 2
- Dark Souls III
- Sid Meier's Civilization VI
The “Soul of Vitruvius” Award - The Vitruvian Man was Leonardo’s celebration of the ideal form. And in that spirit the SASC looks to celebrate the game with the most lovingly rendered character… be it human, alien, anthropomorphic cat people, or even a piece of produce.
- NieR: Automata
- Rise of the Tomb Raider
- Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice
- I am Bread
The “Whoooaaaaaaa, Dude! 2.0” Award - The Academy wasn't clear enough in the awards description last year. Let's try this again. This award is for the "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" of video games.
- Hotline Miami
- CPU Invaders
- The Evil Within 2
The “Best Soundtrack” Award - There are very few things that can enhance a game better than music. The right song can set the tone for every aspect of gameplay, from simple exploration, to climatic boss fights. This award is for the soundtrack that captured the essence of their game so perfectly that it effortlessly immersed players into the game world.
- Nier: Automata
- Crypt of the Necrodancer
The “Even Better Than I Expected” Award - We’ve all been there. You get super excited for a game, you pre-order it, and you anxiously wait as it downloads. Then you finally play it. How do you feel now? If the answer is “Elated beyond words because even I, a conductor aboard the hype train, was blown away with how good this thing was” then you have found the perfect candidate for this award.
- Assassin's Creed Origins
- Call of Duty: WWII
- Hollow Knight
- Sonic Mania
Voting for each category will be available for one day, beginning at 10 am PT on December 21 with "Choices Matter" and wrapping up on January 2 with "Even Better Than I Expected." And while it's not yet official, that also pretty well nails down expectations that the Steam Winter Sale will begin on December 21 as well. (That's tomorrow, by the way, so get your affairs in order.) Steam Award winners will be announced on January 3.