As consummate professionals, we of course critique all games on equal terms, but, just like everyone prefers certain children and/or pets (don’t even try to deny it), we do have underlying favourites in some instances. That extends to developers on this occasion, who’s bodies of work call to different staffers depending on their personal tastes.
FromSoftware is one of several Japanese developers which Sam asserts are leading the industry right now.
Chris | LucasArts
LucasArts had a hand in many games over the years, bringing us classics like The Secret of Monkey Island, Day of the Tentacle and Sam & Max, as well as adding more to the Star Wars universe than the prequel film trilogy ever could.
It's no secret that I'm partial to an engrossing story and, though they’re not in the development business anymore, that was LucasArts' forte. Their point-and-click adventures are held in such high regard that any conversation about the genre will invariably lead to mention of at least one of their titles.
Whilst the Monkey Island series isn’t the sole reason for my choice, it is a major deciding factor. The games had stellar writing, excellent voice work, puzzles which require just the right amount of abstract thinking, and everyone's favourite mighty pirate - Guybrush Threepwood!
The inclusion of a Guybrush skin in Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II is also, to my mind, proof that both franchises exist in the same universe. Insult lightsaber fighting, anyone?
Betcha you didn't expect to see Guybrush Threepwood battling Darth Vader today.
James | Rocksteady Studios
It can be difficult when a games studio steps outside it's comfort zone. We've seen this most recently with BioWare and Anthem, where the studio struggled to tackle the transition from RPG to service-based shooter.
While it's been a while now since we've heard much from them, a studio which successfully made the transition from FPS to third-person action-adventure, and thereafter knew to stick to their guns, is Rocksteady. With Batman Arkham Asylum back in 2009 (a decade already?), the team put out an outstanding representation of the Caped Crusader.
From there things only got stronger with Arkham City, which conquered the open world formula to a standard that Ubisoft struggles to match even years later. Rocksteady deftly managed to integrate new mechanics and refine the things that worked while still telling a hugely compelling story, resulting in one of the most immersive experiences in gaming.
While Arkham Knight didn't push the series forward as much as it could have, it kept up the momentum and contributed to the legacy of the franchise, which survives to this day with releases like 2018's excellent Spider-Man taking a healthy dose of inspiration.
Arkham Asylum started it all, but Arkham City took things to a new level.
Liam | Nintendo
I was tempted to give my choice to an Infinity Ward or a Bethesda, or maybe even go with an outsider like Rogue Squadron developer Factor 5, but after mulling it over I’ve decided to go with good ol’ dependable Nintendo. I mean, how could it be anyone else? They’ve quite simply been knocking it out of the park for decades.
There’s a certain quality to their games that makes them that extra bit special. It doesn’t matter if it’s an RPG, a racing game or a life-sim - whatever the genre, you can be sure it’s going to be a top-notch experience because of the talent behind it.
I like that they’re not afraid to mix things up every now and then. The Wind Waker (possibly my very favourite game) and its cartoony visuals were something that didn’t go down well with a lot of Zelda fans, but somehow Ninty made it work, and work exceedingly well.
Their ability to keep ageing franchises like The Legend of Zelda and Super Mario – two juggernauts that feel like they’ve been around forever – relevant after so many years is quite impressive. Just as you think fatigue might be about to set in, they somehow reinvent the wheel to make it bigger, better and more fun.
Odyssey provided a creative new take on the Mario series' trademark 3D platforming.
Which is your favourite game dev? Let us know in the comments below.