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Biggest Surprise - Salt and Sanctuary

Biggest Surprise

Second Place

Third Place

The number of gamers who felt that the one thing missing from the Dark Souls series was a shift to a 2D side-scroller could likely be counted on one hand. In fact, the only two that did were likely James and Michelle Silva, also known as the entire staff of indie developer Ska Studios. However, when Salt and Sanctuary did arrive, the game not only proved to be fun, but also provided a well-laid-out world to explore and, like its inspiration, challenging combat. Adding in Ska Studios's trademark visual style, even the most skeptical players were pleasantly surprised. Salt and Sanctuary took our staff by storm, and has since proven to be the studio's most well-received game yet.

Okay, so a new Final Fantasy spin-off is far from a surprise; even two games from the long-running franchise in the same year isn’t exactly unheard of. However, World of Final Fantasy did the seemingly impossible when it took everybody's reservations about its Pokémon-esque monster-collecting gameplay, cartoony graphics, and chibi character designs, and obliterated them in a Bahamut-sized blast of innovative combat, gorgeous music, vibrant visuals, and well-handled fanservice. Though it's not without its complications, this spin-off has plenty to offer even the most seasoned RPGamer.

After many years of missing out on the 7th Dragon series, the west finally got an entry in what seems to be the series finale, 7th Dragon III Code: VFD. It seemed destined to be just a sad footnote to a series lost to us. As it turns out, the game is a blast, featuring a great turn-based battle system and top-notch gameplay. The class system is what stands out most, giving players a massive amount of flexibility in party construction and dungeon exploration. 7th Dragon III's story partially takes players through the history of the series, giving us a glimpse of what we've missed. It's nothing earth-shattering, but solidly executed and entertaining enough to keep the player interested for the duration of the game. 7th Dragon III Code: VFD was a huge surprise, and a joy to play. It's just a shame that the rest of the series is still locked away from us.

by Pascal Tekaia, Mike Apps

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