Geez, it’s already January 5th! It appears 2013 is going to fly by just as fast as 2012 did, so I’d better get off my ass – er, onto my ass and write my Games of 2012 article. I was fully ready to link to my Games of 2011, which I was sure was either on LiveJournal or Facebook. Apparently, I never wrote one? Huh…Anway, some caveats: I will only award games that I personally played. That means much of the games that took up pro outlets’ lists will be absent. I can’t play everything, especially when I tried to forgo game buying in the busiest time of the year. My Top 10 Favorite Games of 2012
10. Quiet Please! (XBox Indie)
Like any dedicated gamer ought to, I peruse the Xbox Indie Games market. I downloaded a demo then quickly purchased (for $1) this witty little pixelated adventure game. All your main character wants is to get some sleep, but her family prevents that from happening. I’d be surprised if it took me 2 hours to beat, but it was an enjoyable, thoughtful < 2 hours.
9. Asura’s Wrath (PS3/360)
This game is literally more cutscene than gameplay, more anime than video game. That can be a welcome change sometimes; in 2012, it was. I haven’t played a ton of
Asura, but it’s super intriguing and well done for what they’re trying to accomplish — which I admit is not for everyone. You can get it for under $20, which allays concerns of its length.
8. Dungeon Village (iPhone)
I love the Kairosoft games. Many people know about Game Dev Story, but they’ve been making great… I don’t even know what to call them. Sims, maybe? Anyway, they’ve released a ton of great ones since then, and Dungeon Village is the best. Manage a typical RPG village, with stores and homes and events to gain popularity. Meanwhile, visitors will go on quests outside the village walls, leveling-up and earning loot along the way. This dual gameplay is super compelling. So is the $0.99 sale price for a limited time. And this is the first Kairosoft game to be a universal app (though I didn’t notice cloud saves).
7. Punch Quest (iPhone/iPad)
iPhone and iPad are full of games where your character automatically runs to the right. You often have to make timely jumps; sometimes there’s a combat mechanic. But with Punch Quest, you’re brawling all the while. Bitch-slap anything that crosses your path – skeletons, zombies, bosses – and earn coins to then buy new punching power-ups. Or hats, because every game worth its salt now has to have hats. It’s so perfectly pick-up-and-play. Punch Quest is free, universal, and supports cloud saves. I’ve played it a bunch on both iPhone and iPad. It’s a definite go-to.
6. Journey (PS3)
Another download game makes my list (though there is a physical version which includes the excellent Flower, the meh Flow and all 3 soundtracks). Journey is just that: an epic and breathtaking quest where an underdog character braves the elements. Along the way, you’ll get some unexpected help. It’s just a beautiful, memorable game that takes the medium in a different direction.
5. Penny Arcade’s On The Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 3 (iPad/iPhone/360/PC)
This is an amazing role-playing game. It’s funny, the combat is interesting, and it so wonderfully captures the SNES era where games like Final Fantasy III (VI), Secret of Mana, and Chrono Trigger ruled. And you can get it for the price of a mediocre cheeseburger ($2.99 in the App Store, and similar for Xbox indie games or on Steam). I fell in love with it on a plane trip, and kept playing once I got home.
4. Angry Birds Space (iPhone/iPad/Android)
I may have to turn in my “hardcore gamer card” for putting an Angry Birds game so high on my list, but so be it. I got into the first game, but became turned off by the seeming randomness of play. Something about the space motif, though, with its gravity physics, sucked me back into its orbit. Plus, Rovio is a Finnish company — go sisu! I played the iPad version until I got the maximum stars on literally every level. That’s a lot of hours of entertainment for $3, and I can only assume there will be more levels in the update. Angry Birds Star Wars was also a stellar game, but Space predated it and I played it more.
3. Mass Effect 3 (360/PS3/PC/Wii U)
I’ve been into this series since the beginning. It was first essentially Bioware’s version of its own Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic minus the license. The sequel became more of an action game, which worked for me. The finale to the trilogy where every decision mattered may be best known for 3 cookie-cutter endings, but it’s doubtlessly an amazing experience overall. However, it can’t top Mass Effect 2. In fact, this is the first Mass Effect I didn’t go back and replay all the way through. Still, these characters are so deep, you can’t help but want to spend more time with them (except Tali, who I killed at the end of ME2, followed by her entire species in ME3). Perhaps one day I’ll go back and play all 3 back-to-back and save the universe all over again. By the way, you can get ME3 for $15 right now (click the link on the name).
2. Dishonored (360/PS3/PC)
I’ve said a lot about this game on My Year of Backlogs. It was my most anticipated game in a long time. I love the team behind it, and open-ended first-person games as a whole. The world in Dishonored is alive, and with the powers at your disposal exploration is encouraged and rewarded. Many games have good and bad sides, but here it actually matters. Who you kill or spare may have profound effects on future levels. Sticking to shadows and showing mercy may not be why most people play games, but it’s worth it. Of course, you’ll want to play as a death-bringer too, to see that side of the coin. I played through both ways and somewhere in between, and loved every minute.
1. XCOM Enemy Unknown (360/PS3/PC)
My favorite game of the year was not very pretty. The story won’t blow you away. It’s not even an insane FPS or thrilling action/adventure. XCOM is just the most playable, thought-provoking, nail-biting game out there. The aliens have landed, and they’re doing more than sticking their fingers up people’s butts. You command a squad of your closest friends (if you name them as such) to show those creeps they screwed with the wrong planet. Every turn has you positioning your squad, never sure what you’ll encounter and from where. Take cover, but know that everything in the environment can be destroyed. Likewise, any trooper can be killed in action. You do not want to be stuck with a bunch of wet-eared rookies facing off against a giant alien mech. But you do want to play this game. Repeatedly. At least I do. Obsessively. It’s my favorite game of 2012.
Top 10 Games I Would’ve Liked To Play
1. The Walking Dead – I own it, but am only 45 minutes in
2. Crashmo – The sequel to Pushmo, my favorite 3DS game
3. Dust: An Elysian Tail – Amazing looking XBLA action game
4. Hotline Miami – Ultra-violent and ultra-retro
5. Unfinished Swan – Another artsy download game (Limbo, Journey)
6. Persona 4 Arena – You got fighting-game in my JRPG?!
7. Kid Icarus: Uprising – I hear it’s fun and hand-crampy
8. Xenoblade Chronicles – High-scoring Wii-exclusive only at Gamestop
9. Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward – Sequel to 9-9-9, which I’m mixed on
10. Sleeping Dogs – A quality open-world action game