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Casey Lynch's Top 10 Games of 2012

IGN's editor-in-chief takes a break from his grueling beard-growing regiment to talk about his favorite games of 2012.

2403155-casey_shake.jpg

Casey Lynch is editor-in-chief of IGN. He is a former Guitar Hero character, he previously played in a secret skate rock band and hasn’t reviewed music and stuff for a while.

10. Fez

I don’t care that Fez’s creator Phil Fish said that Japanese games suck. Big shock, a lot of them do. So do plenty of games made everywhere else. Big whoop. What I do care about is how Fez takes a familiar platforming formula that everyone gave up on years ago and cleverly stretches it into a game we’ve never played before but always wanted to.

9. Slender: The Eight Pages

Stark, bare, and unflinching, Slender is pure. horror. Being lost in a forest, searching for clues, hearing the crush of your pursuer grow louder with every hint you find, with nothing to do but walk, run, and turn a flash light on and off. It’s fast, it’s free, and it’s totally effective. Watch yourself in the bathroom.

8. Halo 4

Master Chief has never looked better, sounded better, or played better, and that goes double for his blue and red twerp buddies in multiplayer War Games. Halo 4 is classic Halo, and big props to 343i for delivering a crazy great and super fun Halo reboot under what must have been an immeasurable amount of pressure.

7. FTL: Faster Than Light

If it wasn’t for Ben Prunty’s amazing soundtrack, I’d be half as in love with Faster Than Light than I am. And if there were no solar flares, I’d be a third more in love with FTL. But alas, the soundtrack is amazing, along with the writing, the sparse art design, the super addictive “one more try” appeal, and the clever progression system. Now, about those stupid solar flares.

6. Mark of the Ninja

Everyone has a crush on Dishonored, but if I have to pick one stealth game this year to ball up for, I’d ask Mark of the Ninja to the prom. It’s mix of slick presentation, perfect 2D stealth platforming and ultimate ninja power puzzling combat make it a potent cocktail of play it now. You should.

5. Spelunky

Speluny is as tough as it is adorable. It will easily eat up entire weekends if you let it, but you won’t mind. Like, at all. I have a friend who I hadn’t seen in months. I ran into him last week and the first thing he told me was that he 100%’ed Spelunky. I nearly had a stroke. Spelunky is yet another 2012 game that defies marketing budgets and buttoned-down trends and all the other gobbledygook that developers and publishers so often listen to before they embark on making the next Haze or Fracture. Oh, and Peter Eykemans, you’re my hero, mister 100%. I bow before you.

4. Hotline Miami

People say Hotline Miami is like that movie Drive, but that’s just all wrong. Drive is all about Ryan Gosling’s sweet ass jacket and Carey Mulligan’s heart rate, god bless her. Hotline Miami, on the other hand, is more Smash TV, more blood, more gore, more skull bashing, and yes, neon-lit urban post post-style and music. Sure, Drive traces lines between some of those same sensibilities, but does cutey Ryan throw baseball bats? Um, no. Does he wear a horse mask named Don Juan that allows you to kill people by opening doors? Wait, I think I just wrote Drive 2.

3. Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition/Artorias of the Abyss

It’s pretty tough to beat Dark Souls, though my carry-over obsession from last year has subsided some. What started back then with a 24-hour marathon ended with me emphatically championing FromSoftware’s abyssal and indifferent Zelda game for grown-ups, and making the return trip to Lordran this year was well worth it. I even leveled a new Sorcerer for the occasion to take on the new black fire-breathing dragons with the creepy, inky black spellcasting. I know, they said there wouldn’t be any DLC, they said Dark Souls was fully complete. They changed their minds. People do that. Almost GotY that didn’t come out in 2012.

2. The Walking Dead

For better or worse, The Walking Dead will likely become the poster-game for the future of video games. Episodic, choose-your-own-adventurey, short enough to play each piece in one sitting, and emotionally consuming, Telltale’s cruel trip through Robert Kirkman’s dead world is as unforgettable as it defies conventional marketability. It’s a bummer the game itself has so many performance hiccups (exploding saves, weird corruption issues on PC, bad control mechanics on consoles), otherwise it would be my absolute pick for GotY, bloodied hands down.

1. Journey

Journey is a reflection sim disguised as a platformer with dune surfing and chirps. Like the Dark Side Cave on Dagobah, it shows you whatever you bring with you, and specifically in Journey’s case, whatever you project onto it. Some people say it’s a game about nothing, just jumping and sliding through sand. Other people think it’s a game about life and death. Still others believe it’s a meditation on the anonymity of lifelong relationships. I think it’s an awesome game to play while unsober. Game of the year.

Avatar image for ryan
Posted by Ryan
2403155-casey_shake.jpg

Casey Lynch is editor-in-chief of IGN. He is a former Guitar Hero character, he previously played in a secret skate rock band and hasn’t reviewed musicand stuff for a while.

10. Fez

I don’t care that Fez’s creator Phil Fish said that Japanese games suck. Big shock, a lot of them do. So do plenty of games made everywhere else. Big whoop. What I do care about is how Fez takes a familiar platforming formula that everyone gave up on years ago and cleverly stretches it into a game we’ve never played before but always wanted to.

9. Slender: The Eight Pages

Stark, bare, and unflinching, Slender is pure. horror. Being lost in a forest, searching for clues, hearing the crush of your pursuer grow louder with every hint you find, with nothing to do but walk, run, and turn a flash light on and off. It’s fast, it’s free, and it’s totally effective. Watch yourself in the bathroom.

8. Halo 4

Master Chief has never looked better, sounded better, or played better, and that goes double for his blue and red twerp buddies in multiplayer War Games. Halo 4 is classic Halo, and big props to 343i for delivering a crazy great and super fun Halo reboot under what must have been an immeasurable amount of pressure.

7. FTL: Faster Than Light

If it wasn’t for Ben Prunty’s amazing soundtrack, I’d be half as in love with Faster Than Light than I am. And if there were no solar flares, I’d be a third more in love with FTL. But alas, the soundtrack is amazing, along with the writing, the sparse art design, the super addictive “one more try” appeal, and the clever progression system. Now, about those stupid solar flares.

6. Mark of the Ninja

Everyone has a crush on Dishonored, but if I have to pick one stealth game this year to ball up for, I’d ask Mark of the Ninja to the prom. It’s mix of slick presentation, perfect 2D stealth platforming and ultimate ninja power puzzling combat make it a potent cocktail of play it now. You should.

5. Spelunky

Speluny is as tough as it is adorable. It will easily eat up entire weekends if you let it, but you won’t mind. Like, at all. I have a friend who I hadn’t seen in months. I ran into him last week and the first thing he told me was that he 100%’ed Spelunky. I nearly had a stroke. Spelunky is yet another 2012 game that defies marketing budgets and buttoned-down trends and all the other gobbledygook that developers and publishers so often listen to before they embark on making the next Haze or Fracture. Oh, and Peter Eykemans, you’re my hero, mister 100%. I bow before you.

4. Hotline Miami

People say Hotline Miami is like that movie Drive, but that’s just all wrong. Drive is all about Ryan Gosling’s sweet ass jacket and Carey Mulligan’s heart rate, god bless her. Hotline Miami, on the other hand, is more Smash TV, more blood, more gore, more skull bashing, and yes, neon-lit urbanpost post-style and music. Sure, Drive traces lines between some of those same sensibilities, but does cutey Ryan throw baseball bats? Um, no. Does he wear a horse mask named Don Juan that allows you to kill people by opening doors? Wait, I think I just wrote Drive 2.

3. Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition/Artorias of the Abyss

It’s pretty tough to beat Dark Souls, though my carry-over obsession from last year has subsided some. What started back then with a 24-hourmarathon ended with me emphatically championing FromSoftware’s abyssal and indifferent Zelda game for grown-ups, and making the return trip to Lordran this year was well worth it. I even leveled a new Sorcerer for the occasion to take on the new black fire-breathing dragons with the creepy, inky black spellcasting. I know, they said there wouldn’t be any DLC, they said Dark Souls was fully complete. They changed their minds. People do that. Almost GotY that didn’t come out in 2012.

2. The Walking Dead

For better or worse, The Walking Dead will likely become the poster-game for the future of video games. Episodic, choose-your-own-adventurey, short enough to play each piece in one sitting, and emotionally consuming, Telltale’s cruel trip through Robert Kirkman’s dead world is as unforgettable as it defies conventional marketability. It’s a bummer the game itself has so many performance hiccups (exploding saves, weird corruption issues on PC, bad control mechanics on consoles), otherwise it would be my absolute pick for GotY, bloodied hands down.

1. Journey

Journey is a reflection sim disguised as a platformer with dune surfing and chirps. Like the Dark Side Cave on Dagobah, it shows you whatever you bring with you, and specifically in Journey’s case, whatever you project onto it. Some people say it’s a game about nothing, just jumping and sliding through sand. Other people think it’s a game about life and death. Still others believe it’s a meditation on the anonymity of lifelong relationships. I think it’s an awesome game to play while unsober. Game of the year.

Staff
Avatar image for grillbar
Edited by Grillbar

great stuff. though kinda an odd list compared to everyone else.

Avatar image for xmegadethxsly
Posted by xMEGADETHxSLY

Hunked

Avatar image for phatmac
Posted by Phatmac

Nice list Casey. Glad Journey won IGN's GOTY. :)

Avatar image for nightriff
Posted by Nightriff

Wait, IGN works with other sites? I never knew that

Avatar image for zombie2011
Posted by zombie2011

Wow that Journey video has the best scream ever! Fuck the Wilhelm Scream, this needs to be in every game.

Avatar image for wmwa
Posted by WMWA

Solid ass list

Avatar image for cptmorganca
Posted by CptMorganCA

Lol, pretty sly of Casey to slip Dark Souls with the PC release. Surprised not to see Dishonored or Far Cry 3. Guess he didn't dig them, or he hasn't played them.

Avatar image for granderojo
Posted by granderojo

What you people don't know is that Casey actually made a list about best music in games in 2012. Follow the money!

Avatar image for larcenouslaugh
Posted by LarcenousLaugh

@thabigred: Collusion!

Interesting list, makes me happy to see Mark of the Ninja in the middle of everyone's lists. Almost surprised by lack of XCOM, but there is already a ton of death up there with Hotline and Dark Souls.

Avatar image for shaunage
Posted by Shaunage

Eight downloadable games, and one of the other two barely counts. It's been a weird year.

Avatar image for manhattan_project
Posted by Manhattan_Project

Great to see two sites cross pollinate. Now we just need Greg on a TNT.

And fuck you Peter Eykemans! I'm still trying to get into Hell...

Avatar image for hussatron
Posted by hussatron

Dark Souls: PtDE is my personal GOTY since it's the first version of the game I've played. With dsfix and a controller, the game looks and plays great. Such an amazing game.

Avatar image for buhssuht
Posted by buhssuht

i guess he lif...wait a minute.

Avatar image for re_player1
Posted by RE_Player1

Being from IGN he must be used to making top ten lists. Surprised all ten are on one page and not on separate pages...

Avatar image for bloodsoul5
Posted by bloodsoul5

This is.. like my favorite list on this website.. I cant believe its from an IGN dude. D:

Avatar image for bmac1632
Posted by bmac1632

IGN sucks and so does this guy

Avatar image for paindamnation
Posted by Paindamnation

Casey is a cool dude

Avatar image for tsuchikage
Posted by Tsuchikage

Mr. Lynych, I have a lot of respect for you. Keep on making IGN a better site to visit, sir!

Avatar image for saturdaynightspecials
Posted by SaturdayNightSpecials

REGIMEN

Avatar image for jon_f
Posted by Jon_F

@SaturdayNightSpecials said:

REGIMEN

Yup.

Avatar image for everydayodyssey
Posted by EverydayOdyssey

Casey you may single-handidly be bringing me back to IGN with that list! I love some Dark Souls too, brother! Glad to see the DLC get some high profile recognition.

Avatar image for p00rdevil
Posted by p00rdevil

Greg Kasavin and Jeff Green both passed it over, but Casey Lynch recognizes the greatness of Dark Souls!

Avatar image for justinaquarius
Posted by JustinAquarius

Might be the best list of all of them.

Avatar image for clumsyninja1
Posted by clumsyninja1

Bummer that Greg Miller didn't gave his top ten list...

Avatar image for roger778
Edited by Roger778

I visit IGN all the time, and I never knew who this Casey Lynch guy was. I must say he has a really big beard.

Anyway, that was a great list, although I was surprised to see that X-COM wasn't on the list, considering how popular it's been lately.

Avatar image for the_hollow
Posted by the_Hollow

Great variety list.

Avatar image for ronald
Posted by Ronald

Nice to see Slender slide in there. And good work on IGN, now if you could get the videos tabs to not be loaded with walk throughs so I could find actual video content I might want to visit more often.

Avatar image for satelliteoflove
Posted by SatelliteOfLove

He correctly describes Souls games with "indifferent". IGN ain't all bad.

Avatar image for deusx
Posted by Deusx

WHERE IS GREG MILLER?! Casey is a pretty cool dude but man... I always expect crazy stuff from Greg, maybe a double fudge Oreo as #1 Game of the year? WHO KNOWS.

Avatar image for me3639
Posted by me3639

It's like Titans colliding! GB and IGN BOOM!.  
Nice list Casey, keep up the great work.

Avatar image for mormonwarrior
Posted by MormonWarrior

Dark Souls, the "abyssal and indifferent Zelda game for grown-ups?" Yeah...I like that. I've been saying that Zelda really needs to take some cues from Demon's/Dark Souls since I started playing them...and freaking Skyward Sword let me down so bad.

Also I still don't get Spelunky. I'll get around to it for sure, but man...I still don't get it. I got 100% in Super Meat Boy. Does that make me cool, Casey?

Avatar image for dan_citi
Posted by Dan_CiTi

Great list, though I have never understood the connection between Zelda and the Souls series. Other than Zelda 1 and Dark Souls have a similar set up in how they set you in their world, and that youre a guy with a sword and the game is rather hard.

Avatar image for oni
Posted by Oni

"If it wasn’t for Ben Prunty’s amazing soundtrack, I’d be half as in love with Faster Than Light than I am."

Wut. Figures IGN's EIC can't even fucking write, lol

Avatar image for morden2261
Posted by Morden2261

@SaturdayNightSpecials said:

REGIMEN

To be fair, he could be part of some secret black ops regiment devoted to growing epic beards...

Avatar image for norsedudetr
Posted by NorseDudeTR

@Oni: You’re not wrong.

Avatar image for dropabombonit
Posted by dropabombonit

His top 2 are the same as mine so I approve of this list

Avatar image for kamikazecaterpillar
Posted by KamikazeCaterpillar

HOLY BEARD!

Avatar image for meatsim
Posted by MeatSim

Quick! name the top 10 beards in video games!

Avatar image for lynchtastic
Posted by lynchtastic

@Grillbar: And that's a bad thing?

Avatar image for grillbar
Posted by Grillbar

@lynchtastic said:

@Grillbar: And that's a bad thing?

in no way is that a bad thing.

Avatar image for golguin
Posted by golguin

Seeing Dark Souls in such a high spot on the list means that Dark Souls 2 will also get a 24 hour marathon right? Seeing parts of that marathon convinced me to get a copy ASAP. I don't remember the stream being archived though, which is sad, but understandable considering some of the things that started coming out of peoples' mouth as the hours went on.

Avatar image for lynchtastic
Posted by lynchtastic

Oh yes, we'll do another 24 hour marathon for Dark Souls 2. And you're correct, the stream was lost, not because we were loopy and talking crazy (which we were), but something with our encoder borked out after 10 hours. Made us unable to recover the footage and stream, so we chose to keep going. I think I was up for about 36 hours all told. Good times.

Avatar image for lyfeforce
Posted by Lyfeforce

"Unsober".

I now have a new favorite word.

Avatar image for slab64
Posted by Slab64

@SaturdayNightSpecials said:

REGIMEN

Avatar image for sammo21
Posted by Sammo21

I wish I could have enjoyed Halo 4 as much as some people have...I can't. Single player, mechanically, is fine...but its not hard to ape an experience that's come 5 other times before. Story and multiplayer were disappointing.

Avatar image for jonnyboy
Posted by jonnyboy

Fuck Yeah Mastodon.

Avatar image for blackneuron
Posted by blackneuron

I am so jealous of Casey's beard, it is epic.

Avatar image for thesoutherndandy
Posted by TheSouthernDandy

This is a great list and a great beard.