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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.

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.

49 Comments
Posted by Ryan

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.

Staff
Edited by Grillbar

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

Posted by xMEGADETHxSLY

Hunked

Posted by Phatmac

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

Posted by Nightriff

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

Posted by zombie2011

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

Posted by WMWA

Solid ass list

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.

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!

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.

Posted by Shaunage

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

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...

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.

Posted by buhssuht

i guess he lif...wait a minute.

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...

Posted by bloodsoul5

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

Posted by bmac1632

IGN sucks and so does this guy

Posted by Paindamnation

Casey is a cool dude

Posted by Tsuchikage

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

Posted by SaturdayNightSpecials

REGIMEN

Posted by Jon_F

@SaturdayNightSpecials said:

REGIMEN

Yup.

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.

Posted by p00rdevil

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

Posted by JustinAquarius

Might be the best list of all of them.

Posted by clumsyninja1

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

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.

Posted by the_Hollow

Great variety list.

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.

Posted by SatelliteOfLove

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

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.

Posted by me3639

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

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?

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.

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

Posted by Morden2261

@SaturdayNightSpecials said:

REGIMEN

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

Posted by NorseDudeTR

@Oni: You’re not wrong.

Posted by dropabombonit

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

Posted by KamikazeCaterpillar

HOLY BEARD!

Posted by MeatSim

Quick! name the top 10 beards in video games!

Posted by lynchtastic

@Grillbar: And that's a bad thing?

Posted by Grillbar

@lynchtastic said:

@Grillbar: And that's a bad thing?

in no way is that a bad thing.

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.

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.

Posted by Lyfeforce

"Unsober".

I now have a new favorite word.

Posted by Slab64

@SaturdayNightSpecials said:

REGIMEN

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.

Posted by jonnyboy

Fuck Yeah Mastodon.

Posted by blackneuron

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

Posted by TheSouthernDandy

This is a great list and a great beard.