I tried to write an intro here. Something about games being “important” and how I hate that phrase. I decided to throw it out and cut right down to it. These are my top ten games of the year. This year has been easier than others because these ten were miles above any other game I played. The difference between 10 and 11 is huge, so it’s not like a game barely missed it. No pictures, videos or the like for this one, just the games and my thoughts.
Analogue tells the story of the abandoned colony Mugunghwa. It’s a visual novel that has you communicating with the two AIs on the ship *Hyun-ae and *Mute. This is one of my favorites of the year because the writing is fantastic. Everyone on the ship is dead, and the only evidence
left behind are the logs left in the ship’s computer. Learning about the various individuals on the ship as well as what led to everyone’s demise was great. It’s one of the best stories of the year, and learning the truth behind why everything happened is shocking, horrifying, and tragic. It will stay with you long after you are finished playing.
An obvious idea, make a rhythm game with Final Fantasy music, but everything about it was executed very well. A great art design, clever rpg mechanics, and a ton of unlocks to keep you playing are only some of the good things about this game. The song choice is pretty good, with a ton of DLC adding a lot of great music. Most importantly, the gameplay is fantastic. Various difficulties will challenge you while staying fun, and the different modes keep things from getting too repetitive. Even if you don’t have an emotional attachment to the Final Fantasy series, you should consider picking this up if you enjoy rhythm games.
It took the No More Heroes name to finally get me to play one of those social games everyone seems to be get hooked on. There are a ton of weapons to collect and clothes to customize your character. It also has a solid single-player experience mainly because of the boss battles with characters from the No More Heroes games. The main thing that hooked me though was the ranking system. I felt compelled to be in the top 100 assassins each week to earn rare items. Not to mention the one week where I fully committed myself to being the #1 Assassin. Did I mention that this game was only released in Japan? I had no idea what I was doing half of the time or what all of the menus meant, but for a couple months this game had a vice-grip on my life.
A fantastic soundtrack, great art, an a ton of simple yet challenging minigames. There is a reason this was my favorite rhythm game this year. There is also a pretty neat co-op mode. Most importantly, this game is full of charm. From the tutorials to the results images, this game is doing it’s best to keep you going. It has a simple formula, but it follows it perfectly.
I feel bad that the game’s art style turned a lot of people off to this game. Beyond the talking anthropomorphic animals there is an excellent game here. A great story that is deeper than you would expect, with genuinely funny moments throughout. It rivals some of the best animated movies out there. The main characters are likable and have great dialogue throughout the game. It borrows from the Metroidvania school of map design, leaving a lot of secrets behind to come back and find when you have the right tools. Last but not least, one of the most satisfying combat systems in a 2d game. Everything feels tight, and once you get the hang of things, you’ll be dodging, countering, and racking up combos. Nothing’s as smooth as cutting up enemies, dodging their attacks, and then dashing through the air leaving a trail of fiery death behind you.
Method and execution, these are two things you must keep in mind at all times while playing Hotline Miami. You’ll go through a floor, learning what works, and what doesn’t work. By the time you have enough information to tackle a floor, you can go through killing people left and right with ease...only to get killed by that last guy because he decided to walk the other way. This game is addicting, there is enough of a formula for you to plan your moves, but just enough random elements sprinkled through to give you that moment of panic, forcing you to rethink your plans on the fly. The brilliant soundtrack and the interesting story only add to the fantastic gameplay. Just when you think you have a grasp on the mechanics, it throws you a new scenario to deal with. An adrenaline pumping experience through and through.
This game is never content. It always has to be raising the stakes. The presentation on this game is awesome. From the previews for the next chapter to the bumpers between commercials, it is all a very slick package. The quick time events are great, the characters are neat, and yeah, things get kind of crazy at times. It’s a fun experience. Craziness aside, there is a solid story. There is a reason for all of this madness, and it never falls off that path, even when you think it does. It ties everything up in a nice neat little bow. I know that most games aren’t for everyone. But I would say that everyone should give this a try, watching someone play through this doesn’t do it enough justice.
I don’t want Clementine to be anywhere near the sequel for the next game. I’ve grown so attached to her, I just want her to be happy and go live a life that isn’t set in the desolate universe The Walking Dead takes place in. There is nothing “fun” about TWD, it’s brutal, painful, and just plain frustrating sometimes. That’s not a bad thing. The characters are so damn realistic. I can understand why Kenny is always turning on me, why Lilly will always be a jerk, and why I am not the right person to be making these decisions! I don’t like talking about TWD, it’s dark as hell, I feel guilty and sad for the choices I’ve made, and it’s a beautiful game for it.
I never played the first Borderlands until about a week or two before Borderlands 2 came out. When I played it, I thought that it was neat, but I’d wait for the sequel. A bright colorful world, a cast of characters that are pretty good, and a story that has no business being as good as it was. I could only imagine what the people who poured hundreds of hours into the first one felt as they did it again. This was my first time diving headfirst into the shoot-and-loot, and it’s pretty great. My main character is Gaige, and I enjoyed playing through the story and New Game+, but that only opened up the hours and hours and hours I’ve spent trying new loadouts, looking for new weapons, and just having fun doing nothing except kill things left and right. That was all solo too mind you. I recently started a new character along with my brother and sister, and that’s a whole new beast on it’s own. So much to do, in this game. So many awesome references (some are obnoxious, but fitting for the crazy world it’s in), and a ton of memorable dialogue. Now I see why everyone felt so strongly about the first one. I haven’t even touched the DLC yet!
My first playthrough by itself was a solid experience. Neat characters, great puzzles, enough drama to keep things interesting. I got confused when I hit my first “To be continued...” block, I thought I accidentally exited back to the menu. I wanted to keep going with this story, I grew attached to these characters. I spent thirty minutes trying to figure out why I couldn’t keep going. Silly, I know. I gave up and decided to go down another path, and the second things started to unfold, it hit me like a truck. This game was a lot smarter than I was giving it credit for. Just when you think you have this game figured out, it will mess with you. The more you think about it, the more it punishes you, at that point it’s best just to stop thinking so damn hard, and just enjoy the ride.
I went into this game playing it like a linear game, when that is not what this game is. That’s the beauty of it, the more you replay it, the crazier things get, but there’s a reason for it. Characters were telling me things to remember without any reasons, and sure enough, I wrote all of this stuff down. It throws pieces of a puzzle at you disguised as pieces of another puzzle. When things start to come together, it’s an awesome experience. As much as I hate the cliffhanger ending, every single moment up until that point was great. I loved the characters, loved the twists, and I loved the puzzles. I spent 35 hours on this game, and I don’t think there was a moment I didn’t enjoy. Virtue’s Last Reward is my top game of 2012.