GOTY 2012

2012 was a year of surprises. While many of the games I started the year looking forward to were delayed to 2013 or fell short of expectations, they were more than made up for by a variety of other excellent games. Indie games had a fantastic year in particular, as developers put a level of polish into their creations that couldn’t be matched by behemoths with budgets in the tens or hundreds of millions. As always, there are games I couldn’t get to for time or technology reasons, so some games I wanted to play like Journey are out.

2012’s 2011 Game of the Year

Bastion

If this was purely for the 2011 game I played most in 2012, it would undoubtedly go to Battlefield 3. In fact, I barely played Bastion at all in 2012, only loading up the PC version to check out DLC and the iOS version to test the controls. Bastion gets the nod because it's the game from last year that I couldn't stop thinking about. The gorgeous art, dynamic narrative, rich soundtrack, and tight mechanics would each be impressive on their own, but the way they complement each other in service of a greater whole is what makes Bastion a truly special experience.

Honorable Mentions

These are the games I enjoyed this year which didn’t make the list, but are worth a mention (in no particular order).

Black Mesa – A free Half-Life 2 mod that almost perfectly remakes the original Half-Life for a modern audience. Link

Far Cry 3 – Ridiculous open-world gameplay, a great-looking tropical island, and the best intro of any game this year. The story can’t keep up the brilliant self-awareness it starts with, but there’s a lot of fun to be had regardless.

Frog Fractions – A free, must play game for anyone that grew up with entertainment games. To say much about it would be to spoil it, but the game is hiding something great under its surface. Link

FTL: Faster Than Light – Take Oregon Trail, add elements of roguelikes and space sims, and FTL is the result. Even if the endgame feels too restrictive, every journey I took was a blast.

Mark of the Ninja – Incredibly-refined, satisfying stealth mechanics and a great art style.

Spec Ops: The Line – Featuring one of the most interesting stories in a military first person shooter, it’s worth picking up on sale and plowing through the mediocre gameplay to see the plot unfold.

Trials: Evolution – Twitchy, physics-based motorcycle platforming on tracks that never stop increasing in both difficulty and absurdity.

Game of the Year 2012

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