GOTY 2012

**** THIS LIST IS A WORK IN PROGRESS ****

List items

  • The epic journey across two giant sleeping gods that starts off as a tale of revenge and ends in a big creationist clusterfuck is my favorite game of 2012. Xenoblade came out over here back in 2011 but I played the majority of it this year and since its North American release was this year as well, I think listing it is appropriate. The gorgeous and immensely huge environments are just jaw-dropping, the musical blend of electric guitar tracks and classically piano and strings based songs perfectly accompany the adventure and enhance the tension in fierce battles. A very deeply layered combat system that shows you new stuff and allows for a wide variety of strategies and encourages switching up your active party constantly keeps things interesting while additional systems like character relationships, gem-crafting, city-rebuilding and side quests that encourage exploration and force you to keep track of inter-NPC-relationships across the entire game flesh out this already enormous adventure. By the way, I still went "WHOA!!" in shock and awe after 100 hours every time I came into a new area and almost ran into an enemy that dwarfed me both in size and level.

  • Man, talk about underrated! EVERYONE wrote this game off at E3 when Nintendo decided to make this the most boring stage demo during a press conference ever. So much love has gone into crafting this game, it's not even funny. This is NOT a mini-game collection. This is a game-collection. The multiplayer-only attractions are the most accessible in terms of quick fun. The multi/-singleplayer hybrids offer a steep challenge for solo players and ask for good communication if you're playing with other people. It's very rewarding. The solo-games (which can be even played by two people via assist-play) offer some of the most addicting gameplay in the package. Making it through the multiple coursef of Donkey Kong's Crash Course is absolutely nerve wracking, the F-Zero inspired racing game adheres to its inspiration by being an incredible tough obstacle-racer. Yoshi's Fruit Cart is brilliant and pure genius. You can skip ahead but you will miss out on points. Moving targets, hazardous obstacles and limited continues--this is throwback arcade gameplay to the fullest. A fantastic package that shows the promise of two-screen gaming and was the most sheer fun I've had playing games this years.

  • This game is tense. It's also addictive. And buggy, according to some. I never had any issues, though. Turn based strategy made accessible without sacrificing depth. A lot has been said about this game already so I'm keeping it brief.

  • I still haven't finished this game but I got exactly what I wanted ever since they first showed off ZombiU. Constant tension, paranoia, crisp moody visuals that, paired with the superb sound-design, create a dreadful atmosphere. Combat is a scary affair since you're no super hero in this game--you miss and you're likely toast.

  • Super Mario World. Bringing back the world map, key enemies and gameplay elements from the aforementioned game and extremely varied levels are what make this game fantastic.

  • If only this had been a Wii game. This game is not the most fun to control but having direct control of the reticle is pretty important so it has to either be a stylus or a Wiimote. Once you got accustomed to how the game feels, it becomes pure joy. Gambling your hearts away by setting the difficulty a bit higher each time and possibly failing is a brilliant design decision. The action is frantic and never stops, always appropriately scaled to the difficulty you selected (and bet your currency on). The game is also incredibly funny and features stellar voice acting (Palutena!) and some of the best writing out there. And I haven't even checked out the multiplayer (online 3v3 multiplayer!). Shame it has been so overlooked because of the controls issue.

  • Most people don't like this game but to me, it revived my interest in 2D-Mario gameplay. It also managed to get me interested in collecting coins. Coins coins coins. Money, cash, carts, bros! It's all about the benjis, what! This game basically delivers a Mario power fantasy by constantly giving you positive feedback in the form of that sweet pling! sound. Wrecking shit as Gold Flower Mario is so utterly satisfying that you really start missing it when you play another Mario game that doesn't put the coin collection front-and-center. The DLC support has also been stellar, giving us additional courses tailored for different gameplay styles (extreme difficulty, high-score focused and the simple pleasure of getting paper!). Vastly underappreciated.

  • Electric relaxation. You can't really "lose" in Journey. All you can is fail to have a memorable experience. Mine was pretty awesome it lacked some of the emergent brilliance that some other people talked about. Regardless, it was a joy to play and the way the game handles "multiplayer" is incredible.

  • "They were all dead." That pretty much holds true every time once the credits roll in a Max Payne title. Rockstar's take on the franchise narratively feels very much like a Rockstar game as opposed to how Remedy approached their storytelling. Nevertheless, the core Max Payne-gameplay was still intact with shoot-dodging around corners, diving over crates and taking out a whole room of enemies before you hit the ground thanks to the still-awesome Bullet Time-mechanic. The Woe is Me-story fit very well with my depression and blasting virtual gangsters and drug lords became an almost cathartic experience. The game also looked stunning and they actually made the multiplayer work (in terms of game design ... their severe server issues were pretty annoying when I tried to play with some Giant Bomb PC-duders)

  • Decision. Consequence. Telltale pulled off something remarkable, they made a game with barely any mechanics outside of making dialogue choices and it turned out fantastic. For the entirety, you're stuck between a rock and a hard place and your way out of it often leads you through a pit of nails. There are almost no good or bad decisions. You have to make them anyway. Some of the voice-work is a bit wonky and the animation sometimes pulled me out of it but finding out what the next terrible situation you might find yourself in would be has never been so exciting.

  • Alright, Little Inferno barely has any gameplay. All you do for most of the game is pick things off a list and drag them into the fire place to light them on fire. The genius of this game lies a) in how fun it is to burn things and b) the fun of finding the right combinations. Little Inferno is a puzzle game. You get money for finding specific combos that are hinted at with very obscure descriptions that may melt your brain in the process of trying to figure it out. That is not all, though. The game also has a narrative element that places you in a weird dystopian world and where that story takes you in the end was truly remarkable and made my eyes watery as a result of my utter amazement. Play this game! (It's also a perfect Wii U title since I played almost all of it only on the GamePad while doing other stuff on the side)

  • I had never really played Tribes before this aside from some random games at LAN parties many many many moons ago. Tribes: Ascend took a moment to get used to with modern shooters all playing very similarly but ultimately I was able to "ski" right into the right groove with this. Skiing, jet packs, huge opens maps, free-to-play. Awesome!

  • Before this, I was completely green when it came to visual novels. Uncovering the tale of *Hyun-ae and *Mute, two A.I.s on a derelict spaceship, and experiencing a story about oppressed women, cultural divides and loneliness by reading through logs mixed with spurts of text-adventure gameplay and puzzle instances was a very unique and memorable experience that I would recommend to anyone vaguely interested in games.

  • I bought this game when it came out on PC originally but wasn't a fan of the keyboard-controls. I then bought the 3DS eShop version which came out in Europe this May and was finally able to play VVVVVV how it was meant to be played. This is hardcore platforming at its best. Fantastic music, a cool but simple 8-bit art style and devious level design make for a wonderful(ly brutal) experience.

  • This will be moved higher tomorrow as it just finally clicked with me. This game is truly awesome. And funny. Seriously. It's hilarious!