The top 10 games* of this year, and 10 honorable mentions.
The top 10 games* of this year, and 10 honorable mentions.
Otherwise known as Artorias Of The Abyss, the DLC to Dark Souls brings the length of a triple A action game and the perfected atmosphere and gameplay of the 2011 hit game.
As I've played over 300 hours of Dark Souls since it came out, I was almost afraid to step into the new environments. The world of Oolalice feels ancient and alien, but invites the player to familiar exploration and is just as demanding as the original. Walking in Artorias footsteps you hit a brick wall almost instantly, with lightning fast enemies with resistances to the most powerful weapons in the game. The visual design is both its own, but cohesive to the rest of Dark Souls and fleshes out characters introduced previously only by legend.
There are still things I haven't discovered and I will continue my journey, but this is the best moment in gaming for me this year.
I was a sucker for Flower, and knew that I'd love this too. But I was not prepared for the emotional impact the game would have on me. It's short in length but few games have left me this drained and fatigued when the wonderful credits roll. I only wish there was more depth, because after discovering every nook and cranny I still lingered on in white robes, helping other players on their Journey long after I had reached the end.
The Vita is in dire straits, but it is these kinds of games that will show what the powerful handheld can do. An original story in short meaty missions and open world collectables under new and innovative gameplay, Gravity Rush brings a home console-like game to a device that fits in your pocket. Any other year this would be my no.1, but it still holds its own among big studio names. The only detriment to it are the motion controls, which in the last challanges just cant keep up with the precise input demanded by the player. An unfortunate flaw on this gem of 2012.
Quick time events. They are so easily made terrible but Asura's Wrath shows how they should be made. Every button prompt feels apropriate and pressing that R2 to burst feels more satisfying than ever. The story is so bizarre and fresh with interesting twists, and avoids the Anime stereotypic all-story that has gone so stale. Asura is a japanese crossing of Kratos and Ken Shiro and the world and characters feel fleshed out and have real motivations and depth. The "real" gameplay inbetween bursts is simple at its core although there is some finesse to it. The cinematics and scenes that play out wether you are flying around like Space Harrier or beating enemies to a pulp with your multiple fists are stunning and could very well just have been made into a Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann anime show. And it would be amazing.
That said, locking the "true" true ending behind DLC is disgusting, and I really hope this won't become a bad habit.
This game is Japanese. Real Japanese. It could be described as a roguelike, but I would liken it more to a Jetpack Joyride runner more because of how the scoring also works as currency. And the goals achieved with one animal unlocks clothing equipment and other animals to start with. The game is divided into carnivores or herbivores with widely different playstyles depending on which your animal is. There is also a story mode which unlocks by chapters. The narrative is both playful and humorous at times, but also touches on philosophical subjects. The gameplay is simple and intuitive but differs depending on size and nature of your character of choice. There is a lot to be discovered if you look for it, and the world tells its own story. Many put FTL on their lists, but Tokyo Jungle is the best roguelike of 2012.
Everything about KoA:R screams production value. The music is wonderful, the environments are stunning, and the combat controls feel just right. The influence of fighting game developers on the team blossoms and few games show this kind of dedication to its systems. And they put even more effort into the story and lore. This is the part where the game fails. There is so much of it that it's overwhelming. And so many of the side- and fetch quests seem arbitrary just to fill the game out. But this game doesn't need it. After a few hours I just couldn't keep up with everything it wanted to tell, and I found myself just following the breadcrum trail and killing everything. It is a shame for sure, but it wouldn't feel so frustrating if the rest wasn't so damn good. I never made it all the way through the first time but this is a game I will come back to many times ahead.
This is where Hotline Miami would sit if I was anything like other people. Hours upon hours I have been flying down the slopes in a trance tricking and flipping. And I wouldn't have if this game hadn't gotten all the love and commitment it has. Much like XCOM: Enemy Unknown this is a faithful revival of a loved and lost franchise, that I didn't know I was ready to go back to.
But it does have flaws. Instant failiures are never fun. In the beginning of the game, a wipeout or unfortunate fall into the abyss is pretty easily negated but as the challange escalates so does the penalties. This is a problem racing games have struggled with, and an arbitrary rewind function that rewinds actions but not the world only leaves you further behind your opponents. The tricking races of the game is where it shines. With insane tricks and no timer to really worry about it makes you feel relaxed and focused on the score multipliers and jumps. And that has always been the strength of SSX. The new stats and equimpent systems are fun and fresh and at the same time makes a currency relevant. A huge part of the game depends on your friends and if they play, since Autolog makes a well made appearance. Beating their scores and challanging them to beat yours in turn gives SSX a depth it treasures and hopefully, will build on in the future.
The launch game any handheld would hope to have, Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational builds on its predecessors and brings its own furiously frutrating but oh, so rewarding game of golf. I hate golf. But getting that perfect spin on a drive landing it square on the fairway just in range of the green, is so much fun. It has a lot of RPG like components, such as characters with different strenghts and weaknesess but also gear and not so RPG like clothing. The depth is there be it in the different courses or playstyles, or head to head multiplayer. It's perfect for commuting, since making a shot or planning it is made in bursts depending on your time constraints. It's been a long time since I've played a Hot Shots game but this one is full of fresh courses and callbacks to older games. The only downside is the structure of head to head multiplayer and how much you enjoy golf. But daily challanges and dynamic player ratings makes this game always stay on my memory card.
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