While gamers are already preparing for a fantastic year filled with triple-A titles and hardware launches, I want to take a moment to look back at 2012. This may have been the best year in gaming since 2007. The indie scene alone has spread its wings, making up two nomination spots on the VGA’S GOTY list. Moving over to IGN, there were at least double that number. Additionally, the vast number of original IPs founded in 2012 was considerably refreshing following a sequel-heavy 2011. So, without further ado, I give you my top five games of 2012.
5. The Unfinished Swan
The Unfinished Swan is a game about a boy who lost his mother, and is sent to a foster home. It is also one of those games that can hardly be called a game at all. But that doesn’t subtract from the experience. The Unfinished Swan is nothing short of interactive art, featuring a highly symbolic story about dealing with the unknown. The story is tied together with a platformer/exploration game that portrays its theme strongly but silently. The beautiful visuals alone will leave you in awe, but its what you have learned along the way that will cement this game in your mind for a long time afterwards.
Dishonored is that rare original IP that comes along at the end of a console’s cycle, but leaves its mark as boldly as any established franchise. While some moan and groan at the thought of many sequels, fans were ecstatic to hear about Bethesda’s plan to continue the franchise. Dishonored gives players the freedom to play the campaign however one chooses, while feeling polished throughout the entirety of any playstyle. An interesting and original setting, along with tight mechanics and flexibility, resulted in me restarting the game immediately upon completion.
3. The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead holds a special place in my heart. Telltale games crafted what is, without a doubt, the greatest story within a game told this year. Lee Everett finds himself in the backseat of a police car during the opening credits. What follows is a gripping redemption story about a man and his child-figure. The Walking Dead’s ability to make me feel like a monster was impressive, but was held back from top honours due to some excessive technical issues. The Walking Dead is accessible, well-written, and an absolute must-play.
2. Mass Effect 3
If Mass Effect 3 came out any other year, it would have easily been Game of the Year. Mass Effect 3 is an emotional send-off for gaming’s most notable franchise. From start to finish, Mass Effect 3 is the cinematic masterpiece that this series deserves. Throughout the trilogy, players made meaningful choices that changed the universe around them. Pairing this with incredible dialogue and dynamic characters resulted in one of my favourite games of all time. The fan-favorite multiplayer mode was just an a satisfying bonus to an incredibly rewarding game.
While Journey may not triumph over the rest of this list in the gameplay department, every single person, that I know, who has played this game was moved on a personal level. Journey has an interesting backstory, but to focus on anything other than the symbolism and beauty of the game would be doing it a disservice. This isn’t a story about gripping characters. In fact, there is not much in the audio department, other than a beautiful soundtrack. It is hard to specify why Journey is an obvious Game of the Year choice, but the reason lies somewhere between its ground-breaking multiplayer function and its ability to change who you are as a person. Its strong material, and should not be taken with a grain of salt.
Honorable Mentions: Halo 4, Playstation All-Stars