It’s also been a busy year for the games industry and as for the games themselves there have been many that have been vying for our attention but very few making the cut.
So without further ado, our Top Games of 2012 are…
As I say on the “Games We Like” page: There’s not many games I see these days that make me think “I wish we’d made that”, but 10000000 is definitely one of them because it has a great twist I haven’t seen before (Match 3 meets Dungeon Crawl RPG), great convenience (instantly familiar in its Match 3 mechanic, but strategically deep in its RPG elements), and great feel (all the critical bits of the product are nicely polished to an appropriate level of finish and the rough bits don’t get in the way of making you feel good). My only gripe with the game is that I was able to rinse it too quickly – I want to keep playing, but it needs to give me more to do. So I’m looking forward to 10000001.
New Star Soccer was a revelation for me, because it’s exactly the kind of football game I love (as a non-football person) but that people stopped making after about 1986. Football Manager and Championship Manager are too much like simulations for me, but New Star Soccer gets me feeling like a champion footballer without all the tedious detail that turns my experience of console football games from feeling like fun into feeling like work.
And Diablo 3… what can I say? As a self-confessed Diablo fan-boy I’ve been looking forward to this for a decade, so it was always going to be difficult for it to deliver. It actually does a pretty good job of copying the surface layer of what I enjoy about the Diablo universe, and I really enjoyed my first play-through; it’s the longevity that’s lacking. The ability to reallocate skills at any point mean that every character build feels the same, and that undermines what kept me revisiting D2 from time-to-time for many, many years. I hope they fix it, but I suspect they won’t. I’ll probably just have to wait for D4 in 2022.
As a player, Journey wins hands down. A genuinely beautiful, enchanting and exhilarating experience from start to finish.
As a maker, Journey wins hands down. The beauty of the world, the subtlety of the storytelling, the surprise and delight of multiplayer; Journey is a bar-raising lesson in crafting a truly meaningful shared experience.
I think everyone fondly daydreams about the end of the world and if you’re looking to walk virtually for an hour having achieved nothing and finally bleed to death in a bush then DayZ is the game for you.
It’s daring, it’s different and it lets you play as a small, yapping dog from the start which is funny and fulfilling in equal measures.
The Wii U is delightfully unique and I’m like a happy little boy clapping his hands with glee when I think of what it might deliver in 2013. But despite the joyous novelty and quality of that pair of beauties, it’s actually Beat the Beat on Yii Olde Wii that gets my Cheer of the Year. It’s a compendium of kerazy – it makes you do the strangest things to a beat – and it can be bladder-bursting funny at times but above all it’s superfun to play.Sometimes it’s so blisteringly fast that you have to trust the beat to win, which feels strangely cool and leaves you feeling extra awesome with a cheery cherry on top. Someday soon music videos will be made this way.
There is only one answer for me this year, with a game I was sure I would never play: utterly put off by the notion of old-school difficulty, obscure mechanisms and a dreary game world. But when I finally snapped and took a risk on Dark Souls, I uncovered a game that is not only my game of the year but easily one of my favourites of all time.
Dark Souls is hard, yes, but never cheap. It is mysterious, but deliberately so — it’s excellent story told through play and exploration. The setting is as cohesive as it is expansive; each place in the open world of Lordran connected and ingeniously overlapping as it unfurls before you and your hard-earned progress. There are wondrous sights and deeply unsettling ones, and each place delights and surprises. After two decades of Hyrule and Brinstar, Rapture and wolf-crossed Nippon, this is the best gameworld I have ever had the joy of traversing.
I can’t possibly do it justice in the space I have here — the rich and groundbreaking online-yet-singleplayer aspects, the considered and varied classes, paths and new game plus options — the staggering wealth of secrets that are still being uncovered.
So I’ll finish with this: I have increasingly less and less time to devote to games. My patience has worn down considerably and the first blossoms of jaded cynicism are creeping in. And in Dark Souls I found a game that reminded me of why I play games, of times and places and mysteries of yesteryear. Every death was my own fault, and every victory is likewise wholly mine. It is difficult, but not impossible and never, ever cheap. With patience, a lit torch and some goodness-to-honest courage, Dark Souls asks you to wade into the dark and win. It’s incredible.
Honorable mentions: Tokyo Jungle, Journey.
It was a toss up between Dishonored (PS3), Tokyo Jungle, Journey and Scramble with friends.
Dishonored topped my list but only just. Overall it was a visual delight, I loved the steampunk aesthetic and thoroughly enjoyed exploring Dunwall. As a fan of stealth games this ticked all the right boxes but the one area where it fell a little short was in the narrative.
And that’s it for 2012. We’re going to be back in the New Year and bring plenty of Denki goodness your way. Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas and New Year!