2012 was actually a pretty good year for gaming. But, before we sign off of it completely, we should take a moment to stop and look at some games you might have missed, and that really deserve a playthrough.
There’s a lot wrong with this game. The dialogue is repetitive: “‘TIS WEAK TO FIRE!” is something you’ll hear a lot. The plot is not a model of narrative economy, aside from the finale making you wonder just how depressed the writing staff was. And it’s got distinctly Japanese quirks that are not for everybody.
But it’s a very flexible open world, more engaging, dynamic and colorful than Skyrim; decisions here matter more and their consequences are more visible. The combat is top-notch and fighting as every class is fun. And, most importantly, when you climb a huge enemy like a mountain and stab him in the heart, or cling for dear life as a dragon takes to the skies while you hack at his face, you will hear the symphonic metal solo of the gods in your head. Dragon’s Dogma, when it clicks (and it often does) is what gaming should be at its best: simultaneously thrilling and hilariously ridiculous, having you do things that are literally impossible and enjoying every minute of it.
Essentially, this is what would happen if David Lynch made a Super Nintendo game with modern technology. The basic gameplay is simple, but with a difficulty curve best defined as “brutal”. But it’s really the atmosphere that makes this game: The bright, neon colors, careful use of sound, and overall and overpowering sense of something just deeply wrong intensifies as you play, culminating in some profoundly disturbing moments that are best left discovered for yourself. Hotline Miami is a strong argument for games as art, and it’s also cheap on Steam.
The Unfinished Swan
Journey hogged all the accolades and publicity this year, but there’s no denying that when it comes to its first-party downloadable games, Sony is doing something right, embracing new takes on old genres. The Unfinished Swan is undeniably a first-person puzzle game that does things right, and it deserves a playthrough if you haven’t already.
Mark Of The Ninja
A stealth game in 2D sounds a bit goofy on paper, but if anything, it works far better than it has any right to. Taking away 3D graphics and camera concerns means the game is appealingly simple to pick up, and yet unique among platformers and challenging in its own right.
Any we missed? Let us know in the comments!