On The Year’s Best Games

gamesoftheyearI’ve no doubt you have already looked at plenty of “best games of 2012” lists, and I’m sure you’re just as tired as I am of seeing a the same games in different orders. Now, Diablo III, Assassin’s Creed III, Mass Effect III, Far Cry III, Max Payine III, Halo IV, XCom, The Walking Dead, and Dishonored all have their merits. Well, maybe not Diablo III. But it seems to me that journalists should expand their perceptions beyond the horizons and consider titles that are new and innovative instead of the same old games that won “best game” previously +1. Certainly, Dishonored and The Walking Dead deserves to be in any top games of 2012 list, and while I wasn’t a big fan of XCom I can see why some find it a solid game. As far as all the sequels that keep popping up in these lists are concerned, I found them to be great games, but they were nothing more than “more of the same”. At times I even felt as if I was actually playing just extra stages of the previous title (Halo IV).

And so, in this list of “best” videogames of 2012, instead of repeating a justification of why Mass Effect III is awesome (it is), I’m going to give you some recommendations of awesome games you should have tried but probably didn’t.

Also, I’m aware that I put an image of Catherine, a 2011 game, on the image above. I also know it came out last year. But hey, I got it this year and it came out on Europe earlier this year, so meh.

Catherine (X360, PS3)

You probably heard something about this game, but never gave it a chance because it didn’t have a number next to the name. Catherine is a puzzle RPG game where the player takes control of an unremarkable Vincent. Vincent is being pushed into marriage by his long time girlfriend Catherine, and one night – in his despair – decides to hook up with a random stranger in the local bar. The game is twofold. In the bar you control Vincent as he lives out his mundane life of meeting with friends and talking about work. Your conversation choices and the texts you send your girlfriend Catherine influence the outcome of the game. When Vincent goes to sleep, he finds himself climbing a tower to escape the nightmares that haunt him. As far as the narrative, it is incredibly mature and compelling. As far as the puzzle games, they are challenging and engaging. If you haven’t given Catherine a try yet, you should.

Journey (PSN)

If some of the lists you have read have more than 10 titles, you probably remember the name of this one as it’s constantly ranked “top 25”, which is a complete injustice. Journey is a great game in which the player takes control of a pilgrim. The artistry of the game is lovely, and the emotional bond created between the player and the character assures that the experience is memorable.

Gravity Rush (PSVita)

You probably heard this title mentioned briefly when it came out, then forgot about it. Gravity Rush puts the player in control of a character who has the ability of controlling gravity. The way this is manifested in the game, of course, is by shifting the entire world. If you have a PSVita, make sure to give this one a try.

Dust:  An Elysian Tail (XBLArcade)

In this game the player takes control of Dust, a character with the soul of an assassin and an innocent boy, who is trust into a war between two different races. Although the mechanics aren’t new or innovative, it is one of the best MetroidVania-inspired titles of the year.

To The Moon (PC)

This game has hands-down the most compelling story of any indie game this year. The player takes control of two doctors who, by altering the memories of the customers, give their clients a fake memory of their last wish. In this game, they go into the memories of their client to make him remember having gone to the moon. Of course, there are plot twists in this science fiction romance that will make even the most stone-hearted individual shed a tear.

Yes, the title was made in RPG Maker, and the graphics are reminiscent of Final Fantasy VI, but the way I see it, a good game is a good game regardless of the engine it was created in – and To The Moon is a great game indeed.

Papo & Yo (PSN)

I previously wrote a review of this title. Papo & Yo is a great title that story wise is representative of a young boy’s struggle with his dad’s alcoholism problem and that mechanics-wise is a great puzzle-adventure title where the player must advance by manipulating the environment. Go give it a try.

I should hasten to add that while I have not played them, I’m looking forward to playing Spec Ops: The Line (X360) and Unfinished Swan (PSN), and that every single list out there is correct in saying that Dishonored )PS3) and The Walking Dead (XBLArcade / PSN) are amazing, but you’ve been told that already.

As far as The Sequels are concerned, play them. They’re great and they have a lot to offer (I’m partial towards Mass Effect III and Assassin’s Creed III), but also be sure to give the titles I mentioned above a try. You will not regret it.


About Quijano

Johansen Quijano is a professor of English in The University of Texas at Arlington, where he is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in English. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in the Teaching of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), a Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Development focusing on TESOL, and a Master’s Degree in English Literature. He has published and presented on a variety of topics including video game studies, popular culture studies, education, teaching methodology, language acquisition, romantic poetry, and victorian literature. His research interests include the above-mentioned topics, narrative, interactivity, simulation, new media in general, and 18th century literature. He also enjoys creative writing (fiction, historical fiction, and poetry), and reading all kinds of epic literary works - from the Epic Poem of Gilgamesh to Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series.

Posted on December 17, 2012, in Video Game Commentary and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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