While 2012 didn“t mark the end of the human race, the release of the Wii U has made it the start of the end for the current console generation. Despite studios gearing up for the future, 2012 saw a slew of great games come out. It might not have been from cosmic destruction, but this year certainly went out with a bang.
My biggest regret, and it“s a big one, iis that I haven“t played nearly as many of this year“s releases as I should have. I“ve done GOTY lists before, but never have I wished I had more to say than I have with this year. My list is small and humble, but for those interested, these are the five releases from this year that stand above all the rest for me.
5. Legend of Grimrock
This is the odd-man-out entry on my list, being the only game that I haven“t beaten. That said, I don“t hesitate to call it one of my favorites this year. For someone unfamiliar with the old-school first-person dungeon crawler, Grimrock is a fiendishly hard and tense experience. It“s fun to play and builds a great atmosphere that, I“m not ashamed to admit, creeps me out a more than a fair deal. Challenging puzzles round out the experience, making for a game that“s definitely worth checking out if you can. Even after the main game is done, there are custom campaigns to check out on Steam Workshop. Hopefully, someday, I“ll be man enough to finish it and dig into the community content.
4. Scribblenauts Unlimited
I haven“t had much experience with the Scribblenauts franchise before, with only a little time spent with the original game. The release of Unlimited on the PC made me want to see just how far the series has come and I definitely wasn“t disappointed. It“s simple, but being able to type out the words on a keyboard makes the experience all the more enjoyable. Solving the puzzles is definitely fun, but the most enjoyable aspect is seeing just how outlandish of a solution you can get the game to accept. It“s sort of a your-mileage-may-vary affair, as you can definitely keep using the same go-to items, but those looking for a fun and imaginative game can certainly make it one.
3. Lollipop Chainsaw
Before I played Lollipop Chainsaw, I“d hesitate to call any Suda51 game good. I“ve always enjoyed what I“ve played, but none of them stood out as solid games on a fundamental level. Then Juliet came along. I“m a fan of the hack-and-slash genre in general and while Lollipop is on the simpler side of things, the presentation is top-notch. I“m also a huge fan of works that are self-aware; things that know what they“re good at and just go with it. The whole-hearted embrace of the B-Movie aesthetic is something I love and I had a blast playing through the game multiple times. It might not have the depth of something like Bayonetta, but Suda51 definitely delivered a satisfying experience. The amazing soundtrack didn“t hurt, either.
2. Persona 4 Arena
I“ve always been a casual fan of fighting games, though never have been good at them or stuck with them very long. I“d also never played a Persona game until this year, when I played through both Persona 3 Portable and Persona 4, but it“s a series that really grabbed me with its story and characters. I got Arena just expecting a simple tie-in and was blown away by the depth of the content. I easily spent 30 hours going through the story mode and enjoyed it thoroughly. Even the new character, Labrys, is a great addition to the cast and has a good backstory. On top of pleasing the Persona fan in me, it“s also an amazingly solid fighter, especially as far as netcode is concerned. Arena is definitely no cash-in on a franchise“s name and I couldn“t be happier about it.
1. Katawa Shoujo
Another first for me, this year marked the first time I tried out a visual novel. Katawa Shoujo is a game I went into with great reluctance and I was anticipating it to fail and flat-out offend. I think it“s hard not to go in with that attitude when you consider the general concept of the game and the origins of the project. Still, I started hearing many people, GP's own Marcus and Leah included, talking up the game and being genuinely pleased with it and decided to try it for myself. I“m glad I did and I“ve never been more glad to be wrong. I spent an emotional 50 hours going through all the content and was left with a great appreciation for a genre I“d never given much consideration before. It“s a wonderful, touching experience and, best of all, it“s free for you try at your leisure. Please do.
There“s still a lot I regret not having played. Looking through all these lists definitely shows just how many wonderful games came out this year. There may be some repeats and stand-out favorites, but there are also a lot of differences as well. In a year that“s been painted by analysts as bad for the industry, I think these lists definitely prove that it“s been a fantastic year for the medium.