As the year draws to a close, I think back to this year in gam­ing.  It’s been a pret­ty inter­est­ing year and there have been some great games and a few bum­mer titles.  Stuff like indie Kick­starter fund­ing and the release of the Wii U con­tin­ue to dri­ve the indus­try fur­ther and open up new pos­si­bil­i­ties for the future of the industry.

Ben's 2012 pic

At the risk of being a lit­tle cliché, I’ve put togeth­er a top ten list of my favorite games from this year.  If you don’t see your favorite up here, bear in mind that this is just my per­son­al opin­ion and I’m only includ­ing games that I had the chance to play from start to fin­ish this year.  So, if I failed to include a game you think is pret­ty amaz­ing, it’s not because I hate it, it’s more like­ly that I didn’t play it this year.

The first sec­tion I’ll list off a few games that I enjoyed, but didn’t man­age to finish.

Honorable Mentions:

I tru­ly feel ter­ri­ble that I haven’t take the time to fin­ish this list of games: Mass Effect 3, Fez, Mark of the Nin­ja and Zero Escape: Virtue’s Last Reward.  Each and every one of these games have received enough play­time from me to know that they’re some­thing spe­cial, but I haven’t come close enough to fin­ish­ing them to feel right about their inclu­sion in my offi­cial top ten for this year.  That being said, I still want­ed to give each of these games their props and let you know that they’re all worth playing.

10. Theatrhythm Final Fantasy

To be hon­est, the first time I saw this game, I thought it looked pret­ty dumb.  The rhythm game genre has been pret­ty thor­ough­ly explored and I wasn’t inter­est­ed in play­ing along to sil­ly remakes of songs from the Final Fan­ta­sy series.  The way that they man­aged to include some RPG ele­ments and the sheer amount of con­tent they end­ed up jam­ming in there was down­right impres­sive.  Cou­ple that with them using noth­ing but the orig­i­nal tracks from the games and you’ve got a great entry for my top ten of the year.

9. Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack

When­ev­er any new con­sole launch­es, you can always count on there to be a lack of real­ly good games to play.  In that time for the PS Vita, I decid­ed to take a risk on a down­load­able title called Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack.  As I very quick­ly dis­cov­ered, I had stum­bled upon the best game that sys­tem had to offer at the time.  This game takes the Vita and man­ages to use the var­i­ous fea­tures the sys­tem has in smart and non-over­bear­ing ways to offer a fun plat­form­ing expe­ri­ence.  The game also has a great sense of humor to keep you pulled in the world and play­ing more.

8. Dishonored

One of the best things about play­ing video games is the abil­i­ty to dis­ap­pear into a whole oth­er world.  No oth­er game on this list did a bet­ter job of putting togeth­er a unique and inter­est­ing world to explore.  The abil­i­ties they give you then take the expe­ri­ence to the next lev­el and make your jaunt through the city streets of Dun­wall all the more fun.  They even take the time to include a huge amount of extra read­able con­tent that you can pick up and even fur­ther flesh out the world.  While the game tends to strong­ly nudge you in a par­tic­u­lar direc­tion, it’s also a great chal­lenge to try to not kill any­one and I ton of fun to use your pow­ers to slaugh­ter every­one.  There’s noth­ing dis­hon­or­able about this great game.

7. Nintendo Land

When I played this game at E3 the past cou­ple years, I knew that the Wii U was going to be a big deal.  After get­ting it home and putting it into the hands of my fam­i­ly and friends, my thoughts were con­firmed: Nin­ten­do Land is a fresh and amaz­ing local mul­ti­play­er expe­ri­ence.  Giv­ing one per­son more or dif­fer­ent infor­ma­tion than the oth­ers dur­ing a mul­ti­play­er match doesn’t sound like a huge deal, right up until you’re expe­ri­enc­ing it.  Not all of the games in this com­pi­la­tion are a hit, but the ones that are hit very hard.  This game will end up being a def­i­nite sta­ple any­time I have friends over and stands up pret­ty well on its own with the sin­gle-play­er games.

6. Journey

The video games as art argu­ment has been long and occa­sion­al­ly heat­ed, but it seems like when­ev­er this game is brought up peo­ple don’t have much of a choice but to agree.  The game is beau­ti­ful every sec­ond your tele­vi­sion has it on the screen and the sound­track can only be described as breath­tak­ing.  Even though you can make the entire jour­ney in one go, they give you plen­ty of rea­sons to go back and take anoth­er trip.  Prob­a­bly the best part of the game is the moment when you real­ize that the oth­er char­ac­ter run­ning around in the envi­ron­ment is a real per­son.  This sub­tle mul­ti­play­er aspect, along with every­thing else men­tioned, makes this one of my favorite games of this year.

5. Gravity Rush

It is a hor­ri­ble shame that this game did not come out for the PS Vita right at launch.  Launch­ing play­ers into an open world where you have com­plete con­trol over the forces of grav­i­ty was an exhil­a­rat­ing expe­ri­ence.  A huge amount of my time with this game was spent just fly­ing around the world for the fun of it.  That’s not to down­play the rest of the con­tent, because I enjoyed this game so much I actu­al­ly took the time to earn a plat­inum medal in the game.  The mis­sions, though occa­sion­al­ly a lit­tle frus­trat­ing, are tons of fun and force you to use the dif­fer­ent grav­i­ty-based abil­i­ties in ways you might not on your own.  It’s the best game for the Vita right now and Sony is offer­ing it for free as a part of PlaySta­tion Plus, so there’s no excuse to not check out this amaz­ing title.

4. Resident Evil: Revelaitons Revelations

In a year with three Res­i­dent Evil games, I nev­er would’ve called that the only good one is the one for the 3DS.  Per­haps acci­den­tal­ly aid­ed by the graph­i­cal capa­bil­i­ties of the portable sys­tem, the cramped cor­ri­dors of the S.S. Queen Zeno­bia man­age to add the ten­sion that Res­i­dent Evil fans have been clam­or­ing for since Res­i­dent Evil 4.  The game’s water effects and great-look­ing char­ac­ters and crea­tures makes for the most graph­i­cal­ly beau­ti­ful title to date on Nintendo’s hand­held con­sole.  If you’re a fan of the series and you’re des­per­ate­ly look­ing for a good game in the RE uni­verse, this one will not leave you disappointed.

3. Tokyo Jungle

It’s real­ly easy for some game devel­op­ers to play it safe and release the same game year after year with some minor improve­ments.  I have to applaud Sony for not only tak­ing the risk of devel­op­ing a game as unique as Tokyo Jun­gle, but actu­al­ly releas­ing it in Amer­i­ca.  Tokyo Jun­gle is a game that decid­ed what it want­ed to be, focused on how to do that one thing well and nailed it.  The set­up for the sto­ry is hilar­i­ous and there’s some­thing both awe­some and deeply dis­turb­ing about sur­viv­ing a post-apoc­a­lyp­tic Tokyo at all costs as a pomeran­ian.  It’s easy to lose your­self in try­ing to sur­vive and unlock­ing new ani­mals as you explore the emp­ty city.  I spent prob­a­bly more time than I should have just play­ing one more round of this amaz­ing title for sev­er­al weeks after it came out.  The tight focus of this game makes it addic­tive and easy to call one of my favorite titles this year.

2. ZombiU

In a world full of zom­bie games that have you blast­ing around blow­ing undead heads off like it’s noth­ing, it’s refresh­ing to see a game like Zom­biU.  This game slows you down and forces you to much more care­ful­ly con­sid­er each sit­u­a­tion.  I’ve nev­er been a huge fan of pur­pose­ly dif­fi­cult games, dis­re­gard­ing my soft spot for the Mega Man fran­chise, but this one man­aged to make the argu­ment in a way I could real­ly get behind.  It only takes three zom­bies before you’re run­ning a pret­ty seri­ous risk of los­ing your sur­vivor.  The abil­i­ty to then go back out and kill your­self, or one of your friends, to take back your stuff adds a great zom­bie game twist.  Cou­ple that with it being one of the first games to real­ly prove that the Wii U gamepad can be an essen­tial part of a sin­gle-play­er expe­ri­ence and you’ve got a first-per­son zom­bie sur­vival-hor­ror title that should not be missed.

1. The Walking Dead

Not in a very long time have I been as emo­tion­al­ly invest­ed in a game as I was with the series over the year.  When the first episode launched, I decid­ed to down­load the demo just to see if it was any good.  Imme­di­ate­ly after com­plet­ing the demo I ordered the sea­son pass for the game and haven’t regret­ted that deci­sion for a sec­ond since.  The game has an amaz­ing abil­i­ty to real­ly feel like you’re in con­trol of the des­tinies of the char­ac­ters in this sto­ry.  Each deci­sion you make in the game is real­ly hard to make and almost every time, no mat­ter what you do, you end up feel­ing like a hor­ri­ble per­son for those deci­sions.  I tru­ly need­ed the month-long breaks the sea­son-style release sched­ule afford­ed to recov­er from the intense events from these episodes.  No oth­er sto­ry told this year is as engag­ing and intense as the one told by Tell­tale Games.  It holds the hon­or of being one of the few games I was crazy enough to stand up and applaud in an emp­ty room.  It is eas­i­ly the best game Tell­tale has ever made and runs away as my favorite game from 2012.

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