Favorite Games of 2012

I’m probably forgetting something, but if so I’ll update later. These are the video games that gave me my favorite experiences this year, certainly not in any order. There are a lot of noteworthy games I played and respect this year – like Fez, Spelunky, Walking Dead, Soundshapes, Quantum Conundrum, or Mark of the Ninja – but this is meant to be a list reflective of my own finicky tastes, as a player, not a “best” game list. For me, this list represents the most powerful interactive experiences I had this year, emotionally or intellectually.
  • FTL: For giving us emergent stories to tell; a lovingly crafted setting; for enabling players to explore systems. (Give us a persistent campaign!)
  • Journey: Transcendent, soulful, and aesthetically unified; for the music, art, movement, experience; for cleverly eliminating channels of Internet communication that might mar otherwise beautiful social encounters.
  • XCOM: An update on a personal favorite; I stopped after losing all my friends in Iron Man mode, which is a testiment to the finality of the associated feelings.
  • God of Blades: Such a lovingly-crafted world; the innovation of the “library unlock” feature; great environmental art; an earnest homage to a much-loved literary mileau; for reminding people that Elric was cool.
  • Far Cry 3: For letting me play at my own pace, an high or low drama as I want; being attacked by an alligator; killing a shark with an AK-47; fleeing enemies and using a tiger to get them off my tail.
  • Borderlands 2: Game systems that keep players moving, exploiting, reacting tactically; co-op fun with my wife; noteworthy art style and humor.
  • Waking Mars: The “action gardening” game, taking the path less followed; for allowing players to screw themselves by creating their own incredibly-difficult emergent problems; gorgeous alien landscapes.
  • 10000000: Always felt like a problem to be solved, in a good way; for having an actual ending; some part of me finished there, telling a story and mastering the hostiles of the world.
  • Cyberqueen: For deconstructing power fantasy; lovingly reminding me of System Shock, one of my favorite games of all time; for expanding the narrowly defined boundaries of video game subject matter; for excellent writing and a cutting sense of humor(?).


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