GAF Games of the Year 2012 - Voting Thread, now closed. Thanks for all the fish.

1. Halo 4; Many games this year had one individual aspect that made them shine above all else. Few were generally grandiose from beginning to end. Simply, Halo 4 was the most well-rounded experience in 2012. Excellent pacing, great graphics for aging hardware, oodles of content in Spartan Ops, multiplayer and co-op and, like many other nominees, had a story with #feels, which is damn impressive for Halo.

2. Sleeping Dogs; Was gunning for the top for almost the entire year. Wei Shen is easily one of the best anti-heroes seen in gaming in a long time, and the gameplay achieves the same thing Saints Row 2 did years ago; creating the nearly-perfect marriage of every open-world concept. The city felt alive and real, the variety was splendid, the amount of options was staggering, the size was big enough to hold many features but small enough to make it relatable and memorable. Had the shooting been either toned down or spruced up, it would have taken the year.

3. The Walking Dead; I don't think there's anything I can say about this game that hasn't already been said. I'm one of the few to argue that the relative lack of different consequences actually highlights how shocking some of the moments can be, which only served to draw me into the story more. The QTEs also had a hidden edge of subversion to them, which was a far cry from the rigid Back To The Future episodes.

4. ZombiU; As I said in my review, it's not just one of the best survival horror games in ages. It's the most survival horror game in ages. It's testament to some of the hidden faculties that there's a strange irony in the system with two different screens bridging the gap between the game and the player that's long been growing in the survival horror genre. Not quite a system seller, but if you have a Wii U, no excuses.

5. Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed; Again, the developers just got off their asses and made the most competent game of their genre by actually reinventing the parts of it that didn't work. The power-ups aren't overpowered, which makes thing more fluid and fun. Surprisingly great single player career, too. They got as much variety out of it as they ever could have.

6. Rock Band Blitz; The business decisions involved with the game have seen fit to benefit the developers as opposed to the player base, which have gone so far as to effectively break the game now, so I'm more than a little annoyed at some of the creatively bankrupt decisions they've made. But I did spend over one hundred hours playing over six hundred songs, and that has to count for something. Simple, fast, frantic and arcadey fun.

7. Spec Ops: The Line; Was absolutely not fond of the gameplay in any real measure. By third-person shooter standards, Spec Ops' mechanics are below average. But the story is indeed one of the greatest of its genre, if not the greatest. It doesn't just have a moral, but a message. A testament to the artistic capability of the medium.

8. Dishonored; The only real step forward it made for the choicey-stealth genre is making different routes not as blatantly signposted as they have been in the past, and Dishonored did little more than that. But it's an unsung flaw that the genre's almost always had, and that this game managed to sidestep it against all odds is alone worthy of praise. It made the choices a lot more organic, and the gameplay felt tailor-made to the player, at least moreso than others of its ilk.

9. Katawa Shoujo; Obviously wasn't much of a game, and even by visual novel standards, the choices were trite and contrived, but the story contained therein was worthy of anyone's time. The prior trepidation wasn't without due cause, but story was tasteful, heartfelt, involving and moving. Music wasn't bad, either.

10. Ratchet & Clank: Full Frontal Assault; Tower defence has always been a pretty limited genre in my experience, but this Ratchet & Clank got as much out of it as it possibly could have. It was very short, but it continued to show how Insomniac refuses to be complacent with its longstanding IP, a rare treat among games these days.

x. Call of Duty: Black Ops 2; The story mode, while having a great villain, shows how tired the set-up is by this point, as does the multiplayer. But at least we still have those zombies. Tranzit was a great way to shake the formula up.

x. The Darkness 2; It was way too short, the graphics were indeed too colourful, I don't remember the villain's name despite the fact that I remember his aesthetic design and even the gameplay started to get old by the finish line, but the way the game forces you to mix up Darkness powers and gunplay created a need for spatial awareness, which encapsulated a great mix between fun and challenge.


On the whole, not really a fan of this year, especially not compared to 2011 and 2010.
 
1. The Walking Dead ; gave me the feels, which is rare for any game. Story was engaging, my blood was pumping and I regret a few decisions. Please next time make decisions more relevant to the end game.

2. FarCry3 ; didn't like the second but this one managed to hook me with interesting missions and a world full of meaningful things to do (not just explore for the sake of graphics).

3. Sleeping Dogs ; great flow, interesting open-world and fun overall.

4. Ringdom Rush ; "Oh My God, I can't stop"- blast from years past.

5. Resonance ; a great point and click game that managed to bring something modern in a pure old-school experience.

6. Dishonored ; a fun FPS turned godly with a trainer (infinite Blink).

7. Max Payne ; great graphics and gameplay, boring frustrating storyline.
 
Far cry 3 definitely has the best solo experience to domain all games in 2012. Its hunting system is even better than RDR. Another thing causes me to vote for it is that the assassination gameplay makes it a perfect one.

btw, Halo 4 is the 2nd nomination just because it's a HALO game lol.
 
Here we go.


1. New Super Mario Bros. U; I'm going to admit it: I didn't expect this to take my GOTY. Mario is my favorite series, but after being disappointed with NSMB2 and blown away by the freshness of SMB3DLand, so I wondered what NSMBU could offer. It is definitely familiar, but also daring and innovative in many aspects. The levels can be brutally challenging and really make you rethink how you play Mario. The challenges are also surprising and will test even the most experience Mario fans. The Miiverse integration is the most creative and interesting use of online features since Dark Souls. This game is not the definition of innovation, but it is the definition of fun.


2. Sleeping Dogs; Open world games are a dime a dozen this gen, but Sleeping Dogs sets itself apart by not doing anything completely different, but perfecting what you expect from these titles. The big change, the melee focused combat, is a fantastic change of pace from the gun-focused open world crime titles. Sleeping Dogs does have quite a bit of gunplay, but it's fast paced and intense since it takes a back seat to the simplistic yet satisfying melee combat. The Hong Kong setting is such a refreshing change from the cookie cutter New York clones. The story, while somewhat by the numbers, is filled with a lot of interesting and memorable characters. Wei Shen is definitely the protagonist of the year.


3. Guild Wars 2; The MMO game for people who hate MMOs. It brazenly throws away so many tropes or reinvents them, which makes for a very unique and unforgettable experience. If you leveled up a character from one to eighty and then quit forever, you will still feel satisfied. A lot of the games problems kick in post-80, which a lot of MMO fans will scoff at, but the experience of building your character for the first time is worth the price.


4. Pokemon Conquest; Easily the most underrated game in the year. What is a simplistic SRPG on the surface turns into something that is completely addicting and filled with content. As an aficionado of this period of Japanese history, I admit that the crossover fanservice left me extremely giddy. I also think it has possibly one of the most epic final boss battles in all of gaming in terms of story relevance. While it may not be as complex as Fire Emblem or as rich as Final Fantasy Tactics, it still does a lot of really interesting things that will still engage you.


5. Crusader Kings II; Paradox makes some of the deepest and impenetrable strategy games you can imagine. I was completely lost in Europa Universalis III, so I expected to be equally dumbfounded here. CKII streamlines a lot of aspects without dumbing it down. The focus on actual characters instead of just chunks on a map really make you invested in what happens. It's like you're watching an epic history right before your eyes. It can still be quite dense with medieval terminology, but anyone who loves making your own history would love this game.


6. Chivalry: Medieval Warfare; Anyone who wants a multiplayer combat game but are bored senseless at looking at the back of an assault rifle needs to try this game. Making a multiplayer melee combat game is pretty challenging, but Chivalry manages to succeed by making combat pretty simple with enough twists to make it skill based. The maps are all wildly different from each other, and the sheer brutality really makes you glad that you were not sent to the vanguard in medieval Europe.


7. Dishonored; This game takes so many things, both in gameplay and in story, shoves it in a blender, and turns it up on high. The strange, gooey result is actually pretty tasty. The game boasts about how open it is, and I found myself surprised at how many options I had at my disposal. Often times I found routes I could have taken or events I could have taken advantage of well after the fact, which made me wonder what my limits were. Not a fan of the morality system, but whether you got full-fledge combat or sneak around, it's thrilling to play.


8. Theatrhythm Final Fantasy; I'm not the biggest fan of rhythm games, mostly because I'm terrible at them. Theatrhythm is a rhythm game at its core, but the RPG aspect interests those who get a bit tired from hitting dots all day and the soundtrack is unparalleled. It is a huge fanservice project for Final Fantasy fans, and I was impressed by the production values. FFXIII cutscenes on my 3DS? That's something I didn't expect.


9. Torchlight II; This game has an absurd amount of loot. I don't want to say TOO much loot... but a ridiculous amount. Exploring every nook and cranny is actually worth it. The gameplay is fast and you feel like your attacks are powerful, even when you are vastly overwhelmed. I also love the art style, it looks smooth and has great readability. It's also a wonderful game to play with friends, until they attack the dynamite crates and you die.

10. FTL; Stardate: 2012. Having barely escaped the mantis sector, the crew's morale is low. Marlene, the slug who mans the engines, keeps saying we don't have enough fuel for five jumps and desperately says I need to sell my droid parts. But without the droids, we're done for! Maybe if we go this way we can find a sto-oh god people just warped to my ship WHY ARE THE DOOR CONTROLS ON FIRE SOMEBODY PLE-

FTL is a game where you lose repeatedly, but you don't feel upset, even when your stocked crew disappears in seemingly moments. Every game is a new adventure, one that is thrilling, scary, and funny all at the same time. It's a great pick up and play game, but you need to take a breather after a crushing defeat.

Those are my current top ten. I missed a lot of games this year, especially on 3DS. There's always next year I suppose.
 

jj984jj

He's a pretty swell guy in my books anyway.
1. XCOM: Enemy Unknown ; You can modernize a franchise without turning it into a FPS and this is the best example of how to do just that. This is what 2K should have been pushing from the very beginning, Firaxis did a fantastic job of remaking and modernizing a different kind of turn based strategy game while achieving something just as addictive as Civilization. This game has that connection you make with your characters due to a level of risk involved in your actions that is rarely seen in big modern games. Unfortunately the game was buggy, but that doesn't keep it from being my GotY 2012.
2. Ys Origin
3. Growlanser: Wayfarer of Time
4. FTL: Faster Than Light
5. Tales of Graces f
6. The Darkness II
7. Dishonored
8. Borderlands 2
9. Dragon's Dogma
10. Sleeping Dogs

x. Darksiders II
x. Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning
x. Rhythm Heaven Fever
x. Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2
x. Legend of Grimrock
 
1. Journey; The most amazing emotional and artistic game I have ever had the pleasure to experience. I found it very replayable as the experience differs with every companion. I replayed it many times to get all the trophies, glyphs and symbols, and then replayed it to help other people along their Journey.

2. Xenoblade Chronicles; I think Xenoblade has managed to single-handedly revitalise the aging JRPG genre. Its such a huge game, you never feel like you have nothing to do in it.

3. Dishonored; I like Dishonored because of the choices they present to you. You can incorporate stealth, be totally stealthy, or go in with swords and guns. But there are consequences for what you decide, hence the karma system, which gives it a dynamic feel and a lot of re-playability. Love it.

4. Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition; A true test of perseverance, grit and concentration. Dark Souls is a hardcore ‘memorise and repeat’ like the old NES games of yore. This difficulty gives you a sense of achievement when you beat something significant, like a boss. Its difficulty is matched only by setting, with beautiful vistas, and a huge variety of areas to explore and die in. The Prepare to Die DLC only adds to the experience, changing the way you view the additional content while not affecting the core gameplay or experience.

5. Sleeping Dogs; Although Sleeping Dogs doesn't really innovate in the open world genre, it is a solid experience. Gun play, vehicles, melee combat, the graphics, everything looks and feels good. The storyline maybe a little cliché, but it is delivered well enough to engross you.

6. XCOM-Enemy Unknown; Although a bit of a bugfest at the moment, it is a worthy successor to the original XCOM. I have yet to attempt Impossible Ironman though.

Honourable Mentions:

Chivalry: Medieval Warfare; The combat is in your face, the put downs are funny, and the sound of your blade decapitating your opponent's head is ever so satisfying.

Natural Selection 2; This game is an asymmetrical team based game that pits you as either the aliens or marines. Marines have guns, aliens have big teeth. Aliens can walk up walls, marines get jetpacks, that kind of thing. I like the asymetrical gameplay and the constant threat of the enemy on your bases, ever while trying to expand your territories.
 
1. Xenoblade - fantastic game. I don't typically play rpgs much given the time commitment, but I put over 80 hours into this one and loved every minute of it.

2. Xcom - not as good as the original but still pretty darn entertaining

3. Walking dead - good story, characters I actually cared about, and the fact that my decisions actually made a difference (sorta).

4. Legend of grimrock - only picked this up when it was a part of the humble bundle and didn't think much of it, but once I started playing I was thoroughly engrossed. Been loving the user created levels too. I'll put many more hours into thus even after beating it.
 
1. Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward ; Excels as a storytelling experience like no other game. Has a memorable cast of characters, an intelligent story that doesn't patronize the player, a choose your own adventure structure that is itself a part of the plot, and an awesome soundtrack.

2. Hotline Miami ; The most addictive gameplay since The Binding of Isaac. Excellent music and quirky Tarantino-esque humor complement this.

3. Persona 4: The Golden ; Maybe the best game of the last generation.

4. Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition ; My best game of the current generation.
 
1.Sleeping Dogs ; Haven't had much luck with open world games like this in a long time, GTA4 was a disappointment, but this game is pure fun, the combat, humor, driving, and soundtrack are all top notch, with an interesting tory and memorable main missions to put it all together.

2.The Walking Dead ;

3.Black Ops 2 ; What can I say, it has it's problems but it's traditional COD formula always entertains for hours, and the new pick 10 system is a system I never want to leave going forward.

4.Far Cry 3 ; I'm not done yet, but exploring this jungle, hunting animals and liberating outposts is a lot of fun, and the main missions are great as well. Something I didn't expect was how great the core combat is, it never gets old, the gunplay is fun and there are enough weapons to always keep it fresh. Shame about the terrible side missions.

5.Journey ; Beautiful game.

6.The Witcher 2: Enhanced Edition ; Fun combat.

7.Dishonored ; I don't love it, it's easy and the powers are underwhelming and the game wears it's preference for stealth on it's sleeve, but it is satisfying pulling off ghost missions, and blink is great for speeding up what would normally be slowling plodding around in the shadows.

8.WWE '13 ; In a great year for gaming this wouldn't make it on the top 10 because the core wrestling gameplay is so poor compared to old Smackdown games, but playing and reliving the attitude era was enough to put it here.
 
Does anyone know the character limit for posts off the top of their head? Is it the same for PMs?

Also you guys correcting lists should just PM the dudes getting it wrong. Who knows if they will revisit this thread in time to see that message.
 
Does anyone know the character limit for posts off the top of their head? Is it the same for PMs?

Also you guys correcting lists should just PM the dudes getting it wrong. Who knows if they will revisit this thread in time to see that message.
The character limit is 24,000, quoted from the FAQ. I imagine this is the same for PMs.
 
Top 10

1. Journey ; Simply an amazing experience that is unprecedented in gaming
2. Halo 4 ; great job by 343i (SP). Not an MP player (at least right now) so I can't comment there. Amazing graphics for the Xbox 360
3. Theatrhtyhm: Final Fantasy ; awesome nostalgia ramp. Best rhythm game of the year easily
4. Borderlands 2 ; fun writing and memorable characters
5. Fez ; a zeitgeist that flew through and left. Fun while it lasted
6. Gravity Rush ; technically playing this in 2013, but it deserves a spot in my top 10
7. Mass Effect 3 ; not so much RPG any longer, but still a fun game with characters I've followed throughout. Didn't get to the (dun dun dun) ending yet however...
8. Dishonored ; Stealth reborn
9. Persona 4 Golden ; best jRPG in ages
10. Resident Evil 6 ; the series is losing its way, but it's not the trainwreck it's made out to be

Left off due to time restrictions:
Fay Cry 3 ; fist impressions were good
Dragon's Dogma ; technically messy, but again good first impressions
Super Hexagon ; was here and gone
The Walking Dead ; only finished episode 1, so I'm still missing the boat on why this is GotY by many
Sleeping Dogs ; grabbed on sale from GMG, but haven't gotten around to it yet
XCOM ; another on the pile...
 
1. Journey ; Journey is an exercise in beauty and elegance. It is indeed a simple concise game but each of the multiple run throughs had me surprised with a new detail, a new secret to find, a new companion that depending on his experience could teach me new secrets or moves or let me guide him through the world of Journey. It was a joyous game to play in each of those playthroughs. It entertained me and kept me engaged through its whole duration and excelled at it as no other game ever did before. Of course that Austin Wintory soundtrack can't be praised enough as he elevated Journey's soundtrack to the same level as any other element of the game. Journey felt to me as the most complete game that I ever played, nothing in it was superfluous, and nothing felt lacking. For that, it's the best video game that I ever played. A classic.

2. The Walking Dead ; Overwhelmingly emotional experience for me. As a father, I fell in the "mistake" of projecting my own anxieties and fears of parenthood on the bond that Lee and Clementine built during the 5 episodes. It was a moving and superbly written story. I still remember each character name, his or hers idiosyncrasies, every critical choice I made. And the ending... Heart wrenching as it was, it just felt right.

3. Hotline Miami ; Enough with these warm fuzzy feelings! Performance! Reflexes! Trance-like rhythmic fast paced arcade action: kill kill stomp stomp throw pipe slam door grab body shield grab shotgun kill kill kill kill kill kill kill. Stop. Or die. Repeat. Success! Next level. I honestly didn't care for the subtext that permeates the game trying to redeem its graphic violence. I just played it like I play Pacman. Gobble Gobble Gobble Gobble Gobble Eat fruit Run after phantom Gobble Stop. Next level. And also another game with a stellar soundtrack. Perfectly fitting the action and theme. A real standout in a year of excellent independent releases on PC. If the rumors come true, can't wait to replay it on my Vita.

4. Wipeout 2048 ; It pains me to know that this is the swan song of Studio Liverpool. It's Wipeout on the go with very little compromises. It runs beautifully, the challenge , the sense of speed, the graphics they're all part of the package, and still got the Wipeout HD+Fury content added for FREE. That's fan service right there on an already excellent game.


5. Superhexagon ; Caution! This game is evil. It plays with our brain basic tendency to recognize and learn patterns. It looks at first sight that it's a pure twitch, fast reflexes response kind of game, but it is not. It's memorization and pattern recognition first and fast reflexes response second. Is that what makes it evil? No. The game while throwing at the player its hexagonal patterns at incredible speeds, bombards him with a high bpm soundtrack and flashing almost epilepticogenic graphics so to overstimulate his brain to purposefully make him fail. To break our brain. To make it vacillate. And hesitation, or trying to check the time from the corner of the eye, or even blink, will result in failure. The almost instantaneous retry/failure system makes for a near hypnotic chain of actions in a diabolic cycle of Game Over. Repeat. Game Over. Repeat. Game Over. Repeat. Evil. My most played game on any platform this year. I'm almost embarrassed to think of the amount of hours I played of this game.

6. Darkness II ; A hidden gem. This game launched with almost zero hype and fanfare and I must admit myself that I only bought it due to the heavily discounted price that I got on PC. I can say though that it's the most fun I had with a first person shooter this generation. The darkness powers, the snake attacks and the perfect gun handling transform this game from just another linear corridor shooter, that it can be, to an almost sandbox (in mechanics and tools available to the player, not level design) experience. It even has 4 skill trees where the player can spend darkness points that can change dramatically the way he can approach each encounter. And if a game ever deserved the moniker visceral gameplay, then Darkness is the one. The gruesome executions and the snake attacks have weight and different types of enemies will react differently to them. And though everyone talks about Dishonored and Mark of the Ninja as the best stealth games in years, I feel I must include the Darkling portions of this game in that list. Really satisfying to play with him trying to sneak past the enemies and silently kill them in the most horrifying and effective way possible. I just feel that playing with Darkling should have been included in the tools available to the player instead of event triggered like it is. If that was the case, this game would jump to a much higher place in my GOTY list. Just one last sentence on the story and graphics of the game, as I really enjoyed the redemption story arc and the way it was told in an obviously graphic novel inspired way (nothing surprising considering the original source of the IP) and the graphics with beautiful cell shaded color saturated visuals with great art direction also inspired on the comics. Really top notch whole package. Please check it out if you haven't already. This game deserves more attention.

7. XCOM: Enemy Unknown ; A successful reboot. I tried to play the old series as soon as this game was announced and it was a painful experience. Couldn't get away from the infernal save-reload cycle trying to save everyone. Couldn't wrap my brain around the idea that my squad members were just another resource as money, ore, wood or influence like in other strategy games. The new one though was more gentle while keeping the tension and occasional ruthlessness that the series is famous for. High production values, great replay value even if the scenarios are not randomly generated and solid strategy/base management/combat ratio make for one of the most accomplished reboots of a cult series in the last years.

8. Persona 4 Golden ; A tour de force. I didn't play the PS2 version so I was caught by complete surprise by this game. The characters are superb, the combat is fun and deep with all the different Personas and their abbillities, the skill cards and the special combo attacks. And the setting and story are interesting and intriguing enough to push me through dozens and dozens of hours of content. Which is a rarity these days. It jumped to the top spot of JRPG of the generation for me.

9. Sleeping Dogs ; Another game that caught me by surprise. Simply put it's Yakuza HD without the fluff and with polish. I love Yakuza but Sleeping Dogs delivered on the story, the combat and on the interesting world of an exotic metropolis that I will for sure visit in my lifetime. Driving a car through the streets of Hong Kong by night with rain was a great feeling, as some of the race missions. Some weird story pacing issues apart, it was a really good take on the open world game with an interesting world to explore.

10. Endless Space ; Civilization in space. From a completely new team came this great game, with a super refined user interface that should be used as a showcase for any strategy game from now on. Everything at a distance of a few clicks of the mouse. Clean, streamlined flow of action, really great stuff. But that would be for nothing if it wasn't for the great solid game that it supports. Not so intricate as Sins of a Solar Empire or Galactic Civ, but it gave me that simple and direct one-more turn rush cycle as the Civ games did. Will keep an eye opened to this team future efforts.




Honorable Mentions:

It was really hard in some cases to chose some of the GOTY games over these ones. It was one of the best gaming years for me. And I'm still catching up on a few more titles, the most high profile one is Far Cry 3. I really pondered for a few days before settling on this final list. And if I postponed a few more days I would change one or two picks.

x. Teleglitch
x. Starsector
x. Uncharted Golden Abyss
x. Crusader Kings 2
x. Lumines Electronic Symphony
x. Hawken
x. Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion
x. Dishonored
x. The Sea Will Claim Everything
x. Tribes Ascend
x. FTL

2011. Unity of Command ; One of the best wargames of the last years to come from a completely unexpected team, 2X2, with no previous work on the genre. Another good surprise that have I found about it last year it would go to my 2011 GOTY list no doubt. It's a transparent game, with no critical action or command obfuscated from the player leaving him or her with just planning for a optimal strategy/tactic to overcome each scenario. Really refreshing and surprisingly approachable game in a dense genre that scares away the neophytes as soon as the game start screen loads.
 
1. Katawa Shoujo ; I didn't expect to like a game that 1) Was a visual novel, 2) Had an anime style, yet... Before I played Katawa Shoujo I was depressed for about 10 years. After playing it, I felt like a normal person again, learned the meaning of peace, happiness and hope. I stopped caring for people who didn't deserve it, gained some self-respect, got over the girl I had a crush on for one year, started to move on, get in shape and live for myself. No other film, novel, videogame, friend or family has ever given me such positive feelings like Lilly's route has. Also, it's free, it has some memorable characters and a great soundtrack.

2. The Walking Dead ; Some of the best writing ever found in video games. Moving story, great voice acting, tough choices, lots of tension and plot twists, good music, low price and so on and so forth. One of the most memorable games I've ever played.

3. Catherine ; (the game came out February 10, 2012 in Europe so I count it as a 2012 game) Amazing soundtrack, lovely art, interesting subject mattter (marriage vs. freedom). Bonus points for being an original game.

4. Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 ; Yearly update on the same old formula. Since Call of Duty still hasn't been topped in its category, it deserves to be in my list. At any moment of the day you can start Call of Duty, join the game and have fun for 10 minutes of 5 hours.
 
Interesting that this thread is going to end at half the pages of last year's voting thread. Guess that mandatory comment really scared people off.
Actually, I'm holding off on voting because:
a) I don't know if I want to vote because a lot of the stuff I've played this year aren't exactly "numero uno worthy" for me. I've been making a list on and off but I don't have anything to put in the #1 slot. If I do vote, the game I put there would just be there for the sake of being there. And I don't feel right about that.
b) I'm still playing some stuff. I still have to at least start Dragon's Dogma, and finish Ys Celceta and Shleepy Dawgs off.
c) looking at my list, I've noticed I put a lot of VNs/point and click adventures/puzzle games on it. :x

Some of you guys know I'll write a book anyway if I do vote, so the comment thing hasn't deterred me.
 
I don't want it to be, it looks ugly and it doesn't help readability.
That's understandable but the script cheesemeister and timetokill created won't be able to parse your post to count it. It's a compromise so your post is indeed accounted for. These guys already have tons of work you can't ask them to manually count thousands of post votes.
 
Actually, I'm holding off on voting because:
a) I don't know if I want to vote because a lot of the stuff I've played this year aren't exactly "numero uno worthy" for me. I've been making a list on and off but I don't have anything to put in the #1 slot. If I do vote, the game I put there would just be there for the sake of being there. And I don't feel right about that.
b) I'm still playing some stuff. I still have to at least start Dragon's Dogma, and finish Ys Celceta and Shleepy Dawgs off.
c) looking at my list, I've noticed I put a lot of VNs/point and click adventures/puzzle games on it. :x

Some of you guys know I'll write a book anyway if I do vote, so the comment thing hasn't deterred me.
You are not a mod anymore? Damn. I was about to ask you to pressure these guys for an extension, lol. You are not going to get far with those games in like... 3 days?

I hope you post your list. Our tastes probably couldn't be more different, but I consider it among the lists which make this thread worthwhile.
 
1. FTL ; Probably the most inspiring game I have played since Minecraft. There's no filler in this game at all yet it manages to create a lovely retro sci-fi atmosphere. The gameplay design is fresh, truly addictive and of the highest quality. A masterpiece.


2. Halo 4 ; Great campaign & MP. Graphics & Sound really stand out (shame about the awful mix which hides the great music). Prometheans have outstanding design / concept (the watcher interactions make it feel like they took elements of StarCraft 2 / RTS scene and implemented it into an fps). An interesting if not clouded story.

3. Planetside 2 ; Deserves to be on more lists but can't expect people in this laptop age to have powerful stationary PCs to run this ridiculous bastard. The (likely) PS4 launch version should probably make it list much better in the 2013 NeoGAF voting thread.

4. The Secret World ; Lovecraftian MMO. There's aspects I don't like about this game (world feels fragmented, typically funcom) but they really, really nailed the atmosphere. Characters and stories are more interesting than most sp games I have had my hands on this year. Also F2P now.
 
1. Kid Icarus Uprising ; No game this year can come close to Kid Icarus Uprising when it comes to the part that videogames should be primarily judged on: gameplay. A fantastic hybrid of genres, from shoot 'em up, to on-rails shooter, to action/rpg combat, that's deep, challenging, engaging and highly addictive. Mastering of the controls makes you feel like a ninja, dodging millions of projectiles, bombs and general attacks from an insane number of enemies, all with different behaviors. On top of the masterful gameplay, the game also excels with its presentation, with some of the most incredible graphics seen on a portable, a stunning soundtrack full of memorable pieces, and a very enjoyable story thanks to its characters and voice actors. Uprising is a true gaming classic.

2. Mass Effect 3 ; Great conclusion to the trilogy. It has the best gameplay in the series and a lot of memorable missions, such as Tuchanka and the fall of the Asari home world.

3. Persona 4 Golden ; Although I have played a couple of SMT game, this was my first time with Persona. Needless to say, this game reinforced my love for the Shin Megami Tensei franchise and its spin-offs. Addictive gameplay, interesting story, memorable music and probably the greatest cast of characters on a JRPG.

4. Dishonored ; Deserves a lot of praise for being a quality new I.P. late into this cycle. Absolutely gorgeous art-design, great level design and a fairly good story. In terms of gameplay and its game mechanics, this game is one of the best this generation.

5. Uncharted Golden Abyss ; A great game from beginning to end. It has an enjoyable story, probably the best shooting gameplay in the series and a lot of collectibles that work well for a portable game.

6. Xenoblade Chronicles ; I played 45 hours of the game but didn't finish it mainly because it was so overwhelming. Still, from what I played, it was ace. Some of the best art-direction and music I've ever heard. No game can match the sense of scale this game has.

7. The Walking Dead ; TWD is an awesome experience that deserves the recognition it gets because the story is really damn good. The atmosphere, characters and writing are top notch. I don't place it higher because the little gameplay it has is very shallow.

8. Resident Evil Revelations ; The setting is what made this game memorable. The gameplay, specially for a portable, was really well done too; a decent amount of depth and satisfying gunplay.

9. Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2 ; Just started playing this recently, and although I'm at the beginning, I'm sure it will be another excellent RPG, plus I loved the first game.

10. WipEout 2048 ; It was the first wipEout game I've played and I was impressed by it. The graphics still blow me away, and the soundtrack kicks ass. I enjoy the visual style and the gameplay is fast, challenging and fluid. After the DLC it got, the game became even better.
 
1. The Walking Dead ; The Walking Dead is a deeply flawed game, however it was also a very emotional one and honestly I rate very highly a game that manages to affect me emotionaly. Lee and Clem were very well written and I cared deeply for them in the 10+ hours the adventure lasted, if it wasn't for them The Walking Dead wouldn't have been the same.



2. Journey


3. Spec Ops: The Line


4. Dear Esther


5. FTL: Faster Than Light


6. Hotline Miami


7. Sleeping Dogs


8. Botanicula


9. Black Mesa


10. Mass Effect 3
I think it's all right and valid now? =)
 
Hmmm, this is difficult for me to say. I feel like last year would have been easy for me, but this year I dont know. I have played lots of good games, but not many things that just floored me like last year.

1. Hotline Miamil ; Very addictive and atmospheric. Like everyone else I loved the soundtrack and the strange and cloudy storyline. Lets not forget the balls to the wall murderfest action, it was wonderful.

2. Planetside 2 ; This one is a real slow burner but I continue to have fun with it. It's just a lot of fun to play with friends. To me this is the model for an MMO. The world is run and shaped completely buy the players. I really dont understand why we dont have more MMO's without WvW because it makes for such a better experience.

3. Far Cry 3 ; Just a great game to game around in. The storyline is a bit of a stretch but it has some good ideas. I am waiting for the modding scene to come into it's own a bit more before a rip through this one again.

4. Chivalry ; Like the RO2 of melee FPSs. I just want to duel people all day.

2011. Red Orchestra 2 ; I just purchased this game in December during a steam sale and have enjoyed it immensely. So Violent and difficult. Almost like the Dark Souls of multilayer FPSs. Patience, skill, and tactics are rewarded massively. The small community it has seem to be a good group of people. Pulling off a 150+ yard headshot with a bolt action rifle and iron sights feels so good.
 
Hmmm, this is difficult for me to say. I feel like last year would have been easy for me, but this year I dont know. I have played lots of good games, but not many things that just floored me like last year.

1. Hotline Miami: Very addictive and atmospheric. Like everyone else I loved the soundtrack and the strange and cloudy storyline. Lets not forget the balls to the wall murderfest action, it was wonderful.

2. Planetside 2: This one is a real slow burner but I continue to have fun with it. It's just a lot of fun to play with friends. To me this is the model for an MMO. The world is run and shaped completely buy the players. I really dont understand why we dont have more MMO's without WvW because it makes for such a better experience.

3. Far Cry 3: Just a great game to game around in. The storyline is a bit of a stretch but it has some good ideas. I am waiting for the modding scene to come into it's own a bit more before a rip through this one again.

4. LTTP Red Orchestra 2: I just purchased this game in December during a steam sale and have enjoyed it immensely. So Violent and difficult. Almost like the Dark Souls of multilayer FPSs. Patience, skill, and tactics are rewarded massively. The small community it has seem to be a good group of people. Pulling off a 150+ yard headshot with a bolt action rifle and iron sights feels so good.

5. Chivalry: Like the RO2 of melee FPSs. I just want to duel people all day.
Red Orchestra 2 is indeed a great game but it's ineligible for this year voting. You can add it at the end of your 2012 list of games as a best of 2011 game like this:

2011. Red Orchestra 2 ; [comment]
Replace your colon : in front of your games title for a semicolon ; so your vote is accounted for.
 
1. Halo 4
2. Max Payne 3
3. Far Cry 3
4. The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time 3D
5. Syndicate
6. Ninja Gaiden Sigma Plus ; My favorite game of all time and now I can take it on the go. Priceless.
7. Resident Evil: Revelations
8. Gravity Daze
9. Need for Speed: Most Wanted
10. Mass Effect 3

x. ZombiU
x. Binary Domain
x. Hawken

2011. Dark Souls
 
Red Orchestra 2 is indeed a great game but it's ineligible for this year voting. You can add it at the end of your 2012 list of games as a best of 2011 game like this:

2011. Red Orchestra 2 ; [comment]

Replace your colon : in front of your games title for a semicolon ; so your vote is accounted for.
You might want to put that in quotes. I'm not sure but the parser my interpret that as a new ballot.
 
1. Nintendo Land ; Easily the most fun I've had with a game released in 2012. It could be my game of the year for Donkey Kong Crash Course alone but this would be unfair to all of the efforts and love put in every single arcade attraction in the game. Add four people to the mix and you'll probably enjoy one of the best gaming moments of your life, at least that was the case for me.

2. The Secret World ; A unique MMO that truly sets itself from the other games of the genre. Fantastic universe, quests that are up there in quality with the best single player RPGs ones, a long and addictive story and some great dungeons. It's a shame it didn't get the attention it deserved.

3. Alan Wake (PC) ; Another game I enjoyed every single bit of. Once again it is the atmosphere and the setting that really stand out. The story kept me at the edge of my seat from start to finish.

4. The Walking Dead ; Some very good story-telling once again, the game excels at stirring up a varied set of emotions in you. This is done through a pretty good choice system and the amazing character that is Clementine. Even if your actions do not have any huge consequences on the story, you will still ask yourself every step of the way, was what I just did really okay?

5. Hotline Miami ; Amazing gameplay, great soundtrack and an intelligent critique of the use of narratives in video games.

6. XCOM: Enemy Unknown ; A pretty cool revival of the XCOM franchise which although not perfect was still a blast for me to play through.

7. FTL: Faster Than Light ; A streamlined roguelike that isn't Dungeons of Dredmor and is in space. Sold me on a genre I never had enough time to invest myself in.

8. Chivalry: Medieval Warfare ; This game gave me 1.6 vibes. I play quite a few online games with my group of friends and for it to overtake the two games right below is quite a feat. For AGATHAAAA!

9. Diablo 3 ; I give this particular game a lot of crap but the more I think about it the more I realise that it is the whole genre I have a problem with. When all is said and done though, I've still spent more than 100 hours on the game, and even though I'll probably never touch it again, it was okay while it lasted. It would have been a borefest if I did it alone but the developers deserve credit for actually making it fun for me in multiplayer.

10. Counter Strike: Global offensive ; It's far far away from the quality of a game like 1.6, and I still feel it was rushed to release and is still very far from polished. But it's still a fun game and I feel it deserves a place here in this list compared to other games I've played this year.


2011. The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings ; I played the game right after its release but I didn't get a chance to vote for it so here's my vote. I'm looking forward to the mod tools release and the amazing stuff that will, without a doubt, be made by the community.
 
Great year for downloadable titles, not so much for retail games. Wall of text approaches!

1. Super Hexagon; Occasionally, there's a game that demonstrates why gameplay is so highly regarded amongst gamers, and Super Hexagon is the best example this year. While the graphics is nothing to write home about, the pulsing colours and the excellent chiptunes combine with the crack-like gameplay to provide one of the most pure forms of gaming we've seen this decade. Then again, we are talking about a game from the maker of VVVVVV, another graphically simple game with excellent chiptunes and crack-like gameplay, so it should be expected.
2. Trials Evolution; Trials is another subscriber to the "gameplay first" philosophy, providing addicting platforming-on-a-bike action for the smart end of a decade now. However, with Evolution, they've come up with a package that's even meater than the terrific HD, and the pleasingly contact-packed-yet-cheap DLC complements a bustling editing community that has provided more quality content for free that some companies fail to do in their lifetimes. Redlynx should take a bow, and roll on the Gold version and their grand return to the PC.
3. Mark of the Ninja; Stealth games have had a crap couple of years, with Splinter Cell becoming a third person shooter and Hitman becoming Splinter Cell games with nicer suits, nobody does stealth like they used to. Enter Klei Entertainment, who used their animation skills and butter-smooth engine from the Shank games and turned it into an atmospheric stealth game where (for once) charging in fists first is a bad idea (usually because you'll resemble a colander very very quickly if you do that). Were it not for Skullgirls, it'll also be a clear winner for best 2D animation and overall 2D graphics this year, but that's a debate I'll leave for someone else to have. Long enough, too. Certainly, well worth it.
4. Tales From Space: Mutant Blobs Attack; Another 2D downloadable platformer, this gets my nod for Vita game of the year. Tight controls, a great sense of humour and good use of the Vita's special features which sadly got somewhat lost in the translation to the PC. This is also a pretty inventive platformer with decent puzzling, even though it's probably the easiest game on this list. Still, the charm oozes out of every pore, and it's worthy of a spot on any GotY list.
5. Thomas Was Alone; Another 2D platformer, but this focuses more on puzzles and manipulating polygons, each with special properties. For example, one floats on water (usually an insta-death pit), while one is tall and jumps really high. What really seals the deal, however, is the narration: this game is the British answer to Bastion, and it really does an excellent job of adding a big dose of personality to the game about polygons. Extremely tight controls and excellent puzzles contribute to make this the dark horse of 2012, and recommended with any gamer with a PC.
6. FTL: Faster Than Light; The first Kickstarted game to make any waves outside of the site, this game demonstrates that the roguelike genre really needs a new name. Randomiser? Church of Nuffle? Regardless, this game, like Binding of Issac before it, demonstrated how randomisation can improve what seems on first impression to be a fairly dry game. This is helped by the intuitive and hands-on nature of the gameplay, where you'll be ordering your crew around RTS-style and attempting to repair your ship, fight off boarders and remember to fire at the enemy ship. However, this is a game that's certainly not afraid to turn around and kick your ass, but hey: losing is fun in this game, and that's a mark of a quality product.
7. Gravity Rush; It's been a fairly dreadful year for games released on discs, with most releases being annual updates of popular franchises, and innovation being shelved until the new generation of consoles in 2014. However, there was a new console, and with it this burst of fresh air. An incredible art style paired with a great gameplay hook gave the Vita its first great original game IMO (I'm not too fond of Uncharted GA, hence its omission from the list). The story is pretty good, the soundtrack is excellent, the Vita got to show off all of its controls, Kat is frankly adorable, and I actually quite liked the combat. However, the best thing about it was that it was a breath of fresh air in a market that frankly is a bit turgid outside of the downloadable arena. Not that you'd notice, since it's in PlayStation Plus and so you have no excuse (other than not having a memory card, which makes you a fool) to not try it out. I won't say it's worth buying a Vita on its own, but combined with Playstation Plus and the PSP's impressive back catalogue (not to mention the best PS1 emulation on any handheld to date) the Vita is certainly worth a look at its current bomba pricing.
8. Hotline Miami; There seems to be a trend of "gameplay first", and Hotline Miami is another excellent example of placing gameplay on a high pedestal. On an equally high pedestal is the sheer style of the game, with the game having hands down the best soundtrack of any game this year. However, the vicious gameplay takes the lead, with it's addictive everyone-dies-with-one-strong-hit properties and instant restarts makes it inevitable that you'll be trying again and again until you execute the perfect run through a floor, and the feeling is exhilarating. So, why is it down in the lower half of the list? In a word: bugs. It's a pretty unstable game, and I found myself stuck underneath the floor depressingly regularly, forcing a restart of the entire level. That was enough to knock it down to the bottom half of this list, but like everything else on this list it's a game I wouldn't hesitate to recommend to everyone (even those who, like me, upgraded to Windows 8, which seems to be where most of the problem are coming from).
9. Ys Origin; For most PSP owners, Ys need no introduction, with the series being some of the highlights of the platform. However, for everyone else, an introduction is probably required. Hence the series eased (oh look, a pun!) it's way onto Steam with Oath of Felghana, a great game in its own right. However, it's Origin that get's a spot, but virtue of a few things. For example, multiple characters, each with their unique play-style. Less downtime between dungeons, since the tower is just one giant dungeon. The plot is pretty good too, and differs noticeably between characters. Gameplay, however, is the best bullet-point: extremely tight controls, great combat, good puzzles and some absolutely fiendish boss battles. Ultimately, however, I think this game is worth representation because it's a game that, were it not for Xseed's decision to enter the PC gaming pool, it would have remained a game known only by hardcore Ys fans, and that would it be a tragic shame. Seriously, it's an awesome game and as with every one of my list, well worth a purchase.
10. Forza Horizon; Rounding out the top ten is this demonstration of teaching old franchises new tricks. Moving Forza's excellent racing gameplay out of the track and into an open world was an inspired choice that shone throughout the entire singleplayer game. The small fact that it also squeezed every last drop of graphical power out of the 360 is just gravy for the great racing action. Plus, for a though-bred racing game it also had some excellent diversions in the form of the upgrade signs system, quick-travel events and the Showcase events. I suppose the thing I liked most about it was the open world nature and the varied terrain enabled a very wide variety of tracks, from technical loops around towns to blasts down wide-open highways and everything in between. The downside: the DLC scheme struck me as a bit offensive, and the multiplayer is sadly not very good, especially compared to Most Wanted 2012. Still, the single player package out of the disc is excellent stuff, and worthy of this last spot on my list.

2011. Rayman Origins; Yeah, it's the Vita version, but putting the impeccable port aside for one moment, this is an extremely high quality platformer that finally showed there was such a thing as A Good Rayman Game. Seriously, the controls were sublime, the graphics SCREAMED JOY IN YOUR FACE, the levels plentiful and those damn chests entertainingly difficult to catch. Well worth grabbing on any format (except the 3DS, that's the port that's crap), and should be pretty cheap these days to boot. Just get it!

x. Motorstorm RC; Occasionally, there's an idea for a spin-off that's really, really good. Motorstorm! Except with remote controlled cars! Great idea for a game, but I get the feeling that the execution could have been a bit better. Still, I had a ton of fun, and for the price it's worth a spot on my list.
x. They Bleed Pixels; It's a 2d platformer, with an excellent soundtrack and good combat mechanics. However, atheistically it's a bit meh, and the levels aren't the best (although the checkpoint system is a great idea). Overall, again, I had fun with the game, and it's fairly cheap, so it gets a spot on my list.
x. Velocity; A shump of sorts, with a good hook in the teleportation system. That said, the game felt a bit dry, and the levels eventually turn into maze-like complexes of having to hit the correct switch in the correct order, and then I reached the stage where I had to grind through the previous levels getting perfects and speed-runs in order to continue, which isn't great. Still, for the money, it's a cheap and cheerful burst of fun.
x. Sound Shapes; Points for a decent concept (a platformer where music is made through collecting mcguffins and the platforms and the enemies and the...) and points for some decent beats, but the game was *really* short and quite a few of the levels were disappointing. Still, worthwhile, although out of all the games on the list I think this is the least value for money.

And there we are. I've deliberately excluded games I haven't played yet, so stuff like Virtue's Last Reward (which I have and will have to wait until I beat 999) and Persona 4 Gold (which isn't out in Europe until Feburary) will have to wait until next year's ballot. Still, that's my vote, so feel free to insult me for producing a wall of text and wasting a good 90 minutes over it.
 
In this thread I realize I passed up on 90% of the games I wanted to try/play this year (I'll get to them later in 2013). When my backlog and Dota 2 are already taking most of my time, I don't need to buy games day one anymore.

1. Tekken Tag Tournament 2 ; This is the best Tekken game to date, with a perfectly balanced game and perfect online, it's a dream come true. It delivered big time.
2. Ys Origin ; One of the best Action-RPG I ever played, a fantastic surprise.
3. Ys: The Oath in Felghana (PC) ; I'm officially a fan of the series. I can't decide which one between Oath and Origin is the best.
4. Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP (PC) ; A beautiful and immersive experience. Short and sweet (and right to the point). We need more games like that.
5. Half Minute Hero: Super Mega Neo Climax Ultimate Boy (PC) ; It's not just a fun parodic take on jRPGs, it is genuinely a good game. The fast paced gameplay feels nice and snappy. The characters you meet and the places you go to are memorable and fun. It does feel like quite the adventure, and with multiple paths too.
6. Final Fantasy XIII-2 ; It's an OK rpg with a completely retarded story and no real overworld, but it was still more fun than most games this year.
7. Dark Souls (PC) ; Both extremely frustrating and rewarding. I have a twisted love/hate relationship toward this game. I know some design choices are totally asinine and yet I couldn't stop trying to beat it.

2011. Batman Arkham City ; Since Dota 2 was in beta it won't count, so Batman will do nicely instead.
 
Red Orchestra 2 is indeed a great game but it's ineligible for this year voting. You can add it at the end of your 2012 list of games as a best of 2011 game like this:

Replace your colon : in front of your games title for a semicolon ; so your vote is accounted for.
Thanks, fixing it up now.
 

Stumpokapow

listen to the mad man
I have the same problem as Dark Schala. I won't be posting a conventional top 10 ballot this year, because that's not the kind of year it's been. I'll just be talking about some games I played and liked this year.

You are not a mod anymore? Damn. I was about to ask you to pressure these guys for an extension, lol. You are not going to get far with those games in like... 3 days?
You're confusing Dark Schala with either Red Scarlet (similar names) or Aeana, who is still a mod. I do think Dark Schala would make an excellent mod, though. :p
 
Okay, felt like participating for real this year, mainly since I have a game of the year that was legit exciting for me so let’s get this started. Not really worried about my vote counting so no need for formatting warnings from all the helpful watchdogs, I’m just trying to have some fun here. Gonna spend a lot of time blabbing about aesthetics so if Riposte wants to roll his eyes, too late, preempted! Only number 1 and 2 are ordered, everything else is random.

5. Botanicula; This is the screenshot that sold me on the game. Amanita gets me.



4. Rhythm Heaven Fever; the tension of going for perfects remains excellent, even if the overall game felt a little by the numbers (yes, even golf ball hurling baboons can eventually feel by the numbers sadly).



3. Qasir al-Wasat; I was introduced to this in the Games Nobody Played thread, I’ll just copy over the post I saw and my response to the demo since it's reflective of the whole game.
Qasir Al-Wasat
Metal Gear meets Muramasa meets 1001 Nights.
Play it, it's great (and while you're at it, vote for it on Greenlight).

randomkid said:
Just took a break from playing the surprisingly lengthy and generous demo (is there a way to save??? in the laboratory right now puzzling out a recipe for a sulphur bomb). 12th century Syria, Goetia demons, fun risk-reward stealth mechanics (blood splatter ruins invisibility!), fonts that reflect characterization, accurate calligraphy, thoughtful sound design, stylish as all get out ... why exactly is this game not on those indie tastemaker lists at the very least? Really really glad you posted this, best choice in this thread as far as I can tell.
The only thing I disliked was the goofy looking main character, who funnily enough is supposed to be invisible. Everything’s forgiven though thanks to designed for me non-Orientalist visuals and that lovely haze effect, sort of described here by the Brazilian developers.

In Qasir, we test an approach for representing his perception of our world through the graphics and sounds. Everything that he considers weaker than him are represented in a less realistic way.
Please note also that unlike their website, the game itself is very nicely written, try the demo at the very least.

2. Gravity Rush; Apparently the way for me to enjoy open world games is to make the open world a Moebius inspired dreamscape. The game’s solution for minimal draw distance is inspiring.



And the soundscape is just as pretty. Here's Gravity Rush doing “sad music” perfectly.
Recollection
Just gorgeous.

I have nothing new to say about how amazing travel feels but unlike everyone else I thought pacing and variety held up through all but the last couple missions, which were unfortunately designed in a way to accentuate combat drudgery. Still, the overall achievement is worth very glowing praise. I feel kinda bad for poor Assassin’s Creed Liberation though, not a good idea on my part to try it out at the same time since New Orleans and Aveline suffered unfairly in comparison to Hekesville and Kat.

...

And now, the undisputed game of the year. I’ve said this elsewhere, but it's a game with an enthralling atmosphere that comments movingly on companionship and the cyclical nature of life through spare storytelling, where the mechanics support the themes in elegant ways and the soundtrack elevates the experience. Absolutely unforgettable and a clear triumph.



...




...







1. Tokyo Jungle; WHAT!

Unlike that other downloadable PSN game that’s getting all the attention, here’s something that deserves more thoughtful thinkpieces. The first thing I want to talk about is the OST, which certain people think didn't fit. These dummies need to think harder! A less smart developer would have used something LOLWACKY like butt rock or metal but the folks behind Tokyo Jungle know that playing everything straight makes the joke that much better.

The soundtrack actually recalls a kind of PSX-era futurism, managing the neat trick of sounding simultaneously nostalgic and forward looking. This is nicely reflected in the game itself, which marries rock-solid arcade principles of yesteryear with very in vogue social elements (specifically, a design built for opportunities to share what we now call “emergent stories” of surviving golden retriever hordes in sewers). Also: there’s hope for the future in the past, OH MAN that’s the plot of the game too, it’s all coming together, audioludonarrative resonance haha.

I love that the design of the game stresses survival mode as the main event (with an atmospheric locale that avoids the problems of randomly generated environments) but also provides a very nicely staged non-throwaway story mode. You can see that “rules of the jungle” and the corresponding fight or flight responses are suited perfectly for the snap decision making built into the structure of a roguelike. Also, pay attention to the way each animal’s dash works, or the lengths of particular eating animations, there’s a thoughtfulness hidden in the details of the game’s ecology that makes everything feel right. Combat becomes very satisfying when you learn about right stick cancel, but I still preferred the tension of stealth, so herbivore was the first path I maxed out (OK, I’ll be honest, the real reason was that I desperately needed to get to hippo as soon as possible).

So yes, the soundtrack, the oppressive atmosphere, the amoral cruelty, the spare and understated cutscenes, in a very Kimura-like way, the director understands that the best way to sell the joke is to have tosas in tophats battling viciously with crocodiles at a noble bear’s request. Maybe a direct quote would be helpful: “It's the opposite of real people in games doing corny, goofy things... we have little goofy guys doing very serious things.”

Little goofy guys doing very serious things: Tokyo Jungle is the Game of the Year.



Notable Mentions

x. Journey; It’s fun to make fun of all those breathless Journey raves, but the game is pretty nicely done in the end. Here’s a review for Journey I posted about an hour after beating it on launch day. I think I really nailed it! Isn’t it weird how you can personally like a game just fine and yet find yourself sympathizing more with posts from all the haterz? Let’s call it the Xenoblade effect.

x. Dokuro; The Magic Obelisk was the best thing Wiiware had to offer and here we’ve got a worthy followup from the same folks. In a genre as saturated as puzzle-platformer, Dokuro was doing something right to keep me playing all the way through. Lengthy (maybe even too lengthy?), lots of ideas, cool bosses, altogether lovely. Listen to Ghaleon on this one.

x. Kirby’s Dream Collection; A quick shout out to this very loving tribute, the Dreamland games were all new to me and the Twinkle Popo art in the manual is magical.

x. Frobisher Says; Had fun with this, “Squash the Toffs” was my favorite and single-handedly justifies rear touch.

x. Sword and Sworcery EP; Problematic, but the Scythian stuff hits one of my weakspots and I loved the Prettiest Weed as much as everyone else did.

x. Asura’s Wrath; My buddy wrote the Buddhist’s Guide to Asura’s Wrath so I watched the whole thing on my TV (mythology weakness again, what can I say). Cyber Connect trying to redeem the QTE is very interesting to me, even if the demo was enough for me to get the point. I liked that DLC final boss.

As for games I didn’t get to, Theatrhythm remains sealed until a better 3DS XL deal arrives, Aero Porter will be my first eShop download, Rhythm Thief and Paper Mario are likely pickups even if I’ve heard about problems, and I need to make the time for Hotline Miami and Wipeout 2048.

Overall, I’m down with the consensus opinion that this is one of the worst years for games in recent memory, even considering my ultra-narrow taste, but I think where I differ from everyone is that I’m totally cool with that! No angry rants or bitter depression here, my backlog reached critical mass this year so it’s all good. And even though there wasn’t a single game in my favorite genre for me to personally enjoy, it seems like that was just a fluke: delays for Ni no Kuni, Soul Hackers and South Park (and to be fair, punch in the gut cancellations for Grand Knights History and Eternal Punishment). Still drowning in games though, still having fun and still looking forward to 2013 so that’s what’s up.