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


Dec 22, 2008
Relatively bad year, very few masterpieces and lots of overhyped and ultimately flawed AAA games.

1. Dark Souls: Artorias of the Abyss ; Manus terrified the shit out of me, but going up against him with two other guys AND a certain NPC was my favourite gaming moment of 2012. Amazing, chaotic, tense boss fight, and the rest was fantastic too. I still find myself firing it up to help guys kill Kalameet, even months after release.

2. Oddworld: Stranger's Wrath ; Simply one of my favourite shooters ever, and now it's on a handheld. Praise be to JAW. :D

3. Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale ; Put more time into this one than any other, and with a load of people playing it at work it became a nightly obsession the way only competitive games can. Only the horrendous amount of Kratos spamming online held it back, but it was super-satisfying owning them all with the bumbling, slow-ass Sir Dan. Smash Bros. clone? I'm sorry, I must've missed the HD SSB game with silky-smooth online and an identical, free handheld version.

4. The Walking Dead ; Not a dry eye in the house at the end. Can good writing alone make GOTY material? Lee and Clementine's journey was enough to melt gamer hearts and even penetrate the horribly commercialised VGA's. I would love it if the world had more games like this.

5. Gravity Rush ; An endearing main character, a great progression of her powers, lovely music and art style, and generally just a wonderful new IP.

6. Journey ; Short and perfect, like a sonnet. Artistry, music, unbelievable graphical finesse, the merest sprinkling of multiplayer, some standout set-pieces, and a spectacular, emotionally resonant finish. In other words, everything that makes gaming great, condensed into an hour or so.

7. Final Fantasy XIII-2 ; Injected the content back into FF, a move that made me unable to put it down until getting the platinum trophy. Generally just loved all the side-questing and fragment gathering, clock puzzles aside. People cite the insane story, but much like Metal Gear, great characters you can't help but care about get you through all the Japanese craziness, and it gave us all the things XIII sorely lacked, primarily a great villain.

8. Far Cry 3 ; Hated the story and banal dubstep, but seiging bases and hunting animals was enough to make me pour hours and hours into this. Truly superb open world design. Couldn't tell you what the story was about.

9. Kingdom Hearts 3D ; Not as good as Birth By Sleep, but absolutely massive worlds and great combat/traversal. Symphony of Sorcery - probably my favourite world in the series.

10. Sleeping Dogs ; Glorious, confident open-world gaming, and a real surprise this year. Succeeds at almost every aspect.

Honourable mention 1: Assassin's Creed 3 ; Those naval battles - some of the best gaming of 2012, sitting nice and tidy in the middle of a messy game. I enjoyed Connor/Kenway's story as well as the ship parts enough to earn this a spot, but the main game was buggy and disappointing. I really wish this game was better than it was. Better luck next gen, Ubi?

(Dis)honourable mention 2: Dishonoured ; Loved most of what they were trying to do, seemed like a nice alternative to Bioshock. What held it back for me personally is...I'm just so fucking BAD at it. Every mission was a complete clusterfuck, right up until the end. Every attempt at stealth ended in chaos, and I don't know wether to blame the design or my own skill. If I was any good at it, it might've ended up high in my top ten, but my strategy for every level began as Thief, and devolved into Doom II. :( Methinks first-person stealth is NOT my forte, at least now I know. My fave thing about it was actually just pointing the Heart at people.

Game of 2011: What else but Dark Souls? Arkham City a close second.


Feb 25, 2007
Portugal, down South America way
I have two very clear games for #1 and #2..the order of the rest is not so clear to me.

1. Gravity Rush ; Ever since Portal I haven't seen such a mix of great presentation with fun, new mechanics. I love the city architecture, I often found myself just flying around, simply taking a stroll to a great soundtrack. It's so fun to fly fall around! This is a world I will want to visit from time to time; I hope one of those visits will be in a sequel. After this game my Vita purchase is justified.

2. Journey ; What a Journey indeed. It's interesting how making something uncertain and fleeting (Will I meet someone on the way? When? And how long will they stick around?) can make it that much more precious. The simple communication system available to the players also seems to evoke something basic (and ancient) about human interaction, and maintain some mystery that helps the mood immensely. The countdown to tears has ended. Journey did it.

3. Primordia ; I loved the environments, characters, story and mythos...well, the overall world. I also got strong Beneath a Steel Sky vibes, which is a very big plus. The puzzles were good and the fast travel was a godsend. Wish I had more locations to visit and backstory to learn, I really wanted to delve deeper in the world.

4. Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack! ; Very fun game with great presentation.

5. The Unfinished Swan ; The first contact with the paint mechanic was memorable (white screen waiting for you to press a button and "create" a world). Although short, it had lots of variety, never feeling dull.

6. Resonance ; It's a Sci-fi point 'n click game, what's there to hate? Good story, liked the short-term, long-term memory mechanics. Having more than one playable character also made for some good puzzles.

7. Fez ; The "base game" was already fun, the addition of "hidden meanings" gave its world a new depth, and took the game up a notch.

8. Deponia ; Fun world, fun puzzles, fun characters. Fun!

9. Botanicula ; Charming presentation, music, everything. In my eyes, not as good as Machinarium, but Amanita delivers another great experience.

10. Theatrhythm Final Fantasy ; I love Rhythm games and Final Fantasy music. Wish there were more songs in the game (not DLC).


Jun 7, 2010
Pick up the first game, the gameplay isn't that great (especially the gunplay), but the story, environment and characters are all top-notch. It adds a lot to the second game.

Either way I'm happy to see more people who've enjoyed the game. I can honestly say it's one of my favorites this generation.
Makes me hope a third game is actually made in the future.


I must do better.
May 31, 2009
1. Crusader Kings 2 ; The best parts about Crusader King II is how much fun it is to fail, to be a small insignificant player in a larger world, and to play as a real piece of shit. I can have tons fun starting as a simple count and working my way to some measure of power through whatever means I can because the focus on characters really lets you get invested in the people you interact with. I'm not pissed off at England for constantly invading; it’s those damn Godwin Kings who can’t get it through their heads that they will not take Ireland, so of course I have no problem about assassinating a two year old child if it means I can put an end to their line. I loved the first Crusader Kings and I think Paradox have done a fantastic job of expanding on what made that game great, its ability to create interesting and hilarious stories.

2. Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition ; I love that this game demands so much from you. It trusts that I'm smart enough to figure out its combat, character building, and exploration, which all have so more variety in how you approach them. Yeah it’s a terrible port of a game that came out last year, and it basically requires you to use a mod to fix basic things, but if I can vote for it I will.

3. XCOM: Enemy Unknown ; Firaxis did a fantastic job brining this classic back. It’s easy to understand, but still filled with tense strategic choices.

4. The Walking Dead ; Just a really well done story. Doesn't branch as much as I first thought, but Telltale did a great job making me care about the choices presented anyway.

5. Dishonoured ; Offers great stealth and action gameplay in a really interesting world. Incredible level design that’s fun to traverse through.

6. Torchlight 2 ; A loot game where I actually enjoyed the loot that dropped along the way.

7. FTL ; Not really sure what exactly grabbed me about this game, but it ate away plenty of hours.

8. Hotline Miami ; Looks,sounds, and plays great.

9. Legend of Grimrock ; First game of this type that I’ve ever played and I was pleasantly surprised. Decent combat with fun puzzles.

10. Tribes: Ascend ; Never played a Tribes game before, but I loved high-speed skiing.

2011. The Book of Unwritten Tales ; Picked this up solely on Kabouter’s recommendation and really enjoyed it. The puzzles aren't too convoluted, the writing and voice acting is great, and it looks amazing. I don’t play many point & click adventure games, but this was definitely one of the best modern ones I've experienced.
Apr 15, 2012
It's probably best to say what it is when PMing them, especially if either you or them ain't on-line all day what with time getting so tight. I'm not seeing anything outside of the first game's title, and I'm not even sure that's even one (and it's very meta due to which game it is).
That's why I mentioned to everyone to link their post to me if there was any confusion. Just follow what Corto said on this page and you should be good.


Feb 14, 2005
Kyoto, Japan
1. Gravity Daze ; This game perfectly recreated that dream-like state of flying, making gameplay into a state of constant lucidity. The sweeping vistas of parallel dimensions and every corner of the world are sights to behold. Falling through the city-state of Hekseville with Gravity Kat is the single best reason to own a Vita, and fully deserves a follow-up. Much more can be done with the open world presented than offering several story characters to talk to at a time and a smattering of performance challenges. With some work, a sequel could easily turn into the definitive sandbox game of the generation.
2. Journey ; Who needs 20 or 40-hour games when even a short experience can transport you to another world as fully as Journey does? In the face of desolate isolation while exploring the ruins of a lost civilization, finding a kindred traveler is a welcome sight. Austin Wintory's Grammy-nominated soundtrack is easily worth the price of admission alone -- Apotheosis gives me goosebumps every time.
3. Bravely Default: Flying Fairy ; Just when I thought Square-Enix couldn't possibly be any dumber, it goes and do something like this... and totally redeems itself! While the old-school RPG battle system is overly-orthodox Final Fantasy, the setting, art direction, characterizations, and story draw you deep into the game.
4. Wii Karaoke U ; The Japanese karaoke experience comes home for a much cheaper price than actually going out. One just has to be careful not to disturb the neighbors.
5. Theatrhythm Final Fantasy ; This spiritual successor to Ouendan successfully executes everything that a rhythm game on the 3DS should be, in spite of its disgustingly cute character designs.
6. New Super Mario Bros. U ; The breadth and depth of levels presented is on-par with Super Mario World. Buddy Play mode via the GamePad allows the holder to either help or hinder everyone else, resulting in some interesting deaths. Challenge modes are a welcome addition for veteran players.
7. Kid Icarus: Uprising ; This is an excellent revival of a classic franchise in an entirely new direction for the series, replete with fresh gameplay, new characterizations, and a running commentary reminiscent of MST3K. If it weren't for the lack of dual-analog control for left-handed players like myself, it'd rank much higher.
8. New Super Mario Bros. 2 ; While any SMB game is welcomed, New SMB is getting a bit long in the tooth. The music stubbornly refuses to be changed, and the coin-collecting gimmick wears a bit thin. It doesn't compare favorably with 2011's Super Mario 3D Land, which was a revelation for the future of Mario games.
9. Dead or Alive 5 ; While the fighting in DOA hasn't changed much over the years, this graphical upgrade is certainly admirable.
10. Nintendo Land ; After such a lackluster introduction at E3, it was in serious danger of being written-off. Fortunately, the variety and difficulty of each game packed in belies its kid-friendly packaging and will merit revisiting many times.
x. Rhythm Hunter: HarmoKnight ; The first non-Pokemon game from Game Freak in eons, HarmoKnight presents a rhythm game in the format of a platformer. While certainly a rudimentary experience, it gets the job done.
x. Time Travelers ; I'm a sucker for any time travel stories, and this visual novel hooked me with its title. Players follow the timelines of several primary characters, each thread interweaving with the others and branching or stopping based on players' choices. Not recommended without adequate knowledge of Japanese.
x. Manos: the Hands of Fate ; This is a cute 8-bit throwback on iOS devoted to recreating one of the worst movies ever made, featured on MST3K. You play as Michael, the father of a family lost on a road trip in the American southwest. Can you save your family from the polygamous cult run by Torgo and the Master? All of the memorable themes from the movie are faithfully recreated in 8-bit fashion, and the characters are instantly recognized. Fake touchscreen buttons don't do the game justice, so the PC version is recommended over the iOS.


Jun 7, 2004
Kind of hard to rank my gaming experiences this year, but here goes...

1. Journey ; Really the best co-op experience I had this gen. Played through it 3 times, each time was different, what my partner did (or didn't do!) really affected my emotions as well. Stunningly beautiful game with a great soundtrack. Another entry for the "can games be art?" debate.

2. The Last Story ; My kind of action-RPG: fast strategic battles and no annoying filler. Probably my favourite RPG this gen along with Lost Odyssey. I hope Mistwalker continues making RPGs this great.

3. FTL: Faster than Light ; I suck at this game, but I keep coming back to it. Steam says I played it for 18 hours but I've yet to beat the boss :( But I love it really. Special mention: the awesome soundtrack.

4. Dishonored ; Loved the atmosphere in this, and the heart telling you secrets about the world and the characters was one of the best storytelling mechanics in a game this year. Played through the game twice to see the two different story paths, something I don't do very often.

5. Mass Effect 3 ; Yes the ending sucked, but the 20+ hours to get to it were more than okay. I was surprised I ended up liking the multiplayer as well.

6. Dust: An Elysian Tale ; Great metroidvania style game, if you can get over the questionable artstyle there's quite a lot of fun to be had. The battle system is pretty simple, but I personally had the most fun looking for secrets. Side note: loved the nod to Castlevania by getting a "mysterious wall chicken" every time you break a wall.

7. Sleeping Dogs ; My favourite open world game this year, I loved Wei Shen (and Salty Crab!) and the combat was a lot of fun. I hope the game did well enough to warrant a sequel.

8. Virtua Fighter 5 Final Showdown ; Virtua Fighter 5 still has the best 3D fighting this gen. Beautiful game as well.

9. Tekken Tag Tournament 2 ; Fight Lab mode was disappointing, but otherwise a very solid entry in the Tekken series.

10. Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed ; I only started playing this a couple of days ago, but I can already say it's one of the best kart racers in recent years (and definitely better than Mario Kart 7). Lots of gameplay modes and stuff to unlock, and online play is solid.

Honorable mentions:

x. The Unfinished Swan ; short and beautiful.

x. Hotline Miami ; awesome soundtrack and great atmosphere, but my experience was severly hampered by bugs.

x. Far Cry 3 ; what a bipolar game: on one part you have the great hunting, exploring and stealth gameplay, but then there's also the stupid teenage dudebro story that hardly fits in with the rest. Also, Vaas is such a great villian but severely underused. Lots of missed opportunities in this game really.


Jun 23, 2009
1. Journey ; It's rare for a game to surprise you with its imaginative splendor. Journey is that game for me; a work of art that drowns itself in its minimal design. This quality carries forth into its multiplayer element, giving rise to a primitive, yet refreshing and memorable cooperative experience.
2. Far Cry 3 ;
3. Halo 4 ;
4. Dishonored ;
5. Tekken Tag Tournament 2 ; Probably the best Tekken game since the original TTT. The addition of Tag Assault brings a whole new layer of depth to an already exhaustive combat system.
6. The Walking Dead ;
7. Sound Shapes ;
8. Transformers: Fall of Cybertron ; As a long time fan of the G1 series, I found FOC to be an action-packed roller coaster ride through nostalgia. While it may not offer ground-breaking gameplay, it succeeds in remaining true to the soul of the franchise with its attention to detail and references to the source content.
9. The Unfinished Swan ;
10. Starhawk ;
May 6, 2012
San Diego, CA
1. Gravity Daze ; This game perfectly recreated that dream-like state of flying, making gameplay into a state of constant lucidity. The sweeping vistas of parallel dimensions and every corner of the world are sights to behold. Falling through the city-state of Hekseville with Gravity Kat is the single best reason to own a Vita, and fully deserves a follow-up. Much more can be done with the open world presented than offering several story characters to talk to at a time and a smattering of performance challenges. With some work, a sequel could easily turn into the definitive sandbox game of the generation.
Is calling it Gravity Daze instead of Gravity Rush gonna mess up the scoring?


Jun 7, 2010
x. Time Travelers ; I'm a sucker for any time travel stories, and this visual novel hooked me with its title. Players follow the timelines of several primary characters, each thread interweaving with the others and branching or stopping based on players' choices. Not recommended without adequate knowledge of Japanese.
I'm studying Japanese right now, and I should be on the elementary level by the end of this semester. Will I be able to enjoy this game (with a dictionary of course), or will I need to obtain an intermediate level of Japanese to really enjoy Time Travelers?


Feb 14, 2005
Kyoto, Japan
Is calling it Gravity Daze instead of Gravity Rush gonna mess up the scoring?
I'm handling the scoring, thanks.

I'm studying Japanese right now, and I should be on the elementary level by the end of this semester. Will I be able to enjoy this game (with a dictionary of course), or will I need to obtain an intermediate level of Japanese to really enjoy Time Travelers?
If you need a dictionary in your lap, you won't be able to enjoy it. It's very much story-based, and the native Japanese speech is at acting-speed. The game asks you to react quickly and answer questions within a time limit of a few seconds.


Feb 22, 2011
The problem with capping out one post and then posting a bunch in a second post is I feel like a total idiot whenever I read others' lists and am like "Oh shit, how did I forget to mention that?"


Sep 21, 2010
Papercuts, I welcome you to the club of verbosity. We better hope 2 part posts don't become the trend or this thread will get very messy next year, lol. Looks like Dark Schala decided to sneak in too.

Makes my relatively monotonous list look bad :p.
On the contrary. Your specific list allows viewers to see farther in an area of games that is often ignored. I'd be glad just to give the generalist's point of view some substance behind it.

On Binary Domain: Semblance ended up scooping me on that explanation of the dismemberment system I had planned. Which is props for him and bad on me for being so late lol.

I'm curious how well that game will do. I don't really care for the end results of the poll, but it might turn out to be a dark horse after all. It is probably would have had a very different fate if Sega had released for PC on launch (or pushed it back so they could do that) and lowered the price to a 30-40 range. What they ended up getting is a game most people bought for 20 lol. The high price with few buyers (even if the game was made cheaper) is only necessary with games with limited appeal, but I think Binary Domain has very wide appeal. I don't see why anyone who likes Gears of War wouldn't at least give it a shot and then you also have plenty of Japanese game fans who flat out avoid Gears who might up liking it anyway.

One thing I lament was how dead the multiplayer was for me. I couldn't even judge it. I heard the Versus was bad, but I bet the "Survival"/"Horde" mode could have been a lot of fun.

Didn't you feel like Far Cry 3 had rather poor progression? I certainly thought so, and that pretty much ruined the game for me.
Certainly. I was in ecstasy when I started playing (the beauty, the potential, the excitement from things like your first crocodile attack was all there), but that sank quickly as I learned the game (e.g. crocodiles are immediately killed with the QTE you get when they attack you). It is not what ruined the game for me though (or rather, was the thing that I dislike the most, since I don't feel the game is actually ruined). I think that had more to do with what you got from progression was really cool (and strong, obviously) and they didn't care to counter it very well. What you get is something to experiment in rather than using tools intelligently to survive. The ideas were there but, like I said: no commitment.

Actually if I were to pin point what was the worst thing, and nearly did ruin the game for me, was (and I've said this elsewhere) that you always felt like you were in your backyard. Clearing camps means large portions of the map were going to be safe from truly dangerous enemies (which results in a situation where doing the most fun thing in the game makes the game less fun) and fast travel allows the player to return home at any moment and refill his ammo and health. They wanted to make a scary jungle, but no... well you know.

I think where we might disagree is the "main" campaign (at least the for the first island). While a lot of them were the usual style over substance set-piece extravaganzas, I think this resulted in a nice mix for the game. An hour of Uncharted fitted and an hour of, uh... whatever game when want to compare those drug trips to in between six hours of Far Cry is fine with me. I would describe it as those eccentric highlights brightening up the rest of the game. Some of those last missions though... meh.

Even though I feel like I could write an essay on all of the things Far Cry 3 did wrong, the reason Far Cry 3 is still a runner-up because I really valued those first few hours and it is a competent game overall. Hmm, I should squeeze in that "backyard" line into its entry while I have a chance. It is kind of vague without it.

I haven't played it, but what was bad about War of the Roses?
Hmmm, there are quite a few things wrong with it, but I think the most succinct way to put it would be that you don't really feel attacks and I don't only mean that because of animations. It sort just becomes a spam fest. Meanwhile each hit in Chivalry is important and thus are all the options to increase your chances of hitting or decrease your chances of being hit. Duels can be fast and decisive or slow and grueling, either is pretty rewarding. Actually, the tone of my Chivalry entry could be interpreted as rebuke of WotR if you look hard enough. For example I mention how Team Objective is good at guiding the players. Meanwhile WotR is (or was, they might have added new modes) kind of a clusterfuck (made worse by pop-in spawning).

Yeaaaahhh!!! Reading your description kind of makes me regret giving Borderlands 2 GOTY since I think RE6 deserves as many points as it can muster. Fantastic game.
Perhaps the gif at the end my GotY list should become the de facto "I recognize that I am in the company of a rare fellow RE6 fan and wish to celebrate it" gif.

EDIT: Ah! Tain! You've made it! Let me dig in.


Sep 21, 2010
Re: Tain's list

You picking Gravity Rush makes me lament my lack of a Vita. There was a weaker part of me that was wishing it was bad so I wouldn't look like an ass for not picking one up. Everything about the game looks really appealing me though and I will play it one of these days for sure.

Sounds like VLR is a big step up from 999, at least in the area of puzzles, and the story is still crazy. That's cool, can't wait.

Even though I spent some words shitting on Far Cry 3 on this very page, I have to agree with a lot of your assessment. Like I said, there is a reason why I still honored it (and enjoyed it more than Far Cry 2 ultimately). The wild things that can happen on the road or while raiding a camp are excellent as are the mechanics behind it. Lots of very memorable moments which are being weighted against my problems that popped up over the long run.

I find it amusing all of us who really liked Resident Evil 6 felt the need to preface our choice with that fact most people are not going to/did not like it. Just one of those games, man.

I just realized Monster World IV is out in English for the first time and I've never played it... one day left... no... I can't...


Jun 22, 2004
1. Asura's Wrath; I don't care how long the game was, or whether it is considered a 'proper' game or not. I had a blast playing it and loved every moment. One of the few games were I was shouting and flailing my arm while playing, and eager to see what happens next.

2. Far Cry 3; I miss some of the stuff from FC2, but all in all, one of the most fun experiences I've had, enjoying fooling around more than the story segments, which still had their highs.

3. Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask; Sure, it's just another PL game but in 3D, but with the charming characters and story, I can't complain.

4. Rayman Origins (Vita); lovely art, unique feel and some challenging sections (the treasure chest chases come to mind).

5. Dishonored; The world felt less interactive than I had hoped, and the morality aspect was simplistic, but the game gives you the tools and let's you loose to play as you please.

6. Resident Evil Revelations; Not as old school as I had hoped, but still a captivating experience.

7. Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward; awesome game, with layers of depth. Might even be better than 999!

8. Mass Effect 3; The original ending might have destroyed everything the series had been carefully building, but the game was still a lot of fun.

9. Silent Hill: Downpour; technically flawed, but still a haunting experience.

10. Borderlands 2; a great game in co-op, but boring to play alone.


Volunteer Deputy Campaign Director, Obama for America '16
Jun 18, 2004
1. Katawa Shoujo; It's amazing how a free dating sim with fanservice sex scenes can convey so much about life, and allow one to reflect what they themselves can do to live better. It contains 5 different scenarios/story paths to go through. I can't rank these 5 scenarios. They are individually well-made, but together, the lessons they convey are so much more powerful. About overcoming your own handicaps. About friendship. About coping with loss. About living with no regrets. About life. My full comments can be read here: http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showpost.php?p=38234999&postcount=4624 PS: I'm glad to say that I've lost an additional 10 pounds and have finally gotten a car and license, though my social life is still lacking.
2. Kid Icarus Uprising ;
3. Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward ;
4. Xenoblade Chronicles ;
5. Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition ;
6. Tales of the Abyss 3DS ;
7. Pokemon Black 2 & White 2 ;
8. New Super Mario Bros U ;
9. Resident Evil Revelations ;
10. Diablo III ;


Jan 18, 2009
1. The Walking Dead; This was the game that I was most excited to get back to playing this year. The episodic format may have helped that, but whatever. The story hooked me in.

2. XCOM: Enemy Unknown; I was new to the series, and blown away by how hooked I got. The atmosphere and tension in some of the levels were great, and I was surprised how attached I became to no-name characters. The possible death of your squad was a great way to attach risk to the game without frustration. Some of the bugs on pc, however, did add frustration

3. Mass Effect 3; I recently played through the series again for a second time, and so when I reached this game I appreciated it for its ability to end the various smaller stories, and did not focus on reaching an ultimate conclusion that many found disappointing.

4. Dishonored; fun jumping around, fun plotting ways to execute orders, nicely-built world, but this game didn't stick with me once I was done

5. Far Cry 3; great world to play in, but the story is a real put-off

6. Alan Wake's American Nightmare; I loved this entry into the Alan Wake universe. Remedy nails atmosphere so well: music, visuals, and...whatever else you'd put here.

7. FTL: Faster Than Light; not really my genre of choice, but I was so happy to have kickstarted this game when I ended up sinking a huge amount of time into it.

8. Sleeping Dogs; A nice surprise

9. Halo 4; maybe a less nice surprise, but still a solid entry. Some of the sections were just so frustrating, however.

10. Spec Ops: The Line; I will admit, I enjoyed the twisted narrative. The action parts, specifically the waves of enemies, would have made me quit were the game longer

This was tougher than expected! A pretty nice year overall


May 23, 2010
1. The Walking Dead ; The Walking Dead may or may not be much of a game. Your choices may or may not have all that much of an effect on the story. I'm not sure I care, though. I played the last 3 episodes on three consecutive days, and I don't think I've ever been more excited to get home and turn on my PC. The characters are exceptional. When you absolutely hate a character, it's not because their voice actor is terrible, or the writing is awful, or because they are a walking cliche, it's because you genuinely dislike who that character is. Characters act like real people, with their own motivations, beliefs, and opinions, which is reflected in the fantastic dialogue. The season is filled with tense conversations, characters at each others throats, awful choices and depressing moments. I'm not sure if I even want to play a second season of The Walking Dead, or if I want other games to draw inspiration from it, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

2. XCOM: Enemy Unknown ;

3. Hotline Miami ; Your thoughts on Game C.

4. Planetside 2 ; Planetside 2 is large in scale almost to the point of absurdity. Each map supports up to 2000 players, resulting in some of the most impressive large scale battles I've seen in a video game. Whether you enjoy the game, will likely be down to whether or not you embrace this fact and realize that this is not just a deathmatch game. Being a part of a tank column 50 deep, or flying in one of 8 troops carriers all dropping on the same point is something that can barely even be recreated by ultra scripted moments in single player games, yet all of this is player organized.

5. Spec Ops: The Line ;

6. Chivalry: Medieval Warfare ; I love this game, period. The combat is shockingly deep. Every class of weapon in the game has it own feel and strategy required to succeed with it. It's the type of game that makes you swear on your life the weapon you keep getting killed by is overpowered, except it happens with every weapon. Some nights it happens to be an archer destroying everyone from range, other times, a knight with the two handed hammer. You aren't gaining an advantage by unlocking weapons, simply opening up new styles of play in the same way that using a different character in Street Fighter does. Certain weapons seem to counter others, but there is always a way. Not to mention, the whole thing is just goofy as hell. Your head can be chopped off, and roll down a hill while still serving as the point of view. Arms and legs can be chopped off, resulting in the black knight from The Holy Grail.

7. Sleeping Dogs ; Sleeping Dogs is the most amazingly average to above average game ever made. It's the definition of "better than the sum of its parts". I don't think there is a single aspect of the game that stands out, but every single part of it is impressively competent. The combat, the city, the shooting, the story. It's all been done better elsewhere, but I can't think of a single game that's managed to do so many different things so well. It looks gorgeous on the PC as well.

8. Far Cry 3 ; Far Cry 3 is almost tragic. The game is the result of a massive overcorrection with respect to Far Cry 2. They've managed to fix a few of the major issues with Far Cry 2, but in the process removed so many of the things that made that game unique. The Assassin's Creed philosophy of "throw a bunch of shit at the wall and hope the player likes some of it" is in full effect. It is so hilariously videogamey in contrast to reserved, harsh nature of Far Cry 2. Whereas Far Cry 2 simply created a world, established a loose objective, and let the player go find the fun, Far Cry 3 practically pleads the player to go enjoy the world. The hud is an absolute mess, failing a mission in an open world game because "you left the mission area" is utterly baffling, the crafting system seems like an excuse to force the player to interact and search out the animals in the world. It's tragic, because so much of what makes Far Cry 2 awesome is still present. If you install a mod to turn off the hud, the game looks brilliant. If you turn off the music, you can hear how great the game sounds. If you turn off the "see guys through walls" thing, it forces you to be more careful in combat and hunt by looking around and listening for the animals. I'm still having plenty of fun, but the game is just a never ending stream of caveats

9. FTL: Faster Than Light ; Without a doubt, my favorite trend of the last few years is the inclusion of roguelike or permadeath elements into seemingly unrelated genres. I don't have much else to say about FTL that hasn't already been said, but I'm glad it exists. The game suffers from a lack of variety in the encounters, which can result in repeats alarmingly soon, one of my few complaints.

10. The Witcher 2: Enhanced Edition ; I honestly wish there was one more game I enjoyed more than The Witcher 2. Its combat system is so unfortunately bad that sometimes it's hard to remember why I enjoyed the game. The targeting system is useless to the point that it felt like an actual hindrance. Fighting multiple enemies often devolves into running and diving away, recasting protection/trap spells, getting a few backstabs in, repeat. It feels heavily influenced by games like Dark Souls and Arkham Asylum, but captures none of the positive aspects of either.

This is such stark contrast with almost every other aspect of the game, that it only serves to make me dislike it more. The game looks amazing, almost every major character is well written and acted. The amount of content that you are guaranteed to miss in your first playthrough is staggering. The Witcher spits in the face of every single "choice can't actually have an effect on the story because of content generation realities" argument with a second act that can be radically different based on a single choice. Entire areas go unused, major characters disappear, you are given entirely different perspectives of a conflict. It really is fantastic sometimes.

x. Binary Domain ; Binary Domain was the single most frustrating game I've played in a long time. Every single time the game seems ready to take the step up to the next level, it rolls out a turret sequence, terrible boss fight, splits you off from the best party members, or throws in a dumb twist to the story. I was 100% on board during the first 3 hours of the game, then spent the last 6 desperately hoping the game would pull it together. It's really a shame, because the combat is well done. There are some nits to pick with certain aspects of the cover system, and the combat ranges from too hard in some early spots to absurdly easy later on when your default weapon is fully upgraded.

x. Spelunky ; I didn't play the version of Spelunky that was released this year, only the freeware version that has been available for 3-4 years. But the two versions seem so similar, and I enjoyed the game so much that I wanted it to appear on my list in some capacity. The video game world has seemingly rediscovered why certain aspects of roguelikes are so interesting in the last year or so, and Spelunky is a fantastic example of why. "Tough but fair" has become such a cliche as this point that it pains me to even use it, but there's no better way to describe Spelunky's appeal. The classic roguelike progression of "this is absolutely impossible", "I'm getting the hang of this, but it's still ridiculous", "I have become the lord of Spelunky" is in full effect. Carelessness inevitably leads to a hilarious chain reaction of arrows, enemies, and spikes.

2011. The Binding of Isaac ;


Aug 10, 2010
This year was all about story. I'm not going to say that any of the games I played this year had a particularly good story (perhaps within the medium but certainly not in general, we have a while to go) but there were a lot of moments that made me think about stories in games and where they need to start going and how they are handled.

1. XCOM: Enemy Unknown ; The absolute perfect way to update an old franchise. With love and care they kept everything that made the old games great while legitimately streamlining it (making it easier to play and not just easier in general) so that it could actually reach people who might not want to play it. It was a lot of fun and something I already know I'm going to be spending more time with.

2. Sleeping Dogs ; Surprise of the year for me. I don't like GTA, and I liked Saints Row the Third almost entirely for humorous reasons, but this game is just tons of pure unadulterated fun. Everything about it the way it handles (controller wise and story and atmosphere wise) just looks terribly clunky but everything just works so beautifully I have no clue how they did it. It would have been a massive shame if this game didn't come out.

3. Thirty Flights of Loving ; Yes you will not spend more than an hour with it, yes it only takes 10 minutes to beat, but there is no doubt in my mind that I've probably spent more time thinking about this game away from my computer than any other this year. It really changed the way I look at game stories and how they're really different from movies or books or television and makes me really excited to see how they diverge from what we see now when the medium really grows up. It'll be really painful for a lot of people but at the end of the day I only see it ending well.

4. Chivalry: Medieval Warfare ; What a dumb, dumb, dumb game, but it's so much fun! It's a return to finding those goofy half life 1 mods on server browsers and just dicking around. It's a great polished product that still seems just rough around the edges that you don't know what exactly will happen next. Playing with some friends in the general chaos was one of my favorite moments of the year. And it has a yell button.

5. Zero Escape: Virtue's Last Reward ; I also played 999 this year and followed this one up right after. Full disclosure, I haven't quite finished it yet, but I can't imagine it will make me go back and lower this game any. If anything it probably would go higher, but we'll see I guess. The care put into this insane story amazes me. And how the quality can be so high with all the nonsense... I don't get it... but I love it.

6. Nintendo Land ; You bring this over and you have an instant party. Everyone is involved and everyone loves it. It may not be better than wii sports for the average casual but for people are might be really into or just on the fringe of video games it's a massive step up. Many hours were spent yelling where Mario was or where candies were in trees and fun was had by all.

7. Hotline Miami ; Came out of nowhere. I have a massive soft spot for 80's Florida and I really like the movie Drive so this was a fever dream of pleasure for me. I'm so glad it was actually a good game as well. The violence, the colors, the story, everything fell into the right place and blew me away.

8. FTL: Faster Than Light ; Fulfills all my dreams of piloting a starship. After countless years of watching Star Trek, I finally got to live it, and boy was it stressful. I sunk so many hours into every corner of this game. I have no clue how you get so much attachment to a little group of pixels in half an hour and then be so devastated when he inevitably dies. It should probably be higher but whatever.

9. New Super Mario Bros. U ; It's Mario. It's amazing. Nothing really else to say. I'll never get sick of them, they're always great. I had a blast playing it. A lot of fun.

10. Binary Domain ; Expected nothing, instead spent a whole Saturday doing nothing but being immersed into this strange Japanese robot fever dream. I loved it. Had just the right amount of humor, and action. Was a real love letter to bad 80's movies but still had a fun game underneath.

x. Spec Ops: The Line ; Wanted to put this in my top 10, but just couldn't fit it. At the end of the day the game part of it just wasn't all the way there (you could make a pretty good argument that that was part of the point) so it got booted off just barely. Don't get me wrong still loved it, and was still part of one of many games that really interested me this year in stories that can be told through this medium.

x. Rhythm Heaven Fever ; I just really liked it. Fun game. Wanted to give a shout out to it.

x. Miasmata ; This one pains me. I know it would have been in my top 10, if I had played it just a few hours more, but life just got in the way. It's so atmospheric and it has just enough new ideas though that it's at the top of my list to fully experience in 2013.

x. The Walking Dead ; A strange one for sure. Loved, absolutely loved, it when I played it (as soon as the episodes came out pretty much) and I've also been a big Telltale fan in the past, but slowly and surely my love of this game diminished the more I read about it and other people's experience of it. I feel it's a great game in a vacuum and it would have left a greater impression on me that way. 15, 20 years ago it would have blown me away pre-internet, but now that I can see the seams so clearly and I can decipher how easily I was tricked in the moment of having "choice" and what not it somewhat soured me on it. Part of that is easily my fault, I'll take the blame. Don't get me wrong, I've loved what I played, and I've recommended it to countless others who have also loved it, it just missed my top 10 by just a bit.

x. Asura's Wrath ; This is on here because it was such a silly ride. I couldn't help but enjoy it. Still haven't played (or watched if you prefer) the dlc which is supposed to be really good. Maybe if they port it to computer already I could replay it ;)

2011. Pushmo ; What a delightful little game. Fun puzzles and a great timewaster. Sad I didn't find it earlier.


Mar 12, 2005
Near LA, California
1. The Walking Dead ; In games, there is this moment that happens when you forget you're playing a video game. It's a rare moment, and I cherish when I'm in it (once I'm back to reality), and that's why I love WTD: it's got a ton of those. Easily one of the best storylines and pieces of writing in the video game industry, The Walking Dead left me breathless and emotional.
2. Halo 4 ; It's disappointing, but it's still great in so many areas.
3. Final Fantasy XIII-2 ; The surprise of the year. I barely liked Final Fantasy XIII, so this game was so great--music, visuals, storyline...I really liked it.
4. Dust: An Elysian Tale. I sure did love this one. It's got some problems and is generally easy, but so what? So much fun and such a beautiful game with a surprisingly decent story.
5. Dragon's Dogma ; I liked it when I played it, but the more I think about it, the more impressive it was. There were some great "aha!" moments.
6. Journey ; A great piece of art, but as a game I just didn't find it much worth talking about. Still a great, emotional, ephemeral ride.
7. Alan Wake's American Nightmare ; Good stuff.
8. Minecraft (Xbox 360 Edition) ; Addicting.
9. Fez ; Interesting.
10. Borderlands 2 ; It didn't grab me like the other one did, but it's still good.

2011. Rayman Origins ; Honestly, though, I'd change that to Dark Souls...which I played early this year and fell in love.


listen to the mad man
May 21, 2006
Sounds like VLR is a big step up from 999, at least in the area of puzzles, and the story is still crazy. That's cool, can't wait.
I am going to be a negative voice on this one; 999 is the better game in almost every respect, and while VLR has more puzzles, they mostly aren't better. Many of them are bigger and longer, but often not deeper. VLR is great, and totally worth playing, and would rank in my top 10 (near the top) if I did do a ranking this year, but 999 is the better game.

jim-jam bongs

Dec 5, 2008
Emerald City
One thing I did want to say about my votes this year is that it's the first time in the four or five years I've been on GAF that my list, while PC only, is 50/50 Japanese and Western games. It's been a really great year for Japanese studios exploring my favourite platform, which makes me extremely excited about the next few years. I don't tend to romanticise the output of Japan like many people on GAF, but I really appreciate that one of the more glaring omissions from the platform is starting to be plugged.

And I really need to get back to Ys Origin once I'm back at my house with my (non-Linux) gaming PC.


Aug 10, 2010
I am going to be a negative voice on this one; 999 is the better game in almost every respect, and while VLR has more puzzles, they mostly aren't better. Many of them are bigger and longer, but often not deeper. VLR is great, and totally worth playing, and would rank in my top 10 (near the top) if I did do a ranking this year, but 999 is the better game.
So far (and I haven't finished it yet) I would agree. It's a lot more just pattern recognition (oh you know the code because you organized it by size! Or by color!) and a lot less of actual real puzzles that take critical thinking (this is cold so you should put it somewhere hot!). I'm also not going to say that 999's were good by any mean's but they are better than what I've run into with VLR.


Jun 10, 2004
1. XCOM: Enemy Unknown ; Turn-based battles with a modern and big budget feel. Including numerous systems, numerous choices. All without being overwhelming or feeling like micro-management. In a year with many great smaller games, this one still stands tall.
2. Borderlands 2 ; More of the same is not a bad thing in a #2 sequel. Even with its issues and so-so dialog, the entertaining characters and loot galore prevail.
3. Legend of Grimrock ; Reminded me why I loved dungeon crawlers back in the day. I just wish it wasn't quite so hard.
4. FTL: Faster Than Light ; I am the greatest ship captain eve... err, goddammit. Nevermind. Let's try this again.
5. Hotline Miami ; Best soundtrack of the year hands down and showed me that 'retro' graphics can be done well. I'm having flashbacks as I type this.
6. Diablo 3 ; Good, but not great. Still much better than the hate it gets, and I had a ton of fun playing with friends.
7. The Room ; (iOS) Great atmospheric 'escape the room' type of game. Short but quite enjoyable.
8. Girls Like Robots ; (iOS) Great puzzle game, from Adult Swim no less, with a whimiscal style and enough variation to keep me playing. Girls do like robots, and pie!
9. Summoner Wars ; (iOS) Great battle/strategy board game that is the best example of async multiplayer on iOS or anywhere.
10. Super Hexagon ; (iOS) I'm worse at this than I am at FTL, but I managed to play so many 10 second games I had to include it.

2011. Deus Ex: Human Revolution ; While Portal 2 is still #1, after playing this would easily be #2 on my 2011 list. The cyperpunk world created in HR is amazing. Cool game too.


Jan 15, 2008
So I wanted to write something of decent length about each game, but I kind of ran out of time after getting somewhat carried away with a few. So here we are. Sorry about the long paragraphs, didn't want to bone up the format.

1. Xenoblade: Chronicles; Xenoblade is just a cavalcade of things I like. It has an amazing soundtrack, a crazy story full of out of nowhere yet somehow sensible twists, a delightful cast of characters, a huge and beautiful world to explore, and even giant robots. If it didn’t all come together so well I never would have played it for sixty plus hours.

2. Journey; Journey de-assified multiplayer. thatgamecompany managed to make a game that randomly drops people in from the Internet without warning as co-op buddies and it doesn’t ruin everything. The magic bullet here was getting rid of all communication except for a single button that makes a ping noise. So it turns a potential horrible person off the Internet into a nicely designed character that occasionally makes a pleasant noise to get your attention. It is when it teaches you to care about that anonymous player that the game truly shows how special it is. I have never been more concerned for the fate of a videogame character than when my anonymous friend who I had played most of my first playthrough with got totally savaged by one of the stone dragons things down in the caves. I helplessly watched it happen, and then ran over to where he or she had landed, jamming on my pinging button in such a way as to sound as concerned as possible. Because I was truly distressed by possibly losing my friend. That kind of connection made the game truly special. Also, the graphics and music are incredible. And the sandsliding sequence needs to be seen by everyone.

3. Tribes: Ascend; The freedom and speed of the movement in Tribes: Ascend made every other FPS I played this year seem boring and pedestrian. Choosing between either walking around a corner and hoping you shoot an enemy in the head before they shoot you or rocketing across the rolling hils of a map at hundreds of km/h with the flag in hand and a swarm of enemies chasing you isn’t really a choice at all. I played a ton of Tribes 2 back in the day, and Tribes: Ascend brought it all rushing back. The little touches like the important voice chat short cuts (aka V.G.S for “Shazbot!” and V.G.W for “Woohoo!”) being the same as in the original games made relearning how to play Tribes a welcoming experience. God help me, I even paid money to buy an original voice pack off their in-game store. On that note, I also really appreciated that their Free to Play style economy really doesn’t get in the way of being competitive. Anyone can pick up the base spinfusor and get their share of kills.

4. Asura’s Wrath; Asura’s Wrath has, bar none, the best singular moments and set pieces in a game this year. Any of the primary boss fights would stand as an amazing finale for some other game. But Asura’s Wrath just keeps ramping bigger and bigger. The absolutely ridiculous things and events the game was throwing on screen made me not mind at all the fact that the majority of the gameplay alternates between a merely passable third person brawler, a Panzer Dragoon-esque rail shooter and cutscenes laden with Quick Time Events that require you to hit a specific button on time or possibly die. If the Quick Time Events were done poorly the game simply wouldn’t work, but the people designing them at CyberConnect2 clearly knew what they were doing. It quickly establishes a methodology behind the QTEs so you usually won’t be surprised by the button you’ll need to hit. A strong punch is always a Y press and anything you need to do something over and over repeatedly you’ll need to press B and so on. By the end of the game they manage to do some truly innovative things with the QTEs. This game would be higher on the list if it wasn’t for the shameful decision to include the game’s True Ending in a 7 dollar downloadable pack. Though I must say, that pack is probably the best seven dollars I’ve spent this year, as the episodes contained within are probably the game’s best.

5. The Walking Dead;

6. Magic the Gathering Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013; This is likely the game I actually played the most of in 2012. This is mostly due to the fact that I really like playing Magic, both digitally and with cards, but I wouldn’t have played nearly as much of it if Wizards of the Coast hadn’t had the genius idea of putting out an iPad version. It is the perfect platform for a game like this. Too many times this year have I thought “I’ll go to sleep after just one more match.” The various decks included in the 2013 installment were very good at allowing the different styles of play that make Magic so interesting. They ran the range from aggressive decks to decks that play for the long game and win by casting crazy powerful expensive spells, my personal favorite way to play. The well put together Gamecenter support made sure human competition was always available and made spell slinging late into the night always an enjoyable time. Unless I would get mana screwed. But that’s Magic for you.

7. Halo 4;
8. Spec Ops: The Line;
9. Mass Effect 3;
10. Fez;

X.Persona 4: Golden; Persona 4 is my favorite game ever, and if I had been able to play Golden it would almost certainly be on the list, but alas.
X.Sleeping Dogs;
X. XCOM: Enemy Unknown;

Chris R

Jul 31, 2007
Anchorage Alaska
1. Borderlands 2 ; I loved the first game and this was an improvement in almost every way over the first. The game still had some flaws but it was the console game I played the most this year for a reason.
2. World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria ; A great expansion with the content added. Pandaria quests were fun, even if I only experienced the bare bones of this expansion. If I don't end up playing WoW ever again after my subscription runs out next month I will have at least left it on a high note unlike some of the other times I stopped playing.
3. Trials Evolution ; The only thing I don't care for in this game is the rather poor online versus mode implementation. But I had a blast playing when I wasn't trying to find a match against others.
4. Tales of Graces f
5. Persona 4: Golden
6. Xenoblade Chronicles
7. Stacking
8. Final Fantasy XIII-2
9. The Binding of Isaac: Wrath of the Lamb
10. Guild Wars 2

2011. The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim ; Should have played this more when I got it, but I've been having a ton of fun with it over the past few months. Still need to beat the game at some point, and I can't wait to experience the DLC in the future.


Neo Member
Aug 9, 2012

1. Journey ; A truly transcendent experience, and one that hearkened back to the magic I felt when first stepping into a fully realized video game world as a child. Journey is at once beautiful, moving, reflective, and that's just playing it solo. Add in a companion and it becomes allegorical. For striving to reach these lofty goals alone, Journey deserves to stand above its peers.

2. The Walking Dead ; For my money this has probably the most fantastic dialogue since Grim Fandango, or at least Deus Ex: HR (see LTTP). Gameplay is basically non-existent, and the overall arc of the story fails to match the vignettes from individual episodes or truly capitalize on the fullness of the characters, but The Walking Dead accomplished something that few games can these days: it kept me emotionally invested from the shocking beginning to its heartbreaking conclusion.

3. Mass Effect 3 ; The ending sucked, and honestly the rest of the journey did not really live up to the standards of either 1 or 2, but I am a unrepentant Mass Effect fanboy, so feel free to discount the rest of my list.

4. Far Cry 3 ; A beautiful and well-realized open world makes up for a mediocre single-player campaign. Add in solid gunplay, reactive wildlife, and surprisingly fun stealth elements (especially during the great Outpost segments) and Far Cry 3 is a nearly stellar product; just don't get me started on the faux Heart of Darkness plot.

5. Max Payne 3 ; I love both MP 1 and 2 unabashedly, so as a sequel I felt that Max Payne 3 failed: shoot dodging is no longer a viable option on the hardest difficulties, the game becomes a (slow motion) cover shooter towards the end no matter how hard you try, and the old school noire feel is almost completely abandoned; the ridiculously dramatic voice-over remains, but seems spectacularly out of place in sun drenched Sao Paulo. However, even I have to admit that as a stand alone game MP 3 is pretty darn good. Although cover-basedy, the shooting is very satisfying throughout, progression from location to location feels real/natural, and the soundtrack is otherworldly. The story presentation leans closer to migraine than revolution for me, but at least it was something different and didn't overstay its welcome. Did I mention that soundtrack?

6. Dishonored ; Action games that truly allow you to play them the way you want are becoming increasingly rare (see AC 3), so it was a breath of fresh air to be able to tackle challenges in a plethora of ways in Dishonored. True, I wish the levels were a little more open, and the stealth becomes quickly overpowered unless one shows strong self-restraint, but the sheer number of ways in which you could kill someone lent itself to hours of morbid enjoyment.

7. The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings ; This is a fine RPG with fun combat, a great main character and an interesting world. Unfortunately, it had the potential to be so much more. The overall plot (the most important aspect of an RPG for me) was merely okay, and had a thematically incoherent ending. Additionally, I felt the atmosphere was a step back from the Witcher 1 in terms of immersion. Ultimately however, I am glad that I played Assassins of Kings and that is the mark of a good game.

Unfortunately, these are the only experiences that I can say I enjoyed this year. Count Halo 4, Resident Evil 6, and Assassin's Creed 3 among my utter disappointments.

2011: Deus Ex: Human Revolution ; I have no idea why I didn't play this sooner. What a fantastic game. The dialogue is top notch (especially the augmentation fuelled showdowns), the plot is acceptable, and most of all the atmosphere is utterly engulfing; journeying up up up from the underground into the heights of Tai Yong Medical high-rise in Hengsha is truly one of the most memorable experiences I have ever had in gaming. Deus Ex; HR is not only my LTTP game of 2012, but my overall game of 2011.


Jan 27, 2011
The Hague, Netherlands
1. Kid Icarus: Uprising; Until the end of the year I left this game collecting dust on the shelf, but I am so glad I picked it up again. After a few straightforward initial stages the game suddenly shifted into 6th gear and kept on giving after that. With its wonderful soundtrack, colourful cast and terrific voice-overs, along with its varied gameplay, incredible amount of unlockables and amazing attention to detail, it truly feels like Nintendo created a new IP here. I hope it’s one they will explore again in the near future, more than anything it shows that with people like Sakurai on board they are still capable of creating that Nintendo-magic that got me into videogames in the first place. Pure, unadulterated fun.

2. Dark Souls: Prepare or Die Edition; This game should have been on my GOTY-list for 2011, but unfortunately after my first attempt at the game, it beat me instead. I didn’t touch it again until the PC version hit. After seeing how Durante managed fix its graphical issues , I was convinced I had to upgrade my system and jump into the world of Dark Souls one more time. And what an experience it was, a true modern classic; tight gameplay, great bossfights, tough but hardly ever unfair. It has all been said before. I’m just glad I gave it another go, on to Dark Souls II!

3. The Walking Dead; After completing The Walking Dead I was tempted to call it my GOTY. No other game has gotten this close to capturing the essence of an already established fictional universe. Most games based on franchises turn out to be an uninspired mess, or a nice title for the fans at best. But this one proved that a lot more is possible if a developer has the freedom and creativity to further explore such a pre-created universe and tell an original story instead. Arguably the most emotional experience I ever had while playing a videogame, I never grew so attached to the characters in a game. In the end Dark Souls and Kid Icarus beat it only by a small a margin, but in terms of convincing character portrayal and gripping storytelling, The Walking Dead stands lonely at the top.

4. Dishonored; This was the first game that lead me off the path of a goody-two-shoes character. While I normally prefer to sneak around enemies rather than brutally kill them off, planning and executing perfects assassinations was just too damn satisfying. Even when shit hit the fan, the powers at disposal made combat a true delight. Summon a bunch of killer rats and send them towards a group of unsuspecting foes – warp from rooftop to rooftop to get a better vantage point – slow down time – take down the remaining foes quietly from behind – relish in victory and plan the next area. I could do this for days.

5. FTL: Faster Than Light; FTL initially looked like the most boring game I’ve seen all year. However, there was one image circulating the internet that made me interested. What could possibly be so good about a spaceship-managing sim? I decided to pick it up during the Steam sale and, as it turned out, it wasn’t just good, it was one of the better games I played all year. The soundtrack was what struck me first and, together with Kid Icarus’, is one of the best I heard in 2012. Gameplay appeared a bit overwhelming at first, and I probably haven’t even scratched the surface, but a relatively short tutorial quickly made me feel like a ready and able Captain Kirk. Getting obliterated for the nth time did absolutely nothing to curb my enthusiasm. Just one more go, this time I’ll get to the next sector!

6) Mass Effect 3; It’s easy to hate on Mass Effect these days, and to some extent I do agree to the criticism it gets. More than anything , the ending was terrible and did not live up to any of the expectations Bioware built up as the series progressed. For me however, it is ultimately the ride that counts, and right up until those last 5 or 6 hours, Mass Effect 3 had been an amazing ride indeed. I cheered and almost teared up for my teammates as their personal stories came to an end. It’s almost ironic that worst story told within the Mass Effect universe ended up to be Shepard’s one. In spite of this, it’s still one of the better games I played in 2012.

7. Spec Ops: The Line – Spec Ops is an odd one. One might easily mistake it for just another shooter, and gameplay-wise it’s just that. But behind this shallow exterior lies a game that manages to portray war not as a collection of moving terrorist targets that need to be mowed down endlessly for no other reason than the glory of the USA and its allies, but one that actually criticizes and shows the horrors of war. With its strong narrative and horrifying images, it grabbed me as a player and wouldn’t let go until it was finished. It may be a short game, but it made more impact than any Call of Duty or Medal of Honor did over the last few years.

8. Okami HD; One of my all-time favourite games in full-fledged HD. I fell in love with Okami back in 2007 largely because of the beautiful artstyle. Seeing Amaterasu run through the Shinsui fields with all the perfect pencil strokes clearly visible and dancing in front of me, chills were running down my spine. I am not sure if remakes are allowed on this list, but if so, Okami HD takes a solid 8th place.

9. New Super Mario Bros 2; More of the same, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. NSMB2 is a clear improved upon the first one. And the return of both the Koopa Kids and Reznor brought a smile on my face.

10. XCOM: Enemy Unknown; Had I played this game longer, it would probably be higher on this list. The little time I did spend with it ensured it a solid 10th place. Smooth and tactical gameplay combined with a good amount of strategic depth makes XCOM a must play for anyone into this genre.

2011. Ghost Trick; When I picked this up somewhere in January I thought it would just be a simple Ace Attorney clone. How very wrong I was. The game took a hold of me and wouldn’t let go until I finished it in pretty much one sitting. The ending blew me away and in hindsight, this might even be my GOTY 2011. Sissel and Missile are amongst all-time my favourite characters.


Jun 8, 2008
1. Journey ; An audiovisual tour de force. The length is just right and the ending is sublime.
2. Super Hexagon ; A trance-like whirlpool. Terry Cavanagh has done it again. Like VVVVVV, this game is simply brilliant.
3. FTL: Faster Than Light ; A gloomy cruise. I do not have what it takes to be Commander Adama.


Mar 3, 2009
Another disappointing year for games, to a point where I felt I was getting tired of games since I was unable to play one for more than 1h without getting bored, until I played XCOM early this year and easily played it 4 hours straight until 3am. Good games will always get me hooked, shame that there aren't a lot of them nowadays...

1. XCOM: Enemy Unknown ; It's far from perfect but it's still the best game I played all year. While other games warn you that "every decision has consequences" while the real effect is no consequence at all, XCOM doesn't tell you anything but expects you to know that everything you do has a consequence. I just love feeling that constant "fear" of being wrong while making a decision either in combat or on the base, it's great to feel that my actions actually mean anything...

2. Journey ; Wondering about why it takes a lot of time climbing a sand dune, the feeling of seeing someone else on screen, not seeing them anymore and wondering if it was my fault because I went too fast and waiting 5 minutes hoping they will comeback, the trials, the communication using the most basic means, seeing the list of people and wondering who was there in some parts. That final list of people after the credits. Unforgettable experience.

3. MotorStorm: RC ; It's here because of the Vita version, it just feels perfect for that platform, because it allows for a fun 2 minutes or 2 straight hours. It's a little too hard in spots but not like Pacific Rift. The only thing missing was a better social integration to make it last for longer than just getting 3 stars on every event.

4. Syndicate ; If someone had told me while I was playing it, this would be my #4 of the year or even top 10, I would call them crazy, but now it's here. Looking back, the uniqueness of the campaign and fun coop make it stand out from the rest of the sameness. It's just a shame that the coop community died very quickly, because I could easily play some matches for a long time.

5. Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack! ; Smart and funny platform with precise controls that was actually handicapped but the crappy "Vita levels". Who wouldn't want to control a blob while turning a Vita, right?

6. Hot Shots Golf: World Invitational ; Rage inducing game that still managed to get me hooked and continue to play it, even when I was sure that I did everything right and the ball went out of bounds on Legacy Golf Links. Unfortunately the online part felt like something designed by some intern.

7. The Walking Dead ; Such a shame that the game fell apart after Episode 3, because until then it was probably my #2 game of the year. The writing of Episode 4 and 5 left a lot to be desired and the ending felt like a business decision just to make a Season 2 more easy to develop (the big reveal was the most idiotic thing I can remember in a story based game). Gameplay wise I don't mind games like this but unfortunately even the simple controls are broken. In the end it just feels like a huge missed opportunity.

8. Awesomenauts ; It's always great when a solid 7 out of 10 game manages to get in my top 10 list. While I played it for 20 hours I never felt like I knew exactly how to play it. But hey I had fun killing people with a crazy russian monkey so it's not so bad.

9. Lumines Electronic Symphony ; Fun and addictive experience that got boring after a while. For the retail price the game needed a lot more content to justify that price tag.

10. NBA 2K13 ; While I'm still waiting for 2K to copy Dynamic Season that NBA Live 10 had, I have to say they did a good job with this year game. Gameplay is a little better but the biggest improvement is that the multiplayer actually work sometimes instead of never working like in previous iterations. It's great that in 2013 I praised a game for having a multiplayer that works...

2011. Deus Ex: Human Revolution ; It would have been my #2 this year and last year as well. While it lacked more hubs and story didn't hold up very well, it was almost mind blowing to realize how much freedom it gave the player and the side stories scattered around the world.

Games that could probably end on my top 10 but I didn't played because of lack of time: Far Cry 3, Dishonored, Forza Horizon, Twisted Metal, Borderlands 2 and Max Payne 3.


Jun 14, 2011
1. Crusader Kings 2 ; As much as I enjoy strategy games CK2 is my first Paradox game and it really drew me in. Developing my Kingdom while micro-managing personal relationships, trying to breed the best possible heirs, gave the game a nice change from other strategy games I've played. The ensuing chaos that came after my current player died brought a whole slew of things to take care of as civil war wrecked my land gave all sorts of challenges, however, taking crown after crown to add to my collection was
too addicting to prevent my warring ways and continue to attempt to expand my realm. A really great time sink of a game.

2. X-COM: Enemy Unknown ; Ironman mode or bust. So heart-wrenching to lose a character so much time was spent developing, yet I was begging for another mission to keep on moving forward to what seemed like an inevitible failure. With the character progression, base building and research/equipment upgrades as well as turn-based combat with heavy reward, sacrifice and punishment aspects XCOM is easily a game I will enjoy playing even more than I already have.

3. FTL: Faster Than Light ; Absolutely love FTL. Very refined gameplay mechanics with enough variety to have me restart hundreds of times with different ships and trying out different weapons and tactics.

4. Sleeping Dogs ; Sleeping Dogs really won me over pretty quickly with the excellent voice work and characters making for a fun police drama story. Focusing on enjoyable hand-to-hand combat in an open world game really benefits it. Even though I didn't do much in terms of side content I was plenty satisfied with the main story of the game, hopefully the are able to continue with the series since it really did seperate itself from other open world games with having some seriously fun combat. The game looks gorgious on PC.

5. Spec Ops: The Line ; I really wish I had been able to go into Spec Ops without any foreknowledge of the storyline and where it was going, however, if I didn't know the game was worth experiencing for the story alone I may never have even given it the time of day. I'm really glad I did as it really does payoff, as depressing as it is, by the end of the game. A really unique experience.

6. Assassin's Creed 3 ; AC3 felt like it could have been so much more. The climbing movement felt off, the cities weren't as much fun to roam around in and the main narrative just wasn't as compelling. I'm still a sucker for this franchise, though, and even if it wasn't quite as entertaining as previous entries in the series there was still some fun to be had. Frontier stuff was alright and the boat combat was a lot of fun.

7. Mark of the Ninja ; To be honest I haven't actually played that much of this one yet, but I already know I like what I've played of it. If I had gone through the entire game it could easily be higher on the list. Really enjoy the movement and the level design. I can see why so many people speak highly of it.

8. Resonance ; I was first introduced to Wadjet Eye games during the Summer Steam sale with Gemini Rue which was also my first real point and click type adventure game and enjoyed it a good deal. So come Winter Sale time I picked up Resonance and found it to be even more entertaining than the Gemini. Resonance has a nice variety of puzzles and some well told story elements that led me to complete it in just a couple sittings. Will Definitely look out for more Wadjet games as they come on sale.

9. Botanicula ; Really love the style and music of this game. Not quite to the level of Machinarium but still really enjoyable. All the sound effects and little touches add so much charm to it, it's really a joy to play.

A couple games that I wanted to put more time into but didn't get to

x. Legend of Grimrock ; Played a couple hours and really like what it brings as an old-school type rpg. Never really had the time to play much of it unfortunately.

x. Dustforce ; Really like this platformer and wanted to play more of it but couldn't quite feel comfortable playing it on a keyboard and my controller stopped working so sadly wasn't able to get into it more.

#1 defender

Jan 19, 2010
1. Journey ; There are many games with deeper gameplay mechanics or more content, but games like this one, which make me go through a plethora of emotions within a few hours, will always stick with me the most. Journey is not only my game of the year, but one of my most memorable gaming related experiences this gen.

2. Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale ; Incredibly fun clash of Playstation franchises. I don't have a history with two thirds of the cast, but each of the characters feels distinct and makes me want to find out more about them. There is still room for improvement regarding the cast and presentation in future iterations, but the core of the game is rock solid and coupled with the wealth of small touches and references you can tell that the devs have put a lot of love into it. When playing with characters i've never cared for gives me new appreciation for them and their franchises, you know Superbot have done something very right.

3. Binary Domain ; Shooting robots hasn't been this much fun since Vanquish. Whether you're dismantling them plate by plate and limb by limb or going for that *ping* when you pop their heads, taking apart scrapheads never gets old. The campaign is very varied, constantly shaking things up with new robot designs and setpieces as you make your way through the city, and the B-Movie story and characters emit a special charm.

4. Max Payne 3 ; It's not the Max of old, but it's a very good third person shooter with immensely satisfying shooting mechanics and enemy reactions, an interesting story, great mood, presentation and soundtrack. A rare instance of a game where i have died an ungodly number of times without minding it too much, just because everything regarding shooting felt so good. It makes my heroic bloodshed loving heart beat faster.

5. Sleeping Dogs ; Hong Kong Action Cinema - The Game. While no single aspect of Sleeping Dogs is groundbreaking, it does a lot of things very well, including combat, which tends to be the weak spot in many open world games. Add to that a fresh setting, a solid story and some surprisingly likeable characters, and you have a sleeper hit on your hands.

6. Motorstorm RC ; The definition of "Just one more go!". Very addiciting game that can be played in short bursts, although it usually doesn't stop there, as trying to one up your friends will make you lose your sense of time. It's also the first Motorstorm game without rubberbanding - gasp!


Sep 21, 2010
So far (and I haven't finished it yet) I would agree. It's a lot more just pattern recognition (oh you know the code because you organized it by size! Or by color!) and a lot less of actual real puzzles that take critical thinking (this is cold so you should put it somewhere hot!). I'm also not going to say that 999's were good by any mean's but they are better than what I've run into with VLR.
Oh really? Haha, shame on me for being so excitable. In any case, I'm still looking forward to VLR.

Dark Schala

Eloquent Princess
Mar 2, 2010
The Land of Bagged Milk
Nice lists, everyone! Keep them coming!

#1 defender, you should replace those hyphens with semi-colons for your vote to be counted. EDIT: Nakayumi, same goes for your list as well.

x. Time Travelers ; I'm a sucker for any time travel stories, and this visual novel hooked me with its title. Players follow the timelines of several primary characters, each thread interweaving with the others and branching or stopping based on players' choices. Not recommended without adequate knowledge of Japanese.
I'm planning on starting this tonight (I hope, unless I change my mind quickly and start Tales of Innocence R instead). I thought the soundtrack was excellent, so I'm hoping the game itself is good. Time Travel everywhere in 2012's games, it feels like.

Dragon’s Dogma (360)
Dragon’s Dogma is a good game, and I’m really hoping it’s the start of something excellent. There’s a pretty jacked difficulty curve, unfortuntately, as it gets easier as you play, but the varied movesets between the classes and the grip system keep the combat interesting, and I hardly saw all the classes the game has to offer.​


Gravity Rush (Vita)
SCE Japan Studio/Sony Computer Entertainment
It’s amazing how long moving from point A to point B remained interesting to me while playing this game. Watching Kat fall sideways around a beautiful city set to that wonderful soundtrack is pretty much most of the game. There’s also some passable combat mixed in there as well as some excellent cutscenes with really likeable characters, but these are little bonuses peppered between all the cityscape falling.​
Great post, Tain! I wanted to comment on two of these.

I tried to start Dragon's Dogma on Sunday (I mostly play console games on the weekends because that's the only time I get enough time to do so; I'd spent a lot of time with Assassin's Creed III and in hindsight, I don't even know why I did that), but I just did not have enough time to get enough information to figure out whether or not the game was for me. It's nice to know that it gets interesting combat-wise. I think I started feeling nauseous while playing it because it was so late at night when I decided to start it and I was already exhausted.

As for Gravity Rush, it's interesting to see a different perspective on it. Gravity Rush, while I felt the visual and audio presentation of the game were excellent and that Kat was a decent character, was a game that I felt was ultimately flawed. The missions are a bit lacklustre (and since they boil down to being "here're a few missions, but you do them in different towns!", they tend to be repetitive). I also disliked the combat and some of the control schemes for the gameplay (ex: sliding). It's certainly an interesting experience, but from an input and combat standpoint, I thought it was slightly disappointing. It's a shame because the game had so much potential.

It's just like how I probably didn't throw a vote to Kid Icarus despite liking the dialogue, presentation, and characterization. While I felt that the controls were okay to deal with when I'd initially played the game, going back to the game for GotY in the last few weeks made me wonder how I got used to playing it as a left-hander. I know other lefties on GAF have said they've gotten used to the control scheme with a lot of practice, and that's alright. I just don't feel the same way.

I dated a girl with a deaf sister for a few years, and I was endlessly fascinated by how her sister had favourite bands/music, even though she couldn't hear. Really gave me some perspective. It's always neat to read people's unique personal experiences with games, though, so I'm glad you wrote this.

That being said, I'm definitely not very positive on Theatrhythm. The presentation is good, the stock song list is good, the different modes are good, but I have two major problems: The first is that the DLC pricing scheme is pretty crummy and the 3DS doesn't exactly make it convenient, and the second is that the scoring/gameplay system just doesn't work. They build up this big ado about levelling up, character equipment and skills... and then basically those only matter if you would have otherwise had a marginal pass. If you're going for optimizing your score, which is the vast majority of any rhythm game, you ignore all those systems. It's really too bad. I think the iOS version, despite having a much worse pricing model and less content, does right by excising a lot of the actual "game" from the 3DS version, which ended up being superfluous anyway. I played 20 hours and had a great time, but in retrospect it's a little bit hollow.
Thank you. Yeah, it was a surprise when I hooked my guitar up to an amp once when I was younger and my brother started touching the amp and having a laugh. I just don't want him to feel left out of things so I try to let him experience some of the same things I do, even with his various disabilities.

As for Theatrhythm, I agree. When you look at the game as something that fuels nostalgia with various modes and pieces of music involved, it's relatively decent. But if you don't buy DLC, the game ends up being slightly repetitive, and the pricing scheme isn't very enticing either. If you wanted to boost your score to an SSS rank, ignore the equipment system. It's unfortunate because the RPG mechanics seem like they should be in there considering the series that the game is a spinoff of, but ultimately, if you are pursuing the best ranks, you likely wouldn't consider equipping the skills acquired at level-ups at all since the game is balanced in that way. It's unfortunate. I like the idea of Theatrhythm. In the long run, though, I don't necessarily like the execution.

*grins* I know, right? I'm not going to pretend that it's everyone's favorite game, but it feels so well-conceived and it fills a space that nothing else has in the past few years, so I've gotten on a soapbox about how everyone should at least TRY it. And I'm glad that you got to hear the soundtrack in context! Again, it's totally "of a piece;" there's nothing out of place in the whole game, musically or otherwise.

You'll very much enjoy the endgame, so don't even fear that it drops off.
I agree with that. I've played a few puzzle-platformers in the past but they haven't exactly scratched the same itch that this one has. It's well-balanced, it's cute, it's creative, the level design is nice, and the puzzles completely work. It's such a pleasure to play, and even if I get stumped and then figure out the answer, I feel like such a fool for not realizing that I missed something in the environment that I could've used to shorten my time with a stage. Regardless, the game is designed with accessibility and challenge in mind and it balances those aspects beautifully.

As for the music, it works extremely well within context. The tempo of the composition and instrumentation fits so well in the various stages and the boss fights. I hope it keeps up towards the end.


Sep 3, 2007
1. Journey ; It's hard to write about Journey, since so much of its power is in its wordlessness. The silent, ephemeral relationships you form with your partners, the desolate desert, and your own success symbolized by nothing more than the length of your scarf fluttering behind you. Journey is stripped of every single unnecessary element until all that's left is a simple allegory for life that manages to find beauty in bleakness.

2. Fez ; The amount of sheer brain power that must have gone into Fez is amazing. It's devilish puzzle box masquerading as a love letter to old school platformers. Despite having no multiplayer at all, the worldwide collective effort to solve Fez's mysteries may have been the best multiplayer experience of the year.

3. Halo 4 ; Halo 4's greatest success is just managing to feel like Halo. The average FPS player in the post-Modern Warfare world expects something very different from what Halo was, and Halo 4 somehow manages to thread the needle of satisfying the needs of those players and still feeling like Halo. With a roster of super fun weapons and vehicles and amazing visuals, it's hard to think of much more I could have wanted from this one.

4. Mass Effect 3 ; Yeah, ME3 had a crap ending, but the 99% of the game before that was an amazing roller coaster ride. It has the best moments in the whole series and strikes a better balance between RPG depth and shooter competence than either of its predecessors. In the end, Mass Effect had me too invested in its universe for this not to show up somewhere on my list.

5. The Walking Dead ; The Walking Dead is all smoke and mirrors, convincing you you're in control when really your not, but it's actually stronger for it. It has all the storytelling strengths of a game with a set arc, while having the emotional peaks that only come when you're forced into making desperate decisions with no time to mull it over.

6. FTL ; I don't think I'm very good at FTL, but to me the game is more about the little stories I get to create in my mind while watching the tragic tale of my intrepid crew and their trusty little Kestrel. I've never been into the whole roguelike think of repeatedly playing a short, challenging, randomized game, but FTL has me coming back over and over.

7. Dishonored ; Dishonored is a fun stealth game, which is an achievement in itself. Its powers make completing your mission however you want to simple, and it's about a world based on whale oil energy, which is awesome.

8. Super Hexagon ; Most mobile game are boring grind fests or are more about tricking you into thinking you're getting better at the game when really it's all dumb luck. Super Hexagon is not that. Super Hexagon is a punishing game that's fun enough to make me want to learn to get good at it. If my self two months ago could see how I power through "hard" (i.e. easy) like its nothing now, his mind would be blown.

9. Civilization V: Gods & Kings ; Like FTL, this is a game I enjoy more for the narrative I create than the game itself. Oftentimes I find myself spending my time at work thinking about what my empire will do next when I get home.

10. Frog Fractions ; Is this even eligible? I don't know. And that's really the best summary of Frog Fractions. I don't even know.


Oct 15, 2011
We can still update our posts, correct? I made a small addition that I feel a little guilty about, but c'est la vie.


Aug 1, 2009
There are a lot of really interesting and well written lists coming in at the last minute here.

I'm biased, of course, but I'm also happy to see so many other people recognizing Spec Ops: The Line. I voted for The Walking Dead, too, but I strongly believe that Spec Ops makes better use of game mechanics in its storytelling (including its subversion of broad shooter tropes and more specific things like changes in the execution animations over time). The Walking Dead had plenty of opportunities to do similar things, like
having Lee's loss of his arm actually affect how the game played in some way
, but they never pursued them. This is part of why I think Spec Ops: The Line tells the definitive video game story, whereas the parts of The Walking Dead that I liked (particularly the central Lee/Clementine relationship) didn't necessarily leverage what's unique about this medium. I hope that some of that made sense :p


Sep 16, 2011
1. Sleeping Dogs ; To me, games are all about having fun and with SD, it's the most fun I have had in 2012.
2. Mass Effect 3 ; Even aside from the ending, it does not take away from 97% of the game being absolutely amazing.
3. Borderlands 2 ; Never played the first one, but this game is just brilliant fun, with a great story and excellent writing. Not to mention an excellent leveling system that allows you to experiment to what fits your play-style.
4. Halo 4 ; This game is a total beauty and a blast to playthrough.
5. Tekken Tag Tournament 2 ; After being a little disappointed with T6, TTT2 brings the franchise back on the right track with excellent game mechanics and excellent online infrastructure, plus one of my favorite soundtracks of the year.
6. Mark of the Ninja ; Dishonored is an alright game but it does not come even close to Mark of the Ninja. Just a brilliant stealth game that is SO EASY to get into and nailing the ninja stealth vibe.
7. Assassin's Creed 3 ; This game would have been higher in my list, were it not for the many bugs it has. I love it when games have unique gameplay in them and sailing is ones of the best gaming moments I had all year.
8. Need for Speed Most Wanted ; Criterion has done it again, great overworld with great looking cars and amazing races through exciting tracks.
9. The Witcher 2: Enhanced Edition ; An overall great game, with an excellent battle system and a world where your choices actually lead to different paths taken.
10. Dust: An Elysian Tail ; Surprise game of the year. Just finished it recently and I cannot believe I was not going to give this game a try. Great story, excellent characters, and a beautiful soundtrack.
x. Sonic and Sega All-Star Racing Transformed ; Amazing track design, along with a great soundtrack.
x. The Walking Dead ; A gripping story of surival, with a great cast of characters
x. Tales of Graces f ; Great combat system with an okay story.

2011. Deus Ex: Human Revolution ; A truly excellent world to discover with great stealth mechanics. One of my favorite games this generation.


Jun 14, 2011
There are a lot of really interesting and well written lists coming in at the last minute here.

I'm biased, of course, but I'm also happy to see so many other people recognizing Spec Ops: The Line. I voted for The Walking Dead, too, but I strongly believe that Spec Ops makes better use of game mechanics in its storytelling (including its subversion of broad shooter tropes and more specific things like changes in the execution animations over time). The Walking Dead had plenty of opportunities to do similar things, like
having Lee's loss of his arm actually affect how the game played in some way
, but they never pursued them. This is part of why I think Spec Ops: The Line tells the definitive video game story, whereas the parts of The Walking Dead that I liked (particularly the central Lee/Clementine relationship) didn't necessarily leverage what's unique about this medium. I hope that some of that made sense :p
One of my favorite things in Spec Ops was the gradual change in tone of voice the characters had in combat as the game went on. It was subtle at first but really noticeable how pissed off they by were the end. Really cool nuance to what could just be a simple detail. It really helped sell the whole experience for me.


Feb 20, 2006
1. XCOM: Enemy Unknown ; Great streamlining of the ideas of the original XCOM, resulting an immensely addictive turn based tactics/light strategy game. I really liked how threatening the aliens are and when you get used to them, new species arrive to make you miserable. I also enjoyed how you can take risks in this game, both on the tactics side and the strategy side. It’s a pity that the difficulty and the overall threat is front loaded and that the end game is a disappointment.

2. Chivalry: Medieval Warfare ; A multiplayer medieval combat game in first person that works really, really well. The melee combat system is the core of the game, where predicting and anticipating your opponents moves is vital. The devs could have stopped after designing the combat system, shipped the game with standard multi modes and they would’ve given us an impressive game. Thankfully they didn’t. First, the audiovisual feedback of the combat is great. When you hit you hear the satisfying sound of someone being slashed, bludgeoned or skewered. Killing blows can results in dismemberments and sometimes a soldier hops briefly on one leg, as if he was the Black Knight. The battleground will quickly be littered with bloody bodies, accompanied by blood gurgling sounds. Secondly, it has some very fun objective modes. On one map, the attackers first have to destroy a village, by burning down houses and killing peasants. In the next step, they have to bring a battering ram to the castle doors, while the defenders have access to ballista and pots of oil. And finally, the attackers have to kill the king, who is played by one of the defenders. And as a finishing touch, the developers have added some hilarious voice acting, resulting in charges accompanied by all kinds of battle cries.

3. FTL: Faster Than Light ; Be the commander of a spaceship, explore the galaxy while keeping your ship and crew intact. What will the next beacon be? An enemy ship, do you think you can take it? Or perhaps you’ll be lucky and get a new weapon or some alien as a crew member. But you might also get boarded by those annoying space bugs, who can dispose of your guys with ease.
The first few runs were really magical. Great music too.

4. The Walking Dead ;

5. Botanicula ; The world of Botanicula is incredibly charming, with its lovely style (though a bit inconsistent) and amazing music/sound by the band DVA. From the makers of Machinarium and Samorost, it’s lighter on puzzles than both and more about the journey, exploring the world and meeting all the different weird creatures inhabiting it. Juchu!

2011. The Binding of Isaac ; Simple, cruel in multiple ways and very addictive.


Aug 13, 2012
Dallas, TX
1. Far Cry 3; ridiculous immersion, interesting take on QTEs that didn't feel tedious, and pretty damn captivating story/skill system.

2. Pokemon White 2; After thinking that Black/White were borderline boring compared to past entries in the series, I thought White 2 was a breath of fresh air, and it was nice seeing what two generations on the same console could do for the mechanics of the game.

3. The Walking Dead; I'm an immense fan of the comics, and seeing a game based on that universe/canon alone was great. Many feels were had and I feel that the property is in good hands with Telltale. Now, the Activision shooter will surely be a different story.

4. Kid Icarus Uprising; Sakurai knocks it out of the park once again as he resurrects an NES treasure in a completely refreshing fashion. This is also coming from a left-handed person without the Circle Pad Pro. After getting used to the controls finally, I was sucked into the immaculate detail and genius writing that envelops this game.

5. Dishonored; Assassin's Creed meets Bioshock in this stealth-action game that redefined how I went about a linear level in a video game. The steampunk world was filled with intricacies that were just waiting to be found.

6. Call of Duty Black Ops II; Is it bad that I actually felt like my choices really mattered in this game? I've never been the biggest fan of the multiplayer, but the single player really stood out amongst some of the other games I had played this past year. A job well done once again by Treyarch.

7. Scribblenauts Unlimited; This is the game that we all wanted when Scribblenauts first swept E3 in 2008(?) and now we finally have it. From the creation, to the charm, to the hilarity, this game nails every bit of it. Easily one of my favorite games of the year.

8. Sleeping Dogs; Someone somewhere at Activision is hating themselves. This is a perfect blend of the insanity of Saints Row and the trials and tribulations of GTA. It's also in a setting never particularly perfected by a game.

9. Halo 4; I'll be honest. I was disappointed by Halo 4. I expected all out action, the return of the Arbiter, and a whole lot more than what I was given. But, the care taken by 343i to preserve what was great about Halo and the spectacular visuals made Halo 4 a standout game this year, and I came to terms that I was getting less of a Halo 3, and more of a Halo CE.

10. Trials Evolution; More Trials. That's all that needs to be said here. The fact that they packed it with tons of content and a level creator just sweetens the deal.

HM 1. Borderlands 2; The only reason this isn't in my top 10 list is due to me not personally owning the game and not getting enough time with it.
HM 2. Pokemon Conquest; A tactics game with Pokemon set in feudal Japan. It was just crazy enough to work.

2011. Saints Row The Third; Everything that I wanted from a followup to San Andreas came in the form of Saints Row The Third's absurdity, wackiness, and all out not-giving-a-fuck attitude. Loved every second of it.


Jul 20, 2009
1. Crusader Kings 2 ; The only Paradox game I have ever gotten deep enough into to understand, and easily the most polished Paradox game I have ever played.
2. Tekken Tag Tournament 2 ; There's so much shit to do, dozens of characters, dozens of modes, and so much customisation and shit that I don't think I'll ever half of this game's content, but I fucking love it.
3. Spelunky ; I played co-op with a friend for probably four hours over three sessions, and for some reason every single internal joke we have now is somehow based on those four hours. It's a very good game too.
4. Trials Evolution ; I'm having fun every minute of it and I don't think any other game has made me feel more like I'm shit at the game ever.
5. Diablo 3 ; It's fun. Everything about it that isn't how it looks and plays is shit, but it plays and looks well and good enough to have been a high point for me this year. A shame it wasn't as good as it could have been.
6. World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria ; I'm not sure if it's just because Cataclysm sucked, but this felt like a return to what was great about the expansions before that. Maybe a little too much grinding, and the panda thing is still fucking stupid regardless of it being a joke, but it pulled me in and I had fun for the maybe 50 hours it gave me. I also stopped playing it which isn't necessarily a bad thing.

x. Far Cry 3 ; This game would probably have been on my list if I had actually had time to play it, but I haven't yet.
x. Mass Effect 3 ; I'm not sure if anything I thought about this game the moment I completed it is true anymore, but I know it doesn't come anywhere near my list anymore. Maybe it would have the day I beat it. You typically don't grow out of a game in nine months but I think I did? The ending probably wouldn't affect this.
x. Scribblenauts Unlimited ; Hasn't come out in my region yet but I fucking adored the previous Scribblenauts games enough to suspect this would've been on there somewhere.
x. The Walking Dead ; I loved it, but I can't vote for it as my brother and my closest friend both had their experience ruined by save game glitches making it basically impossible for them to play the game as intended. Would've held #3 otherwise.

2011. Rocksmith ; The PC release of this game was 2012 but it contained no new content so it wouldn't count for the lists. If not, it would've held the second place on my list. It got me back into real guitar and was better at teaching me new things than any guitar teacher I've ever had - and in addition it was actually fun, something no guitar teacher has ever been for me. It has problems, but it's the best at what it does right now that I know of.


Apr 10, 2008
1. Journey ; There's not much I can say that hasn't already been said when describing the joy and wonder of this game, so I'll relay a little story that had an emotional impact on me instead. My first time beginning the game as a white cloak, I was actually a slight bit nervous -- would I remember where the glyphs were? Was I really ready to guide a red cloak? Would I be able to give my companions a journey as memorable as the ones given to me? Shortly after arriving at the broken bridge, I saw a newbie red cloak nearby, and realized nerves be damned, I would do the best I could, and eagerly jumped over to greet him. He excitedly chirped back, and we were off. The two of us stuck together throughout the entire voyage -- chirping, jumping, and exploring all the while, and crossed the mountain together at the end. Shortly thereafter, I received a message: "Hi, we just journeyed together, and I wanted to let you know I had fun and to thank you for the help. Your robe was really nice, and I can't wait to earn mine too. Thanks for showing me the ropes :)" Oh, that got me good. I wrote him back, and we've been good friends on PSN ever since.

2. The Walking Dead ; There's not much I can really say about this experience as a whole, because everything for me comes down to those final few moments. It's been several weeks since I finished it, and every so often I catch myself thinking about the final act and the impact it had on me. The entire tale is wonderfully told, of course, but nothing in any game before has hit me like that ending. I crumbled, I sobbed, and after I collected myself, I thought 'What an unbelievable experience. This is why I love video games.' Now, how much you actually consider this a 'game' is up to your own gauge, but for me, this form of interactive delivery hit me so much deeper than the show or comics ever have. And I will excitedly be there Day 1 for season 2.

3. Assassin's Creed III ; I feel a little disingenuous putting ACIII on my list; it's not a particularly good game, and indicates the series is wearing out it's previously winning formula. But even though the game feels like a jumbled, bloated mess of disconnected ideas and systems, a few of those elements really shine, and have kept me coming back for more -- the dashing, debonair Haytham (swoon), the goofy, mustache-twirling villains, the lush and vast frontier, and the tense and thrilling naval battles all sunk their hooks in me enough that I felt I had to include ACIII on my list. Ubisoft has work to do to (and they need to get Jesper Kyd back ASAP), but if they can trim the fat, clean up their systems, and refine the combat, I think AC will rise again.

4. Final Fantasy XIII-2 ; Did not expect much from this game, but I suppose that might be why I enjoyed it as much as I did. Bouncing though time with an unknown guy in fishing waders and the sister of the grouchy Lightning didn't sound at all good on paper, but darn it, I love Final Fantasy and can't say no. So imagine my surprise when I found those two leads were genuinely likable, and bouncing through time.....while driven terribly and hilariously by the game's story....was somehow a surprisingly fun trip, taking us to places both familiar and new, running into old friends along the way, all while being propelled by the jaunty, vibrant soundtrack. FFXIII-2 has problems, for sure, but I couldn't help but smile at it along the way.

I didn't get to play as many games released this year as I would have liked to, but I have a backlog I'm working through and making actual progress with, so it's still been an active, busy gaming year. And for future reference, I wanted to mention my absolute favorite game that I played this year -- Mass Effect. I'd largely ignored the series because it started out on a console I didn't have, but I was finally able to play the first game this year, and couldn't believe what I'd been missing. The lore is gripping and fascinating, and I really can't think of a better cast of characters. And FemShep.... girl, you've done us proud.


Jan 25, 2008
1. Persona 4:Golden; I feel weird putting persona at the top of my list. I played it when it came out on the ps2, but I look back at this year and its the most fun I had with a game all year. If you have a vita you need Golden. End of story.
2.Sleeping Dogs
3. Borderlands 2
4. Far Cry 3
5. Halo 4
6. Tales of Graces f
7. Mass Effect 3; I will always love the mass effect universe. The Mass Effect series is my favorite series of this generation easily. Mass Effect 3 was great. Then some weird stuff happened with me and that game and my feelings soured on it.
8. Lollipop Chainsaw
9. Binary Domain
10. Persona 4 Arena; Just shove all the persona 4 universe into my face atlus I'll take all that you got. I love that universe and dropping it into a great fighting game made it even better.


Aug 8, 2011
Northern California
1. Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition ; I was mostly interested in buying the game to warrant dissension. But screw that! Dark Souls is one of the best games I've ever played. It took me a couple months for the game to "click." When it did, I couldn't put it down. Rerunning old content never feels bothersome or boring. New characters always feel fresh. Re-fighting bosses is great because each new build affords new strategies and challenges. The world of Dark Souls is, again, among the best game worlds. Its oppressive and unavailing atmosphere is still captivating. The game instills genuine fear and prompts genuine courage like few other games (at least Metroid Prime 2). (A big thank you to Durante, too.)

2. Kid Icarus: Uprising ; A superb game that broke expectations on many levels. First, I bought the game for *something* to play, and I didn't expect to be glued to my 3DS for over 20 hours straight. I played it everywhere I went. The characters and dialogue, and even the plot, are more enjoyable than any major game I've played recently, or maybe even ever. The deluge of content is unbelievable for a game of its price and (great) quality. It may as well be Uprising, plus a sequel, a spin off arena shooter, and a collectible card game in one package. Sakurai is a eccentric master of charming and addictive games.

3. Torchlight 2 ; Still somewhere in the middle on this game. I absolutely adore it and it remains one of the solidest ARPGs I've ever played, but part of me is disappointed by how typical of an ARPG it is. It feels...too safe. I would've loved some more deviation from the D2 formula. The worst thing is when I look at the skill trees my imagination isn't overwhelmed with ideas. But, all aside, it is superb.

4. Hotline Miami ; I didn't even know what to expect but holy cow this game blew my mind on many levels literal levels. Trippy as can be and tough as nails, but fun as hell.

5. Binary Domain ; I am not particularly a fan of cover-based third-person shooters, but I enjoyed Binary Domain. A lot of it was the great sense of reality and unreality. The downtime between firefights during which you can talk to your party or walk by interesting scenery was refreshing. The design and characters really gave it an '80s action movie/sci-fi action side scroller feel though, and it was awesome. (Over-the-top giant robots? Yes, please.) The actual shooting wasn't that great, but the dismemberment and enemy tactics really offered great shooting setups. Just shooting robots is stupid-fun. I liked the plot, loved the characters, and was fascinated by the world. Binary Domain will likely never hold my attention for a second play through, but once was very good enough.

6. Natural Selection 2 ; I don't play a lot of multiplayer-only game, but I really dig NS2. I haven't clocked many hours so I can't say much about it, but under a good team it is total bliss.

7. Guild Wars 2 ; Entirely conflicted on this one. I wanted it to be MMORPG nirvana, and it was only on the surface. The game has good concepts and bad core design. I feel held back by the lack of defined character roles in a traditional sense. I want to party with people but when I do it doesn't provide any meaningful experience. I wanted Guild Wars 2 and this is not it. Even so, it was an exceptionally fun MMO for the time I put into it. The beta weekends and first few weeks were incredible.

x. Noitu Love 2 Devolution ; Very rad game. It got too tough for me to progress, but I plan on eventually beating it.

x. Krater ; I'm not too sure on this one. It's fun and good and all but at the same time not good. I stopped playing it because of a crazy summer and after I rebuilt my computer I forgot about it. Again, I plan to go back to it. It's not what I expected, but it could be great.

I did not buy many new games last year, unfortunately, but had I bought even less, I'd be entirely content with just my top four for the whole year. Last year was really good to me.

2011. Saints Row The Third ; Never a big fan of open-world games, but I spent about a week of really late nights and weekends till 4 am playing this game. The baseball bat and pistols are crazy awesome. The missions are great. The customization is a lot of fun (I'm a huge sucker for character creation and customization). But I think the quirky, stupid-fun, dirty world really bumped it up a notch for me. I just wish it had more missions and less mini-games.