1. Dark Souls (20)
2. Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP (14)
3. Catherine (12)
4. Portal 2 (12)
5. Groove Coaster (11)
6. El Shaddai: Ascension of the Metatron (11)
7. Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective (5?)
Outside of Dark Souls, none of the games on my list are particularly long affairs, but they’re the kind of compact, intensely focused and ambitious experiences we need to see more of. That most of them aren’t sequels in a year heavily weighted towards trilogies and beyond is a joyful surprise. Both intimate and lonely, Dark Souls left me in a state of awe and dread concerning the world around me. Every thing, every item, every movement seemed to matter in a way that I, on my own, did not. Sword and Sworcery, far more than any of the last few Zelda titles, enveloped me in a mystical, almost sacred feeling of venturing into new territory. Its conflict between reverence for the unexplained and the search for truth was a near-perfect construction.
Meanwhile, Catherine took Vincent’s directionless life and turned it into something more than a Choose Your Own Adventure story. Rather than grant us complete control over Vincent’s decisions, it did something more rewarding by starting a conversation with the character. Groove Coaster brought to life a genre that, for me, never truly got into a rhythm, while El Shaddai gave religion and spirituality an impressive treatment.
2011 was definitely a year that saw small, mobile games reach new heights, but what stood out to me was also how pleasantly surprised and impressed I was by the bursts of inventiveness experienced on our more traditional discs and cartridges. Despite any blemishes, they’re searching for something potent. Here’s hoping that’s a search that continues.
Back to High Scores 2011