When I asked our writers to send me their ballots for the best games of 2012, I was feeling a little down about the state of the medium. A few of the biggest games of the year were, let’s face it, extremely disappointing, and other than a few obvious highlights coming in the first half of this year, I wasn’t sure that this was an abberation. Even the AAA games of 2012 that truly excelled were the subject of withering criticism, and not just from the unappeasable margins of the culture. There didn’t seem to be an easy winner this year, a game that pushed the form forward, an experience that will obviously be regarded ten or even five years from now as a stone-cold classic.
Then I started to tabulate the results, and my mood changed, from ambivalent, to hopeful, to nearly ecstatic. Sixty-one (!) games received votes from our writers, and they represent an astonishing spectrum of play. From super-maximalist shooting galleries in Sao Paolo to microscopic examinations of plant life, from the funny and devastating scenes from the life of a drone pilot to the neon-soaked, orgiastic violence of a Tarantino Miami, the best games of 2012 took players on incredibly diverse journeys in narrative, in tone, and in mechanics. For the open-minded gamer, the forward-looking gamer, the gamer who craves new and unique experiences, 2012 was a veritable bonanza.
It’s fitting, then, that the game we voted the best of the year is just that, a journey, distilled down to the essence of wonder and discovery that is the reason most of us play. Thatgamecompany took a feeling that games ten times Journey’s length are lucky to produce once or twice for a mere moment and gave us two and a half joyful hours of it. At the end of the game the player takes stock of the trip and finds him or herself back at the start, ready for another voyage. Thankfully, this year, there were more than ever to take.
Presenting our top ten games of 2012.
2. Super Hexagon
3. Mass Effect 3
4. The Walking Dead
5. Hotline: Miami
7. Far Cry 3
9. XCOM: Enemy Unknown
10. Paper Mario: Sticker Star