Taking a page from Brendon Chung, I present one sentence on each of the games I played in 2012 (or at least all the ones I can remember – inevitably a lot of cool indie things will be left out).
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
By the end of 2011 I had a lot of issues with Skyrim, but I still booted it up to read all the books.
Avadon: The Black Fortress
Rich, humorous RPG has too much old-school dungeon hacking to hold my attention.
Rock of Ages
The first, but hopefully not the last, game to model its cutscenes after Greek pottery art.
S.T.A.L.K.E.R: Call of Pripyat
The best STALKER game yet, but it feels like I’ve played it before.
Everything I want a linear, overly-scripted shooter to be.
Serious Sam: The Random Encounter
Brilliant send-up of random-battle laden JRPGs has a little too much in common with them.
Made me want to play board games.
A fascinating mass of underutilized design.
Exactly like Fortix.
The most ambitious graphic adventure in years nets me enlightenment, an interview, and a new friend in one fell swoop.
Introduces the brilliant idea of being a third-party to a simple RTS battle, and still remains on my hard drive.
Red Dead Redemption
As juvenile and disappointing as I’ve found every other Rockstar game to be, despite a great setting and impressive scope.
Serious Sam 3
Reminded me how fun shooters can be, and made me wish for a co-op partner.
Final Fantasy XIII
For possibly the first time, I had exactly the same reaction to a Final Fantasy title that everyone else had: it takes the noble goal of Western accessibility and runs way, way too far with it.
A charming Monkey-Island inspired adventure game, but for some reason I can’t find it funny.
Some of the best puzzling I’ve ever played, but a combination of brutal boss fights and a story that’s not as sophisticated as it wants to be prevented me from finishing it.
Sword and Sworcery EP
Awesome style and music, but not much else.
Molleindustria hits another one out of the park with an excellent use of splitscreen.
Overly small maps aren’t enough to stop this reboot from being a worthy successor to the Tribes series, complete with an insanely high skill cap.
The Real Texas
Possibly the most heartfelt game I’ve ever played, made by one swell Canadian.
This brilliant send-up of modern game design is also the best casual multiplayer game of the year.
It’s a Tab!
2012 award for Best Use of Standard Web Browser Interface.
The best use of silent-film humor in a video game yet.
Games need more sex, but I’m not sure they need more JRPG combat.
An unusually straightforward edutainment game, but, I suspect, a highly effective one.
Batman: Arkham City
A solid expansion of the great Arkham Asylum into the open-world arena, but I simply can’t take any more of Batman’s repetitive exploits and paper-thin villains.
Legend of Grimrock
Beautiful resurgence of the Dungeon Keeper concept is everything it needs to be, though unlikely to hold the interest of gamers under 30.
The Secret World
Narratively ambitious MMO is easy to love, but ultimately constrained by its traditional theme-park framework.
Dangerous High School Girls in Trouble
The rare case where I completely failed to get why a game was a big deal.
The Walking Dead
As good as it could be with the license, but Steam Cloud deleted my save-games halfway through.
Ticket to Ride
What do you mean, I have to buy the other boards as DLC?
Thirty Flights of Loving
It’s radical first-person storytelling got me so worked up that I had to take a long shower afterwards.
Gets the Star Trek experience, but needs more encounter variety to truly shine.
First Draft of the Revolution
There are surprisingly few IF games about the writing process, and this is the best I’ve played.
Spec Ops: The Line
Shockingly subversive for a big-budget title.
It’s the first true Thief follow-up since 2004, and the only thing holding it back is that it never exceeds the originals.
Sister’s Little Helper
For a brief moment, I too wanted a pothead sister.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown
Absolutely gripping when you play on Iron Man and name your soldiers after friends.
One of those games whose entire purpose is providing a set-up for the final moment, and it’s so, so worth it.
So Long, Oregon
The rare game that is exactly, to the minute, as long as it needs to be.
To The Moon
Subject matter of great personal interest led me to play this in one sitting, something I almost never do for a game of that length.
Shows that Planetside was so far ahead of its time that the same design still feels radical ten years later.
Magic: Duel of the Planeswalkers 2013
Thankfully, I proved immune to the addiction I had experienced with the last two incarnations.
Pleasuredromes of Kubla Khan
Combined with Murder Dog, this send-up of academia has turned me into a full-fledged thecatamites fanboy.
Edutainment parody that ties with Thirty Flights for my Game of the Year.
It is impossible to describe Goblet Grotto in a sentence.
Saints Row: The Third
The game that GTA IV should have been.
Design so sharp you could cut a pineapple on it.
King of Dragon Pass
“Culture roleplaying” should be a vibrant genre rather than the set-up of a single game.
Analogue: A Hate Story
Guilty of making reading long swaths of text on a computer screen more enjoyable than it has any right to be.
It’s a match-3 game ripped straight from a social network, but it’s a really, really good match-3 game!
JRPG of the decade, clearly.
Far Cry 3
Polished away all the rough edges of Far Cry 2 to leave something thoroughly enjoyable but ultimately shallow.