Whereas 2011 for me had a couple very clear and definitive candidates for Game of the Year, 2012 never really had that for me. Instead there was always a handful of games that were really great but, while an argument could be made for any of them, never could really stand out in the same way other games from prior years have. That’s not to say 2012 wasn’t a great year. It’s just that 2011 gave me three of my favorite games from this generation and this year just gave me some overall fantastic games. So before getting into my Top 5 PSN games of 2012 lets look at a couple Honorable Mentions I felt needed to be included.
Let me make this clear from the start. I’ve only played the first three acts of the story mode for Tokyo Jungle therefore I didn’t feel that I could include it in my top games of the year having still not yet finished the game. That said if things continue going in the direction that they are I’m sure it would have been very high on my list.
Tokyo Jungle up to this point has delivered on the hopes that I’ve had for it ever since first hearing about it some time ago. Fighting for survival, claiming territory, and mating to continue on the species has proven to be a lot of fun. However I feel like I still haven’t really even arrived at the good part yet.
As we’re keeping our lists clear of retail releases I wanted to simply take some time to acknowledge that LBP Vita is easily the definitive version of LittleBigPlanet. It’s managed to continue to grow the gameplay from LBP 2 by capitalizing off of the Vita’s hardware features in a way that doesn’t feel tacked on. The campaign’s levels are tons of fun to play through, the community levels continue to impress, and it’s probably one of the best looking games on the Vita to date. Fans of the series have no reason not to own this.
#5 – Nom Nation:
I still remember a year and a half ago sitting in a meeting room at a prior job listening to some guy try to give us a pitch on the ‘future of edutainment’. The things I saw that day were nightmarish. I said it in my review back in May and I’ll stand by it today. Nom Nation is how edutainment should be done. It’s proof enough that the word shouldn’t scare people off. It’s proof that educational games can be a lot of fun while also teaching kids valuable information.
Nom Nation, to me, was the swan song of the Minis platform. It captured me in a way not many games seem to do. I’m still to this day impressed at just how well the game’s mechanics were tied into it’s overall message. It’s just super unfortunate that the game will likely never see any sort of release in the US. (Though you can play it in the browser over here!)
#4 – Journey:
I can’t think of a bad thing to say about Journey. I honestly can’t. That’s not to say that it’s perfect or anything of the sort. It’s just that the ninety-minute package is so well realized that it’s hard to really spot anything that I didn’t like about it. Journey is probably the best looking game of the year and has served to offer up specific moments that I’ll likely never forget seeing for the first time.
Whether you want to call it an experience/non-game/game I think it is things like Journey that serve as proof that we can have non-traditional games that aren’t about having fun but rather about having a really cool experience. In a world where we see an over abundance of FPS’s I welcome the thought that we might have more things like Journey as well as my number three pick.
#3 – The Walking Dead:
If we went by the experience that I had with it The Walking Dead would probably be my far and away Game of the Year. Throughout the year my friend and I would play through each episode together. We’d often shout at each other what to choose as the our time to choose would quickly run out and we’d share moments of horror and shock at certain revelations throughout the series.
I’ve always loved TellTale games. Their Sam and Max games have always been fantastic and I even quite enjoyed the Back to the Future games from last year. The Walking Dead just feels like they’re on an entirely different level at this point. It’s offered up characters that I cared about, moments that made me truly feel terrible for the characters in those situations and it had me waiting on the edge of my seat for each episode. Without spoiling anything I think the finale is mostly great and the ending is satisfying in a way that is often hard to pull off. Yet I feel there were a few moments in that final episode that felt a bit silly and are a little hard to just shrug off.
#2 – Pid:
Pid has the best PSN soundtrack from this year. In some ways I don’t think anything really comes close. On top of that I had a fantastic time playing through Pid. I even immediately started up a Hard difficulty run right after finishing the game which is something that I rarely ever do.
Pid’s mechanics were used to their fullest throughout the game in several unique ways. The game is incredibly challenging in numerous segments but it’s also one of, if not the, most rewarding experience I’ve had with a game this year. As a full package it’s one of few games that I just felt completely satisfied with on all fronts. Pid, as well as my number one game, presented a reminder that, despite a wealth of ‘cinematic-experiences’ I still just really really LOVE a video game that doesn’t try to be anything but a game.
#1 – Knytt Underground:
In some ways I feel strange about putting this as my number one game from 2012 because I do have a few little problems with it. But none of those are enough to overcome just the sheer amount of fun I’ve had exploring and discovering everything that Knytt Underground has to offer. Knytt Underground hearkens back to games that are completely about its mechanics and discovering a huge world. Set up in a similar style as Metroidvania games, complete with its very own grid-based map, Knytt Underground is just a blast traversing throughout the world. I always found myself trying to open up new areas on the map and discovering all sorts of secrets that the game has to offer. Often times this will require quick reactions on your part as well as physics based puzzle solving to reach tough to reach places.
Knytt Underground features a huge world to explore that is filled with quests and secrets to find. All of these require you to use the game’s mechanics to the fullest and to traverse the world in ways you normally wouldn’t. Secrets consist of a hidden disco area, a series of incredibly difficult challenge rooms and much much more. What’s more Knytt Underground is the type of game that will likely keep secrets from you even after you think you’ve finished everything there is to do. While I might not be too crazy about the story within the game there is something rewarding about seeing the relationships between characters develop the more that you explore the world. Something about discovering new pieces to the story in favor of having them handed to you just feels right.