Evan's Top 10 Games Of 2012

Like my colleagues, I had to come to grips with a lot of games this year. Some of them made me feel like video games as a medium did a significant amount of evolving in the last twelve months. But this list — in no particular order — assembles the games that captivated me while playing them and that I haven't been able to shake out of my head. They linger and that's the quality that's made them most memorable to be.

Mass Effect 3

It all comes down to the Stargazer for me. The intimate dialogue between an elder and young boy at the end of Mass Effect 3 drives home the idea that your actions as Commander Shepard over the course of three Mass Effect games constitute a legacy. Most video games that purport to be a saga never give you an idea of what you leave behind, of the repercussions of your actions. Mass Effect 3 does, with moments that recall the friendships, rescues or genocides that you may have been part of. It made me feel like the digital life I lived in the trilogy meant something.

God of Blades

White Whale's awesome hybrid of infinite runner and sidescrolling brawler won me over with aesthetics, even though I wasn't ever that much into prog rock bands like Rush. (But I did hide issues of pulp fantasy mag Heavy Metal from my mum when I was a teen.) I loved how God of Blades made me feel like I was battling through an alternate universe of sci-fi softcover novel art and album imagery.


Every game of this clever word game feels like a heavyweight prizefight. Which are both words I haven't been able to makes in any my games yet.

Max Payne 3

I'm generally not a fan of this-is-a-playable-movie sort of game. And that's certainly what Max Payne 3 is. But it's also a pretty grim character portrait of a guys who's not really heroic at all anymore. The great dialogue and awful self-esteem made one of the tightest shooters I've played in years a whole lot better.


The world-building in Arkane's open-world game made Dunwall feel like it had been around forever. Listening to the otherworldly Heart whisper the secrets of the city and the people in it just pulled me in even further. And being able to move through Dunwall pretty much however I wanted made the game even more compelling.

Papo & Yo

I've already talked about why I loved Papo & Yo so much a few times, so all I'll say here is that it's the kind of game that opens incredible opportunities for creative expression for those brave enough to follow.


Proof that you can take the ugliness out of online video game interactions. Yeah, Journey was an experiment but it was a successful one that left you with beautiful memories.

Assassin's Creed 3: Liberation

The mainline versions of Assassin's Creed III got all the attention but I'd argue that Aveline de Grandpre's story was more interesting than Connor Kenway's. No game last year — and, hell, in the years preceding it — managed to take historical understandings of race and gender and <turn them into game mechanics. A bi-racial heroine who was able to slip into multiple levels of 18th Century New Orleans society was a revelation. I really hope Aveline gets to return in another game.

Thomas Was Alone

The game probably surprised me more than anything else I played this year. I went in expecting minimalist physics puzzles and platforming. What I wound up with — along with very good puzzles and platforming — was a surprising set of interlocking character relationships and a fable about what it takes to make something. Go and get this game.

Alan Wake's American Nightmare

What I liked most about American Nightmare was how it used meta-awareness in the game design. Fans of Remedy's psychological horror series expect a winking nod in the the games' narrative and dialogue. But what Nightmare did was treat the levels the same way, casting them as an outline that you're forced to re-visit over and over again. A great downloadable offering that feels under-appreciated.


    . . . naaaah there were far better than a good majority of those this year.

      ....aaaaand that what defines an opinion piece.

        just feels like these have been picked as alternatives for the sake of being alternative though. I don't think half of these even deserve considering. Especially not Ass Creed 3.

          Haven't played AC3 or Liberation yet (still slogging through Revelations). Personally I quite like Evan's predilection for downloadable, "smaller" content - it's where I found most of my gaming pleasure this year too.

    Your opinion differs from mine so you are wrong!

    max payne 3 was good but wasnt close to my top 10

      I have recently just started MP3. It is most definitely in my Top 10. IT just oozes the Rockstar quality, with tight gun play and a interesting story, looks beautiful on PC. It is a great addition to the series. The Multiplayer is fairly decent as well, with the crews ad what not. Gang wars is a cool mode as well. It would be in my Top 5 for sure.

      Last edited 07/01/13 10:08 am

      agree with brewer74, MP3 is definitely in my top 5

    But that's because you don't agree with them. You've made a decision that the author is trying to be 'alternative', because they don't agree with your games of the year. Well done.

    B y the gods, American Nightmare was amazing. As far as I'm concerned, it really raised the bar for what could be acheived in downloadable games for the console virtual marketplaces.

    Totally forgot American Nightmare came out in 2012.

    Fucking awesome game.

    HANGING for Alan Wake 2.

    I dunno... is it just me, or did 2011 seem like a better year for gaming? Just seemed like there was a LOT of filler and uninspired sequels trying to milk what's left of their respective franshises this year...

    Last edited 07/01/13 2:03 pm

    MAX PAYNE 3!!!!! I've seen quite a lot of Top 10 games of 2012 with MAX PAYNE 3 on the list.

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