Just when you thought that it had passed, I went and saved the best for last. Or I procrastinated. Either way, looking back on 2012 from my death bed four years from now, these are the 10 games that could possibly briefly pull me out of my fevered dementia, bringing a spark of recognition to my clouded eyes for just a moment before the relentless madness exerts its hold once more.
What? I have a life plan. It's just not a very good one.
2012 shall go down in the annals of Kotaku history as the year I became the editor of social and mobile gaming for the site, focusing primarily on games that can be played on phones, tablets, Facebook and in browser windows. The move came late in the year, so only four of my 10 favourite games fall into those categories. Next year I expect my list to be fully comprised of Zynga games.
Just kidding, Zynga will be long dead by then. Let's get to it, shall we?
Far Cry 3
I suppose I have to start with the title I choose as my 2012 Game of the Year nominee — a game I had absolutely no interest in playing prior to its release. Far Cry 3 wound up on my PC because I was bored one weekend. I figured I would hop in, shoot a few things, get bored and eventually uninstall it to make room for some other multi-gigabyte game I wasn't really interested in. Instead I found myself drawn into the game, devouring it like some creature powered by open world adventure and animal pelts.
Before playing Far Cry 3 I had a lengthy conversation with a friend about how I felt my new focus on mobile gaming had ruined my desire to spend hours playing huge, time consuming console and PC releases. I was worried that my attention span had been whittled away to the point where if I wasn't constantly receiving one to three stars for performing simple actions I wasn't feeling fulfilled. Far Cry 3 proved that wasn't the case — I was just waiting for the right game.
Guild Wars 2
Could Guild Wars 2 be the last massively multiplayer online game worth getting excited about? There are no AAA MMORPG titles in the works at the moment, at least none that we know anything about (Blizzard's Project Titan is an amorphous blob at this point). This year's other MMO releases have fallen flat. Even the latest World of Warcraft expansion pack failed to capture my heart. I was Kotaku's MMO guy for years. Now the only MMO I am actively playing is Guild Wars 2.
There is nothing better than Diablo-style gameplay with fully-customizable robots. Every time I write about Robot Rising I watch the Facebook game hate pour in from the usual suspects, and I know damn well that they've not played the game. It's free, there's no bugging your friends, the energy system is incredibly forgiving — there is no reason not to give it a go. Seriously, go play this right now.
DJ Max Ray
Korea's premier rhythm game franchise is one of my greatest pleasures, despite the fact that each entry is geared towards bio-engineered super-humans with lightning-fast reflexes. The iPhone version of the game, expensive as it may be (some $US23 to download all the songs at this point), might be my favourite entry in the series. Why? Because it's easier, or at least easier for me. Blown up on my iPad it's essentially DJ Max Piano Edition, a configuration my fingers inherently understand. I only wish Neowiz would release an iPad native version of the app, for while it still retains its looks on my iPad 3's retina display, on my iPad Mini it looks like someone chewed it up and spit it out.
Thank you, Horn, for easing my transition between tradition gaming and my new duties as Kotaku's mobile/social gaming editor. At a time I was feeling I had transitioned to endless days of farming and bird-flinging, you came along and proved that I wasn't abandoning meaty console-style action role-playing games altogether. Your combat may be simple and repetitive, but your puzzles and free-roaming exploration were my light in the slight dimness.
Legend of Grimrock
With Legend of Grimrock developer Almost Human added new life to a role-playing style I feared completely dead. The turn-based first-person dungeon crawler was a staple of my youth. Wizardry: Bane of the Cosmic Forge was the first PC game I purchased of my own volition, largely responsible for keeping me from using my first personal computer for nothing but incredibly slow porn downloads. While Japan has stubbornly clung to the genre (and made it incredibly challenging in the process), in the states it had become something of a relic of the past, a remember-when and nothing more.
The Legend of Grimrock brought it back, and it's beautiful.
Transformers: Fall of Cybertron
Surprise! Who'd have thought a Transformers game would make it onto my list, except anyone that knows me. Not only did Fall of Cybertron provide me with a chance to fight side-by-side with some of Cybertron's greatest (Metroplex heeds the call of the last Prime!), it led to the physical release of one of the coolest Soundwave action figures since the original. He's on my desk right now. Ravage, eject.
What can I say about The Room that hasn't already been said by Mr Stephen Totilo? Nothing? OK then.
The prettiest game released on Steam all year. The delightful little platformer from the folks at Ankama Play captured my heart from the moment the opening sequence started playing. I love it so much I'm actively jealous of people that will read this and then go play it for the first time. Bastards.
The best thing to play on the Wii U, next to the Rayman Legends demo. Little Inferno is a strange and magical thing. It's a first-person fireplace simulator. It's a goofy little puzzle game. It's a story that made me cry. It's several things that shouldn't happen or work that just so happen to happen and work.