Happy hello to the entirety of the internet! It seems to be that time of the year for sitting down and cutting down the good games of the year until I've decided my personal favorites. This being my first time attempting this feat, I'll personally say: it has been a journey. Hopefully you enjoy the list!
Splice is a game that I came to late in the year, after hearing a few months of wonderful reception. The metabolic puzzler was, simply put, a game that felt good to play. Through it's choice of faded, earthy colors, the lull of droning music as much a part of the atmosphere as the puzzles themselves, and a sleek, minimalistic interface - Splice's tone brought an authenticity to the relatively easily grasped puzzles. Splice stands as a wonderful example of an age proven rule of puzzle games: it is not the puzzles that matter in the end, it is what you wrap them around that will ultimately make your game memorable.
It is very rare that I stumble upon first person platforming games that I enjoy. For many, like myself, the Portal games are quickly attributed with the idea of first person platforming; and nearly everything about Q.U.B.E. had me thinking of Portal when I first loaded it up. From the style of the title menu, the stark white puzzle chambers and the character motion - the game felt familiar. I quickly and pleasantly changed my opinion as Q.U.B.E's color and light manipulative puzzles, and trapped, empty tone rose above the trappings of familiarity. What appeared to be simply a re-imagining of a great platformer, quickly became a great platformer all its own with a bit of useful inspiration behind it.
3. FTL: Faster Than Light
It is no secret, at all, that I love space. There is nothing more fascinating, and fun to me than delving into the unknown reaches of space to discover who knows what. The first Mass Effect game offered me essentially this exact experience, seeing the stars, seeing the strange, and interacting as I see fit. After one or two full runs, though, the adventure loses it's flair. FTL, however, operating on its one-life, simulation style of play the game will be different each time you load it up. Manning a single ship with the fate of an intergalactic people resting on its mission, traveling from one end of space to the other; all the while making life or death decisions, taking on new crew members, and desperately attempting to outrun the rebel fleet (while saving time to stop for gas, of course). My kind of game.
2. Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP
As lovers of video games, nothing speaks more prominently than simply loving to play a game. Sword & Sworcery was that kind of game. Stated plainly, it was the sense of style that set this title apart. From the Twitter aimed dialogue, the artistic attention to detail that transformed the pixel art of each frame into a gorgeous portrait, to the incredible flow of contrasting moments of stark, soft silence with Jim Guthrie's fantastic score. More than anything, Sword & Sworcery has a sense of place; and isn't that why we play video games - to go to another place?
1. Thomas Was Alone
Thomas Was Alone was the very first video game I ever reviewed, and it solidified my desire to continue writing about the video games that I loved. That is how it works for all of us, there is the one game that either keeps you playing video games your entire life or pushes you to write about them. The Legend Of Zelda: Majora's Mask founded my life long love of video games, and Thomas Was Alone drove me to establish written commentary of my love for the medium. Thomas and his ever growing group of friends exist as glitches within a computer system, attempting to outrun doom as the system seeks to eliminate them. The motifs of togetherness and selflessness demonstrated and felt throughout the journey are given voice by the fantastic Danny Wallace; and given shape by the connections formed between the player and this hodge-podge group of rectangles.
By the time I had finished Thomas Was Alone, I had experienced something. And, I learned quite a long time ago, that the games that stick with us are the ones that we didn't play. They are the ones we experienced.
Honorable Mentions: Borderlands 2, The Walking Dead - Season One, To The Moon