Wow, so many games, so few spots to fill. You know, a "games of the year" list is a fickle thing. When deciding what makes the list and what place it takes, you have to try to reconcile between your favorite games and the best games. You may think that those are the same thing, and many times they may be, but not always. For instance, my favorite movie of all time is The Fugitive with Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones. I would not consider it, though, one of the best movies. So it is with games. Advent Rising is one of my favorite games. But it wouldn't even make my list of top 100 games. For my games of the year, I decided disregard what game are the "best" and go purely with my favorites. A lot of these games didn't have big releases, so you may not have heard of many of them (like the first one on the list), but that doesn't diminish their awesomeness. These are the games that I gladly gave up long periods of my life to play and still look forward to playing more of. These are the games that I'll still be playing well into 2012. Without further ado, my games of the year:
5. Divinity II: The Dragon Knight Saga
Like I said, chances are, you've never heard of Dvinity II. The sequel to a pretty awesome cross between The Elder Scrolls and Diablo called Divine Divinity, Divinity II (then subtitled Ego Draconis) made a small splash when it was originally released in 2010 but only because of how bad it was. If you played Divinity II: Ego Draconis back in 2010 and thought it was horse excrement, you were right. Thankfully, developer Larian also realized that and rereleased the game as Divinity II: The Dragon Knight Saga with much needed patches, an updated graphics engine, a redone UI, and a new expansion pack. And let me say, what a difference a year makes. This purely old school fantasy RPG is not the world’s most immersive game, but it sure is fun to play. Oh, and you get to become a dragon. A dragon! (hmmm, those are pretty popular this year)
4. Saints Row: The Third
Saints Row: The Third is THE most ridiculous game I’ve played this year, possibly ever. I mean, the game has an Awesome button. Seriously, an Awesome button. And it lets you enter cars by diving through their windshields. You can also earn respect by streaking. But it’s not just crazy antics painted onto a less-than-stellar game (like previous Saints Row games). The underlying game is incredibly solid and polished (for an open world game). The shooting and driving feel good and you get to call in airstrikes au natural. If that’s not game of the year material, I don’t know what is.
3. Portal 2
So, yeah, Portal 2. It's crazy. I never expected a second Portal game. I loved the first one, it just didn't seem like a game that needed a sequel. Well, until a sequel was released; then I realized how much it could be refined. But it has nothing to do with the gameplay. Portal 2 succeeds in specific area where Portal 1 failed: story. Don't get me wrong, Portal had a great character in GLaDOS, but it's hard to create a compelling narrative with only one character when nothing really happens. Portal 2, though, has great characters and becomes a far superior game because of it. Portal is great. Portal 2 is amazing.
Bastion is unique on this list for a couple of reasons. It's the only non-sequel, it's the only indie game and it's the only downloadable game. Despite it's install size and the size of the team behind it, Bastion surprised me this summer with its sheer awesomeness. If you read my review then you know how much I think of this game. From the combat to the soundtrack to the story to the graphics, this game does everything right. Everything. I really don't know what else to say about Bastion; it’s like the game equivalent of joy.
So go buy Bastion now. I own it twice.
1. The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings
Of the fantasy RPGs released this year, The Witcher 2 sadly has the least amount of dragons in it, but it has everything else a great game needs: fantastic plot and characters, fun combat, beautiful graphics and king among them all, replayability. If you weren’t a fan of the first Witcher ‘s combat, The Witcher 2 completely redoes it and improves on it exponentially. Also, even on horribly low settings, this game is beautiful. It’s honestly one of the best looking games I’ve ever seen. But what makes this my game of the year, is that this game is infectious. I always want to be playing it. Forget other games. Forget work. Forget family and friends. I’m always thinking about it. And now I’m going to go back to playing it.
Honorable Mentions: Amnesia: The Dark Descent, Serious Sam 3, Beyond Good & Evil HD
Jonathan is the host of the DarkCast, DarkCast Interviews, and Gamers Read. He loves books, video games, and superheroes. If he had to pick favorites, they would be Welcome to the Monkey House, Mass Effect, and Superman respectively.