We’re reaching the end of 2012 and that means another year in video games is almost complete. After intense debate we’ve narrowed down our list to the top five games of the year in 2012.
While there were many quality major AAA retail releases in 2012, overall, the year was owned by an exceptional crop of smaller, indie titles that showed a major leap in the quantity of quality this year.
Games like Borderlands 2, Halo 4, XCOM: Enemy Unknown and Mass Effect 3 all warranted discussion for a spot on the list, but they just didn’t get enough support to crack it.
Check out the games that did in Hypable’s top five games of 2012 below.
5. Guild Wars 2
Pre-release hype is rarely as high for a title as it was for Guild Wars 2. It was called many things – a new dawn for MMOs, a World of Warcraft killer, a revolution, amongst other things. Of course, it never really hit any of these marks, but ArenaNet’s fantasy MMO is such a well-crafted, gorgeous and accessible game that it doesn’t really matter about the hype.
In Guild Wars 2, you’re thankful when other players turn up. They can’t steal your kills or the crafting node you just found. That one change makes Guild Wars 2 stand out in today’s MMO market and makes its competitors seem rather stale and weary. It’s not perfect by any stretch, but this is a game you really shouldn’t miss out on.
4. Max Payne 3
At this point, you might as well pencil-in Rockstar Game‘s yearly release as one of the top games for its respective year. Few games in 2012 could stand with Max Payne 3 when it came to pure visual flare and style. Likewise, few could match the level of polish and detail seen in the developer’s latest release.
This being said, what the game put forth in style, it more than matched in substance with smooth gameplay and a narrative that followed Max to his lowest point and back again. Add in a killer soundtrack that matched story beats perfectly and one of the most satisfying conclusions to any game we played this year and Max Payne 3 certainly stands as one of the best.
3. Mark of the Ninja
At first glance, a 2D stealth platformer doesn’t seem like it should work; a good stealth game in a 3D space is already hard enough to pull off. After playing Klei Entertainment‘s Mark of the Ninja, though, it is hard to believe there was any difficulty designing the title at all.
As is the demand in all stealth games, Klei faced challenging the player while not making it feel cheap and making it feel like it was under their control, a test they passed with flying colors. Between its beautiful art style, fantastic level design and tight controls, all of Mark of the Ninja came together to form one of the best experiences of the year.
It can be difficult to release a new IP so late in a console generation, hence most developers putting out sequel after sequel. However, Arkane Studios defied this common occurence with its stealth-action title Dishonored, marking one of the few major new properties of the year.
Aside from its excellent stealth gameplay that follows in the tradition of the original Deus Ex with its alternate paths to complete objectives, and the morality system that allowed you to choose your play style, the best thing about Dishonored may be world it built. Though you only follow Corvo’s quest for revenge, it is clear that there are many more stories to be told in the city of Dunwall.
1. The Walking Dead: The Game
Throughout the five episodes that make up the first season of The Walking Dead, there isn’t really much gameplay, and the puzzles that are present aren’t the most mentally taxing. Users have also experienced an array of technical issues like saved games missing, especially for those who chose the PC version. When the closing credits roll on the final episode, though, none of these problems really matter.
What did matter was that developer Telltale Games managed to craft a narrative that was emotionally engaging and seemed unique to each player, even if it wasn’t. Over the course of those five episodes, a world of desperation and characters placed in that world that you genuinely cared about was masterfully realized. Each decision the player faced in this apocalypse, no matter how minor, felt important, like it could be the difference between life and death and was the cause of much handwringing and second-guessing.
Telltale took what is commonly forgotten in the modern video game landscape, character and story, and made it the very core of The Walking Dead. When players look back at 2012, they will see just how daring this was, and with any luck, just how much influence it had.
Be sure to check back over the next few days as we reveal our top five indie games of 2012 and our most anticipated games for next year.