Yes, for the first time ever, my game of the year is mobile. Significant? In fact, Superbrothers: Swords & Sworcery EP (photo, iPad) is more important for its form than its format. Rarely had a point-and-click adventure game been so effortlessly slick, stylish and funny. Here was an 8bit chunky pixel marvel, where medieval characters proclaimed “dude”, “most tranquil” and… well, talked to us like a mate. One of many ways its developers drew us into an experience where we could just as well zen out walking in dreams as we could have incredible heart-pounding moments in incredible boss fights. Not to mention Jim Guthrie’s music, one of the best game scores ever. Sheer genius, and thrillingly promising for 2012.
Meanwhile, El Shaddai was the year’s most visually exuberant title; Skylanders and Rayman were two titles brimming with genuine childish delight and inventiveness; Portal 2 was, after S:S&S EP, 2012’s funniest title, thanks largely to Stephen Merchant’s voice acting, but a game ultimately too hard to finish; Deus Ex 3, which finely balanced stealth, story and silliness to keep us fully hooked until the end; Uncharted 3, which delivered its epic rollercoaster adventure once again, yet failed to make its plot or characters as gripping as last time; Skyrim, where dragon-slaying gave us a greater sense of power and purpose than in Oblivion, in a most-epic environment indeed; and Batman 2, where the joy of gliding between skyscrapers won over a silly “villain megamix” story.
LA Noire comes second only because of its opaque interrogation system (what difference did getting all the questions right change, in fact?) and very strange ending. Which didn’t stop us being blown away by the most amazing facial animation ever, period. Never had video game characters been capable of conveying such a wide range of emotions; and never had we identified so well with said characters. I still get a kick out of seeing Cole Phelps in The Good Wife, or the forensics doctor in American Horror Story. How often can you say that of a video game? Tragically, LA Noire’s Australian developer has gone bankrupt since: but we can always pray for a sequel.
In a nutshell: what a frikkin’ good year for gaming!
10. El Shaddai
8. Rayman Origins
7. Portal 2
6. Deus Ex: Human Revolution
5. Uncharted 3
3. Batman: Arkham City
2. LA Noire
1. Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP
PS: My end-of-year selection for A Nous Paris is right here (pages 16 & 18, in French): enjoy!