The Critical Games of 2012

Robert Rath

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The Critical Games of 2012

The most Critical Intel-acclaimed games of the year.

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BrotherRool

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And Critical Intel easily wins my Escapist feature of the year. If this year Far Cry 3, Spec Ops, Little Inferno and Minecraft (?) all questioned why we play games, then I think the answer will be found in games that begin to be used to reflect on reality and our lives. And to do that we need journalists commenting on it and thinking about it and making us thinking about it, so we can recognise it and appreciate it and want more of it.

But no honourable mention for Katawa Shoujo? (Or To The Moon) I guess they aren't political in their content (and stretch the definition of game to breaking) but they had a lot to say
 

The Artificially Prolonged

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It really has been an interesting year in gaming. We had our first real breakout kickstarter success in FTL, a mod launching AMRA 2 to the top of pc sales charts and we had an apparently mediocre modern military shooter give one of the most though provoking character driven stories of the year in the form of Spec Ops.

BrotherRool said:
And Critical Intel easily wins my Escapist feature of the year. If this year Far Cry 3, Spec Ops, Little Inferno and Minecraft (?) all questioned why we play games, then I think the answer will be found in games that begin to be used to reflect on reality and our lives. And to do that we need journalists commenting on it and thinking about it and making us thinking about it, so we can recognise it and appreciate it and want more of it.

But no honourable mention for Katawa Shoujo? (Or To The Moon) I guess they aren't political in their content (and stretch the definition of game to breaking) but they had a lot to say
I just played To The Moon the other day. I'm not one to get very emotional playing games, at best getting a bit misty eyed at something really sad happens, but damn it To The Moon had me in full on tears multiple times. Such a good story and perfect music, though the game aspect was quite lacking.
 

BrotherRool

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The Artificially Prolonged said:
I just played To The Moon the other day. I'm not one to get very emotional playing games, at best getting a bit misty eyed at something really sad happens, but damn it To The Moon had me in full on tears multiple times. Such a good story and perfect music, though the game aspect was quite lacking.
There were plenty of things I'd change about it, but the core was so good. For days after playing I could bring back emotions just by thinking of the things that happened in their proper context. I think if I was recutting it, I'd probably strip away what game elements it did have. Because there were so unnecessary and not particularly satisfying they just kinda highlighted even more how little of a game it actually was. I'm happy to use the word "game" to describe all interactive fiction because there's not really any place in the sequence Dear Esther, Katwa Shoujo, To The Moon, The Walking Dead, Mass Effect, Spec Ops, CoD 4 where you can really say that the one is a game and the other isn't but throwing in puzzles for puzzles sake sort of takes away from that idea
 

inkheart_artist

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I'm glad to hear someone giving a nod to Papo & Yo. It was just as thematically difficult as Spec Ops: The Line and successful in what it was attempting to portray but seemed kind of forgotten under bigger budget more financially successful games.

The Artificially Prolonged said:
It really has been an interesting year in gaming.
I have to heartily agree with that. This has been the most exciting year in gaming I've had since 2007.
 

Aardvark Soup

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The Artificially Prolonged said:
I just played To The Moon the other day. I'm not one to get very emotional playing games, at best getting a bit misty eyed at something really sad happens, but damn it To The Moon had me in full on tears multiple times. Such a good story and perfect music, though the game aspect was quite lacking.
I was quite surprised To the Moon did not end up on any Best of 2012 lists... until I found out it was actually released at the end of 2011, although I discovered it quite a few months later. The same also holds for the Binding of Isaac, which was also one of the greatest games I played this year.
 

DrunkOnEstus

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This might be the best "top 5" I've read so far. We need more analysis on the types of experiences that transcend "fun" or "awesome", as we're really starting to hit that stride and show what this medium can offer that others simply cannot. I'm also getting the impression that the demo for Papo & Yo didn't really do it justice...I might have to check that out again.
 

Robert Rath

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Aardvark Soup said:
The Artificially Prolonged said:
I just played To The Moon the other day. I'm not one to get very emotional playing games, at best getting a bit misty eyed at something really sad happens, but damn it To The Moon had me in full on tears multiple times. Such a good story and perfect music, though the game aspect was quite lacking.
I was quite surprised To the Moon did not end up on any Best of 2012 lists... until I found out it was actually released at the end of 2011, although I discovered it quite a few months later. The same also holds for the Binding of Isaac, which was also one of the greatest games I played this year.
To The Moon was indeed released in 2011, but I also must admit that I haven't played it. Based on the multiple recommendations, though, I've marked it down as something I really need to check out.
 

Imp_Emissary

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Good game choices, and a great article. I hope to see more Critical Intel in the coming years.

:) May they be good for you, and us all.
 

Alexnader

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Nice "Top 5" list. Also I really need to borrow a PS3 so I can play Journey, every now and then videos or articles like these come along and kick me a little.
 

Yeager942

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Hotline Miami. It's a game where every element from story, music, and gameplay is designed to inspire a singular mood from the player: surreal complacency. The only way to play the game is to stop thinking and give into the experience.