2012 was a big year for downloadable games on consoles and PCs. The indie and smaller developers came on strong this year and brought some truly special games directly to our consoles, without the need to go buying a disc at the local video game retailer. There is something so incredibly satisfying about being able to boot up your console and download a game instantly. Sure, it loses the collection factor that comes with owning the box and manual, but in many cases, I am willing to forego that in favor of being able to play the game almost instantly.
There were three games that really stood tall above the rest in terms of the downloadable space in 2012. Usually, choosing a list like this is difficult, and requires a great deal of thinking on my part. For this list, it was not even a contest. I just knew exactly what three games to choose. Sure, I double checked my memory banks, but in a matter of moments, I came back to the original three.
Journey is a fantastic game available on the PlayStation Network. It is developed by the small team at Thatgamecompany and they most certainly knocked it out of the park. There is a good reason it was nominated in almost every category at the Spike Video Game Awards this year; it’s just that good. It is a game based on simply exploring the world and it features some of the most splendid and spellbinding music and sound you will ever encounter in a video game.
The co-op component of the game is so simple, and yet so innovative. Other players dynamically appear in your game, and the only way you can interact with them is through a simple musical call your characters can give off. You don’t see the other players PSN name, and in spite of this, you feel a real sense of connection with them; so much so that when you move too far apart and they get dropped from the game, you may actually feel a genuine sense of sadness at the loss of your anonymous friend.
Journey’s name is fitting because the game is just that; a beautiful, simple journey that every gamer must experience at one point or another.
The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead is available for almost every platform under the sun. It is the game that reminded gamers everywhere that the point and click adventure is far from dead. It flipped the relatively simple genre on its head with intense action sequences and high-end visuals that rivals any other game on the market. Telltale released the game episodically, and each episode left gamers longing for the next one to drop.
All of the episodes are available now, and even without the delay between them, you will still be dying to jump into the next one.
The Walking Dead features some of the most messed up choices ever in a video game. Instead of a simple good and bad system like Mass Effect, everything in The Walking Dead involves shades of gray. No matter what decision you make, something bad is going to happen. Some of the decisions are so brutally difficult, that you will feel like a person actually stuck in a zombie apocalypse. Every choice has consequences, and that is what makes this game so incredibly awesome.
I realize I am probably in the minority here, as most people think Walking Dead is not only the best downloadable game of the year, but the best game period. However, I found myself more enamored with Fez than any other game to hit the downloadable scene this year. It’s not my favorite game of the year overall, but it’s certainly close.
The simple platforming gameplay mixed with the mind-bending mechanic of flipping the 2D world’s perspective on a 3D plane is truly something special.
At its core, Fez is a platformer. You play as a cute magical Fez wearing character named Gomez in an old-school art style as he collects pieces of the Hexahedron and tries to save the world from the brink of destruction.
Is it the deepest plot? No, but the gameplay is so thrilling and addictive that I simply don’t care. Fez brings me back to the video game days of yesteryear, but with plenty of modern polish. It is one of the best games I have ever played, and it’s one that every gamer should download. For more on Fez, check out the film Indie Game: The Movie. It’s on Netflix.
There were some other great downloadable games across Xbox Live Arcade, The PlayStation Network, the App Store, and Google Play, but these three games stand tall above the rest. The gameplay and innovation they bring to the table is something special. We can only hope 2013 brings the same level of quality to the world of downloadable games.
Agree? Disagree? Hit the comment section below and let us know what downloadable games you think of the best from 2012.