We get it. Sometimes we miss games. Often it’s because there is just so much other stuff out there that we want to play. Sometimes the advertising machine does not grease all the wheels equally and we just miss it. But now that the release surge has died down just a bit and we’re in to a much slower pace, maybe it’s time to catch up. Pick up a few of those games you missed. Hey, on the plus side, maybe they even dropped in price a bit. So here is my list, not exactly a top 10, because I don’t think it would be 10.
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning
Why you may have missed it: It’s hard to commit to a fantasy RPG, I know, I get it. With Mass Effect 3 release looming large the game offered you a little bit of something to get behind. The advertising was there. That being said, the first reviews were mixed and the game did look a bit more on the hack and slash side than RPG. The visual style was also not the best for all. Camera work was questionable, and the grind of the MMORPG variety quickly set in the deeper you got into the game.
Why should you give it a shot: First and foremost, the writing story pedigree was there. The world was unique and alive and the hack and slash elements were most certainly fun. The levelling system was complex enough to keep trying to grow your character just to see how much more you could accomplish. The combat system was well balanced and allowed for interaction between magic, sword play and rogue-like cunning. On top of that, your character was never limited to just one path, you could build your own adventure in a sense. Clocking in at close to 30 hours, the game was a treat of an adventure. With tonnes of content, compelling writing and a great sense of freedom, Reckoning was one title all RPG fans shouldn’t have slept on in 2012.
Why you may have missed it: Let’s face it, first person shooters are a dime a dozen. They really, really are. On top of that, when someone tells you that they’re remaking an old strategy game as an FPS you can help but be just a little bit skeptical of the effort. Short story-line progression, a questionable premise and a February release date didn’t exactly point to the Syndicate setting the world on fire.
Why you should give it a shot: While not exactly breaking new grounds for the genre, Syndicate was actually a very competent shooter. The development team brought enough to the table to make the game feel unique and stand out. Clever hacking tricks and good level design allowed for a very fluid experience, albeit a very short one. Where the game really did earn it’s stripes was a co-op. Clever level layout, a smart story supported premise and a lot of fun. I found myself lost in co-op for days on end, with a few people behind me. You always had to work well with your teammates, advance and find creative solutions to some problems. If you have three more bored friends and nothing to do this winter, you could do a whole lot worse than Syndicate.
Why you may have missed it: For some people it may have been the change of visual style, for others, a lackluster advertising campaign. Maybe it was just the whole game fatigue going into February. CoD and Battlefield were still around, and lets face it, only the most dedicated players were anywhere close to “finishing” Skyrim. All of those things, as well initially mixed reviews didn’t do well for the Darkness.
Why you should give it a shot: If you’re a comic book fan, the game definitely does the source material justice. The violence was delightfully gruesome and cartoonish, and the visual style worked well with that kind of over the top action. Furthermore, the unique Darkness mechanics made the game a bit more than your run of the mill FPS. You had to stay in the dark, you also had many creative ways to dispose of your enemies, and earn XP doing it. The multiplayer fell short, but having a very engaging and fun single player campaign that had tremendous pacing and a great payoff at the end was all worth it.
Spec Ops: The Line
Why you may have missed it: I don’t really remember seeing much of Spec Ops leading up to the games release. The material was also a bit too dark for some, a steady setting a dreadful subject matter and very deliberately slow pacing probably did it’s job to turn the modern day adrenaline junkie gamer away.
Why you should give it a shot: From a story perspective I think this was the best experience of the year. Couple that with very solid third person shooter mechanics and you have a good game. Even if all of that still wasn’t there, the emotional journey that at times gets dark and twisted is more than worth the price of admission. This is proof that games can also handle tough subject matter same way movies do. The Line should be embraced for that fact alone.
Why you may have missed it: It’s an indie game. It’s a platformer. In the modern day of through the roof visuals it definitely looks like something from a bygone era. If those things turn you off, you probably missed out on one of the best gamer’s gaming experienes of the year.
Why you should give it a shot: Fez is a joy to play, it’s that simple. The clever gameplay mechanic that defines the whole title will present you with some unbelievably mind-bending puzzles. As you navigate the colorful world of Fez the sense of discovery and satisfaction with each new solution never goes away. It’s fun throughout and you should be playing it right now.
Why you may have missed it: We get it, some people are just not too into the fantasy setting. Or a drawn out RPG grind, or the story that makes you work for the rewards. Sometimes it’s better to be led by the hand. First videos looked clunky, very much so, the combat didn’t seem enjoyable and the visuals were murky at best. All of that sold the game short.
Why you should give it a shot: It’s one of the best RPGs out this year. There was a lot to say about Dragon’s Dogma. There is a massive land to explore, lots of places to get and you can level up your character through the roof and more. Throughout all that, the game never stops being challenging or enjoyable. On top of that, it has one of the best combat systems for an RPG, not only this year, but in the past few years. It is the franchise that got unfairly overlooked, and now it is time to catch up while you still have some free time.