Although some might argue that 2012 featured less must-have games than the last few years, those titles that did stand out from the pack were damn good, and it was difficult whittling down the very best to just a handful of nominees. Even without exclusives, there are some brutal competition for best multiplatform game of 2012.
Even harder, of course, was deciding upon a winner, but democracy has won through and given us the best of the mercenaries, the fairweather friends, and the games that like to spread it around a bit. Here's a reminder of the finalists:
And the winner is ...
The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead has fast become a videogame writing masterclass, an example of how to craft a genuinely compelling story, how to use tragedy alongside levity to maximize the effect of both, and how to create a child character the player genuinely cares for, rather than feels bound by. Naturally, the game's story has won it much acclaim, but more than that, it's a fine game to boot.
A classic adventure game at heart, The Walking Dead combines simple puzzles, gut-wrenching decision making and well implemented, fully contextualized quick-time-events to craft a title that induces panic and stress, but in a way that only serves to make the game more astounding. With this episodic adventure, TellTale Games went for what Heavy Rain tried to achieve, and walked that crucial step further, making a game about consequence and dilemma, with well-rounded characters worth becoming investing in.
For years, games have sold themselves on how "emotional" they are. Big studios backed by big publishers have lauded the quality of their narrative, the impact of player choice, and their power to pull your heartstrings. Almost all of them have failed, and revealed their boasts as naught but bluster and shallow advertising. TellTale accomplished what the titans of this industry have attempted and failed to do for a generation.
More importantly, it did it so well, I'm not sure we'll have such a success story for quite some time.