So in the last post, you saw my top ten games of 2012. However, I think the last twelve months were fabulous for gaming overall. It seemed as though there were a neverending stream of titles that ranged from "pretty good" to "pretty great,"and I never had much trouble finding something that was worthwhile.
As such, I would like to give recognition to a few titles which weren't good enough to make the final cut, but who still deserve a tip of the hat. In no particular order, my honorable mentions of 2012…
Trials Evolution (Xbox 360)
I love Trials. Love it. RedLynx has absolutely nailed the formula, and this is one title I consistently come back to time and again when I don't have anything else cooking. It's especially noteworthy since I don't care much for motorcycles, I'm not a fan of scorechasing, and I don't particularly care for games which are incredibly difficult. Trials is all three of these things, and I just can't get enough of it. If you haven't tried it yet, do yourself a favor and at least give the demo a whirl… on the surface it may not seem like your cup of tea, but it's got some magnetic quality to it that's impossible to resist.
Containment: The Zombie Puzzler (PC, iOS)
I feel like I've talked this one to death, but it bears repeating at least once more. Take some zombies, mash them into a puzzle game where the object is to surround the undead with similar types of people, add in some intriguing environmental storytelling, and the results are a bloody good time. It's such a strange, offbeat title that it's a little hard to describe until you actually play, but every person whom I've introduced it to walks away a fan.
The Testament of Sherlock Holmes (PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC)
Sherlock is hot right now thanks to the BBC's fresh, new take on the property and another recent series from CBS. This game doesn't build on either of those things, but contains a healthy dose of the classic Homes formula that makes them great. The developers are quite clever in the way they set Sherlock up as both the player, and as being above the player in terms of intelligence. It's a very interesting sensation, and meshes well with the point-and-click formula. I also appreciated that the game didn't shy away from filth and gore, and the feeling of solving a puzzle does make you feel as though you've done an honest bit of detective work.
Tales From Space: Mutant Blobs Attack (PlayStation Vita)
If you ask me, Drinkbox is one of the most overlooked studios out there. They've got a great sense of humor, the visuals are stylized and appealing, and their titles are a lot of fun to play. In fact, their latest is one of the best titles available for the Vita, hands down. I had a great time taking a spiky yellow blob and devouring everything that crossed my path in a game that combines Katamari Damacy, LocoRoco, and wacky '50s Scifi. Bonus points for including gyroscope and touch controls which don't feel shoehorned in.
Silent Hill: Book of Memories (PlayStation Vita)
This one isn't a no-brainer recommendation the way the other games in this list are, but I have to be honest when I say that by the time credits rolled, I was deeply enjoying the gameplay. Although it massively breaks away from the traditional Silent Hill formula, this title's quasi-roguelike style really comes together once the player consults an FAQ to figure out what the hell is going on, and it feels like a good fit for the Vita—deep enough to provide satisfying play, but small enough to be easily picked up and put down. Fair warning, it takes some effort to get into, but players who like survival-based dungeon crawling will find a lot to like here.
Minecraft (Xbox 360)
I know Minecraft is old hat to PC gamers, but I played it myself this year for the very first time, and I found myself very attracted to the XBLA version because it was easy to approach, and never felt overwhelming. I was pleasantly surprised by the Survival mode's ability to deliver a compelling, self-motivated adventure, but even better than that is the fact that the Creative mode (without monsters) is the most amazing box of virtual Legos that a parent could ever ask for. My children took to it immediately, and it's the sort of game that I don't mind sitting down with them to play—we can build the most fantastic things and have fun doing it without worrying about any pressures imposed by the game itself. If we had to play this on PC, I doubt that anyone in my family ever would have taken the time, but it's so easy to get into on the 360 that I felt it was worth special mention.
… And there you have it, my honorable mentions of 2012. Check them out if you haven't already!