2012: my favorite games

Yup I know - it is 2013 already. But;

a) 2012’s end was just insanely busy with launching Game On.

b) ok fine- i m Greek and I m always a wee-bit late and what can we do, that’s part of my charm :)

c) I rely on the fact that not so many people read this blog and hence the chances of you actually caring for me being late with such a post, are *very* slim.

With all that said, here are my top 2012 games; hope you play them if you haven’t already and that you enjoy them as much as I did.

1. Super Hexagon, Terry Cavanagh

This heart-pounding, minimal, brilliantly addictive game has the power of making you feel like a genius for completing a level - while simultaneously making it brutally painful to miss.

I first played Super Hexagon on my way back from Nottingham’s Game City Festival - where everyone was talking about it. It took me the whole trip back to London (2h) to go past the line level and then about two transatlantic flights to pass the game’s first level, poignantly named “hard”. 

I don’t think I have heard “Game Over” more times in my life than when playing Super Hexagon and despite the small likelihood of me ever passing Hyper Hexagonest I still believe that if I keep trying, one day- I will succeed.

2. Zombies Run, Six to Start

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I am not really into Zombie games. Or into gamification apps, that try to motivate you to do everyday routines. But I am very much into running, I do it almost everyday, and a fan of the british Six to Start team which has a knack for great story-telling & pervasive games.

Zombies Run is an ARG- esque mobile game where you run away from zombies while mixing in your favorite playlist. The game’s narrative is genuinely good and the fact that I am running in a park full of happy baby strollers and serene dog walkers while escaping brutal attacks from zombies is well… awesome. 

The game also does a pretty good job of tracking your runs stats if you are into that sort of thing.

3. Turtle Wushu, Invisible Playground

Ok, If you know me you know that I have been obsessed with Turtle Wushu this year. I first played it at the Playpublic festival in Berlin and have been playing it with friends and colleagues ever since. I even made everyone at Mozfest play it.

Turtle Wushu is a mash-up of two other favorite folk games of mine, Joust and Ninja. But it includes tiny plastic turtles from China and results in hilarious gameplay.

A wonderful group game with a subtle narrative (naming your turtle is crucial) which also doubles as a metagame;  my favorite part about it is when people take out their turtle in random moments and challenge each other in an impromptu match of turtle wushu.

As a street games festival organizer, I also have to say that this has been the easiest game to ever setup and run, all you need is tiny turtles and someone to show you the rules. So double kudos to the awesomest Invisible Playground team for it.

4. Dys4ia, Anna Anthropy

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Dys4ia is an extremely elegant, moving and honest storytelling game about going through the process of hormone replacement therapy while dealing with the social implications of being transgendered. Aside from being a powerful narrative with impeccable semiotics in it’s graphics and gameplay - Dys4ia is about an experience that is not really dealt with in the medium of games. It is valuable as an empowerment for others to seek more diversity in games and the stories they tell.

5. Journey, thatgamecompany

I am cheating a bit on this, since I first played Journey in a demo Kellee Santiago gave at NYU in March of 2011. But I never finished the game until this summer when I replayed it during a warm and lazy summer night in Athens.

Journey is as effortless and lyrical a game can be. Following an incredibly minimal yet seductive narrative (only one line of text appears throughout the course of the game, that is “Journey” in the beginning) you get lost in a dessert of sand smoothly moving towards the mountain, through eye-watering landscapes. At the end you emerge in a state that is close to having gone through a metaphysical experience.

What I love about Journey beyond the astonishing beauty and serenity it transcends is the way you learn how to do things in the game; not always obvious or easy you slowly navigate Journey’s systems seamlessly and intuitively.

6. Fez, Phil Fish


On the topic of stunning games, the much anticipated Fez was a feast. A mind-boggling puzzle game in a 3D world where you actually explore everything in a 2D view as you turn the world around on an axis to navigate and discover objects. Fez’s puzzles are also super hard to solve (and endless). Like Super Hexagon is has the quality of turning frustration into enjoyment for playing more. And you probably don’t need me to tell you how gorgeous the graphics are. I have never imagined more plush toys and cute t-shirts coming out of a game.

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2012 was a banner year for indie game developers, I am hoping for more of that in 2013 as well as experiencing more games on the web and exploring all the new mechanics and potential it has to offer. I also promise to do more of this sort of thing here on my blog- and write about games I play. Till then, have a happy & game-full new year.

Tagged: #games
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