Monday, 2 January 2012

Best of 2011

Since 2012 is here I thought it might be a good time for a short best of 2011 list! Note that only games that have been released during 2011 are included (and not games that I have played last year). So without further ado, here are my top picks from the past year (starting in reverse order, to make things exciting!):

3 - Portal 2

What I liked the most about Portal 2 were these little moments where you really felt immersed in the world. For example if you hesitate to follow Wheatly's advice and a make a not very safe looking leap down, he will try to persuade you using hilarious quips. These (unfortunately sparse) moments created this kind of special connection to characters you rarely see in games. There also exists a very strong sense of place in Portal 2. I think this is mostly created by how the dialog and environments come together and interact. Unfortunately most of this is in the first third or so and the game becomes more and more drawn out during the end. There is also a lot of really lackluster puzzle sections where you are simply trying to find the right area to place a portal. Despite these short comings, Portal 2 had me quite engaged and proved to be one of the better experiences of last year.

2 - To the Moon

I think the most interesting aspect of this game is how it in some ways is a culmination of a 25 years JPRPG pixel dramaturgy. The emotional displays of the simplistic sprites are very limited, but are used to perfection and creates a very powerful and mature narration. The game also feature very interesting take on puzzles and action. Sometimes it is possible to decide how much challenge you want and at other times the activities are irrelevant and simply there to make you more connected to the world. Unfortunately this is at its best at the start of the game and it gets progressively worse. The end even contains a terrible action sequence.
What really brings the game home though, is how To the Moon manages to bring up mature themes in a way that is extremely rare in videogames. These play out in fairly non-interactive situations and thus are not any kind of revolution. But simply seeing a game where the core experience is a meditation on love, relationships, memory and what is really important in life, makes me really happy and hopeful.

1- Sword and Sworcery
This is by far my favorite game from last year. The videogame's strong focus on making something that blends interaction, music and visuals creates a really engaging experience. This is truly a game that aims to take you inside a another world and it is all about living it instead of trying to beat it. Another thing I really liked about it is how the game does not force you into continuing playing it. Sword and Sworcery actually explicitly tells you to take a rest and come back later between chapters. In an industry where it is all about getting players hooked and never stop playing, this is extremly refreshing to see. Combined with this, the game also asks you to reflect upon it and encourages the player to not just have a shallow, addictive experience. I really hope to see more of this! The game is not without flaws of course. There are lots of problems with the often annoying combat, repetitive puzzles, the twitter integration did not feel needed and some of the writing feels a bit too quirky and lazy. Still, Sword and Sworcery is quite the thing and I urge all of everyone to give it a go.

Now I am interested to hear which 3 games from 2011 were your favorites!


  1. Limbo
    Portal 2

    Hoping for new Frictional Games project in 2012 *fingers crossed* :)

  2. To the Moon was definitely an excellent story.

    Made me cry.

  3. Deus Ex, Skyrim, Uncharted 3.

    Last year it was Heavy Rain and Amnesia.

  4. 3)Portal 2
    1)Deus Ex: Human Revolution

  5. New Released Games 2011:
    Deus Ex 3, Bastion, Limbo
    (I barely played new games.

    Games I played for the first time in 2011 but already released:
    Mass Effect 1 & 2, Zeno Clash, Arkham Asylum, Natural Selection 2 Beta

  6. 1) Bastion
    2) Limbo
    3) To the Moon

    2011 was an excellent year!

  7. Skyrim? Meh, I was impressed with it's writing until the exposition of how Alduin returned, it really is hackneyed cheese that makes me embarrassed for Bethesda. I am looking forward to the DLC that has the Dwemer driving Delorian time machines, though.

    Portal 2
    Fallout: New Vegas - Old World Blues

    Atom Zombie Smasher is a surprisingly interesting time waster.

  8. 1) Bastion
    2) To the Moon
    3) Space Engine + Tribes Ascend (both at beta phase, counts?)

    Space Engine isn't really a game, but you can make it one with some clever roleplay if you want to.

  9. Thomas, I hope you don't take this the wrong way, but since I'm a professional English proofreader I just wanted to offer an English tip:

    If the subject of a sentence is plural, the verb should be plural too. If the subject is singular, the verb should be singular.

    So "There also exist a very strong sense of place" should be "There also exists a very strong sense of place." And similarly, "The emotional displays [...] is very limited" should be "The emotional displays [...] are very limited."

    I hope this helps you!

  10. Seiji:
    Not taken the wrong way. I am not the best of writers + I was not in the best of writing moods, so the results is not that great :)

    Thanks for the corrections, will fix!

  11. Stealth Bastard (got the game mechanics just right!), Rayman origins (terrific in every aspect), Portal 2 (although unlike Thomas my heart belongs to GlaDOS, again. Wheatley just pissed me off :)

  12. ...and as a 4th one I'd put Justine :D

  13. 1) Amnesia
    2) Amnesia
    3) Amnesia


    But, I mostly played old pc or psx/ps2 games i never got to try before...
    Well, let me see what can I dig up from 2011 that looks promising.

    Happy New Year everyone!

  14. 1. Dark Souls
    2. Dark Souls
    3. Dark Souls

  15. I would really love to play Sword and Sworcery, but I havent got an I-Phone. I really hate it when they release games exclusive to I-devices, I aint gonna spend hundreds of dollars for this crap so I wont be able to play them ever!

    Otherwise the only game I played that was released 2011 was Portal 2, and I loved it.
    Loved the part where you fall down to the bottom of Aperture Science-Facilities and climb up. You learned everything about Aperture-Science history only by exploring, seeing and hearing and not through boring text blocks. It was so immersive and interesting, using the Portal-Gun not for puzzles, but for exploration. Everyone else hates that part because its not puzzle-focused but I find it the best part of the game :)

  16. 1. DCS A10C (Hardcore flightsim with stunning attention to detail)
    2. Portal 2 (short Singleplayer but had loads of coop fun)
    3. Batman Arkham City (although not quite as good as the first one)

  17. -Amnesia :The dark descent. A revolution. A new style of horror game. Superbe.

  18. I'm glad to see that there is a best of 2011 list that isn't obsessed with The Binding of Isaac.

    Here's my personal favourites:
    3. From Dust
    2. The Witcher 2
    1. Amnesia

  19. Correction: Amnesia was 2010.

    okay then:
    3. Portal 2
    2. From Dust
    1. The Witcher 2

  20. Deux Ex - choice all the way, i liked that!
    Batman Arkham City - Fluent all the way. Gameplay-wise.

    I have Penumbra (all 3) and Amnesia. Can't play, though, too scary.

    Couldn't pass the first demon dog in penumbra...


  21. 3. SpaceChem
    2. Portal 2
    1. Frozen Synapse

    I still need to play some major 2011 releases (The Witcher 2 and Dark Souls are the two biggest ones).

  22. "Amnesia: Justine" is from 2011.
    Isn't it Thomas' number 1?

    So here's my list:

    3. Need For Speed: SHIFT 2 Unleashed
    2. The Witcher 2: Assassin's of Kings
    1. Amnesia: Justine

  23. 1) Witcher 2
    2) Skyrim
    3) Deus Ex
    4) Dead Island

  24. How can someone who has played Amnesia put Portal 2 on his GotY? Frictional Games have clearly been bribed or something similar. Valve cares a lot how people see them and thats why they made TF2 p4f.

    Look at this post: . What Valve lack in programming skills they make up for in the PR department.

    If Frictional Games speak well of Valve in their blog Valve will help them promote their future game in Steam.

  25. Oh my God you are totally right Skeptic! This is all just a conspiracy!

    Thomas gets paid by valve to promote Portal 2 on his blog, I mean Portal is not even a good game, thats why valve is so desperate and tries anything to sell a few more copies!

    Thats it, I'll NEVER buy a game from Frictional Games nor Valve ever again, and I urge everyone one of you to do the same. Thats the only way we can change things!!!

  26. the games of 2011:

    My favorite game from 2011 will have to be Witcher 2.
    I got really impressed about how "narratively involving" Dragon Age 2 was, and just 2 months after Dragon age, Witcher 2 came and smashed the impressive voice narration from dragon age in the face, big time.
    Over all the witcher games have a more real and dark fantasy world, its more black metal, if you consider dragon age:s depth to be more power metal. And personally, it touched my mad brain in just the right way^^.
    Also the face that I did not have to fight my way through like some big ass prince brute, but could play around with my tongue to a much greater extence made me feel much more involved in the game.
    Ohhh that leads me to Skyrim, just a short note:
    I really had a hard time beeing a sharming cute, but twisted cat humanoid when everyone keept coming to be, treating me like a great destined hero. I just wanted to sneak around listening to intime conversations (and such) to be able to use that information as a currency for survival and power.

    2. Another success of 2011 I will have to say is Portal 2. Valve do as they usually do. They make a very linear game closely linked to a uniqe and dynamic game mechanic with tons of "fluff" built around it. The fluff beeing nice graphics, GLADoS, our nice mr brittish guy and so on...
    The only thing Portal 2 could have been for me more, that never happened is a "custom story" creator, I never found any comfort working with the level editor, so some ideas are still left on paper for some co-op levels.

    3. Finally I had a chance to enjoy the 2006 game Ys:origin this year. The reason for the long delay is the english langage patch that I found out was ready earlier this year.
    So Ys:origin was very much like the other 3D Ys games except for the part that this time the entire game takes place in the old favorite place of the tower of darm. And I also felt that the bosses where very well designed, they gave an extra dimension to the fast pased action RPG gameplay with lots and lots of different attack patterns.
    In general im a little more devided when it comes to Ys in 3D, the 3D engine captures the most important aspects of a Ys game, the fast, intuitive gameplay, and even adds to it in the third dimension. But on the other hand is it hard to adapt to it, it is not the same Ys now that its all in 3D. And that is something I think Falcom should take into consideration, just as Nintendo has realized that mario is still fun in 2 (playable) dimensions, and metroid other M mixes the old with the new. I would really like to see something like that in a Ys game...

  27. Hm. I think my top 3 would be:

    1. L.A. Noire

    2. Skyrim

    3. Portal 2

  28. My personal first three best of 2011 are:

    1. Witcher 2
    2. Deus ex: Human Revolution
    3. Limbo (I´d say Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines, but since only games made in 2011 count...)

    Thanks for sharing your opinion, Thomas. You almost made me buy apple tablet just to play Superbrothers: Sword&Sorcery. I´d gladly buy the game, if they would do PC port.

  29. You completely forgot to mention "Alice: Madness Returns" which is sad to see since it tried to be more unique compared to other AAA titles and it tried to accomplish the concepts you've mentioned in earlier posts (Minimal cutscenes and it tried to deliver story elements by actual ingame gameplay, Not relying on Peek-A-Boo Horror, ...)

  30. My top picks from 2011

    1.Dark Souls (now my favorite game of all time)
    2.Dead Space 2

    Biggest disappointment = Rage.

  31. Late to this party but my top three would be :

    3. Limbo
    2. Dungeon Defenders
    1. Skyrim

    Honorable mentions : Batman : Arkham City, Deus Ex : Human Revolution, Dead Island, Uncharted 3 : Drake's Deception and the awesome Magicka.

    2011 was the best year for games for a long, long time.


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