This is a scrappy, thrown together list of my favorites of 2011. Through this list you can get a sense of what I tend to gravitate to or whatever, but it’s something I put together without a lot of the intense editing that goes into a “Deconstructing” piece… so bear with me if the language gets game blog level bad.
Ghost Trick (Nintendo DS, but now out for iOS as well): I was obsessed with this game in the very beginning of the year. Sure, there was the problem where some puzzles would get past the point where you could do anything and I would have to restart them, but that one small issue never really got on my nerves. Trial and error isn’t really that big of a deal in a game with as little overhead for restarting a puzzle, especially when that tanker stage in COD MW made me constantly keep back peddling every time I took the slightest wrong turn. That was really annoying in COD but in Ghost Trick it’s just a minor inconvenience.
The story was great, characters were awesome as per standard Phoenix Wright style (Takumi, director of PW series made this one) and the animation was in a league of its own. The puzzles, the other white meat of the game, were spectacular and inventive.
Radiant Historia (Nintendo DS): I haven’t played through a turn based RPG in quite some time, mostly because I can’t find the time at home. But on a bigger level, the genre just doesn’t seem to be remotely as good as it was in the SNES or 32 bit days. But Radiant Historia is the first game in years got me by being an Atlus game on the DS and when I played it I was enthralled with the time traveling story line, the characters, the music and the battle system; everything you should be in love with in an RPG.
All of those aspects made the generic anime portraits and the LOUD stomping sound for when walking around almost melt away entirely.
The Binding of Isaac: My expectations for this game were shockingly low, especially because I enjoyed the last game Edmund McMillen worked on, Super Meat Boy, to the point where I bought a signed boxed PC copy when I already bought the XBLA version as well as a shirt and the soundtrack. Screen shots and gameplay videos do not do the game justice. The sheer thrill of running through desolate caverns while looking for a way out while never knowing what is in the next room can only be experienced through playing it.