Games You Should Have Played in 2012, But Probably Didn’t

Phil Hornshaw

Another imaginative indie title, Dustforce came early in 2012 and didn’t see much of the limelight, which is a shame. Taking a page from the crop of great indie side-scrolling platformers of the last few years, Dustforce has players leaping, running, wall-jumping and more through various levels, on a mission to clean things up.

Dustforce’s fast pace, light atmosphere, great art style and wonderful soundtrack combine to make it an airy experience. It’s also got some pretty great platforming design, turning up the challenge on players while also making sure that everything feels natural and surmountable. It’s the kind of game in which you’ll play levels over and over again, trying to eek out a better score. Plus, with four playable characters, you can try each level in a different way multiple times.

The other cool thing about Dustforce is that it supports local multiplayer, and it’s definitely worth trying with a friend; there’s also a free level editor so you can make stages of you rown. A gamepad is recommended, though, as Dustforce requires a whole lot of fast-twitch, precision execution.

Read our Dustforce review.

Natural Selection 2
Phil Hornshaw

I can’t say enough good things about Natural Selection 2. The multiplayer indie title does something that rarely is accomplished well: it created well-balanced asynchronous multiplayer that’s crazy fun to play, and offers a wealth of different experiences. You can play as strange, melee-focused aliens, tech-driven marines, or RTS commander variations of the two. That’s a lot to offer.

More than that, NS2 is a game, like Tribes, that is fun every time out the gate and really rewards players for their skills. The longer you play, the more fun it is, and though it can be a bit hard to climb NS2′s learning curve at first — the aliens in particular can be tough to control, and not knowing what you’re doing on the FPS side of things is frustrating — adding a little time and experience with it really shows just how meticulously balanced the whole thing is.

Perhaps contrary to some popular shooters, NS2 always feels like it’s a game about skill, and rewards players for building those skills and thinking critically about their teamwork and interaction. And teamwork is an incredibly important part of the whole situation, making the game feel like a community much more than just something you step into by yourself. I highly recommend it for fans of multiplayer titles.

Read our Natural Selection 2 review.

That’s it for our picks this year, but certainly there are more games we haven’t had a chance to try, and other titles that deserve mention that we’ve covered more elsewhere (our HorrorScope series is absolutely bursting with them). If you’ve got additional great games that everyone should know about, please — leave a comment, spread the word, and turn us on to the awesome.

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5 Comments on Games You Should Have Played in 2012, But Probably Didn’t


On December 17, 2012 at 6:37 pm

XCOM was one of the biggest disappointments in recent memory. Utterly broken game mechanics, all the depth of a kiddie pool and some of the worst dialog in living memory. I could’ve forgiven the third-rate cutscenes if the rest of the game had lived up to the hype in any way – but it didn’t. Like the overly scripted missions, the campaign was completely linear and after a single play-through you’ve seen everything it can offer. XCOM: EU was an epic fail by any measure. Firaxis chose to take the cheap n’ easy console route and didn’t deliver a fraction of what they promised. Dishonored was almost as bad, but for me, XCOM easily wins the letdown of the year award.


On December 18, 2012 at 12:21 pm

“Games You Should Have Played in 2012, But Probably Didn’t”
“I know, I know. You’ve already played XCOM.”
>Probably didn’t.

Out of the innumerable quiet but brilliant releases of this year, you pick one for this article that almost everyone has played. Very strange move to say the least. I could name maybe 10 games off the top of my head which were brilliant, but largely unnoticed. I thought that’s the point of an article like this?

Phil Hornshaw

On December 18, 2012 at 12:23 pm


A big part of the article was the “Should Have” portion, so while a few of these games are better-known than most, the writers polled wanted to choose games they really felt deserved more attention. I still feel like we have quite a few lesser-known titles on offer as well, but with XCOM it could go either way depending on how tapped-in players are, especially in the PC space.


On December 18, 2012 at 12:31 pm

I understand what you’re saying, but it says “We’ve polled our staff for their favorite low-visibility games this year” – a poll of *low-visibility* games would certainly exclude XCOM. I understand there are subjective reasons for posting it, but it seems to defy the stated logic in the opening paragraph and title. Just threw me off a little, that’s all. It’s a cool article though and well written I’m not criticizing you in any way.

Ben Richardson

On December 18, 2012 at 1:38 pm


I think the blurb acknowledges that it was sort of a strange pick. Still, saying that “almost everyone” played it is needless hyperbole. Based on some quick research, Dishonored out-sold XCOM by a factor of four, despite being a terrible game. So if I can convince some of the people who bought Dishonored to play XCOM now instead, I’d consider that a victory. @Psycros’ complaints notwithstanding.