eGamer Awards 2012: Best Puzzle/Platformer
This year we didn’t see an abundance of platformer or puzzle games, but the few we did get were high quality, and in the end we’re appreciative of that at least. Let’s take a look a the top game in this category in order to determine which was the best overall. But first, as usual it’s time for the rundown.
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Pure platforming games never seem to lose their appeal, and whether it’s nostalgia or their vibrant nature that draws us to them remains a mystery. However, put in kiddy terms, to be at the top of this genre the games in question need to be more than just jumping around. Whether that comes in the form of diversity, awesome content, artistic design or clever gameplay is really up to the platformer itself, as our choice will come down to the best all-round experience that we had this year.
Quantum Conundrum was an amazing surprise this year, as it effectively reached heights arguably only surpassed by Portal. With its blend of logical, challenging puzzles and fast platforming, the game kept us entertained from the moment it started. Sure, the story wasn’t all that interesting and it had a few minor issues with gameplay, but overall it succeeded at what it wanted to do and its cheap price certainly went in its favour as well. Fans of Portal or just puzzle games in general would absolutely love this game, and it admirably had enough content to keep players actively involved for more than just the impressive eight hour campaign. This title was a gem, and it deserves its place on our list.
Catherine was another unsung gem of this year, and it really was a great game. It was a rather rare experience that was a combination of both arcade-style gameplay and an emotionally engaging story. It might not have been a game for everyone, but it definitely made an impression on us. It was charming and packed with personality in its own right, and kept us wanting more. Most of the praise could be given to the narrative, with its gorgeous animation and top notch voice acting, but we can’t overlook the game’s clever design and satisfying, outlandish gameplay. Catherine was both unique and refreshing.
LEGO: The Lord of the Rings
LEGO: The Lord of the Rings was a superb platformer, and many would agree that it admirably topped all of the LEGO games that came before it in this series. It may not have been a revolution for the series, but it was as charming and enticing as ever, with an excellent atmosphere and highly enjoyable and varied gameplay that delivered everything that was great about past LEGO games in all the right amounts of flavours. It was a game of definite quality, and we feel that the developers took steps in the right direction to ensure that these good old Brick games have a future. If you didn’t succumb to this game’s charms, then we’d say that you probably aren’t much of a human being. True story.
New Super Mario Bros. U
New Super Mario Bros. U returned the “new” series to greatness, delivering one of the best platformers you can find. It may not have been a revolution or anything new, but it succeeded in giving us a classic 2D Mario gameplay experience in a package more complete and visually gorgeous than previously, and it was just awesome to play especially with friends. From its great level design to balanced difficulty level to flawless controls, it was platforming at its finest, and certainly a highlight of this genre this year.
Journey is remarkable, and easily a highlight of not just this year, but of all time. It may not be the platformer with the most depth, but it’s an experience that you really can’t get anywhere else in gaming. That’s certainly evident with its entirely unique multiplayer component, which put the gameplay to clever use and enhanced the experience greatly. Visually stunning beyond words, immensely clever, and both powerful and memorable, Journey is virtually a flawless experience, and it’s no great secret that we treasure it and rank it at the absolute highest level. It was just amazing to experience in its entirety.
It wasn’t Catherine because, while we loved the game, we felt it was let down a bit by its very inconsistent difficulty and by the fact that not all of the puzzles were engaging.
Neither was it LEGO: The Lord of the Rings or New Mario Bros. U, and that’s simply down to the fact that our other nominees gave us a stronger argument. That’s in no way a cop-out or fault of reasoning, but rather a testament to the high quality in this genre this year.
Finally, the game that gave us the hardest time in making this decision was Quantum Conundrum, which really was a gem this year. However, in the end it came down to marginal things, such as the few faults in gameplay and story that this title had. Of course, our winner
In the end we just had to hand it to Journey. What it lacks in gameplay depth it more than makes up for in artistic brilliance, clever and unique multiplayer, and an empowering and memorable experience unlike anything we’ve had before. Overall, we just felt that Journey’s absolute flawlessness, masterful execution and undeniably absorbing gameplay despite its extreme simplicity ensured that it’s completely deserving of taking home the prize. Others may contend our choice on the grounds that Journey doesn’t do much new for the puzzle or platforming genres, but as an all-round experience we felt it was absolutely the best, and topped all others in this category. Play it, and we have little doubt that you’ll understand. All of this makes Journey our choice for the best platforming game of 2012.