I started writing about videogames, oh so long ago, because I wanted to help people connect with games that would make them happy. I believe, down to the core of my being, that the escapism that videogames provide can make your life better, if you just find the right game for you. That's why I wanted to become a game reviewer in the first place, and I'm thrilled that I get to do it on a regular basis.
But that's not who I am right now.
Right now, I'm not trying to maintain objectivity or give all games a fair shake. Right now, I'm just being Susan the Gamer, and gushing to you about my Five Favorite games I played all year. These aren't necessarily the best games of the year (though you could make that argument for some of them), they're just the ones I enjoyed the most. These are the ones I'll be thinking about after we've flipped the calendar over to 2012, and they'll still be making me smile.
Favorites are personal things, of course, so make sure you share your own list in the comments. And if you haven't given these games a try, now's the perfect time!
5. Child of Eden (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3)
This was the year that Microsoft's motion controller, Kinect, really came into its own as a valuable member of your entertainment center, with games like The Gunstringer, Dance Central 2, and hippie-trippy shooter Child of Eden. You can play it with a controller, but this spiritual successor to Rez is best experienced by letting Kinect make you part of the game itself. Motion controls often feel either gimmicky or shoehorned in, but in this case, they are organic, elevating the experience to something more than simply shooting down targets while techno music plays in the background. I forget that I'm playing a game when I'm diving through Child of Eden, as the barriers between me and the game world disappear. It sure doesn't hurt that the game is also easy both on the eyes and the ears, with a killer soundtrack and visuals that look like they were pulled from a dream. (Ok, yes, a dream brought on by taking way too many drugs, but still. Gorgeous.)
4. Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective (DS)
"Quirky" is a word that tends to get tossed around a lot by the other Escapist editors when they attempt to describe my taste in games. I think that's just their way of politely calling me a total freakazoid, but they're certainly not wrong when it comes to puzzle game Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective, which is pretty wackadoo. The object of the game is to find out who murdered you before your sunup, which is when your spirit will go poof, forever rendering you an ex-person. The puzzles, in which you must suss how to use nearby objects to propel your noncorporeal self across the room, are both inventive and genuinely funny. A game about solving your own murder could've been depressing, but Ghost Trick has an endearingly weird sense of humor that matches perfectly with its eye-catching art style - exactly what you'd expect from the team behind Phoenix Wright. I use my DS a lot for gaming, and it was great to have an option that wasn't a traditional adventure game, wasn't a sprite-driven RPG, and wasn't a match-three puzzler. Ghost Trick is definitely quirky, and I mean that as a compliment.