With 2013 here now, one of the big items remaining on your to-do list – is to take a few days of R&R to catch up on all of the awesome games that you may have overlooked during 2012.
The problem? You haven’t exactly been keeping a “must play” list. You know there are plenty of titles that you saw and thought, “I should really give that a try,” and probably even more titles that completely escaped your radar entirely. Such is the state of the PC gamer – and we’re here to help.
A bunch of other gaming sites have offered plenty of coverage to all the AAA games out there, but we wanted to give some of the lesser-known, more independent games a spotlight. In the list below, you'll see 20 games spanning a wide variety of genres: RPGs, action games, and more.
It might be easy to look at this game’s graphics and think, “Pssh, I’ll pass.” That would be the wrong decision, however – and get used to the concept, because this simulator’s many decision-making moments will make or break your little spacefaring life.
Carnage. Complete, top-down carnage. This title reminds us a lot of the action from the old, old MicroProse PC game based on The Punisher – same kind of “murderous rampage” gameplay!
The plot for this one is simple: You’ve been banished to the underworld. Get out. This is “classic RPG” at its finest, packed with plenty of quests, awesome writing, and killer content – at the expense of graphics, of course.
You know a role-playing game is going to be good when you have no problems sitting at the title screen and letting the music loop – we call that the Baldur’s Gate effect. Legend of Grimrock is a first-person RPG that’s packed with puzzles, combat, and exploration. What more do you need?
Sins of a Solar Empire isn’t a “new” franchise by any means. However, its latest expansion – released in mid-2012 – features a new user interface, splinter groups within the game’s primary factions that you can now play as, and a bit of rebalancing that makes one of the better 4X titles on the market even more playable.
It's unfortunate that Torchlight II came out under the shadow of Diablo III because in many ways the top-down action RPG is better. Unlike Blizzard's dark and more serious take on the genre, Torchlight II places players in a large and vibrant world. The game features four different character classes to fit a variety of gameplay styles. What's not to love?
If you like stealth games, then Mark of the Ninja is a no-brainer. The 2D platformer features beautiful hand-drawn visuals combined with thought-provoking, challenging gameplay. Plus, who doesn't love ninjas?
If you played the 2012 version of this title, you might be asking yourself what publisher Wizards of the Coast could possibly throw into a sequel. The answer: A lot
Oh, tower defense. Just when you thought this genre had delivered all it possibly could to the world, a title like Defender’s Quest comes along and throws some RPG elements into your standard, “stop the bad guys from getting to the good place” mix. We like it!
Realistic knight-on-knight warfare, castle-sieging, and running like hell to avoid burning oil to your face? If this first-person shooter/brawler doesn’t get your inner Game of Thrones tingling, we don’t know what will.
While we hate clichés, the one about how you’re only limited by your imagination is perhaps the best way to describe this object-filled puzzle game. Do whatever you can to solve the games’ puzzles – and we mean anything, from summoning all sorts of objects to help you out to creating your own on the fly!
We confess; half the point of playing these games nowadays is just to see how Lego approaches serious storylines with its usual blend of farce and silliness. Lego: Lord of the Rings is no exception, thanks to it combination of addictive, brick-filled gameplay and hilarious story treatment. Surely Lego Hobbit can’t be that far off…
Ahh yes, the ol’ “FPS/RTS” hybrid. We applaud this game’s commander/grunt relationship, which puts you on the front lines – or directing the action from afar – depending the particular role that you’re taking alongside up to 15 other players at once. And, yes, you can play as aliens too.
This super-new title transforms one’s shovel into the strongest weapon you’ll ever lay hands on. Here’s what we mean: This Minecraft-looking title lets you shoot, construct, and destroy all at once. Take out players, build walls, tunnel miles under an enemy base – this is Minecraft griefing at its finest.
We loved the original indie tower defense game Orcs Must Die when it was originally released last year, problem is the tower defense game didn't support co-op. Orcs Must Die! 2 changes all of this and provides you with more orcs than you and a buddy can shake a stick at.
This one’s weird; no way around it. It’s less of a game in the traditional sense of the word… more an exploration. The Source engine helps to deliver a title that’s unique and beautiful with every playthrough – a story-driven experience that doesn’t use choices or quests to push you forward through the experience, just narrative elements.
You owe it to yourself to pick up this indie puzzle-platform title if for nothing else than its gorgeous visuals. Oh, and zombies. You like zombies, right?
You’re going to take one look at this game’s screenshot and wonder how in the heck indie developer Mike Bithell packed a story into a bunch of colored blocks. Just you wait – you’ll be as surprised as we were with this team-focused title.
Good luck. That’s all we’re going to say about this fast-paced action title. Thumping beats and lush, bright graphics will at least keep your spirits high as you give your reflexes the ultimate test.
Take the Civilization series, toss in a spellbook, pepper it with your typical fantasy-themed bad guys, and you have a pretty similar – but engrossing – experience. Admittedly, the game’s tutorial is a bit lame for all the strategy you’ll want to master to succeed in this title, but you’ll find a bit of fun in this war-driven 4X title.
Did we overlook any overlooked titles? Let us hear your recommendations in the comments below!