20 Games You Might Have Missed in 2012

David Murphy

The best indie games of the past year

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.

FTL: Faster Than Light, $10

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.

Hotline Miami, $10

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!

Avernum: Escape from the Pit, $10

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.

Legend of Grimlock, $15

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, $40

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.

Torchlight II, $20

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?

Mark of the Ninja, $15

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?

Magic the Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers 2013, $10

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

Defender’s Quest: Valley of the Forgotten, $15

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!

Chivalry, $25

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.

Scribblebauts, $30

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!

Lego: Lord of the Rings, $30

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…

Natural Selection II, $25

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.

Ace of Spades, $10

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.

Orcs Must Die! 2, $15

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.

Dear Esther, $10

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.

Deadlight, $10

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?

Thomas Was Alone, $10

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.

Super Hexagon, $3

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.

Warlock Master of Arcane, $20

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!

Around the web