All this week, we'll be sharing our 30 best games of the year, compiled with input from the 148Apps writing staff and editors. Agree or disagree with our choices? Read on and let us know in the comments.
30. Curiosity – what's inside the cube: A year-end list wouldn't feel complete without mentioning Peter Molyneux's strangely mysterious title. What is this game? Is it even a game? Is there actually something at the end of the cube? Whatever it is, the unique massively-multiplayer gameplay that has spurred player creativity and interaction while they try to crack open the game's secrets is certainly original. And odds are that you were intrigued enough to download it and see what was going on.
29. God of Blades: No game this year was perhaps as thematically comprehensive as White Whale Games' homage to 70's pulp fantasy and sci-fi novels and the artwork that graced their covers. The visual style, the way-over-the-top dialogue and character names, and the combat, trading blows to knock opponents back, all contributed to a game that made a firm statement as what it wanted to be. And boy did it ever stand out.
28. Bad Piggies: Rovio finally let players play as those porcine opponents from their Angry Birds games, and decided to focus on their building ingenuity. Best of all, the game's various goals and different parts that were made available really encouraged player creativity, along with timing-based elements, in a well-rounded package. As Dale Culp explains: "Sometimes, this is as simple as putting together a cart and rolling it down a hill. However, other stars require a lot more thought… and some rockets, wings, engines, shaken-up soda bottles and, well, it gets pretty crazy. As players try to collect items, beat timers and fulfill other requirements, vehicles just get more and more elaborate."
27. Bastion: Why does this isometric action game make the cut? Well, while it may still be a ton of fun after its initial XBLA release, it stands out thanks in large part to the amazing dynamic narrator. As Chris Kirby explained in our review: "This omniscient voice tells the story of The Kid and the world of Bastion, but he also narrates the various actions the character makes in the game. Stand around too long and the narrator will add that to the story. Go on a destructive frenzy with the Cael Hammer, and that becomes a part of the narrative as well. The narrator never feels intrusive, and actually makes the atmosphere of the game unique."
26. Slingshot Racing: This racing game used the physics of grappling hooks to make it stand out: the one-touch controls are extremely easy to pick up on, but mastering the physics takes time. Getting to race on the tracks forward and backward brings new challenges. Plus, it boasts both single-device multiplayer for up to 4 people on iPad, and an asynchronous multiplayer mode added in post-release. It all really hooked players in! It's a lot better than that pun, we swear.
25. Duckers and 24. Super Mole Escape: Weeks within each other, two games about burrowing through the ground came out and both were really good. Where Super Mole Escape boasts frantic burrowing gameplay, with plenty of powerups and hazards to quickly react to, Duckers was a more cerebral take on the same concept. Their casts were equally great: felonious moles in one, Mother Duckers in the other. Leaving one game off the list in favor of the other seems downright criminal when both were top-notch examples of how to approach a similar concept, yet in different ways.
23. Juggernaut Revenge of Sovering: Considering Infinity Blade's success in the past two years, it's no surprise that other studios would try to ape its format. This game does have a one-on-one combat base, but outside of that, it goes in its own satisfying directions. It's a great iteration on a tried-and-true concept, as Kevin Stout explains: "The difference between Juggernaut and Infinity Blade is that there’s significantly more to do in between fights in this game as well as tons of different mini-games for players to play."
22. Nihilumbra: Its storyline and dialogue could be overwrought and melodramatic, but its platforming gameplay mixed in puzzle elements that made fantastic use of the touch screen, and often forces players to think and react. It definitely shone through the darkness, and proved to be surprisingly compelling, becoming easy to just go and complete in one sitting. The ending winds up being a great payoff for the melodrama as well.
Penny Arcade's On The Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness 3: Zeboyd teamed up with influential gaming web comic Penny Arcade to make the third entry in their series a 16-bit RPG homage. The gameplay is delightfully reminiscent of retro titles, and the dialogue is superbly original. This and the port of Cthulhu Saves The World are both must-plays. Rob Rich says that "It's really been growing on me the more I play. The story is fantastically weird and humorous, the combat is actually fun, and it screws around with typical RPG mechanics something fierce."