The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

The best PC games of 2012

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ADVENTURE

The Mystery of the Wicked Village

Publisher: Alachofasoft
Release: 2012

A follow-up to Murder in the Abbey, The Mystery of the Wicked Village marks the return of Brother Leonardo de Toledo. He’s stranded in a backwater village following a funny turn and must point and click his way to the bottom of the strange goings on in this rural locale. Guest starring the Devil, of all people. Well, he always likes to poke his pointy nose in.

The Thirty Nine Steps

Publisher: Lace Mamba
Release: Summer

An adaptation of the John Buchan novel of the same name, The Thirty-Nine Steps is part of an initiative to bring classic stories to people who don’t read. It’s billed as a storytelling experience rather than an adventure, using on-screen text to help players stage manage their own experience. It’s a laudable goal, but we’re not sure whether it’ll qualify as a game.

J.U.L.I.A

Publisher: Lace Mamba
Release: Spring

Sent on a mission to investigate the first extraterrestrial lifeforms, astrobiologist Rachel Manners wakes from a cryogenic sleep onboard her spaceship and finds her fellow crew members dead. The plot immediately recalls RAGE, but this is a very different kind of adventure. Her only companions are a giant robot called Mobot and the eponymous mothership AI. It’s all pleasingly reminiscent of The Dig with a touch of Silent Running.

Extrasolar

Publisher: Lazy B Studios
Release: 2012

Browser-based space science from the chaps behind Cogs, all wrapped up in an alternate reality-style package. You control a planetary rover in real-time, waiting hours between orders while trying to uncover the mysteries of another world. An earthbound narrative runs alongside the game, fleshing out the mysterious company funding your activities. Potentially a very cool use twist on the longform browser game.

Fables

Publisher: Telltale Games
Release: 2012

Based on the comic book series about fairy-tale characters in exile in the modern world. The focus has always been on smart dialogue and detailed characters: something that we’d love to see refl ected in the game.

The Silver Lining Episode V: A Thousand Times Goodnight

Publisher: Phoenix Online Studios
Release: Spring

The fan-developed follow-up to King’s Quest by Phoenix Online Studios. Episode V brings the saga to a close nearly ten years after the project began.

Catherine

Publisher: Atlus
Release: Christmas

Catherine is an intriguing adult psychological thriller in which the woman prances around in a variety of frilly but ultimately impractical underwear. We want this to appear on the PC so badly, and informed rumour has it that it’s going to do just that.

Realms of Ancient War

Publisher: Focus
Release: Spring

Realms of Ancient War – aka RAW – is a two-player co-op fantasy hack and slasher, with a topdown perspective. It’s being developed for Xbox Live and the PlayStation Network as well, and it looks like a cross between Magicka and Lara Croft and The Guardian of Light. It’s promising stuff: if the devs nail the ‘dip in and out’ feel of hack and slash, it could really work.

The Lost Chronicles of Zerzura

Publisher: Lace Mamba
Release: Spring

Horror adventure titles can be really, really good (Amnesia) or really, really bad (pretty much everything else). There is no such thing as a mediocre horror adventure game. This one follows a young inventor who discovers the mythical land of Zerzura during the Spanish Inquisition. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t look or sound particularly scary. More horror please.

The Journey of Iesir

Publisher: Big Blue Cup
Release: 2012

An indie developed Adventure Game Studio project, The Journey of Iesir follows a young Viking looking to reclaim his heritage. Similar to Monkey Island, it combines a historical setting with modern humour, sending up hippies, gangsters and Japanese demons, among others. Iesir certainly looks remarkable, with a hand-painted style that rivals anything else in the genre.

Y: The Case of John Yesterday

Publisher: Focus
Release: 2012

Amnesiac point-and-click adventure hero John Yesterday is tasked with tracking down whoever is burning homeless people alive in modern-day New York. The teaser hints at a supernatural change of pace for developer Pendulo, better known as the studio behind the Runaway series. Here’s hoping for an unexpected take on the ‘hero without a memory’ cliché.

Twilight Zone

Publisher: Legacy Interactive
Release: Spring

The classic black-and-white American sci-fi horror TV series is transmogrified into a game. You play as a struggling actor who gets trapped in a recurring role in a TV series, and you have to find out why you’re in this nightmarish scenario. Developers Legacy Games have established themselves in casual TV licences – they’ve already made tie-in games for Doctor Who and House.

Lucius

Publisher: Lace Mamba
Release: Spring

Lucius’s twist on the Omen mythology is that it sees you take control of the so-named spawn of Satan. It’s a horror title that revels in references to classic ’70s scary sprog movies The Exorcist, Carrie and The Shining, too, with Lucius riding a trike and being exorcised by priests. The key to getting it right is going to be making Lucius someone players can identify with – and making it as scary as Amnesia. Both of these are pretty tall orders.

Haunted

Publisher: Lace Mamba
Release: Spring

Taking place in 19th century Europe, this sounds like a wacky counterpart to the Blackwell series of point-and-click adventures. It follows protagonist Mary as she befriends ghosts in old London, Scotland and Transylvania. Up to six companion ghosts – and a werewolf – are available to help solve puzzles, including a giant blue Scotsman and a tiny pirate

Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller

Publisher: Phoenix Studios
Release: 2012

Jane Jensen is best known for her work on the Gabriel Knight series, and more recently Gray Matter. Cognition employs her talents as a story consultant in a game where heroine Erica Reed is able to investigate crimes by seeing into the past. Kind of like a less useful Minority Report. It’s currently seeking Kickstarter funding, so it might never see the light of day unless YOU donate.

Men in Black: The Videogame

Publisher: Activision
Release: Summer

The world really needs another Men in Black film, doesn’t it? You wouldn’t have imagined that to be the case, but those whacky folk at Columbia certainly think so. And of course with it, along with the action figures and lunchboxes comes the inevitable tie-in game. It’s being made by Activision, whose Transformers titles have been sort of all right. It might not be entirely terrible. We can hope.

The Testament of Sherlock Holmes

Publisher: Ubisoft
Release: Spring

The latest in the Frogwares series sees Holmes attempting to clear his name when he becomes the main suspect in a vast fraud. Puzzles are said to have been toned down to make the game more accessible to new players. Holmes’ new clue-finding ‘sixth sense’ sounds a bit like Detective Vision, shortening the distance between the World’s Greatest Detectives. We approve.

The Secret Files 3

Publisher: Deep Silver
Release: 2012

Those Secret Files aren’t so secret any more: after the original and its sequel, many, many people know about them. So why don’t they call it Moderately Well- Known Files, instead? The third in the series sees protagonists Nina and Max return, and the only thing we know is that they’re getting married. What could possibly go wrong? And will it result in a series of convoluted, mindless puzzles tacked together to make a ‘story’?

Botanicula

Publisher: Amanita Design
Release: Spring

Amanita Design’s Machinarium was a charming, beautifullypresented point-and-click adventure that sadly ran out of steam towards the end. While ploughing a similar furrow, Botanicula seems to lose Machinarium’s swampily melancholic atmosphere, and is more focused on being fun and cute. That’s not necessarily always a bad thing, although it does look a tad Worker and Parasite at times.

Deponia

Publisher: Lace Mamba
Release: Spring

A comedy adventure game with multiple protagonists set in Deponia, a world modelled after the work of Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett and Matt Groening. It’s a comedy of errors in the traditional sense, complete with elaborate cases of mistaken identity. The hand-drawn backdrops certainly look nice, and it’s interesting to see an adventure game wear its influences so openly on its oversized lacy sleeves.

Amy

Publisher: Lexis
Release: 2012

A small midwestern town is beset by zombies after a mysterious meteor strike. Protagonist Lana is infected, and must take care of an eight-year-old autistic girl with mysterious powers in order to survive. As high-concepts go, it’s a mixture of the novel and the deeply familiar: providing it avoids the usual escort-quest pitfalls, it could be one to watch.

Captain Morgane and the Golden Turtle

Publisher: Reef Entertainment
Release: Spring

Follow Morgane as she searches for the lost treasure of Turtle Island and tries to become the most fearsome female in the Caribbean, proving that turtles really are the new monkeys.

Hidden Mysteries Titanic 2

Publisher: Big Fish
Release: Spring

You are an amnesiac ghost tasked with creating a timeline where the Titanic didn’t sink. It’s a hidden object puzzle game, suggesting that the fabness of a high concept is inversely proportional to its actual mechanics.

Beyond Good and Evil

Publisher: Ubisoft
Release: 2012

Three years have passed since Beyond Good & Evil 2 was teased and we still don’t know very much about it. Rumoured to be too massive for the current generation of consoles – but it would be good to know that the game does exist.

Mage's Initiation: Reign of the Elements

Publisher: Himalaya
Release: Christmas

Build your character by earning the favour of the elements: fire, earth, water and air. The pre-order version even comes with a cloth map, if it wasn’t already old-school enough for you.

Jack Keane 2

Publisher: Astragon
Release: 2012

No details – save a 2012 release date – have emerged for this sequel to Deck13’s 2007 matinee point-and- click adventure. Here’s hoping that Jack’s second outing is able to escape from the long exhausted Monkey Island influences.


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