Twenty-Twelve has been interesting. For the first time in a while, I can say that I’ve spent more time playing downloadable titles than the big ticket games of the year. Looking back just before the Fall rush, I can say with confidence that some of the best time I’ve spent gaming this year have cost me less than $20. Both my beloved XBLA and PSN brought their A-game to fight each other out by offering some top notch entertainment that won’t break your wallet.
One could easily say that 2011, at least so far, is the “Year of the Downloadable Games”. Of course the year is not over yet, with Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Rabbit, and many more fantastic looking downloadable titles on the horizon, this list will surely change by the end of the year. But for now, forget the AAA madness, here are 5 amazing downloadable games that I enjoyed more than Mass Effect 3:
[Release Date: August 21st; Platform: PS3]
Dungeon crawling, for me, has surpassed more than just a gaming experience for me, it has become a lifestyle. Between Pokemon Mystery Dungeon being a game I’ve spent a ton of time in, and 2011′s The Binding of Isaac, which not only stole my social life, but has me coming back still day after day without fail. Legasista joins the armada of totally addictive dungeon crawler experiences. With varied combat, well thought out dungeons (not to mention the randomly generated Rangeons), and a slew of customizable options for your character, this game totally shattered my expectations. If you are a fan of anime style games that aren’t obnoxiously annoying (maybe just a little annoying), but feature fresh gameplay, Legasista will not disappoint.
4) Dust: An Elysian Tail
[Release Date: August 15; Platform: Xbox 360]
Easily the most stunning of 2012′s Xbox Summer of Arcade (move over Tony Hawk Pro Skater HD), Dust: An Elysian Tail won over critics with it’s humble heritage, and super sonic gameplay. Its hard to believe that one man was capable of creating such a beautiful, and well polished game. This action-platformer has you executing the most badass combos possible as you traverse through a wasteland so articulate, that it makes the evil creatures look breathtaking. Critically acclaimed, and tons of fun, Dust: An Elysian Tale is 2012′s Bastion with a little extra furry thrown in. Yes, I went there.
(Review coming soon)
[Release Date: July 4th; Platform: Xbox 360]
I had a feeling I couldn’t make it through this piece without a second The Binding of Isaac mention. Like Legasista and Isaac, Spelunky is a dungeon crawler, with a twist. Out of every game this year so far, this game has taken the most of my time, as I still quest to finally complete it. Painstakingly difficult, this game is a remake of a 2008 indie classic for the PC. The revamped visuals are amazing, the soundtrack is amazing, and the challenge is addictive. It’s hard not to get lost in Spelunky’s charm.
2) Trials: Evolution
[Release Date: April 18th; Platform: Xbox 360]
Less charming, but equally addictive, Trials: Evolution undoubtedly holds the title of “best Xbox 360 downloadable of 2012″. Trials: Evolution offers a massive collection of professional levels, tons of wacky challenges, and an unlimited selection of user created content available at the click of a button. Conquering your previous scores, and taking out your friends on the leaderboards were all fantastic experiences that I got from a simple $15 price tag. Trials: Evolution is on my list of “Must own Xbox 360 games”.
[Release Date: March 13th; Platform: PS3]
Remarkable, emotional, evocative; all words used to describe ThatGameCompany’s masterpiece, Journey. This game will change your life… or at least your appreciation of this medium that we all enjoy. One of the most gorgeous games this year, Journey wowed critics with its ability to create a wondrous feeling within the player with the most simple of control schemes. Playing through once, twice, or even three times isn’t enough to fully absorb Journey’s elegance. Things get even more amazing when an unknown stranger joins in your adventure. It’s enigmatic story, it’s fantastic visuals, and the cloth creatures gracefulness, all make for one hell of a game that changed skeptics into fanatics.
These downloadable titles offered plenty of enjoyment, and while the likes of Mass Effect 3 and Max Payne 3 are awesome AAA titles to be respected, some credit is due to these outstanding downloadable titles that do so much with so little. What downloadable games did you love this year? Leave a comment below.