Game of the Year: Best PlayStation Game of 2012

After weeks of careful consideration, heated discussion, and hard work, we’ve reached the conclusion of our game of the year countdown. We know you’re probably still suffering from last night’s New Year festivities, but focus your optics for five minutes while we crown the finest PlayStation game of 2012.

Best PlayStation Game of 2012: Journey

Kite competition

It wasn’t a surprise to see Journey rush straight to the summit of our staff poll. An emotional excursion, thatgamecompany’s third PlayStation Network exclusive delivered one of the most innovative experiences of all time. Buoyed by an outstanding art style and a profound co-operative component, the ambiguous adventure was not just the finest PlayStation title of 2012, but also a strong contender for one of the greatest of all time.

Sammy Barker, Associate Editor: “As a huge fan of flower, I knew I was going to enjoy Journey – but what thatgamecompany delivered blew me away. I remember receiving my review code early one morning and downloading the title while I ran some errands. When I returned, the game was ready and installed, and I booted it up intending to play the first few minutes before getting back to work. I ended up playing through the whole game twice and writing our review in a single sitting.

On the move

“I often prefer to ruminate over a game before I put pen to paper, but in this instance I was worried that if I didn’t jot down my thoughts immediately, I’d struggle to do the game justice. Looking back on it now, I’m confident I captured the essence of the experience. It will go down alongside Shadow of the Colossus as one of my favourite games of all time – and that makes it a natural fit for our overall game of the year.”

Mike Mason, Assistant Editor: “Seeing another human player for the first time and co-operating with them completely anonymously within Journey is unrivalled for me this year – it's by far my favourite title of 2012. No other game has made me feel such immense joy and intense sadness in just a few hours. I've still only played through it a single time – that experience has kept me going all year long.”

True friends

Jon Wahlgren, Editor at Large: “Video games have made me feel a lot of things. Lots of joy, some anger, and frustration. Pride, confusion, adrenaline. And other emotions that mostly come with conquering whatever trials and tribulations are thrown my way. But few, if any, have made me feel empathy towards another, or camaraderie, beauty. Journey has stirred all of these in me, and for the two hours at a time that I venture into its world I form bonds with strangers I can barely communicate with.

“Years down the line, when I look back at the year 2012 in gaming, it will not be the bombast of the Max Paynes or Lollipop Chainsaws that I will remember, or the expansive feature sets and sandboxes of annual sequels; I will remember the one game that made me care.”

Hopping along

Greg Giddens, Reviews Editor: “Journey really immerses you into its world. It lets you live the mystery of its tale and witness its beauty first hand without any of the prompts present in traditional games. There’s no dialogue or paths to guide you around – instead you experience your own voyage of discovery, choosing whether or not to follow and interact with the other players that you find. It's a truly fascinating experience.”

Robert Ramsey, Staff Writer: “Journey is easily the most spiritually evoking game I’ve ever played. It manages to portray more emotion in just a few short hours than most games manage in an entire series. It’s the crown jewel of the PlayStation Network.”

Runner Up: The Unfinished Swan

Behind the gates

There were plenty of contenders for our overall game of the year crown, but few mounted a more convincing challenge than The Unfinished Swan. Giant Sparrow’s inaugural PlayStation Network exclusive delivered a pulsating adventure packed with interesting ideas and attractive visuals. Unique, intelligent, and utterly gorgeous – few games have made a stronger first impression than the indie studio’s debut.

Sammy Barker, Associate Editor: “Playing the first 15 minutes of The Unfinished Swan was a real eye-opener for me. I was familiar with the game’s concept prior to getting my hands on it, but actually experiencing the title unlocked some unexpected emotions. Wandering through the opening act’s whitewash world feels a little bit like navigating a dark room, except you’re tossing paint instead of flailing your arms around. It’s such an interesting concept, and it blossoms into so much more. Considering this is Giant Sparrow’s first release, I’m already salivating over the developer’s next outing.”

Subtle scenery

Greg Giddens, Reviews Editor: “When I first played The Unfinished Swan at an industry event, its unique aesthetic and paint flinging exploration captivated me. Once the demo ended, I span around in my chair and excitedly exclaimed to the first person I saw, ‘Did you see what I just played?’

“As such, there was no doubt over whether I’d be purchasing the full game at release – and it didn’t disappoint. The Unfinished Swan was a delight to play.”

Robert Ramsey, Staff Writer: “I can’t think of many games that blend innocence with mystery and exploration so well. The Unfinished Swan is a perfect example of a downloadable game – it’s accessible, addictive, and achieves everything that it sets out to do.”

Honourable Mentions: Dishonored, Far Cry 3, Gravity Rush, LittleBigPlanet PS Vita, Mass Effect 3, Sound Shapes, The Walking Dead, Tokyo Jungle, Velocity, WipEout 2048.

What was your favourite PlayStation game of 2012? Do you agree with our winners? Let us know in the comments section below.