Runner-up: Triple Town
Format Facebook Publisher Spry Fox Developer In-house
What do you get when you mix two parts Bejeweled with one part Civilization? Facebook’s best game. Spry Fox’s wickedly compulsive puzzler adds deep strategy to pattern matching; it’s a fresh, clever combination that grips your brain like iron. We’ve not experienced a game as good at inveigling from us our Facebook Credits yet, let alone one that made spending them feel so worth it.
Supergiant Games’ debut turns the medium’s dreary post-apocalyptic obsession on its head with vivid, painterly hues. The novel mechanic here – a gritty-voiced narrator recounting your deeds in real time – lends a sense of bard-song consequence to your actions, driving home Greg Kasavin’s poignant tale of cyclical death and renewal. As people question games’ suitability as a storytelling medium, Bastion offers a potent counter-argument.
Format Mac, PC Publisher Zachtronics Industries Developer In-house
SpaceChem is a lot like science, and therefore about experimentation and exploration. It’s also much like programming, and thus logical and technical. And it’s about design and invention, and so it’s intensely creative and rewarding. In this puzzler, you synthesise chemicals by moving and manipulating atoms and compounds in circuits to produce molecules. Although its basis is in chemistry, ultimately your aim is to construct machines of your own invention: elegant and efficient systems that use as few components as possible and work as speedily as your wits allow.
The result is a game that pushes the potential of games to educate and entertain. For all its distancing jargon and brutal early learning curve, SpaceChem is thrillingly open-ended and player-centric; you reach each solution yourself, learning through trial and error, plus past experience. It’s uncompromisingly respectful of you, never condescending to hold your hand when, with dedication, you can figure things out yourself. While it can be frustrating and even alienating, the payoff is the elation felt when you solve a puzzle well and look back over all you’ve learned. The rare and profound sense of satisfaction received transcends mere XP and achievements, because they’re yours, and you earned them.