I may have missed the chance to play the big-name titles this year, but I enjoyed the lesser-known games I played instead. Here are some games I'd recommend to you from this year that you may not have heard of.
5) Bik (PC)
A fun but fairly brief adventure game, what Bik lacks in length it makes up for in charm and great music. It was originally envisioned as just a showcase for an electronic music album, but ended up being an entertaining game to boot. The game and soundtrack can be had for under $10, and they're well worth the purchase price.
4) The Journey Down Episode 2 (PC)
Also the recipient of the "Game I Never Thought I'd Actually See" award, Episode 2 was released 18 months after Episode 1. It improves over its predecessor in every important way; and although I'll still have to wait who-knows-how-long to play the final episode, I now have a lot more hope that I'll get to do so. Its nifty claymation style, great music, and solid puzzle design make this game a winner in my book.
3) 80 Days (iOS)
As a kid, I loved the Choose Your Own Adventure books. Heck, I'm 39 years old and I've still got a pretty big collection of them! So when I learned about 80 Days, a steampunk CYOA version of the classic Jules Verne novel "Around the World in Eighty Days," I didn't hesitate an instant to play it. It's fun enough that I played it at least five times, and writing this makes me think about picking it up for one more trip.
2) Professor Layton and The Azran Legacy (3DS)
I haven't played a Professor Layton game since the first entry in the series, but I have always loved puzzles. So when I picked up The Azran Legacy on an impulse this year, I had hopes that I would enjoy this game more than I did the first. And enjoy it I did! With great puzzles, solid voice acting, and a soundtrack that sets the stage well without distracting players from their ruminations, I nearly made this my personal game of the year.
1) The Blackwell Epiphany (PC)
I've enjoyed the entire Blackwell series, and probably my favorite element is the story that connects them all. Given that, I was very happy to see Rosangela and Joey's story get such a satisfying ending. If you haven't played the previous games, you definitely shouldn't jump right into this one, but since I'd recommend the rest of them to you anyway, I don't see that as a problem. If you like point & click games, you should play the Blackwell series. I may be giving the final entry extra credit in this list because of the way it finishes the story, but since it's my list, I think that's fair.
Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth (3DS)
I played Persona 4 Golden last year, and although I don't think I quite "got" Etrian Odyssey III when I played it, my enjoyment of Persona 4 convinced me that I needed Persona Q. Sadly, I had yet to play Persona 3, so this game is burning a hole in my 3DS while I finish that one.
Kingdom Hearts II.5 HD ReMix (PS3)
I never got the chance to finish Kingdom Hearts II back in the day, and I only finished one or two characters' stories in Birth by Sleep. So there's a lot of gameplay waiting for me when I finally unwrap the copy of II.5 that's waiting by my PS3. Here's hoping I manage to get through both games this time!