The 10 Best Original Games of E3 2012


Well, yet another E3 has come to a close. Gaming’s finest showcased their best for all to see in the hopes of getting every gamer as excited as possible… well, that’s how it’s supposed to work. Alas, like in recent years, we minions of the Internet have criticized this year’s show as being a bit of a letdown, a sequel-filled snoozefest. None of this year’s conferences from the Big Three were particularly interesting, although there were still a lot of great sequels worthy of our attention.

However, there was actually quite a damn good crop of original and eye-catching IPs at this year’s event; it’s all just a matter of looking and caring hard enough to find them. As such, TR has compiled a list of the 10 best original games seen at this year’s E3. Consider this a wrap-up of sorts, if you want. Hopefully, there’s something in here that excites the lot of you, and if any notable titles have been missed, feel free to comment.

Quick disclaimer, though: Not all of these games are new, but thet’re all new to E3. Games that already appeared at previous E3 events aren’t included out of fairness (which includes Sleeping Dogs, for the record). Also, a shout out to LocoCycle, the Twisted Pixel game about an advanced sentient motorcycle that’s also an assassin, which didn’t make the cut. And the fact that a game with a concept like that didn’t make this list hopefully says a lot about how awesome everything else is…

10) Mark of the Ninja

For starters, here’s a game that took everyone completely by surprise. This delightful little Tenchu-meets-2D platforming stealth action Xbox Live title casts you as a lone ninja taking on a mysterious military force that’s trying to wipe out your clan. Not exactly the deepest of concepts, but the gameplay is where the money lies, as the developers have given you a good amount of variety when it comes to getting past (or getting through) your enemy, thanks to a nice range of stealth kills and distraction techniques. Throw in some appropriately fluid animation and some impressive visuals, and the lovely fact that this game apparently measures your score in “Honor,” and you’ve got a slice of classic ninja awesomeness right there come later this year.

9) Guacamelee!

Aside from having one of the best titles in the history of everything, this PS3/Vita game due in early 2013 also boasts an impressive fusion of Metroidvania gameplay, Mexican imagery, and a nice little sense of humor. But just in case the concept alone of having a luchadore beat the crap out of an undead skeleton army in a labyrinth doesn’t appeal to you (you sad, sad person), please also note the simple yet action-packed combat, the gloriously vivid graphics and unique art style, and the ability to swap between the parallel worlds of the living and the dead at any time, adding some potential for a lot of fun platforming and puzzle-solving segments. Oh, and did we forget the part where you can turn into a cock whenever you want? Gotta love any game where that can happen.

8) The Cave

No, this isn’t Tim Schafer’s now-famous Kickstarter-funded adventure game, but it is the next best thing: A Double Fine game for PC, Xbox 360, and PS3 that features legendary Secret of Monkey Island veterans Schafer and Ron Gilbert returning to collaborate on a brand new adventure game. Basically, you control three out of seven character types, including a monk, a scientist, and a hillbilly (they fight crime!), amongst several other combinations, all traversing a magical talking cave (oh, of course it talks) and solving various puzzles in the hopes of searching for their true desires. If any of this rings a bell, there’s a noticeable influence of Gilbert’s Maniac Mansion in the gameplay, with every character combining their unique skills in order to overcome various obstacles. And thanks to what looks to be a large amount of replayability and another healthy dose of charming humor from this duo, when this comes out in early 2013, we can add yet another notch to Schafer’s +2 Trophy Belt of Nerdy Gaming Awesomess.

7) Deadlight

Hey there, pal! Have you ever thought “Boy oh boy, I sure wish there was a videogame that was The Walking Dead combined with LIMBO in an alternate 1980s Seattle!” Well then, my friend, you are weird. But you’re also secretly genius, as evidenced by this little slice of cinematic platforming awesomeness. Some might say it seems tempting to dismiss this as just another zombie game, but thanks to a larger emphasis on story, atmosphere, and Flashback-style action and platforming, Deadlight aims to deliver a tension-packed and extremely enjoyable horror experience that should help allow it to stand out from the rest of the pack. We’ll find out if it can deliver when it comes out in July as part of Xbox Live’s annual “Summer of Arcade” event.

6) Quantum Conundrum

Lead designer of Portal Kim Swift returns to help make mad science even more awesome once again a new puzzle-platformer, except this time instead of a Handheld Portal Device, you now have a Power Glove that can dick around with reality. Needless to say, QC aims to capture the same kind of charm oozed by Swift’s previous success, and thanks to an eye-pleasing and cartoonish art style, a great variety of dimension-swapping based puzzles to solve, a nice sense of humor, the golden pipes of Cave Johnson John de Lancie, and the ridiculously adorable and hopefully merchandisable Ike – all of which you can get a taste of in the above demo – it definitely seems like it has an easy shot at succeeding. PC owners can give it the acid test when it comes out soon on June 21st, but 360 and PSN owners will sadly have to wait until later this summer.


5) Beyond: Two Souls

After a couple months of speculation, Heavy Rain creators Quantic Dream did indeed unveil their latest psychological thriller at E3, and it looks pretty damn intriguing, to say the least. While gameplay details have been tight (the only demo was apparently shown behind closed doors), word has it that Beyond involves a more action-oriented adventure this time around (as the above video hints at), while still keeping QD’s brand of interactive storytelling intact. Story-wise, we join a mysterious young girl named Jodie (voiced and mocapped by Ellen Page) as we travel through fifteen years of her life with the help of her spirit friend, Aiden, and if that last bit sounds confusing…well, let’s face it, it wouldn’t be a Quantic Dream game without some level of confusion. Nontheless, the game looks gorgeous, sounds interesting, and since QD wants to improve upon the flawed-yet-brilliant HR, hopefully that’s a good sign that we might be getting truly astounding when it hits the PS3 early next year.

4) Dishonored

Steampunk and epic tales of revenge: Two great tastes that should be even better when combined, if Dishonored has anything to say about it. Third-person stealth action has never seemed so appealing, not just because of the terrific graphics and the unique world of Dunwall set up for you, but also because of the terrific amount of variety when it comes to exacting said revenge. The designers have made sure that not only does main character Corvo have a wide variety of skills to work with, including sharpshooting, teleportation, and fish possession, amongst many others, but that he also has several, several alternate ways to dispatch his foes and complete his missions. Hell, they even mentioned that you could complete the whole game without having to kill a single enemy — which seems like it bizarrely contrasts with what we’ve seen in the trailers, where the goal is apparently “stab everything you see.” But however you plan to go about playing the game, just remember the tagline, “Revenge Solves Everything.” And that the game comes out October 9th.

3) Project P-100

After seeing Project P-100 in action, practically every gaming journalist possible asked the exact same question: “Nintendo, why the hell wasn’t THIS included in your press conference??” Well, Nintendo said they wanted to focus on launch titles for their presentation, because a year-old port of Arkham City with an iPad attached to it was clearly more important. Seriously, this honestly just seems like a perfect game for the WiiU. Family-friendly cartoon superhero action? Check. A vibrant, enjoyable, and fun art style? Check. Gameplay that looks to be perfect for both controllers and tablets, including being able to draw shapes to summon special attacks, Okami-style? Check. Made by Platinum Games, the company behind several critically-acclaimed IPs and currently receiving a boatload of attention due to Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance? Check. The ability to live out your superhero fantasies by rescuing innocent civilians, and then beating an army of robots to death with a giant fist MADE of said innocent civilians?? UBERCHECK. Nintendo, we all congratulate you for getting this game on the WiiU for later this year, but we also mock you heavily for not promoting genius like this.

2) The Last of Us

As the gameplay footage for The Last of Us shows, after the apocalypse occurs, the true monster is revealed to be MAN… well, man plus fungus-infected mutants, but, you know, mostly man. Seriously though, Naughty Dog is aiming to put a lot of the focus in this game on the relationship between Joel and Ellie, and their journey through a nature-ravaged America, which just happens to involve shooting the brains out of a few crazed survivors along the way. Thankfully, Naughty Dog has made it so that every choice you make will directly affect the game in one way or another, such as AI reacting to your weapon choice and combat strategies in appropriate ways, talking to Ellie to strengthen your relationship, or having to manage resources in creative ways. Do you use those bandages to hear yourself, or use them to help make a Molotov in a bit of MacGyver-inspired action to get rid of that one last enemy? Throw in some incredibly lush and striking visuals amongst a verdant wasteland, and you definitely have one of next year’s biggest hits.

1) Watch Dogs

Let’s face it, this isn’t exactly a shocker. Practically every gamer’s reaction to Ubisoft’s latest following its reveal was “GAME OF SHOW,” and the reaction here wasn’t any different. Of course, the graphics are jaw-droppingly gorgeous. Jaw-rocketing-through-your-floor gorgeous, in fact. But oh god, the gameplay… the concept of a vigilante hacker using a city’s Skynet-style info system against them already sounds like it has so much potential, and then you see it in action. So many possibilities. So much information to gather. So much control over any electronics you see. So many ways to use it. The number of possible espionage scenarios we’re seeing. The number of ways to approach this open world. The simple yet highly enjoyable combat for those who prefer the direct approach. It all just looks SO. DAMN. FUN. While this was running on a high-powered PC, Ubisoft has confirmed it’s coming out for Xbox 360 and PS3 as well (although they didn’t say when), maybe even next-gen if they have the opportunity. Hell, they’re even making a mobile version of it that acts as a companion game/app. But it doesn’t matter how we get it, or even if it has to be optimized or anything. All we need to know is that THE WORLD F***ING NEED THIS.
But even better than Watch Dogs itself… well, just as good, is the fact that Ubisoft not only sprung this on the crowd by surprise, but is also treating this as something just as big as any of their multi-million dollar franchises. The fact that they’re investing so much effort, care, and attention into a brand new original IP like this… it honestly brings a tear of joy to this gamer’s eye.