1. The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead is a 3D point-and-click adventure game based on the comics (but not on the TV show) of the same name, and sees you take control of Lee, a convicted criminal who is suddenly thrust into the zombie apocalypse with the responsibility of taking care of a little girl he just met. It has pretty basic game mechanics, but you are often thrust into unexpected and tense situations requiring quick thinking and sharp reflexes. The game is more about the story, though, and plays somewhat like an interactive TV show, where you are presented with choices that affect the story. Your choices don't ultimately affect how the story unfolds that much, but they seriously affect how you feel about what choices you've made and it deliberately makes you reflect on them and face the consequences. The writing and voice acting are absolutely outstanding and it gets my vote for game off the year without hesitation. I must just nominate it for one of the best games of the last decade.
2. Analogue: A Hate Story
Analogue: A Hate Story is a visual novel set in the distant future after mankind has started to send out generational colony ships into deep space. You communicate with a long lost and deserted colony ship and find out what happened to the passengers from the ship's two AIs. It is an intriguing tale of family obligations, women's rights and political intrigue, drawing parallels from ancient Korean culture. It does a really good job of letting you piece together the story of a group of families and gaining insight into their thoughts through their personal computer entries. The game also features a really tense "hacking" mini-game in which you have to stop the ship's reactor core from going into melt-down, which I thought was a really nice touch.
3. Planetside 2
Technically I am cheating with this entry, since the game is still in alpha and hasn't been released yet, but I think it should be allowed. Gnomoria is a city building sim-come-god game in which you order about a colony of gnomes as they set up a fortress for themselves and build an economy. It might sound familiar to some of you, as it is quite keenly inspired by the gargantuan Dwarf Fortress, a game so full of depth that it is almost impossible not to rip it off in some way. Gnomoria attempts to be a more accessible counterpart to its older brother, most notably with a very intuitive mouse interface, whilst still retaining its idea of Fun (ie. it's fun to lose). The point of the game is for your colony of gnomes to survive the onslaught of starvation, thirst and goblin attacks for as long as possible, and the Fun is seeing how it will fall (as well as the hilarious battle logs). As I said, it's in alpha stage and still has a lot of features to be added but it is shaping up to be a great game, with plenty of replay value.
As a Star Trek fan, FTL is a bit of a dream game. You control a ship and order the crew about manning stations, and jump around the galaxy fighting off enemies and trading scrap for parts. It's a simple game in its execution, but it is devilishly difficult and will punish you just for the sake of it, earning the title "rougelike-like". The battles are tense as you order your crew around to take on intruders, seal hull breaches and put out fires before they run out of oxygen and the end boss battle is exciting and requires a bit of tactical play. Oh, and you can name your captain "Picard" if you like.
There have been many exciting games that I haven't got around to playing this year, such as Dishonoured, Sleeping Dogs and Mark of the Ninja, and with 2013 shaping up to be an exciting year with GTA5 and a new SimCity (about damn time) it seems my backlog is just going to get longer and longer. Thanks for reading, and post in the comments what your favourite game of 2012 was if you have one.