And the winner is…
Saint's Row the Third — Special Award: Classic Game of the Year
One of the quirks of the way we do Game of the Year voting here at GWJ is that there's the possibility that a game that wasn't released this year will end up in the ranking anyway. That's what happened with Saint's Row the Third. It took the #8 spot in last year's voting and this year takes the #10 spot as more people played it and fell in love.
Despite being decried here and elsewhere as broken, Diablo III managed to cast its dark spell anyway and landed the same spot as last year's equally controversial Dragon Age 2.
Mark of the Ninja
One of this year's indie darlings, this game was praised by most for doing what seemed impossible: creating a rock solid side-scrolling stealth game that, for some, perfected the genre.
Building on the success of its predecessor, Borderlands 2 won players over with its gorgeous art style and addictive, loot-drop gameplay.
Journey — Special Award: Console Exclusive Game of the Year
Despite being not only a console exclusive but a PlayStation 3 exclusive, Journey impressed nearly everyone who played it. thatgamecompany has created something truly unique and memorable.
Whether you approached the game with stealth or death in mind, Dishonored accommodated a variety of gameplay styles in a dark, beautifully realized world. Turns out the comparisons to Thief: The Dark Project weren't just hype.
FTL — Special Awards: PC Exclusive Game of the Year; Indie Game of the Year
Kickstarted to completion, FTL is about as indie as it gets. A lo-fi space faring roguelike, it won praise for its scathing difficulty and addictive replays.
Mass Effect 3 — Special Award: Best-Loved Game of the Year
Polarizing even now, Mass Effect 3 collected more top votes than any other game this year and was also called out as a disappointment by more posters than any other.
XCOM: Enemy Unknown — Special Award: Most Loved Game of the Year
How do you follow up a gaming classic? Like this. XCOM: Enemy Unknown refined the gameplay of its venerated predecessor without losing much of what made it so special. This game collect more raw votes than any other.
The Walking Dead
It didn't have the most votes, and it didn't have the most #1 votes, but as I ran the numbers it felt like nearly every list had The Walking Dead listed in its top half. At the start of the year, who would have guessed that GWJ's #1 game would be a licensed adventure game? I certainly wouldn't have.
And now, some special awards, for games that were significant but didn't crack the top ten:
Persona 4: Golden — Special Award: Handheld Game of the Year
The PlayStation Vita might be struggling, but the handheld's port of this JRPG classic won a number of accolades. Galactic punt!
Ascension: Twilight of the Gods — Special Award: Mobile Game of the Year
Collectible card games seem to have found a cozy home in the world of smart phones and tablets, but no more so than Ascension. Taking advantage of a digital environment to smooth out some of its edges (like shuffling, shuffling, shuffling your decks), Ascension has become many GWJers' go-to mobile game.