RPG of the Year 2012

“Not all those who wander are lost.”

There and back again.

It’s a shame that Baldur’s Gate was released as late as it was – I haven’t had a chance to dive into the game myself, and as such couldn’t be considered for RPG of the Year. Though Phil’s played it and he loves it. BG (and all the other games releasing in mid-December) will definitely be eligible for Pocket Tactics awards next year.

Even if it wasn’t a year for the ages, this was a good year for RPGs on touchscreens. The arrival of PC indie developer Spiderweb Software’s epic Avernum games onto iPad was welcome – but the controls never fully warmed up to the new platform. Knights of Pen & Paper was clever, and The World Ends With You and Bastion were uncompromisingly good ports of well-regarded source material. But one game provided an utterly engrossing, replayable experience like no other.

After the jump, the RPG of the Year.

The Pocket Tactics 2012 RPG of the Year is Organ Trail.

Interesting decisions, as Sid Meier would say.

You haven’t seen the worst of it.

As I said in my review back in August, Organ Trail feels like a joke that took on a life of its own. On the surface, it’s a post-apocalyptic send-up of every American Gen-Xer’s favorite educational game, Oregon Trail – but there’s so much more to it once you get going. After twenty minutes with Organ Trail, you’ve been sucked in by the struggle for survival in the game’s bleak universe, and you forget all about the fact that you’re playing it ironically.

A few technical issues came between Organ Trail and a perfect score on this site – technical issues that have since been resolved with post-release patches that also added new content. Developers Men Who Wear Many Hats also deserve credit for making one of the few top-notch games this year that is available for Android as well as iOS.

True to the game that inspired it, Organ Trail is brutally difficult – I don’t usually succeed in getting my party of survivors to Safe Haven. But it’s a testament to how good the game is that I keep trying.

To see all the games recognized in the Pocket Tactics Best of 2012 Awards, visit the awards index page.