There are so many things wrong with Dragon's Dogma, as noted in Joystiq's scathing review. For starters, its unwillingness to offer guidance makes the Souls games look helpful, its dialogue repetition is nothing short of maddening – yes I freaking know wolves hunt in packs – and no game has ever made fast travel more of a chore. But when it's good, oh how good it is. Combining in harmony with my troupe of automated pawns to take down giant foes in simplistic yet epic, challenging combat is just too delectable to exclude Dragon's Dogma from mention, flaws or no.
If the first Borderlands can be accused of being mindless in its sameyness, then its sequel takes that accusation and blows it up into tiny bits by means of a large gun. The shoot-and-loot principles still apply, but now they're supported by funnier writing, more customization, deeper side quests, and a continuing ability to surprise.
Loopier than the Green Hill Zone and odder than the bad Star Trek films, Asura's Wrath takes the essence of ridiculously overblown Japanese depictions of gods, power, and the like, and makes it fun simply by wholeheartedly committing to the madness, for better or worse. Asura's Wrath uses the very same principle in its approach to the quick-time events which dominate the play, and in doing so it gives a much maligned mechanic a glorious rebirth. It also deserves mention for featuring the angriest game character of 2012, and in turn the most appropriate title.
In lieu of reinventing the rhythm game wheel, Square Enix decided to steal it, give it a JRPG paint job, and scratch the words 'Property of Nobuo Uematsu' into the rim. For all its familiarity, Theatrhythm successfully unites the rhythm game and JRPG genres to create a musical voyage of sweet nostalgia for fans of the Final Fantasy series, and a greatly needed one given the uneven quality of recent series fare.
The three minutes of the first Beck level remain just about unmatched by anything else I played this year. What a bonus, then, that the rest of this deceptively complex rhythm-platformer also brims with ingenuity and wonder.