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The 20 essential PC and Mac games of 2012

Indie titles and mods ruled PC gaming this year - CVG hand picks the best examples

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14. THOMAS WAS ALONE

Developer Mike Bithell Website thomaswasalone.com

This puzzle/platformer features a cast made up of coloured blocks, which makes it even more remarkable that its story is so compelling. Danny Wallace provides an amusing narration, and even though many of the puzzles aren't that taxing, the narrative keeps you hooked. Each block-person has their own strength (crossing water, for example, or a double jump), but also come with their own character flaws. A fascinating game.

Out now


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15. LONE SURVIVOR

Developer Superflat Games Website lonesurvivor.co.uk

Made up of blurry, but artful, pixels, Lone Survivor's world is exceedingly weird. Set in the aftermath of a zombie-like apocalypse, you have to make your way across the world searching for survivors and fighting against your own tortured psyche. You have to scavenge for supplies, solve puzzles, and make choices that alter your ending. It won't appeal to everyone, but that's the beauty of it. If you're open-minded, you should definitely give it a try.

Out now


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16. HOME

Developer Benjamin Rivers Website homehorror.com

Yes, it's another pixelated horror game. Play Home in the dark with headphones and it's as nerve-wracking as Silent Hill, even with those lo-fi visuals. This is a slow, story-led game where your amnesiac character pieces his past together with clues found scattered around the environment. The cryptic story leaves you to fill in the blanks, and it's an absorbing mystery. Not much happens, though; it's all about the atmosphere and tension, which it has in spades.

Out now


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17. THIRTY FLIGHTS OF LOVING

Developer Blendo Games Website blendogames.com

This game, if you can really call it that, clocks in at a not-so-impressive 15 minutes. But get past that, and you'll find one of the most surreal, intriguing... things ever. It's a spy drama that tells a fractured, breakneck story. You jump from moment to moment, struggling to take it all in, but find yourself still totally immersed at the same time. For the cost you might balk at the length, but Thirty Flights is, amazingly, one of the finest examples of video game storytelling.

Out now


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18. WAR OF THE ROSES

Developer Fatshark Website waroftherosesthegame.com

Forget strafing in circles with a high-tech SMG; War of the Roses is a REAL deathmatch. Set in ye olde medieval times, it sees 32 knights battling it out with brutal period weaponry. Swords, axes, halberds... if you can separate limbs with it, you can wield it. The single-player was axed at the last minute, but once you're in the thick of a massive online battle, you won't care. If you've always wanted to literally get medieval on someone's ass, this is the game for you.

Out now


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19. NATURAL SELECTION 2

Developer Unknown Worlds Website naturalselection2.com

This shooter has been in beta for a while now, but you'll finally get to play the finished game at the end of the month. It started life as a Half-Life mod, but has now broken free to become a standalone game. Its asymmetrical multiplayer gameplay sees a team of soldiers facing off against an opposing team of aliens. Humans can gather resources to get better equipment, and aliens can evolve into even more terrifying beasts.

October 31


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20. DEAR ESTHER

Developer thechineseroom Website dear-esther.com

Another title with the awkward definition of 'game'. Dear Esther sees you wandering around a gorgeous, eerie landscape which tells a story as you wander through it. A voice occasionally reads out letters from the titular Esther, but otherwise it's a stark, lonely experience. It's more interactive fiction than traditional game, and the sumptuous visuals stretch Valve's ancient Source engine further than we imagined possible. Weird, yes, but absolutely wonderful.

Out now

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