My 3 Most Anticipated Puzzle/Mystery Games of 2012

Okay, so maybe a more honest title would be “The Only 3 Puzzle/Mystery Games I Know Are Coming Out in 2012”, since I’m not exactly up on my game news, but I am super anticipating these three upcoming games!


#1 – The Witness

The Witness

I’ve been wigging out over this game since I first heard/wrote about it back in February.  Braid-creator Jonathan Blow has made it his mission to revamp the adventure game in his upcoming puzzle and exploration game, The Witness.  Blow has tons of insight and innovative ideas when it comes to puzzle games, and there is no developer I’d rather see take a crack at my favorite genre.

Platforms:  “Whatever makes sense”

Release date:  “Sometime in 2012”

#2 – The Secret World

I read an article about this upcoming MMORPG in Game Informer magazine and promptly flipped out. Funcom’s The Secret World is set in the contemporary world as we know it, but the creatures and demons we know as myths and fairy tales are actually very real, and very dangerous.  Players choose to join one of three international secret societies — the Dragons, Templar, or Illuminati.  Each of these groups do their part to combat the evil forces in the world, all while vying against each other for power and control.  The Secret World promises to do things a little differently than traditional MMOs, particularly when it comes to leveling and classes.  As for gameplay, a recently released press demo level had players searching the (in-game) streets of London for clues and using Google to crack codes.  I’ve never really gotten into any MMORPGs I’ve tried, but the modern setting, mysterious storylines, and puzzle-centric gameplay of The Secret World make me think that’s all about to change!

Platforms:  PC

Release date:  April 2012


#3 – Quantum Conundrum

The lead designer of the smash-hit puzzle-platformer Portal has left Valve and is working on a new puzzler called Quantum Conundrum.  While the first-person, 3D, and puzzle aspects of the game seem pretty similar to Portal, the aesthetic and mechanics will bring something new.  You play as a 12-year-old boy trying to navigate your way through your eccentric scientist uncle’s mansion/laboratory, where physics play by new rules.  You’re given a device that lets you switch between various dimensions, such as Anti-gravity, Slow-motion, and “Fluffy” (lightweight), to solve physics-based puzzles.  The aesthetic is light, bright, and colorful, with chunky, stylized models and goofy characters.  From what I’ve seen so far, Quantum Conundrum promises to deliver the same kind of satisfying, truth-revealing puzzles that made Portal so fun.  If Portal and Portal 2 left you wanting more, well, here’s some more!

Platforms:  Xbox Live Arcade, Playstation Network, Windows

Release date:  Q1 2012

5 comments on My 3 Most Anticipated Puzzle/Mystery Games of 2012

  • Greg

    I don’t need much more information for “The Witness” to sound great. As far as the MMO goes, it sounds interesting, but I’m afraid that all of that combat is going to water it down. We’ll see, though! Lastly, “Quantum Conundrum” sounds cool and I’m going to check out that video (but have to elsewhere ’cause the link is currently broken, psst).

    • clavicarius (author)

      The impression I’m sort of getting from The Secret World is that it will still be fun for people like me who just like to run around and explore in open-world environments like that, and that since there’s no levels and gear and all that stuff, you don’t have to grind and focus on fighting and stuff. And hopefully, all of the missions and quests and stuff won’t just be “go find this boss and beat him”, and will have lots of puzzle elements! But it’s hard to say this early on.

      Hmm.. the QC link is working on my end.. maybe it was a temporary malfunction?

  • Jen

    Woo, I love Portal but had never heard of Quantum Conundrum! Le sigh at having to play as a 12-year-old boy…

    I’m kinda thinking of suggesting to MAGFest for a panel re: women in/and games, e.g. (over/hyper)sexualization of women in games, marketing towards men, idea of cosplaying (wasn’t there one on cosplay at the con you and Nick attended?), etc. It left me disheartened when in the panel on villainry, the guy mentioned how all women are scantily-clad/wearing ridiculous things, etc. and there was an emphatic cheer. And then I saw posts on the MAGFest X wall saying like, “I was the sexy [any character, including POKEMON and SANTA]” REALLY?!?! I just feel like any sort of panel like that would be sparsely attended, or the idea itself not be taken seriously. But to at least get some female game developers/producers/anything would be awesome. I was happy to see that in the videos that will play at the video game exhibition in DC included interviews with many women involved in making video games. /rant

    • clavicarius (author)

      QC definitely looks like it’s going to be the same kind of puzzles/feelings you get with Portal, so I think it should be really fun =)

      Arg, the game so far feels a lot like.. “This is a game for all ages, but young kids too, and by that we mostly mean young boys, and really only dudes play games anyway, and really men are the norm, so of course all the characters will be male!”, especially when I look at the promo art. It’s hard to keep in mind that like.. playing as a male character isn’t an inherently bad thing, it’s just been the status quo for so long that it’s just frustrating to see yet another game where you have to play as a boy.

      I think we have to keep in mind the history of these developers and this type of game. The designer of the game is female, which is a huge step forward (how many women in the game industry can you name? Kim Swift is becoming a pretty recognized name for her work on Portal and now QC).
      In Portal, the protagonist was a woman and the villain had a female persona, and they were basically the only characters in the game. QC just seems like that, reversed. I also wonder if the main character in QC will be a silent protagonist the way Chell is. If you’re playing from a first-person perspective, and your character never speaks and is rarely spoken to, the gender of your character is pretty irrelevant. And we also don’t know what other characters might be in the game, or what issues it might try and deal with. I think it’s too early to make any feminist judgments on this game, but your first reaction (the same one I had) brings up an interesting problem, which is finding the balance between “All characters have merit regardless of their gender, and characters of all genders should be encouraged” and “Women are horribly under-represented in games and all media. As a woman, why should I get excited about playing as yet another male character?”

      Maybe part of the problem lies in that we don’t yet find this character relatable in any way? We don’t have much to go on yet… the cover art just shows a blond, blue-eyed kid. Is he going to be anything more than just an avatar for the average, 12-year-old male consumer to project himself upon? Is he just going to be like a kid in a Nerf commercial? I don’t think I want to play as the kid in the Nerf commercial.

      Blah, anyway, bottom line is that it’s too early to really make any judgments, but we can definitely come up with some questions and things to look out for while playing the game =)

      As for feminism and someplace like MAGFest…. I don’t even know where one would begin! IT’s like.. there are so many lessons that have to be taught before you can even begin to have a serious discussion. Things like.. women should be treated equal to men and with respect, women and feminine qualities are not inherently bad or less than, “feminine” and “masculine” are pretty much meaningless social constructs, in our society male is the norm and being male gives you a number of privileges and biases you may not be aware of, etc. etc. And only once people understand those things can you tackle issues like hypersexualization of female characters, under-representation of women in games and the game industry, or the problem with the “boys club” mentality of the gaming world. Maybe if someone did a panel, they could have a little primer with those basic things at the beginning, and explain like.. this panel is going to operate assuming that these basic principles are true. The key, I think, would be presenting these things in a way that isn’t patronizing, but still recognizing that a setting like a games convention might not have the most progressive crowd, especially when it comes to feminism.

      We went to the panel on immersion in games/virtual worlds, and one of the speakers was giving his presentation and explaining data about the differences they found between male and female research participants, and they found that the women were much more interested in movies and TV than the men were. And the guy said “You know, chick flicks! My wife and daughter are always trying to get me to watch those…” And I was like uuuughhhh let’s leave. Really? What does that even mean?? If the men had been shown to be more interested in movies/TV would he have said “You know, action flicks! Guys love those things, right?” I doubt it.. Women only like feminine-specific things apparently! Blarghghg! We have a long way to go!

  • Jen

    I was talking to Greg about this and yeah, I definitely just wrote my knee-jerk reaction and you’re right, it’s too early to really judge. But at the same time, if, say, the character’s a silent protagonist (so you don’t really notice anything about them, like in Portal), then why the particular choice of a young boy, you know? I think it’s also hints at this aspect of boys love/are good at science thing too, since it’s a sort of physics-based game. I am just so not eloquent in explaining why these things bother me.

    And, I know…I don’t know where something like that would begin for MAGFest. I just have this wishful thinking that the attendees are also fed up with these issues we brought up or at least would like to engage in healthy open-minded discussion about it, but I don’t see it happening at all. Maybe a good start would just be getting more female panelists and musicians. Uuugh, your story. Chick flicks! Of course!

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