Ah, the problem genre. Action/Adventure is that broad spectrum zone for shooters that also dabble in platforming and puzzling, for hack'n'slashers, point'n'clickers, open world expanses, daredevil blockbuster action, and indie darlings that aren't necessarily obvious enough to have a home elsewhere.
As such, it's been an utter bastard to call...
NB. Click on the thumbnails for price comparisons and the game's title for the relevant review where available.
Darksiders II did pretty much everything right. It built upon its predecessor in terms of combat, presentation, longevity, replayability, and fat mounds of loot. Unfortunately, the only misstep was releasing within days of Sleeping Dogs, which was also awesome.
Dishonored did better than simply revive the stealth genre, it made us wonder why the hell it went away in the first place. Arkane delivered a blank canvas in Corvo Attano, with a commendably mature approach to player freedom that asked much of you, and delivered ultimate gameplay satisfaction in return. In Dunwall, we had one of the finest video game worlds of this generation. Nothing short of astonishing.
It was broken in places, and Gransys was one of the more forgettable worlds we've seen from an RPG, but Dragon's Dogma was one hell of an endearing game. Breathtaking combat, an innovative Pawn mechanic, and deep customisation options made it a firm favourite in spite of its flaws. Plus, the opportunity to take down a hole bunch of mythical beasts made it all the sweeter. Refreshingly mature.
Gloriously life-affirming, utterly transcendental, Journey was one of those few games that not only provided a thoroughly unique experience, but also deeply personal one too. It didn't matter whether or not you considered it art, or even if you defined it as a "game", one thing was for sure: it was absolutely unmissable.
Sleeping Dogs was this year's little-big game that could. Dropped by Activision whilst it was still True Crime: Hong Kong, Square Enix snapped it up after a year in the wilderness and dropped it over the summer. Wei Shen's adventures provided the perfect antidote to the traditional sunny lull. Perfectly sized, utterly OTT, United Front Games refused to take themselves too seriously, instead providing an immaculately balanced open world game, stuffed with things to do, and supported with a near endless stream of cracking DLC.
Telltale could perhaps have structured their releases a little better, and maybe fixed that infuriating cross-platform savegame bug, but otherwise there was little to complain about from The Standout Storytelling Experience of the Year. A cracking adventure game, with some utterly fantastic scripting and voice work, Telltale's take on Kirkman and co.'s zombie-ridden franchise was miles ahead of the TV series, and showed BioWare that it's possible to pull off a brave ending without compromise. There were tears. So many tears.
A staggering technical achievement, and undoubtedly the lead launch title for the Vita, Golden Abyss carried on the series’ tradition of excellent adventure games with all the familiar elements working fantastically on the new handheld. The list of collectibles had us replaying it obsessively, the Vita’s unique control features were used to fantastic effect, and the bar was set incredibly high.
Dishonored defined both action and adventure this year, bringing fantastic mechanics together with a deeply immersive world, steeped in lore that you could take or leave. As we wrote in our review, it didn't matter the story didn't quite make the most of the creative excellence that was Dunwall. The fact was that we filled in the gaps in this adventure ourselves, and whether we went in all guns blazing, or took a more silent approach, we were truly the masters of Corvo's destiny. It can be argued that Journey and The Walking Dead presented a far more personal adventuring experience, and that Sleeping Dogs did balls-out action a little better for what it's worth, but Dishonored had something for everyone. That it made us contemplate our way forward, that it resurrected an unfashionable genre in barnstorming fashion, that it empowered players to be decisive, that it was mechanically excellent, that its world and visual design and music and sound work were almost peerless, that it proved those who said new IPs were dead this far into an existing generation completely wrong, this is why it takes the crown.