2013 has been considered one of the weaker years in releases. I suppose that’s what happens when a console generation lasts well past what it was probably supposed to. Still, plenty of highly enjoyable games came out. Despite the lack of big releases, indie games like Stanley Parable, Gone Home, State of Decay, Rogue Legacy and Gun Point, have me feeling less qualified to put a list up than most years. Despite there being less AAA games out than usual, there are still plenty of games left for me to play from 2013.
“This game is charming as fuck.” pretty much sums it up for me, but there’s a lot more going on with Tearaway. Lovely art style, genuinely clever gameplay mechanics based around Vita’s functionality, and simple to do arts and crafts that directly affect the environment, it’s hard not to have a smile on your face while playing this game.
9. Super Mario 3D World
Just when I’m out, they pull me back in! Nintendo really brings it with this installment. It has a lot of things I loved from other Mario games (Princess Peach can float!), and adds much needed creativity to Mario. The worst thing I can say about this game is that I find the way Mario meows annoying.
8. Tomb Raider
This scratches that Uncharted itch for me. I enjoyed Tomb Raider despite it being a huge departure from the original series that I loved. I’m really hoping the sequel has more tombs to raid. Those were my favorite bits in this game and there simply wasn’t enough of them.
7. BioShock Infinite
It’s a fine shooter, but the game’s story is really what makes this game special for me. I really enjoyed the twisted Disney princess setup used to introduce Elizabeth and enjoyed Booker’s relationship with her quite a bit.
6. Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
Brothers tells an affecting story with visuals, voice inflection, and music, despite the characters speaking gibberish. There’s no real combat to speak of here, just environmental puzzles, exploration, and platforming. One of the few games where the mechanics of the game directly ties into its narrative. One of my surprise games of 2013.
5. Saints Row IV
If you liked SR3, it’s mathematically impossible for you not to like this one. Think Saint’s Row 3 mixed with Crackdown. The comedy is still there too, totally worth picking up.
4. Metro: Last Light
Although I enjoyed Bioshock Infinite mainly for its story, Metro Last Light strikes a good balance between enjoyable gameplay mechanics and a engaging narrative. Although the game’s more interesting survival mechanics (finding gas masks, using bullets as currency as well as ammunition) takes a back seat in the sequel compared to Metro 2033, this game’s level design, story telling techniques, and satisfying shooting mechanics made it one of my favorite shooters in a very long time.
3. Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
Black Flag totally took me by surprise. Assassin’s Creed III’s ending left a bad taste in my mouth but this game was good all the way through. Not only did it feed my compulsion to want to collect everything in these types of games by giving you some cool extras for doing it (like shanties for your crew to sing, and treasure maps, weapons, and costumes to unlock) but the naval combat stuff has been tweaked and made a bit more full scale compared to the previous game. Oh yea, it also helps that the game looks gorgeous on next gen consoles. It even had a companion app that was well done and added quite a bit to the game. This didn’t feel like it was rushed out to make a deadline. Its polished and full of content.
2. Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
This ended up being one of my favorite JRPG’s in a very long time. Not only did this help me understand why so many people like Pokemon, but it used one of my favorite animation studios Studio Ghibli to do it. I have to go back to this and do the post game activities at some point. It’s flippin’ tidy, it is!
1. The Last of Us
Poignant, well written, honest storytelling. That’s what I took away the most from this game. Being a huge stealth fan, the gameplay really spoke to me. There were entire fight sequences I avoided by using stealth. When forced to confront enemies, I felt I had the necessary tools to have a fighting chance. I loved the honesty and audacity the game’s final moments had. There are very few games that use your own life experiences to help shape how you feel about a game’s ending but I felt that TLOU did exactly that. I think those of us that have children can empathize with some of the choices Joel had to make, but very few of us would be willing to make the same choices. At the end of the day, this game isn’t about being the hero that saves the day, it’s about being human and all of what that entails…both good and bad.
10 spots just isn’t enough to highlight some of my favorite games of this past year. Games like GTA V, Ducktales Remastered, Batman: Arkham Origins, DmC, Call of Juarez: Gunslinger, and Guacamelee were among my favorites.
I Really Liked It Despite Itself
These are games that I enjoyed despite the games having problems that others might not be able to overlook. Even games with flaws deserved a little attention!
Deadpool- I enjoyed this game a lot more than I expected to. The gameplay is mostly brain dead despite there being some fun aspects to the combat and shooting. More than anything this game cracked me up. There were a lot of bad jokes, but for every bad joke or two there was one that was genuinely funny.
Remember Me- The art direction, graphical fidelity, voice acting, and general atmosphere of this game was great. The gameplay however was too simple. The edit combos together to create buffs for your character was an interesting mechanic but it wasn’t fully fleshed out. The platforming was also fairly disappointing and reminded me a lot of Enslaved where you were simply given too much direction as to where to go next. I also found the ending to fall very flat. You are left thinking, “That’s it? THAT’S why all of the things in this game happened?”.
Beyond: Two Souls- Although the story is hit and miss, there were a few moments that were genuinely well done. The graphics in this game are among the best of this past generation. The problem here is that the quality of the story is uneven and the although ending doesn’t fail as hard as Heavy Rain, it does stumble a bit. I still enjoyed my time with the game despite those flaws.
I Coulda Been a Contender!
These are games that are all quality, but I just didn’t get to play enough of them to give it their due.
Lego Marvel Super Heroes- What I did play was a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to going back. Love all the Marvel fan service.
Legend of Zelda Wind Waker HD- This will be one of the games I go back to first once the next gen drought hits me (which will be soon).
Most Disappointing Game of The Year (Brought to you by Prototype)
To clarify, this isn’t “worst game” necessarily, just one that I was really disappointed with. Only criteria that I have for this is that it has to be a game I beat so I could properly judge the game in its entirety.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance- I can’t deny that I had fun with this game, but I was surprised by how quickly that fun wore out. It took me about 8 hours to beat this game and it felt like it wore out its welcome 5-6 hours in. Fun gameplay mechanics that just weren’t fun enough to carry an entire game.