Video games, we went through some shit this year, you and me. I think you wanted to prove to me that last year wasn’t a fluke. There were at least 5 different games this year that made me stop to compose myself. A few of those games even made me take multiple breaks. I wasn’t prepared. I am a changed gamer, and I want some more. Also, I want to thank the other games that let me kick back and have some proper fun without making me feel emotionally vulnerable. You’re important to my balanced gaming diet:
JDevL’s Top 10 Games of the Year 2013
- The Last of Us
- Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
- DmC: Devil May Cry
- The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
- Papers, Please
- Bioshock Infinite
- Call of Juarez: Gunslinger
- Gone Home
- Rogue Legacy
- Ridiculous Fishing
1) The Last of Us - Storytelling has reached new heights in gaming in the last couple of years. I’ve even started to be able to forgive barely-there gameplay if the story can tower above it. This year, I didn’t have to forgive anything. The Last of Us is a perfect package of an emotionally resonating story of unforgettable characters and gut wrenching moments with well-paced, action-packed, survival-based gameplay. For a while, I thought I didn’t like playing The Last of Us. I found myself dreading the next fight, but it wasn’t because of the gameplay, it was because I was scared about what was going to happen to Joel and Ellie. With tragedy surrounding them, I couldn’t bear to watch more harm come to either of them. In the moment, I loved every fight and every stealthy escape. The Last of Us shows us that survival isn’t pretty and people aren’t perfect, but this game is about as close to both as you can get.
2) Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons - No offense to Starbreeze, but there’s no reason Brothers should have even been made. There’s not even a hint that a brilliant fantasy adventure could grow from the gritty games that make up the company’s pedigree. “All right, Starbreeze, go create your fantastical world, just make sure it’s accessible. Ok I was wrong, this game looks gorgeous. What do you mean you want to use a cringe-inducing control scheme so that the player can control two characters at once? Why in the hell would you want to do that? That will never work… oh my god… excuse me, I have to go hug every significant familial figure that I’ve met in my entire life.” Brothers is beautiful. Brothers is touching. Brothers is unforgettable. Brothers are forever. Starbreeze is amazing.
Memorable Gaming Moments of 2013
- Livestreaming the entirety of Gone Home and Brothers, going through it all with an audience and talking about it the conclusion.
- That Tiny Barbarian intro.
- Shooting the sky with Mercenary King bros.
- Outlast making my step-daughter the scariest thing in my life.
- Dickfish Awesomenauts domination.
- Wind Waker HD sets the graphical bar.
- Bones moved away and was never heard from again.
- I like a card game? Panda buddies are fun? Thanks, Warcraft.
- Land boat ramp races in JC2 Multiplayer.
- Lara Croft kicking ass.
- Aquaman and his sharks.
- ATV hopping in Defiance.
- Daily challenges.
- Earthbound is real.
3) DmC: Devil May Cry – I had no idea there were die hard Devil May Cry fans. Hell, if there were, I thought I’d be classified in that category since the first game was a PS2 system seller for me. I was excited with the reboot was announced because Ninja Theory proved they had both action and story chops with Enslaved. I wasn’t disappointed. I was enthralled. DmC was some of the most ridiculous fun I had with games this year. The combat system made me feel like a bad ass, and the story is ludicrous in the most enjoyable way possible. Add in the new de facto standard for boss fights in a video game and DmC encapsulates all I could ever want from an action title.
4) The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds – When it comes to Nintendo’s well known franchises, it doesn’t get to be as flashy with its genius these days. Change too little and the fans cry fowl. Change too much and the fans cry again. Apparently the secret is to wrap lots of change in a familiar package, and you can win over everyone. This trick also makes A Link Between Worlds the best Zelda games since Wind Waker (the first time), and Nintendo’s best game since Mario Galaxy. It’s also the first handheld Zelda that I’ve seen through to completion, and is easily the most accessible Zelda game. Judged apart from its history, I just did not want to stop adventuring in A Link Between Worlds. Every single dungeon charmed me with its cleverness, use of verticality, and I was consistenly surprised at how fun the “paint Link on the wall” mechanic was used to navigate, survive, and solve puzzles. I didn’t want it to end even if the ending came at just the right time. Its only flaw? That I don’t have a new Zelda game to play right now.
5) Papers, Please – I really thought Papers, Please would just be a throwaway, one-note, gimmicky indie title. After all, its gameplay hinges on the monotony of being a border patrol inspector. Add in a few story twists, weird characters, bizarre conspiracies, and questionable security procedures while the mortality of your own family hangs in the balance, and all of a sudden those montonous tasks have some weight. I was addicted to Papers, Please immediately. I was hopelessly addicted once I discovered how many different endings exist. I also now have a backup career option in Arstotzka once I lose my job because I’m addicted to video games.
Games I wish I’d played
- XCOM: Enemy Within
- Pokemon X/Y
- Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
- Magrunner: Dark Pulse
- Slender: The Arrival
- Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
- NBA Live 14
- Disney Infinity
- Device 6
The Rest of the Best
Bioshock Infinite is an awe-inspiring masterpiece of video game design. While I will always prefer messing with plasmids in Rapture, Columbia may be the most memorable video game setting I’ve ever experienced. Call of Juarez: Gunslinger is everything I want from a middle-tier budget title. Great style, exciting action, and my favorite story telling technique of the year. Gone Home is important. It not only proves that interactive stories have a place in this industry, but the story itself should be experienced by everyone. Rogue Legacy came out of nowhere and repeatedly dragged me into its castle until I lost track of how many generations of heroes had fallen at my inept hands. It’s ok, one more run and we’ll get it. I’ve never liked fishing, it’s boring. Ridiculous Fishing, though, now that’s a sport. Throw those fish in the air and let loose the rockets. The sheer quantity and quality of games rarely come together like it did in 2013. I could easily add at least 15 other games that gave me almost as many gaming highs as my list above. Think about that. That means twice a month I was playing a new and memorable game. All of this at the cusp of a new generation of consoles, the beginning of early access and community involvement in game development, and the continued maturation of indie games. The innovations are speeding up, the technology is growing, and the games are more fun than ever. If you want to pick that apart, be my guest, I’ll be too busy trying to keep up with my game library.
Games of the Year 2013 Lists from the Horrible Night Writers
Giant Bomb (Images)