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Dan Ryckert's Top 10 Games of 2013

The dirtiest player in video games counts down his ten favorite 2013 releases not featuring Ric Flair.

Dan Ryckert is a multitalented weirdo from the American Midwest. He currently works as an Senior Associate Editor at Game Informer, is a celebrated author of literature--including the books Air Force Gator, Air Force Gator II, and Former Baseball Player Sucks at Crowdfunding: A Time Travel Adventure--and is a regular contributor to Giant Bomb's Powerbombcast. He often yells about things he does not understand on his Twitter account.

10. Tomb Raider

I’ve tried to enjoy the Tomb Raider series since it began in 1996, but it never quite hooked me. Several reboots failed to get me on board, so I approached this title with more than a tiny bit of skepticism. Once I started playing, I was immediately onboard. The new Lara is more realistic, the world is gorgeous, and the mix of action and puzzle-solving is well balanced. Taking out dozens of baddies with stealth and arrows felt great, as did the sectioned-off puzzle areas. Crystal Dynamics knocked it out of the park with this effort, and I can’t wait to see what they have in store next.

9. The Swapper

There are few things in gaming that I enjoy more than being floored by a game that arrives out of nowhere from under the radar. This atmospheric puzzler from Finnish developer Facepalm Games presents you with one core gameplay concept near the beginning, and it remains engrossing for the entire playthrough. A swapper gun allows you to make up to four clones of yourself, which you can control and swap between to solve a multitude of fiendish puzzles. I was left dumbfounded and staring at the screen on numerous occasions, convinced that a puzzle was damn near unsolvable. When you finally figure out the solution, the sense of satisfaction matches that of some of this generation’s best puzzle games.

8. Fire Emblem: Awakening

Despite featuring every JRPG narrative cliche in the book, this 3DS strategy title manages to impress with deep combat systems and consistently tense battles (helped in no small part by the penalty of permadeath). I’d frequently fail at missions time and time again after dedicating over a half hour to them, but it rarely felt unfair. Like the best strategy games, it simply made me want to rethink my approach and get back on the field.

7. Animal Crossing: New Leaf

On paper, the improvements to New Leaf seem somewhat trivial. You can pick from a few city ordinances, build some lamp posts and other crap, and the museum has a new floor or something. That’s all fine and dandy, but the game still boils down to shaking trees and talking to penguins. Somehow, this remained engaging and charming enough to turn my daily 15 to 20 minute sessions into 100+ hours of play time.

6. DmC Devil May Cry

Capcom’s action series has been a roller coaster in terms of quality. Its excellent original entry was followed by a mediocre sequel, an amazing third installment, and a disappointing fourth. The publisher took a risk by handing the series over to Heavenly Sword developer Ninja Theory, and it paid off big. Dante may look a bit different this time around, but the razor-sharp swordplay and shootouts are classic Devil May Cry.

5. BioShock Infinite

Say what you will about the admittedly uninspired gunplay, as shooting my way through mechanical presidents isn’t what I’ll remember about my time with Bioshock Infinite. With Columbia, Irrational has created one of the most instantly memorable locales in gaming history. Its visuals are undeniably pretty to look at, but it’s the script and characters that will stick with me for years. Few moments in 2013 hit me as hard as escaping the tower with Elizabeth, exploring the Hall of Heroes, sneaking past those creepy-ass kids in Comstock House, or unraveling the truth about Booker, Elizabeth, and Comstock.

4. Grand Theft Auto V

It’s a surprise to no one that Rockstar created one of the most impressive game worlds ever seen with Grand Theft Auto V. Exploring Los Santos and its surrounding countryside is a blast by land, sea, or air, and exciting, funny, or downright fucked up things to do are around every corner. It isn’t any one element of this game that makes it so good, it’s the fact that it excels in so many ways simultaneously.

3. Super Mario 3D World

My initial reaction to another multiplayer-focused Mario title was that of disappointment, as I wanted a true followup to the stellar line of single player 3D entries in the series. I wound up eating my words, as Nintendo managed to make multiplayer Mario far more fun than it’s ever been in the 2D “New” series. Playing with three friends is an amazing platforming experience, and I found it hard to keep the smile off my face as I explored 3D World’s vibrant courses and brilliant level design.

2. The Last of Us

Zombies aren’t my thing. I remember thinking it was a lazy concept back in 2006 with the original Dead Rising, and I’ve never understood the cavalcade of praise heaped upon Telltale’s mediocre Walking Dead series. With Naughty Dog at the helm, I was prepared to play a unbelievably polished title that was held back by an uninspired genre (I know they’re not technically zombies, but it’s totally a zombie game). It didn’t take me long to realize that the story of Joel and Ellie rises above the limitations of any genre, resulting in one of the best experiences of its console generation in terms of both gameplay and story. I was engrossed from the heartbreaking events of the game’s beginning to its morally complicated ending, and it stands as one of the most impressive games I’ve ever played.

1. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds

A Link to the Past has been my favorite video game ever since I played it as a child in 1992, so this successor had pretty big shoes to fill. What I expected to be nothing more than a solid nostalgia-fest wound up being one of the most bold steps forward in the history of the iconic franchise. Gone are the old systems that regulated item use and acquisition, and players are no longer confined to a set dungeon order. These steps away from the series’ trademark formula make A Link Between Worlds one of the best Zelda titles for those that love to explore at their own pace. When you couple these fantastic changes with some of the best dungeons and bosses ever seen in the franchise, you’ve got the makings of an all-time classic.

51 Comments
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Posted by Atwa

ZELDA MARIO!

Posted by jimmyfenix

Dan Ryckert = Best for Business

Posted by TheVeteran13

" I’ve never understood the cavalcade of praise heaped upon Telltale’s mediocre Walking Dead series. "


I'm intrigued by your ideas and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

Edited by Shrat

There needs to be more Ryckert/Giant Bomb crossovers. Hire him away from Game Informer!

Posted by liquidsnakegfer9

the butt tumblr was my moment of the year

Online
Edited by Thoseposers

Dan Ryckert is the man

Posted by dr_mantas

This list has good games in it.

Posted by SMTDante89

AIR FORCE GATOR!

Posted by BaconGames

I was reading this list and everything was going smoothly, almost too smoothly. This is Dan Ryckert we're talking about. Little did I know he'd sneak a "yup, still Dan Ryckert" stamp in there near the end.

Online
Posted by StarFoxA

WHOA WHOA. We're calling The Walking Dead mediocre now?

Posted by Andorski

JESUS CHRIST at Vince's arm. Bro still lifts...

Posted by Vuud

Gone Home is not on this list.

Total fraud.

Posted by csl316

Yep, that top one is exactly what I thought Dan would pick. Which works!

Posted by JackiJinx

Speaking of New Leaf, Jingle's in town! Thanks, Dan!

Edited by Dunkelheit

Man, I really need to play The Swapper. I wonder if they finished adding controller support yet.

More Tomb Raider (2013)!

Edited by Xavtron

Yes, more love for the Swapper and Fire Emblem

Posted by Matoyak

@starfoxa said:

WHOA WHOA. We're calling The Walking Dead mediocre now?

Based on the Game Informer podcast and other GI stuff I've seen of him, Dan's a known hater of Telltale, and their Walking Dead series in particular. Truth be told, it's kinda rare to see him enjoy anything non-AAA (I'm shocked the Swapper ranks as high as it does for him), so it's not much of a surprise he doesn't like Walking Dead. ~shrug~ To each their own. (Though he does tend to be dickish about it, which can get annoying)

Edited by NTM

Yay, Dan Ryckert. I like the Game Informer staff.The thing about The Last of Us to me is that yes, it's a zombie-like story, but the reason it's so fantastic is, and I'm sure others have heard this before as a reason why it makes something good, is because it's not necessarily about the zombies (cordyceps), it's a human story; their place in this world and how they react to situations after a catastrophe that mainly affected them (as you can see by the flora and fauna that still thrives).

Posted by mems1224

@vuud said:

Gone Home is not on this list.

Total fraud.

Probably because Gone Home isn't that great. Its a solid game but soooo many great games came out this year.

Edited by sundowner
Posted by jillsandwich

NO SAINTS ROW?

Posted by danryckert

@matoyak said:

@starfoxa said:

WHOA WHOA. We're calling The Walking Dead mediocre now?

Dan's a known hater of Telltale, and their Walking Dead series in particular. Truth be told, it's kinda rare to see him enjoy anything non-AAA (I'm shocked the Swapper ranks as high as it does for him)

For the record, I was close to putting The Stanley Parable, Towerfall, or Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons on this list. I also really liked Gone Home, Antichamber, Guacamelee!, and Rogue Legacy. I'm far from AAA-only.

That said, it's true that I've never enjoyed a Telltale game.

Staff
Posted by Sammo21

Great list Dan. I think the new Tomb Raider is incredibly underrated this year...not sure why some people have such hate for it. I liked it enough to get all the treasures and stuff in it.

Edited by Oginam

@matoyak said:

@starfoxa said:

WHOA WHOA. We're calling The Walking Dead mediocre now?

Based on the Game Informer podcast and other GI stuff I've seen of him, Dan's a known hater of Telltale, and their Walking Dead series in particular. Truth be told, it's kinda rare to see him enjoy anything non-AAA (I'm shocked the Swapper ranks as high as it does for him), so it's not much of a surprise he doesn't like Walking Dead. ~shrug~ To each their own. (Though he does tend to be dickish about it, which can get annoying)

In regards to him being dickish about it and assuming his interactions around that game have gone anything like mine, I bet he's pretty tired of having to qualify his opinion on it.

To be clear, I enjoy point and click adventure games, some of Telltale's work included, but TWD was clunky to play, had a myriad of technical issues, and just enough story/dialogue option loopholes to throw you out of the world. The world (story & characters included) is all a game like TWD has and when you're throw out it can be a very jarring and unpleasant experience.

Not to mention actively being disconnected from the actions of your character in between episodes which made me feel like I was never important to the events of the game - if Lee can make decisions on his own, does any decision I make as the player actually matter? The design decision to have time intervals between chapters is, to me, probably the single biggest flaw of the game (Note: It is also something Telltale didn't do for many of their other episodic games, which threw you right back in to the last scene of the previous episode - so it was absolutely a decision made for TWD not a consequence of their past work).

Edited by KaneRobot

I wonder if Vince wanted to put crushed leaves in Dan.

...that's kind of a deep cut even for Vince fans, hopefully someone gets it.

Edited by fjor

31 on GI will be awesome......nice list Dan

Posted by Fattony12000

@matoyak said:

@starfoxa said:

WHOA WHOA. We're calling The Walking Dead mediocre now?

Dan's a known hater of Telltale, and their Walking Dead series in particular. Truth be told, it's kinda rare to see him enjoy anything non-AAA (I'm shocked the Swapper ranks as high as it does for him)

For the record, I was close to putting The Stanley Parable, Towerfall, or Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons on this list. I also really liked Gone Home, Antichamber, Guacamelee!, and Rogue Legacy. I'm far from AAA-only.

That said, it's true that I've never enjoyed a Telltale game.

You're AAA in our hearts, Dan.

Posted by Deadmanforking

Vince's arm is CRAZY!

Posted by rmanthorp

So many lists with Fire Emblem it makes me happy!!

Moderator
Posted by Roger778

@starfoxa:

Please relax, sir/ma'am. That's just the man's opinion.

Also, out of all those games on his list, I'm really happy Tomb Raider is on it. It's my personal favorite game of the year.

Edited by I_Stay_Puft

Seriously, when I initially saw this thought the big "get" Giant Bomb was referring to was a Rick Flair top ten. Dan Ryckert is a close second to The Nature Boy though.

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Posted by bushpusherr

I am SO with you on The Walking Dead, especially in comparison to The Last Of Us. Solid list!

Posted by MormonWarrior

@vuud said:

Gone Home is not on this list.

Total fraud.

I totally hated Gone Home and felt cheated by my purchase of it. Also, it ran like total crap on my family's year-old computer with the settings turned all the way down, and there was nothing particularly impressive-looking about it other than the high-res art, so it shouldn't have run so poorly. So whatever. I don't understand all the love for it and I fear (though I don't think it's necessarily the case) that people are mostly praising it just because it's about a lesbian girl and so it's progressive or whatever.

So Dan's fine for not putting it there. Unless that was sarcasm. Then good on ya.

Edited by coaxmetal

I'm glad the swapper made one of these lists. That's a great game.

Posted by Undeadpool

I always forget how YOUNG Ryckert is! He has the voice of a 56 year old chain-smoker, but I think he's only 30 years old!

Dan Ryckert = Best for Business

I'm just happy his list wasn't held in abeyance for two months...

Posted by ultrapeanut

I hope you got to eat a nice Ketchup 'n Steak wrap with Vince before you parted ways.

Edited by TheHT

Dante may look a bit different this time around, but the razor-sharp swordplay and shootouts are classic Devil May Cry

>:D

I'll give The Swapper a shot. Nice list!

Makes me wish I played more of A Link to the Past when I was a kid. I played it whenever we went to my sister's orthodontist (there was a kids room with a SNES). It was only ever okay though, and I had to restart a bunch of times since other kids presumably deleted the save when they wanted to play, so I never got that into it or campaigned for a home copy.

Maybe I'll dust off the old SNES and track down a copy. Give it another shot.

Posted by radioactivez0r

Just because you don't understand why a game is highly praised doesn't make it mediocre; maybe you just don't get it. It's really odd that you talk so much about Last of Us' focus on characters in a zombie game when that's exactly what TWD did as well. The zombies are always incidental.

Edited by gaminghooligan

Damn Dan Ravishing Ryckert Rude. Great list and write up.

Edited by paulunga

I think it's funny how he manages to bash how much praise The Walking Dead got inside a paragraph stacked with hyperbole about The Last of Us. Good list though, Zelda's my number 1 as well. My favorite Zelda game, even.

Posted by Winternet

Dan calls The Walking Dead mediocre, so I'm pretty much on board with this list.

Posted by JohnZimmerman

dude, you got a picture with vinny mac? awesome.

Edited by mems1224

Just because you don't understand why a game is highly praised doesn't make it mediocre; maybe you just don't get it. It's really odd that you talk so much about Last of Us' focus on characters in a zombie game when that's exactly what TWD did as well. The zombies are always incidental.

Except the gameplay in TLOU is decent. The Walking Dead isn't an especially fun game to play through. After the first play through you've pretty much seen all the gameplay will have to offer. Its not for everyone.

Posted by soupbones

He's a KEEPER!

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