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Greg Kasavin's Top 10 Games of 2013

Also his top 10 games that didn't make his top 10 list. Also his top 10 games he thinks he'll like if he plays more of them. You might want to block off like half-an-hour for this one.

Greg Kasavin is a writer/designer at Supergiant Games, the small independent studio that created Bastion. He and the team are now working on a game called Transistor. Prior to joining Supergiant, Greg worked at 2K Games, Electronic Arts, and GameSpot. He's @kasavin on Twitter.

Because one Top 10 list just isn't enough in 2013, I present to you three lists that paint a better picture of my gaming experience this past year, and even then, I've had to make many painful omissions to boil this down. Here we go:

LIST #3: HONORABLE MENTIONS

These are games I really enjoyed but for whatever reason didn't make my top 10. Since my top 10 includes a bunch of obvious stuff, I wanted to call attention to these darker horses here.

10. Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm

Frequently offered glimpses of why Blizzard was for many years among my favorite developers, and a huge inspiration.

9. The Crimson Shroud

This weird, unlike-anything-else downloadable 3DS game captures the experience of being a lonely D&D nerd quite unlike anything else, and it bears the mark of Final Fantasy Tactics and Vagrant Story writer/designer Yasumi Matsuno, whose work has long been an inspiration to me.

8. Call of Juarez: Gunslinger

Narration, people. Narration.

7. Kentucky Route Zero

This game makes me sad in a profound way. I can't really deal with it. Recommended.

6. Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch

Wonderful Studio Ghibli charm and presentation, and one of the best characters I met in a game this year in Drippy.

5. Kingdom Rush: Frontiers

I just played an awful lot of this and really like it as pretty much the pinnacle of the tower defense genre, what with its great personality and tuning.

4. Tomb Raider

My fears around this game were all alleviated when I played it, and it's easily one of the best presented character action games I've seen in the last few years.

3. Animal Crossing: New Leaf

I wish I lived in the world of Animal Crossing.

2. Pokemon X/Y

Or maybe Pokemon.

1. Antichamber

A valuable life lesson in game form, and an amazing feat of skill and perseverance from a solo developer.

This list could have been so much longer, as there were so many other games I enjoyed this year -- a number of which were made by friends, or rather former friends now that they think I think The Crimson Shroud is better than their games. Anyway! Now it's time for...

LIST #2: Top 10 Games Recommended to Me by Future Me

These are games I've played either way too little or not at all but I really ought to and plan to, as something tells me I'll really like them. And that something is a future version of myself, according to this list.

10. Rogue Legacy

Dude it's Symphony of the Night meets Dark Souls from the creators of Don't Shit Your Pants.

9. DmC Devil May Cry

This is right up your alley GregK, and as you know Ninja Theory does some fine work on games like Enslaved.

8. Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag

Remember how much you liked Assassin's Creed II?

7. Saints Row IV

Come on, why haven't you played through this yet? I thought you loved Volition? That Keith David-as-the-Vice-President trailer? Remember that?

6. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

Platinum Games makes some of the best-feeling, most spectacular games out there and you love Metal Gear so I don't understand why I've played this and you haven't.

5. The Wolf Among Us

You've got to hand it to Telltale's pure-story approach to games, which is a much more honest and ultimately self-assured approach than all those games struggling to balance story and traditional play.

4. Grand Theft Auto V

I know it can feel exhausting setting foot in another GTA at this point, and you can't often play it with two little kids running around the house, but the world of GTA games has never not been amazing to explore.

3. Super Mario 3D World

When Nintendo brings its A-game, it makes virtually all other game studios look like rank amateurs.

2. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds

A Zelda game that doesn't treat you like you've never played a Zelda game, which is kind of like the original Zelda game if you think about it.

1. Metro: Last Light

The only reason you haven't played this yet is just the petty fear of how jealous you think you're going to feel once you see how awesome it is, plus you're Russian.

Thanks Future Me! I ought to play those. I'll probably play a couple of them over the holidays. And now, for my third and final list!

LIST #1: My Top-10 Games of 2013

These are the games I'll remember the most fondly of all the games I played this past year, not including VLR, since that came out in late 2012.

10. Dragon's Crown

Shameless entertainment in the purest sense, and a sincere homage to Dungeons & Dragons, and high-fantasy in general. Plus it's riddled with inexplicable design quirks. I say that like it's a good thing because it is.

9. Gone Home

A complete and specific game that tells an unexpected and poignant personal story, plus it's the only first-person game that doesn't make me feel like a bull in a china shop. Many wonderful moments packed in.

8. BioShock Infinite

The first hour of this game was just incredible, and Irrational Games remains an inspiration. The Lutece Twins are some of my favorite characters from a game this year. I liked how divisive this game proved to be.

7. The Swapper

There's an incredible scene in 2001: A Space Odyssey where you see the Monolith at the dig site on the Moon, and are filled with awe and dread at the thing, and The Swapper feels like it was crafted around that particular moment. Unique and challenging mechanics plus great atmosphere and narrative.

6. Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons

Starbreeze holds a special place in my heart for its work on The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape From Butcher Bay way back when, and this reminds me of just how talented that studio is. This game felt like being in a fairy tale, not the sappy modern kind but the awesome good old fashioned kind where people die.

5. Phoenix Wright: Dual Destinies

I just feel happy being in the world of Phoenix Wright even though I'm a lawyer investigating murder trials. The zany tone and endearing characters don't remind me of anything in the best possible way. I liked this game almost as much as the original. This makes me feel how I felt playing classic adventure games in the '90s.

4. Fire Emblem: Awakening

Fire Emblem has grown to become one of my all-time favorite series of games, and this latest installment reinforced this for me. I love the huge ensemble cast and the attention to deep storytelling. I love how it makes you weigh narrative choices with gameplay choices. I also love the overall tone and scope--an epic game in the truest sense. I played this for weeks.

3. Papers, Please

A work of genius, and one of the purest expressions of the medium's raw power in years. What's insane to me about this game is that it's fun. It's a game about having a terrible, thankless job, and it simulates the experience of having that job rather well, down to all manner of bureaucratic inefficiency. And somehow, it's fun. It's challenging and has this great analogue feel. I love the details. I love trying to organize my messy little desk. I was blown away when I realized I started to feel something like pride in the work, and in the organization I was working for. I wish I had half the talent of the man who came up with this game.

2. The Last of Us

What a well-told story, and really the pinnacle of the "AAA game" genre, that particular aesthetic and feature set that so many $60 games keep striving for. The Last of Us is a class act, filled with brave design choices uncommon to big-budget games such as this. It's a game unafraid of being unpleasant in the spirit of creating an emotional experience, even as most cinematic games awkwardly try to reconcile you having fun all the time with telling you the greatest story ever told. In the case of The Last of Us, the story really is great, and the conclusion was just perfect. Wonderful writing.

1. Dota 2

Wait wait wait what is this, 2012? GregK if memory serves wasn't Dota 2 your Game of the Year last year?! Surely this is a copy-paste error by some hack who couldn't even bring himself to finish Kentucky Route Zero. Ah, if only. But you see, I'm a civilian now and I don't have to play the Game of the Year of Thrones like these various gaming publications you frequent. No! Now I get to play whatever I damn well please, and it just so happens that whatever I damn well please hasn't changed much in close to two years and counting. What insight have I gained in playing another year's worth of Dota 2? That is difficult to explain, except to say: I've decided I'm comfortable with spending significant portions of my life on this game. There are not many other things I like better, and at this point I'm at peace with that. I look at Steam and see I've played Dota 2 for 800 hours. I'm 36 years old. What could I have done with 800 hours? Learned a foreign language? Built a tree house for my kids? You know what, brain? I know just the way to shut you up.

107 Comments
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Edited by phrosnite

DOOOOOOOOOOOOOEEEEEEEEEEEETUUUUUUUUUUH!

GotY. F Bioshock:I, GTA V and all the rest.

Edited by Wastrel

When will we be free from the tyranny of Dota 2?

(Also, excellent lists, Greg.)

Edited by Shrat

Ugh at Dota 2

Posted by Claude

Damn you Greg! I loved Assassin's Creed II, and I had written off Assassin's Creed forever. Damn you to hell.

Edited by DonChipotle

Hell yeah Phoenix Wright

Posted by EternalHaV0C

@wastrel said:

When will we be free from the tyranny of Dota 2?

Hopefully never.

Edited by I_Stay_Puft

Kentucky Route Zero isn't complete right? It says five acts and so far only two have come out right?

Never tried it before but looked cool, just waiting for it to finish.

Online
Edited by Sparky_Buzzsaw

Finally a mention of Drippy! Someone buy this man a drink.

Moderator
Posted by Flacracker

Dota 2!

Posted by seveword

dem lists.

Also, I love that "I'm a civvie, so eff you" line

Posted by dr_mantas

That is QUITE the list. Or should I say lists. A real mish mash. But overall - well done, Greg.

Edited by Aakkoset

Aww yeah. Dota 2, game of the decade.

Posted by W1SSY

Was expecting Dota 2 and was not surprised by Dota 2.

Posted by Asmo917

I love this approach - it's how I how I broke up my thoughts on the year since I know there's stuff I skipped or didn't play enough of to give fair consideration. And like Zoe's list yesterday, some stuff I hadn't heard of that I'll have to check out sooner or later, like Crimson Shroud!

Posted by Fat_Tomato

Happy to see Phoenix Wright and Fire Emblem getting some love! Both of those of games could easily be argued as being the best in their respective series

Edited by Vuud

Best list on the site so far. Greg knows what the fuck is going on.

But DOTA 2 at #1 is clearly a cry for help.

and LOL at baby Greg with Romero hair.

Online
Edited by GnolTac

No this is a list of lists I can get behind. You seem like a pretty cool guy Greg, with some pretty cool tastes.

Edited by csl316

I loved all these lists until the very last number!

Posted by edgeCrusher

Crimson Shroud and Dragon's Crown almost make up for DOTA. Almost.

Posted by kerse

I have never heard of Crimson Shroud, I think I'm gonna check it out.

Posted by DevourerOfTime

Fire Emblem, Ace Attorney, Dragon's Crown AND honourable mentions for Pokemon and Animal Crossing?

I'll take it! :D

Posted by Zaxex

Is DOTA the new Call of Duty?

A great game, defining a genre to a lot of people, and with a lot of promise - that everyone will hate in a few years if they don't already. Or maybe the new WoW would make more sense.

I'm kind of bored of hearing about it, because I don't see any games worth so many hundreds of hours - but my only qualm with its inclusion on the list is which year should Dota 2 count for? If it's what you played this year - then the original Bioshock beats Bioshock Infinite in my list.

Anyway, great lists - I'm impressed with how many games Greg got to this year, and it's cool to still be hearing from him in 2013.

Posted by CashBailey

Love that picture of Greg.

He looks like he's in an early 90's grunge band.

Posted by wumbo3000

Holy shit, Greg has Phoenix Wright and Fire Emblem on his top 10 list. I FUCKING LOVE YOU GREG.

Posted by casualterror

Greg that photo!

Posted by Cerevisiae

YES! Dota 2 will rule us all! You can't deny it! Mostly because you're all noobs and can't time your last hits/denies...

Posted by darkest4

Well done, I love to see the Dota 2 haterboys squirm.

Edited by Dallas_Raines

HOW DARE YOU USE A DEROGATORY LABEL LIKE 'NERD'! This list is totally invalidated now. RIP GIANT BOMB

Edited by gerrid

I just downloaded crimson shroud as it's half price on the eu eshop so it's nice to see it getting praised.

Got to agree agree about drippy too. Tidy.

Posted by Jeffsekai

DOTA DOTA DOTA

Posted by Chuddy

Now this is a list

Posted by MiniPato

HOW DARE YOU USE A DEROGATORY LABEL LIKE 'NERD'! This list is totally invalidated now. RIP GIANT BOMB

And he put the sexist game Dragon Crown on his top ten! Like what the FUCK, Giant Bomb?! How could Patrick and Alex greenlight this shit?!

Posted by ripelivejam

have to say these are some damn fine GOTY festivities, and a helluva list(s) greg! just reminds me how much catching up i gots to do :(

merry xmas yall

Posted by ExitDose

Greg always brings the heat.

Edited by Sooty

@zaxex said:

Is DOTA the new Call of Duty?

A great game, defining a genre to a lot of people, and with a lot of promise - that everyone will hate in a few years if they don't already. Or maybe the new WoW would make more sense.

No because Call of Duty stopped being a great game many years ago. It also doesn't aim for you.

Edited by Phatmac

I LOVE YOU GREG FOR PUTTING PHOENIX WRIGHT ON YOUR LIST. You are a good man!

Posted by MikeLemmer

@zaxex said:

Is DOTA the new Call of Duty?

Nah, it's gamers' football: a game balanced between individual skill and teamwork whose popularity sustains/grows over years. Chalk it up to the free-to-play model which encourages developers to build upon a game instead of abandoning it to make a new one, combined with a low barrier-of-entry.

Edited by jiggajoe14

Greg reminds me of Eddie Vedder in that pic lol. Another list that mentions the swapper! Makes me a happy alpaca.

Posted by brewcity

Greg kicks ass. Plain and simple. Great list(s).

Posted by Stimpack

Greg Kasavin is the best! Even if DOTA 2 is his favorite!

Edited by mancopter
@mikelemmer said:

@zaxex said:

Is DOTA the new Call of Duty?

Nah, it's gamers' football: a game balanced between individual skill and teamwork whose popularity sustains/grows over years. Chalk it up to the free-to-play model which encourages developers to build upon a game instead of abandoning it to make a new one, combined with a low barrier-of-entry.

I'm not too sure I'd call DotA 2's barrier of entry "low"...

EDIT: Great list(s) Greg! I've caught myself agreeing strongly with you ever since the days of Gamespot. I wish you all the best with Transistor!

Posted by crithon

haha

sigh, been fallow GregK for over 13 years now, and this feels right. He doesn't need to justify picking dota2 even if I don't dig it. But I know how he feels about everything.

Posted by Snail

Finally a mention of Drippy! Someone buy this man a drink.

Well, he's a runner up for best new character too!

Posted by KentonClay

I can't wait until someone takes the central concept of Dota/League and makes a better designed competitive game out of it with more focused mechanics.

Edited by beard_of_zeus

I love everything about this article. An amazing photo, THREE lists, and some lower-profile games getting their propers. Great job Greg!

Good to know somebody else played Phoenix Wright. I just finished that new DLC case a couple days ago, and man, are there some crazy twists and turns. A lot of fun.

Posted by Askherserenity

Great list! Have pretty similar tastes with Mr. Kasavin. That picture though. Fan-fucking-tastic.

Dota 2 is the only game of the year guys. Stop hating.

Posted by buemba

@mancopter: It is in the sense you don't have to pay a dime to try it.

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