To make this years GOTY list easier I decided to accumulate all the games I loved into a google spreadsheet. As the year rolled on, the list was constantly shifting. In finalizing the text, I came to a conclusion that their were my top 4 games then the rest. Due to their budgets and overall scope I disregarded how both stimulating and fun they were during the year. That said, there are more AAA games in my list than last year and I think that's also an achievement for the big budget games this year. As this console generation is coming to a close we have a incredibly optimistic road laid out for us, both from the independents and the big studios out there.
10. The Swapper
2013 was the year of many things, specifically it was the year of chromatic aberration in everything. The Swapper was probably the second best use of it all year, aside from Europa Report. Much like the beloved Brothers from many other folks top ten lists, The Swapper ties it’s gameplay mechanics seamlessly into it’s story. Aside from this wonderful fact, it also had the second highest climax of a game this year for me. Approaching the brilliance of science fiction storytelling that is Stanisław Lem, my favourite science fiction author. For that alone it makes it on my list.
9. The Last of Us
How do you make a game about fungus zombies, which click about like alarm clocks, into a life-affirming statement of hope? In The Last of Us you do it with a faith in human nature , and with a performance by Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson that says things that cannot be said. Without a doubt The Last of Us is a game that goes on too long, and has elements from Naughty Dog’s previous game that I would like to see go away, Uncharted, namely quicktime events and climbing mechanics. This game for me had the highest climax of the year, and I thank it for subverting my expectations in the way it did.
8. DmC Devil May Cry
DmC Devil May Cry is a tightly designed, visually stunning, altogether successful character action game, allowing you to complete sublime combinations of attacks with a low barrier of entry but high skill ceiling. This game reminded me of Dante’s Inferno in the way that it played. While universally panned by critics, that game to me had many underappreciated elements that Ninja Theory seems to have put into their own game. Whether or not this is true, the game was an absolute delight to play the entirety of my time with it.
7. Civilization V: Brave New World
The whole purpose of civilization is to take the surprises out of life, so one can be bored to death. Brave New World the second expansion for Civilization V fixes my a two major problem from the original game and another from it’s previous expansion. It turns the cultural victory from a monotonous defensive victory to one which is intensely offensive. It also improves the AI of the city-states and fixes the faith system to be balanced with the rest of the systems in the game. It may seem anticlimactic to say that a game can make it on my list by fixing problems, but the original game is already so wonderfully cultivated that it bears mentioning.
6. Assassins Creed 4 Black Flag
There’s a profligate and sublime world to explore trapped inside the SyFy originals quality story of Assassins Creed 4 Black Flag. Immersion through exploration are aspects unique to games that I seek out. Often times I would be traveling to a destination in the caribbean, my crew would start singing a shanty, and I’d stop heading to my destination just riding the squall. Next thing I know I’m liming around hours later at my prior destination, despite having explored to completion, just soaking in the world.
5. Fire Emblem Awakening
Most strategy games contain too much strategy. Artificial intelligence is only so intelligent, the more systems you require of the computer to know and the less optimal the resulting competition from the computer. Fire Emblem Awakening is a spectacular strategy game that happens to avoid the shortcomings of it’s genre. This accompanied by the fact that it ties it’s game design to it’s storytelling with hilariously marvelous yet dumb writing made it, for myself, the best possible introduction to the Fire Emblem series.
Teleglitch is a lean, intense and weirdly theatrical experience. So often people who play games get defensive when film is brought up, because often games become the butt of bad contrast between the two mediums. Despite it being quite rudimentary top-down game, it was the most evocative experience of specific feelings from film that I've had that no other game has been able to recreate. Aside from how evocative this game was of certain moments from film, it made me rethink difficulty in games, and why it’s important. If you like Hotline Miami and Aliens, give this game a try. It’s seriously great.
3. Sang-Froid: Tales of Werewolves
Sang-Froid is apart of a quietly blossoming genre sparked by the popularity of the Orcs Must Die series but it may have started before that. You might call it third person strategy game. Whatever you want to call it, this trend of games coming out like this was my favourite trend of 2013, and Sang-Froid was the reason why. The game requires you to make tactical decisions and manage your resources acutely. If you complete this it’s an uncommonly cerebral and tactical experience that are never paired action games nor real time strategy. This was by far the best of these experiences so far, and I hope that developers continue iterating on this concept.
2. BIT.TRIP Presents... Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien
Bit Trip Runner 2, a celebration of nostalgia for arcade classic and rhythm games, is the best and most unlikely of music games. The levels are intricate and smooth; some staccato, some legato, all of them absolutely visually delectable. It was the one game that I played all year that made my day better whenever I played it, always difficult but never frustrating.
1. Rogue Legacy
Rogue Legacy is a game of pain and lineage, of pointless revenge, of a family destitute and of a realm reborn. It’s a game that encapsulates perfectly the euphoria you get from trouncing impossible odds in a rogue-like, without actually being a rogue-like. Pairing these randomly generated levels with a progression system with gravity that if you die you only get to spend the gold that you have left on you was simply the best experience I had all year. I hope to see more great things from Cellar Door Games.