By DarkShaper 2 Comments
(At least where I live it is still 2013 for another half hour or so)
I feel like I've seen a ton of people say the same thing this year but I had a really tough time narrowing down my list past fifteen or so. In the end I decided that the games I would put on (in?) my top ten list had to have something about them, either a specific moment or something that lasted the entire game, that I remember strongly other than “It was good”. It could be something that the game does deliberately or something more personal but it had to be tangible enough for me to describe it.
10. Call of Juarez: Gunslinger
If you had told me back when it was announced, that Gunslinger was going to be on this list I would not have believed you. I loved Bound in Blood but Techland is not known for their consistency and after the train wreck that was The Cartel not to mention the switch from being a 60$ retail game to a 15$ downloadable for Gunslinger I was ready to write this one off. But once I started playing, it was immediately clear that this was good Techland at work. The levels looked amazing, the shooting felt so good that I didn't care that there were only three types of guns in the entire game and the ways that the narration and levels tied together gave it a really unique flavor. Call of Juarez: Gunslinger is a great shooter just on it's own merits but the ways it defied my expectations at every turn made me love it even more.
There isn't much you can say about Antichamber without ruining some parts of it. But I feel comfortable saying that it is one of the best looking games that I have seen in years. Screenshots and trailers really don't do the game justice, you need to be exploring and solving puzzles in the Antichamber yourself for it to really sink in.
But what really cemented Antichamber's spot on this list was a moment I had fairly early on. First of all, it's important to note that for the first three or so hours of the game I would get really nauseous after about 15 minutes of playing. So right around the time that I found the first cube gun I was feeling really sick but I didn't want to stop so I kept playing and eventually had to force myself to quit the game after it started getting kinda hard to focus on the puzzles and if that's not telling of how great the look and feel of Antichamber is then I don't know what is.
8. Saints Row IV
Saints Row 4 is the best Crackdown game that has ever been made. It retains most of what made The Third so memorable and mixes in a batch of goofy super powers. The main story was still fine but I got way more out of just running around finding all the collectibles and doing all the side missions and by the time I finished the main story I had found all the collectibles, gotten a gold medal in all the side missions and finished every challenge. I normally hate trying to 100% games but in SR4 it was so much fun just getting around the city that I was almost done with everything without realizing it.
7. BioShock Infinite
I'm just gonna get this out of the way upfront, I found the combat in Bioshock Infinite to be really fun on it's own, not the best shooter by any stretch but still fun. But the combat is not why Bioshock is on this list, it's not on this list because of any one thing it did right. It's on this list because of all the little individual things it did that in my opinion make up for the many things it messed up.
I won’t sit here and claim that Bioshock Infinite doesn't make some notable missteps but they seem worse than they really are when compared to everything it excels at. Infinite has a cast of memorable characters and has probably the best sense of place that I have ever experienced in a game. Plus, the first 20 minuets would almost be enough to make this list on its own.
6. The Stanley Parable
The Stanley Parable is comprised almost entirely of memorable moments and to explain any of them here would just ruin it. I had played the original mod so I thought I knew what to expect but The Stanley Parable ended up being far more clever and far funnier than I had anticipated and I'm stop talking about it now before I spoil anything.
4. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
Metal Gear Rising has a delightfully insane story, deep and rewarding combat and the slow motion cutting gimmick worked better than it really should have. But I expected all that, it is a Platinum game after all. No, the real way to express just how much goddamn fun I had with Rising is that it almost convinced me to buy a Wii U.
You know, I should probably explain that last part. Right around the fourth time I had finished Rising, it's not a long game, I hit a wall with the higher difficulties and eventually had to admit to my self that beating the highest difficulty just was not something I could reasonably do. But I wanted more and I had already played Bayonetta, Vanquish and Anarchy Reigns but I hadn't played The Wonderful 101 yet. It was at this point that I had to remind myself that no game is ever good enough to justify buying an entire console for just one game.
3. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
A Link Between Worlds was only able to partially catch me in it's nostalgia trap. I hadn't been born yet when A Link to the Past first came out but Ocarina of Time was one of the first console games I ever played. I have a fondness for the music and the structure of the Zelda games but no attachment to the specific version of Hyrule presented in A Link Between Worlds. So it had to draw me in on its own merits and it did a damn fine job of it.
Everything about A Link Between Worlds is amazingly polished in that unmistakable Nintendo way. The music is wonderful some of the best the series has ever had, the dungeons are expertly crafted and letting you buy all the items up front is one of the best additions to the series in over a decade. Just about every aspect of the game is either fun or so optional that you can skip it completely and not feel like you missed something. But what I would consider to be the defining moment of the game was a short bit before one of the dungeons where you need to sneak past some guards it wasn't particularly difficult and when I reached the end of the section something dawned on me, it was fun, the forced stealth section in an otherwise stealth free game was fun. Upon realizing this, I had to stop playing for a bit because I couldn't fucking deal with that.
2. Pokémon X/Y
Way back in the day, when I was playing Pokemon Yellow for the first time, if you had asked me to come up with my dream Pokemon game I probably would have described a game very similar to Pokemon X/Y. “You can customize you trainer and it's in 3D and Pokemon can evolve during a fight and you can battle your friends even if you are in different places and you can play catch with your Pokemon and one of the new Pokemon is a bird that is also a wrestler and you can feed your Pokemon. “ I think you get my point. But the important thing is that ,for the most part, it all works and manages to not only have the most refined battle system in the history of the series but it also has easily the most fully featured online component of any game that Nintendo has ever put out. Also, I MAY have played Pokemon Y for 300+ hours and I'm sure that that is super healthy.
1. Fire Emblem: Awakening
Fire Emblem Awakening is an amazing game with a terrible subtitle. It manages to instill a sense of weight into every single battle by combining story telling and mechanics perfectly. Permadeth in a strategy game is not something that is exclusive to fire emblem by any stretch but it does two things that make it matter far more than in games like X-COM. The first thing is that every one of your soldiers is more than just a list of stats, they are a character with a personality, friends and possibly a spouse and child so you really feel their absence if they fall in battle. The second thing Awakening does to add weight to the battles is that it makes you a character in the conflict with agency. You aren't just an abstract presence that orders the soldiers around or a nameless, faceless commander you are a character on the battlefield and if the men under your command die it's because you weren't good enough to keep them alive or it's because you let them die as a part of your strategy in order to win the battle. It is because of this that almost every mission in Awakening feels incredibly intense regardless of what the story says the stakes actually are.