This video game is utterly honest in its delivery of atmosphere, tone and story. It is earnest, and there is nothing here that has not been lovingly created for any other reason than to try and communicate with the player on an emotional level. There is no wasted time or space, no excess fat. I found it completely immersive; and, at times, actually eliciting an emotional response from me. I've not felt quite like this playing any other video game in my life. It's the only time that I've ever forgotten that I was holding a controller and looking at a screen whilst playing a game. Journey does so much as an expression of artistic endeavour, all without a single word of dialogue ever being spoken (and also featuring the best conceived multiplayer component of any video game since 2009’s Demon's Souls).
Released in the EU on the 7th of June, 2013 (PlayStation 3, retail)
“such charm – much nice – wow” This game gives the Pied Piper of Hamelin a run for his money (well, the money he didn’t get, as the story goes). But, y’know, without all the creepy mass kidnapping of a bunch of kids. Yeeeah. An awesome little game packed to the rafters with joyous moments, paced and structured to perfection. As with Journey, there is no excess fluff or filler here. Media Molecule have put exactly everything they needed to into this game in order to provide the player with a constant stream of funtimes and good feelings.
Released in the EU on the 22nd of November, 2013 (PlayStation Vita, retail/download)
3. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
It’s just the second or third best Zelda game ever created. That’s all.
4. Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
This was my second ever Assassin's Creed game, making the jump all the way from the first game in 2007. And boy, what a jump that was. The improvements to the engine technology, visuals (in particular, the choice of environment and setting were highly appealing to me) and the storyline, along with the characters that take part in the plot, were pretty gobsmacking. Everything feels great to actually do in this world, you have choice and variety on what to do and where to go, how to approach encounters and side quests and much else besides. All that good stuff. It definitely feels like a game that is the culmination of a great many iterations and incremental improvements, a product of a long and winding development history. But most of all...sea shanties. That’s what earns this game its spot on this list.
Released in the EU on the 22nd of November, 2013 (Personal Computer, retail/download)
5. Papers, Please
6. Persona 4 Golden
7. Hotline Miami
Bold. Brutal. Beautiful. Bloody. Bastardingly hard. A twisted story told amongst the dark corners of a grungy, neon-washed Florida in 1989. As with a few of the other games on this hallowed list, Dennaton Games have clearly concentrated much their time and effort on making the core gameplay super solid, tight, clean. The core mechanics never falter in their implementation or their quality, the player is tasked with pushing their own reflexes and timing to the limit in order to solve the various combat puzzles presented throughout this messed up narrative. Oh, and that goddamn soundtrack. Shit.
Released in the EU on the 26th of June, 2013 (PlayStation Vita, download)
10. Sid Meier's Civilization V: Brave New World