My 2013 games of the fuckin' year list

For some reason every year I feel compelled to write up my goty list, so here is some real talk and words

2013 was an amazing year for games – not only are a lot of these games pushing the medium and it’s method of conveying narrative forward, core gameplay is getting more and more refined. And video games are thankfully becoming less and less anime

Bravely Default

JRPGs began to stagnate in the last few years – we had the terrible Final Fantasy XIII(s), and everything else was anime as fuck. Now we have TWO JRPGs that I can call amazing without falling back on nostalgia – Xenogears and Bravely Fairy for the sequel default, Bravely fairy default. This isn’t a groundbreaking game at all – but the systems it employs are so greatly refined if you like JRPGs at all you should really play this game.

Rogue Legacy

I thought I would hate this game – another “Indie platformer” that was all the rage for a while, Rogue-like mechanics (Which aren’t necessarily bad but I play so many of them it’s only natural to feel tired of them) and the fedoras of reddit seemed to like it. But after a few friends raved about it I jumped in – then proceeded to play it for 4 hours a day, and couldn’t get enough. Also noteworthy: treating LGBT people as human beings, confusing gamefaqers, redditors and gafers everywhere.

Super Mario 3D World

Welp, Nintendo still have it in them. After the majority of their games nowadays being simply competent instead of interesting (Wow, another 2D platformer! Such an innovative company!), 3D Mario is amazing. Gone is the idiotic “Wah Wah” soundtrack, replaced by a mixture of retro synths and orchestra, gone is annoying, boring 2D platforming sections, replaced by galaxy style of levels where each one is adding something new, to never be used again. Despite being designed about multiplayer no one wants to play, this can thankfully be ignored because the level design is fantastic.

Gone Home

This game is amazing for two reasons: One, in that for a game with very little “conventional” gameplay, the way the game delivers its (engrossing) narrative, and having two intertwining narratives, one of which could easily be ignored if you do not dig deep enough, is interesting and kept me playing, finishing the game in one sitting. Two, it really really annoyed straight white cis males that this game was being critically lauded. Anything that annoys the Sarkeesian-hating, fedora-wearing, my little pony-loving internet commentators is a good thing in my book.

Papers, Please

I didn’t think there’d be a game that asked the question “Should this even be a game?” more obviously than Gone Home in this list, but here you go. Essentially just a memory/data entry simulator, something about the way this game pushes it’s bare narrative (Second-world immigration), but in a year of compelling narrative, this is probably the least-orthodox one of them all.

Grand Theft Auto V

Oh hey, who saw this coming? Despite Rockstar being obsessed with forming narratives around law enforcement, the core gameplay combined a mixture of Vice City and Ballad of Gay Tony – arguably the two best GTA games, with three (Well, two and a half) memorable characters and a world that clearly pushed these old consoles to the limits. Ignore the multiplayer.

Rayman Legends

Once again, Nintendo were outplatformed by Rayman. Normally when I say “Essentially more of the same” I mean that in a bad way, but in this game that’s a good thing – plus the addition of the amazing music levels that had me smiling no matter how frustrated I was getting at the devious level design.

The Last of Us

It’s fair if you don’t particularly like stealth games you don’t like this one – but most people could probably ignore that because you just fall in love with the characters instantly. Naughty Dog are good at a lot of things, but they’re clearly the leaders at writing relatable, interesting characters – from the tone setting death at the beginning of the game, to <spoilers>, I rarely care about video game characters but I did in this game. Almost as much as when Aerith (Aeris for you no-true-otakus) died. Still recovering.

Brothers: A tale of two sons

“The next generation” of gaming started this year, promising HIGH DEF AMAZING GRAPHICS and REAL TIME FISH THAT MOVE, but guess what? The best looking game was not one of those. It was this. Not many games make me think “This looks amazing” anymore, but this game really, really, really does. And not to mention the innovative control scheme – that was then later used to convey the emotions of who you’re playing. Weird, and effective.

The Stanley Parable + The Stanley Parable Demo

For a year of games (To me at list), with interesting narrative forms and integrating narrative into gameplay, here comes the Stanley Parable. A game that takes game narrative, and mocks the shit out of it, a game that takes game narrative and ruins it for you, and a game that somehow managed to predict every single thing I would try to do to break the game. I’m not sure if it says more about video games or it’s players that what we would try to do in a video game is so predictable. And the demo was not a demo of the game. Who are these people?

Honorable Mentions:

Tearaway

I have a feeling this would’ve been on my list if I had time to play it more. Poor Tearaway.

Bioshock Infinite

Interesting narrative, world and soundtrack marred by dumb racism and boring gameplay.

Tomb Raider

Can’t wait for the sequel, but the death scenes and almost-rape honestly made me uncomfortable.

Assassin’s Creed IV

Ubisoft have almost perfected Assassin’s Creed – plus sea shanties.

Game I wish I’d played:

Kentucky Route Zero.

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Another GOTY list you probably won't care about

I was complaining the other day about how 2012 wasn't a very good year for games - until I attempted to write this list and found I had eighteen games, not ten.

2012's 2011 Game of the year

Dark Souls - While this (In hindsight) was easily my favourite game of last year, the (admittedly not-great-until-you-mod-it) PC port made me obsess all over again. Dangerous.

2012's game I wish I had played more

FTL and Legend of Grimrock - while I immediately became obsessed with FTL, it came at a bad time and I unfortunately forgot about it - same for Grimrock. Both games that appeal to me immensely but I just haven't had time to sit down and play properly.

10) Dishonored

Proof that companies haven't forgotten how to make great games like Thief and System Shock - Last year we had Deus Ex, this year we have this.

09) XCom: Enemy Unknown

I never thought it would happen that in 2012, there would be two games in my top ten list that reminded me of PC gaming in the 90's. But it's happened, and it's amazing. When I heard that this game was coming out on consoles, I feared it would be a streamlined (Dumbed down) version of a great series - but instead we got a great game with an annoying interface. A sacrifice I'm willing to make for a game of this quality.

08) Fez

I was honestly expecting a bad game. What was shown about the game was a simple premise that I didn't think would work for a full length game - but somehow he managed to hide all the craziness the game contained. I hadn't seen the internet band together to solve a game's puzzles ever, and it reminded me of being stuck in adventure games at school and everyone discussing how to solve them.

07) Journey

Even being told at the end of the game that someone named "XxSephiroth720GokuxX" had helped me could ruin the tone of this game. Although it's short, it's the only game this year I sat down and played it all the way through in one sitting, and wasn't bored at all. And I still listen to the soundtrack occasionally.

06) Torchlight II

More Torchlight, except now with friends, more loot, achievements THAT I MUST GET and cuter pets than the first game.

05) Hotline: Miami

The most violent game of the year, and it's 16-bit graphics. The combination of the story, graphics and music makes me think this should be called Acid Trip: The Game.

04) Far Cry 3

Where did this come from? After the invisible helicopters of Far Cry, and the CONSTANT RESPAWNING ENEMIES of Far Cry 2, I had no interest in this game whatsoever. Then this happened. Burning down weed fields to bad dubstep (redundant?), lighting komodo dragons on fire, jumping off a hang-glider on top of a dude and stabbing him in the throat - more games need to be like this. Except with a better story.

03) Sleepy Dogs

Again, where did this come from?? I completely ignored this game, and once again was completely surprised. I was actually interested in the characters, and while most will probably disagree, it has the best soundtrack since Vice City.

02) Persona 4: Golden

Is this cheating? I considered leaving this off the list but it makes so many improvements on the original that I CANNOT STOP PLAYING. While I'm typing this, I'm annoyed that I'm not playing Persona 4. Fsteak.

01) The Walking Dead

Dear video game companies,

Please steal Telltale's writers. Please learn how they made characters that people will care about, and take lessons from them that BLOOM and MOTION BLUR and WHOA BROS HIGH FIVING EACH OTHER AFTER HEADSHOTTING AN ALIEN don't automatically make your game cool. Don't be afraid of killing main characters for emotional effect. Please, see that not every game needs a perfect ending. Life is sometimes depressing, so why shouldn't games?

And please learn that GOOD OR EVIL!?!? aren't moral choices if you aren't invested in the characters and if they're just another thinly veiled character progression mechanic. People are shitheads, get over it, and make games dealing with it.

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