By Jumbs 2 Comments
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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?
I have a feeling this would’ve been on my list if I had time to play it more. Poor Tearaway.
Interesting narrative, world and soundtrack marred by dumb racism and boring gameplay.
Can’t wait for the sequel, but the death scenes and almost-rape honestly made me uncomfortable.
Ubisoft have almost perfected Assassin’s Creed – plus sea shanties.
Game I wish I’d played: