Best of 2013
2013's 2012 GOTY: Spelunky
2013's 2012 GOTY: Spelunky
Turn around one corner and The Stanley Parable is delightful. Then it's unsettling. It's laugh out loud funny. It's mundane. It's full of surprises. It's more than just clever criticism, which it also is but that's besides the point. It's a game that left me reeling for days, a psychological funhouse of video game nonsense and beyond and probably the best thing I played in 2013.
Gripping and spectacular, from the detailed environments and characters to the grounded survival/stealth mechanics to the narrative journey. The dialogue is tastefully understated and the personal interactions are as good as games get. Early frustrations aside, it's a ride that sucks you in and rolls around inside your head long after it's over. Multiplayer's not bad, either. Raising the bar for cinematic third person action.
Tearaway's tactile, living, softly crackling world sunk its paper claws deep into my heart from the first loading screen to the bittersweet finale. Unfolds from idea to idea with a clarity of vision and effortless charm few developers can match. A less robust but more approachable and successful evolution of Media Molecule's play/create/share values. Tearaway isn't perfect, but it's also never afraid to stop and draw the moustaches.
This year's hot new Mario Bros. game has all the latest graphics, power-ups and levels. It also has all the creativity, diversity and polish one could hope for from the fun wizards that made Galaxy 2 and 3D Land. Makes me glad I picked up a Wii U, I find myself playing just as often on the gamepad as I do on the big screen. Capable local co-op and clever Miiverse integration throughout.
Darkly funny and thoughtfully presented, with numerous branching storylines and an unexpectedly engaging gameplay loop for a paperwork sim. I ended up compiling a few pages worth of handwritten maps, symbols and notes in order to serve country as efficiently as possible (glory to Arstotzka). Kids should play this one in schools, Oregon Trail-style.
The most impressive open world city to date - Los Angeles is a perfect setting for GTA's signature brand of cynicism, and Rockstar's iconic franchise has never fired on all cylinders quite like this. Rarely subtle and stuck in the past in a few unfortunate ways, the game still stands out thanks to a compelling set of playable worldviews, unhinged side attractions and tension filled heists.
Refined, turn based strategic bliss. A seemingly endless amount of content kept me busy for months but the compelling relationship system is the heart of the experience. With well written characters and direct impact on story, gameplay and lineage, I quickly found myself grinding for friendship and liking it.
Detective for hire takes on increasingly complex office buildings armed with a skill tree of stealthy upgrades and seriously OP hacking talents. Pixelated noir that's effective without taking itself too seriously. Makes you feel smart the way great puzzle games do.
As a shooter it's fast and fluid, allowing for player creativity by way of arsenal and environment. As a story it's ambitious and bombastic, equal part modern fairy tale, half-hearted commentary and metaphysical mindfuck. Somewhere over to the side is a floating barbershop quartet singing God Only Knows in the clouds.
Guacamelee is a Metroidvania Video Game and it wants you to know it, but it does so with a confidence and style that's easy to like. Platforming segments are challenging and abilities are rewarding to master, there's a luchador inspired combat system, mirror world traversal, chicken transformation, all sorts of good stuff. Also, there's memes.
A snappy, classically designed Zelda adventure, one that deftly walks the line between familiar and fresh.
Tall tales of the Wild West, featuring an innovative first person narrative structure and plenty of appropriately satisfying gunslinging.
Puzzle rooms, heady concepts and a clone gun in outer space. Engrossing atmosphere. Classy sci-fi sound design, soft, glowy visuals.
Bursting at the seams with gorgeous artwork, crazed happiness and all the platforming goodness one could possibly want from the titular Mr. Rayman and his cohorts.
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