By Roomrunner 11 Comments
I don't need to tell you how much of a crazy or bummer year it's been. What better time than now to push that "let's stop rating and ranking video games!" agenda? The definitions of "video game" are only getting more blurred. I cannot compare ten games to each other anymore! How do you compare Gone Home, BattleBlock Theater, and Outlast? Completely different experiences! So here is a non-competitive look back at 2013.
I didn't exactly get everything I wanted out of games this year. I played a lot of good ones, but they left me wanting more. Shadow Complex was four years ago, and now I've got the Metroidvania shakes… BAD. The closest thing that came to appeasing that was Guacamelee! This lucha-themed Metroidvania didn't exactly quench my thirst, but had a pretty swell combat system. Batman: Arkham Origins was a game nobody asked for, and still far away from the wonderful Metroidvania that was Arkham Asylum. Despite that, it was entirely competent, with good performances, and still very fun to play.
As a huge fan of the Bit.Trip series, I was actually turned off by how quickly Gaijin Games went back to the Runner well with BIT.TRIP Presents: Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien. I want to see the studio break new ground and really weird me out like they had with the original WiiWare series. It's more of the same, and also has a slightly detestable art style to boot.
..... well, I bought Runner 2, and got 99% of the achievements. Despite my transgressions, it's an addicting game.
Outlast and Amnesia: A Machine For Pigs were looking to be the jackpot for us survival horror fans. Amnesia turned out to be adopted by another studio while they worked on their spiritual successor, Soma. Which left me with Outlast, to play on my freshly assembled PC.
Outlast is a by the numbers jump-scare haunted house game with one hell of a gimmick - a found footage horror theme. They did an incredible job to make it look JUST LIKE A MOVIE when your play through a camcorder lens, especially when the night-vision is on. Just the right amount of head bob, and color saturation. Outlast didn't satisfy my survival horror wishes, but was a good thrill ride.
Killer is Dead , so I turned to Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon for my tonuge-in-cheek action parody romp. Blood Dragon nails dumb 80's cyber-future action, from the vocabulary to the synth music. Sadly, it doesn't do much more than that. it follows through on its intentions, but predictably so. No surprises or memorable "this is so dumb and insane, what is happening?!" moments.
Even if iPhone games are a fad, it's starting to feel like their mark has been made. Look at Ridiculous Fishing. That's your typical iPhone format. A simple concept. A little bit of humor, and a LOT of grinding. The same repetitive simple progression i got out of playing Ridiculous Fishing, is exactly what is making Rogue Legacy so addicting right now. There are a few more mechanics at play in Rogue Legacy than your typical iPhone game, but all I want to do is upgrade that manor. I don’t even care about the bosses. I just want to have “the run” so I can finally upgrade my death defy percentage.
Same thing goes for what I can safely say is my co-op game of the year, BattleBlock Theater. A well made platformer with hilarious characters and music, but what stood out the most was my addiction to collecting new prisoners. I need the gems to get the prisoners...
Want to play BattleBlock Theater? I NEED MORE GEMS!
When you take indie games out of the equation because INDIE GAMES AREN'T REAL GAMES RAGHH, obviously the big heavyweight GOTY match of the year is Bioshock Infinite vs The Last of Us. Two titles that have been hyped to the moon, with the promise to usher in a glorious renaissance of video games that will prompt zombie Roger Ebert to beg NeoGAF for forgiveness!
That didn't exactly happen. It's been a surprisingly dull year for big budget titles. These are the only two on disk HD videogames I bought all year, and that feels like a sign of the times more than anything.
Honestly, I feel both games still managed to be quite the showing. While they didn't turn the medium upside down, they still went beyond what I consider a good videogame to be. Bioshock Infinite was my showpiece of 2013 for people who don't play videogames. Everyone I tried it out on loved it, even played it for hours on end. The first 20 minutes of The Last of Us nearly made me cry. Yeah, I'll say it, I had to take some VERY deep breaths getting through that. These were two awesome games, with a few imperfections that stick out like eyesores.
The Last of Us was mostly frustrating to play. The stealth was infuriating, the enemy AI was just plain wacky at times, and there were quite a few unnecessary "why do I even have to fight these guys?" moments. Bioshock Infinite, on the other hand was a blast to play. Great pacing, and a fun array of toys to play with as not to bog down all the combat. Unfortunately, a world that rich drew me in so much, that I just wasn't satisfied when the plot clumsily unraveled in the second half. As the Bioshock rabbit hole goes deeper, the concepts become more ridiculous, the tropes more evident, and the twists less impactful. What should have been a jaw-dropping finale just felt incomplete and contradictory to itself. The later released "Burial At Sea" DLC chapter further complicated things to the point where I am convinced the writers seem just as lost as the player.
SaltyBet . com
Who would have thought a nonsensical and sometimes generally offensive vomit of text would be so entertaining? But when presented alongside a stream of the most stupid and ridiculous fighting game you've ever seen, it's suddenly relevant and fun. SaltyBet is an asylum run by the inmates, and it's been a lot of stupid fun never turning the caps lock off as you cheer on the AI controlled monstrosity you put a lot of fake money on, only for it to just fly away and throw the match.
On the nation of Internetlandia, memes are funny until somebody points out that they are a meme, and suddenly we have to pretend we're too cool to play along anymore. SaltyBet seems to exist on a ship in international waters, where there is no law, no commonplace, only shouting.
I'm not going to bore you by explaining what Dark Souls is or why it is beloved / hated. I'm just going to offer my brief personal perspective - I HAAAAAATE medieval / Tolkien esque "Middle Earth" fiction. Dragons, wizards, knights, gargoyles… all that stuff can go fuck off. I've had an aversion to it since childhood. I didn't even know what a drake was until i wandered into a VALLEY of them last week.
Dark Souls, in all its brutality, must be put down. It is my vision-quest. And so, Dark Souls isn't about some guy trying to escape this strange purgatory world (that is what this game is about, right?). It's instead this fish-out-of-water violent action comedy where I swear my way through dungeons, giving bullshit what's coming to them.
If I weren't a spineless wimp, right now you'd be getting near the top of my GOTY list, and seeing TWO iPHONE STORYBOOKS there. Simogo games made two incredible products this year. The first being the ghostly Nordic folklore adventure - Year Walk. I grew up in a neighborhood buttressed against a forest, occasionally terrified to look out my window and see the Jersey Devil going for a stroll. Shuffling through the snowy forest all alone in Year Walk brought that feeling right back. It also has an endgame mechanic that would be a spoiler just to mention what it is, but trust me, it's AMAZING, and made for the most ingenious gaming experiences of 2013.
Device 6 followed a few months later. A bit less of a game, but again, showed off brilliant interactive design. The Saul Bass intro, mysterious technology, a plot with shades of The Prisoner, addictive puzzles, great spy music. Can these guys make games any more FOR ME?
No matter the format, I'm always grateful to have a localized Ace Attorney; and I think a long absence from the series did me well. The game has the same format as ever, but it felt more like a friend reunited than it did redundant. Almost every AA character is entertaining, from the sometimes-villainous prosecutors, to the dispensable witnesses and rogues gallery. Even a couple bland cases in the middle are still made fun with all the flavor text and shenanigans.
I'm 30 minutes into the extra case, and it's already my DLC of the year. Punk-rock pirates, and penguin named Rifle? This is why I can never truly hate Capcom.