StarvingGamer's Games Worth Starving For (or Otherwise) in 2013

Between the down and dirtiest brawl we've ever seen leading up to a console release and so many flagrant misuses of the word "misogyny" that Merriam-Webster and Oxford are literally going to have to update their dictionaries, 2013 has been an incredibly topsy-turvy year in the world of video games. Thankfully, it hasn't all been controversy and knife-fights, as 2013 has also been one of the best years for video game releases, and I got to play quite a few of them.

2013's 2012 Game of the Year Presented By PC Ports

Resident Evil 6

His name is "Rookie Cop"

No one is more surprised about this than me. Last year, my experience with RE6 on PS3 was so negative that I wrote a blog post breaking down all the mechanical failings of the game, and subsequently named it my "Biggest Disappointment" of 2012. They had ruined the perfect balance of Resident Evil 5 by trying to make it play more like a shooter and, as everyone knows, shooters suck with a controller.

You know what shooters don't suck with? A mouse and keyboard. It was with this in mind that I felt compelled to pick up the game again on PC, at a significant discount of course. And let me tell you, the increased fidelity made such a difference it was like night and early evening.

Yes, the game still straddles genre lines in all the wrong ways, but being able to reliably snap headshots and melee enemies down without burning all my stamina on quick shots changes the gameplay from an exercise in frustration into an activity that is kinda maybe sorta fun. Of course I continue to be 100% bought in to the dumb-ass fiction of that universe and all of its unintentional camp, and the interwoven storylines are handled in interestingly, rather than being another instance of dumb Capcom recycling assets in that dumb Capcom way (*cough* Devil May Cry 4 *cough*)

It doesn't excel at much of anything, but like all games Resident Evil, RE6 manages to provide a decidedly unique experience. I'm glad I was finally able to play it.

Runner-up: Dust: An Elysian Tail

Best Sexy(ist?) Surprise

Tomb Raider

You're going to catch a cold!

As one of the games responsible for launching us into this dark age of video games "journalism", thanks in no small part to the developers going out of their way to cram as many feet into their mouths as possible during every interview, Tomb Raider quickly fell off my radar of games to care about in 2013. But a conspiracy of 33% off coupons and my loyalty to Rhianna Pratchett via her father convinced me to pick it up anyway.

And wow, what an excellent game from top to bottom. Sure, ludonarrative dissonance. Okay, she should probably put a coat on. But none of those things take away from what is, top-to-bottom, an incredibly fun action game in the Metroidlike style. The combat is crisp and varied, and the various travel tools doled out throughout the game make exploring the well-crafted environments consistently fun. The story succeeds in giving an origin story to this more relatable, more human Lara Croft (gameplay conceits aside).

Whether or not the developers actually understood what they were making, they succeeded in modernizing Lara in all the right ways, transforming her from a caricature to a character and providing me with one of my favorite experiences of the year.

Runners-up: Attack of the Friday Monsters! A Tokyo Tale, Soul Sacrifice

P.S. If you own a 3DS, you really should pick up Attack of the Friday Monsters! I can't think of any game that does such a good job of capturing the joyful innocence of childhood. Just press play, alright?

EDIT: Embedding is broken for some reason. Linky instead.

Best Digital Card Game that is Embarrassingly Better Than Magic: The Gathering Online

SolForge

Cards that level up!

MTGO is not a good game, or rather is a good game saddled with horribly broken technology. It's a sad state of affairs when the first online experience of one of your top players is so poor, they immediately declare it to be their last. So the timing couldn't be better for the various DCG's that have entered the market in varying levels of release, and right now the cream-of-the-crop is SolForge.

It may not have the production value of Hearthstone or the sweeping ambition of Hex, but it is the only game on the market to take full advantage of the digital format by creating something wholly unique from the more traditional ways of playing with cards. The draw five/play two structure means that there will always be meaningful decisions to be made, whether you're on turn one or turn twenty. And with a fully implemented tournament system, it is the best place for players looking for high-level constructed and draft play.

I've spent hundreds of hours on SolForge in 2013, and once I get an iPhone I'll be sure to spend thousands more in 2014, probably while driving.

Runners-up: Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, Hex: Shards of Fate

Biggest Disappointment

SimCity

Let me preface this by saying that I do not hate SimCity. I have actually been able to eke out something in the area of a hundred hours of play time that I genuinely enjoyed.

Unfortunately, that doesn't change the fact that the SimCity I got was not the SimCity I wanted, and those hundred hours can't fill the shoes of a game that I would have eagerly played for a thousand more. I'm sure I'll check back in on SimCity from time to time, but it will always be underscored by thoughts of what could have been.

Runners-up: Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, Plants vs. Zombies 2: It's About Time

The Amazon.com Game to Pay Full-Price For and Not Play of the Year

Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch

Oi, get off youer duff and play the game, mun!

I was so excited for this game since I first heard about it who knows how long ago on the 8-4 Play podcast. The team up of Level-5, one of my favorite developers, and Studio Ghibli, makers of Whisper of the Heart, sounded like a dream come true. But when it finally came around to release time, I had just bought DmC and was still hurting in the wallet a bit from the holidays and thought, well, maybe I don't actually need this game.

Then came the Quicklook and I was immediately sold. The quality of the voice work and animation blew me away and I just knew I needed to be in this world. So I put my order in to Amazon and by the end of the week, the game was in my greedy little hands.

It's hard to remember now, whether I was on the tail end of DmC or something else was pulling my attention, but I was only able to make it through the prologue into the first instance of actual gameplay before I put the game down to play Fire Emblem: Awakening. That held me until March happened and I never looked back.

Right now it's sitting at the top of my to-do list, right behind Final Fantasy XIII-2. Just a couple 60+ hour JRPG's. No sweat.

Runners-up: Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen, Mario & Luigi: Dream Team

Game of the Year

Fire Emblem: Awakening

What happens when you take all the best bits of a long and storied franchise and cram them into a single game? You get something singularly amazing, and that's exactly how I would describe Fire Emblem: Awakening.

Fire Emblem: Awakening is not only the best game to come out in the TRPG genre since 1998, it is easily one of my favorite games of all time. The well written story provides just enough intrigue to keep things moving without getting in the way of the incredibly designed battle system. The gameplay is the perfect balance of breadth and depth, not too intimidating for genre neophytes but complex enough to keep the most dedicated min/maxers entertained for hundreds of hours.

Nintendo joined the digital age just in time. No matter what the new hotness may be on 3DS, Chrom and friends will never be more than a few button prompts away.

My waifu! (What? I want dragon babies!)

Runners-up: 2. The Last of Us 3. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney - Dual Destinies 4. Beyond: Two Souls 5. SolForge 6. BioShock Infinite 7. Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm 8. DmC Devil May Cry 9. Remember Me 10. Gone Home

27 Comments
27 Comments
Edited by LackingSaint

Hey, we've got the same top 2 games of the year! Albeit swapped around, but I am still very proud of you. Except for the part where you romanced the little dragon girl. Creepy stalker dark mage lady all the way woop woop.

Posted by Demoskinos

Interesting that M&K aiming changed RE6 around for you so much. Personally, I never had a problem aiming in that game. Although glad you managed to get some fun out of it. I thought it was a decent game and got pushed around way more than it should have last year.

Posted by Iodine

Chrom is cool and all, but Owain is godlike

Posted by Falafelwafer

If you think Gone Home is a good game, you might be the kind of person whose favorite games are books and movies.

Edited by Nev

I was expecting Don't Starve in this list. Anyway, I did the same thing with Ni No Kuni, and it similarly is at the top of my "play this" list. Great list, though, and right on for putting Fire Emblem at the top.

Posted by StarvingGamer

@lackingsaint: ~1,000 years old means she's "of age". But yeah, if dragon babies weren't on the table, I think I'd be more into Severa. Tsundere!

@demoskinos: I'd be curious to know how much you enjoyed RE5. I fucking loved that game because of all the ways it was decidedly not a shooter. RE6 was so disappointing to me because it meant I missed my only chance to get another game like RE5 because there is nothing else like RE5.

@falafelwafer: Considering the fact that a game that is 90% mechanics, that I subsequently praise for not letting the story get in the way of the gameplay, is my GotY, I'd say you're way off the fucking mark.

@nev: Hah, right, I didn't think of that, but in my mind Don't Starve feels like a 2012 game because I bought it when it was still Early Access.

Edited by YI_Orange

All the Fire Emblem Awakening love is making me happy. Ended up being my #2 game for this year(behind The Last of Us)

Posted by BisonHero

Yeah, Plants vs. Zombies 2 is disappointing. Like, once you make the obvious choice to spend zero money in their bullshit shop, you can eventually get all the stars and grind out some keys to access the whole game, so I guess that part is more or less inoffensive (aside from the certain plants and upgrades you can never obtain without spending money). But like, the actual game is graphically and mechanically pretty much the same game. And it's not even a full game! It's 3 worlds, out of what should be at least 5 or 6. And wow are they taking a fucking long time to add any real new content since it launched months and months ago.

Edited by Demoskinos

@starvinggamer: I enjoyed RE5 enough I suppose. Nothing that I was super impressed by but I bought and played through it a few times.

Posted by shinboy630

Really liking FE:A, being rational with your disappointment in SimCity rather than just nerdrage like most of the internet, and knowing what's up with shooter controls. Truly a man after my own heart.

Posted by DevourerOfTime

@lackingsaint: ~1,000 years old means she's "of age".

I hear that defense always holds up in court.

If I had one complaint about Fire Emblem: Awakening support system, it's that there weren't enough Romance options for the female Avatar. Between Say'ri, Tiki, Anna, and Flavia that are exclusively romanceable by Male "Robin", I was hoping there would be a ton of badass male characters that Female "Robin" could exclusively marry, but noooooooo. All you get is Basilio, who you don't get until the very end of the game.

Posted by StarvingGamer

@starvinggamer said:

@lackingsaint: ~1,000 years old means she's "of age".

I hear that defense always holds up in court.

If I had one complaint about Fire Emblem: Awakening support system, it's that there weren't enough Romance options for the female Avatar. Between Say'ri, Tiki, Anna, and Flavia that are exclusively romanceable by Male "Robin", I was hoping there would be a ton of badass male characters that Female "Robin" could exclusively marry, but noooooooo. All you get is Basilio, who you don't get until the very end of the game.

What about Gangrel, Walhart, Yen'fay and Priam? But in all seriousness, the only right choice for Female Avatar is Chrom. It makes the payoff of certain story beats so much better.

Edited by DevourerOfTime

@starvinggamer said:
@devoureroftime said:

@starvinggamer said:

@lackingsaint: ~1,000 years old means she's "of age".

I hear that defense always holds up in court.

If I had one complaint about Fire Emblem: Awakening support system, it's that there weren't enough Romance options for the female Avatar. Between Say'ri, Tiki, Anna, and Flavia that are exclusively romanceable by Male "Robin", I was hoping there would be a ton of badass male characters that Female "Robin" could exclusively marry, but noooooooo. All you get is Basilio, who you don't get until the very end of the game.

What about Gangrel, Walhart, Yen'fay and Priam? But in all seriousness, the only right choice for Female Avatar is Chrom. It makes the payoff of certain story beats so much better.

The spotpass characters weren't out yet when I beat the game, so I wasn't thinking of them. If I was, I would have mentioned Emmeryn and Aversa so we're still heavy on the Male side. Also, no, creepy, gross for those first two.

I figured everyone who would go through the game as a Female would obviously marry Chrom, so I wanted to go through a different route. Plus, there is a similar payoff for those story beats when Lucina marries Morgan.

Edited by LiquidPrince

Our views on the original RE6 are one of the few times that I've seen our opinions differ. For the most part, it's kinda scary how similar our opinions our towards games.

Posted by Hailinel

An interesting list, and an excellent choice for Game of the Year! Fire Emblem: Awakening is a phenomenal game. My 3DS claims I've played it for about ninety-seven and a half hours, and I believe it. However, like @lackingsaint, my waifu is everyone's favorite black magic stalker. Though when I do finally get around to a second playthrough, Severa will likely be my bride, because she's as Tsundere as they come.

Online
Edited by DarthOrange

Resident Evil 6 was awesome on PS3 :(

Edited by Fredchuckdave

@starvinggamer: Nice post. I wouldn't classify Tomb Raider as sexy in any way really, unless you're into really weird fucked up shit. RE6 was fine on PS3. I also have Ni No Kuni and Final Fantasy XIII-2 on the waiting list, though I managed to pick up the former for like 10 bucks a few weeks back. XIII-2 I got to a hugeass fetch quest and then stopped playing in favor of... The Last of Us I think? That was a while ago. Solforge is good, Hearthstone is better; but Hearthstone is starting to run into the same issue of everyone playing the same exact deck and a huge advantage being given to players that have played for longer or spent money so I guess its same difference and Hearthstone wins because of production values. I feel like a scumbag murdering the poor people in unranked games with my not entirely generic but yet still fueled by hundreds of wins deck.

Posted by Video_Game_King

When everybody's talking about who they married, are they talking about who Chrom married, or who the Avatar married?

Edited by Hailinel

When everybody's talking about who they married, are they talking about who Chrom married, or who the Avatar married?

Hint. Nowi and Tharja can't marry Chrom.

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Posted by StarvingGamer

@fredchuckdave: Yeah, I was more riffing on the lineage / controversy hence "sexy/sexist". As far as SolForge is concerned, well, you might want to check out the tournament update. The tweaks they've done to the existing cards and the new cards they've added to Set 1 have really shifted the metagame. It's hard to know for certain, but it seems like there is going to be a significantly wider variety of viable decks for constructed. Drafting is also incredibly compelling and varied, and the rewards seem fairly generous. It costs 7 tickets to enter draft and I got 11 back for going 3-0. Of course I just got hosed by someone who managed to draft 2 Flameshapers and 2 Masters of Elements, who hit player level 3 first, and subsequently dropped a L2 Flameshaper and a L3 Flameshaper, followed by 2 L3 Masters of Elements on the next turn. C'est la RNG.

@video_game_king: The Avatar.

Edited by Fredchuckdave

@starvinggamer: Yeah I think its the RNG more than anything that turns me off from these games, and I still kind of enjoy Hearthstone it just gets irritating after a little while unless you're watching it happen to someone else (then it's hilarious). I do think the RE5 to RE6 transition was fine, I like that they're different games; RE5 is big and varied enough that you could play that again or go back to the top 5 game of all time RE4 of course. If a game is good it doesn't need a nearly-identical sequel on the gameplay front.

Posted by Video_Game_King

@hailinel:

I didn't know that, because my Chrom married Sumia. The Avatar married Lissa because bro love, man. Bro love.

Posted by Hailinel

@hailinel:

I didn't know that, because my Chrom married Sumia. The Avatar married Lissa because bro love, man. Bro love.

It's pretty easy to determine, actually. Characters can only marry those of the opposite gender whom they have support relationships they can raise to an S-rank. Nowi and Tharja don't have that option with him.

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Posted by Video_Game_King

@hailinel:

To be fair, it's easy to forget that sort of thing when you marry so early. Besides, I was too focused on crafting the perfect bunny assassin to pay attention to much else.

Posted by ArbitraryWater

Congratulations! You have made the correct choice in regards to your game of the year. Anna was my Avatar's waifu, since we're all into talking about this now. Also, I played Resident Evil 6 on my PC entirely with a controller and the idea of going M+K for that sort of game doesn't seem like my cup of proverbial tea. Of course, the player input device of choice really doesn't change the part where the game is sort of bad but I sort of like it anyways.

Unfortunately, I still haven't played Tomb Raider despite it very clearly being installed on my computer, I'd like to play Ni No Kuni if I had a PS3 to play it on, and Hearthstone seems like a great way for me to get horribly addicted to something so I can't comment on the rest.

Posted by Flappy

I smell a lot of lackluster waifus. Keep your stalkers and scaly chicks; I'll take the quality one.

Anyway, nice list, homie. Everyone's a winner for playing Fire Emblem: Awakening!

Edited by StarvingGamer

@arbitrarywater: Hearthstone can be a lot of fun, and you should really play Tomb Raider.

@flappy: How did you manage to wait until after beating the game to get married?