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Giant Bomb's 2013 Game of the Year Awards: Day Five

All things must come to an end. Until they happen next year.

Best Horror Game (Patrick Klepek’s Biggest Scare of 2013)

Year Walk

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Horror is much like comedy. It’s an incredibly subjective genre that might affect one person profoundly, prompting the individual to scream with fright, and completely bore the next. The best kind of horror elevates past the trappings of the genre, using its ability to manipulate our fears as a storytelling mechanism. Year Walk, one of two tremendous games from Simogo in 2013, pulls this off wonderfully. By wonderfully, of course, we mean it scared the crap out of us.

Year Walk is a game that’s tearing at its own seams, begging you to set it free. You have to rethink what it means to interact with a touch screen, discovering new ways to open this snowy puzzle box. Jump scares are a cheap tactic in the horror toolbox, but used effectively, they instill a level of imagined tension no amount of horrific imagery can match. A simple exploratory game quickly becomes much more, as the player hesitates to move, wondering if this normally quiet game will decide to speak very loudly.

The game even makes tremendous use of the whole idea of "apps" In addition to Year Walk as a game, there’s a Year Walk Companion app, which includes additional information about the world and its mythology. To anyone that’s finished Year Walk, however, you know there’s much more to be discovered, and the unraveling of Year Walk’s true nature is a mixture of terror and delight.

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Runners-up: Outlast, Dreadhalls

Please Stop

Games That Require Post-Launch Apologies

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This should go without saying, but somehow, in this, the year of Luigi, it’s a problem. We're used to the idea of patches. In the most ideal of scenarios, patches are great. Games have become increasingly complicated beasts, so much so that even Nintendo, a company that prides itself on incredibly polished games, has been forced to patch the occasional one. But when games arrive so completely broken that patches aren’t enough, and companies are forced to issue several apologies after release, it’s now crazy.

You could reasonably make the argument this should be the “Electronic Arts Games That Require Post-Launch Apologies,” given the company was forced to hang its head for SimCity, NBA Live 14, and Battlefield 4 this year. With SimCity and Battlefield 4, the company couldn’t even be bothered to sound reasonably upset about the experience consumers were having. No, that came later! With Battlefield 4, the first apology even included the company patting itself on the back for having shipped another version of the game! With NBA Live 14, the game was basically indefensible, and EA fessed up right away.

At least those games are still available, though. Ashes Cricket 2013 was released...and then cancelled. It takes a truly heinous piece of interactive software to require such an insane switcheroo. That 505 Games’ apology for Ashes Cricket 2013's complete lack of quality standards felt so heartfelt was welcomed, but let’s remember that teary letter came after they shipped a game it’d happily accepted cash for.

Get your act together, video games!

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Runners-up: Full-Priced Games That Are Lousy With Microtransactions, Outrageously Priced Mobile Ports (Angry Birds Star Wars, Motorbike)

Worst Game

Ride to Hell: Retribution

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We don't see a ton of games about bikers around these parts, but if Ride to Hell: Retribution is all the world has to offer, maybe that's not a big deal. Deep Silver and Eutechnyx combined to produce a game that starts out as equal parts hilarious and horrid, but as you get deeper into the action, the slider moves closer and closer to the "horrid" side. It's buggy, glitchy, and twitchy across the board, but it's the bone-dry action, which has you occasionally riding a motorcycle in an unimpressive fashion or attempting to fight bad guys in a decidedly awful way, that drags this whole thing down into the absolute depths.

You might have seen some videos that make Ride to Hell: Retribution look like the hilarious kind of bad game that might be fun for that YouTube channel you've been thinking of starting. But do yourself a favor: Don't play this game.

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Runners-up: RIPD: The Game, The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct

Best Game

The Last of Us

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This isn't Naughty Dog's first time in the top spot on one of our annual lists, so in one sense it's not a huge surprise that they've made it here again (and on the same console, no less). But what is surprising about The Last of Us is the extent to which this game departs from not just Naughty Dog's previous, mostly lighthearted work, but from the irreverence and superficiality of most of the video game industry's output in general. It's not that there aren't other games out there that take themselves seriously; it's more that The Last of Us deserves to take itself seriously. It's a work of subtlety and gravity that makes you feel like maybe games do deserve to be regarded with the same level of respect as the best books and films.

The core of the game's triumph is the developing relationship between survival companions Joel and Ellie, and the way their motivations change (and sometimes don't change) as they come to rely on and care for one another during a brutal, year-long trek across a savaged United States. The Last of Us relies on its characterizations to move its story forward in a way few games are brave enough to do, and it's fitting that the tale culminates in a way that's thematically appropriate to the characters and the story, and feels like a natural end to the tale. There's no reason The Last of Us needs a sequel, and that's a compliment. As poor as most video game endings are, The Last of Us sticks the landing and makes it look effortless.

That's not to give short shrift to the game's impressive mix of stealth and shooting. Naughty Dog wisely chose not to reprise the death-defying acrobatics of Nathan Drake here, instead restraining and focusing the gameplay on hard-scrabble survival that's more consistent with the tone of the story and the grim reality of life after civilization has broken down. The struggle for resources, for allies, for safety and some small comfort pervades every moment of the grueling journey from Boston across a large swath of the Midwest. Though you gain more tricks in your survival toolkit as the game wears on, you never feel like you're truly safe from whatever horror lurks around the next corner.

Naughty Dog has proven itself with cartoonish action and theatrical thrill rides in the past, but it was a pleasure to watch their first effort at deeper, more meaningful work. They made an instant classic.

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Runners-up: 2. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, 3. BioShock Infinite, 4. Gone Home, 5. Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, 6. Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, 7. Dota 2, 8. Divekick, 9. Papers, Please, 10. Rogue Legacy

199 Comments

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MooseyMcMan

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I'm quite surprised that The Last of Us got GOTY. Good for Naughty Dog though!

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jimmyfenix

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RonGalaxy

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Edited By RonGalaxy • 

I am not surprised that The Last of Us got GOTY. Good for Naughty Dog anyway!

Also, my prediction was really close!

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dr_mantas

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dr_mantas • 

That wasn't too surprising for a best game. And the first runner up. Pretty much called it.

Too bad I will never the best two games this year, according to Giant Bomb, because I don't own a PS3 or 3DS.

Have a great New Year, everybody!

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Efesell

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Video_Game_King

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TheBioLover

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Counterclockwork87

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I was gonna make a thread yesterday how Last of Us and Zelda were gonna be 1 and 2, shoulda done so, woulda made me look smart!

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jred250

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jred250 • 

I can't wait to listen to the podcast for this.

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gbrading

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Edited By gbrading • 

The Game of the Year is unsurprising considering the way deliberations have been going. Nice to see BioShock Infinite high up.

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Zolfe

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Zolfe • 

There's only four games better than Brothers, fact.

Also well deserved for The Last of Us

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deactivated-594be97fd5af7

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Ride to Hell already has an amazing Let's Play so you should watch that rather than ever play it.

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sub_o

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Boss_Kowbel

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Edited By Boss_Kowbel • 

The Last of Us won out over Metro: Last Light for my Game of the Year, so congratulations to Naughty Dog. They deserve every bit of praise.

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BeachThunder

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AlexW00d

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5Figh

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5Figh • 

I haven't listened to the podcast yet so i have to assume Motorbike got disqualified for some reason from the worst game category cause I thought that thing was a shoe-in

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jimmyfenix

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jimmyfenix • 

@5figh: That is the real injustice dammit. Motorbike got robbed!

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Video_Game_King

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Get with the times, that game was released over a decade ago.

Is it weird that I'm playing Valkyria Chronicles as you say this?

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flasaltine

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paulunga

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paulunga • 

WOO! Zelda in second place. That's good enough for me, even though Last of Us didn't even make my list.

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shinboy630

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shinboy630 • 

Guys, The Last of Us won but it is only #6 on my personal list. That means I have to be super angry or something, right? That is how the internet works, isn't it?

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Vuud

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Edited By Vuud • 

Yep, that figures. 2013 for me was a real bum year for video games. That whole top 10 just says "move along, there's nothing for you here."

Here's to 2014!

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GrandHarrier

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Edited By GrandHarrier • 

Last of Us is a great movie, but not a great game, just my opinion.

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Ares42

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Ares42 • 

So Brad won the GOTY discussions again? :P

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colourful_hippie

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I like the ordering of that list other than the part where Last of Us is at 1.

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bhhawks78

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Edited By bhhawks78 • 

I guess I just don't understand how a game with piss poor gameplay won GOTY.

oh well to each their own or too each a bradfilibuster.

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NapTimeSleeper

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Awesome list and happy to see The Last of Us at number one.

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mrfluke

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Edited By mrfluke • 

really like this top ten for the year. very solid list. very varied, which is fantastic.

the goty was kinda spoiled for me when i saw vinny was online on psn playing last of us. kinda extrapolated that that game won if he went back to it.

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paulunga

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Edited By paulunga • 

@vuud said:

Yep, that figures. 2013 for me was a real bum year for video games. That whole top 10 just says "move along, there's nothing for you here."

Here's to 2014!

Uhh... what kind of games are you even into? Obscure JRPGs? German point'n'click adventures? I feel sorry for you if you didn't find anything worthwhile this year, it was a pretty good one, almost on par with 2008 and 1998 for me personally.

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Efesell

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Efesell • 

@vuud said:

Yep, that figures. 2013 for me was a real bum year for video games. That whole top 10 just says "move along, there's nothing for you here."

Here's to 2014!

It just sounds to me like you might be done with video games.

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musicman1024

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I haven't read this page yet, but had to say BRAVO for the Boyz II Men video at the top. Losing my shit, I love you guys. Making me laugh in the conclusion of a year that made me sad most <3

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zombie2011

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Edited By zombie2011  Online • 

GTA 5 not on that list is kind of a bummer, that game was amazing story and gameplay wise, also the visuals in that game still amaze me when ever i boot it up. I still don't understand how that game can run on a 360/PS3 and look so amazing and have so much content.

Also most of the categories this year have been really negative. Biggest Mess, Apology, Need to Stop, Disappointment, Worst game. I already felt the GB crew was quite cynical when it comes to new games but these awards kind of showcase it.

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DeathByWaffle

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Last of Us was definitely my GOTY also - it's probably one of my favorite games of the whole generation actually. I don't really get the hate the gameplay gets, I really enjoyed playing it and found it incredibly tense.

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deactivated-5c26fd6917af0

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Edited By deactivated-5c26fd6917af0 • 

I think the biggest surprise for me is that brad got Dota 2 to number 7. That is crazy.

I haven't listened to the podcast yet, but all the people crying, "Brad got his way again," seem to ignore that the only person on staff who wasn't impressed with The Last of Us is Jeff, who admits there is some good story in the game. It would be really odd for anything else to be number one when all but one person feels strongly about it.

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RonGalaxy

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RonGalaxy • 

@rirse said:

Fuck you Last of Us, I rather play Ride to Hell over you anyday! Think I am done with this site. It hasn't been the same since Ryan passed away.

harsh

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turboman

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turboman • 

I'm so happy that DiveKick managed to get on the top ten list.

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AthleticShark

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Edited By AthleticShark • 

Rabble rabble "this opinion doesn't match with mine" rabble rabble.

Not that I care but I am surprised GTA5 did not make the list.

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Marokai

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Edited By Marokai • 
@vuud said:

Yep, that figures. 2013 for me was a real bum year for video games. That whole top 10 just says "move along, there's nothing for you here."

Here's to 2014!

Despite a lot of tragedy closely related to this site that understandable clouds everyone's judgement on whether this was a good year or not, 2013 was a fantastic year for video games, with all kinds of varied experiences in whatever genre someone could be into, big and small, on each and every platform.

I'm always of the opinion that if a person can't find a good game to play, they're not looking hard enough, but that goes double for this year.

And congratulations to The Last of Us! Guess all those folks badgering Brad to play it all year were right about something.

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StarvingGamer

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Was Alex the only one to actually have The Last of Us at #1 on his personal list?

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TechnoSyndrome

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WMoyer83

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Edited By WMoyer83 • 

bioshock infinite got robbed

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Popogeejo

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Popogeejo • 

Well deserved win. Let the angry tears flow.

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LarryDavis

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LarryDavis • 

I want a refund on my membership.

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Vuud

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Vuud • 

@efesell said:

@vuud said:

Yep, that figures. 2013 for me was a real bum year for video games. That whole top 10 just says "move along, there's nothing for you here."

Here's to 2014!

It just sounds to me like you might be done with video games.

Naw, not by a long shot. But I think I'm done anticipating video games. Especially after what happened with Rome 2, but let's not get into that.

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mnzy

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Edited By mnzy • 

I guess I just don't understand how a game with piss poor gameplay won GOTY.

oh well to each their own or too each a bradfilibuster.

They gave Skyrim GotY.

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ArbitraryWater

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Well, I can tell which games which editor bullied onto the list this year! I was not expecting The Last of Us to win, given Jeff's opposition to it, but good for them.

Seriously though, the fact that Divekick is on the list and Super Mario 3D World isn't seems... like something I will roll my eyes at when I listen to the discussion podcast. But I've long come to peace with the fact that I cannot really identify with the tastes of the GB crew.

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Ares42

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Ares42 • 

Was Alex the only one to actually have The Last of Us at #1 on his personal list?

Brad had it as #2, under Dota which would never win.