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My favorite games of the year 2013.

Coming into December, I felt like I played way more 2013 releases than I actually did. So when it came time to actually start compiling the list, it turned out to be pretty difficult. I played and enjoyed games like Bioshock Infinite, Tomb Raider and Gunpoint but ehhhhhh didn't really want them in a top 10 list. And games that I enjoyed more, like Fire Emblem: Awakening and Divekick, I just didn't play enough to put in here.

Last year's list was mostly obvious and didn't take a long time to put together but I'm still pretty happy with 2013. It was a good year. I'm probably going to go and play more Ni No Kuni.

List items

  • The promise of a post-apocalyptic survival story by Naughty Dog had me squealing with excitement before release, but I was also a bit worried if they could nail the tone and the balance in gameplay after Uncharted. This game destroyed my expectations.

    The cast of characters is incredibly well-crafted and the story is heart-wrenching and beautifully told with a kind of subtlety you don't see in games very often. The stealth gameplay has its minor issues, but it's mechanically sound and doesn't contradict with the tone of the story. The combat is brutal and has enough variety to it. Absolutely amazing experience.

    Less and less games these days blow me away to the point that I want to play them again, but The Last of Us managed that. Loved it after the first playthrough, second playthrough locked its spot at the top of my list and among my favorite games of the generation.

  • A Link Between Worlds could not have been a better introduction to this series. This is my first Legend of Zelda game, and immediately after beating it, I wanted to dive deeper into this classic series that I've somehow managed to avoid my whole life. It's very accessible to newcomers without holding your hand too much, and doesn't require any previous knowledge of Link to the Past or other previous Zeldas. The dungeons were impeccably designed and I had a great time exploring the Hyrule and Lorule.

  • This one got me. My time growing up was very different from Samantha's coming-of-age story, but the 90's nostalgia trip and heartfelt storytelling created an amazing sense of place and helped me immerse in the story. The great music and voice-over work only added to that. I was laughing and tearing up multiple times throughout the game. It stuck with me for quite a while.

  • Can't ask for a much better action game than DmC. This being a reboot didn't bother me at all. I played most of DMC3 and loved what I played of it. Ninja Theory's combat is simplified, but executing combos and switching weapons in combat is very satisfying. Mix that with inventive, visually incredible level design and well-acted cutscenes, and it's a great package.

  • I want to see more games like Brothers. It's certainly not the first game to use gameplay as efficiently in storytelling, but I hope it influences developers to think outside of cutscenes. Starbreeze got great emotional reactions out of me with a push of a button, and without the characters uttering a word of English.

  • I had my issues with this game. The story doesn't make good enough use of the three protagonists and the writing and attempts at satire were problematic. But still, the parts that Rockstar needed to nail, they did. The vast, detailed open-world was ridiculously fun to roam around, and the missions and heists were really well-executed. The music is all around fantastic, and does a great job of building atmosphere and tension. This is the first GTA game to have a score, and they absolutely knocked it out of the park.

    I guess the online is fun too, if you can get a few friends to play with you.

    Even with its problems, GTA V is the game I spent the most time this year, and it deserves its spot in this list.

  • I didn't have huge expectations for this going in after the fun but forgettable Conviction, and I probably wouldn't have even played this if I didn't find it for as cheap as I did. But I'm glad I did, because it turned out to be an excellent mix of new and old Splinter Cell.

    I never felt like it restrained me playing stealthily and the other play options were always obvious and equally valid. The game keeps throwing new enemy types and different scenarios at you. The levels are pretty lengthy but well paced. The story is pretty basic SC nonsense but the cutscenes do a good job of building tension between missions. Didn't think I would say this again but I can't wait for the next Splinter Cell!

  • I'm terrible with horror games, and can really only play one in a year. Last year it was Silent Hill 3, this year it's Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs.

    Whenever I could drag myself from hiding behind a crate or some other waist-height object, I really enjoyed the disturbing and disgusting writing and the haunting imagery. The Chinese Room lost a lot of fans of the first game with their changes to Pigs, but I welcomed the emphasis on storytelling and atmosphere, instead of the shit-your-pants terror and puzzles of the first game.

  • I played a few hours of this months before finishing. Enjoyed it just fine, but didn't finish it and pretty much just forgot about it. It took me seeing Gravity to wake my interest again. Started over and fell in love with it. Very few games (if any) have depicted space with such harrowing beauty as this game. The story unravels in some stunning ways, and I liked the freedom in solving the puzzles. Hitting a wall in this puzzle? Go do one of the other ones.

    Kinda like with horror games, I can only take so many pure puzzle games at a time. The Swapper had enough really clever and fun puzzles to last me a while.

  • (3DS version)

    Thought hard about including this game on the list, because it's a new version of 3-year old game. But it's one of the best platformers I've played, and I had to throw it in here. I like to play platformers fast, and this game is designed for that. My first runs weren't lightning speed, but the levels are endlessly replayable and have a lot of charm and personality. When I get around to buying a Wii U, Tropical Freeze will definitely be one of my first purchases.