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My Favorite Games of 2013

Here's a list of games I thought were pretty rad.

List items

  • Gone Home is probably the game I cared the most about this year. Not to mean that I feel obligated to fly the game's banner into battle against internet trolls or anything. It is by no means a perfect video game, but no game told a more complete story about a group of people this year, especially one that takes place in a real world. The narrative is the game, and discovering the objects, letters, and audio diaries is the gameplay. There is no fluff to either component. Sam and Lonnie aren't going to find a ghost, despite their quest to do just that. The only thing that is discovered is themselves and how they fit into the world they live. The side stories of the other family members don't feel like window dressing, either, their developments are just as fleshed out and important as Sam's. They are real people going through everyday problems. Gone Home gives itself many chances to take advantage of the player's emotions and defied my expectations by actively not defying my expectations. It revels in the mundanity of suburbia. They're believable people with a believable problem. It is an achievement that will not leave my mind for years to come.

  • The Swapper joins the likes of Portal in my mind, when it comes to games with exceptional realization of the the vision they set out to fulfill. The found object scenery and overall aesthetic make running from puzzle room to puzzle room feel wondrous. The puzzle design is impeccable and discovering the solution to a tricky scenario felt satisfying to an nth-degree. The story, however, is where The Swapper gets everything right. It holds back the information you don't need to know until it feels you're ready, and does it in an extraordinary way. Man, the ending is one of the most affective things I've ever had to do in a game (Non-Jerk ending, by the way).

  • Speaking of creative puzzles to solve, Gunpoint does that and more. It lacks the atmosphere and compelling narrative of something like The Swapper, but instead gives the player immense power over gadgets, gizmos, and electrical sockets, I guess? It takes game design and beats it to a pulp. To think that this is someone's first game is ludicrous. Cannot wait to see what Francis does next.

  • Fire Emblem may just be my favorite game series of all time. The fine-tuned rock-paper-scissors+Magic/Bows/Pegasus/Dragons/Beast-people is some of the most satisfying turn-based SRPG mechanics known to man. Pair that with a rock-solid narrative that includes weird time-travel relationship building with likable characters and you got yourself a real winner. That's not even mentioning the crazy-hard permadeath that adds a whole other level of tension to every battle.

  • The Stanley Parable is a late addition to this list. I didn't play it when the mod came out, and I didn't play this "remake" right when it came out either. But sitting on a couch with a buddy and playing through most of the endings was a truly fantastic experience. The narration is a mix of Bastion and Wheatly from Portal 2 and solidifies the weird and 4th-wall-breaking writing. Comedy is hard, especially in games when the experience and timing can be broken in so many ways, The Stanley Parable jumps right into the deep end and doesn't give a fuck about any of that. They want you to break the experience, even break the geometry in some parts. Its creative, clever, and crazy all in the right ways with all the right comedic elements to take with it.

  • Bioshock Infinite has a lot of problems. A lot. I could list reasons why its a truly flawed game and only people who are idiots like it, but that isn't what this is. From beginning to the jaw-dropping, mind-bending ending I was in Columbia. It enraptured me the entire time, no pun intended. I was in awe at the gorgeous scenery, the amazing soundtrack, and the crazy shit that happens in this well-realized world. If they somehow crammed half of the audio logs into the main game and I didn't have to look on youtube afterward to get half the story this could've been an easy number 1. But, they didn't, so it'll have to sit at a cool number 6. Still fantastic, not quite on Bioshock level, but that is an almost impossible mark to hit.

  • I did not like Black and White at all. I barely made it passed the first gym-leader before I defiantly popped it out my DS and chucked it across the room(neatly in it's case) where it would sit for the rest of eternity. But, I still consider myself an unapologetic Pokemon fan, and was even in line at midnight to pick this up. Boy was I not disappointed when this blew away every expectation I had. I still think the newer Pokemon are completely lame, but they give me enough of the classics to make sure I am sated. I even went on a brief quest where I thought I'd try to catch them all. Man, that was a bad idea. I don't know how I came this far without mentioning just how gorgeous this game is. I was extremely skeptical if they could pull off the 3D-models in the fights instead of the steadfast sprite designs that has been a staple of the series, but they passed the sniff test with flying colors. My journey through Kalos ranks up there with the series best in my books. The best is Gold, by the way.

  • I didn't know what I was getting into when I booted up this sorta-maybe-not-really Free2Play fighter. I was never that into the original games on the SNES and poked KI:Gold on the N64 a couple times at a friend's but that was it. A little background, I really like Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, and Smash Brothers(sue me) so my tastes are pretty set on solid 2D fighters and this is most definitely one of those. Double Helix amazingly modernized the old combo system and made it actually interesting and not just a complete 60-hit wankfest, which this can totally also facilitate. It's just a great mix of ridiculousness and raw fun.

  • Okay, get this. They put Animal Crossing on the 3DS with somewhat okay online mechanics and Nook has nephews now. And there's this island that completely breaks the economy, but who gives a fuck? Yeah, it is still Animal Crossing. And that is A-Okay by me

  • From the makers of "Don't Shit Your Pants" comes a 2D Metroidvania-ish, Rogue-like-like, that just so happens to have some of the tightest controls since Super Meat Boy? Seriously, this game throws so many strange curveballs and is instantly a joy to play. Also, it reminds me a lot of 10000000 and that is always a good thing. Really inventive "Legacy" mechanic that is just super fun and weird. Its just weird, but really good.