Game of the Year 2013

Here is my list of the best games of the year. I only included games that I've finished, although I didn't not finish a lot of games this year (Splinter Cell was one I started and got enough out of, and stopped, but it probably wouldn't make the list regardless). Also, the two best games I played and really got into this year did not come out this year, so they won't be on this list, but I want to give a shout out to Dark Souls and The Binding of Isaac anyway.

On to the list!

List items

  • The Last of Us is the most polished game experience I've ever seen. It melds the gameplay into the world, and it's a world that is meticulously designed and well crafted. Its plot is filled with detailed characters, and hugely emotional moments that comes together to make something truly special.

  • I mentioned in my list last year that it was the year of the download, but if last year was when downloadables came into their own, this is the year they took over.

    Rogue Legacy is a game about slowly building up a base, and then participating in some seriously fun 2D combat platforming. The game had some of the most addicting gameplay this year. It's basic loop of play, die, build, play made it so that after you finished a run, you'd want to make your upgrades, which in turn would make you want to play the game, and so on.... for hours. And in Dark Soulsian fashion, you get an extremely rewarding sense of satisfaction when you finally beat the bosses.

  • The Swapper takes place in an oppressive low gravity environment, with puzzles that make you contemplate what a soul is, all the while making you perform the best puzzling in all of 2013. It's a game that tells an almost Philip K Dick-esque story in its perfectly paced 5 or so hour length. It looks beautiful, and is super fun to play, and damn that story goes places. Only rarely do games justify their gameplay mechanics in their story, and The Swapper does just that, and more.

  • I love bite sized experiences, especially when they are cleverly written and contain funs, puzzle filled gameplay. There's not much else to say about Gunpoint except that it executes everything it attempts in wild fashion, and is a fantastic debut for former PCGamer writer Tom Francis.

  • At this time of the year last year, had you told me that an Assassin's Creed game would be one of my favorite games of the year, beating out games such as Grand Theft Auto 5, by a wide margin mind you, I would have told you to go away. Nevertheless, here is the weirdest thing to happen in 2013. Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag is absolutely incredible. It looks beautiful and runs perfectly smooth, it turns collectables into something that are worthwhile in the shanties, and not too frustrating to attain, in fact I loved playing this game so much that I have %100 on everything except mission objectives. ACIV makes the combat and traversal as fun as it ever was, while deemphasizing the stealth elements enough to largely ignore them.

  • Speaking of revitalizing a franchise that I had written off as completely dead... DmC Devil May Cry may have a ridiculous name and a more ridiculous protagonist, but this game oozes style and fun so much so that I couldn't put it down once it got started. I enjoyed the first Devil May Cry game enough, but this game was even better, even though it is much more mainstream than its older siblings.

  • "A Survivor is born" may have been the worst way to end a game this year, especially when survival had so little to do with the actual gameplay, but thats only a minor knock at what was probably the most fun third person action to be had all year. Just when we thought there was nowhere for cover based TPS games to go, Tomb Raider comes along with a wonderful automatic cover system that just works, and renders the Uncharted games completely unplayable in comparison. Its beautiful and well performed, and grissly in all the right ways, its too bad the narrative was just a touch on the side of cliche.

  • In a year that saw several strong JRPG releases, Ni no Kuni stands out based on its production values alone. The world famous Studio Ghibli helped define a visual style that is so engrossing in this fairy tale world that I never wanted to leave. Combine that with top notch voice acting (I should say top notch for the genre) and excellent score fully realized by the Tokyo Symphony made this game a joy to play. Unfortunately the combat is a little shallow and the game goes on way too long, building to a large final act that is so out of place and pointless, I wish it had ended earlier.

  • I'm having trouble describing what The Stanley Parable actually is. I suppose it's a choose your own adventure tale in a fully realized 3D space, which a narrator who leads you to freedom, or exposes how oppressive authority figures can be. I've never played a game that had a response for every single action the player does. The attention to detail alone is worthy of a nomination, but what makes the game truly shine is the voice of its narrator and the superb script he gets to read.

  • I'm a sucker for the unreliable narrator, and I'll always be all in for a western themed game, so I guess in a sense Gunslinger was made for me. This is a game that is so much better than it deserves to be, I really hope it doesn't get forgotten when it comes to mainstream GOTY coverage. This game does exactly what it sets out to, and it does so with fantastic style and immense joy.