Best of 2013

What a season, what a season! Perhaps not, actually, but 2013 certainly had its fair share of sizable releases to make it a very interesting year. Therefore, IT IS TIME FOR MY FIFTH ANNUAL GAME OF THE YEAR SPECTACULAR OF THE YEAR... LIST. Despite some unfortunate events surrounding this website in 2013, there is still a good range of vidja games to categorise in a list type manner. With a PlayStation 4 now in my possession and the whole "major exam" stuff out of the way, here's to 2014 (unless more DOTA 2 renders me unable to play anything else every again)! But for now, time to look at the year that was. (I'm not gonna count Kentucky Route Zero as having come out this year, but if I did, that game would FOR SURE be on the list. Same applies to A Wolf Among Us but that game probably wouldn't make the top 10 regardless).

Honorable Mentions:

Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag - I have not finished this yet but this has been a fine showcase for the PS4/next-gen systems. It is certainly a bunch of fun, despite me having a bit of an aversion to some of AC's mechanics. Y'arr.

Guacamelee! - Fun. Good ol' fun. I love me a Metroidvania (ugh) game and this one is a bundle of fun, bad meme jokes aside.

Papers, Please - A very solid #11 for sure. Papers, Please is near revolutionary in its mechanics. It is the sort of originality that shines through during this age of indie games. This one will be remembered for years and misses out on my list due to the fact I did not play a huge amount of the Steam release (even if it's grinding gameplay is the point of the experience).

Antichamber - I love a good puzzle game (so kudos to The Swapper) but this also just misses out on the list. There is some incredibly original stuff packed into this game, another example of some of the creativity out there in games today. I waited several years to play it and it was certainly enjoyable when I got the chance.

List items

  • Oh my. Oh dear. DOTA 2 does not care about how much time it consumes. 400+ hours of last hits and denies have occurred since the mid-summer. What I can say is this, I have never been this enamored with a game. DOTA 2 is such an incredible piece of design, a barely-comprehensible video game that delivers such incredible highs of joy (and pits of sadness). Valve has crafted a phenomenon, they made me actually get mildly involved in the insanely dumb world of eSports. A match of DOTA sucks me in like nothing else. Everything about the world is forgotten as I try to farm this damn Bloodstone. DOTA is an incredible experience, one which will easily stretch on into 2014. I am nowhere near-good, only have a mild grasp of the metagame and I haven't not played all the heroes despite the fact I've played some THREE HUNDRED AND SIXTY matches at the time of writing. There is so much to see, so much to do in this insane video game. Playing DOTA 2 makes everything else seem worse. Why would you play any other video game when you can play the greatest and funnest one? DOTA 2 spoils other games by being so much better. Game of the year.

  • In a different year, The Last of Us would easily take the GOTY crown. Just look at it, it completely forwards the world of video game narratives. Joel and Ellie get wrapped up in such a believable world that contains some incredible moments across the story. More that once, I found myself shocked by some of the turns the story took. Naughty Dog have done it again; my own words cannot state how strong TLOU's narrative is. Beyond that, I found the gameplay to be very enjoyable (despite a slow first couple hours) and Naughty Dog's graphical prowess is shown as they utilise every bit of power the PS3 has. Bravo The Last of Us, the Game of the Year that probably should have been.

  • The hype machine was in full effect for Infinite, ever since its debut some three years ago. It delivers. Many may complain about its gunplay, but I am completely happy with the gameplay in Infinite. It looks fantastic and crafts a crazy and very good (if slightly filmsy) narrative that paints an incredible world in Columbia. When you first set feet upon the soil of Columbia, my jaw dropped. Irrational have crafted a incredible city in the sky, wrapped around some interesting gunplay. Overall, the ending is nothing if not insanely enjoyable

  • I love me some Link to the Past. It may in fact be the greatest (or 2nd greatest) Zelda game of all-time. I didn't realise how close this was to the original SNES game until it actually come out. Despite having such a strong legacy, ALBW shocked me in just how good it is. The Zelda franchises hasn't been firing out winners in a couple years (my reaction to Skyward Sword and Twilight Princess is tepid to mildly warm) but this one knocks it out of the park. I really, really like this game. It buys into my nostalgia just enough and changes the Zelda formula just enough to create an excellent entry into the franchise. Roaming around Hyrule collecting heart pieces and rupees has not been this fun in years. Here's hoping that the Wii U Zelda will be something special.

  • Rayman Legends fills me WITH ALL THE JOY. Its strange, I kind of can't say how, but Rayman Legends is top-to-bottom a complete upgrade over Rayman Origins. It is better in every way: looks better, sounds better, is designed better and is just fun-er. There's extra layers of online stuff and collectibles on top and the level design has gone beyond anything put down by Origins. Also those music levels delights my very soul.

  • As a huge fan of the GTA franchise, I was very happy with GTA V. It lies at #6, suprisingly low for a new game in the GTA franchise, but that reflects how I see the series in 2013. The occassionally clunky story beats and mission structure holds it back slightly, but don't make a mistake, GTA V is a very good game. It looks excellent, crafts an unbelievable world and spins an interesting story despite myself being doubtful about its potential. I certainly look forward to the DLC in 2014 and hope it finds its way onto this expensive PS4 on my desk.

  • Having never heard of the original mod, Stanley Parable came out of nowhere to offer an excellent meta-commentary on video game design. In a different manner to Saints Row, The Stanley Parable is a hugely funny video game, crafting some excellent criticism in its writing. Games like this strengthen my love of the indies to create games and ideas never before seen. The sooner the Narrator's announcer pack appears in the DOTA 2 store, the better.

  • Man, Saints Row The Third is so fucking good. Saints Row IV is super fucking good. Despite the fact that it re-uses a lot of SR3's assets (holding down it's position on the list), Saints Row IV is a super dumb and super fun game. Some excellent jokes are packed in here, some old and some new, and there are PLENTY pieces of crazy bullshit (Roddy Piper, romancing, DUBSTEP GUN). Another excellent addition to a franchise which really hit its stride after the third installment. The more I think about it, the more I want to move it up the list so let's move on!

  • I think there is around 8 better games than Brothers this year. I really appreciate the aims of games like Brothers: games which use their mechanics and unique quality of interactivity to convey a story. Brothers succeeds in its goals, crafting a loving if slightly predictable tale of, well, two sons. It looks lovely, goes to some very interesting places and certainly tugs at the heart strings by the end. Lovely.

  • Who knew I could give a shit about a Devil May Cry game? The combat in this game is super fun and easy to pick up - I actually found myself stringing together some SUPER HOT combos. For a last-gen game, it looks so sharp and some of the game's sequences are insane. It just barely makes the list (sorry Papers, Please!) but it is a super solid way to start off a GOTY list. Hats off to Ninja Theory.