Game of the Year 2013

My personal favourites from 2013.

List items

  • Metro: Last Light would have been an impressive achievement in any context, but when one considers the position 4A Games were in at THQs demise, not to mention their working conditions, that the end result is so staggeringly good makes the achievement all the more remarkable. The gunplay is a huge improvement on 2033, the beautiful graphics give such chapters like ‘Sundown’ a mood and ambience unmatched by any game to date. Then add the superb pacing and tension, the traps, the subtle moral choices, and I am left in no doubt as to which game is my pick for 2013.

  • Intelligent Systems’ mastery of the turn based strategy genre is almost a given with each release, but with Fire Emblem Awakening they surround their usual gameplay elegance with some of the most loveable and charming characters of the year. Be it the wide variety of customisation options or the amusing character interactions, Fire Emblem Awakening manages to make that which surrounds the combat into something as equally enjoyable as the action itself.

  • If, or more likely when Capcom make a sequel to Dragon’s Dogma, they would do well to use Dark Arisen’s claustrophobic and menacing atmosphere as a starting point. The creeping darkness, the tension as you descend in search of greater rewards and dangers, they all lift last year’s vanilla version into a potent mix of Dark Souls and Monster Hunter, with all the great combat and role-playing one could ask for.

  • Slowly, ever so slowly did it work its magic. It wasn't necessarily the content of the story that stood out, although it touched on things close to my heart, but rather it was the small details that gave the story life, be it something read, something heard, or something simply seen. It carefully tied its emotions and memories to objects, and created a compelling experience specifically on the foundations of being able to let you explore that which other mediums can only let you watch as they pass by.

  • Clocking in at barely 2 hours, Brothers is nevertheless a nigh-perfectly paced adventure. Beautiful with its aesthetic, smart and intuitive with its puzzles, Brothers weaves its sentiments and sorrows so wonderfully that the game’s brevity becomes its boon.

  • Two thirds of a great game; Ellen Page and Willem Dafoe do their best to lift David Cage’s perfunctory script to something worth caring about. It looked terrific with some fantastic animations, and for all the clichés managed to tease out a lot of emotional power from many low-key, real life situations.

  • Although not quite as beautiful, crazy, or as elegant as Bayonetta, Ninja Theory did create a superior character action game. Tight controls, well designed levels, bosses, and in an era where this type of game is relatively rare, it is agreeable to find the genre still in fine form despite its decline as a commercial enterprise.

  • Not being the most skilled fighting game player was certainly no obstacle to having an awful lot of fun with Injustice. A fun fighting system accessible to novices such as myself, a host of single and multiplayer modes, and all delivered with great style and flair.

  • Although it hasn’t the looks to rival Might & Magic Heroes VI or Civilization V, it has more than enough in its gameplay for it to deserve equal attention. Mixing turn based battles a la Might & Magic, empire building from Civ, Legendary Heroes adds to this mixture its own set of compelling ideas; custom armies, units, leaders, champions to recruit, quests to complete, loot to find…that it all works so nicely gives its place in my top 10.

  • 2013 was a very good year for turn based combat, and Expeditions: Conquistador set its very competent action in a unique setting with an even more unique approach in imbuing the adventure with survival and role-play elements. It all ends up creating a fascinating mixture of choices and tensions over how to deal with the many physical, personal, and political conflicts the game throws up.