GOTY 2013

What a season, what a season. Some good games came out. I played some of them. Of all the games that came out in 2013, these are the ones I played (and remember (and liked)).

List items

  • My 2013 Game of the Year: GTA 5!

    After spending hundreds of hours in Vice City and San Andreas, GTA 4 left me disappointed. The controls weren't very good, the story wasn't dumb enough, the pacing felt off and there simply wasn't enough to do in the world.

    GTA 5 fixes all those problems. The controls are tight, the story has the right amount of stupid, there's always a sense of progression, along with stuff to do if you don't feel like following one of the stories. Yes, one of the stories. That's another clever thing GTA 5 did. It has three protagonists, each with their own missions, which intersect for some of the game's biggest moments.

    The heist missions were the absolute highlights and yes, I would have liked more of them. But as is, GTA 5 entertained me for countless hours and when I finally completed the story, I felt like I'd done all I had to do in that world. It's not all that often I feel a game is paced that well. Most games either feel like they're not quite done, or like they're stretching their actual gameplay and story for the sake of more hours played. Bravo Rockstar!

  • I have to admit I never really 'got' Tomb Raider. But with this reboot, Crystal Dynamics turned Tomb Raider into Uncharted. And I 'get' Uncharted.

    In a year without Uncharted games, this un-Uncharted looked like a shoe-in for my game of the year, until GTA 5 came around.

    Tomb Raider looks pretty. It plays well. Its not-overly-large world is filled to the brim with stuff. There are some great set pieces. There's all kinds of systems to buff up Lara and upgrade her gear. Also, I dig the new Lara.

  • Once upon a time, I played way too many hours of Pokemon Red. Pokemon X wasn't quite the rediscovery for me that it was for many others. I reconnected with Pokemon when Pokemon Pearl came out, after which I spent some time playing a bunch of GBA versions.

    Still, playing Pokemon X feels like coming home. Almost every aspect of the game feels familiar. It lives up to memories of earlier games. Memories which the earlier games themselves can't live up to. The tiny steps forward that this game makes in every single aspect add up, making this THE Pokemon game to play, if you're gonna play a Pokemon game.

    Still, I'd really like Game Freak to try something radically different at some point. Break with some of the fundamentals. Don't just tweak type effectiveness, but change the combat essentials. Don't limit a team to six Pokemon, or a Pokemon to four moves, or... I don't know. I'd just really like them to do something different next time.

  • Though I've been familiar with Fire Emblem for quite some time, this is the first game in the series that I've played for an extensive amount of time.

    I'm not that big a fan of strategic RPGs like Fire Emblem of Final Fantasy Tactics. As such, the actual combat in this game doesn't do that much for me. The thing that drew me in were all the other systems. Especially the character system. I had a lot of fun levelling characters up, upgrading their classes, switching to radically different classes and combining skills to turn them into killing machines.

    Teaming up characters adds a lot to the actual combat, but eventually leads you down a rabbit hole of breeding humans to create even more effective killing machines. The mechanics of this system are interesting, but this is also the point where the story kind of breaks for me. I won't spoil it here, but it's pretty dumb.

  • *squeeeaaal*

    A traditional (and at times difficult) JRPG with Studio Ghibli art? YES PLEASE! This game reminds me so very much of Dragon Quest 8. The gameplay is rock solid, conventional, but with enough of a twist to make it enjoyable. The story is great, if slowly paced. The art is amazing.

    Unfortunately, like Dragon Quest 8, this game has a problem. A pacing problem. It's a loooong ass game, but it's also sloooow. There's a lot to go through and you can't go very fast. I loved this game, but eventually just couldn't get myself to keep playing.

  • One of this years biggest secrets, SteamWorld Dig is an amazing game that will be enjoyed tremendously by the few people know find out about it. Luckily it's been mentioned on the Bombcast several times.

    SteamWorld Dig is game that's all about gameplay, but it also manages to have an interesting style. Combining platforming with resource gathering and a shop-driven character upgrade system, this has been my favourite pick-up-and-play-for-five-to-ten-minutes game this year.

  • Location, location, location. Or should I say: setting, setting setting.

    Guacamelee! has an eye-catching art style and a great setting the likes of which we don't see nearly enough in games. The gameplay is solid, but not quite my cup of tea. Still had a great time with this game, until I got stuck on that tiger boss guy.

  • The first Gran Turismo I've played since GT3, this game is everything I hoped it would be. Sure, there are some old assets being reused for the hundredth time. Sure, the essentials haven't changed in over a decade. Sure, Forza is also pretty good if you look past the microtransactions.

    But Gran Turismo 6 is, in my opinion, the best car-porn game to date. There are around 1200 cars to buy in this game, so there's bound to be a few there for you. Even though the game provides the option to buy credits for real money, it doesn't feel like the game steers you in that direction as the game's natural progress feel just fine.

    I'm playing this game with a Logitech Driving Force GT wheel, which I bought to play Dirt 3. It's not the best wheel in the world by any means, but it makes Gran Turismo 6 play much, much better than a controller. And though I love Dirt 3, it never made my wheel feel as responsive and just play good as Gran Turismo 6 does.

  • I haven't really played that much of Deadly Premonition because I remembered, after buying it, that I'm a scaredy-cat who doesn't like horror and can't stand chase sequences.

    Still, I want to include it on this list because I enjoyed the Endurance Runs so much.

    And I get to include it on this list because it finally came out in Europe this year.

    So says Mr. Stewart.

  • I really want to like this game, but there's zombies and stealth and I don't like it. Well, I liked it for a bit. And I played it this year. And it's pretty. So I guess it gets a place on this list.

  • Honorable mention of the year.

    Episode 1 came out this year, which I liked very much. But I feel like I can't really judge this game based on just the first episode. So, expect to see this make an appearance on my GOTY 2014 list (or not, but probably).