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GOTY 2013

Oops I waited too long to finish for the community poll, but I might as well finish the job since I was a third of the way done writing it.

2013 was a decent year for games in my opinion if for no other reason than Nintendo brought more quality software than they've brought out in a good while. The gaming world is a better place with a Nintendo that's pumpin hits.

But conversely it was a also a risk averse mostly pre-launch year that saw little ground breaking on the AAA side of things. It was a year of Retro, most of the best things were things that in some form or another were back. Maybe it's the kickstarterization of the gaming world (where old IP is eaiser to fund than new) or maybe dev costs are just getting too far out of control.. Whatever the reason, sequelitis was as rampant as it has ever been in my memory this year.

Many of these in the list I have not nearly played enough, but at my age and what I know of my tastes. I know how I feel about these games.

The bottom of the list feels a bit unsettled to me, since there are probably around half dozen to a dozen games I haven't played yet I know would be contenders.

List items

  • The ultimate Team Multiplayer game is back for the very first time officially. I've yakked more about DOTA 2 than any other game this year. Long story short, I love DotA and I love the way Valve is continually improving it. Got nothing more really to add beyond what I said in my review

  • Fire Emblem is Back! The World's greatest and most OG SRPG series finally crossed over into mainstream consciousness this year and I couldn't be happier. While ye olde series defining permadeath is still there, a little accessibility has a gone a long way to restore the fun to this series. Awakening is a wonderful fusion of the best aspects (polygonal graphics, romantic support system, The world map! etc) of different iterations of this old stalwart series.

  • A Link to the Past is back! No really back, as in the same overworld and timeline. But it's also back in the sense that the old Zelda sensibilities are back. No more excessive handholding, and new mechanical quirks that make the Zelda series the best exploration gaming series around.

  • Metroidvania is back!

    Alright that's kind of stretch. Rogue Legacy is basically new. No other game probably ruined my get caught up on 2013 game plan more than RL. While the music and artstyle are good but not amazing, the game mechanic cocktail the devs mixed may be the most addictive I've played in a couple years. Light metroidvania exploration, roguelike permadeath, RPG leveling mechanic + super tight 2d platformer controls= a lot more than I ever could have imagined. I will be playing this game probably longer than any other outside of DOTA 2 on this list.

  • Lara Croft is back! I just wish the Tomb Raider puzzle aspect of her old games was too instead of being shooter mcshooter. But The good outweighs the bad here, the leaps taken with the realization with Lara Croft character are remarkable enough despite a very "meh" plot. IF some of the Eidos team hadn't been dumb in their pre-release comments, I fully believe her depiction would be one of the most talked about things this year.

  • Dragon's Dogma is back already! My personal GotY 2012 is back with just basically Dark Souls the playable area. Given how much I like both games that's enough for inclusion.

  • Naughty Dog is back! While I've barely begun to play through this one, all the usual Naughty Dog mechanical hooks and polish that I've come to love from perhaps America's best developer are already there. And thank god for a great new IP. We didn't have nearly enough of those this year from the big boys.

  • Japan is back and the Wii is still here?

    It took two years but thanks to Operation Rainfall this great game finally made it stateside. Maybe it's just some crazy bias I have from growing up in a different era, but I really miss the Japanese design perspective being as mainstream as it once was. Pandora's Tower is a crazy conceit which probably would have never been created stateside for better or worse. but you know what? Video Game King did a better job of championing this game than I ever could in his review, go read that

  • JRPGs are back!

    Another title I've just begin to play, but it's so just so nice to see the great old game style come back to the consoles in a quality new Ip title not called Tales or Final Fantasy.

  • The 90's are back!

    It's impossible to talk about Gone Home without the question of value unfortunately. While I'm not a proponent of longer is better in games (in fact I'd argue most are too big and full of filler). There does have to be enough to justify my entertainment dollar.

    If I had paid full price for Gone Home I doubt this breezy experience would have made it, but few games have been so believably immerse especially in a non-violent setting. The 90 minutes or so I had with the game, was an enthralling one. In fact my only quibbles with it besides length (3 hours or so is probably about right for a game like this)is that there are two mechanics that break immersion too much. Namely the inventory and map. I'd have preferred if they were to include them at all they'd take a page from a game that immerses those in gameplay like Far Cry2.

    But again no world captured me like this one did this year and that is a feat in itself. I'd love to play games like this in Oculus Rift if I ever get one.