Best of 2013

As yet unplayed:

  • Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
  • Divekick
  • Rayman Legends
  • Metro: Last Light
  • State of Decay
  • Peggle 2
  • The Stanley Parable
  • Antichamber
  • Guacamelee
  • Saints Row IV
  • The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
  • Fire Emblem: Awakening
  • Year Walk
  • Kentucky Route Zero

List items

  • I bought a console for this game—my first Nintendo console—and for the most part, I was satisfied with my purchase. Pokemon X/Y isn't quite the modern re-imagining I wanted, but it comes close. It finally breaks from the formula in a meaningful way and introduces some much needed modernisations—XP sharing, interesting Internet functionality, and a new perspective that lead to new art, animations and identities for the Pokemon of this game. However, it still has some of the trappings of a Japanese game for kids, which is to say, it's a very guided experience that spends a little too long getting started. Deep into the game there is still no path but The One True Path; stray off of it and you're gated by obnoxiously imposed restrictions: "The power is out", "You must pay us $5,999,999 to proceed. Don't have it? Oh well." and "You're not cool enough to go this way."

    Personally, I ran into these fun-blocks a little too often. All of the various over-world animations take too long for my liking; positioning your avatar directly facing the item/person/door can be tedious; and I constantly felt like my access to new Pokemon was being limited by the game design. That last point is somewhat ironic, given that the game's feel-good message (which I found charming, despite it's inanity) is that everyone has their own calling. Well, too bad if yours isn't going to the prescribed areas in a set order and beating the gyms.

    Man, that's a lot of complaints for a "best game". I'm gonna bump it down a few spots. The part where you find, catch and train Pokemon is the best it's ever been. I just wish I could focus on that.

  • Especially considering the prior entry into the Call of Juarez series, this game is a remarkable success. The setting is well-realised, the frame narrative leads to some interesting game mechanics, and the upgrade system caters for both customisation and experimentation.

    Then I hit a bug that fried my save, and I never played it again. I'm pretty sure it belongs on this list, but I had real trouble figuring out where.

  • Dead Rising 3 is ... a real bummer. The narrative pay-off is amazing, but is mitigated by the tedious and inconsequential second act. A few of the characters are actually well-written, voiced and fleshed-out, which is definitely a high-point for the series. The zombie carnage is ridiculous, the focus on world exploration is brilliant, and the revamped inventory and combo system streamlines some of the best parts of DR while removing another: namely, experimentation.

    But none of that is the bummer. The horrible stereotypes that make up the Psychopaths are the bummer. Sure, they've always been pretty dumb, but I was never offended by past entries in the Dead Rising franchise. The characters featured in previous games felt like dumb fun, instead of just dumb.

    Still the best reason to get an Xbox One. Just do yourself a favour and skip all of the Psycho cut-scenes.