GOTY | Number 1 — The Last of Us

How could this have not ended up being my num­ber 1 game of the year? It was frankly a lit­tle unfair. The Last of Us is a game by vet­eran game design Naughty Dog, of Uncharted fame, about a zom­bie apoc­a­lypse fea­tur­ing one of the strongest sto­ries of the year. I recently changed the pic­ture on my credit card to be a pic­ture of the main char­ac­ters for cripes sake. All that aside, I think many peo­ple will even agree with me that this is the best game made in 2013.

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As I men­tioned before, the hall­mark of this game is the incred­i­ble story. Never have I been more moved by the first 20 min­utes of any­thing since I went to see Pixar’s Up in the­aters. Even after that, it was an incred­i­bly hard game to put down and I found myself con­stantly push­ing for­ward to see what came next. I also, on sev­eral occa­sions, exclaimed “Oh Snap!” to an empty room because of some­thing that hap­pened. The game is also eas­ily the best-looking game I’ve played this year, which is a bit embar­rass­ing for the next-fen con­soles that launched later in the year. The design of the world made it easy to get sucked in and the per­for­mance cap­ture of the char­ac­ters and the voice-over was top-notch as well. There’s really very lit­tle to find fault in with this game, so I’ll just declare it my num­ber 1 game on my top 10 list of the year and call it a year. See you in 2014 everyone!

GOTY | Honorable Mention — Gone Home

Some­times it’s hard to find time to play and fin­ish a game. This year, one game came to a close to me just a few short days ago, well after I had locked in my top ten of the year. Had I played it much ear­lier, it would likely have ended up fairly high on my list of best games of the year. Gone Home defies the rules of tra­di­tional games by mak­ing the entire premise of the title being dis­cov­er­ing the story of what’s hap­pened in the house by sim­ply explor­ing it.

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Tak­ing this premise, which can be found as a sec­ondary char­ac­ter­is­tic of many other games, and mak­ing it the pri­mary rea­son for play­ing was a bold move that worked out really well. Through find­ing out the story of every char­ac­ter in the house you grow to care for every­one in it, despite never actu­ally com­ing face to face with any of them. I hope more games take their cues from this indie title that proved that story can in fact be every­thing in a game. I just wanted to give this game hon­or­able men­tion, because it very much deserved to be in my top 10 of the year, but I didn’t quite fin­ish it in time.

GOTY | Number 2 — The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds

Arguably my favorite series of all time, it’s hard to beat a good game in this series. When Nin­tendo first announced they were doing a direct sequel to The Leg­end of Zelda: A Link to the Past, I was beyond excited. The actual prod­uct was bet­ter than what I had even imag­ined in that moment. Tak­ing the best of both old and new and mirac­u­lously tow­ing the line between them, The Leg­end of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds is one of the best games of this series.

A-Link-Between-Worlds-2Remix­ing all of old tunes is a bold move that does not always work out, but they did a great job of it here. The abil­ity to rent and even­tu­ally buy all of the items in the game is a stroke of genius that will hope­fully inspire more broad changes to drive the series for­ward. The level design is inspired and the game is paced in such a way as to keep you play­ing with­out burn­ing you out. In short, this game def­i­nitely deserves the num­ber 2 spot on my top 10 games of the year.

GOTY | Number 3 — Year Walk

I never would have imag­ined in my wildest dreams that an iOS game would end up on my top 10 list. Much less this close to the top, but I have to say that Year Walk really impressed me. First of all for being one of those games that freaked me out enough that I actu­ally had to take breaks occas­sion­ally. It’s a scary game and I feel like I don’t rat­tle ter­ri­bly easily.

yearwalk_3The next part of how this game impressed me comes from how it all comes together. Suf­fice it to say, you’ll need to down­load the free com­pan­ion app to see every­thing this game has to offer and the pay­off is worth it. I was also fas­ci­nated by the use of the var­i­ous myth­i­cal fig­ures and actu­ally enjoyed read­ing about how they all fac­tored into the Year Walk uni­verse. With all of this together, I found a game that truly deserves the num­ber 3 spot on my top 10 list of this year.

GOTY | Number 4 — Bioshock Infinite

Before even play­ing this game, I prob­a­bly could’ve told you it was going to end up on this list. With how I felt about the orig­i­nal Bioshock and the track record of Irra­tional Games, this one was bound to end up some­where on here. What actu­ally hap­pened with Bioshock Infi­nite with an impec­ca­bly real­ized world and inter­est­ing char­ac­ters you really come to care for quite a bit.

bioshock_infinite_4The com­bat ended up not being the thing to write home about this time around, don’t get me wrong it was also quite a bit of fun, but that’s not why I took the trip up to Colum­bia. It was the writ­ing and atmos­phere that drove me for­ward dur­ing the course of this adven­ture and ulti­mately what made me love it so much. Even with some poten­tial plot com­pli­ca­tions, this game deserves its spot as my num­ber 4 game on my top 10 list of this year.

GOTY | Number 5 — Fire Emblem Awakening

To be hon­est, before ear­lier this year, I had never played any of the games in the Fire Emblem series. After try­ing the Game­boy Advance game Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones on my 3DS, I was hooked. Lit­tle did I know that Fire Emblem Awak­en­ing would be even bet­ter and keep me play­ing my 3DS for months ear­lier in the year.

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This game upgrades the visu­als of the series, putting it on par with some of the con­soles releases it’s had in the last few years. The social fea­tures and replaya­bil­ity of this game is what really makes it hard to put down. Being able to bat­tle ran­dom strangers and add them to your team is addic­tive and fun, if a bit intim­i­dat­ing when you run across a real vet­eran of the series. Nin­tendo also con­sis­tently sup­ported the game with both paid and free DLC which kept it at a great value for quite a while. Play this one at your own risk, it will suck you in, which is why it deserves the num­ber 5 spot on my top ten list this year.

GOTY | Number 6 — Pokémon X/Y

One of the series that has stuck to its guns and not made major changes to its visual design for a long time is the Poké­mon series. This year with the release of Poké­mon X/Y, Nin­tendo sur­prised us all and finally released a game with fully 3D bat­tles. If that weren’t enough, there were tons of improve­ments to minus­cule things in the series that got addressed in this release.

PokemonXY-6The result of all these var­i­ous changes are these new games that look to be ready to usher in a whole new era of the fran­chise. Not to men­tion the fact that the game itself is quite fun and does the best job of keep­ing your jour­ney through the new region inter­est­ing through­out your entire adven­ture. Add to that, the new Mega Evo­lu­tions giv­ing new forms to some of our favorite older Poké­mon and you’ve got a game that def­i­nitely deserves the num­ber 6 spot on my top 10 list this year.

GOTY | Number 7 — Pikmin 3

One of the most antic­i­pated releases for the Wii U this year, this game deliv­ered on the promises it made. Strat­egy and explo­ration are the name of the game for Pik­min 3 and the new visu­als and added fea­tures made for improve­ments all around. With some new vari­ety of the tiny crea­tures and a struc­ture that does away with the over­all time-limit of the game, this made for a very fresh-feeling experience.

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New game modes, includ­ing the abil­ity to finally play some mul­ti­player, added even more depth and fun to the series. It was great fun to coor­di­nate plans ahead of tack­ling the col­lec­tion and enemy-battling stages. The com­pet­i­tive mode was also a great deal of fun and had some clever twists to keep the game feel­ing fair. Def­i­nitely a must-own if you have a Wii U and very deserv­ing of its num­ber 7 spot on my top 10 list.

GOTY | Number 8 — Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney — Dual Destinies

You wouldn’t have to do much dig­ging to find out that one of my favorite series for any plat­form is the Ace Attor­ney series. The turn­about sto­ries, well-developed char­ac­ters and fun court­room drama action is one of the best things out there. The lat­est install­ment in the series improves the graph­ics in some mean­ing­ful ways, adds some new game­play ele­ments and some great new characters.

dualdestinies8The new emotion-based game­play was fun and not nearly as frus­trat­ing as the tick-spotting mechanic intro­duced by Apollo Jus­tice. The game makes you really like the new char­ac­ter Athena Cykes pretty early on, which makes the ten­sion in some of the later chap­ters that much more pal­pa­ble. It also intro­duces the abil­ity to save at any point dur­ing the game which makes it so much eas­ier to jump in and out. While not for every­one, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attor­ney — Dual Des­tinies cer­tainly deserves this num­ber 8 spot on my top 10 of the year.

GOTY | Number 9 — Resogun

So far on my PS4, if I had to say there’s been a game I’ve been com­ing back to over and over again, it would have to be Reso­gun. It’s easy to glance at this game and won­der why it even needs the power of the PS4, but when you’re actu­ally sit­ting in front of it and play­ing, there’s no ques­tion. The vox­els upon vox­els and the sheer amount of hap­pen­ings on the screen at any given time is crazy to behold and even more sat­is­fy­ing to try to follow.

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Added sup­port for co-op mul­ti­player really makes this game some­thing spe­cial. I had a ton of fun play­ing through the arcade mode with a friend, chat­ting about what we were doing as we played. It’s one of those games that you can pick up and play really quickly, but is also quite dan­ger­ous as it is easy to just want to play one more round. The pow­er­house exclu­sives for the PS4 are cer­tainly com­ing in 2014, but if you need some­thing to play right this minute, look no fur­ther than the free and amaz­ingly fun, num­ber 9 on my list, Reso­gun.