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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Remixing 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.
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.
The 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.
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.
The 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.
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.
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.
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.
The 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.
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.
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.
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.
The 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.
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.
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.