Well, it’s that time of the year ladies and gentlemen. It’s the time of year where everyone lists their own “Game of the Year” awards or top ten games, or just their favorite game of the year. I personally like to take the GiantBomb route and list my own personal top ten games of 2013.
2013 was an interesting year for gaming. With the exception of one or two AAA games, many of this year’s most talked about games were smaller titles. How crazy is that? For me though it was year filled of great games with fantastic stories and amazing gameplay. Some of these games actually affected me emotionally and I can’t help but hope that games continue to do so. As someone who tends to appreciate story over gameplay I feel like a lot of the games were designed with me in mind.
That said there are a few games on this list that are about gameplay alone. Those few that I chose had truly unique gameplay and did something different than the norm. I hope we get more games that do crazy and unique things.
Alright without further ado, here is my list!
10. Tomb Raider
I only played Tomb Raider recently. Over the course of three days I managed to get through the main story and some of the side stuff. The game is good, but I found myself questioning why everyone was raving about it. It’s a fun game. The combat feels great and Lara as a character is great. Her transformation into ruthless killer is pretty fun to watch. Aside from that though the story is pretty lame and I felt the game went on a tad too long. Raiding the tombs itself was pretty fun, I just wish there more of them to go through. Tomb Raider is one of those games that I imagine being amazing once a sequel comes out and all the little issues are able to be fixed.
9. The Stanley Parable
Is the Stanley Parable a game? Are you a game? What is a game? The Stanley Parable is simply a series of questions that the Narrator berates you with over the course of several hours (days?) I don’t think I could even quantify if the game is long or short. There are so many endings in the game that it’s impossible to see them all without a guide. That said, each is unique and funny in its own way. It’s definitely a game worth playing just to see someone experiment with our expectations.
Gunpoint was made by one guy. ONE GUY. It amazes me that that can happen. It makes me jealous as well. But I digress. Gunpoint is a game with great mechanics and an even better sense of humor. The story is simple, but for a game like Gunpoint that’s all you need. Here is one of the few cases where I preferred the gameplay over the story. Figuring out the correct order of the wiretaps and how to properly take down everyone in the building without getting shot was awesome. It was kind of like a 2D Splinter Cell, in a way.
7. The Swapper
I heard about The Swapper through Giantbomb’s Patrick Klepek. He talked about the crazy ascetic, how everything looked like it was made out of everyday objects. I bought it immediately after. The Swapper has a story that’s mostly discovered through terminal readings and the occasional forced “cutscene”. That said it does ask some hard questions and the ending is pretty nuts.
But it’s not all about the story in The Swapper. The gameplay is fantastic. The game consists of creating and destroying clones of yourself. You can also transfer your “consciousness” to one of the clones. The kicker is that when you move, all the other clones move in the same direction as well. It winds up creating a bunch of interesting puzzles. In the style of Portal, very few are really hard, but the rest make you feel satisfied when you’ve completed them.
6. Pokemon X
I am a huge Pokémon fan. Like, massive. I wish I could support my fandom as much as I wanted to, but money doesn’t grow on trees (yet, I’m sure there are scientists working on that now). The one exception though, are the Pokémon games. I took a small break from the series when it hit DS, mostly because I couldn’t afford a DS. By the time I could, the 3DS was out and all I wanted from Nintendo was a 3DS native Pokémon.
And that’s what I got when Nintendo announced Pokémon X/Y. The game is amazing. It’s a little short for my liking, but aside from that it’s everything I could want out of a Pokémon game. The new features make it even better. The online trading made it super easy for me to help friends evolve their Pokémon, and to be able to battle someone without the need of a link cable is revolutionary. I honestly can’t wait to play the next Pokémon.
5. Team Fortress 2
Why is TF2 on this list? Didn’t this come out in 2007? Yes, dear reader, you are correct. But since its release in 2007, Team Fortress 2 has become a completely different game. It’s one of the few games that has continue to change and grow in a way that feels natural to the core of the game. It’s a game I keep going back to after all these years. My friends and I love to get together, hit a server, and play for hours. Some of the best player made stories come from TF 2 matches, clutch victories, or twenty minute long defenses. It’s completely worth getting into if you haven’t already. It’s free!
4. DOTA 2
Another Valve game? Why not! I got into the DOTA 2 beta last year and played very little of it then. I preferred League of Legends simply because that’s what I was used to and I had some friends who played. This year I found a bunch of friends who play DOTA 2 and since then I’ve been playing nonstop. It’s extremely addicting.
If you wanna talk about player made stories, DOTA 2 is full of them. Just a few days ago I had one of the best DOTA 2 matches of my life. I was playing with a friend of mine and we were down one of our players, and about 15 kills (maybe more?) and somehow we managed to win the game. All it took was one team fight to go our way and we were able to take it. It’s matches like that that make all the losses worth it. It’s tough to think of another game like that.
3. Bioshock Infinite
For awhile Bioshock Infinite was my most anticipated game of the year. I couldn’t have been more excited for it. While the combat was somewhat lacking, the story blew me away. I loved learning everything about the weird world of Columbia and the dimension shifting world that Infinite sat in. The story went to even crazier areas than I expected and the ending was so bizarre that I had to replay it twice. The discussions it generated with friends made the game even more interesting after diving deep into mythology. I can’t wait to see what Irrational comes up with next.
2. Gone Home
Gone Home was a game that nearly snuck by me. I heard about it on twitter and since it was on sale I figured, why not? For the next two hours I played through one of the most interesting games I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing. Gone Home is a game that manages deftly combine gameplay and its story. It’s hard to talk about without spoiling stuff, which I don’t want to do with Gone Home. So all I can say is that you should go play Gone Home. It manages to tackles issues that most games wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole. That alone is a reason to play it.
1. The Last of Us
Here we are, the end of the list. I had a hard time choosing between Gone Home and The Last of Us when it came to the number one spot. In the end I think the reason I chose The Last of Us had to do with its characters and their performance. They felt incredibly real and I connected to them. I wanted them to succeed. I felt sad when I thought Joel had died, or later in the game when Ellie’s death was a very real possibility. We had been through so much that it felt like a real journey. That’s something that very few games can pull off. Then there was the ending. It was the perfect way to end such a story and something that easily makes it one of the more unique takes on that genre.
While I never touched the multiplayer, I never felt the need to. The singleplayer was a complete enough experience for me. I honestly and actively hope that this game doesn’t get a sequel. It’s perfect as it is. It’s a special one-off in the history of gaming and everyone should experience it.