Well, the year is coming to a close, so I do believe it is customary to pick out your highs and lows from the prior year, because it is the only way to be a cool in these modern times. So out of all the games I reviewed this year, it’s time to name my top ten favorite games that I played in 2013, only half of which were released in 2013.
Before I begin, I should make note of the lack of both Bioshock Infinite and The Last of Us. Two titles which I reviewed over the past year, and both of them I liked, hell, I said they were both great. It’s just that I greatly wished they were not games, as the interaction that was required by me felt as if I was raping the creators in their faces with their disembodied feces covered penises. With the combat in The Last of Us something I actively avoided, while I felt it was way too fast and frantic for its own good in Bioshock Infinite. Now, on with the show in order of when I reviewed these titles.
The World Ends With You is a title I can point out glaring flaws, but perhaps due to my own nostalgia for the lovely boy, I feel something of a kinship with him. Enjoyable as all hell combat system, keen story that is well tied together despite making me still want a successor, and an art style that probably shaped my design sensibilities into what they are today. I have enough sense to realize that certain abilities are screwy, and obtaining them is tied to a wackadoo process, but the game is one I regularly look back on with nothing but fondness, which I can only say about a few games.
“What is wrong with Snake Eater: Metal Gear Solid 3?” Some minor things are unexplained, and I wish I knew how the game handled no kill runs. Any gameplay problems? Nope, it plays wonderfully, as the 3D camera is an utter delight, and Camo system is fun as all hell, due to its relative simplicity and nice sense of involvement. “Okay, how about the story?” Favorite tale in one of the best series wide narratives in video games! “…You’re shitting me!” Nope, really do adore next to every aspect about this title, as you are a huntsman who is constantly getting trivia about Russian Tree Frogs from a woman in the sky. 10/10, second favorite game of the year.
When you spend 100 hours on a game like Fire Emblem Awakening, you pretty much need to put it in your best of list, or you’re kinda an idiot. While I did criticize the sheer quantity of relationships that are formed between the massive number of character at your disposal and the inability to unlock any form of New Game Plus, the core of Fire Emblem Awakening is a very refined strategy title with lovely visuals, a good amount of character depth, and some very keen writing for a very large cast.
I have a feeling that The Walking Dead will eventually be viewed as overly simplistic in terms of narrative response to player decisions, but here and now, after earning several awards from critics in 2012, I can’t help but look back at the old girl with a big old smirk. Having reviewed it twice, I feel as if I said all I needed to. It’s a good story with great characters, and a lovely sense of narrative involvement, even if when it resembles the more traditional video game are where the game is at it’s worse. Tied with a lovely art style, I feel content with placing it on a mantel, though that may be due to how I own the first 96 issues of the comic… Which have nothing to do with the game.
To The Moon is a title that could potentially be viewed as a game as much as visual novels are. And not even the Zero Escape kind where there are intricate puzzles, just one where you are told a story that relies on not super extensive artwork and loads of text accompanied to a score reflecting what you wish to express. To the moon walls in that very same camp, and it warrants a place here because it made me get all the best feels through its inverted narrative structure, and for a game to do that is something that ought to be praised.
As one of the few titles I was super excited about from 2013, Saints Row IV is a title that lived up to my expectations immensely. Acting as a very lovely swan song to a series I gleefully dived into, there is a lot to love about it. From the simple joy of flying around a city and collecting hundreds of collectables while blazing through every side objective on the way to a collection of very refined story missions. Tied in with the signature wack-a-doo nature of the franchise being in full force as it reaches its logical conclusion, and I can be nothing but satisfied with the results.
Rayman Legends is a sequel to a title that I would likely list in my all time top ten, so a sequel with two thirds of the levels from the original and a whole lot more is basically something of a dream for me. While the fluidity and careful craftsmanship does seem to not be quite as potent as the first time, in part due to a few questionable gimmicks, the title does manage to still be a route of pure unfiltered joy that is also among the most gorgeous titles I have played in quite some time. And if I were doing the traditional GOTY thing where I only talked about 2013 games, this would be the winner.
My love of Pokemon and by extension Pokemon X is very apparent, but if I want to be objective about the subject, Pokemon is a terribly constructed title with little user feedback and information that can only be obtained through copious amounts of note taking or external sources. Yet, I shoved 240+ hours into this title with plans to get 706 of the little squirts shoved in my file. With an experience that, still littered with many a little thing that I can’t help but grow a bit annoyed at, is an absolute delight. So goddamn you GameFreak and the five hundred men and women who worked on this.
I’ll admit to having been very concerned about the final product of Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds. As what was shown looked to be a very slapdash addition to the franchise that was attempting to do more than it looked to be capable of. Thankfully, I was wrong as the finished product may not be the most refined experience in the franchise history, but is built not on telling a winding story in a large expansive world as much as it is about reinforcing everything I like about those games by creating a nonlinear adventure that is pure unfiltered fun. It is Zelda distilled and chipped away of some elements associated with the series over the years, but when I can’t stop myself from beating a game within two days, you’re doing something very, very right.
So, what is my favorite game out of all the ones I played in 2013? The answer may be surprising, as it is five years old with…
This is the only way I can stall for the unsurprising reveal of:
Saints Row 2 is among my favorite games of all time, and I didn’t even realize that until I went back in for a second playthrough. Despite being a very dirty shotty game in many respects, and being the objectively worst version, my PC experience with Saints Row 2 was just so goddamn enjoyable as I acted as a vacuum for every little bit of content I could get my hands on again. You can be a ungendered obese black person who, after witnessing a straightly done and quality death scene, goes and covers the financial district with poop as a strangely accented woman yells about capitalist swine as you listen to classic funk. After the series has run its course, as far as I’m concerned, this blend of the absurd and seriousness is among the most janky, but also the most enjoyable in regards to all of the games I’ve ever played in my life.
So, yeah, it’s been another good year in terms of games, though there are very few “bad” years nowadays. Regardless, 2014 is looking sweet, and I’m sure to find even more delightful treats. Until then, I’m gonna go back and finish up Final Fantasy VI.