Alex Phillimore: (alex.phillimore-deleteme[at]-deleteme-direman [dot] com) 2013-12-24 08:30:12
Favourite Games of 2013
It's the end of the year, just about, and that means it's time for an obligatory year-end list in gaming. The following is a list of my personal favourite games of this year. By that, I mean that these are the games that I personally enjoyed playing most and the ones I felt had the greatest impact and significance. If a critically-acclaimed game doesn't appear on here, that doesn't mean that I didn't rate it highly or that I think it's poor - it just means that for whatever reason it isn't a game that I enjoyed enough to stick on this list. Or there's always a chance that I didn't get around to playing it, obviously.
My Favourite Games of 2013, in (roughly) chronological order:
Fire Emblem: Awakening (3DS): I haven't enjoyed a Fire Emblem game this much for a long, long time. With Fire Emblem 7 on the GBA still serving as one of my most-played titles ever, I was disappointed with the console iterations of the franchise. With the DS games being mere remakes of older titles, I thought the series was dying. Then Awakening came along and proved that the series still has plenty of life left in it. It wasn't the best Fire Emblem game, but it did a lot of things right - including DLC from Nintendo and a never-ending stream of extra things to do.
Read about why I enjoyed Fire Emblem: Awakening here.
Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch (PS3): One of the better RPGs on the Playstation 3, Ni No Kuni is a huge game with one of the best world maps I've experienced in the genre. While the story is somewhat infantile, it has a great sense of narrative structure, which is no doubt helped by the collaboration Level-5 had with animation studio Studio Ghibli on the game. With an adept combat system and a huge variety of things to do, Ni No Kuni is an ambitious and beautiful game (pictured below).
Read about why I enjoyed Ni No Kuni here.
Hotline Miami (PS3): While Hotline Miami technically came out in 2012, I found the control interface for the game an annoyance, and I struggled to get on with the game until it released on Playstation 3 in 2013. On Sony's system, the game works wonderfully for my chubby hands - with a gamepad I blasted my way through the levels with great skill. Hotline Miami reminds me of why I fell in love with video games in the 90s, and is a perfect example of how indie games can be such incredibly good fun that they put some AAA games to shame.
Read about why I enjoyed Hotline Miami here.
Animal Crossing: New Leaf (3DS): When it came out in June this game dominated internet communities, and with good reason - it's the best and most connected game in the series. Given how Animal Crossing has always made efforts to bring players together, this 3DS outing is the first time the concept has been fully-realised. While people don't play it as much now as they did in the middle of the year, it was, and still is, responsible for a heck of a lot of 3DS systems flying off of the shelves, and during my month-and-a-half playing it at a daily rate, I found myself addicted to the simple but rewarding premise. That, and Fauna is the most adorable little deer ever.
The Last of Us (PS3): While I do think The Last of Us is overrated, it's definitely a good game - one that rewards careful planning and caution in its creepy shooting sections. I had a good time playing The Last of Us, and I do look forward to what Naughty Dog may do with the license in the future. In a world dominated by zombie games, this is definitely one of the most accomplished; and while I view its story and characters as being painfully overrated, I do think that the core mechanics and the AI (at least of the infected) did good things for the medium that will be expanded upon in subsequent titles.
Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons (PS3): This came out on a few systems, but I personally played it on the Playstation 3. Brothers is an interesting Nordic adventure with an original concept that focuses on the importance of family and communication. During its short run-time, there are enough ideas on display to fire the fuel of several games, and the whimsical package is bolstered by a lovely soundtrack and beautiful fairy-tale visuals. I'm glad this game is getting a lot of praise across the internet - it deserves it (pictured below).
Read about why I enjoyed Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons here.
Rain (PS3): This one polarized critical opinion and with good reason - it's certainly not the best game to come out this year. However, it may be one of the most memorable - its premise alone, guiding a spirit boy through a dangerous world and uniting him with a spirit girl, is enough to get excited about, and throughout the game I experienced a lot of emotions when it came to both characters. It's an incredibly artistic game with a minimalist atmosphere - certainly not something that everyone will enjoy. But for those who appreciate the dark themes and the relentless nature of never being safe, Rain is a beautiful little journey while it lasts.
Read about why I enjoyed Rain here.
Pokemon X and Y (3DS) : I was really starting to lose interest in Pokemon before X and Y hit the shelves in October. I think the last one I truly enjoyed was probably Generation 3, and that was mainly because I thought Hoenn was a really cool region to explore. I pretty much hated Generation 5, though, so I had low expectations when going into 6. However, a great collection of new Pokemon, the most radical graphical uplift - particularly in battles - in the history of the series and some other welcome additions (Pokemon Amie) made this a fantastic video game and, in my mind, the second best Pokemon Generation (after Generation 2) so far. This bodes well for the future of the series.
Read about why I enjoyed Pokemon X and Y here.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (3DS) : The latest Zelda game is excellent - it has some of the best puzzles I've seen from the series and constantly comes up with new ways to surprise the player. The boss fights and dungeons are the best a handheld Zelda has ever accomplished and Hyrule is more fun to explore than ever before thanks to Link's nifty hieroglyphic wall-merging ability. After the fairly awful Phantom Hourglass and Spirit Tracks, this reaffirms everything that can be great about a handheld Zelda experience. As anyone who knows me well will attest to, I adore Capcom's Zelda games (Oracles; Minish Cap) and A Link Between Worlds reminds me of them for all of the right reasons (pictured below).
The Walking Dead: Season 2, Episode 1 - All That Remains (PS3) : Typing out that title is a bitch, but Clementine, the protagonist of Season 2 of Telltale's opus, sure isn't - she's every bit as loveable here as she was in the first season. And that's a problem (albeit it a fascinating one to explore), because now that we're controlling poor Clem we have to guide her through some pretty awful scenarios, and you can't help but feel sorry for the poor girl. While this first episode isn't as good as any individual episode from the first season - at least in my opinion - it kicks off the newest season reasonably well and makes me excited for what may come next. I do think that Clementine is the best child character I have ever seen portrayed in a video game, and I think Telltale has taken an amazing risk having a young main character. I wouldn't be surprised if the subsequent episodes of this season make my 2014 end-of list as well.
Super Mario 3D World (Wii U): The game that solidifies the Wii U as an impressive system in its own right, 3D World is gorgeous, runs in beautiful HD with a slick and sleek presentation, and shows how inventive Nintendo can be with their best games. In a gaming landscape seemingly dominated by petty arguments over graphical quality and hardware power, 3D World shows that the Wii U is a good gaming system with some great technology packed into it. It signifies a positive direction for the system to go in in 2014 - after one year on the market, that it has its first must-own is no bad thing.
2013 games I wish I could have played but didn't get a chance to:
- Dragon's Crown (PS3)
- Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time (PS3)
- Ms. Splosion Man (Xbox 360)
- Guacamelee! (PS3)
- Deadly Premonition: Director's Cut (PS3)
- State of Decay (Xbox 360)
- The Stanley Parable (PC)
- Gone Home (PC)
- Total War: Rome II (PC)
- Broken Sword: The Serpent's Curse (PC)
- LEGO Marvel Super Heroes (PS3)