An Alphabetical Top 50 Games of 2013
An Alphabetical Top 50 Games of 2013
December 5, 2013
Games You Should Play
After many delays, the gaming year ends a little earlier in 2013 than in years past. With nearly all of the major releases of the year accounted for except for tomorrow’s Gran Turismo 6, I aim to provide a list comprised of 50 of the best gaming experience the medium of video games has had to offer over the last 360 days. I list the games alphabetically in order to reduce my personal bias to an extent, but all of these games merit more than simply a passing glance. I have hands-on experience with all the games on the list minus one that will be pointed out when it comes up. Many great games did not make my Top 50 this year, as 2013 was a fairly strong and varied year and certainly better than 2012. Here is a video for a more “visual” recap of the year:
1. Antichamber – I feel as though I have talked a lot about Antichamber this year that is probably due to it having come out in January. What make it a “must-play” are the beautiful colors, innovative and fresh gameplay, and the challenge it poses to the player, and most importantly it is absolutely captivating.
2. Assassin’s Creed IV – Pirates. Even though I am not a fan of the blatant theft of property or of sailing old wooden ships, ACIV delivers a great gaming experience full of wonderfully catchy sea shanties and terrible trailing missions.
3. Batman: Arkham Origins – Granted, I have yet to complete this game, it has enough of the trappings to have it make the cut for my Top 50 of 2013. It is similar to the first two Arkham games in the way of combat, so it is a solid action game with some neat Metroidvania-like elements.
4. Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate – The handheld younger brother of the aforementioned title directly above, is a wonderful little game. It’s gorgeous, handles well and offers a great look at what Batman would be if he tried to be Samus. The transition of the combat to the handhelds is what I found to be most impressive.
5. Beyond: Two Souls – Part movie-wannabe, part interactive experience, if Beyond: Two Souls is anything it is at least interesting and unique. The acting performances were convincing and even moving at times, even though the overarching plot might be a little ridiculous. I still enjoyed my time with Beyond, enough to give it a recommendation. It certainly is a game that should be played.
6. Bioshock Infinite – A game with a mind-bending story and decent combat. The atmosphere is where Infinite shines most brightly. The beginning and ending are incredibly memorable and provide some of the best moments of the year and generation.
7. Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons – A short, rather fleeting experience that looks incredible and possesses an emotional hook near the end. I appreciate the game more than I enjoy it. The control and handling of the game is where the game sticks out the most in my mind. Controlling two characters with the two sticks made for some interesting gameplay opportunities, though I think that well remains largely untapped.
8. Call of Duty: Ghosts – Even though I stated that it has the worst campaign in the series, it is still a Call of Duty game. With that comes the promise of a well-oiled first-person shooting experience that has not changed much over time. The game was ‘good enough” and still manages to be exciting despite its age and perceived tiredness.
9. Dead Rising 3 – Open-world zombie slaying madness. The combination weapons take it up a notch and make charging through a street completely full of the undead impressive and satisfying.
10. Dead Space 3 – Isaac Clarke has made the transition from inexperienced and terrified engineer to full-blown action hero in Dead Space 3. Although, this is not the direction I would have liked the series the go, it still makes for an incredibly fun time.
11. Divekick – Like it. Love it. Need it.
12. DmC – Ninja Theory took some chances with a new character design and, in my opinion, improved the gameplay of the series to make it my favorite of the series. It looks good and has killer soundtrack, but the strongest part is the combat. Gameplay is king after all.
13. Dragon’s Crown – A wonderful little scrolling beat-‘em-up, except it isn’t little. A lengthy adventure with 4-player co-op support and six classes that add to replayability, Dragon’s Crown is a standout of 2013.
14. Fire Emblem Awakening – Well, if I could only highlight one game this year…. it would probably be this one. Amazing orchestral soundtrack, three incredible art styles, and some of the most engaging and strategic gameplay around give you Fire Emblem: Awakening. And that is not even mentioning my favorite part: the marriage mechanic that has you pairing all your little soldiers up with often some of the best writing of the year as a result. The full package. A tour de force. A masterpiece. Fire Emblem: Awakening is a game that begs to be played and will not let the player go once one is under its magnificent spell.
15. Game & Wario – Yeah, I know, right? How is this one still around? It was near the bottom of my Top 31 game article from earlier in the year, but it is a game that I have consistently gone back to since its release in June and it never fails to brings a gigantic smile to my face. For the record, if this was my personal Top 50 Ranked List, this would be number fifty.
16. God of War: Ascension – Despite the presence of any narrative justification, the game has some truly spectacular moments that need to be seen. The first hour and the last hour are the best parts and make the whole ride worth taking.
17. Grand Theft Auto V – This is a game I keep changing my mind on. I reminisce over the surprisingly strong story and writing, but then I remember that I generally hate driving games and there are some mindnumbingly boring missions present in the game. Despite the fact that I do not enjoy several of its core gameplay mechanics, Grand Theft Auto V is a game that is impressive and hard to ignore.
18. Killer is Dead – Style and substance. Beauty and brutality. The action in Suda 51’s latest is slow at the start but ramps up as the game progresses, just do not put much stock in the lame “Gigolo Missions.”
19. The Last of Us – Certainly one of the best games of the year, The Last of Us is dark and memorable experience with great scope, a unique combat system, and emotional resonance.
20. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds – A stellar sequel to A Link to the Past, absolutely dripping with creative dungeon design.
21. LEGO City Undercover – An adorable and enthralling trip through what a LEGO Grand Theft Auto game would look like. It crowning achievement however, is that fact that it is consistently funny. The music is also surprisingly fantastic.
22. Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon – A magical adventure that corrects some of the flaws of the original and expands the formula from simply fishing for ghosts to a more traditional adventure game. There are five full mansions of ghosts to clear out in what is the Year of Luigi’s brightest spot.
23. Mario & Luigi: Dream Team – Kind of like Call of Duty, not much has changed in the Mario & Luigi games, but at least they are not released every single year. Though I might have reached my limit with the series in Dream Team it is still mechanically sound and a lengthy RPG.
24. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance – One of the best of the year, Platinum’s high action hack-n’-slash fest is a tremendous joy to play. It has a great story between the thousands of flying pieces of cyborg soldier too.
25. Metro: Last Light – An atmospheric shooter with some great stealth, Metro: Last Light improves on the foundation laid by 2033, and continues the great narrative with some excellent characters.
26. Monaco: What’s Yours is Mine – A stealth, cooperative, collection game that is a blast with four people, Monaco delivers the goods. The soundtrack adjusts to the action on screen and the art direction is a little trippy.
27. Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch – A meaty RPG that is jaw-droppingly beautiful. The animations and art style make up for the strange gameplay and somewhat generic structure of the game.
28. Pandora’s Tower – A quest of taking care of the one you love that is somewhat reminiscent of Ico, but plays more like Zelda and Shadow of the Colossus, Pandora’s Tower could be described as the Wii’s swan song. Pandora’s Tower’s best feature is its amazing boss fights.
29. Papers, Please – Finding the contradictions in passports at the entrance to a fake former communist country at an immigration booth is much more fun that it sounds.
30. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies – Not the strongest entry in the series, but also not the worst, Dual Destinies sure looks great regardless. A game that is primarily about reading a lot of text remains engaging all the way through to the last “Objection!”
31. Pikmin 3 – A personal Top 10 favorite of the year for me, Pikmin 3 has very few flaws. My biggest problem with the game is that there is not enough of it. I finished the game in about 9 hours and desperately wanted more.
32. Pokemon X/Y – The sixth generation of Pokemon takes the mass collecting frenzy into full 3D for the first time in a core series entry. It looks great. It’s Pokemon so you already know if you like it or not.
33. The Puppeteer – An undeniably charming game that puts all of its effort into sticking to the theme that the game is actually a play unfolding before an audience, The Puppeteer is a delightful action platformer.
34. Rayman Legends – One of the best platformers of the year, and likely the prettiest, Rayman Legends is easy on the eyes and ears. It has a much smoother difficulty curve than Rayman Origins, but that does not mean that this is an easy game. It is not afraid to cut you.
35. Remember Me – Remixing memory is one of my most memorable moments of the year. Remember Me might be an average action game with lame Uncharted-like platforming sections, but the art direction, soundtrack, presentation, and puzzly remix sections make it a game that needs to be played.
36. Rune Factory 4 – Rune Factory 4 has a lot going on in it. There is questing in a decent action/adventure style game. There is farming simulation. Most importantly there is generational gameplay that involves choosing the most desirable spouse and then taking over as the offspring.
37. Saints Row IV – I would be lying if I said anything other than Saints Row IV was the game that I had the most fun with this year. It is a constant stream of excellence that spats on the face of every other open world/sandbox game of the last generation.
38. Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Summoner: Soul Hackers – Soul Hackers is not for everyone, but if one enjoys a good JRPG in a unique setting then this is the game for you. A SEGA Saturn game that never made it out of Japan finds new life on the 3DS and has new improvements to aid in accessibility.
39. Shin Megami Tensei IV – There are so many things I could say about SMTIV. I could extol its virtues for hours. Yes, it is sad that it is not as good as SMTIII: Nocturne, but the advancements and improvements made to the SMT formula are nothing short of revolutionary and made it a blast to play through.
40. Skulls of the Shogun – Skulls is one of the best console strategy games out there. The unique circle-based movement versus a more traditional grid made it more memorable. There is also some good writing.
41. Splinter Cell: Blacklist – More of a refinement of Conviction than a reinvention, Blacklist is still a ton of fun. It is harder, which was needed after a breezy Conviction. Though the game kind of wants to be Mass Effect at times, it is still a solid stealth action game.
42. The Stanley Parable – A dissertation on the conflict between player control and developer will in video games, The Stanley Parable might just be the smartest game I have ever played. To say anything else would be saying too much.
43. Star Craft II: Heart of the Swarm – More Star Craft II is never a bad thing. Heart of the Swarm tells a decent story, but does so looking great and playing fantastically.
44. State of Decay – State of Decay is an open world zombie game that focuses on base management and the upgrading of multiple characters at the same time. For someone who likes mechanics heavy games, this was one of the better games of 2013.
45. Super Mario 3D World – Much like A Link Between Worlds, Super Mario 3D World is absolutely brimming with creativity at every turn. Though 4-player multiplayer might not add a whole lot to the experience, it does not detract from it either. We’ll have a lot more to say on this title in our upcoming review.
46. Tales of Xillia – This is a game that grows on the player over time. The game does a great job of spacing out its battle complexities and it feels like the player is learning new things very deep into the game. The art is beautiful, the music is generally fantastic, and the story takes some good twists and turns.
47. Tearaway – Here is the game on the list that I have yet to touch. It looks incredibly impressive and if reviews are to be believed, then it will certainly be worth your time and attention.
48. Tomb Raider – I will continue to say that this is my favorite Uncharted game. The tone sets Tomb Raider apart from the happy-go-lucky Uncharted series. Brutal, more realistic, and having better core gameplay mechanics make it a third-person shooter that I actually enjoyed.
49. The Walking Dead: 400 Days – After last year’s domination by TellTales’s The Walking Dead, they released a nice piece of content that might or might not be giving hints on where the series is heading. If this is the direction they are going to go in, then count me in and consider me pumped!
50. The Wonderful 101 – A challenging, colorful, lively game with a fast paced tone and exciting feel. The Pikmin-esque gameplay with a side of action makes for a great formula; I just cannot play in long doses due to it being quite demanding of the player.
And there you have it, 50 games to check out from 2013. There are more than 50 great games from this year, but this should keep you busy for a while!