Zach’s Top 10 Games of 2013
10. Gone Home
Gone Home is an amazing game that tells a story that involves your character’s family. Your character never talks with anyone throughout the game and it is up to you to snoop around to find out what exactly everyone has been up to. It has really good lighting and sound design throughout the experience. The story is mainly told through your sister’s journal and it is extended by the clues you gather by searching the house. While some players will be able to figure out the ending of the story before finishing, I found that the game had a rich dramatic story that was beautifully voice acted. Gone Home definitely does not have the action or puzzles that are in current games, but it makes up for it with a unique interactive story that will leave you pleased with the results.
9. Dragon’s Crown
One of the games that kept under a lot of player’s radar this year was Dragon’s Crown. This game had an enchanting personality that kept me going back for more. With some new game mechanics like the “loot system” I found myself strangely addicted to this 2D brawler. The game also featured some of my favorite artwork and music of 2013. Another reason that I enjoyed Dragon’s Crown so much was the unique bosses that were at the end of each level. No boss acted the same and challenged the player to figure out their different weaknesses. Whether I was soloing a dungeon or playing with friends, I always enjoyed my time with this game and expect myself to be playing it a few more times next year.
8. Tomb Raider
I have always loved the Uncharted games and regard them as my favorite franchise to date. So when I heard that there was going to be a new Tomb Raider that looked similar to my beloved franchise I was already on the bandwagon. I have never fully enjoyed a Tomb Raider game in my past and when I bought this game I was hesitant to enjoy it. After the first hour of game play it was safe to say this was a not just another game with a fresh coat of paint on it. Tomb Raider is a fresh new game with realistic characters and a harsh new environment. With fluid cover mechanics and upgradeable inventory system, this game never becomes stale to play. As you witness gruesome death cut scenes and travel through various weather conditions, the persona that was created in this game is a dark and fearful one. Even though the story was average and besides Lara, none of the characters were memorable, Tomb Raider stands out as one of my favorite games of 2013.
This year the PS Vita did not have many games to add to its library, but one of them did steal my heart and turned it into a living breathing scrap book. There are not a lot of problems in Tearaway. Besides Tearaway’s short story and unneeded combat the game could be considered a perfect game. The game has a beautiful world that had me captivated for the whole 4 hours of gameplay. With its use of colors and intuitive gameplay Tearaway can bring joy to all players that are willing to try it. The puzzles and gameplay do have a childish approach to them but once you view Tearaway from a few steps back you will find a really enjoyable lighthearted game. A big part of Tearaway that I fully enjoyed was that you were actually a character in the game that helped out the protagonist. Whether it was creating something new for the environments or interacting with the world around you the game kept you engaged and part of the action.
Many horror games have strayed from the path of being what they are supposed to be… SCARY! Many current games involve weapons to receive greater audience attraction. This addition of weaponry, in my opinion, takes away from the fear and gives the player a security blanket to fall back on. In Outlast your character has only a camera to defend him. With having just a camera, the character will have to actually think about how to get out of a predicament and not just shoot away his fear. Outlast has one of the best environments that I have seen in a horror game. From dark water filled sewers to a creepy abandoned psychiatric ward, this game will give you scares where you least expect them. Outlast does produce the occasional jump scare to keep your heart from slowing down, but for most of the time you will be playing a deadly game of cat and mouse with the inmates. Throughout the story you will have no way to protect yourself except by running and hiding in different areas in your environment. You will have beds to crawl under, lockers to hide in or dark corners to pray that the enemies will not find you. This game is so simple that it is brilliant. Not focusing on any new types of game mechanics, Outlast just brings an intense environment and a scary hide and seek style of gameplay. Like many other horror games the story in Outlast is just ok and lets you know why you are there but can be ignored. Outlast was one of the most enjoyable and scary games I have played in 2013.
5. Grand Theft Auto V
I know in the past I have stated that I did not care for Grand Theft Auto V, but when I was making my list I was surprised to see it in the number 5 spot. As I look back on GTAV I find myself more and more impressed with the game as a whole. If you look closely, you will still find some bits and pieces of game mechanics dusted off and reused but as a whole this game brings more to the table than a lot of other games in the franchise. GTA V not only had one main protagonist but had three for the player to control. This was a game changer for me because if I did not enjoy one character’s story I could switch out of that character and play as someone else. Another factor that game brought in was multiple path missions. You can take on missions differently if you switch to other characters involved in the mission giving you some tactics and diversity in a fight. GTA V also had some of the best writing this year not just because of the humor, but of the scale of writing. Each mission had multiple scripts depending on who you were or how you were performing the mission. These multiple scripts kept me entertained even if I died because they were different after each attempt. With an impressive environment to play in and a prodigious amount of side quests to tack on to the other great features included in this game, I can easily welcome GTA V in my top 5 games of the year.
4. Bioshock Infinite
Throughout this year I had a love hate relationship with Bioshock Infinite. This game does many things great, but a couple of instances that become its Achilles heel. First things first, the story often had holes in it but I rather enjoyed the story as a whole. The use of the different parallel universes was a great idea and created some memorable moments for 2013. The main area where I thought Bioshock Infinite did the best was with its environments. Throughout the whole campaign I would slowly walk through every area looking at posters and listening to all the citizens that had something to say. This was my favorite part of the game and most of it was ruined by a ton of shooting galleries. Most of the latter half of the game had you running and gunning through the environments making some really cool scenes blur by. The shooting mechanics and all of the super powers were really fun to use and play with, but as I progressed through the campaign I just wanted to immerse myself once again in the flying city. The ending to Bioshock Infinite was one my favorites for 2013, because by the end of the story your mind has been blown and you want to go back to collect all of the pieces to see if that really just happened. With a great environment and a crazy story Bioshock Infinite flew in my number 4 spot.
3. Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
I will admit that I did not expect much going into Assassins Creed IV: Black Flag. After the less than average ACIII from last year, I believed Ubisoft was just going throw another half-baked Assassins Creed game to the players. After starting an hour of Black Flag I was relieved and refreshed on the path the series was taking. In my opinion Black Flag is a better game in all areas compared to all other Assassin’s Creeds. The game has opened up and has turned into an open world game. This world is living and breathing with animals in the water and on land waiting to kill you. The biggest achievement that this game has under its belt is the feeling of connectivity. As I played the game I felt encouraged to perform and collect everything because it helped out many areas of gameplay. For a long time I have played games with side quests that just gave you a check mark or a percent added to your total save but in Black Flag you will get that and much more. The game’s glitches throughout the story have been greatly reduced from ACIII. I found a few issues, but nothing that stopped me from enjoying the game. This game is so much fun that I am actually trying to complete the whole game which I have never done after playing an Assassin’s Creed story. With this amazing world and enjoyment around every island, it was hard not to put this game in first place for the year.
2. Fire Emblem: Awakening
Fire Emblem: Awakening was this first game I have played in this series so I had no idea what I was getting into. After the first cut scene and first battle I found myself enjoying this game immensely. With every match I was encouraged to use pairings of characters to make a powerful team to use against my enemies. This option alone of pairing your allies left my head spinning with so many options. If that was not enough, Awakening also brought in future relationship’s offspring. This let the player have many more options on characters that could join the team. The strongest area that Fire Emblem possessed is its writing. Every character had writing for different relationships which brought a lot of heart and personality to the game. Even the side characters that you acquire have full scripts that talk to each other. Another item that had me enjoying this game for hours is the class system. Every character can change their class with the use of certain items. This chance to choose classes gives the player an incredible diversity for his or her group. With all of the choices, solid gameplay and stellar writing, Fire Emblem climbed the ranks and became one of my favorite games in 2013.
1. The Last of Us
I am a huge fan of Naughty Dog, so when I heard they were making another game I was super excited about it and again they do not let me down. The Last of Us was a visceral experience that had me on an emotional rollercoaster from start to finish. This game was beautifully made, well thought out and was enjoyable for every second. The game had an amazing voice cast with a great writing staff to back them up. The story itself is a little predictable, but takes some twists and turns that I really enjoyed. I am so used to zombies and a huge brown and grey wasteland setting that I was amazed to see the setting s in The Last of Us. With plants overgrown and forests taking over cities the game was littered with detail and different colors than I was expecting. The game play is very similar to the Uncharted series so I felt right at home. The main difference to this game is that you are more “human”. No longer is your character making witty comments or laughing through piles of dead men. Instead the kills feel darker and your ammo is limited. This limited ammo causes the player to think before they act, and I thought it made me think differently before engaging a room full of enemies. There is not much to complain about this game except usually side characters are never noticed by enemies. This was a plus for me, because I really did not want to play an escort game. With such a great story, fun gameplay and a mix of horror and stealth elements it is easy to say that Naughty Dog has created another masterpiece.