Games of 2013

I beat 19 games this year, which is more than any other year since I started keeping track in 2006. What’s most interesting to me is that there’s only one that I wouldn’t consider indie (The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds). I’m really close to beating Dishonored, but I didn’t get around to finishing it before the year ended. I think it’s mostly because I don’t actually spend a tremendous amount of time gaming these days, so I really like shorter games that I can finish in a couple of play sessions rather than giant RPGs or something similar. I also tend to like new games (not sequels) because I value unique gameplay over almost everything else. I love seeing new game ideas done well or a tweak on something old to make it feel fresh. Sequels rarely deliver that, so I tend not to play them as much.

Now for the awards!

Worst Game of the Year: Starseed Pilgrim

I picked up this game because Jonathan Blow said it was one of the best he’d played in a while, and I generally value his gameplay opinions. Starseed Pilgrim is one of those “I can’t tell you anything about the game because it’ll ruin it” type games. It’s also an exploration game. Unfortunately, it’s incredibly painful to play, and not in a Dark Souls type of way. It’s just more frustrating than enjoyable, and even though I found myself getting decently far, I wasn’t really having fun. I was incredibly disappointed with this game, especially because of it’s high praise from Blow.

Most Enjoyable Game That Made Me Work: Papers, Please

Remember when I said I enjoyed new gameplay ideas done well? This is the shining example of that. I had fun doing work, and it was all because of the environment that existed in the game. Am I going to be arrested for letting someone through a checkpoint when I shouldn’t? Who is the quirky guy that keeps giving me obviously fraudulent passports? What is the “right” thing to do? I know a bunch of people didn’t like this game because it felt like work, but I think that was an absolutely necessary component of the game in order to get you to feel the pain of the decisions you had to make. This game is going to be one in which people will point at it many years down the line as something truly unique and charming.

Game I Love Watching More Than Playing: DOTA 2

I really only played maybe 10 matches of DOTA 2 last year, but the number of hours in which I watched people play it has to be over 1000. I love incredibly complex games that also require teamwork and a ton of skills, so DOTA fits the bill. What I don’t like is how my behavior changes when I play those styles of games. I get angry at people and frustrated to the point where it ruins my day. Watching people play, however, rarely does that. Putting The International’s finals on my big screen TV and watching them was one of the highlights of my year. That was such an amazing tournament to watch. Competitive gaming has come a long way. The game itself is a testament to how Valve can still put out quality games. Everything about it is top notch from how well it’s balanced to how it looks and how well supported the community is. Having played DOTA for over 8 years now, I have to say I’m still not tired of it. Such good stuff.

My favorite game of all time is A Link To The Past, so I pretty much had to pick up A Link Between Worlds. This is the first game I’ve played for more than five minutes on my 3DS, and while I enjoy the system, I don’t think it’s something I’d have bought for myself. The game itself is quite fun, but I was slightly annoyed that the layout of the world in ALBW is incredibly similar to ALTTP. That being said, I enjoyed myself immensely and recommend this game if you like 2D Zelda games.

Best Multiplayer Game: Towerfall

The OUYA console is a piece of shit, but my coworker picked one and brought it to work to play Towerfall. If you ignore the system it’s played on (by getting ps3/xbox controllers), this game is an amazing multiplayer game. The depth to a simple mechanic of having limited arrows, one hit kills, and powerups is quite amazing. Towerfall reminds me a bit of Super Smash Bros. in the best possible ways. I can’t count how many times we had people pick up the game for the first time and fall instantly in love. I’m excited to see that it’s coming to the PS4/PC in 2014 as more people need to experience this game.

Favorite Game of the Year: Thomas Was Alone

The premise of you being a bunch of blocks with different abilities seems weak at first, but then when you actually play the game, you realize how well executed it is. The game is gorgeous, and that’s a really strange thing to say considering it’s mostly just blocks and simple levels. The way the story is told, and the puzzle mechanics that are created from these simple blocks are really well done. In the same way that I have Bastion’s narrator’s voice forever stuck in my head, I have Thomas Was Alone’s as well. The game was a delight to play the entire way through; I wish I could do it again anew. I highly, highly recommend Thomas Was Alone.

Games I beat this year:

Android

Nintendo 3DS

PC

Playstation 3

XBox 360

Games I played but didn’t beat (or couldn’t “beat”):

Android

OUYA

PC

XBox 360