Shea’s Top 10 Games of 2013

*NOTE: Keep in mind that I don’t play/review games for a living, so there’s no possible way for me to play everything that comes out. As with all of my forthcoming lists, I will only be including games that I played, and only games that I played on the proper console in the proper time period. ENJOY!

GAMES I PLAYED:
-Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs
-Animal Crossing: New Leaf
-Antichamber
-Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
-Bioshock Infinite
-Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
-Call of Juarez: Gunslinger
-Contrast
-Crysis 3
-Dead Space 3
-Deadpool
-DmC: Devil May Cry
-Don’t Starve
-Dragon’s Crown
-Dust 514
-Dynasty Warriors 8
-Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon*
-Fuse
-Gone Home
-Guacamelee!
-Guardians of Middle Earth
-Hotline Miami
-Injustice: Gods Among Us
-Killzone: Shadow Fall
-Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD Remix
-Knack
-Lost Planet 3
-Metro: Last Light
-Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
-Outlast
-Papers, Please
-Payday 2
-Proteus
-Puppeteer
-Race the Sun
-Rain
-Ratchet and Clank: Into the Nexus
-Remember Me
-Resogun
-Ride to Hell: Retribution
-Rogue Legacy
-Runner 2
-Saints Row IV
-SimCity
-Slender: The Arrival
-Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time
-Sound Shapes
-Stealth Inc. – A Clone in the Dark
-The Cave
-The Last of Us
-The Stanley Parable
-The Walking Dead: 400 Days
-Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Blacklist
-Tomb Raider
-Year Walk

*DLC, ineligible

HONORABLE MENTIONS:
-Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
-Resogun
-The Stanley Parable

10. METRO: LAST LIGHT
1-Metro-Last-Light

I never played Metro: 2033, but instead watched a let’s play of it on my brother’s YouTube channel so that I could see the story. The setting seemed super interesting despite the cliched post apocalyptic setup, but the floaty, purposely imprecise shooting mechanics just didn’t seem fun to play. And while your character’s terrible accuracy returned in Last Light, so had the moody setting, beautiful graphics, and terrifying enemies. Even though I didn’t have a personal relationship to the characters going into the game, I was still satisfied and deeply engrossed in the ending. It’s a shame that more people haven’t played this series. Also, there was a topless lap dance scene, so yeah.

+ bullets actually count
– shooting mechanics don’t do anything new or special

9. RATCHET AND CLANK: INTO THE NEXUS
1-Ratchet-and-Clank-Into-the-Nexus

I’m a huge sucker for the Ratchet and Clank series (Crack in Time was my first platinum trophy), so when I heard that Insomniac was releasing a short epilogue to the “R&C: Future” storyline, I was all in. Into the Nexus kept the tried and true over the top weapons and fun dialogue, but added a bit of a creepy horror vibe that made it stand apart from it’s predecessors. I didn’t love the gravity bending Clank sequences, but they were few and far between. After three playthroughs and another platinum, I’d say I got more than my money’s worth with this one.

+ RYNO VII is hilariously overpowered
– could have used more of the Nether enemies

8. KINGDOM HEARTS 1.5 HD REMIX
1-Kingdom-Hearts-1.5

This one is a bit of a cop-out being that it’s just an HD version of a PS2 game, but I love Kingdom Hearts too damn much to not have it on this list. With a few small exceptions, I felt like I was playing the same old game that I fell in love with years ago, and that’s the biggest compliment I can give this game. It recaptured the magic and nostalgia without losing the charm of the original. I never played the PSP or DS games back when they first released, so those stories were new to me, and honestly, I could take or leave the stuff that I saw. But Kingdom Hearts HD proper is more than enough to earn its way onto this list. Now I just have to wait for the inevitable Kingdom Hearts 2 HD Remix, though that game just can’t hold up to the first.

+ Disney and Square Enix is a match made in heaven
– combat doesn’t really hold any challenge unless on the Hard difficulty

7. ASSASSIN’S CREED IV: BLACK FLAG
1-Assassin's-Creed-Black-Flag

This is a bit of a cheat too because I’m only about a third of the way through the game, but I’m having an absolute blast, and if the internet reaction to AC IV is right, things only get better the farther you get into the game. Assassin’s Creed III was completely underwhelming to me, so it’s good that Ubisoft took the best part of that game, the ship combat, and expanded upon that. Playing as a pirate is just too much damn fun, from boarding enemy ships, to looting dozens of treasure chests, to finding hidden islands, to listening to your crew sing old sea shanties. Most mechanics will feel familiar in AC IV, but at least for this one, that’s fine. For the next game, though, some bigger gameplay changes will be needed.

+ perfect example of why we need more pirate video games
– combat feels rote

6. BROTHERS: A TALE OF TWO SONS
1-Brothers-Tale-of-Two-Sons

Oh man, what a beautiful game. It’s rare that a game can tell such a touching story and have such a deep relationship between two characters without any dialogue, but Brothers manages both exceedingly well. The landscapes are beautiful and varied, and the puzzles make you think in many different ways. The dual stick controls take a while to get used to, but controlling two characters at once isn’t something you see in many games, so I’ll give props for the unique idea. I finished the game in two short sessions, but the ending lingered much longer than that.

+ every bench is worth sitting in
– camera takes some micro-managing

5. TOMB RAIDER
1-Tomb-Raider

When Tomb Raider was first announced, I thought it was a completely needless reboot of a deservedly dead franchise. So I was understandably surprised by the final product. The plot went some weird places at the end, but the story was a mostly interesting “come of age” tale of sorts, and Lara is now a character worth rooting for (in addition to ogling at). The shooting and melee combat was solid, and the production values were impressive. There were several over the top sequences that were just plain awesome.

+ hopefully the beginning of a much better franchise
– actual “tomb raiding” takes up a regretfully small amount of the game

4. GUACAMELEE!
1-Guacamelee

I had a blast playing Guacamelee. It hearkened back to the more old school, side scrolling beat ’em ups of my younger years, and offered a great amount of challenge in the later levels. The look and feel of the game was very unique, and it had a great sense of humor in it’s settings and characters (Goat Man was a personal favorite). Learning new super abilities opened up more combat and exploration options in a very smooth learning curve, and the platforming was equally frustrating and rewarding. My favorite part of the game though was the distinct graphical style; no other game on this list had the same flair.

+ enemies are all fun to fight
– end game bosses can be unfairly hard

3. GONE HOME
1-Gone-Home

Gone Home is less of a video game and more of an interactive story, and it’s one that is well worth experiencing. The game is beautiful in a completely understated way, and the little voice acting that there is, is very well done. The 90’s punk rock music that plays really helps to set the mood of the character you’re searching for, and every room opens up a new mystery and adds more depth to the backstory. Put shortly, everyone that owns a PC should play Gone Home.

+ completely worth exploring every inch of the house
– picking up objects to get to the hidden letters underneath can be tedious

2. BIOSHOCK INFINITE
1-Bioshock-Infinite

I won’t rehash my reviews of these top two games, if you’re curious about my in-depth thoughts, you can read the individual posts. But to put it succinctly, the reason Bioshock Infinite isn’t at the top of this list is that it just doesn’t hold up to the original game. The world is still completely unique and interesting, the story still twists and turns in surprising ways, and the combat is still fun (if unrefined), but Infinite just can’t compare the the feeling that I got while playing the original Bioshock. Infinite is still an amazing game, but it can’t stand on it’s own the way that my number one game can.

+ ties back to Bioshock in an awesome way
– relies on audio diaries to tell the most interesting parts of the story

1. THE LAST OF US
1-The-Last-of-Us

After beating The Last of Us, I kind of knew then and there that it would be my number one game of the year. It’s the complete package, beautiful graphics, engrossing world, fantastic acting, riveting story, and satisfying shooting/melee mechanics. But the thing that really elevates it to being one of the best games of the generation is the way the story is told. The Last of Us relies on it’s actors to portray the mood and emotions in a way that few other games have ever attempted, and the risk completely pays off. At times, the range of facial expressions had me completely forgetting that I was playing a video game at all, and I was only reminded when I was dropped into seemingly unsurvivable combat situations against intelligent enemies, both alive and dead. Naughty Dog has gotten criticism in the past for having floaty shooting mechanics in the Uncharted series, but the mechanics completely work in The Last of Us. Joel isn’t a trained killer, after all. He’s just a man that’s trying to survive day to day. Honestly, I could go on for days about the kind of man that Joel is, but this isn’t a character breakdown, so I’ll just say that he’s not a good man. At times, he isn’t even a man worth rooting for and I found myself wishing that I wasn’t playing as him. But that’s part of what made this game so damn good, the characters are “real” people that are trying to survive another day. They’re selfish, but wouldn’t we all be if we were constantly in danger of a brutal death? Ugh, there is just so much to say about this game that I could go on like this for another hour, and that’s why it’s my top game of the year. No other game left me thinking in the way that The Last of Us did, and most of those thoughts were not happy ones.

+ ambiguous, risky, and completely satisfying ending that makes me never want a sequel
– the multiplayer is fine, but it detracts from the overall single player feel of the game

1-The Last of Us Stabbing

Didn’t see your favorite game from 2013 on this list? Let me know how much of an idiot I am in the comments below!

Also, if you like video games (and I would assume you do if you’re here), then feel free to check out my Youtube channel where I upload gaming videos several times a week!

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