My Top Ten Games of 2013

Pre-List Notes

Finally the moment you've all been waiting for - my Top Ten Games of 2013! Of course, you've already read my Top Ten PC Games of 2013, but I still wanted to write my overall list. I typically wait till about mid January to crank out this list, giving me at least a little time to dive into any new holiday acquisitions. What makes my lists unique are my comparisons to last year's Most Anticipated Games of the year, giving me a chance to praise or ridicule my past self based on my bold predictions for what would be my favorite games. Let's take a look at last year's list:


Most Anticipated 2013 (Written on Jan 22, 2013)

  1. Kickstarter Games!

  2. SimCity

  3. Grand Theft Auto V

  4. Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm

  5. South Park: The Stick of Truth

  6. The Cave

  7. Aliens: Colonial Marines

  8. Bioshock Infinite

  9. Watch Dogs

  10. Lego Marvel Super Heroes


SimCity ranking so high should elicit an instant groan and shaking of the head, and I've mentioned in previous posts how disappointed I was not just in the very publicized launch disaster but in the overall direction and vision of the game. Aliens being on here should also crack a few smiles, as this list was written before that train-wreck of a game was unleashed upon the world. Reviews ultimately steered me away, and it's the only game on that list that was released in 2013 that I didn't play. Both Watch Dogs and South Park were pushed back into 2014, and we'll see if it makes this year's much more crowded Most Anticipated list.

Putting Kickstarter games on the top was a bit of a cheat, but I was super excited over the explosion of multimillion dollar success stories in 2012. Unfortunately, barely any of them got fully released in 2013, although I'm currently beta testing several. 2014 should see a ton of releases for these games and will probably take over my next Most Anticipated list.

That leaves us with five games: Grand Theft Auto V, Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm, The Cave, BioShock Infinite, and Lego Marvel Super Heroes. I played them all in 2013, though they weren't all day one purchases. Read on to see if they made my Games of the Year list.


Top Ten Games of 2013



10) The Cave (XBLA)

A charming and humorous adventure was certainly to be expected from Double Fine and Ron Gilbert, but I also thoroughly enjoyed the puzzle designs, utilizing three playable characters to maximum effectiveness. Sure it relies on replaying some of the same puzzles in order to see all of the characters' stories but the writing is well worth it, and the overall length is long enough for a single playthrough and quick enough for multiple replays.



9) The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (3DS)

Count me as one of those gamers that never played a Link to the Past. I know, I know, we all have our embarrassing gaps amongst gaming's greatest titles. But now I have the distinct advantage of playing what many have decreed as the greatest Zelda game ever - an update to the original classic that instills new gameplay mechanics and takes full advantage of the 3DS hardware. It looks really, really good, and plays even better.



8) BioShock Infinite (PC)

I enjoy the BioShock series but I'm not crazy about it, and I typically wait til a sale to jump in. Thankfully Infinite was already down to $10 by Black Friday! While the flying city of Columbia offered some nifty new combat scenarios, and the sky rail mechanics were especially spiffy, much of the story telling and general shooting felt very Been There, Done That. Still, even an okay BioShock game is definitely enough to warrant a place on this list.



7) Lego Marvel Super Heroes (Xbox 360)

My wife and I really like playing through the Lego games cooperatively, but I was always held back by a general lack of interest in the source material. Even the Star Wars games didn't thrill me much. With Lego Marvel, however, I could really jump in with both feet and fully absorb the awesome over-the-top story full of villains, heroes, and every Marvel character you could imagine. The real treat was the giant open world Manhatten that kept me flying around the city unlocking new characters, discovering secrets, and completing side missions.



6) Shadowrun Returns (PC)

The crazy cyberpunk-meets-fantasy world of Shadowrun deserves at least one great video game a year, but since I'm not in charge of the world yet, at least we've been blessed with this decidedly old school cRPG via Kickstarter. Shadowrun Returns requires lots of reading, turn-based combat, and a tool set to create your own adventures. Basically, it's just wonderful.

Read my way too long but thorough review.



5) Fire Emblem: Awakening (3DS)

Fire Emblem Awakening was the first game that nearly made me break down and buy a 3DS. I love turn based strategy-RPGs and was agonizing over missing this one. When I did finally get my 3DS, Fire Emblem was #2 on my wishlist after Pokémon. I admit I'm only about 10 hours in right now but so far it's everything I want in a new Fire Emblem game, and the new Casual mode means I don't have to restart a whole battle when a character dies, but instead treat every battle like the intricate chess match I so sorely love.


4) Rogue Legacy (PC)

I'm a recent convert to the action-platforming genre unfortunately called "Rogue-like." Last year I had Spelunky and FTL on my Top Ten List, and Rogue Legacy can proudly claim a spot right alongside them. What sets it apart (aside from perfect level design and gradual difficulty) is the progress you can make even after all those repeated death attempts, and that each new character will have its own set of crazy traits and class skills. The perfect title for both Rogue-like veterans and newcomers.


3) Pokémon Y (3DS)

Ahh Pokémon. I've loved you off and on for the last 15 years but 2013 was really something special. After taking a few years off I snatched up Pokémon Black for the DS and sunk over 100hrs like it was nothing in the Spring. In the Fall, my frenzy for X and Y had finally boiled over, and I bought that awesome Pokémon X/Y 3DS XL. For two months the only 3DS game I had was Pokémon Y, and it's all I needed. Seeing the familiar creatures in a new 3D world was just too cool, and new battle mechanics like Mega Evolution really changed things up while still keeping it in familiar territory. It's a shame the post-game is lacking, but only because I want to squeeze every last drop from the best Pokémon title yet.



2) State of Decay (XLBA & PC)

I loved State of Decay so much I ended up playing it on both XBLA and PC when it released on both platforms. The zombie apocalypse simulator took my dream of a GTA-style action game with zombies and crafted something unique and awesome with randomized missions and characters, perma-death, a huge world to explore, and tons of vehicles, weapons, and items. Just when I grew tired of replaying the story mode, along came the first DLC that had a built-in New Game Plus that I completely ate up. My biggest surprise of the year, and I can't wait to see what's next for Undead Labs.



1) Grand Theft Auto V (Xbox 360)

With all the problems and disappointments GTA Online has had recently, it feels weird revisiting my thoughts of the game. I really loved my time with the single player portion of GTA V; it's the first game in the series that I've completed 100%, and I've played them all. The new concept of three protagonists was a great addition, and allowed for every mission to cut down on the mundane parts and experience the action from multiple angles. While the story only briefly flirted with interesting themes, it's the characters and individual moments that truly stand out. All of that plus GTA Online that I did play for a solid six weeks straight (and had a ton of fun playing with friends) has to net GTA V the coveted #1 spot on my list.



Honorable Mentions: Injustice: Gods Among Us, Starcraft II: Heart of the Swarm, Reus, Gone Home


And now for some fun extra awards!


Most Disappointing: SimCity

Biggest Surprise: State of Decay

Best Original Music: Rogue Legacy

Best Soundtrack: GTA V

Best Art Design: BioShock Infinite

Best World Building/Atmosphere: GTA V

Best Writing: Shadowrun Returns

Best Cooperative Game: Lego Marvel Super Heroes

Best Game Nobody Else Played: Reus

Favorite New Game Mechanic: Rogue Legacy Traits

Most Innovative: Rogue Legacy

Best New Character: Trevor Philips

Favorite Moment: See this list


Wrap Up

I managed to play over 25 new games this year, without even including DLC - and that's on top of working through my constant backlog of games with Rogue's Adventures! My top three games were Day One Purchases or Pre-Orders, while most games I was able to take advantage of sales, trade-ins, and coupons. Going into 2013 I had no idea that I would get a 3DS, and all the games I played this year made my list. All three came out in 2013 and this was really a banner year for the system. Without them I think 2013 would've been a slight disappointment overall to last year, although it was a fantastic year for indie games. With new consoles we can finally start seeing true next-gen titles, and I anticipate 2014 to be one of the best years in gaming we've ever seen.