2013 may seem like a distant memory already for some, but for us we’ll never forget this amazing year for video games. Two new systems launched, the struggling Vita and Wii U started to pick up steam, Steam sales and Playstation Plus continued to give the best deals in gaming, the 3DS had one of the best years for any handheld system ever created and a wide range of superb video games hit the market. A lot of the games this year did something no other previous game has done before. Whether it was a touching story that made us get emotional, or a world with endless potential that took hours away from our lives, or imaginative gameplay that made us happy to be gamers, these games gave us something that no other form of media could give us. These are the best games we’ve played in 2013.
*Keep in mind that is is opinionated based on what we’ve played and what we liked in video games within the year. We haven’t played EVERY game that came out in 2013 but we’ve played enough to compose this list of what we think are the best games of 2013.*
**Entries 4-6 were the hardest to place and were switched around may times and could have ended up in a different order**
***We have reviews for most of these games! If you’d like to view them, just click on the image for the respective game if possible.***
Platform: Playstation Vita
Tearaway uses everyone of the Playstation Vita’s features to perfection. The use of the back-touchpad, touchscreen, camera and sixaxis motion controls never feel shoehorned into the game and they enhance the experience. This game could only be experienced on the Vita and it is a fantastic one. Tearaway sparks imagination and oozes charm and humor. It may be a bit on the short side, but the five hours you spend with this game are magical.
9. Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
Platform: Playstation 4, Xbox One, Playstation 3, Xbox 360, Wii U
Genre: Third Person Adventure
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag might just be the greatest pirate game ever created. Sailing the high seas as Edward Kenway truly creates a sense of adventure that other games can only hope to create. AC IV flawlessly created a world that you WANT to explore. Lush, colorful and gorgeous environments with a ton of secrets to find and things to do. You won’t even pay much attention to the game’s average story, since you’ll often find yourself distracted by various islands to find treasure, free-roaming around Nassau, or killing templars. It is even more impressive since it came out after the failure of Assassin’s Creed III. Black Flag is more of a pirate game than an assassin game; but for an annualized series, that is perfectly fine.
8. Tomb Raider
Platform: PC, Playstation 3, Xbox 360
Genre: Third Person Shooter/Survival Adventure
2013’s Tomb Raider was a substantial reboot for the famous franchise. Lara Croft is one of the most recognizable names in video gaming, and she made a remarkable return to the spotlight with this game. Although the game’s story holds back her return greatly, the combat, scavenging and adventuring is so well done that it more than makes up for it. The gameplay is fluid and fun, which made it one of the most entertaining experiences of 2013.
7. Tales of Xillia
Platform: Playstation 3
Genre: Japanese Role Playing Game
Tales of Xillia may not be the prettiest game of the year, but it had the best combat system in an RPG in 2013. Xillia’s gameplay is perfectly refined and gives players an immense amount of freedom. Combine that with the leveling system that lets you choose whether you want a character to have amazing defense, offense, health or magic and you have one of the few JRPGs that glorifies freedom in the best way possible. Xillia also has a cast of characters unrivaled by any other RPG this year. The interactions between the main six members of your teams are hilarious, insightful and meaningful. Every time you stop to listen to a conversation between characters, you won’t be mashing to skip the scene, instead you’ll be hanging on every word of a well voice acted character.
6. Grand Theft Auto V
Platform: Xbox 360, Playstation 3
Genre: Third Person Shooter/Adventure
You may be surprised to see Grand Theft Auto V so low on the list, but make no mistake, this is a great game. GTA V takes pride in its attention to detail. The world of Los Santos is beautiful, corrupted, impressive and dangerous. While spending time in this city, you’ll do your fair share of crimes but it is not the violence, drugs, or raunchy behavior that makes this game great. It is the way it showcases its almost scary realistic environments, people and dialog. The way the radio frequency dies out if you go too far from the broadcast, pedestrians running away if you follow them for too long, or police chasing other criminals… I can’t even describe all of the smaller details because it will take me days to write everything out. GTA V is the prime example of a developer using every penny in their budget to create a vast world that can be matched by no other.
5. The Stanley Parable
Genre: Interactive Drama
Brilliant narration, choices that matter (or don’t matter, depending how you look at it) and a meaningful over-lying message. The game takes a stab at video games in general; pointing out how the players who think they can influence the game, really don’t have control. Everything is predetermined in video games, no matter how many choices you think you have. The Stanley Parable had the guts and wits to bring the subject to light in a way that never seemed pompous or smug. You play the game as a man named Stanley, a man whose job is to press buttons all day. When no one else shows up at work, Stanley goes to search for answers as to why everyone is missing. What follows is a short but brilliant and hilarious adventure with many different paths and endings. The Stanley Parable is the funniest game I’ve ever experienced. Every second the narrator says or does something that is just brilliantly humorous, which will have the player hanging on his every word. The Stanley Parable may be a small game, but in a short span of time, it leaves a huge message to interpret.
4. Bioshock Infinite
Platform: Xbox 360, Playstation 3, PC
Genre: First Person Shooter/Adventure
Bioshock Infinite may not have lived up to immense hype that was built around it, but in its own right, Infinite was a fantastic video game. Centered around Booker Dewitt and a mysterious woman named Elizabeth, Bioshock Infinite aspires to break the barriers between video games and other forms of media. It perfectly balances religion and racism in a world that at first looks like a sanctuary but is far from it. The relationship between Booker and Elizabeth at first seems like a simple one, but as the game progresses, you see that everything may not be as straight forward as they seem. Combine the wonderful story and the relationship between Booker and Elizabeth with a dynamic soundtrack and you’ve got one of the best games of 2013. Not the mention the ending will leave you thinking for hours.
3. Fire Emblem Awakening
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Genre: Strategy/Japanese Role Playing Game
The perfect blend of strategic gameplay, story and graphical beauty. Fire Emblem Awakening is the reason I own a 3DS. After putting fifty hours into this strategy based JRPG, I still craved more. You follow a fantastic cast of characters across their world, experiencing a fantasy tale that has the quality of a big budget movie. Besides the strategic combat system, the other brilliant thing about this game is its marriage system. Pairing off characters to create an overpowered super child is so damn rewarding. You can also pair off characters based on who you think would make a good couple, but why do that when you can create a supercharged killing machine? Fire Emblem Awakening is the “Game of Thrones” of video games. War, dragons, magic and romance… What else do you need to know?
2. Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
Platform: Playstation 3
Genre: Japanese Role Playing Game
Ni No Kuni was the first amazing game of 2013. Back in January when this game was released, it immediately received outstanding reviews by critics and was well loved by fans. A story that could touch the darkest of hearts, a soundtrack that could inspire the laziest of college students, and an art style that could make Picasso blush, Ni No Kuni has everything you’d want in a in a seemingly endless video game. You can easily spend a hundred hours getting lost in a world full of whimsy and magic and you’ll love every second of it. Ni No Kuni also gave life to Mr. Drippy, our sidekick of the year. Every word that comes out of this little fairy is pure gold. Gold. That pretty much sums up the entire game because Ni No Kuni is pure gold, and it will probably be a while before another JRPG can match its mastery.
1. The Last of Us
Platform: Playstation 3
Genre: Third Person Shooter/Survival Horror
If you’ve played The Last of Us like we did, you should easily see why this is our game of the year. Before The Last of Us, Naughty Dog was known for creating more light-hearted tales such as the Uncharted series and the Jak and Daxter games. The Last of Us is not a light-hearted tale. This game is gritty dark and at times absolutely terrifying. You’ll scream, cry and shiver… That’s how great this game is. Never before has a video game blended gameplay, story, acting, graphics and audio in such a way that created one of the greatest experiences in ANY form of entertainment/media. The reason why we love The Last of Us so much, is because it is the perfect example of what video games can do. Brilliant story infused with perfect gameplay can create one of the greatest forms of fiction unmatched by most films or books. If anyone ever says to me that video games are just senseless violence or useless time wasters I just respond with: “Play the first twenty minutes of The Last of Us and get back to me.” Not only is The Last of Us our game of the year, it might just be the game of the generation.