My Top Games Of 2013

Twenty-Thirteen has been a really interesting year for games. We’ve seen some really awesome stuff coming out of studios across the globe. The indie golden age is still booming and despite the downfalls of the Greenlight system I think there’s never really been a better time to make games. Despite the awful disappointments of SimCity and Aliens: Colonial Marines we’ve had some amazing games this year… so in no particular order here are my favourite picks:

Don’t Starve

This game looks great. It’s Tim Burton-esque artwork and smooth animation really blew my mind. Even though I am incredibly bad at Don’t Starve I really love the world that they designers have created. It has a beautifully pitch-black sense of humour which appeals to me. Klei are an excellent studio, I hope they have continued success into the future!

The Last Of Us

This might be one of the most wonderfully written story-driven games that I have ever had the chance to play. The characters feel very real, they’re not one-dimensional and are willing to make choices that feel justified from their point of view.

Whilst the gameplay is a lacklustre recall of most third-person combat-stealth games the combat scenarios you are thrown into have a variety of different tactics that can be applied to them – meaning that they never really get boring. The game switches out zombies and gun-toting humans to great effect to continue to make the player switch up their tactics.

Although The Last Of Us is a very linear on-rails game it rewards you with excellent pacing and  an emotional experience that only a few games have really managed to create. It’s a must play for anyone who likes their games with a rich story.

Papers, Please

Damn this game. If you went to any game publisher and told them you were making a game were you play a border control agent working in their normal job day after day they’d probably laugh you out of the building. However, Papers, Please! has shown that even something as mundane as passport control can make a compelling and interesting game.

Watching the country of Arstotzka change because of little things you do is always really interesting. It shows that even someone as un-influential as a border control agent can bring a country to its knees given the right opportunities.

Grand Theft Auto V

The guys at Rockstar have outdone themselves with this amazingly well-made game. It proves that not all triple-A titles have to churn out a sequel once a year to do well (I’m looking directly at you, Call Of Duty). Well done to all my old university friends who worked doing QA on the game, you all did a great job of making a high-quality end product.

Tearaway

Media Molecule really have a skill when it comes to exploiting every aspect of a handheld console’s physical interactions. It’s amazing some of the things they make this game do with the touch screen and cameras, being able to manipulate the environment with your fingers is really cool. Speaking of the environment… the construction paper style they’ve gone with looks amazing – one of my favourite things being the glue pasted on walls that the player can walk along.

Bioshock Infinite

Despite the post launch criticisms of Bioshock Infinite in terms of the levels of violence, the restriction to two weapons and the stadium fight -> story -> stadium fight storytelling style, I feel like this game is the best possible example of the story-shooter genre that has grown and propagated over the last few years.

The world of Columbia was a fascinating insight into a section of time that America likes to forget happened. It really captured that Main Street happy American lifestyle that I see every time I go to Disney World. I loved the characters – especially the Lutece twins.

Antichamber

Good god this game was strange. I loved its non-euclidean architecture and how it tried to break down peoples conceptions of how games are meant to be played. Definitely a good game for people who like puzzles and occasionally getting headaches. This is definitely a game I’m going to go back to in a few months once I’ve forgotten most of the solutions to it. I’m still very surprised it was made in UDK, it doesn’t feel like it at all.

Far Cry: Blood Dragon

Just adding this one to the list because of it’s ballsy venture into that awfully neon science fiction world of the 80s. This sort-of-expansion thing was what Duke Nukem Forever should have been aiming for. Completely insane and not afraid to be in-your-face and happy about it. I was laughing my head of when I played this and I’m glad that they made it.

Pokemon X and Y

Finally after all these years they’ve brought the Pokemon universe into the third dimension and boy has it done well. With all its new features for contacting friends, training pokemon and sending gifts around the world it has shown that the guys and gals designing the Pokemon games are really in touch with their fan base and are giving them what they want.

Tomb Raider

Yeah I know this game was very much plagued with quicktime events and the pacing of Lara’s character development was a little off… but I think it was a wonderful reboot to the Tomb Raider series. I really hope that they make a sequel to this one.

The Stanley Parable

This is the discussion about a game about a man named Stanley. This fully expanded version of the old mod was truly a delight to play. With the stunning voice of Kevan Brighting (who I’d really like to read my novel once its finished) this game really makes the player question if they ever actually have any real control over a game. It’s very clever and very funny for anyone familiar with games in general. If you’ve not played it already I’d play it right now – just remember… the end is never the end.

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My Thoughts On: The Stanley Parable Demo

That was perhaps the cleverest ‘demo’ I’ve ever had the pleasure of playing.

To be frank I’m not entirely sure if I can classify it as a ‘demo’ in the normal sense of the word. The developers have created an entire mini story in order to bring you into the world of the Stanley Parable without giving away any of the actual game.

I love the premise behind the Stanley Parable: A critical look at traditional game tropes. The narrator specifically makes fun of a great deal of these during this demo. Everything is surprising as it takes what you know and flips it on its head. Non euclidean architecture that could rival even Antichamber was one of my favorite things in the demo.

I’ve been following the Stanley Parable for a good while now and I was most pleased to see that emotion booths are in fact there to be used in the game. It was an amusing nod to the Raphael trailer that myself and Alex have on loop during game jams.

I’m really happy that they’ve managed to invoke the same feelings of mischief that I felt during the original mod. I continued to want to fight the rules and do the exact opposite of what the narrator wanted – and his reaction to this never disappointed me.

All I can say is that the demo was great fun and I really am looking forward to playing the full game. I can’t wait to have my preconceptions of games challenged once again. And I’ve missed Stanley… he must be awfully lonely in his office, pressing buttons all day.

Also: I love that narrator’s voice… it’s smooth as butter.