Top Ten Video Games I Played In 2013

Hipster_22013 has been one hell of a great year for gamers.  New consoles (which I probably won’t buy for quite some time, long live the PC master race!), the continued rise of independent games, and a ton of AAA publishers releasing quality titles that broke ground in what can and should be done in big budget games.  Seriously, right now is such a great time to be a gamer.  Of all the great games I played this year, the following ten stood above the rest not only in quality, but also in creativity, refinement of their respective genres, or just were flat-out fun.  A couple of entries on this list were games released during 2012, but since I wasn’t able to get into them until 2013 I’m qualifying them for my list.  So, enjoy reading and let me know what were some of your favorite games that you played this year.

#10: Guacamelee

Let it be know that one of my all time favorite foods is that delicious green stuff made of avocados, tomatoes, onion, and cilantro: guacamole.  I can smear it on nearly anything and be a happy camper.  Oft times I’ll just down it with a spoon.  One of my favorite genres of games is the Metroidvania style platformer.  So, when I caught wind that a game was released on Steam where they slathered my beloved condiment on one of my favorite genres, well, I bought it immediately.  And with my high expectations through the roof, I can say I was not let down.  Basically it’s a 2d side scrolling game with colorful vector graphics where you play as a Mexican Luchador who needs to travel back and forth between the land of the living and the land of the dead to defeat the bad guy and save the girl.  You pick up various melee attacks that also function as different was to explore the map and unlock various routes as well as perform ridiculously fun battles and twitch platforming that is never cheap but always rewarding.  The stellar Mexican themed soundtrack and the game’s love for internet/gaming culture is an added bonus that gives Guacamelee tons of humor and character.

#9: The Typing of the Dead: Overkill

So, you kill zombies by typing them to death.  Yes, you read that correctly.  You type words on your keyboard, zombies die.  And it is sooooo much fun.  If you are already familiar with the cult classic original Typing of the Dead chances are you already own and love the new and updated Overkill version.  If not, you need to get on board with the best typing teaching software ever.

As a bonus to the mindless zombie slaughter, there is a hokey grindhouse narrative that you play through as you follow on the rails typing phrases like ‘Dead Before Dawn’, ‘Winter is Coming’, and ‘Ample Bosom’.  The insanely foul language and 5th grade humor play into the game’s self-aware campiness and provides you with a full on assault of ‘what the fuck am I playing’ as you giggle away at the ludicrousness of it all.  Also included with the game is a fun co-op mode for those with multiple keyboards, mini-games, and if you for some reason don’t want to type zombies to death you can kill them with your mouse or light gun attachment.

#8: Rouge Legacy

Rouge-like games (games with randomly generated maps and whatnot, often with permadeath.  Eg. Diablo 2 on hardcore mode) are games that I usually can get into.  I get the appeal of a new game each time you play, but to me, repeating the same tilesets just seems to get boring for me after a while.  If I am going to play something multiple times, I want to be able to approach the same previously played situation with different strategies.  Therefore, something planned and thought out is my playing preference.

However, Rouge Legacy was one of the first rouge-like games I found myself really enjoying each time I booted it up.  Following the structure of a Metroidvania game you are given a choice between 3 randomly generated heroes which have various strengths/weaknesses and abilities and then dive headfirst into a randomly generated castle to take down 4 areas each with a big boss at the end.  When you die, your ‘children’ pick up where you left off in another randomly generated castle.  Catch is that while you are in the castle you collect gold which can be spent on upgrades which carries down you family tree, so each death is always a step forward.  This sense of progression is insanely addictive and the different character types make you change up your strategies with each new respawn.

Between great retro styled graphics and a cute chiptune soundtrack I find myself often diving into Rouge Legacy for a quick 15 minute session and then look at the clock and realize I should have been in bed hours ago.

#7: Spec Ops: The Line

This game will make you feel like a piece of shit and make you hate life.  There is no fun to be found here.  The controls are just acceptable, the shooting is average, and the graphics are just on par.  Mechanically, it’s just an average game.  Thing is, Spec Ops: The Line is nothing short of pure genius in gaming.  Instead of trying to create a game too ambitious for their budget, Yeager Studios worked with what they had and played to their strong points.  The strongest point being the narrative.  And how they weave narrative into game mechanics ended up giving me one of the most incredible gaming experiences ever.

To go any deeper would be an incredible disservice to anyone who hasn’t played this yet, but I will say that those who have read Heard of Darkness or seen Apocalypse Now will quickly catch onto where the game is coming from.  But please, don’t let the average mechanics of the game keep you from finishing it, see it to the end and be amazed how things come full circle and get tied together with a neat little bow.  A very bloody, depressing bow.

#6: Dust: An Elysian Tail

Oh!  Look!  Another Metroidvania 2D sidescroller…. Yes, I enjoy these games, and this year happened to be filled with some real quality ones.  The thing that really set Dust apart from the other slew of Metroidvanias I played this year came, first from the incredible graphics, and second from wickedly fun hacking and slashing.

On the surface Dust looks like a Furries wet dream with sexy bunny rabbits and cute foxes as well as all the high-pitched voices that come along with the territory.  However, once you start playing you’ll realize that the graphic aesthetic is played to a non-Furry tone and come across feeling like that Disney version of Robin Hood.  It’s all in good and innocent fun.  That is until you start slaughtering cute little creatures with various sword attacks (don’t worry, it’s still kid friendly as there is no blood or graphic violence).  The writing and narrative are also well played out with some great voice acting that doesn’t annoy and an interesting story.  Did I mention how great the hand drawn graphics are?  Well, they’re some of the best I’ve ever seen, and in motion on your computer screen (or TV if you play on Xbox) they will blow you away with their smoothness.

Coupled with satisfying boss battles, fast paced combat, and fun platforming sections Dust is a game I will be playing multiple times over. (Protip:  Go right to hard mode, normal is waaaay to easy, even for someone new to this style of game).

#5: Borderlands 2

Oh man is this game a bundle of never-ending fun.  And I haven’t even bought the well-received DLC yet!  You shoot the crap out of stuff with crazy guns (my favorite are the ones that turn into grenades when you reload them), laugh at one-liners from a multitude of unique personalities, gaze at the gorgeous cel-shaded graphics, and rinse and repeat.

After multiple playthroughs I haven’t even come close to tiring of Borderlands 2.  Between the New Game + modes and different characters you can play as with skill sets that drastically change up strategies there is more than enough content to keep one busy for a long time.  And then there’s the terrific co-op multiplayer which has provided me with the most fun I’ve had with my gaming friends ever (the 4 base classes also allow for some great combos if you can get your group coordinated).  If you’re a fan of shooters and fun, and have a couple of buddies to bring with you, Borderlands 2 will be the most fun you can have going on murderous rampages.

#4: DOTA 2

Born from the Defense of the Ancients Warcraft III mod, Valve’s DOTA 2 delivers what is in my opinion the most balanced, deep, and competitive experience in this new MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) genre.  Basically a tower defense game crossed with an RTS with a sprinkling of Quake competitiveness, DOTA 2 will chew you up and spit your bloody carcass on the ground.

That’s to say, there is one of the steepest learning curves I’ve ever encountered in a game.  However, once you take your lumps and learn the game (and find some players that understand the word cooperation) you will be rewarded with one of the deepest and most fun games available today.  With over 100 unique characters to choose to do battle as, you go 5v5 to take down the other teams towers and ultimately base.  Even though there is just a single 3 laned map, the intelligent design of it plus the various combinations of characters provided a unique game each match you play.

Best part, DOTA 2 is completely free and is constantly updated with new characters, bonus modes, and balance tweaks.  The community can seem a bit rough at first, but if you just mute the bad seeds most players will help you out at explaining things to you like the lingo or different strategies; though a lot of vs. computer matches would be a good idea to get yourself accustomed to how the game works.

#3: La-Mulana

And yet another Metroidvania game on this list.  And possibly the best one to come out since Metroid and Castlevania!  First things first, La-Mulana is fucking hardcore.  It’s beard can choke-slam Chuck Norris while drinking whiskey.  It can bench 500K of free weights.  It eats pieces of shit like you for breakfast.  This game hates you.  But it tortures and abuses you because it loves you, and ultimately its tough love will satisfy you like no other.

Like all the other Metroidvania games on this list you need to navigate through a huge map with different areas opening up when you discover various items and abilities.  Unlike the rest, La-Mulana provides you with some of the most abstract and difficult puzzles ever to grace a game.  Best part, a clue found in one area is most likely connected to a solution somewhere on the opposite side of the map, or maybe in the next room.  That’s left for you to figure out.  All the clues have an answer, and even when your stuck the game already has the solution out in front of you, you just need to see it (well, except for a couple which were too cryptic even for my seasoned ass).

Combined with great 32 bit styled graphics, outstanding music (I seriously have the soundtrack on my Ipod), unique environments, tough as nails boss battles, and the fact you are basically playing as Indiana Jones made this one of the best Metroidvania games I have ever played, ever.

#2: Civilization V: Brave New World

If an expansion pack is getting a place so far up on my list, you know it must be good.  While vanilla Civ V was great for its streamlining and updated graphics, a lot of the hardcore strategy found in Civ IV was lost.  Even with it tweaked for the better in the Gods and Kings expansion the lack of trade routes and the impact of religions made the build up to victory a bit of a chore and unexciting.  Brave New World adds so much to Civ V that I can never even think about playing any other version of this outstanding turn-based strategy game.

The new civs you can play as are also tons of fun, with my favorite being able to play as the Venice ‘city-state’ and pretty much buy the world and pay off other civs to start wars with each other forcing them to come to me for help as I reek havoc on their economies.  Pure evil fun.  Even when I want to play as the pacifist the incredibly deep revamp of cultural and scientific victories allow me to take the Gandhi approach.  There’s just so much you can do in the base game that I’ve barely touched the crazy amount of user made mods and situational campaigns in my 300+ hour playing time.  If you love history, wars, peace, culture, and strategy and don’t have Civ V yet, you need to fix that asap.

#1: Bioshock: Infinite

Mind=Blown.  I can even hardly think of words to describe how much Bioshock: Infinite blew me away.  Every single second I was playing every aspect sucked me in like very few games can.  The beauty of the flying American sensationalism city of Colombia, the old-timey steam punk weaponry, the lovable\hateable characters, the incredible score and soundtrack (the barbershop quartet rendition of The Beach Boy’s “God Only Knows” was simply, just, wow), the super powers like shooting ravens or electricity from your hands, and the ability to zip around like a rollercoaster on this zip tracks that connect the different flying islands of the city left me in nothing but pure awe.  But more so than the formerly mentioned, is the story.

While it deals with politically charged topics like racism, sexism, religious fanaticism, Jingoism, and American sensationalism, the added bonus of sci-fi themes I will leave unmentioned as to not spoil things for the 3 of you who haven’t played it yet just sent this game over the edge for me.  Weeks after I finished it, I was still pondering the themes of the resolution and doing replays to grasp a better understanding of what just blew my brain into thousands of little pieces.

Bioshock: Infinite is not just my choice for best game of 2013, but it resides as one of the very best games I have ever played in my entire life.  The experience is beyond memorable and shows how meaningful narrative can be blended with fun gameplay and not lose an ounce of emotional impact.  If you do not play this game you are a horrible person and I wish a swarm of locust upon you.

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About RiffRaff

Just takin' it easy for all you sinners.

Posted on December 13, 2013, in Videogames and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Glad to see Bioshock on the list, but not much of a surprise. You may see that one on another list next week. I liked Borderlands 2 as well, but then it got my nerves at the end. I think I expected the game to end at a certain point, but then it kept going and I lost interest. I imagine I was pretty close to the end. Overall, cool concept and I liked the graphics. I think I am going to give that Civilization game a try next year. It’s been forever and a day since I played a PC game…not even sure if my laptop can handle it. Not a huge year in gaming for me, but I have a few (certainly one) that you may have heard me talk about. nice list you have. I saw you mention some game about a wolf. I am interested in trying that out.

    • You should have fun with Civ V. Once you start playing it’s too easy to get sucked in. It’s not a very demanding game at low graphic settings, so if you have a rather modern laptop you will be fine (and if you have a dedicated graphics card in your laptop with an Intel I3 or I5 you should be able to run it at near high settings)
      That Wolf game is The Wolf Among Us and it’s by the same people who made that Walking Dead game. Basically a gritty look at a noir fairy tale land where you play as the Big Bad Wolf and need to solve crimes. Really cool stuff.

  2. Matt, you can be my gaming-guru as well. 😉
    I do read all your gaming-posts, and save the ones I want to check out closer, even if I never have enough smart things to say to post a comment.. I haven’t played a single game this year (!) except for Plants vs Zombies, since my head has been extremely busy with other things. I’m getting a PS3 for Christmas though, and look forward to catch up on some of my “have been wanting to play for a long time”-games, like God of War, Little Big Planet, Infamous and Shadow Of The Colossus. I’m hoping, now when I’ve gotten into my work routine, that I have the energy and time to do some serious gaming next year.

  3. I haven’t had much time to play. But I bought Spec Ops some days ago and I am excited of what awaits me:-)

    • Fear what awaits you, lol. The game is freaking amazing, but fun it is not. I haven’t ever had a game make me feel so bad about what I made my virtual character do than like Spec Ops. It’s a shame that the game went largely unnoticed, those that are gungho CoD military power fantasy gamers would get their worlds turned on their head if they played this and think twice about what they are advocating in playing those games.

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