This year has been one of the most influential and important years in gaming history. We saw all kinds of records break and new trends take over which will influence the way we game forever. We saw the end of one of the most revolutionary consoles of all time, the new generation of consoles come into households across the world and a tried-and-true franchise break sales record after sales record. Indie games continue to impress and redefine what is possible on a smaller budget while “AAA” titles continue to battle for dominance. Needless to say, it was a truly remarkable year for games. However, the time has come to pick my personal Top 10 games for the year. Please feel free to let me know if you agree or disagree in the comments below.
1. The Last of Us – Naughty Dog is a remarkable developer and fans were more than excited when the development house decided to create a new franchise with a horror twist. The end result was my favorite game of the year. The story was intense, raw, scary as hell and incredibly engaging. It controlled like Uncharted but this game transcends what Uncharted ever did on its own. While I will admit that this game may not be for everyone, and certainly not for children, but if you call yourself a gamer, you need to play this game. If you don’t, you are doing yourself an incredible disservice.
2. Grand Theft Auto V – Few can deny that Grand Theft Auto V is one of the most popular games ever created. It made more money and sold more copies faster than anything that came before it. It was truly a sight to behold, but it achieved this success by not only having a marketing behemoth behind it, but it was actually an excellent game. The developers at Rockstar listened to the complaints about the lackluster story of GTA IV and created an engaging and beautiful open world that featured interesting character and fun new gaming mechanics. Overall, GTA V is a great game and certainly deserving of the second best game this year.
3. BioShock Infinite – We finally got another entry in the BioShock series but this time we are whisked away from the familiar halls of Rapture and taken to a whole new setting. While there are some elements that tie this game to the original franchise, BioShock Infinite takes the series to places it has never been; and it is amazing. The story itself is great though it takes some time to develop, but for me, the game took the concept of setting to a new height. The world of Columbia is incredibly detailed and the backstory is deep and rich. You can literally spend hours exploring the world and finding little nods to the fictional history of Columbia. It teases you with little tidbits of information and lets you decide how deep you want to go into the history. It works incredibly well and makes this game one of the best games of this year.
4. Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag – Believe it or not, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag took a giant leap forward and made the Assassin’s Creed universe better in a lot of ways. First, Edward Kenway is a much better hero than Assassin’s Creed III’s Connor ever was. Most fans disliked Connor’s bland personality and lack of conviction, so this year’s hero is a much more likeable character. Second, the game was expanded into a bigger and more open-world universe that made it easier and more engaging to explore. Finally, one of the best parts of ACIII was the naval battles and in ACIV this mechanic was expanded upon and made exploring fun which is the hallmarks of a great game.
5. Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch – When Studio Ghibli, the Japanese equivalent of Disney in the US, announced that they were working on creating a video game, most of the internet’s faces melted. However, when the game finally made it out here in the states, the game seems to fall a little flat. We expected this game to reach the top of the sales charts immediately, and while it didn’t really grab audiences like it could have, it was still a very successful title. While you may not have played this game, it is definitely something you need to get your hands on. It is a beautifully crafted RPG that will keep you entertained for hours with its engaging story and characters. If you are looking for something to play, this game was one of the best this year.
6. Tomb Raider – It was a shame that one of the most prolific video game characters in history went dormant for so many years. However, Lara Croft got a face lift and a much needed reboot. We got a gritty and dirtier version of Lara that many video game fans didn’t love from the beginning. However, once you reenter the world of Tomb Raider, you’ll quickly see that this was exactly what the doctor ordered for the franchise. This new experience feels more like what a treasure hunting game should feel like and it is nice to see Tomb Raider finally getting the love it deserves. If you didn’t play it, now is the time.
7. Super Mario 3D World – Though Nintendo has been having a tough time with the Wii U, it doesn’t mean that good games aren’t still being made for the troubled system. Super Mario 3D World is a perfect example of how a game has the potential to breathe new life into a console. Though this game may not be a console seller, it certainly does give existing Wii U owners a reason to dust off the console and get back to playing. The latest entry of the game features the same tight platforming that is evident in all Mario games, but this time new mechanics were added that spice up the old formulas. If you didn’t get a chance to play it, and you happen to have a Wii U, give this game a shot, you’ll enjoy it.
8. Papers, Please – If y0u didn’t believe that 2013 was a great year in gaming, you need to get your hands on this Indie gem. The gameplay is incredibly simple but it manages to make looking for mistakes in paper work incredibly fun and engaging. This is one of those games that seem bad when someone describes it to you, but once you actually play the game, you see exactly what the big deal is about. If you want something completely different, doesn’t require a massive amount of system resources or just a fun game, look no further.
9. Ridiculous Fishing – This game is probably the best value out of any of the other games on this list. However, once you start playing the game, you’ll wonder how this game didn’t cost more. The game is incredibly simple, but it still manages to be incredibly fun and its over-the-top style is too irresistible not to play over and over again. The guys at Vlambeer really did an amazing job with this game and if you own a smart phone, this game needs to be part of your gaming library.
10. Saints Row IV – Saint’s Row IV has a period of uncertainty through a period of its development once THQ was sold off to the highest bidder. However, Deep Silver kept the transition smooth and let Volition lead Saint’s Row IV to being one of the best games of the year. Saint’s Row IV still has all the crazy antics you’d expect from the franchise, but it still added lots of new elements that kept fans of the series happy and coming back for more. If you haven’t played this one yet, you are missing out.
While this list just represents a small slice of all the games released this year, it still manages to be incredibly diverse and a testament to gaming as an enterprise. No matter what your budget is, as long as you make a good game, players will find a way to play it. This list could have easily been a Top 20 without sacrificing any quality at all. Games like The Stanley Parable or Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds could have easily been substituted in for several of these chosen games. Either way, let us know what you think in the comments and here is hoping that 2014 can be just as good of a year as 2013 was for gaming.