2013 was the year I became “that guy”. I phased out of most main stream games as my move to the west coast meant leaving my consoles behind. Being armed with a laptop meant that a lot of the graphical powerhouses, like Assassin’s Creed IV and Saints Row 4, would have to wait until I built a PC of my own. In the mean time I became the guy that focused on indie games, and you know what? I liked them! I consider 2013 to be one of the best years in a long time as the games I played this year, as evident by my list, brought more fun, emotion, and provocative thoughts to my life than any gaming year has before.
Favorite Game Released Before 2013, Played in 2013: Marc Ecko’s Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure
I had a solid choice for this category as Torchlight 2 took up a ton of my time but then Marc Ecko’s Getting Up came out on Steam. Sure, I played it back when it was first released but not on the PC and not to any point where I understood what I was playing. I was just a young teenager back then and I thought beating up thugs while spray painting was cool. Now? Now I realize that the mechanics of the game are solid, the story is silly but entertaining, and some of the tags you paint are just incredible. If I was the type of idiot to get a meaningless word tattooed to my body it would be “TRANE” but the style would be the one with the clouds, that one is just beautiful.
5. DotA 2
I don’t know how it happened. I don’t know how I logged 170 hours into a single game, and a multiplayer one at that. I realize that 170 hours is nothing compared to most DotA 2 players but for me that’s ridiculous. You’re talking to someone who played Call of Duty games for the single player and then returned them or left them to collect dust. For months at a time I would hop on my pc, Skype with my best friend, and proceed to ignore anyone or anything that was around me. Dinner’s ready? Don’t care. Dishes need cleaning? I’ve got creeps to kill! House on fire? We’re in a damn team fight! Yeah…it got bad.
4. Rogue Legacy
I don’t think I had more fun with a game this year than I did with Rogue Legacy. The constant traipsing through castles, forests, dungeons and more as I died, upgraded my skills, and died again. For the first few hours I thought I was just really bad at the game but something kept pushing me forward. I’d have one run where I got so much gold that I knew I could do it again. Soon enough I was tearing through the game and when I finally brought the last boss down I raised my hand in victory as my dyslexic hero saved the day.
3. The Swapper
Ok, this is where my list gets sappy. The next three games were less about fun and more about overall entertainment and meaningfulness. The Swapper was an unexpected joy to play for me. I love a good puzzle game but the mechanic in The Swapper was so unexpected and fun to experiment with that I couldn’t pull myself away. I made countless clones and killed them without mercy all to progress through the story and find out just what the hell was going on in the beautifully and meticulously crafted world I had entered. By the end of the game I felt satisfied and that’s a feeling I seldom get from a game’s narrative.
2. Gone Home
82 minutes. That’s what I logged in Gone Home and that’s all it took to know this game was a 5 out of 5, a 10 out of 10, an editor’s choice, and a masterpiece of a game. I so wanted this game to be something special but I wasn’t prepared for what it did to me. I, like so many others, can’t explain what makes Gone Home special because doing so would only elicit laughs and strange looks. The world that The Fullbright Company has created brings about a human side we just don’t see in games. Gone Home reminds players that you don’t have to be a super-powered soldier who jumps on enemies heads and has an arsenal of 500 guns in order to be amazing. Sometimes, you just have to be you.
1. Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
I love my older brother, he’s family and that will always be important to me. As the younger brother I took my playing of Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons quite seriously. Throughout the game I saw myself as the young boy and each step of the way there was my older brother beside me. We didn’t always agree on what to do at certain points in our lives and neither do the brothers in the game. With such a simple gameplay mechanic and no dialogue to speak of, it’s a wonder that Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons had such a deep and raw effect on me. It drove its feelings right into my heart and clawed deep inside what makes me tick. By the end of the game I shed some tears and while I doubt I’ll ever be able to play the game again, it’s an experience I’ll never forget. Truly that earns a game a Game of the Year status in anyone’s book.
Honorable Mentions: Bioshock Infinite, Papers, Please, Runner 2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien, DmC: Devil May Cry