Jack reveals one of his greatest gaming regrets: how many awesome games that came out in 2013 that he missed.
Most days, dear reader, our relationship is mutually beneficial. I try to share with you my opinions, feelings, or knowledge about the medium I love: gaming. In return I receive plenty of feedback and ideas from what people say and how many people are interested. This week, however, I’ll be blunt, I’m using you.
What I discovered as I browsed the highest scoring games of 2013 disturbed me greatly. Throughout the year, I thought I had been playing all of the most profound and best titles I possibly could. What shocked me, though, was how many I had let slip by.
Today I’ll be sharing with you some of the best titles of 2013 (and maybe some from the first half of January) that blew right past me and I’ll tell you why I’m interested in experiencing said titles. In return, I hope you’ll scroll down to the poll at the bottom and help me choose what order I’ll play them in. The highest scoring games will be my top priority.
It’s a hefty list. I expect some of you will wonder how I missed so many great titles and still call myself a gaming enthusiast but at least I’m trying to make up for it right? Let’s get started.
Nidhogg is an impressive indie title release halfway through January, 2014.
The game is exactly what it appears to be in the picture above: a side-scrolling duel between two players using swords and martial techniques with the ultimate goal of reaching the other player’s “side.” This is accomplished while they respawn after you’ve run them through with your sword or otherwise dispatched them.
This game seems exceptionally addicting and very cool. The quick seconds of triumph and the awful crushing moments of defeat that lead to a victory you can be proud of or a loss you deserve. By all appearances, it looks like a title where success is gained through practice and technique, not luck, the strength of teammates, or some other outside factor.
The Banner Saga: Chapter 1
The Banner Saga is a tactical role-playing game with a style heavily influenced by Viking culture. The first chapter (two more are planned) was released on January 14th.
The game plays like some of gaming’s favorite sons: Final Fantasy Tactics and Tactics Ogre. It abandons the focus on a single hero and instead zooms out, telling the story of an entire caravan. This enables the developers to create moments with permanent consequences as no single character death or defeat halts the story.
I love the idea of a tactics-based epic with overworld gameplay that has been compared to the old Oregon Trail games. The idea of permanent character death along with the fears of losing faction allegiance, the threat of enemy attacks, and hunger and morale bringing ruin upon your band of survivors. My only fear is that if I start playing this game, I may never stop.
Device 6 appears at first glance to be a deliciously different game/mystery novel(?) appearing on iPhones in mid-October.
Ok so…Device 6…is really hard to describe. You, the player, are following the story of a girl lost on an island full of intrigue. The player explores her story through the pages of a book and is tasked to advance the story by solving puzzles hidden in the “pages” and images within.
It’s hard to say why I want to play this so badly. Perhaps it is the allure of something so new and “out there.” Maybe it is the premise of this “game” that already has my mouth watering. Whatever it is, check out Device 6 and you’ll have a much better idea of why I want to play. Just try not to spoil the mystique for yourself.
Tearaway is perhaps one of the most interesting titles released for the Vita in 2013. Released by the creative minds at Media Molecule at the end of November, it was an instant reminder of why I love the studio behind it so much.
Like many titles on this list, Tearaway is a delightfully different title that slipped under my radar. With its papercraft aesthetic, charming characters, and innovative use of the Vita features Tearaway seems like the perfect title to play next time my creative capabilities need a workout.
XCOM: Enemy Within
Released in early November as an expansion for XCOM: Enemy Unknown on the PC, Enemy Within was also released as a standalone title for other platforms.
Reviewed by most outlets as an individual title, XCOM: Enemy Within received nearly universal (see what I did there? Aliens, universal…awesome) praise for advancing the systems present in the original title, while adding new features, units, and weapons.
While I wasn’t that big on Enemy Unknown, other critics seemed to love it so I’m hoping that giving this advanced version of it a try will change my mind. I’m eager to give such a widely love series another shot.
The Stanley Parable
Widely touted as one of the most interesting titles of last year, The Stanley Parable made its splash as a standalone title in mid-October.
This experiment with interactive narrative asks the player to contemplate the concept of choice in gaming and, perhaps, in life as a whole. When we disobey, go against the grain, are we still doing precisely what we were destined to do from the start?
Half the fun of The Stanley Parable seems to be interacting with the omniscient, god-like narrator that berates, manipulates, and/or encourages the player as they guide Stanley on his journey through his abandoned place of employment. I’m very curious about this title to say the least.
No, before you ask, that’s not a low-res shot of the game. Lone Survivor is a hazy, survival-horror game with an aesthetic that calls back to the 80’s. Released in April of 2013, Lone Survivor is the only survival-horror that made the cut.
This isn’t usually my kind of game, I’ve never been big on your Resident Evil‘s or your Silent Hill‘s but throw in some pixelated graphics and some RPG elements and suddenly it is right up my alley.
Papers, Please is the border patrol RPG with the bleak aesthetic and weirdly engaging gameplay you’ve been hearing about all year. The game is stress-inducing, thought-provoking, and has been hailed among my friends as one of the triumphs of 2013 for gaming.
The game is spent searching for mismatched dates or missing pieces of information to discover societal leeches, terrorists, or hope in a disheartening world. Your characters duties must be upheld while still trying to maintain your job and the lives of your family challenges the player to try and balance all aspects of this immigration officer’s complicated life.
An interesting premise, accompanying an interesting style, along with an engaging, meaningful story place this title securely on the list of “games I must play.”
PixelJunk Monsters: Ultimate HD
PixelJunk Monsters: Ultimate HD is the HD, Vita remix of the original PixelJunk Monsters Deluxe which was a smashing success on the PSP in 2009. This summer release is a challenging tower defense game that I was too deep into Hotline: Miami to pay any attention to.
The simple fact that this is a tower defense game for a platform I truly respect is almost enough to place this title on the list. What pushes it over the edge, though, is the charming style and what is described by critics as awesome, challenging, fun, addictive, and surprisingly complex gameplay.
Kentucky Route Zero
Kentucky Route Zero‘s first act was released in January of 2013 and its second act followed in the summer with more promised soon. Kentucky Route Zero is an adventure game full of mystery and maybe a little magic and a story about…something.
It’s difficult to research these without spoiling them for myself and readers so I’ll be honest, when discovery is part of the adventure, I’d rather do less research to keep myself safe. What is clear is that it is full of well written dialogue and a story that the player feels very involved in creating which is something I’m dying to experience.
Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
This action-adventure-platformer, released in August, seems to have crawled into many gamers’ hearts and has taken up residence there. That sounded less parasitic in my head.
A charming tale full of beautiful views and a control scheme unlike any other in games? Sign me up. Each brother is controlled by one of the thumbsticks on your controller as you guide them on their journey to find a mystical cure for their father’s ailment.
The game in another experiment in unusual storytelling as the characters speak an imagined language with no subtitles. It demands that players glean as much information as possible through the environment and their characters’ interactions with it or risk missing the entire purpose of the short narrative.
Starseed Pilgrim, a game released in mid-April, almost flaunts its nondescript nature to the point of nausea. All I really know is that it was developed and published independently and that it is kind of like a platformer.
It clocks in at a respectable 83 on metacritic but was not widely reviewed. Even the major reviewers that did write about it, while mostly positive, still had some negative things to say. It is a game built on the raw mechanics of platforming that eschews the usual means of storytelling in favor or the intrigue grown from ambiguity.
Long story short, I’m interested but I really don’t know what to expect.
Monaco: What’s Yours Is Mine
Monaco‘s April release passed me by but as soon as I realized I had missed this title, I immediately placed it on this list. A heist game where you take on different roles and jobs as you switch characters sounds like something I’ve never tried and something I’m exceptionally interested in.
Over the course of thirty chapters, puzzles in the form of different levels of security, from high tech systems to easily fooled guards, will challenge a single player at every turn. With friends though, the game changes to one of the best of 2013. Anyone interested in multiplayer should hit me up if this game makes the top of the list!
Proteus was received very well by critics and gamers alike initially in January of this year but was then ported to PlayStation consoles in October. This minimalist title is lousy with opportunities to explore and discover.
There’s no real goal or challenge. The player simply walks, explores, and admires as the seasons change and nature amazes on this magical island…or so I’ve been told.
I’m not sure why I want to play this title. It just seems special, surreal, and different. Why not give it a shot?
Thomas Was Alone
Thomas Was Alone is one of the more famous indies released last year. Arriving on the PS3 and Vita in April, Thomas Was Alone is a minimalist game with a wonderfully charming story all about how Thomas, the red block, was all alone, until he met the friends that would accompany him throughout the rest of the game.
A heartwarming story about the power of friendship wrapped in a clever platforming package sounds like just the thing for the next rainy day. Thomas Was Alone is one of the most powerful gaming experiences released last year and I am more than just excited to play it.
Well, that wraps up my instant backlog! I’m going to go massage my fingers and you should rest your eyes but please before you do, vote on which game I should play first! The poll is just below. Thank you for reading and voting!