Game Front Staff’s 2013 Game of the Year
- Strike Suit Zero
- Killzone Shadowfall
- Lost Planet 3
- The Bureau: XCOM Declassified
A new year is always a seemingly exciting prospect for a game critic because it follows the December lull. It doesn’t take too long, however, to realize once again that we are being treated to the same two or three games over and over.
My top 5 games defy that trend, and on the best of days they outright confuse players. Even the most typical of of my picks, Killzone: Shadow Fall, was met with cries of “I DON’T KNOW WHO TO ROOT FOR HERE.” That’s a great endorsement. Lost Planet 3, too, at a glance doesn’t look like much, but its traditional storytelling structure — a rare thing in games — and ingenious key mappings make it hugely memorable. Strike Suit Zero deserves credit for bringing back space combat with a bang and twist, along with legit production values, and The Bureau more or less invented a new shooter/strategy subgenre that I found endlessly engaging.
But Sony’s Rain takes the top prize, and it’s because it carries a touching tale about life with mental health issues within an engaging and accessible stealth/platformer package. It’s as complete a game as I played in 2013, and it’s also a tremendously meaningful experience.
- Gone Home
- Fire Emblem: Awakening
- Volgarr the Viking
- Super Mario 3D World
- Call of Juarez: Gunslinger
For me, Game of the Year discussions have been all about the race for second place, since no other game in 2013 can stand toe to toe with Gone Home. Even without Sam’s coming out story, which admittedly hit home with me on a personal level, Gone Home’s attention to detail and environmental storytelling is unparalleled in gaming. I learned more about each of the Greenbriars after 3 hours of Gone Home than I learned about any other game characters this year, and that’s without any of the Greenbriar family actually showing up. It’s a powerful story expertly told through self-directed exploration as only videogames can do, and easily my pick for 2013′s Game of the Year.
2013 was a great year in general for gaming though. It also brought us Fire Emblem: Awakening, which to me is the best tactical RPG to come out of Japan since Shining Force 2. Volgarr the Viking was beautifully designed with its balance of brutal difficulty and a deliberate moveset. Super Mario 3D World’s cat suits and inventive level design made it impossible to play without a huge smile on my face the entire time, and Call of Juarez: Gunslinger might just be the most “true” videogame Western by embracing the tall tales and tradition of oral storytelling that gave the Wild West its wild reputation in the first place.