Well it’s that time of year when the staff at Twinfinite each gets the chance to reveal which five games most moved us this year, and I just couldn’t resist writing something about each of my favorites. My 2013 in gaming has been very educational, as I came to terms with series’ that I had fallen in and out of love with, series’ I’d never really loved in the first place, and even one that swept me off my feet for an unforgettable week in the summertime. Without further ado, here’s my personal Top 5 for 2013.
What I value most when playing a new video game is being put in a position to do something I’ve never done before. Brain surgery, for example, is one of those things. While I openly admit to playing video games as a power fantasy, there is value in being poor at something and learning to be less poor over time. Surgeon Simulator 2013 allowed me to do this while keeping me laughing by how bizarre it was. What elevates this game beyond simple parody is that the controls will work for you if you’re patient enough. Arguably my most satisfying gameplay achievement of 2013 was successfully completing a brain transplant in Zero-G while my patient barely lost any blood.
While the variety of content is small on the surface, the menu screen contains a ton of easter eggs for those looking for greater challenges and shockingly hilarious surprises. Surgeon Simulator 2013 is truly a singular experience that I would wholeheartedly recommend to anyone looking for something different.
This is one of the only games I played all year where I beat it, immediately deleted my save, and played it again. Sure, GTA V had a bigger open world and a far more ambitious scope, but Saints Row IV waved goodbye, wished it luck, and set out to make the most ridiculously fun video game ever.
Saints Row the Third was easily one of the craziest games of 2011, and one question that was on the minds of its fans was, “How can they possibly top that?” After playing Saints Row IV, I’m amazed not just by the fact that they managed to do it, but by how effortlessly they pulled it off. Whether it’s Mass Effect, Call of Duty, GTA, or even retro gaming, nobody is safe from Volition’s ridicule. Their masterstroke however is lampooning video games while wrapping it all up in a package of pure fun. People talk about the Citizen Kane of video games, but with Saints Row IV, Volition made The Onion of video games.
When you’re immersed in video game culture and discussion, it’s really easy to get bogged down by negativity towards, well, everything. There are people who flat out refused to play DmC: Devil May Cry because of some allegiance towards the original games. I really hope they all came around in the end, because not only does this game live up to the legacy of its predecessors, it blows it out of the water.
Ninja Theory’s wheelhouse is storytelling and performance capture, and they deliver. Where they really took a leap forward however was with the fun combat, inventive level design, and some of the best boss fights of 2013. Also, I’m going to say it, Dante was one of the best characters of the year. Was he a petulant douchebag? You bet, but he also went through a believable character arc and I couldn’t help but root for him by the end. DmC: Devil May Cry is big, loud, slick, dumb, and an absolute blast. As for the character change? Like I said in the review: Brown hair? Don’t care.
Adapted from a series of books by Dmitry Glukhovsky, Metro 2033 was a seriously flawed game that hinted at greatness in its fringes. Thankfully, developer 4A Games noticed that as well, because with Metro: Last Light they delivered on everything its predecessor hinted at.
You play as series protagonist Artyom as he travels through creepy tunnels and the even creepier surface of irradiated Moscow in order to save his home from conspirators deadlier than anything lurking in the darkness. Stealth mechanics are reworked to even the odds against multiple enemies, shooting is better than ever, and the game itself looks about as good as anything out there from this, next, or any gen.
I went into BioShock Infinite with no small amount of trepidation…hell, I went in expecting to not be that impressed. You see, while I appreciate BioShock for what it represented, I felt it was deeply flawed in its second half as it became what it was critiquing. Still, I felt compelled to give this game a shot, and by the end of it I felt like giving it a standing ovation, moved beyond words.
Set in an alternate version of 1912 America, this game itself has ironically become the subject of a lot of revisionist history lately, with complaints about how its story makes no sense, even though it comes together more poetically than 99% of video games. Another is how its combat is terrible; it’s not perfect, but it’s miles better than in BioShock, and it’s much more fun and varied than it gets credit for. Yet another complaint is how it only appears to be an open-world game, as if ‘open-world’ were a synonym for ‘good’. This was the only game this year that made me want my friends to play it so we could TALK about it and share the little details in the periphery which reveal so much upon a second playthough.
We’ve been blessed with some ambitious, beautiful, and evocative games this year, but BioShock Infinite is the only one that tells a mature and moving story without ever losing sight of the fact that it’s a video game. Unlike most other big-budget titles from this (or any) year, this game isn’t the least bit interested in trying to be a movie and instead embraces what it is; and what a game it is. Unlike its previous effort, Irrational Games doesn’t use up all its ideas in the first half and limp across the finish line. From beginning to end, BioShock Infinite places some of the most beautiful and awful things I’ve ever seen in a game alongside each other, and creates an exquisite and unforgettable experience.