2013 was an eventual year for me in my personal life. It was very tough to really think about games in a moment in my life where I found it incredibly difficult to appreciate games as anything other than being a distilled distraction and escape. Still… life moves on no matter what and I’m managing to get back to enjoying gaming.
I’m terrible at making lists. I just hate aggregating numbers to anything – that’s why I hate adding scores to reviews. With that in mind, do try and be patient while I do my favorites list a little bit differently; it’s in a very stream of consciousness kind of presentation, one that if you’ve been reading Entertainium for a while, you’d probably come to expect from me.
So here we go…
My favorite indie game… that involved fighting games in some way: GUACAMELEE
I’ve been in a fighting game frenzy ever since I started watching Evo back in 2011, so discovering, playing AND reviewing a game that combined that genre of games with platforming and exploration covered in deep layers of Mexican-themed charm. Guacamelee was la bomba.
In my opinion, the word “indie” really lost its meaning in 2013. Many games that came out under that five lettered umbrella didn’t really belong there and through the flood of releases that have since been put out through the many delivery services out there, few have really impressed me as much as Miasmata did this past year (even though, technically, it came out in 2012).
I’m a human being with a terrible sense of direction and Miasmata put me in a nightmare scenario – getting lost on an island, with nothing more than a compass and a unknown fatal disease. Did I mention the horrible thing that kept chasing me around? I shouldn’t have.
Well, I should mention that this game was made by two brothers, which is impressive as hell. I can’t believe Miasmata works as well as it does.
Cop out time. Almost everyone’s been listing this as their favorite indie title, with good reason. Brothers is very very impressive, but at the same time, doesn’t really feel indie in the traditional sense of the word at all. Still, under the genre that “indie” has become, it was one of my favorites this past year.
My favorite game that didn’t come out in 2013 that I kept coming back to:
DARK SOULS – PREPARE TO DIE EDITION
The Souls series has a special place in my gaming heart for many different reasons, so starting the PC version right away after buying it off a sale was a must. Even after finishing it three times back in 2011-2012, Dark Souls still managed to be fresh and fun as hell. It will probably still be a favorite in 2014, as I’m still making my way through the new special edition content in preparation for a little game that’s coming out in March called Dark Souls II.
Much like Animal Crossing – New Leaf, Fire Emblem Awakening was my first real serious dabble into a series that has a particularly fervent set of fans that scare the living shit out of me (still love you guys, don’t kill me!). Awakening sucked my free time dry during the first half of 2013 and I frankly had to pry it off my 3DS hard drive in order to try other games. It’s incredibly engrossing and deep, but also very approachable, a real first for Fire Emblem. Yes, I played through the entire game on permadeath… and loved it!
My favorite review of 2013: RAYMAN LEGENDS
Rayman Legends is a blast that makes me feel guilty that I’m not playing it right now. Many words were typed about this game, and I agree with Callum’s description in his ‘top’ list article: Legends is “unabashedly fun”.
My favorite “I must own this on every platform it’s out” game of 2013: SPELUNKY
Just about everyone has been enjoying Spelunky and that’s for a very good reason – it’s an amazing game. Its looks are deceptively childish – this is an evil, evil game with loads of depth while being absurdly rewarding and frustrating at the same time, at the flip of a coin… during the most glorious of runs and the worst of flops.
It’s out on just about everything, so there’s no excuse not to try it out.
As I mentioned, I’ve really gotten into fighting games lately after a dormant interest that went to bed during my teens and woke up, teeth in bare in my mid/late 20s (yep, I’m getting old) after watching through the entirety of Evo 2011. Until then, I had only heard about a couple of professional players like Justin Wong and Daigo Umehara, who had apparently done what most consider to be the most “clutch” moment of any tournament ever. After Evo 2011, though, just about every player I consistently heard about suddenly became a household names for me – not only Wong and Daigo, but also PR Balrog, Ricky Ortiz, Floe, Mike Ross, Alex Valle, Filipino Champ, ChrisG, Latif, Infiltration, Xian, Tokido… among many others.
Fast forward to 2013, I actually went to Evo, in Las Vegas, and got to shake hands with a couple of those guys and see their handiwork in person, which promptly fueled my urge to actually get better at fighting games. I have zero hope of attaining a professional level at them, so I’ve been taking my practice pretty easy, that is to say, slow – mainly playing and learning moves and their inputs. Add to that my meeting of our contributor and now friend Christian Cain, who pretty much kicked my ass at AE post E3, during my visit to Southern California’s famed Super Arcade.
The impending release of Ultra Street Fighter IV helps keep an objective on my horizon, that is to get a decent know how of the current version of the game which is by far one of the most difficult things in games I’ve been having to adjust to. Injustice, on the other hand, feels much more approachable and I will be diving back into it this year. My main hope is that getting a little better in fighting games will help me enjoy watching them even more.
My favorite game with a mind boggling and convoluted story of 2013 that still makes my head hurt when I think about it: BIOSHOCK INFINITE The more I think about the story of Bioshock Infinite, the more confused I get. It was a beautiful spectacle with a lot of atmosphere and lore, for sure, but the longer it gets since finishing it, the more I like the previous entries in the Bioshock series more. It’s tough to put it into words. Maybe it was just one of those awesome videogame experiences that I probably shouldn’t think about too much in order not to hate it. Plus we already exhausted it in that three part article discussion shortly after Infinite’s release. So just maybe, it should be crossed off my list…?
My favorite game of the second half of 2013 that’s probably my game of the entire year: THE LAST OF US
The Last of Us was pretty much the only game I extensively played out of review during the second half of 2013. Starting it was very tough for me, mainly because I made the unfortunate choice of choosing to play it to escape reality a bit, during my most painful moments of the year. I did no research on the game prior to release – I knew it was Naughty Dog and that was enough for me.
And boy, it hit me hard. The starting moments of The Last of Us kicked me in the emotional gut, forcing me to step away from it for about three months – after which, I slowly came back to Joel and Ellie’s journey and didn’t stop ’til it was through.
It hit all the right notes. I was a blast. It was scary. It had Rambo little kid in it. Characters. Atmosphere. Story. Loved it.
For me, Animal Crossing games have much to do with the hit sitcom Seinfeld. They’re both things that end up being about nothing, the dumb mundane things we all worry about in life. I ended up starting Animal Crossing – New Leaf right after E3, basically a few days before things got even more complicated in the year. It served as a nice, breezy distraction throughout my worst ordeal of the year, and I still play it every now and then to keep in with the events and maintaining my town.
Like previously mentioned Fire Emblem: Awakening, this was my first dedicated playthrough of Animal Crossing, even though I previously started both the original Gamecube and DS versions. I’m very curious to find out how I’ll react to any new releases in the franchise, mostly because everyone always says the first Animal Crossing game you play is always your most beloved. And even though it’s really REALLY about nothing, I liked it.