Here’s what I played for the first time in 2013. I’ve tried to include absolutely everything. The list is split into two sublists: games I feel like writing a bit about, and everything else. If a game is free I have provided a link to the game. As an aside, did you know that I now have a podcast where we interview people in the games industry? I bet you didn’t! You should follow it. No seriously, you should.
This is a Spoiler-Free Post.
The Prime Cut
This may be the best IF game I’ve ever played from an atmosphere and storytelling perspective. If you like Lovecraftian works, this is the game to take a look at.
An excellent return to form for the franchise which I ultimately ended up loving despite some serious reservations and a few mechanical steps backwards in terms of the utterly meaningless combat tacked onto a fascinating world. The iterative development of this game is also worth investigating for those interested in that sort of thing, compare footage and previews across the development to see some really drastic changes.
Candy Box &c.
This tick-based or idle-style (Progressquestlike?) listing is actually a bunch of games but the one that made this genre “popular” is Candy Box. It has inspired many similar games but my personal favorite was actually A Dark Room.
It’s unsurprising that I enjoyed this game as much as I did. Fullbright (who had some of the Bioshock talent involved) took the atmospheric exploration bits of Bioshock 2 and especially the DLC, Minerva’s Den, and made that the game. This is a serious Game of the Year contender. As a bonus I started listening to Riot Grrrl in the car.
Blizzard’s Warcraft-themed card game is still in beta, but with millions playing at this point it might as well be a soft launch. This lands somewhere between Gin Rummy and Magic: The Gathering in terms of complexity. Some balance issues, but then, it is a beta. A good introduction to CCGs for the uninitiated.
Infinity Blade III
Somehow this game felt like a step backwards from Infinity Blade II. The systems were tighter, but the fun factor just wasn’t there. For those who were in this series for the fantastic narrative, everything of interest really came out in Infinity Blade: Redemption and this feels much more like falling action than the triumphant climax.
Kid Icarus: Uprising
A great rail-shooter mashed into an acceptable hack-and-slash game, what sells this product is the fully voice-acted localization. This is by far one of the funniest games I’ve ever played and one of the few 3DS titles I would say everybody should look into.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
Link is back in 2D and it’s like he’s never left. It’s the Zelda you’ve missed. I haven’t loved a Zelda game like this in a long, long time – probably since the Game Boy Advance or Game Boy Color. You can read a longer review/testimonial I wrote about it on the Sean Malstrom blog.
New Super Luigi U
As somebody who had no interest in the New Super Mario Bros. franchise before this game, I was lured in with promises of high difficulty. This plays like a ROMHack where the devs were told “do whatever as long as you can beat it.” You will die. A lot. Not for the faint of heart. I can’t count how many times I yelled at Luigi for his garbage jumping and poor gravity.
What do you get if you take Chrono Trigger’s time-travel mechanic and pump it up to absurd levels? This JRPG would be pretty close. The game provides you an in-game map of the branching timeline and boy do you need it as you travel around history trying to avert the generic end of the world crisis. ATLUS has provided a game that is both enjoyable and not impossible to finish.
This game got a huge amount of hype, but I found it too grindy for my taste. I enjoyed it to be sure, but it didn’t end up as a lifestyle game like The Binding of Isaac did. Randomly-generated castles and heroes are interesting. I would like to see an iteration on this with a bit more to it than was on offer.
Okay this is barely a game but still. A computer program runs “dream matches” of popular culture characters fighting one another in the MUGEN engine and you can bet on who will win. The game is in the psychological games that other players in the chat will try and pull. To the salt mines with you!
If you’ve ever seen a group of people in public all huddled in a circle around their phones yelling things like “Hydrostablize Genoreactor 3!” or “Toggle the Arclight Positron Dial!” or “Release the hounds!” that was probably me, and I’m very sorry for confusing you.
This is another game that has been getting major hype, though I’ve not played the HD rerelease. The Classic edition is fun enough, but I’m not seeing the rabid obsession that certain segments of the internet have bought into. I’d love an explanation. Maybe next year when I can play the update. Also: this is another game where you will die a lot.
It’s on Steam now (suitably enough) but I played through this Metroidvania-esque on the 3DS. A neat reinvention of the formula where the question is asked, “What if you could only explore straight down?” Sometimes this drags a bit, but the Victorian-robot-western is charming enough that I found the entire experience jolly good.
This is a good puzzle game on iOS. The premise is very simple: match colors. It’s also very, very difficult. I don’t know what else to say about this, but you should play it if you like puzzles.
This is actually four games: Streetpass Galaxy, Flower Town, Warrior’s Way, and Monster Manor. They’re games entirely based around meeting other people who have a 3DS but I’ve probably put more time into them collectively than any actual 3DS game. The ability to earn hats for my Mii is like a siren song man. Valve knew it, and now Nintendo knows it too.
A Virus Named TOM
Assassin’s Creed II
Final Fantasy VII
Heroes of Dragon Age
Kid Icarus: Uprising
Layton Brothers Mystery Room
League of Legends
Neptune’s Pride 2: Triton
Ni no Kuni (PS3 and DS)
Plants vs. Zombies 2: It’s About Time
Professor Layton and the Unwound Future
The Secret World
Sid Meier’s Civilization V
Slouching Towards Bedlam
Starcraft 2: Heart of the Swarm
System Shock 2
The Typing of the Dead: Overkill