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Best of 2013: Gamasutra's Top Games of the Year

December 23, 2013 Article Start Page 1 of 5 Next

In 2013, we handled our "Game of the Year" list quite differently. Instead of publishing a single top 10, Gamasutra writers simply picked five games that they loved most in 2013, and we ran them over the couse of last week. Here are those picks, all in one place.

There were so many notable games released this year, I thought it'd be a bit disingenuous for us to pretend to agree on an "official" top 10, or to make believe that our small staff thoroughly played every single game that should have been taken into consideration for 2013. We've got backlogs, just like everyone else. 

That said, combined, we did play a lot of video games from all kinds of developers, and have strong opinions on the ones we loved this year. Here are the games Gamasutra's writers loved most during 2013, in alphabetical order.

-- Kris Graft, Editor-in-Chief

868-HACK by Michael Brough 

"I fell obsessively in love with Michael Brough's 868-HACK this year -- its sharply-tuned understanding of risk and reward, its compelling visual shorthand, and the sharp imprint of one of recent years' most interesting and distinctive creators. Brough makes mathematical things feel vibrantly alive, like a bouquet of clearly-drawn veins." -- Leigh Alexander - (@leighalexander) Leigh Alexander's Top 5 Video Games 

"868-HACK is a perfect combination of game design artistry and rigid mathematical exactitude. It is a game that has a distinct complexity, wrapped in a simple elegance that is concise, and uniquely Michael Brough. 868-HACK feels authored, like someone's hands were on it, caring for its creation -- it has personality woven into its logical rigidness. Every design choice has a purpose, and every choice that you make as a player does, too." -- Kris Graft  (@krisgraft) Kris Graft's Top 5 Video Games 

Animal Crossing: New Leaf by Nintendo EAD 

"If you want to understand how to make a game endless without being exploitative -- which is (or at least ought to be) the goal of pretty much the entire mobile industry right now -- this one should be your guidebook." -- Christian Nutt (@ferricide) Christian Nutt's Top 5 Video Games 

"The long, frenetic summer nights spent showing friends around my character's haunted mansion (wait until you see the basement!) and bouncing around in KK Slider's dance club will remain some of my favorite game memories for years to come. They sit alongside ACNL's quieter moments, the meditative daily rituals of watering flowers, collecting fossils, and befriending neighbors... the same sort of pastoral nostalgia that lies within Pokemon and Zelda but without the urgency to advance, defeat, collect behind those games." -- Kris Ligman (@krisligman) Kris Ligman's Top 5 Video Games 

Dungelot by Red Winter Software 

"The first few times, you'll feel a little like there isn't much to it. Then you begin to pick up on vague tactics here and there, which help you reach the lower dungeons. And two-dozen hours in, you realize that you'll probably play this game for the rest of your life, and you'll actually totally OK with that. Imagine Desktop Dungeons for a more casual audience, but with the depth to keep hardcore players hooked, and you're in the right ballpark." -- Mike Rose (@RaveofRavendale) Mike Rose's Top 5 Video Games 

Gone Home by Fullbright Company 

"With Gone Home, it's not the designer who's getting in the player's face yelling, 'Stop what you're doing, I have a story to tell!' Leave that to movies and books -- they're really good at that. Instead, Gone Home told players, 'Keep doing what you're doing -- there's a story to be discovered.' -- Kris Graft 

"Gone Home achieves the important victory of demonstrating that games can indeed have stories, and be about everyday people -- families, marriages, siblings, even girls -- without cynicism, without market research, without 'choices' or dialogue or violence. And further, that they might be more affecting through simple humanity than through the high-tech 3D-modeled uber-realities that the industry has promised us will bring us "maturity" all this time." -- Leigh Alexander 

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Jennis Kartens
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Hm I only played a few of those... Kentucky Route Zero, Stanley Parable (of course, as the text truthfully states) and Papers Please are the only ones worth GOTY to me of that list.

Otherwise Shadow Warriror made it this year, followed close by The Wolf Among Us.

Kris Graft
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Well, since you've played only a few of those, I suggest you check out the ones you haven't. That's kinda the point of the list.

Jennis Kartens
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A few at maximum. Plattform exclusives like all of Nintendo or even that almost interesting looking 868 fall off the list due to that and other factors of ... taste and principles (pokemon? over my dead body)

I played quite a bunch of them actually, though only a few I'd even concider GOTY worthy for my taste.

I alreday got SpeedRunners the other day since you started posting your lists, not my taste either. My year simply looked quite a lot different from yours for what I would consider "GOTY" (see above). Indie-wise as well as others :)

Still too bad Gunpoint did not quite made it :p (which I currently enjoy)

Matthew Mouras
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This looks like a good list. 868-HACK has gotten a lot of attention on Gamasutra. I'm hoping for a release on Android at some point in the near future so I can check it out.

Leonardo Ferreira
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"We've got backlogs, just like everyone else."


Curtiss Murphy
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This is your list of the best 20? As an Indie, even I'm bothered by the overly obnoxious love-affair with obscure Indie titles. Surely, there were more mainstream titles worthy of a kiss and a hug.

Christian Nutt
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You're welcome to blog about your own top games:

Kris Graft
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"This is your list of the best 20?"

This is a list of the best games this year, according to Gamasutra staff, yes.

Rob Wright
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Wait wait're an indie and you're complaining about a Top 20 games of the year list that doesn't automatically bow to GTA and BioShock and others and actually praises titles that are doing something different and original in game development? This bothers you? What's overly obnoxious about appreciating games like that? And's not like the list didn't have a lot of mainstream titles on there.

Lastly, I don't think "love affair" is hyphenated.

[User Banned]
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This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

Ian Uniacke
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If you don't think titles like Papers, Please or The Stanley Parable aren't worthy of game of the year (maybe even game of the decade) then you either didn't play them or you just don't get it.

Frankly almost none of the big games deserve notice (with a very small exception for perhaps Bioshock Infinite). Other sites "top games of 2013" lists look like they were just itching to get home for the holidays so they just grabbed titles from the pile of press releases that had been stacking up and said they were the best.

If it bothers you that a site decides to actually play games and form their own opinions on them rather than just rank games by press spend then maybe Gamasutra's not the site for you.

Theresa Catalano
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I like the way you've done this list this year. Seems way more inclusive than usual. There's lots of cool things on this list that people will be motivated to check out.

I also take a certain cynical joy that most of the big AAA games didn't make the list. No mention of GTA, Bioshock, Tomb Raider, The Last of Us... all games that doesn't make much of an impression on me. It's been a predictably lackluster year for big budget games.

I'm a little disappointed to not see anyone mention The Wonderful 101, even though it did get an honorable mention on someone's list. IMO that truly was the best game of the year, and the game that will have the most longevity and importance of any on this list. However, I forgive you because somehow Super Valis IV got a mention, and that is a beautiful thing.

Fiore Iantosca
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Last of Us was the most overrated game last year IMO

Rob Wright
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Just putting this out there: Gone Home is brilliant and I'll fight anyone who disagrees*.

* in Street Fighter II, not in real life.

Amir Barak
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I'll take that on, just name ya'r time and place :D

Actual result of match does not mean anything about the game though as I suck at Street Fighter :P.

Rob Wright
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That's fair, I'm a little rusty at the game myself. In any event, it will have to wait until after the holidays.


I've read similar criticisms of the game, and I guess I can see that, depending on how you played/progressed. Personally, I found the more rooms and clues discovered, the more layered the story became. Sure, some of those elements were not pertinent to the final outcome, but to me they were key in creative a suspenseful atmosphere and a sense of mystery around the story.

Adam Bishop
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I appreciated what it was trying to do but I found that the more you unravelled it the more it started to fall apart, both narratively and mechanically. Neither the structure of the game nor the plot make much sense.

Jeff Cary
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I personally really like the list as a whole. Some of them I haven't played and now want to (bought Steamworld Dig after reading Christian's mention of it), have played and did not enjoy (Stanley's Parable) as much as Gama, and some I absolutely loved (Gone Home, Papers Please, and Mario). The only game not on here that I would argue for is Dragon's Crown, which I think some people discount based on the game's objectification of women--for the record I believe it is way over-the-top and unnecessary. It moves the focus away from an incredibly polished game that Vanillaware continues to update and improve.

Theresa Catalano
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Ah, I forgot about Dragon's Crown. That game at least deserves an honorable mention, it's probably the best beat em up game ever made, and a great multiplayer game. The art style is incredibly stylized and beautiful.

Alexander Brandon
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Brandon, did Gate of Thunder get re-released? :) I agree it's a top game, just wondering if it got redistributed...

Brandon Sheffield
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it did not! none of the games on my list came out this year, or even remotely close.

Russell Carroll
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I liked Gates of Thunder, but really preferred Lords of Thunder myself, I was curious as to what you think makes Gates the superior (I loved the TurboGrafx CD games, such a fun period of my childhood).

Craig Jensen
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Gone Home and Bratmobile!

B Reg
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I would like to mention Expeditions: Conquistador and Volgarr the Viking, both awesome games in two different genres. Also, if you haven't played Teleglitch at the end of 2012, you should definitely pick up 2013s Die More edition.

Papers Please is probably my favorite game of this year. Also enjoying Stanley Parable at the moment.

Luis Guimaraes
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For me 2013 was a sad year for gaming.
The list of best games I played in 2013 only has one game from 2013:
#1 Magicka
#2 Castlevania: Symphony Of The Night
#3 Eador: Masters Of The Broken World
#4 Counter-Strike: Global Offensive
#5 System Shock

Edit: Yeah I forgot Antichamber came out this year because I have played Hazard: The Journey Of Life back then. So yeah, put it there on the list too.

Dane MacMahon
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Not a lot this year I really liked to be honest. I'm 90% an RPG guy though and the RPG lot was pretty thin.

Glad to see Shadow Returns on here. It was almost more strategy than RPG but it was a quality title I really enjoyed. Also loved Gone Home for the exploration and story, and Bioshock Infinite for it's exploration and spectacle.

I wish I liked Nintendo games and more indie games as much as the press seem to. I've tried a lot of them and they're just not fun for me. It's probably all based on background, I grew up on Might and Magic and Lucasarts/Sierra adventures and that colors everything I enjoy even today. "Gamers should try this" really doesn't work as a general statement when "gamer" is such an eclectic term.

Jeremy Helgevold
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Saddened that Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons was not considered. That game has stuck with me more than any this year.

Brjann Sigurgeirsson
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Darn, I always seem to comment on these things when it's too late. You guys are great and an inspiration - can't wait to get started on many of the games. Would have loved to see one of Simogo's titles on this list. Either Year Walk (my personal fave) or Device 6, it doesn't matter. Simogo are unable to make non-brilliant things, they've got a magical Midas touch. In a few years we will look back and rave about all their games, and wish they'd sold more copies so that they could produce a new game every month... ;)