Cue the jazzy intro music, it’s time for the 2013 Gaames Awards! Rather than a “top” list, I figured I would make it more of a generic award sort of thing, more to call out notables games for very specific reasons. So let’s get right to it.
Most Adventerous: Brothers – A Tale of Two Sons
As I mentioned in my review, Brothers was an epic journey. More than any other game I’ve played – probably ever – it embodied adventure. The linear path you travel does nothing to hinder the feeling of traversing a huge, varied world. And although it didn’t make me all teary-eyed, it was an incredibly memorable experience, and easily one of the best games I played this year. So I had to give it some kind of award, and the aspect of adventure was what stood out to me.
Best DLC Game: Dragon’s Dogma Dark Arisen
Here’s the problem with waiting a year to play a game: if it’s awesome, I’ve missed the period of time when anyone else will give a shit about it. So I’m getting this game in on this year’s list through a technicality: the DLC was released as a standalone, packaged with the original game. And holy fuck is it amazing; both the original and the upgrade. It would have almost been enough to knock To The Moon off of the top spot for last year. You explore a huge interesting world, fight epic creatures by climbing on them, and level up different classes for both your main character and your NPC pawn. It’s like a 3rd person Skyrim if Skyrim was good. And don’t even bother telling me that Skyrim can be played in 3rd person, because technically you can also play GTA standing on your head with inverted colors – that doesn’t mean it’s actually playable that way.
Most Nostalgic: Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn
I loved Final Fantasy XI, and went back to it way too many times. Towards the end, I kept wishing XIV would come out already so that I could stop playing XI. No other MMO would quite satisfy, despite having HUGE issues with XI. At last, it came out in September of 2010. And.. it had issues. It was still my favorite MMO despite some annoying technical flaws and baffling design decisions. It was gorgeous, had decent character customization, and I could play with a gamepad. The battle system wasn’t ideal, but it was still a refreshing change from WoW-style hotkey button-mashing. In the end, it was such a disaster that the team was completely overhauled and the game was remade from scratch. It was the best thing that could have happened to the game.
It’s a little too much in the direction of classic, casual MMOs, but I was able to keep my character from the first iteration, and all of the issues I had with it before were completely smoothed out. It’s not always my first choice to load up when I feel like playing a game, but it is the only MMO I am willing to subscribe to, even if only to keep my characters alive and well, and log on once in a while. And I will probably remain subscribed to it until it shuts down or a new Final Fantasy MMO comes out.
Best Game I Didn’t Play: Rust
Yup, made this one up completely. But god damnit do I want to play this game. It’s like Minecraft meets DayZ from the creators of Garrys Mod. There’s no fucking way it’s not great, or at least has the potential to be great. I will definitely be picking it up this year, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was on next year’s awards.
Best Early Access: DayZ
Speak of the motherfuckin devil. And I mean that more literally than you know. DayZ is pure evil. If a game could kick you in the balls, slap you in the face, and pour a gallon of water on your head every time you loaded it up, DayZ would do it. The instant you start DayZ, you have nothing but a flashlight and a battery on you, and you’re thirsty. Water and food sources are stupidly sparse, and if you’re lucky enough to not be killed by another player, you’ll probably run around for a good hour looking for a weapon and something to eat and drink before you die of thirst.
Even once you’ve figured some things out, you still have to run for miles – and I mean for reals miles – to gather anything useful. And if you die somehow, it’s all gone, and you start from scratch. So why is this game compelling? Why is my Steam sitting on that game in my library, ready to go? Why is it the next thing I’ll do when I’m done writing this? I have no fucking idea. Fucking Starbound finally came out on Steam Early Access, and I’d still sooner jump back into DayZ. I’m sure Starbound will be amazing when it comes out, but it needs the polish that DayZ doesn’t in order to really hook me. DayZ is messy and brutal and gives no fucks. And unlike Starbound, I can’t get too invested in my DayZ character, because there’s no way in hell he’ll be around for very long, no matter what happens to the game during development.
The Chuckles Award: The Stanley Parable
Probably the most obvious choice on this list. I don’t think I’ve completed all of the different endings, but everything I’ve played in that game has been hilarious. It’s a game about games. It’s Dear Esther on crack, and with much more player agency. If you have any sense of humor at all (which I suppose you don’t if you’re here), go buy this game already.
Best If It Was A Beta: WRC 4
Finally, a rally game with a better simulation than Richard Burns Rally. Yeah, I’ve played Dirt. Fuck Dirt, I kept going back to Richard Burns Rally even though it’s horribly dated, because it was the most in-depth rally simulation. WRC 4 broke through that barrier at last. The only problem is the game is buggy as fuck. It’s muted my entire computer’s audio on many occasions. Not just the game – fucking everything. A Skype call I was on cut out because of this game, and only came back after I exited the game, and I was still in call, and my mic was still working, I just couldn’t hear a damn thing. That shouldn’t even be possible. And of course, it will skip the muted audio bit, and just completely crash sometimes. I even measure my time with it in crashes. I play to about 3 crashes, and when the game crashes for the third time, I move on to something else. The game is so good while it lasts, and were it not a buggy mess, I would probably be close to beating it.
Best Game I Can Take Anywhere: Entrian Odyssey Untold: The Millenium Girl
I would have never anticipated a 3DS game being on any best-of list, but here we are. Entrian Odyssey is so many things that I don’t like. You are always controlling a team of 4 characters, you never see those characters and can only choose from a few different avatars for them, and all movement is done in a first person, Roguelike grid fashion. On paper, I should hate this game, but I fucking love it. All of those things either don’t matter or come across as virtues rather than flaws because everything just fits. In classic RPG fashion, your characters level up, you can spend skill points on either new skills or leveling up current ones, and you sell your loot to have access to new weapons and armor. And in a fun twist, you have to draw your own map of each region in order to complete it and move on to the next. It’s a clever use of the 3DS hardware without being a frustrating and dull gimmick. It is a great game to have while traveling, as it will make any wait fly by.
Best Fuck You It Is A Game And I Hate You For Suggesting Otherwise: Gone Home
Just like Dear Esther, few things will make me want to punch a person in the face more than complaining that Gone Home “isn’t a game”. Mostly because everyone who espouses this opinion does so for some weird emotional reason rather than a logical one. Nobody can seem to define what makes a video game a video game and not some other vaguely interactive digital medium, but with games like Dear Esther and Gone Home, everyone seems to want to define games as something that specifically excludes these games – even though they usually end up excluding other games that are widely accepted as games. What I’m saying is that people are fucking idiots, and Gone Home is great. It may not be the most action-packed game, nor even the most replayable, but it told an emotional story without ever resorting to so much as a cutscene. And it’s probably the best atmosphere a game has ever had. It was creepy and heartfelt and exciting all at the same time. And you know what? It’s my game of the year. So fuck you, haters.