Yeah, it’s my turn. Let’s look back.
First of all, there is the podcast form of my Top 10:
Now my written one:
Here we are, at the close of the year. I’m really sad to see 2013 go, but also, really excited to see 2014 come. As some of you know, this year started with me coming out of my clinical depression that just plagued me for the last five months of 2012. It caused the first hiatus in Irrational Passions history, it caused me to stop writing, and it made me question my commitment to the games industry. I started this year strong with a bout of therapy, beating depression, and doing a whole bunch of cool shit.
2013 has been a year where I’ve really come into my own, and I think that reflects on the growth of IP. I did things I’ve always wanted to do: I met Greg Miller and had him on our show. I went to the IGN offices, met the editors, made friends, and saw Podcast Beyond 300 (which was amazing). I brought on some fantastic writers that have been absolutely killing it with content, and even though Niall has stepped back into a more casual role and Brendan will be stepping down entirely after GOTY is said and done, I couldn’t have been more happy to take them on.
I loved this year. But aside from the personal moments that have really helped define this year for me, I played some absolutely amazing games, and had some incredibly powerful and emotional experiences with several of them. This has been a year for characters, a year for emotions, and a year of story for me as far as games go.
I’m incredibly happy with my list, and I hope you like it too. But enough dilly-dallying (do people even say that anymore?); here are my Top 10 games of 2013.
NUMBER 10: DmC Devil May Cry
Going into the new Devil May Cry reboot, I didn’t really expect to love it. What we’d classify as “character action games,” such as God of War or Bayonetta, never really spoke to me. Now, here we are, with DmC as one of my favorite games of the entire year.
I can’t even put into words how much fun this game was. I felt so completely powerful, I felt like I knew how to play it right, and most of all, I felt like I was good at it. These were things I never felt in a character action game before, and with a fun cast and crew, I blew through DmC in one sitting, because I just couldn’t put it down.
I’ve only played DMC4 before, yes, but I definitely want more of this new Dante than the one before him. Please make a sequel Capcom?
NUMBER 9: Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch
I enjoy some good ‘ol fashion whimsy every now and then, and boy is Ni No Kuni whimsical! The idea of being whisked off into a magical world where people’s hearts are physically being broken and the soul-equivalent of your mother is a great and magical witch trying to protect the land is very Studio Ghibli.
I love the way this game looks, I really enjoy how it plays, and regardless of its faults, it tells an absolutely wonderful story about letting go. It really moved me, and in a way where it didn’t need extreme violence and time travel, it was just a coming of age tale that did what those do, very well.
Definitely give this one consideration in the long months ahead with no games.
NUMBER 8: Super Mario 3D World
Speaking of whimsey, I don’t think I have smiled as much in my life as I did when playing Super Mario 3D World. First of all: cats. The cat suits are just so disgustingly adorable, and so much fun! Crawling up walls and scuttling across the world map helped, but the absolute beauty of the worlds I traveled were the real magic.
With so much fun to be had, goofy levels to climb up, and marvelous moments like the final boss, Mario 3D World, much like Galaxy and Galaxy 2, really just drew me into it’s magical and goofy worlds and just didn’t let go.
NUMBER 7: Gone Home
Gone Home is really a special case for me. I knew nothing about it going in, and when the game absolutely related to my life in a deep and moving way, I was just shocked and touched.
Yes, Gone Home does tell a story in a very interesting way, but I don’t know if it’s revolutionizing how stories are going to be told, but really in how characters are made, without ever even seeing their face. Sam felt like a friend that I had, not just because I did have a friend in the exact scenario, but because of how she talked, and explained her situation. She felt human in the way she conveyed these changes in her life to her sister, and that was something just unforgettable.
NUMBER 6: Tales of Xillia
I am a long time Tales fan, and seeing widespread support for this entry to the series has me super happy to see it reach a wider audience. Regardless, Xillia is a really unique entry in this franchise, and as weird as it seems, it feels like a JRPG that is taking some amazing risks.
The lilium orb system in tandem with the combat adding “Links” to its already long list of amazing and fantastical things you can do with it, I was just blown away with how much fun I had playing this game and how new it felt in the Tales series. On top of that, the story actually goes to some crazy and unexpected places, and seems like it really wants to play with your expectations in a new way. A damn fine game and probably the best JRPG released all year.
NUMBER 5: Injustice Gods Among Us
What can I say? I had so much fun playing this game! The first fighting game I wholeheartedly dived into since Street Fighter IV, and man did I have fun. It was one of the first fighting games I got surprisingly good at, and could recognize how combos worked and keep up when online.
Plus, being a huge fan of the DC Universe shows on Cartoon Network just drew me right into the fantastic comic book campaign. On top of that, I played the whole game passing the controller back and forth with Nabeshin and had a goddamn blast.
NUMBER 4: Bioshock Infinite
Wow. I mean, what more can be said? Catching lightning in a bottle twice is kind of a feat, and after Bioshock I didn’t think I’d ever want to see more of a world, but damn… Infinite really sold me on Columbia.
I know this game gets a lot of flack for building up interesting tensions and then discarding them in favor of a more personal story, but I really loved that about the game. Booker was a fascinating character for me, and his motivations were always interesting to ponder. You see him change, and the moment you realized why he’s there and what all is happening… well, let’s say Infinite goes out with one hell of a bang.
NUMBER 3: Beyond Two Souls
Little did I know Quantic Dream had it in them to pull me back into a world with this one. I read the reviews, hell I even edited our review done by Jacob, and I just closed myself off from even hoping this one would be good. Boy was I wrong.
I love this game. I love the absolutely insane science fiction it plays with, and I love its two main characters of Jodie and Aiden. Sure, there are some moment I didn’t like, but the complaints people had with it just didn’t line up with me. The way controls were almost entirely mapped the the right stick worked for me. The way the story was told in a disjointed order was something I loved and found super interesting.
Also, Ellen Page, a personal favorite actress from movies like Inception and, one of my favorites, Whip It, just knocked it out of the park with this one. Just wow. Jodie is a great character and I think Beyond deserves credit on how it built a character, with you the player, from the ground up.
NUMBER 2: The Legend of Zelda A Link Between Worlds
So… I think we all learned a lesson in doubting that Nintendo can make an absolutely amazing Zelda game. I mean, c’mon, this is a little ridiculous.
A Link Between Worlds takes everything that drove my nostalgic love for Zelda and A Link to the Past and adds so many new and interesting things to it. Yes, as I said in my review, I think it would have been a better game if it wasn’t a sequel, but they still do the past justice.
If ever there was a time to take risks with Zelda, it’s now, and it’s on the 3DS. They did that, and the ideas introduced here have me unbelievably excited to see where they go next on the WiiU.
No, I’m not talking about Hyrule Warriors, the next real Zelda.
NUMBER 1: The Last of Us
Yeah, I mean it’s no surprise. I’ve been riding on this hype train pretty much since the moment I touched this game.
The Last of Us did a lot of things. It did story in games right. It did characterization almost like no other. It did motion capture on an entirely new level, and would no doubt make Andy Serkis proud. It gave me Ellie, and it gave us all hope for stories set in zombie apocalypses.
It’s an absolutely superb game. I found it amazingly fun to play and equally as enjoyable just to look at. The world of The Last of Us is really like no other.
Nothing is without purpose here. Joel’s facial animations, Ellie’s innocent reactions, the brutality of almost every second of the game, the symmetry of the beginning and end, and just about everything in between.
This one is one for the ages. An experience I can’t see myself ever forgetting.
THE TRUE NUMBER 1: Persona 4 Golden
Now, you’ve seen my list, and I’m not going to cop out and put a last-year game as my “official” game of the year for 2013, but I need to talk about my favorite game of all time that I didn’t play until this year: Persona 4 Golden.
Having played Persona 4 many years ago, but never finishing it, and always feeling like it didn’t hold a candle to Persona 3 FES, I was ready to give it another shot. Man am I glad I did.
Golden takes everything that was good about Persona 4 and makes it better. The best part is, they did it without fucking it up. I love this game with all my heart, and where The Last of Us succeeds in a lot of ways as far as characterization goes, Persona 4 just blows it out of the water for me.
It’s weird to compare the two because I think they are so different, but no game has made me care for characters as much as Persona 4 has. Rise is someone I loved and still do, and the bond we made will be with me forever. Yosuke’s friendship was real to me, and he was a true best friend in that world. I could go on and on like this, but the magic is seeing this crazy JRPG for yourself.
Please, if you own a Vita, play Persona 4 Golden. If you don’t own a Vita, buy one and play Golden. It’s worth it.