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

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

December 23, 2013 Article Start Previous Page 4 of 5 Next
 

SpeedRunners by Double Dutch Games and tinyBuild Games 

"Imagine the classic Micro Machines but in platforming form, and you're on the right track. Four players rush around a loop, leaping and bounding over and under obstacles, and using special abilities to knock each other off course. It's so simple, yet just so right, to the point where you can play the very same level over and over again for three hours straight, and never get bored. It's the best game of 2013 that you didn't play." -- Mike Rose

Spelunky by Mossmouth 

"If I had to choose just one game to play for the rest of my life, I’d choose the Vita version of Spelunky. Derek Yu’s brainchild has made regular appearances in critics’ year-end roundups since its release in 2008, with good reason -- Spelunky’s devilishly challenging levels demand tenacious and skillful play, and their semi-randomized design ensures that no two lives are identical." -- Alex Wawro 

The Stanley Parable by Galactic Cafe 

"You're actually having a conversation with the narrator, but you reply to and engage the narrator with your actions (i.e., choices), not with words. The Stanley Parable invites players to find their own unique answers, to follow along with or disobey the narrator and come to their own conclusions. It critiques the way games are designed, and the way players play them." -- Kris Graft 

"From its general premise, to its pitch-perfect narration, to all of the little ways you can attempt to break the game, only to find that every intricate input and outcome has been considered, there's so much to adore about this sprawling, first-person brain-bender." -- Mike Rose 

SteamWorld Dig by Image & Form 

"Image & Form, with its mobile background, knows that times have changed, and that there are ways to make games more accessible and engaging without dumbing them down, and that is a fantastic insight expertly applied. A blend of old and new: SteamWorld Dig is a triumph of carefully implementing the right designs at the right times in the right ways. It is totally engrossing." -- Christian Nutt 

"It's the flow of the game that really sets it apart. You dig deep, you find gems, you bring them back to the surface, you repeat. But the path that you create through this randomly-generated world remains in place, meaning that backtracking is regularly entertaining. As you begin to pick up special abilities (this is where the Metroid bit comes into play), you'll be able to dig deeper and reach further. It's pretty remarkable how fantastic the level design is, given that 90 percent of the experience takes place amidst randomly-generated squares." -- Mike Rose 

Super Mario 3D World by Nintendo EAD Tokyo 

"It's a complete survey of the entire franchise's history, taking in all of its gameplay ideas and aesthetic flourishes and, despite the difficulty, blending them into a seamless whole. 28 years of game design ideas, yet everything fits -- including the new stuff. The game is long, polished, playful, and beautiful. You'd think Mario would be out of ways to surprise someone like me, who's played every game in the franchise, but 3D World still managed to." -- Christian Nutt 

Typing of the Dead: Overkill by Modern Dream/Sega 

"Typing of the Dead: Overkill is no one's bold new vision. What it is, is an assignment done well, carried out by a team going above and beyond its professional obligations not out of some studio's emotional manipulation about crunch or passion, but out of a belief in the work." 

Ultra Business Tycoon III by Porpentine 

"Ultra Business Tycoon III is fundamentally a game about video games and what they mean to us, from a variety of angles. Twine creators are often brought up in conversations about 'outsider art' ("why not just call it 'art,'" Michael Brough recently said on the subject while we were at an event), but UBTIII, in its way, unfurls an intimate story: how the compelling textures, half-understood rulesets and blunt-edged landscapes of our childhood games were the safest places for many of us to be." -- Leigh Alexander 

Westerado by Ostrich Banditos 

"I love that the Ostrich Banditos managed to craft a compelling, free-ranging murder mystery with a remarkably circumscribed set of player verbs -- move, aim, shoot, reload. Making anything other than a first- or third-person shooter is a seemingly Herculean task when you’re shackled to those options, but inWesterado you use your trusty six-shooter to accomplish everything from opening gates to comforting the wounded or ferreting out information." -- Alex Wawro 


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Comments


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:
http://gamasutra.com/view/news/206610/Call_for_blogs_The_top_game
s_of_2013.php

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 wait....you'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 furthermore....it'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.

Arman Matevosyan
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@Ian way to respect diverging opinions...

Ian Uniacke
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How else does one respond to disdain for the editor's opinions? Respect goes both ways. You can't badmouth the opinions of the minority that put these games forth and then expect everyone to play nice when responding.

As far as I can tell the OP wasn't intended as a "read between the lines" insult to the editors. "Overly obnoxious"? What does that even mean?

Arman Matevosyan
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@Ian Well for starters, if you're going to protest against a disdainful opinion regarding the editor's opinion, I wouldn't recommend being disdainful.

As for the article itself, I don't think it's fair for the the editors to claim the authority of objectivity while retaining the freedom of subjectivity. In other words, if they're going to put out a "Best Games of 2013" list, I'm not sure how fair it is to counter criticism by merely saying "well this is just my personal opinion, and if you don't like it that's too bad." If it's just personal opinions and not an objective analysis, shouldn't this list be called "Gamasutras Favorite Games of 2013"?

Jeff Cary
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I know a lot of people skip the introduction of such lists, but Kris clearly stated that this was each editor's personal favorites of 2013.

I'm not sure where you see them claiming objectivity. You are more than welcome to disagree with their choices; hopefully it will drive a constructive discussion.

Arman Matevosyan
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What's the title of the article again? I guess just as many people skip that part...

brandon sheffield
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the title of the article is "gamasutra's top games of the year," not "the top games of the year." so... indeed!

Arman Matevosyan
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Why exactly are we excluding the first portion that reads "Best of 2013"?

Jeff Cary
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The "Best of 2013" is Gama highlighting a number of its best features for the calendar year. It is not saying these are the Best Games of 2013. It is Gama's way of plugging what they see as some of the best its website had to offer for the year 2013. If you scan the front page you will see a number of articles that begin with "Best of 2013."

Arman Matevosyan
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My mistake. In my crazy world, when I see an article titled "Best of 2013: Gamasutra's Top Games of the Year" and the editor in chief, Kris Graft, stating in the comments that "this is a list of the best games of this year," I tend to think they are saying this is their list of the best games of 2013.

Kris Graft
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Good gravy.

Adam Bishop
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There is no meaningful difference between "best" and "favourite" for any kind of art. I didn't like GTA V very much; for me it's a bad game. Other people thought it was brilliant; for them it's a good game. There's no way for that kind of evaluation to ever be anything but subjective. Any "best of" list is, by definition, just a collection of what the people who contributed to that list enjoyed.

Arman Matevosyan
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That's fair, but can I push back on this? Taking your example, I can look at Gone Home and say it's an awful game subjectively because I don't connect with the storyline. But why can't I also say that the game is awful aside from my own personal feelings (as in objectively) because there is barely enough interaction to qualify as a game?

Looking at GTA V we can say that we don't like it subjectively because of its cynicism and violence. Why can't we also say that the its gunplay is objectively bad because manual aiming is too clunky?

Rob Wright
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@Arman you can say that about Gone Home, but of course you must then accept my Street Fighter II challenge (see previous post below).

On a serious note, I'm not sure I get the lack of interaction criticism. It's an open world envrionment where players to can choose whether or not to investigate or explore every room or clue.

As for your GTA V question, yes, you can say you think the gunplay was objectively bad. But maybe it doesn't bother some people that the controls are clunky when it comes to shooting, and that they connect with other elements of the game so much that they barely notice the majority of their bullets are be scattered wide right (or left). The point is, everyone's experience is different when it comes to art. And games are art.

Amir Barak
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". And games are art."
This is not a valid argument against criticism you realize; in fact quite the opposite since if games are art and art has critics and arts has definitions and people certainly discern between good and bad art then by this very statement games can and should be criticized. And there are, most definitely, good and bad games.

A lot of problems in this debate whether specifically Gone Home (and overall other types of interactive experiences rather than games) is a bad or good game (it's a terrible game by the way) stem from incoherent, lazy and contradictory nomenclature employed by people trying to shoehorn the idea that games have to be art in order to validate some weird sense of self expression.

A game is a type of artistic mode/genre rather than, hey ho, everything is art because art is self expression and everything is self expression and everything is good so stop looking at me funny...

What this list isn't is, "Gamasutra's Best Games of 2013". What it is, is "Gamasutra's Favorite Things That Are Playable On A Screen in 2013"; and you know what, there's nothing wrong with that.

p.s
Xbox or Playstation for Street Fighter? :D

Rob Wright
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So....you're saying Gone Home is not really a game, because it lacks interactivity. But you're also saying games *are* art -- but not because they're about self expression? I'm a little confused. If it's all about maximizing interactivity (and not story or narrative or self-expression), what then separates BioShock or GTA V or Zelda from Fireball Island or Risk or any other board game?

As for your question....PlayStation. PS controllers are OBJECTIVELY the better controllers for fighting games, whereas the Xbox controllers are better for shooters:)

Arman Matevosyan
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@Amir You're getting to the heart of my point. It's not enough to defend against criticism by saying "this is art."

Arman Matevosyan
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@Rob It's perfectly rational to say "Gone Home objectively has enough interaction for me to make it a good game." Objective does not mean there is only one correct answer. All it means is that you are evaluating it without your own personal feelings or opinions.

Luis Guimaraes
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If It was a Quake, UT or CS challenge I'd totally take it.

"It's perfectly rational to say 'Gone Home objectively has enough interaction FOR ME to make it a good game'. Objective does not mean there is only one correct answer. All it means is that you are evaluating it *without your own personal feelings or opinions*."

This paragraph is contradicting itself. Unless you interpret ME and YOUR very literally.

Anyway, it can't objectively be "good" or "bad", but it can objectively be a game or not. Not that it matters if it's a game or not, but it does matter if your calling it what it really is. There's too much confusion already we can't afford any more.

That why now I only say Video-Games when I mean Entertainment-Software / Virtuality (even thou some aren't actually Virtuality but just Fiction instead), instead of the failed 'games abbreviation.

Arman Matevosyan
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Can you help me see the contradiction? Any observation, whether objective or subjective, needs to be from a point of view. In this case, FOR ME indicates that point of view.

To say that "a game can objectively be a game or not" is also from a point of view. If we follow your rational, a game can't even objectively be a game or not because that requires an observer to acknowledge whether it is a game or not.

To not be objective, we would need to inject our own personal feelings or opinions and say something like "GTA V is a good game because I grew up in LA and it's nice to see so many familiar places."

Let's take your presumption that a game can't be objectively good or bad. Let's say there is a game that crashes 99% of the time. We can't say that that game is objectively bad?

Tom Davies
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No, because the guy who made it might think it's the best thing in the world and might be able to overlook it's technical difficulties.

Arman Matevosyan
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@Tom do you realize that those views are not mutually exclusive? In other words, it's perfectly fine that he think it's the Mona Lisa and I think it's garbage.

I look at the fact that the game starts only 1% of the time and I say that the game is bad. Since I'm basing my conclusion on facts, I'm making an objective observation.

He may think the game is good because it's the first one he has ever coded and a 1% start right is relatively high for amateurs. Since he is basing his conclusion on facts, he is making an objective observation.

Luis Guimaraes
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"Let's take your presumption that a game can't be objectively good or bad. Let's say there is a game that crashes 99% of the time. We can't say that that game is objectively bad?"

We can say that the Software (Medium) in which the game is delivered is objectively bad. If it only starts only 1% of the time you can't even have enough data to form a subject opinion of the game because you didn't even get to play it.

Tom Davies
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In other words, basing your opinions on facts doesn't MAKE them facts.

Arman Matevosyan
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Can you show me where exactly I said my opinion was fact? I don't mind waiting...

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

Disclaimer:
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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@Amir

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

@Adam

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... ;)


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