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
"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
"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
"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
"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