Grand Theft Auto V (PS3, Xbox 360 – 2013)
Each and every Grand Theft Auto release is an event not be missed (for better or for worse), and Rockstar’s latest in the franchise hit the nail directly on the head. I loved the trio of characters and their intersecting story lines, the rock-solid shooting and driving gameplay, and the insane attention to detail in both the world and characters.
The Last of Us (PS3 – 2013)
Naughty Dog never disappoints, and The Last of Us is easily one of the most emotional, real experiences I’ve played all year. I’m not a survival horror fan, but Naughty Dog made me a believer of their brand of survival games, and I eagerly anticipate the single player DLC, the next game in the series or even a PS4 Ultimate Edition.
Puppeteer (PS3 – 2013)
There is probably no game in my list that screams “underrated classic” quite like Puppeteer. Sony’s Japan Studio turned what looked like a simple, quirky side-scrolling platformer into a lush, amazing adventure, with unique gameplay and even more unique characters. Don’t pass it up!
Tearaway (PS Vita – 2013)
I have yet to finish Media Molecule’s charming portable masterpiece, but so far, it’s truly one of the most enjoyable and original games to grace the Vita, or any other platform, this year (or generation). Get a PS Vita for this game just to support it.
Soul Sacrifice (PS Vita – 2013)
I wasn’t a fan of the Monster Hunter-genre, and actually didn’t get the hype for Soul Sacrifice until spending several hours with the game, but then I was hooked. Taking down bizarre, incredibly designed fable and fairy tale-inspired monstrosities sucked up more than 70 hours of my time, and I’m still itching for more.
Gran Turismo 6 (PS3 – 2013)
I usually prefer challenging, arcade-style racers, but I make an exception for the Gran Turismo series. There’s something about that jazzy menu music, hundreds of unlockable vehicles and license tests that just keeps me coming back. GT6 is no different, and it’s one of the best in the series.
Beyond: Two Souls (PS3 – 2013)
Love him or hate him, Quantic Dream’s David Cage stays true to his cinematic gaming vision and Beyond: Two Souls was definitely one of the more interesting experiences of the year. Overall, the game’s emotional story isn’t quite as compelling as Heavy Rain’s, but with flashes of brilliance and strikingly realistic visuals, it is very much worth the price of admission.
Rayman Legends (PS3, PS Vita, Xbox 360, Wii U – 2013)
Ubisoft’s latest Rayman release was my favorite old school-style 2D platformer of the year, and is the most playable and addictive game in the series so far. The insane animation and lush environments pulled me in, but it was the daily/weekly and unlockable challenges and seamlessly integrated social features that kept me coming back.
Skylanders: SWAP Force (PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Wii U – 2013)
For this year, I can’t think of a better family friendly game release than Skylanders: SWAP Force. Beenox did a great job modernizing the series in this 3rd installment, and the loot-tastic action RPG gameplay, enjoyable characters and polished visuals pull it all together nicely. My kids, and their giant army of Skylanders figures, certainly are in agreement.
Journey (PS3 – 2012)
thatgamecompany’s 3rd and final PS3 game was my personal game of the year for 2012, so there’s no way it wasn’t making my 2013 list. Journey is a truly transcendent and emotional gaming experience, and one that I’ve played over and over since its release. I can’t wait to double dip on the eventual PS4 version.
Hotline Miami (PC, PS3, PS Vita – 2012/2013)
I was definitely late to the Hotline Miami party and just recently wrapped up the game’s story mode, but oh what a wild, indie ride. The retro visuals, woozy soundtrack and strategic, violent gameplay are unforgettable.
The Walking Dead – Season One (PC, PS3, PS Vita, Xbox 360 – 2012/2013)
I somehow end up getting side-tracked before playing through the entire first season, so when I finally found time to knock out the last few episodes, it clearly had to make my top 13 list of ‘13. Season Two is already off to a strong start so I’m excited/terrified to see what is in store for our darling Clementine.
Minecraft (PC, PS3, Xbox 360 – 2012/2013)
Sorry Nintendo, but Minecraft is the Mario of this generation. Now available on nearly every major gaming platform, Mojang’s blocky, ultra-creative, free form adventure has stolen the imaginations of millions of gamers, ages 5 through 95.