Rogue Legacy (PC, OSX – 2013)
I haven’t played as much of Rogue Legacy as I’d like in 2013, but I’ve played enough to know I’ll continue to hammer away at it in 2014. It’s ridiculously addictive and fun, so I’m sort of proud that I’ve managed to not get sucked in while I had other priorities to work through. It’s a game that I fell in love with after just a few minutes of play, which rarely happens nowadays.
Card Hunter (PC – 2013)
I’m not a big browser game guy, I never got into something like Cookie Clicker for instance, but Card Hunter was pretty fantastic. It’s sort of a hybrid D&D / CCG of sorts that hooks you in with really great mechanics. It’s free to play and has stuff you can pay for, but it’s highly enjoyable even if you’re not willing to drop a dime on it up front.
Puzzle and Dragons (iOS, Android – 2012)
I was pretty late to the party on this, but once I started playing I couldn’t stop. Until I lost my save on Android that is, which really, really sucked. But while I was playing I was absolutely addicted. Scouring FAQ’s for special dungeon techniques, pouring over forum posts, getting hyped for God Events, this game was basically digital crack for me this year. It’s also one of the few free to play mobile games I’ve ever spent real money on.
Super Mario 3D World (Wii U – 2013)
I did the review for this one on Gaming-Age, wherein I gushed over it quite a bit. By this point you’ve probably heard all the praise in the world for it, so I’ll spare you anything long-winded. But it’s freaking fantastic, and worth the cost of the Wii U itself.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (3DS – 2013)
The left uppercut following Nintendo’s right hook with Super Mario 3D World, this is essentially the best portable Zelda game out there. And that’s not to discredit the excellent Link’s Awakening, Oracle titles, or the Minish Cap. A Link Between Worlds tugs on nostalgic heartstrings in a way only Nintendo can, but also mixes up the traditional Zelda formula in a way that makes it one of the most memorable games in the lifeline of the series. If I were making this list in any sort of order, this would be damn near the top of it.
Diablo III (PC, PS3, Xbox 360 – 2012/2013)
I played a stupid amount of Diablo III on PC [in 2012], despite some of the issues that game possessed at launch. Then I turned right around and did the same thing on Xbox 360, and next year I’ll do it again on PS4. The console version of Diablo III is better in just about every meaningful way compared to the current PC product, thanks to the offline play, improved loot, adjusted difficulty scaling, and removed auction house. Across all versions it’s probably the game I’ve played the most the entire 360/PS3 generation.
The Last of Us (PS3 – 2013)
What a game this is. Naughty Dog rarely fails to impress, but even The Last of Us left me somewhat stunned when it was all said and done. It doesn’t let up from beginning to end, with that emotional sucker punch of a beginning, right down to the final ambiguous cutscene. It’s hard to deny this is one of 2013’s best.
Gone Home (PC, OSX – 2013)
I literally played through this PC title a few days ago, and it left an impression on me that I won’t forget throughout the entirety of 2014. For a fairly short experience, it really packs in the feels and pieces together its narrative in such a unique fashion that you’ll have a hard time caring about the lack of traditional gameplay. If there’s one indie title that you should believe all the hype for, it’s definitely this.
Tearaway (PS Vita – 2013)
This Vita darling is certainly worthy of praise. As someone that’s not the world’s biggest Little Big Planet fan, I came in without any major expectations and left thoroughly impressed. Media Molecule stayed true to the DIY elements they’ve become known for, but mixed that with a very engaging, focused story that was a blast to play through. It also showcases the Vita’s unique elements in a way that no other Vita game has, and makes the strongest argument for owning the system since its initial release.
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag (PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One – 2013)
I really, really, really didn’t like Assassin’s Creed III. It was one of the biggest disappointments for me last year, and essentially killed any goodwill the series had garnered since the release of ACII. So I was sort of astounded that Ubisoft managed to pull me back in so quickly with ACIV. It’s not a revolutionary AC title, but it’s fun as hell to play. It gives us another extremely likeable protagonist, and revels in its setting without getting unnecessarily bogged down by overwrought drama and dialogue. Now if we could only do something about the stealth follow missions…
Animal Crossing: New Leaf (3DS – 2013)
While Diablo III might have been my most played game of the generation, Animal Crossing: New Leaf was a pretty close second. I’ve always been a fan of the series since the GameCube version, but I don’t think I’ve been as committed to a single Animal Crossing game as I was to New Leaf. This, for me, was the most innovative and original AC experience to date, that was just packed with activities to keep you busy day after day.
Far Cry 3/Blood Dragon (PC, PS3, Xbox 360 – 2012/2013)
I’m going to cheat and count both of these as one game, despite Blood Dragon’s standalone status. There’s been a series of great first person shooters on the market in 2013, but none that really matched the stupid fun of either Far Cry 3 or Blood Dragon. I was generally impressed with Far Cry 2 despite its flaws, and was super happy to see FC3 build upon that base in the best way possible. Far Cry 3 was also the only game I’ve ever bothered to get a platinum trophy on for PS3, which is a testament in my mind to how much I really enjoyed playing it.
The Wonderful 101 (Wii U – 2013)
Platinum Games continues to evolve into one of the best Japanese dev houses around, which The Wonderful 101 really proves here. Despite a lukewarm sales reception, this is the second best reason to own a Wii U, right behind Super Mario 3D World. It can be tough as nails, with very little handholding or explanation as to how all of its unique mechanics work together. But once it starts to click you’ll feel like a digital god, manipulating the diminutive heroes into performing incredible feats of strength and skill at break-neck speeds. You’ll leave The Wonderful 101 a far better action game player than you were when you entered, guaranteed.