These are the games I played most in 2013.
10. Antichamber – This is a mind-bending puzzler, and kept me occupied for a good three weeks on my laptop. If you enjoy Portal and don’t mind being constantly messed with, this game is definitely for you. Walls appear and disappear depending on where you are looking, rooms double back on themselves, a unique block gun allows you to do some really cool things.
9. Prison Architect – Still in Alpha, this game by the perpetual indie studio Introversion is part SimCity and part Prison Break. You build a prison, take in prisoners, and attempt to keep things running smoothly. The game has been stable for months, with each update adding new features.
8. Far Cry 3 – I’m not going to lie, the story was pretty bad. So bad I didn’t finish my first playthrough last year (also due to the stupid defend the plane mission). However, I grabbed a mod that unlocks both islands, all weapons, and removes mission requirements for skills, and set to work liberating all of the bases. That was a blast.
7. Splinter Cell: Blacklist, the newest release of the Splinter Cell line, this one takes the new direction put forth in Conviction and fleshes it out more. I miss being able to target 4 people with Conviction’s version of the silenced pistol, but they make up for it with Fisher being able to move much more sleekly between kills, so a small group clustered together can be taken down quickly. As an additional bonus, single player is not ridiculously difficult, mainly because the level design doesn’t make Conviction’s mistake of placing you out in the open with little to no cover. I’ve logged easily over 200 hours in Conviction’s Deniable Ops, and I see myself doing the same with Blacklist’s side missions (especially Charlie’s embassy missions).
6. Grand Theft Auto 5 – I invested about twenty hours in the single player campaign before diving into online, and I value it for the world knowledge it gave me. However, online is where it is at. I can’t wait until Rockstar adds heists and a working stock market. This game is the reason I still have my 360.
5. Saints Row IV – Volition has repeated their success from Saints Row: The Third. Take the ridiculousness of SR3, and turn it to 11, and you have this game. A friend asked about this game and I told him, “You play as the President. Then aliens attack. Then you get put into The Matrix. Then you get super powers. This is just the first half hour.” I cannot begin to describe the joy of launching fireballs at enemies from two hundred feet in the air while Stan Bush’s The Touch plays.
4. Mark of the Ninja – I only recently picked this up in a Steam sale, mainly because of Anthony Burch’s review. I honestly don’t know why I didn’t get it sooner. This game was my Christmas vacation, and it was time well spent.
3. The Stanley Parable – I keep wanting to play Stanley Parable again and get all of the endings, again, until I remember one of the achievements is to not play the game for 5 years. I described The Stanley Parable to a friend as a “Game about games about making games about writing games about movies about playing games with a British narrator who hates you.” You can easily get all of the endings in under 2 hours (I literally just made a tree on a piece of paper with each choice and worked through them).
2. Gone Home – There is a lot of press on whether this counts as a “game.” I didn’t know what to think going into it, beyond the fact that everybody seemed to like it. As soon as I entered a dark and old house during a thunderstorm, I googled “Is Gone Home scary?” (It’s not, aside from the occasional loud thunder). Gone Home is a moving tale about a young girl who returns home after being abroad for over a year. In the meantime, her family moved into the old estate of her late uncle. Arriving to a house she’s never seen, she discovers nobody home, and must explore the house to find out what happened. It’s a wonderfully moving story, and well worth a try.
1. Kerbal Space Program – There is a reason I have logged nearly 600 hours in this game. KSP is a game about making rockets for little green alien dudes (no females yet) and flying them. Things often go very wrong, which makes successes even better. There is a massive modding community who bring so much extra features to this (still in development) game. This game taught me more about physics in a week than a semester at school. I still play this at least once a week and will probably continue to do so for a long time.