Mike's Top Games of 2013

1.) Grand Theft Auto: V

I cannot speak more highly of this game. Grand Theft Auto: V was the first game in a long time, and the only game this year, that I was able to just sit down and play without noticing any blemishes. The size is massive, the scope impressive, and the attention to detail is unparalleled. The story manages to be incredibly deep in its heavy-handed satire and yet give the air that it’s not really trying. Best yet, Rockstar did not have to sacrifice an ounce of gameplay in order to compete with its own story. Grand Theft Auto: V is, without a doubt, the best game released in 2013.

2.) Divinity: Dragon’s Commander

A real time strategy game laced with aspects of Mass Effect-style storytelling and a Risk-esque gameworld. Sounds like a recipe for disaster, but these layered strategy elements work together so well that I had to put Divinity near the top of this list. The first game that I ever gave a 10 to, Divinity sucked me in and kept me there for many weeks after I had finished playing. The RTS maps are quick and brutal, the dialogue-tree-command sections are deep and well thought out, and the Risk map is the glue that ties it all together. If you haven’t checked this game out yet, it’s a must play for 2013 in my opinion.

3.) Papers, Please

Who would have thought bureaucracy could be fun? Ok, so fun isn’t exactly the word I would use to describe Papers, Please. Dark, desolate, and gut-wrenchingly brutal… those are words I would use to describe Papers, Please.

I’ll be honest, when someone first described Papers, Please to me it sounded like the most boring concept I’d ever heard. Playing a border guard who checks passports? No thank you. After playing it, though, I was astonished at how it managed to draw me in and how much tension I felt while playing. The artificial time limit that exists by having to usher through as many people as possible in order to pay for things like food and heat for your family, combined with need for a sharp eye in order to make sure that only people that were allowed through the gate made it through, are examples of how great a minimalist concept can be when executed correctly.

4.) League of Legends

I know what you’re thinking. “Didn’t League of Legends come out in 2009? What is it doing here?” And you are absolutely correct, but let me explain.

There is an outlier in gaming that these annual lists consistently ignore, that is the perpetual titles that are constantly growing and changing as years go on. MMOs fall into this category, and trust me when I say that World of Warcraft has deserved a spot on many a top 10 list over the years over less deserving games.

League of Legends has become the biggest, most popular, game that the world has ever seen; and that is in no small part to the dedication of Riot in constantly changing and constantly improving their game. League of Legends is almost single-handedly carrying the livestream communities and League of Legends is driving the Esports bus down the street of credibility.

League of Legends boasts 32 million active accounts monthly, and what does Riot do after this year of unparalleled success? They throw their game into a blender and completely change the way it works—just like they do every single year.

This is why I’m including League of Legends in my best of 2013 list. It probably deserves to be higher because, frankly, no other game was better than League of Legends in 2013.

Honorable mentions:

These lists are normally top 10 lists, and that is what the rest of my Spiderduck brethren are doing, but I just do not feel that the games of 2013 where good enough to warrant a full list of ten.

So here are the best of the rest! Games that, while good, were not quite, what I consider worthy of being in the running for game of the year.

In no particular order:

Bioshock: Infinite

Lauded as one of the greatest games ever made upon release; clunky controls, lazy gameplay elements that were simply copy/pasted from the original Bioshock, and boring/repetitive combat sequences weighed this game down and kept it off my list. And let's be frank about the story here, it just doesn’t make any sense upon close inspection, and that the game ended on a twenty minute long cutscene to try and spell it out is unforgivable.

The Last of Us

Gameplay is the reason that The Last of Us doesn’t make it into my list. Gaming must be a unified experience between the story and the gameplay, and The Last of Us falls short.

Rogue Legacy

Rogue Legacy was an amusing distraction for a while. This Metroidvania-style platformer was the perfect title for the doldrums of summer. I don’t have any real criticism of the game itself, but its shallow nature left for a game that was easily forgotten after you put the controller down, and this lack of grip is why this game didn’t make my list.