My 10 Favorite Games of 2013

Like at the end of most years, there’s a plethora of 2013 games I’m still looking to play. But even so, I got my hands on a number of great ones throughout the year. Enough for me to join in the fun of making Top 10 lists! So here they are: the ten games released in 2013 that I’ve enjoyed the most.

10. Resogun
I’ve only played Resogun for a bit, but it made an impression right away. The frantic gameplay requires the perfect balance of skill and strategy, and is fun every second of the way. It also has dazzling visuals: explosions of particle effects add flair that’s impossible to ignore. As soon as I get a PS4 of my own, Resogun’s sure to be the first thing I download.

9. Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon
Combining Far Cry’s winning formula with wacky action movie satire may be the best idea that came out of the AAA game industry in 2013. Running through the wilderness hunting dragons, mowing down enemies with super-powered weapons, and listening to the protagonist’s cheesy quips were some of the best gaming moments I had last year. To top it off, Blood Dragon has one of the most fun endings I’ve ever played, which is laugh-out-loud funny and makes the player feel like a total badass.

8. The Cave
The Cave is full of clever puzzles and level design, but its greatest strengths are its atmosphere, characters, and story, which work together to create a darkly humorous journey through the worst aspects of humanity. It feels like a twisted Disneyland ride that had me laughing, smiling, and mildly creeped out the whole way through.

7. Super Puzzle Platformer Plus
This ingenious combination of two of my favorite genres had me chasing high scores all year. It’s fun, fast-paced, and can pull you in like the best of puzzle games, but the platforming twist makes it wholly its own. It’s the kind of game I play and think “I wish I had made this”.

6. Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon
Dark Moon is a showcase for the Nintendo magic: full of fun gameplay, clever secrets, and charming style. Well-designed puzzles make the player feel smart for solving them, and reigning in tough ghosts is one of the most satisfying feelings of the year. It should also get props for its mission system, which sets up byte-sized play sessions suited for a handheld without limiting the sense of exploration.

5. Grand Theft Auto V
The biggest game of the year did not disappoint. The action is strong, the humor is twisted, and the police chases are still some of the most thrilling moments in gaming. But what surprised me about GTA V is how much I enjoyed just exploring the world: the diversity of locations to visit and sheer beauty of them makes cruising around a serenely fun time. Add the massive variety of things to do (which are actually engaging, and not just boring distractions) and you have perhaps the best open-world sandbox ever created in a game.

4. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds
While I adore 3D Zelda games, I’ve never really gotten into the top-down ones before. That changed as soon as I picked up A Link Between Worlds, whose brilliant puzzles, sound design, and sense of freedom could charm anyone. This is a mix of classic gaming and modern design at their best, creating a game that’s deep and complex but still accessible and constantly fun.

3. Fire Emblem: Awakening
Awakening was my first experience with the Fire Emblem series, but it definitely won’t be the last. This is both turn-based strategy and RPGs at their best. Dynamic systems make seemingly repetitive gameplay endlessly entertaining. Which is a good thing, because the ever-present promise of new upgrades kept me playing for hours at a time. But best of all is the diverse and lovable cast of characters, who ground all the action and drive the experience forward.

2. The Last of Us
Naughty Dog’s latest cinematic masterpiece proves yet again that they’re one of the greatest game studios in the world. Its fantastic storytelling and characters have gotten plenty of well deserved attention, but what surprised me most is how much I enjoyed its stealth-based gameplay. Avoiding enemies is just as engaging as taking them out, and the diverse arsenal of tools lets the player choose how they want to handle every situation. The Last of Us is a truly must-play game. It’s brutal and beautiful, uplifting and heart-breaking, and brilliant through and through.

1. Pokémon X
There’s no way around it: the latest installment in my favorite franchise is easily the game I enjoyed most last year. Playing Pokémon X is an experience of pure joy: an adventure full of wonder and discovery that had me eager to explore every corner. The battle system is polished to a shine, the monsters feel more alive- with more personality- than ever before, and smart new mechanics play up the core game’s strengths. Add the series’ trademark optimism and it’s enough to keep a perpetual smile on my face, and to secure Pokémon X its place as my Game of the Year.