Since the PS Vita launched, I have done a majority of my gaming on the go. I love trophy support and the robust catalog of games on the Vita just keeps me coming back for more. I have had my eye on Tearaway since it was announced a while back. Developed by a 15 person team at Media Molecule, the game is special in so many ways that it’s really hard to describe to naysayers why this game is so good. The game is a little short, but the way it integrated me with every aspect of it made me feel more involved in this game than any game has been able to do in such long time. Every creation I made was saved and visible. Even coming back to chapters I blazed through, my custom snow flake or paper flame could still be seen. It’s so touching to see your influence in a game world stay persistent, and Tearaway does this every step of the way.
Unlike The Last of Us or LittleBigPlanet, where I feel like a player controlling an avatar as you play in their world and run through their story, Tearaway makes the story just as much my own as it is my little Messenger friend’s. Add that to all the smart ways it uses every aspect of the Vita and the fact that the game is mostly about finding things that are smartly hidden rather than trial and error on platforming or combat sections, and Tearaway is this cute little package that spoke volumes to me. I could not put it down and Platinumed the game in mere days, but even now I really just want to pick it back up and explore the paper craft world some more.
PC games are hard for me to get into, mainly because of the control scheme. But when Gone Home became the talk of the industry, I knew I would have to jump into it to at least be able to converse about it. Though the gameplay is simple, the game has such a great story that I had to play through it in one sitting. Between the teenage love story, the controversial sexual themes and the constant feeling of the worst case scenario being played out, I was completely on edge. And when I came to the ending in the attic and I found out that Sam and Lonnie were running away together, I didn’t know what to feel. I almost felt disappointed. Like I really wanted the worst possible outcome for these characters because I have spent all night thinking the worst would happen. Days later, after letting the story shift around in my head it all started to click, and I could see just how well put together the entire game was, constantly playing with my expectations. And even now I still am not sure how much I liked it or disliked it, but the game still stays with me, which is why it deserves a spot on my games of 2013.
When Spelunky released, I played the demo and instantly deleted it, forgetting all about the game. Starting all over from the beginning of the game every time I died just did not sound appealing and overall, I was getting a little worn down with 2D platformers. So a couple months later, when my roommates and I were looking for a good co-op game we could all play, we all bought our own copies.To this day, we still play at least once a week. That’s what I love about Spelunky. Despite the difficulty and the lack of story, the game is made to be played with couch co-op. Even though you know you can beat the hell out of your friend to get that next piece of gold or a kiss from the girl, you’ll probably need them to revive you next round, or bomb a hole in the ground or help you kill that giant spider. This slightly forced co-op experience has made it so much fun, and has even helped get my gaming agnostic girlfriend to dive into gaming with me. If you are looking for a good time to spend hours of gameplay with a friend or three, you cannot go wrong with Spelunky.
Speaking of 2D platforming games, my god is Guacamelee! good. I’ve really like DrinkBox, especially after they released Mutant Blobs Attack on Vita, so when they said they were working on a Metroid-vania style game revolving around a Mexican theme, I was sold. Traveling a giant 2D map, picking up super abilities to lead you to the next area is so fulfilling. It helps that the fighting style emulates the feel of being a wrestler so well, with a large emphasis on throws and slams over simple button mashing and the mix between Mexico and Day of the Dead themes works so well.
The best part of the game is definitely the platforming. Getting through the story won’t take too long and the challenge is decent, but seeking out every chest on the map and every hidden item, especially the Orbs, will require you to use your top-notch platforming skills and timing to succeed. But damn is it so rewarding. Plus, a new game plus Hard mode to boot, the game is worthy of hardcore 2D gameplay fans. And finally, there’s an enemy named Flame Face, who drinks shots of tequila. Awesome.
Ratchet and Clank: Into the Nexus
There are some people who are burnt out on this franchise, but I love Ratchet and Clank. Into the Nexus is closer to the original formula, but shorter in length, and that’s exactly what I want from Insomniac Games. The gameplay is tight, the guns are just different enough that you want to continue to upgrade them, and the Jetpack is back. What more could you ask for? !
Insomniac also decided to play around with the story a bit, adding some hints of horror vibes in along the way which work surprisingly well in the comical space universe of the game. If Insomniac released a Ratchet and Clank title like this every year for roughly the same price (or maybe $20) making small tweaks or experiments I would buy it every year. If you like the series at all or are looking for a game with a quick gaunt, this is one I highly recommend.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengence
The first Metal Gear Solid I ever played was Guns of the Patriots. So when I started going back and seeing where Raiden started, I don’t have as much animosity towards the blonde, sexually ambiguous ninja as some other players do. His first solo outing is so different from Metal Gear Solid gameplay, but so familiar to the universe that I just had to play it.
My first thought was this would be a Devil May Cry or God of War re-skined with Raiden, but man is it so much more. With no block button and no dodge, this game is all about heading sword first into the enemy, parrying attacks and slicing things from every possible direction. The combat is so tight, and despite a RIDICULOUSLY over powered final boss, I loved every second of it. It’s one of those games that you play the first two levels and you are getting killed and you don’t know what the hell you’re doing wrong and then BOOM! and it finally clicks. There is nothing more satisfying than free cutting the giant bosses in half and the enemy types and weapon variety add so much to the game that I am really looking forward to going back and playing it.
DmC: Devil May Cry
Speaking of games like Devil May Cry, man was this newest iteration good. I was definitely one of the haters when the first trailer dropped. I loved DMC and DMC 3 and saw absolutely no reason to reboot the universe, despite the fourth game being only ok. And I knew that Ninja Theory was a good developer, but I’d never really sunk my teeth into one of their games (I hadn’t even played Enslaved until this year, after I beat DmC). So I was totally against it. Man was I wrong.
The game play is just as fast paced as the original series, if not faster. Being able to switch weapons simply by holding down a trigger makes things remarkably quick and makes maintaining combos even easier. I always struggled getting high combo ratings in the original series, so just being able to switch to a weapon seconds faster than before has really changed how I play and I love it. Add in the much improved story and universe that Ninja Theory has crafted and it all wraps up in this ass-kicking package. It is so satisfying to just shred enemies apart in this game, and with the chapter and difficulty structure the same as the original, there is a lot of meat on this game, even if I’m not good enough to play through all of it.
Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time
I love 3D platforming games, and as the time goes on it seems that most developers are moving away from that particular genre. The newest Sly Cooper scratched that itch in so many good ways. The 3D platforming mixed with open hub worlds returned along with some new characters and abilities to keep things interesting. I played most of this game on my trip to Spain on my Vita, and man was it a Godsend. The story chapters are long enough to be entertaining and short enough to finish in short bursts, and if you’re not feeling up to completing those there are plenty of little things to collect in the hub worlds. Plus the time travel aspect made each world feel different, both aesthetically and geographically. This game was one of the first I played on my Vita that I actually felt I was getting a console quality game on the go, and I had so much fun I’m thinking about re-installing it just to Platinum it this year.
The Last of Us
So when it was originally announced, I had no interest in this game what so ever. I knew of Naughty Dog and that the studio was a good studio, but never played any of the Jak and Daxter games or the Uncharted games (Still need to play those…). So when I started listening to Podcast Beyond, I happened to stumble across the spoilercast. Thinking I would never play, I listened all the way through to Greg, Mitch, Collin and Brian talk about how much they loved the game. Ironically, all the spoiling they did had no effect on me, simply because I imagined everything they said completely differently.
My best friend John ended up purchasing the game for me as a late birthday present when we returned from Spain. We all sat as I played the opening to the game, and the second I heard Sarah whining in pain as Joel holds her in his arms, rocking and back and forth, tears streamed down my face and I was hooked. Very rarely does a game compel me to start a second playthrough right away, and never have I ever completed the second playthrough right after beating it for the first time. From the fantastic stealth and gunplay gameplay to the survival aspect to the world created and the characters that inhabit it, I love this game. Any old friend who comes to stop by the house, I show them that opening, just to prove how far games have come. I can’t wait to play it again and if you haven’t, stop right now and go play. This game will make your heart ache in a way you didn’t think possible in games.
So that’s it! These are my top games of 2013. Please leave some comments below and tell me what your top games were, or tell me some stories about your experience with these games. I’d love to hear it all. Thanks for reading and keep the conversation going.