Top 10 Games of 2013

There was a Neoseeker-specific intro here, but it doesn’t really work on the blog, so I’m just going to jump straight into the list.

Oh, here’s something more appropriate to a random internet blog. My opinion is fact, fuck youuuuuuuuuuuuu.

10: Soul Sacrifice

The monster hunter genre is absolutely HUGE in Japan, and for several years now I’ve repeatedly tried and failed to jump into the craze. Monster Hunter was too slow, Lord of Arcana was too clunky. God Eater was cool but I somehow managed to lose the copy of that. Inspired by near success, and content with the name ‘Keiji Inafune’, I wasted no time jumping into the PSVITA title ‘Soul Sacrifice’.

And what a great decision it was. Every little aspect of the game was amazing, and I loved all of it. From the simple missions inside their huge stories, the lore behind every single monster and location, the avatar tweaking, even being able to annoy Librom before the main menu. The wide selection of spells and skills were great, and I took no time customising my character into a ranged offensive Mage. The Save or Sacrifice mechanic was a great, powerful tool to affect both the story and your character.

While I am yet to completely finish it all up, I am eagerly awaiting the second game, Delta, and am confident enough that it deserves a place on this list, even if it has to be this low.

9: Metal Gear Rising: Revengance

Hang on, I have to start this off correctly. *ahem*

RULES OF NATURRRRRREEEEEEEE.

MGR Revengance was kind of out of the left field (announced as Metal Gear Solid: Rising if I remember correctly) but the ‘cut anything’ mechanic was fascinating. While the game had some trouble originally, Kojima handed the project over to the development GODS known as Platinum Games, and they created the fantastic Character Action game we have today.

This came out a little after my “Metal Gear craze” I went through at the start of the year, when I got HD Collection and MGS4 and played through the entire franchise for the first time, so I was kind of bummed out when this hit and I didn’t pick it up for a while. I think the only reason I did end up playing it was because my little brother bought it after doing the same thing.

Playing though it, I was originally unfamiliar with the concept of ‘Character Action’ games. However, learning the combos and mechanics quickly became a pasttime for me for almost a month, as I tried to perfect my digital swordsmanship. The story, while not the greatest thing ever written, provided a suitable and interesting backdrop for Raiden’s journey and battles. If you’re a Metal Gear fan, you may not enjoy it. But if you’re looking for a great, solid (hah) action game, it’s a good one to pick up.

As for myself, I’ll be jumping back in soon, trying to step closer to my ultimate goal in the game; there’s a really nice professional suit Raiden wears in the opening cutscene, and you can unlock it to play as if you beat the prologue on Very Hard. One day, I will get that damn thing.

8: Pokemon X and Y

Pokemon has a kind of soft spot in my heart, as Pokemon Silver was the game that turned 5-year-old me into the RPG Fanatic I am today. While deserving of a Top 10 spot, I should explain why it’s down here at number 8, as I know Neo’s Pokemon Fanbase is, well, most of Neoseeker, honestly.

Pokemon X and Y, at it’s core, is more of the same. New Pokemon, 8 Gyms, a Pokemon League, and a evil gang of bad guys to defeat. This for me is simultaneously a great thing, and a bad thing. The Pokemon franchise remains strong, and I loved exploring Kalos, visiting the new towns, and making my team stronger. The new 3D world, customisable trainers, and Mega Evolutions were honestly my favourite parts of the game.

I remember playing though the game at launch with my fellow NeoMember and great friend, Kanon, as we ran from town to town, yelling in excitement whenever we found one with a clothing shop. It was a beautiful world, with the 3D rendered region a great source of amazing views and locations. I found it hard to put down, and after three or four days, I was the Champion of Kalos, and had saved the world from the evil Team Flare.

But then, that was it. I loaded my save after the wonderful closing sequence and credits, and rushed down to the newly opened town for the post-game, which is usually the best part of a Pokemon game. And… it wasn’t there. Pokemon X and Y’s greatest failure is that, when you’re done, you’re done. Sure, you can catch all 718 Pokemon, try to get the best rank in the… two or so, facilities for battling. But that’s all there is. There’s one extra legendary (three if you count Mewtwo and your Roaming Bird), and there’s no Battle Frontier, or Contests, or anything else to do.

While a great game, it’s one that doesn’t last. I do strongly look forward to the inevitable Pokemon Z, and you will see me (or not see me, since I’ll be busy playing it) rushing through the journey all over again. But for X and Y, I am done. I put the game down about a month after release, when I decided I had seen everything, and haven’t touched it since.

7: Game Dev Tycoon

This might be a game a lot of people aren’t aware exists. I only know myself because of a retweet of an off-mention shortly after it came out. Ever the Kairosoft fan, and unable to skip over such a great homage to their original work, I immediately went and grabbed it, and after some conversation with the company’s Twitter account, I dived right in.

Game Dev Tycoon is, well, a Tycoon game about Game Development. You start up, and your amazing company is…. you, alone, in a garage. As you go along, a time progression system has new platforms launch, mirroring the real world’s game industry progression. Hey, remember that time the Virtual Boy was a terrible failure? It is here too, so don’t invest in that. On the same note, develop for the DS, and you should rake in the cash.

I had a ton of fun with this sometime in July, and I have recently begun a replay of the game, taking in my previous knowledge to avoid some slip-ups this time. There’s nothing that comes to mind about what could be changed, as I don’t remember having any problems with anything. It’s a great game, and if you enjoy it, you’ll love it. Bringing my game company out of failure into the global giant it was at the end of my first playthrough was an amazing adventure.

Fun Story: At one point, late into the game, I had a ton of trouble with repeated failures, to the point my company was close to bankruptcy. Pooling all my money and resources, I pushed out a make-or-break RPG as a last ditch effort. Fitting the theme, I jokingly named it ‘Final Fantasy’, remembering how it was the same for Squaresoft when they made that. And then it sold millions, and suddenly I was super high charting and making a ton. So I somehow replicated the origin of Final Fantasy with, well, Final Fantasy. Fancy that.

6: Thomas Was Alone

This is a game I picked up for free on Europe’s Playstation Plus, when it launched on PSVITA. At first glance, a game about boxes. That was it. That’s all I had to go off when I looked at the store page. But hey, it’s free. Why the hell not.

THIS GAME. Yep, sure, it’s a game about boxes. It’s a puzzle game, where you get boxes from one part of a map, to the end. Using the other boxes. But damn, it was amazing. The entire game is narrated, and each box has a name, a personality, and a story. And it’s such a great story. Sure, the puzzles may not be the hardest, and it probably wasn’t the best puzzle game to come out this year. But it was a great experience, and I had such a warm feeling at the end.

I’m sure it’s on something you own, and it’s probably pretty cheap. You should go buy it and try it out for yourself. You’ll see what I mean.

5: Ace Attorney Dual Destinies

Dammmmmn. So this took a while. Apollo Justice came out in, what, 2008? I didn’t even have an account here when it came out, looking at the date. And then we had the two (or one, rather) Investigations game. And then Professor Layton vs Ace Attorney, which will finally be out here next year. So this was a while in the making.

I have to say, straight up, the game looks BEAUTIFUL. Everything transitioned to 3D perfectly. Seeing the familiar poses in the new models was so nostalgic. And then Phoenix and Apollo had their Objection themes remastered for when you played as them. All up, the game’s move to the 3DS was flawless.

Now on to the game itself. Like the previous two main AA games, there is a story that goes across the entire set of cases in the game. The jumping back and forth between the three attorney’s made for some great play, and then there’s the interaction between them all. (Hey, you know how you should show your Attorney’s Badge to everyone you meet? Present it to Phoenix at the office as Apollo. My favourite conversation in the game is there).

The cases themselves… were a bit 50/50. The “tutorial” case was suddenly a full case out of nowhere, which was a nice great surprise. But then, all of the cases were really long. Like, REALLY long. I played a case a day when it came out, because I honestly couldn’t get through them all any faster. And I mean a FULL day. So after the third case, it just sort of bombed and I stopped playing for a few weeks. I felt like I was working, sometimes, there was just a lot of dedication to getting stuff done. I did eventually trudge through the final cases, and damn that was a great payoff. The final two cases are amazing.

As always, there is a great sense of writing and humour, and the mysteries surrounding some of the cases were fantastic. The ‘villain’ was probably the most interesting one in the entire franchise so far. It’s full of Ace Attorney charm, and any fan of the series will love it. I loved it. It was just tough at times.

Lastly, I feel the need to criticize the way they handled the character gimmicks. Jumping back and forth the various little extra games got quite annoying, especially during a sequence near the end where you’re expected to figure out whether you should be even using the gimmick or if you should be looking for a contradiction. Additionally, the new Mood Matrix has absolutely zero penalty for making a mistake, turning it from a game of careful and clever analysis into a game of HIT EVERY BUTTON ON EVERY SCREEN UNTIL YOU WIN.

But yeah, good game. Just needs to fix up the dents.

4: Saints Row IV

Before all of the cries of “Why isn’t this GTA5” come in, it’s because A. I didn’t play it, and B. I didn’t WANT to play it. Honestly, I don’t know if I’ll ever play a sandbox city game again, because Saints Row IV was so incredible I don’t think anything can compare. Basically I had two options. Option A was a Sandbox game with bank robberies, general shootings of cops, and drugs, and whatnot. Option B was SUPERPOWERS AND ALIENS. I chose the latter because I’d played the former a hundred times already.

On topic, Saints Row IV is phenomenal. Sure, it’s silly and goofy, over the top, and completely non-sensible. But that the best part. It’s so crazy and hilarious and its beautiful. Whereas an escape scene in other sandbox games is shooting off police as you drive as fast as possible, an escape scene in SRIV is hijacking a spaceship as you fly away from the bad guy’s base, all to the sounds of What Is Love.

It’s also an amazing trip down memory lane, as The Boss visits familiar locations, and returning characters bust into the scene. The small section of the HD Stilwater you can visit is beautiful, and battle’s against characters like Veteran Child and Tanya make for some of the most fun and crazy fights in the game. Plus, the game is LOADED with content. You can look at your minimap at any given time, and have a huge list of things to do. I am yet to 100% the game because I still haven’t gotten to go to the last few events where I fly across city blocks after faking being hit by a car, or because I didn’t destroy enough while piloting a giant robot.

The best way I know to describe the game, is “Fun in it’s purest form”. That’s it. It’s FUN. It’s not taking itself seriously, it’s not trying to be realistic, it’s not trying to convey a message. It’s just fun.

3: Persona 4 Golden

Admittedly, this segment could go on forever. But I won’t. It was also hard to not put this at 1, but as it’s both only a 2013 game in Europe (THANKS ATLUS), and an Updated Re-Release, I decided to hold it back a bit.

Persona 4 Golden is, admittedly, one of the greatest RPGs ever made. In my opinion, obviously. But since my opinion is law for the duration of this article, let’s go with that. There’s a fantastic balance of the real world simulation segments, and the dungeon exploring RPG segments. The characters are all well-developed, and the simulation aspect never drags down the RPG side of the game. For your protagonist, there is a lot of customisability for how you want to set up your skill list, and the Personae you create are effected by your work in the real world, and your level in the RPG.

The game came out here… in February, I think. Grabbed it when it came out. Right now, as I write this at 12:01am on the 1st of January 2014 (Happy New Years!), I have my Vita sitting on the desk right next to me, with my completely decked out Lv99 Protagonist, and his Lv99 Izanami-no-Okami, the game’s ultimate Persona. And it’s my third or so playthrough, I believe. And honestly, I feel like I could play through this game a ton more times.

2: Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn

“A MMO, above all these other games?” “Isn’t FF14 the game that bombed massively?” “Why is this up here, so high in a list?”

Well. I’m not going to go into TOO much detail here, but FF14:ARR is the completely re-launched, re-designed, re-made MMORPG from Square Enix. After the, admittedly, spectacular failure of the original release, Square Enix completely reshuffled the development team. And then, the new Producer, Naoki Yoshida (alternatively “Yoshi-P, our lord and saviour”), decided to rain down fire upon the the original game, and rebuilt the ENTIRE thing with his new team. And it paid off.

If you’re not familiar with Final Fantasy, or not a MMO player, then this might not appeal to you. But if you are either of those things, you’ll enjoy this. And if you’re both of those things, this might be an amazing experience. FF14 is, in essence, a love letter to the Final Fantasy franchise. From familiar monsters, to the materia in your equipment. From the classic White Mage, to the famous Dragoon. From Bahamut, the legend, to Crystal Tower, the legacy. Final Fantasy XIV A Realm Reborn brings together classic aspects of Final Fantasy, mixes them with modern MMO gameplay and mechanics, and ties them together with what is one of the best stories in any recent Final Fantasy title.

For me, well, my story begins all the way back on Day 1 of the original failed launch in September 2010. My character, a budding thaumaturge, has come all the way from rookie spellcaster to a powerful Black Mage. And along the way, I’ve met amazing people, and made incredible friends. I’ve experienced things, along with thousands of other players, and fought through huge battles defending our realm.

The appeal of an MMO, and Final Fantasy XIV in particular, is wildly varied. But if you haven’t played a MMORPG before, then hey, this might be a nice place to start. I guarantee, SOMETHING in there is something you’ll like. Whether you want to immerse yourself in the world, join a role-play server and create your character, living in Eorzea, or if you want to gear up and become a great hero, it’s all open to you.

1: Bioshock Infinite

For people who know me, this may seem COMPLETELY out of nowhere. But trust me, I’ll explain how this got above all those other games.

So there’s this thing called Steam Sales, right? Back in July, I grabbed this game when I saw it on the front page. I had heard it was pretty good, and Neoseeker’s own RabidChinaGirl had done some great analysis posts that I had been forcing myself not to read until I played it. So, I grabbed it at the first opportunity. Let it install overnight, and then woke up on a Saturday morning, ready to laze around. Figured I start the game, play for a bit, then go watch some anime or something.

ABOUT FIFTEEN HOURS LATER, I had finished the entire game. I physically could not bring myself to stop. Bioshock Infinite is heavily focused on it’s story and world, and the work they put into them is obvious. Columbia is incredible, and Elizabeth was a fascinating change of the generic “Escort mission” character. As I played, the game asked more questions. And I wanted to know the answers. So I kept playing. And playing, and playing, and playing. And then I reached the ending, and I was satisfied. Everything came together wonderfully.

I think the greatest testament to a story is being unable to pull myself away. This is previously only an experience I have had with novels. Being able to experience that feeling through my favourite media format, was incredible. The story was breathtaking, and it’s the thing closest to what I would call a Masterpiece.

There’s a Steam Sale on right now. Maybe you should swing by. You might be able to pick it up yourself. (Also, if you do, buy the Bioshock Triple Pack with all three games in it. It’s cheaper than buying Infinite by itself, and I hear the other two games are pretty great too.)

Honourable Mentions:

Black Rock Shooter: The Game:
Hey this is probably the kind of game people expected me to talk about. So er, I played this back on the original Japanese release. The game was pretty fun, the combat was cool. Field gameplay could use some work. Can’t vouch for the translation quality, but might be good. It’s on PSP or PSVITA, Digital Only I believe.

Fire Emblem: Awakening:
I think my friends would hate me if I didn’t mention this. It was quite a stand-out game this year, and it would have been Number 11 if this list was longer.

The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds:
This game is pretty fantastic, but unfortunately I couldn’t put it in my list because I legitimately only bought it earlier today. But yeah, it seems pretty fun so far, and I’ve heard a lot of good.

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