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Editor’s Choice: Zach’s Top 10 Video Games of 2013

The year of 2013 saw the release of some major releases. We got the releases of the PS4 and Xbox One on top of some AAA games we heard about years ago such as Beyond Two Souls and Last of Us. However, it is no denying that this year, the indie developer dominated the market. My name is Zach Martinez, I am the PR Director and Games Requisition Director here on Broken Analog, you may also see my reviews thrown about on the site. This is my list of the 10 games that impressed me the most (in no particular order).

 

gonehome_1600x900Gone Home (PC) – The Fullbright Company

It is no denying that a small team of dedicated individuals can create something so unique and so memorable that it has the possibility to change the way games are made. Ed Boon and his team did it with Mortal Kombat and the Fullbright Company has done it with Gone Home. A very personal story about a young woman coming back from her service in the military is greeted with an empty house and the lack of someone she was waiting to see for a long time. Despite being one of the shortest games I have ever played, it gave me an insight to a side of women that I could never experience for myself. I guess that is a reason why I found this game so touching.

The simple art direction created an atmosphere that made the game feel incredibly surreal. The house wasn’t extravagant. It was just a normal house with its own quirks, as does any home. Every room had their own features and the personal rooms felt personal and odd to be in because you knew you were not supposed to be there. It took me about 45 minutes to finish this game. I wish there was more, but at the same time, I don’t because the length was perfect for the story told. Gone Home’s storytelling is among the best I have come across in video games yet.

 

payday-2-wallpapersPayDay 2 (PS3, Xbox 360, PC) – 505 Games and OVERKILL

Shooters are slowly becoming bland games that follow a formula too much to the recipe. There is not much experimenting with the genre these days despite the rabid success. The original PayDay was received well as it had the best parts of FPS titles with a new gameplay mechanic, robbery. PayDay 2 has everything that made the original game revolutionary, but also fixed many problems that held it back. A shooter game with true strategy is something that should be boasted about and OVERKILL/505 Games should be very proud of what they worked to achieve because PayDay 2 is a game in it’s own genre.

PayDay 2 rewards people who don’t burst into the front door with guns blazing, they reward players who take their time and plan out their next move. It doesn’t reward the player who gets the most kills, it rewards the player who focuses on the objective and gets the job done. Not only does it have great Co-Op play, but it has a massive customization system ranging from weapon modifications to mask customization right to the role and abilities you will choose. PayDay 2 does something that is really missing in games these days, an established structured formula, that is flexible and can be changed by the player the way they see fit.

 

Dead-Rising-3Dead Rising 3 (Xbox One) – Capcom

What makes the system? The games. The PS4 has Knack, Killzone, and Resogun. The Xbox One has Dead Rising 3, Crimson Dragon, and Killer Instinct. Like how Knack is the PS4’s winner, Dead Rising 3 is the Xbox One’s best seller. Giving players what they finally wanted in a Dead Rising game, you can now explore and discover an entire city in full free-roaming/sandbox fashion. What makes it better is the ability to combine items to unspeakable zombie killing tools that was so popular in Dead Rising 2 pioneered by Chuck Greene. Adding to Dead Rising 2’s system you can combine vehicles to roam the streets of Los Perdidos and now down any zombies in your path.

By far the best Xbox One launch title the story of Dead Rising 3 seems much more personal and very much ties in the first two games tastefully. The game is not perfect and has plenty of issues with the gameplay but some of those are balanced out in a manner that seems fair. One of the better features that Dead Rising 3 offers is the voice integration with the new Kinect sensor. It shows just a glimmer of what the Kinect can do with games that makes them more immersive.

 

Dynasty-Warriors-8-231Dynasty Warriors 8 (Xbox 360, PS3) – Tecmo Koei

The Dynasty Warriors series has been around for a long time. With 8 (technically 7) core entries in the franchise and at least two spin off games (Xtreme Legends and Empires) per numbered game the franchise always found a way to change up the formula and evolve with the changing hardware. Dynasty Warriors 8 is by far the best Dynasty Warriors game to date because it offers much more than just the classic combat and storytelling. The new hardware offered by the PS3 and Xbox 360 has given more detailed character models to fans and a sharper environment to interact with.

The new combat system is much more fluid and musou attacks look extravagant, over the top, and deadlier than they ever have. Dynasty Warriors 8 shows what developers should do with a franchise that has been through three console generations. It is not only a great entry to the franchise for veterans but for new players as well.

 

GuacameleeGuacamelee: Gold Edition (PC) – Drinkbox Studios

I passed on the first iteration of Guacamelee. To this day I have no idea why. When I saw the game pop up on Steam something convinced me to get the game and review it. I am so glad I did. Freeform 2D Action platform games were quite popular back in the back with early Metroid and Castlevania spawning the “Metroid-vania” game genre. Guacamelee reignites that genre with modern flair that is so fresh and familiar it should be illegal. Who knew that a game about a love struck man who uses the powers of a magical luchadore mask would be so great?

What makes Guacamelee so special is not just in the art style, music, gameplay, or even story. It is how all of these parts work together with Guacamelee that make the game, well, perfect. I found almost no problem with Guacamelee because it executed itself so well. The story was engaging, the gameplay was intuitive and challenging, and the art/music was spot on. The game flow never slowed down but it never sped up either. Throw in a second player and you have a magnificent experience that you cannot get anywhere else with a 2D Action Platformer.

 

Papers_Please_-_Title_LogoPapers, Please (PC) – 3909

Once in a while there is a game that literally throws you a curve ball. There is nothing to compare the game to, it is that original. Papers, Please is that game. I can only describe it as “Immigration: The Video Game”. When you look at screenshots of the game, you see screenshots of paperwork and what appears to be tired and grumpy people. IT looks incredibly mundane, and to be 100% honest with you, it is mundane, and that is how Papers, Please broke the way video games are made. It takes a mundane job, and turns it into an emotional struggle to live in a broken country paycheck to paycheck.

Papers, Please pushes you to do your very best every time you play the game. You want to provide for your family, but everyday things get harder. You need to provide food, medicine, and heating on top of rent and other unexpected expenses. You go to work, the weather is dull, the booth is dull, and the paperwork is dull. But why do you keep playing? Because you want to succeed. This is why Papers, Please is the most unique game of the year and the game I have been waiting for. Clever game design at its finest.

 

Contrast-Package-ArtContrast (PC, PS4) – Focus Home Interactive and Compulsion Games

I saw Contrast at this year’s E3. I was super stoked because it looked so different. I was happy to see that when I played the game, it was still very different than what I was playing at the time. Contrast is nowhere near a perfect game, but it is on the right track. Contrast is a game that I want everyone to play because it contains great level design and makes it a selling point. The story is a bonus. Contrast’s level design is so genus because you must manipulate the world around you in 3D to gain access to new area via shadows. The transition between 3D and 2D is seamless and great.

The story of Contrast is well written and the ending is just great because it leaves enough mystery to let you draw your own conclusions. It doesn’t give you all the answers and it is just marvelously executed. Contrast was only hindered by how short it was and launch bugs that almost made the game unplayable.

 

bg-infoXCOM: Enemy Within (PC, PS3, Xbox 360) – Firaxis Games and 2K Games

It isn’t often you see expansions on “Best Games” lists but damn it Firaxis does it again with a brilliant expansion for the best Strategy Game 2012. From the clever title right down to the new unit customization and story Enemy Within does everything that DLC/Expansion does. It adds new gameplay mechanics and more story that makes the game worth playing through. Enemy Within adds a new resource called Meld that allows you to make mechanized units and genetically modify your soldiers. It adds more variety to squad compositions and it changes the way the game is played. While you would expect the new units, weapons, and modifications to break the game, more enemies have been added to balance out the new assets the humans have.

Not only does the gameplay change, but the story does too, and it actually makes the main story better. Enemy Within is much more than a gameplay enhancement, it adds more missions like EXALT infiltration/extraction. These side missions net more benefits for the XCOM project when completed but are also very challenging to complete to due to the new EXALT soldiers. Enemy Within is worth every penny.

 

TheWolfAmongUs_001_BigbyFightThe Wolf Among Us (PC, PS3, Xbox 360) – Telltale Games

I was blown away by Telltale Games’ “The Walking Dead”. I will admit that the ending made my tear up because of how well the characters were developed and knowing that I made them that way. I felt as though my choices actually mattered with each passing episode. However, TWD was missing something, the controls didn’t feel very concise or well put together and the story still had characterization issues. Despite being so open ended, the characters still felt linear. Needless to say, I was excited to see what Telltale was going to do with their follow up game, The Wolf Among Us.

Based on the comic series, Fables, TWAU takes place thirty years prior to the comics and you play as the Big Bad Wolf or Bigby Wolf. He is a sherrif of sorts who works with characters like Snow White and Ichabod Crane. There was a murder and it was done against a Fable. Bigby bust find out who the killer is before anyone gets hurt, the people are hiding something, and it isn’t good. From the art, to the characters right up to the thrilling ending of episode 1, Wolf Among Us fixes everything that was wrong with TWD. Sadly, the second season of TWD is taking more precedence than this fresh game. Hopefully we see more of Bigby in 2014.

 

header_586x192The Deponia Series (PC) – Daedelic Entertainment

I may technically be cheating since the series started in 2012 but the final game really brought the trilogy together with Goodbye Deponia being released this year. The adventures of Goal and Rufus were hilarious but filled with danger as well. The clumsy hero uses his lack of clever problem solving to actually solve problems. It may seem odd and bit oxymoronic but in the case of Deponia it works so damn well.

What makes the games so charming is the time it took to actually make the games. PnC adventure games really fell out of the mainstream market in the west but is booming in Germany. The games focus on storytelling rather than flashy dog graphics and exaggerated building deconstruction with guns. Every motion, every environment, and every item is hand drawn and a game that is fully animated by hand is something I can respect. It gave the series a lovely charm that is hard to find in gaming. Goodbye Deponia did a wonderful job tying up the series and while I was a bit sad to see the series go, I am glad it ended the way it did. The Deponia series is definitely the best PnC adventure series modern gaming has.

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