Game of the Year 2013

Danny O'Dwyer's Top 10 Games For 2013

An American dream.

I spent most of this year planning a move to California, and as an already massive fan of the series, Grand Theft Auto V was an absolute dream come true for me. I just love being in that world, driving around and listening to music, going for a cycle, and bumping shoulders with people in the street. I get excited about the gameworld in GTA, in the same way I get excited about being in America. It helps that they fixed the shooting, expanded the multiplayer, and actually had interesting characters this time around. But more than that, GTA reached deep inside my dreams and allowed me to explore a place I've always been infatuated with. In fact since moving over I've barely played GTA. I guess I don't need to as much anymore. I wake up in San Andreas every morning now.

My second favorite game of the year had me feeling a lump in my throat within the first 15 minutes. And by the time the credits rolled, I was a sobbing wreck. Not only was BioShock Infinite one of the best PC shooters I've played in years, but it asked difficult questions. It opened up deep wounds I have around the role of faith in our lives. It made me feel crushing empathy for my ancestors affected by Irish diaspora, and bitter rage toward those who took part in racial persecution. Infinite treated me like an adult. It challenged me in ways games rarely do. By the end, I felt like I had grown as an individual, and I don't think you can say that about many games.

I've always enjoyed the Uncharted series, but TLOU was a red-letter day in video game storytelling. For all that David Cage attempted to do with Beyond, that game treated you as a spectator. In TLOU, you grew alongside Joel and Ellie. It's also bleak as hell. TLOU is a game that puts you through hell and has you coming back for more, and that's very special indeed. My love of Tomb Raider, on the other hand, is a lot more mechanical. Tomb Raider, like Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, further down my list, was one of those games that made exploring and completing side objectives an absolute must. Considering the dodgy recent history of both franchises, both games left me pleasantly surprised.

Don't Starve was a game I spent an inordinate amount of time with, purely because I was between houses and sleeping on friends' couches for quite a while this year. It was my laptop companion in which I attempted to stay alive by collecting resources and making sure I came home before dark--much in the same way you do if you're living on someone's couch. Papers, Please was played a lot during this period too. I love a simple, clever game, and Papers, Please is very simple and incredibly clever. It's a game about performing banal, mechanical exercises. But as you progress, you realize it's asking you tough questions about morality, bureaucracy, and the role of authority. And all you're doing is stamping people's passports. I'm still not sure how they pulled it off.

On the other side of the PC indie scene is Surgeon Simulator 2013. I'm a massive fan of a joke taken too far, and perhaps that's why I loved it so much. The premise alone is worth a chuckle, but the execution is absolutely hilarious. Getting an A+ rating after pulling out every organ in a patient's abdomen. Losing your watch in a patient's skull. Performing open-heart surgery in the back of a moving ambulance. Surgeon Simulator is an outstanding exercise in interactive dark comedy, and the funniest game of 2013 by quite a margin.

Forza 5 creeps in here because it's the first non-F1 racing game I've fallen for in a very long time. I wish it had more cars and tracks, but the feeling of retaining grip by throttling the triggers and finding the perfect brake point, thanks to the controller's trigger rumble, is second to none. Plus, they let me race F1 cars against regular street vehicles, which is absolutely ridiculous and great fun.

And finally, my number 10 slot goes to a game I barely played: Dota 2. Whenever you're writing these lists, you have to acknowledge that there are always games and experiences out there that you've just missed out on--that the current gaming zeitgeist can sometimes pass you by and that friends' recommendations are very important. A bunch of my old school mates got really into Dota 2 this year and play with each other from various parts of the world via Skype. Since I moved to California, I've joined them once or twice. Games bringing distant friends together. How can that not make the list?

Danny O'Dwyer's Top 10

Discussion

122 comments
Danny Voncken
Danny Voncken

Shai have you even played it? Mark i haven't played that one yet :P

Erik Robles
Erik Robles

Played the Papers, Please beta and now I see why it's such an addicting game. Simple puzzle solving with story-driven repercussions for your mistakes? Neat-o.

Majed Aljarman
Majed Aljarman

ACIV is fantastic, as are many of the games here. But the last of us is a pinnacle point for this generation. It didn't just try to look real, it tried to be believable. I was so engrossed in ever moment of the game. From my experience with every title on this list, The Last Of Us, is a title one a completely different level.

Rui Gavina
Rui Gavina

you can always tell when you have bad reviews when The last of us gets the same score as sugeon simulator and papers please... -.-

Shaun Robinson
Shaun Robinson

Dont get me wrong I love the AC series but to say it looked better overall I have to disagree TLOU was graphically amazing and Raja I'm pretty sure 90% of the people on here think its better does that make them drunk as well?

Robert Sears
Robert Sears

TLOU is a good game, but it's mechanically bad. The story and characters are what make that game so good, but ac4 had an equally amazing story along with an amazing open(ish) world, brand new mechanics that we haven't seen done (right) before and just looked better overall. 8 is a fair score for the last of us.

Robert Sears
Robert Sears

Seems about right to me, the story was great, but the mechanics and overall depth to it wasn't. Combat was fun sure, but it was nothing new, had plenty of qte's and was brought down by that fact. It's an above average third person zombie game, it's saving grace is the characters and story.

William Bowen
William Bowen

Black Flag is overrated. How in the hell did it score greater than TLoU? This is why I no longer support Gamespot... because they're bought.

Taha Ali
Taha Ali

gta 5 was a 9.5 not at all overrated.!

Mike Phung
Mike Phung

Who cares? Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds won GOTY. :)

Moses Ali
Moses Ali

the last of us should not have gotten an 8, AC 4 was complete garbage

Raja Faisal
Raja Faisal

after uncharted i expected better from sony and they gave us this game TLOU seriously i wish bioshock would be a ps3 exclusive

Raja Faisal
Raja Faisal

Are you saying that TLOU is better then AC4 Go home, you are drunk

Shai Roemi
Shai Roemi

U not liking it that much doesn't necessarily mean that it is overrated.

Bruce Balsinde
Bruce Balsinde

Danny is a moron. GTA and Assassin's Creed were 9's while The Last of Us was only an 8? According to him, the only game not at least equal to TLoU was Don't Starve. What a joke of a list. He should be fired immediately.

Deming Xie
Deming Xie

IMO FM5 should not be on the list to compete since there is only one and only one racing game that came out this year -_-

Graham Mustard
Graham Mustard

'And finally, my number 10 slot goes to a game I barely played: Dota 2' Paid to review games and gives a 9 to a game he's never really played. Please put some effort into your job sir.

Reece Lewandowski
Reece Lewandowski

With TLOU every time you encounted thugs I keep saying to myself "damn I just want to get out of here, rather face infected" but when I did face the infected I wanted to face thugs instead then the pattern repeated. That is the magic of TLOU, it is one of the most tense games I have played - you never felt safe or even joy or fun playing it, you felt worried, depressed, sick and disturbed instead which is unique for a game to pound those very human motions your way, one of those rare games which you go to yourself "thank god real life ain't like video games".

Brad Terry
Brad Terry

Waist-high walls, QTE and a generic story for something that was made almost 30 years ago does not = good game.

Brad Terry
Brad Terry

Exactly Shaun, except being an Indiana Jones rip off rather than cashing in on the current zombie trend.

Shaun Robinson
Shaun Robinson

I bet you thought the Uncharted games were overbudgeted casual Sony productions as well, I'm interested to hear your thoughts on them

Brad Terry
Brad Terry

Not much more on Earth more satisfying than seeing a salty Sony fan.

Christian Trance
Christian Trance

both are actually good, infinite has the hidden mode that escalates difficulty further TLOU made a redefinition of your average zombie and in fact has a more intelligent way of showing how an infection spread TLOU defines the meaning of survival horror

Brad Terry
Brad Terry

Yeah Christian, since it's only worth a single trip through I thought I'd save $60 on the POS.

Christian Trance
Christian Trance

have you even played the game? I am assuming you haven't, been watching youtube walkthroughs of the game i see..

Nedim Sabljakovic
Nedim Sabljakovic

A 7 for me, and just because of the good design, nothing more. Last of Us is twice the game

Shaun Robinson
Shaun Robinson

I just dont see how Bioshock, Tomb Raider, and AC Black Flag are better then TLOU, yeah there great games but there not a patch on that

Katana Implement
Katana Implement

Ahh i asked that coz i saw that word on naruto spirit every time i used skill. Thanks #Hugh :->

Afinati
Afinati

ACIV was a good game, but its story didn't strike me as "amazing."

dannyodwyer
dannyodwyer moderator staff

Ubisoft outbid Sony then....? What a wonderful conspiracy world you live in.

Afinati
Afinati

Danny didn't review or score those titles; this is his personal list of favorites.