Game of the Year 2013

Kevin VanOrd's Top 10 Games For 2013

Diversity and divergence.

by

Looking over my own best-of-2013 list, I'm struck by how different these games are from each other. The horror of Outlast couldn't be more different from the unfettered joy of A Link Between Worlds, but I don't think that speaks so much about my own taste in games as it does the sheer amount of variety in today's games climate. It's easy to brand so many games as copycats, but look closer and you see just how many different kinds of experiences are at our fingertips. Personal journeys, examinations of the idea of player agency, and plain pure fun: it's all up for grabs.

So let's break it down. In 2013, I learned of young love. I shot giant dinosaurs. I made friends with a Welsh fairy, and we saved a kingdom together. I sang pirate shanties, hid from grave danger, and foiled a terror plot aboard a soaring base of operations. I shivered and I mourned and I held aloft the Master Sword. In games, anything can happen. And in 2013, anything did.

2013 was also the year I embraced my dark side, if my top two games are any indication. Metro: Last Light and Path of Exile don't play like each other, but they both occur in hopeless worlds weighed down by the stench of decay and endless remorse. In that sense, they have something in common with Dark Souls, one of my all-time favorites. Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon made me laugh, and The Stanley Parable made me think. But Metro: Last Light shone a light into the darkness, giving me a glimmer of hope amid all the despair--and that hope was as bright as the despair was black. Any game can be fun, but it takes a special one to make my heart feel so heavy, yet make me believe that I might one day reach a promised land.

Kevin VanOrd's Top 10

Discussion

123 comments
x-2tha-z
x-2tha-z

Blood Dragon was awesome. Nice to see it getting some recognition.

ChiefFreeman
ChiefFreeman

Kevin was the only editor to have Metro Last Light in his top 10.    What happened to the "best shooter" category?   Metro deserved it.   

tourdefist
tourdefist

Thanks for giving Metro some love!

kingcrimson24
kingcrimson24

kevin .. you gave bioshock infnite a 9 and called it an important game ... 

OHGFawx
OHGFawx

I'm really digging how varied the lists are. There's a fair amount of griping about TLOU not being on everyone's lists, and calling them out for putting games they reviewed (and spent a lot more time dissecting than the games they casually played) on there. I'm just enjoying looking at the different tastes everyone has.

santinegrete
santinegrete

Oh man, I may have lost some faith in Kevin, but this is a great list for the most part :)

quakke
quakke

Atleast you threw in Blood Dragon. Though, strange to see you didn't put Antichamber or Shadow Warrior in there..

wildamnesia
wildamnesia

Bring back the worst games list.  I like it when developers get a good kicking for turning out crap.

zyxahn
zyxahn

Best Reviewer period.  Kasavin was the best before him.  If they are on his list then I must check them out.  I liked the first Metro game,it's just tough deciding which platform to play them on.  Shooters before Halo had to be played on a pc but not now.  I hope Path of Exile and Marvel Heroes finds their way onto consoles at some point.

kachal
kachal

I think it's interesting that 5 of these (Metro, Path of Exile, Ni No Kuni, Splinter Cell and Far Cry 3: BD) are reviewed by Kevin himself. Actually you can count to 6 if including his voice on Outlast video review. Is this because GS staff review the games they like, or is this because they fell in love with any games they play. I mean as far as I checked SC: BL and FC3: BD aren't on any other list, they are found just in here. And I saw the same thing for other editors as well, for example Mark Walton has picked Antichamber, which is a game he reviewed and can't be found on any other list.

jake44
jake44

Nice list!  This was really a great year for gaming.

wizardboyus
wizardboyus

great list although i think the last of us should've been included. i played through that game multiple times with friends just so we all could experience the story together. a great ending to the ps3 era...but i have to agree that Metro Last Light was the game of the year by far!

kineticman_a13
kineticman_a13

Loved Ni No Kuni. Such an awesome game. So was Blood Dragon and Metro. I think these two game didn't get the attention they deserve.

nyran125tk
nyran125tk

good games. It just pisses me off, Zelda is only on the nintendo. i dont want to buy a WHOLE console for 1 game.

Llama345
Llama345

Ni No Kuni ftw. and thank you for not including Bioshock. I think that is the most over rated game of the year. 

bdiddytampa
bdiddytampa

Great list Kevin, glad to see Blood Dragon on someone's list, I loved that game!! 

NTM23
NTM23

I hope there's more to Assassin's Creed 4 than great ship battles. I mean, I know there is, but it seems like the thing people love about it is the fact that you can sail the seas and get into battles, which isn't what I care for. How's the on ground stuff; the characters and story? How's the soundtrack in it all?

sammoth
sammoth

"Go Home" you're drunk.

kohle36
kohle36

Hey Kevin, you played Demon's Souls? I'd be curious to hear your take on the differences in the two titles

wgerardi
wgerardi

Great list, Kev. Surprised to see Outlast up their, what a stressful ass game- still really enjoyed it. Also nice to see Metro, such a quality game- seeing the little dark one cloaked in rags was easily my favorite "sweet moment" in gaming this year.

Fandango_Letho
Fandango_Letho

Wow, Kevin. I built my very own 2013 list on giantbomb and we have the same GOTY and a lot of games in common and oddly, in the same order. I really like the fact that I can rely my tastes to yours, so that I never make a bad decision when I base my purchases on your reviews. Thanks for another great year of reviews!


Oh and, I absolutely adore Last Light. Even though it has some rough edges, its probably the one shooter that resembles the most to Half-Life 2 in its design and that is one hell of a compliment. To think of all the hard time the developers went through to get this game done. Chapeau! 

Jacanuk
Jacanuk

Except for Gone Home this could be my list of top games. 


Kevin you might be a tiny bit crazy with you reviews sometimes but your taste in games is awesome :D

kachal
kachal

shame that there is no The last of Us.

max-hit
max-hit

Nice list. But I couldn't possibly understand why he likes Blacklist more than Bioshock Infinite considering the fact that his reviews of both games say otherwise.

Hellcanwait
Hellcanwait

@ChiefFreeman

i found the microtransactions horrible, paying for a harder difficulty setting is not ok.

KenTWOu
KenTWOu

@kachal Check Maxwell McGee's GOTY list, he also picked up SC:BL.

Aya_MF
Aya_MF

@kachalIt doesn't mean that he hasn't played other games for his own personal entertainment. He hasn't presented the list of all the games he played in 2013. But I see your point and there is probably truth in that.

TheDoc95
TheDoc95

@kachalProbably the later ... Also it might have to do with the fact that they are assign to review according to their genre experience ... So ... Fav genre --> More XP --> Game review in specific genre --> Love for the game

Zevvion
Zevvion

@wizardboyus I understand that you think the Last of Us is a great game. I really liked it as well. But it doesn't really make sense to tell someone a game 'should've been included' on their personal list. But I might be taking that sentence too literally.

Zevvion
Zevvion

@Llama345 To each his own. I really liked Infinite. It's in my top 5. 

Rhys4Peace
Rhys4Peace

@NTM23 The ground combat is flashy, albeit very easy. The animations are beautiful, and so i find ground combat is always a pleasure, but it severely lacks challenge. The characters are great, and the story is very grounded (aside from the guture tech stuff, but it fits imo) and personal, which is a relief, as your not out to save the whole goddamned planet for once. The soundtrack is average; not something i'd listen to outside for the game, but it fits with the themes.

Hope this helped :)

bdiddytampa
bdiddytampa

@chocolate1325 He's not missing anything, the Last of Us was nothing special, I am so glad all the editor's list weren't plastered with TLoU in their top tens, because it really wasn't that great of a game, it told a great story, but it isn't a game I will EVER play again :-/

NTM23
NTM23

@chocolate1325 True, true, but at least he has Metro Last Light. That's my second favorite game of the year I believe.

ForceSkin
ForceSkin

@wgerardi Please type *SPOILER ALERT* I was not up to the bit where the Dark One wears clothes. Thanks a lot

NTM23
NTM23

@Rhys4Peace Obviously my opinion in the end could differ, but yeah, thanks for the info and reply.

ForceSkin
ForceSkin

@Rhys I really liked the game but to call the animations "beautiful" is a massive overstatement. Like every AC game the animations are wonky and there is an extremely poor sense of connection of sword on flesh (the sound effects are also out of sync with the action). Also like all AC games there are a myriad of repeated character models, which gets quite creepy. On the basis of story and enjoyment though I would definitely recommend this game (I got 100% on PS4), even if you hated ACIII with a burning passion (as I did).

Zevvion
Zevvion

@bdiddytampa @chocolate1325 Come on you guys. Opinion. VanOrd didn't enjoy it enough to put it in his top 10. Someone else probably did. Neither of them are wrong.

Rhys4Peace
Rhys4Peace

@ForceSkin The animations are extremely well done. However, the hit detections is absolute crap, somehow even worse than AC3's. I'm not quite sure why you think the animations aren't beautiful. But i played ac4 on pc at 60fps, whereas ps4 is 30fps. Not quite sure how framerates above 17fps affect animation quality, but who knows?

NTM23
NTM23

@ForceSkin I didn't hate AC3, but close. I thought it was mediocre, to me one of the most disappointing games of the generation. So it's that (mostly that) and the fact that we've been seeing annual releases in the series since 2009 that I feel like this one may not do it for me. I'm not saying I think it's going to be bad; I hope it's great, but if I do turn out to love the game, I will be pleasantly surprised.