In 2013 I played up the dichotomy between single- and multiplayer experiences. I was pulled toward games with heavy narrative and compelling plots, but also toward games that allowed me to create my own stories with friends. The games on my list cover a broad range of genres, platforms, and prices, all tied together with tremendous audio to leave a lasting impression on you.
I've always had an affinity for a good deal, and 2013 offered a plethora of games that gave a lot of playtime for the money. Path of Exile consumed countless hours of my time for no out-of-pocket expense, and The Last Door offered multiple bone-chilling chapters for next to nothing (you literally pay what you want). Independent games offered incredible experiences for a handful of one-dollar bills; games like the thoughtful Stanley Parable, creative Ridiculous Fishing and the gorgeous Dream Machine were impossible to regret buying. Even the larger purchases on my list granted me hours and hours of enjoyment, making them worth the price tag.
When playing alone, I lean toward characters. When I play as or with good characters in a game, it gives me the enjoyment of social interaction within a solo experience. I enjoy the time spent independently and focus on the relationships that alter and progress storylines. Thomas Was Alone made me constantly aware that I had feelings for colored blocks and then used that within the story, offering distinct characteristics and emotions behind each colored quadrilateral. I grew up playing Lara Croft, and her character was always an inspiration to me, so I was beyond impressed with the latest installment in the Tomb Raider series, which featured a solid character and realistic reactions to extraordinary circumstances.
With friends by my side, I leaped into long gaming experiences, knowing I was able to work alongside trusted comrades to solve any issue. Playing in GTA V online not only gave me laughter-filled memories with beloved friends, but also brought me closer to unfamiliar co-workers and people outside my known circle of friends. The Last of Us had a tremendous storyline that moved me deeply, but I was incredibly impressed with a multiplayer experience that took my friends and me by surprise.
At the end of each game, when I had exhausted the storyline and moved on toward new multiplayer experiences, I found the soundtracks permanently embedded in my brain, moving toward my fingers that I tapped on my desk to the beat. Even outside of Thomas Was Alone, David Housden's procedural soundtrack will move you. It guides your feelings from the confusion and intrigue at the beginning, to the passion and investment toward the end. Gone Home's original soundtrack by Chris Remo plays along with the haunting atmosphere, rewarding your curiosity and thoughtfulness. The Stanley Parable had an immersive soundtrack, but it pulled me into the world with incredible sound effects by Robin Arnott. Every game on my list offers original audio through music and/or sound effects that are delicately made and carefully considered--audio that you can enjoy time and time again that takes you back to memorable and happy experiences.