Staff Picks


This year was one of singular experiences for me. Games can take upwards of 30 hours to complete, but most of my favorites have a standout moment that cemented the experience as a good one for me. XCOM: Enemy Within offers substantially more than MEC troopers, but when I saw my first one run off the ramp, I knew I was playing something special. 40 hours later, I still do. That MEC trooper died long ago (I’m not very good at XCOM), but every time I see one come down the ramp or jump down from the Skyranger without a rappelling line, I’m reminded of ‘Bolts’ in his bright pink MEC chassis and the first time he punched a Thin Man so hard that it died.

10. Guacamelee!

Traversal is not usually fun. In Guacamelee!, it is. Combat abilities and traversal abilities are the same, and it never gets old to use an uppercut instead of a super-jump. Crossing from the light world to the dark world is used for combat and traversal as well. Oh, and every handy move you have is taught by a goat. It’s ridiculous and fun and dumb in all the best ways that only games and cartoons can be. READ MORE


Man, this year’s list came depressingly close to being more “the ten new games I played this year, regardless of actual quality” rather than an actual “top ten”. Part of that is putting most of my faith on the Wii U — and we all know how that played out this year, sadly — but fortunately the 3DS stepped up to fill in the blanks. Well, the 3DS and one specific title that dominated my 2013 like few titles ever have. I also wanted to make a quick mention of my Ouya, which has served its intended purpose of allowing me to stream to my big screen without needing any complicated PC setup. Oh, and I think I played a game or two on it as well!

Honorable Mention: Kersploosh!

Even in the age of mobile apps and free-to-play quickies, I have a hard time weighing a two-dollar eShop offering against what I stubbornly refer to as “real” titles. Kersploosh! is a great little time waster and a terrific value, but not something I can put on my proper best-of list in good conscience. Pick it up if you haven’t already; I’m sure you have some leftover cash in your eShop account. READ MORE


10. Papers, Please

When building a game, it is so important that its narrative meshes well with the gameplay. While Papers, Please‘s core mechanic is repetitive, the game adds complexity at a fairly good pace. The result is a game that isn’t excessively long and is hard to stop playing. A point-and-click game about a somewhat-mundane border checkpoint isn’t the place you expect a compelling narrative, but Papers, Please offers a wonderful branching story that made me go back and replay it.  READ MORE


I look back at previous years trying to determine if 2013 was a good year for games. It was, but I’m not convinced it will go down as one of the best. Still, the final year before two new consoles was filled with examples of what developers can do when they have time to get used to the hardware and put their best foot forward.

10. Grand Theft Auto V

It’s so rare that a game represents a specific part in the console life cycle. What better swan song could this generation have? I felt an excitement I hadn’t felt about an open-world game since Grand Theft Auto III, the PS2 classic that started it all. You could write a novel the size of the game’s script about all the things they do right, but my experience is best summed up when I was driving through the mountains at night. I get in a chopper and fly away. I see my car, parked. I see the road I drove up on. I glance ahead and see Los Angeles (er, Santos) at night. The lights of the city quietly await my murderous rage, or my relaxed exploring. I hadn’t decided yet. READ MORE


10. Layton Brothers Mystery Room

A surprise, and an interesting way to begin my list. This game came out of nowhere, releasing on the App Store in June. The game follows Lucy Baker, a novice investigator, and Alfendi Layton, a seasoned investigator and son of the famed Professor Hershel Layton, as they solve various cases in a number of locked room mysteries. While the game was relatively short and extremely linear, it was nice to see a different side of the Layton family solving a different kind of puzzle. Hopefully we see more of this type of Layton puzzle game in the future. READ MORE