We’re human. We don’t always get to every game before the end of its year of release. This is our way of making amends: the best games we missed out on until 2013. Because we can’t go back in time and honor them in a more timely fashion.
Graham Russell: Culdcept
The third time’s the charm, I guess? I’d tried to pick up Culdcept in the past, as its formula is just intriguing: Monopoly-style board control with Magic-style decks and monsters battles. This time, though, it stuck. The PS2 title’s pixel art style suits the game better than the one used in the 360’s Culdcept Saga, and it’s just enough of a push to get you through the early boring learning stages. There have been many more recent Culdcept games in Japan; maybe someone will give it a shot in the West again?
Andrew Passafiume: Cart Life
I heard a lot about Cart Life before finally checking it out earlier this year, but I didn’t expect it to be as engrossing as it actually was. Some might not be able to handle the game’s lack of hand holding and the tedium of performing the basic tasks assigned to you, but, for me, it became surprisingly addictive. I remained invested because of how much I wanted the character I was playing as to succeed. I found myself continually returning to (and unable to stop thinking about) it even after I finished all three character’s stories.
Justin Last: Darksiders II
The first Darksiders was a fun Zelda. Darksiders II also draws inspiration from Zelda, but the deepened combat, large skill tree and numerous large areas to quest in make for a great game that always had something new to show me. The combat felt just enough like God of War to make combos important, but enough like Zelda to mean that I didn’t absolutely have to learn every combo to succeed. The Gears of War-inspired Earth section isn’t great, but it’s short and then it’s straight back to fun combat and well-designed levels. Boss encounters are greatly improved from the first game as well, which does wonders for making the whole package worth recommending to friends.
Chris Ingersoll: The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages
Like many previous years, my downtime between new releases was disappointingly vast. Unlike previous years, I already had a title that was worth devoting that extra time to, so I didn’t have much opportunity to delve into older offerings. Before that game hit, though, I picked up the two Oracle games at their 3DS Virtual Console release. I started playing Oracle of Ages first, and nearly finished it when a save-related setback cost me a disheartening amount of progress. I never did finish it, but I was enjoying the heck out of it right up until that point. The classic Zelda gameplay hooked me good (and would again later this year), despite the fact that these games were technically third-party offerings.
Henry Skey: inFamous
When Sony’s network was hacked in one of the biggest security breaches in history, I barely batted an eyelid. I’d heard and seen this before, so I changed my credit card information and thought that would be the end of it. When Sony announced that it was giving away two free games, I picked Super Stardust HD and inFamous. SSHD was fine, but inFamous ended up being an absolute joy for me to play. Despite it being nearly four years old, I marveled at how easy and fun it was to traverse the midnight slums. Surfing on power lines and causing untold destruction allowed my inner raspy-voiced bad-ass to run amok. I’ll try not to wait another four years to play the sequels.
Chris Dominowski: The Walking Dead
The success of Telltale’s interactive adaptation of The Walking Dead’s universe proves that we’ve reached a point when games don’t have to be fun to be good. Games that engage us on many other levels and exploit a broader range emotions beyond just joy will be instrumental to expanding our favorite medium’s horizons. Moreover, the game gave us a one-two punch by also making the point-and-click adventure genre relevant to the mass market again almost overnight. Telltale reinvented the genre, and made an experience that its players will likely never forget.
Eric Albuen: 999: Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors
Due to a sudden stock resurgence of this game, I was able to pick up a copy and dive into the puzzle genre that I love so much.While at the time of writing, I’ve only collected three different endings, I’ve found it interesting to see how changing one person in your group can ultimately change the course of the story. The puzzles themselves are compelling, as well. I can’t tell you how stupid I felt falling flat on my face in the very first puzzle because I failed to look at every item. Otherwise, I’m excited to reach the True Ending at some point. I’m dying to see how the game really ends.
Jeff deSolla: Batman: Arkham Asylum
This was a game that spent a long time sitting on my shelf, always put off for the current game of the month. And in hindsight, that was a huge mistake. I’m sure it’s all been said a thousand times, but the fighting and stealth system in this game nails it. It feels so… Batman. Like a faster Assassin’s Creed with more counters and less swords. I’ve never been a huge fan of beat-’em-ups, but if more of them follow this kind of gameplay, I very well could become one.