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Dec 23 2013

Matthew’s Top Ten Games of 2013

[Ed’s Note: Well it’s Game of the Year time here at HalfBeard’s HUD and we’ve decided to be at least semi-professional about it this time. To help give some context to our final choices though, we’re starting off with the personal top ten lists for each writer on the site who was part of our GOTY debates. These are not the official HBHUD Game of the Year, these are just our personal favourite games of the year, our official GOTY awards (The Beardies) will be going up on Thursday Dec. 26th.]

Things are built and going strong, so let’s get right to it. This year was rather big on the personal computer and digital distribution scene as the trailing console market trudged along slowly to meet the demands of the gamers everywhere. Almost all of my games this year can be found easily on Steam, so there’s no question as to where I spent my money. Ten games, the best I’ve seen, no particular order. Here we go. 

10. The Cave

Definitely their darkest title by a good distance

Definitely their darkest title by a good distance

Double Fine and Maniac Mansion’s Rob Glibert hit it out of the park again. Sure, I’ll go through a cave to meet the wishes of three chosen characters, sure. What I didn’t realize going in though was how disturbing this game could get. After I committed to just the Monk to leave with the statue and I saw what happened, I vowed to give everything back. I wanted so fervently to make these characters better or to improve them for what they had done, and even ‘Mr.Pinkerton’ later on in this list didn’t bother me as much as these eight characters did.  If only there was something redeeming about them. Man, I need something less thought-provoking.

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9. Saint’s Row IV

Simple question: Are you a bad enough dude to BE the president?

Simple question: Are you a bad enough dude to BE the president?

Here we go! Sure, it was Saint’s Row 3 again, but I had superpowers and more high-powered guns and everything was exploding. I got to shoot aliens and helicopters and be the president and a gang leader. Video games are about the amount of fun they bring to the table, and this one brought the house. Madness and carnage abound in this action-sandbox game meant for spending many hours just blowing things up and listen to snark. Turn your mind off for a few hours with this gem.

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8. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

Raiden, I'm so proud of you.

Raiden, I’m so proud of you.

Surprisingly, this was another game that allowed my brain to turn off. Metal Gear Solid is known for its long cut-scenes and generally-engaging storyline that borders on the convoluted, but I will take the Codec calls anyway as long as there’s a lull in cyborg smashing. This game successfully made Raiden capable of being someone we can appreciate within the Metal Gear Solid series canon, and not some pathetic and whiny second-stringer to Solid Snake. Also you get to work with a really cool cybernetic AI dog. You can’t go wrong with that.

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7. Bioshock Infinite

Beautiful place, terrible people, all with one hero in the middle.

Beautiful place, terrible people, all with one hero in the middle.

Do you want to understand exactly how strongly this game got to me? There were more than a few times that when I rushed ‘Mr.Pinkerton’ Dewitt into battle, I made certain to keep myself in-between him and Elizabeth more than anyone else. Even when the game told me she was completely safe. I truly disliked people in this story, and wanted nothing more than to see Elizabeth succeed through my actions. I do not have the ‘Burial At Sea’ DLC as of yet, but if the dimension-walker ends up in Rapture and decides to pass judgment on the Dewitts and Ryans of the sea alike, I expect great things to occur when she decides to meet Tenenbaum.

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6. Path of Exile

Don't expect to find me on PVP, by the way.

Don’t expect to find me on PVP, by the way.

As long as I can stay away from PVP for the most part, this game is my new Diablo and Torchlight. I love collecting loot and getting better and better as things go along, as well as how the Sphere Grid style leveling system from Final Fantasy X makes a comeback! I wish it was easier to identify things, but that’s a small issue to deal with compared to the amount of content this game has. It’s just the tip of the iceberg, and I can play it for free? Goodbye, days of my life.

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5. Hammerwatch

Gauntlet for a new age.

Gauntlet for a new age.

While this game is a recent purchase for me, and I’ve put more of my co-op time into Risk of Rain, this game still brings back the old times of Gauntlet enough for me to jump right in. This game can be played alone but you’re in for a rough time and it loses its luster without friends to ask for backup. You’ll be twitching for more health once you run into The Queen anyway and its Touhou-style attack with multiple phases of steadily-increasing death. The best part is that its a Rogue like with lives. If everyone loses, you have to start all over again.

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4. The Last of Us

They'll know I'm coming, just you watch.

They’ll know I’m coming, just you watch.

This year has proven to be the year of “escort allies” instead of simply escorts. All those people who come with you now have a purpose and means to help you succeed, and I’m all for that. Ellie’s biggest weakness is that inability to swim, but her understanding of combat assistance is even better than Elizabeth’s and she has saved Joel’s butt more times in my playthrough than I can remember. Another nice aspect of this game is the fact that Joel doesn’t seem that worthless or incompetent. Dewitt, for all his potential at killing men, does tend to feel rather pathetic in the grand scheme compared to Elizabeth’s ability to go wherever she pleases.  Ellie and Joel are a team, and amongst this world of Infected douche-bags and normal douche-bags, they will survive.

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3. Pokemon X/Y

SUPERPOWERED MURDERBEAST BASH! SUNDAY, SUNDAY, SUNDAY!

SUPERPOWERED MURDERBEAST BASH! SUNDAY, SUNDAY, SUNDAY!

Seven hundred and twelve Pokemon now exist in the universe, and you can finally catch them all in this new game for the new generation. While nothing really changes the flow of the game from the usual, Pokemon is an enduring franchise for a reason. It understands the need to collect and improve yourself as you move forward, and just adds enough to keep your interest.

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2. Plants vs Zombies 2: It’s About Time

Suck on this, 300.

Suck on this, 300.

I have no love for its microtransactions, but Plants vs Zombies 2 changed the formula and gave me a map-screen to futz around on, a means to earn more skills and money, and a sense of improvement over time. Sure, it took place over the whole of time thanks to Crazy Dave, but I was never playing this game for an intense storyline. This first game changed Tower Defense in my eyes, and the second played with the idea even more.

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1. Papers, Please

I'll never forget you, Jorji.

I’ll never forget you, Jorji.

I never expected that I would feel a sense of tension and excitement from doing boring, detailed, clerical work. Papers, Please proved me wrong; the era was a trying time enough, but to be able to make a small difference for others at the cost of my family and my own livelihood had a real impact. I was never fast enough to feed and heat my family every week, and that struggle bothered me. A surprising amount of human decency was present in such a dark setting, and that was what pulled me in. Play it, and be as surprised as I was.

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