Trey’s Game of the Year 2013

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Before I reveal my choice for Game of the Year 2013, I’d like to take a moment and discuss the concept of “GOTY” selections. Awards and accolades seem almost inherent to the human experience; no matter the context, we have this ingrained desire to elevate one thing over others like it. We hold award events for everything from costumes to dogs to homemade flying machines and beyond.

In the entertainment world, this has taken the form of industry-wide events; from the Oscars to the Grammys to the MTV Video Music Awards, we take entertainment and try to qualify it. Some of these events are given more credibility than others, like an Oscar being “worth more” than a Golden Globe, and everyone seems to have their favorite program. Hell, the Razzies are an “award” event for the things people think sucked!

In the gaming industry, the Spike Video Game Awards has probably become the most public event, but their winners tend to be taken with a grain of salt by the large majority of gamers, developers, and even publishers. In gaming, there’s almost a Pokémon approach to GOTY awards; since almost every major publication makes a selection, the objective “winner” seems to be the one who catches ‘em all, so to speak.

Personally, I pay a lot of attention to the Game Developers Choice Awards, because I’m interested in what the people who make games consider to be the “best” every year. The selections from GDCA tend to highlight innovation and excellence in design more than profitability, though to describe some of the picks as “pretentious” wouldn’t be too far off base.

Personally, I think that GOTY awards have lost a lot of potency, though it’s possible they hold weight with investors that I’m overlooking, much like winning an Oscar can help boost an actor or director in terms of studio interest. The biggest direct result of the awards in recent years has been the advent of “Game of the Year” editions that include extra content, although plenty of titles have come around to this idea without needing a GOTY moniker. Of course, companies can go a little overboard when touting these accolades on a new edition…

GOTY 2013 Batman Cover

2013 was an interesting year for my gaming habit; whereas recent previous years were overflowing with titles, this year seemed light on releases. The holiday console launch saw the usual field thinned a bit, as developers and publishers pushed titles back into the next few years. This was also the Year of the PC for me, and the creation of the Stargate SG-X saw a lot of my gaming time go into PC games from recent years that I wanted to experience.

To be 100% honest, picking anything other than[amazon_link id=”B00GXHISJE” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ] Fallout 3[/amazon_link] as my “Game of the Year” for 2013 is a lie, since no other game pulled me in like returning to the Capitol Wasteland with mods and non-existent loading times. Picking a game from 2008 was deemed “questionable,” though, despite the fact that Matt Lees over at Video Gamer has picked Dark Souls as his GOTY three years running.

All joking aside, 2013 had standout titles, and even a few unbelievably excellent pieces of gaming scattered about. For my part, I tried to pick experiences that made me think “I’m glad I play games. It’s a shame other people miss out on this stuff.” To that end, I think I’ve been rather successful.

TWA Logo

Trey’s GOTY 2013: Thomas Was Alone

First and foremost, all credit goes to Beth for convincing me to play this game. We picked it up during the Steam sale this past summer, and it might have gotten lost amongst all of the other indie gems if she hadn’t played it first and insisted – on a daily basis – that I get around to playing it.

I’ve made a bad habit this year of falling into the “PC Master Race” mindset. As time goes by, however, I realize that the true power of a PC isn’t rendering individual hairs inside an enemy’s nose, but the accessibility to perfect little nuggets of gaming that can be played on even basic machines.

Rather than rehash my review, I’d like to focus on the exact reason this game tops the list: Surprise factor. Everyone I have talked to about this game has been astounded at how profoundly involving it is, at how effectively the elements come together and draw you in.

Please, please play this game. Don’t even tell me if you do; it’s not necessarily a water-cooler game. Do it because you’ll be a more content, slightly more complete person afterward.

GOTY 2013 Swapper

First Runner-Up: The Swapper

I talked about The Swapper in my Halloween editorial, and my one-word reason for it is: Atmosphere. It’s amazing how threatened I constantly felt in a game where the only characters are you, your clones, and sentient rocks. There were moments when I legitimately did not want to proceed, gripped by dread of the sheer emptiness around me.

The game is also a visual marvel, as every asset is actually a real-world set, model, or miniature blended together with stop-motion and a rendering algorithm. The result is a world that in extraordinarily detailed, even down to the minutiae, without needing a $1500 rig to run it.

Photo courtesy digitaltrends.com
Photo courtesy digitaltrends.com

Second Runner-Up: [amazon_link id=”B003O6EB70″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]BioShock Infinite[/amazon_link]

There it is! I’m sure anyone who even perused my gratuitously loving review of Infinite is wondering why it’s not at the top of this list. I have an answer for you: It isn’t a surprise that Infinite is unbelievably good. Its pedigree demanded nothing else. The first BioShock changed the expectations for the most recent gaming generation, and became synonymous with what Triple-A gaming is capable of.

That being said, this game is just about flawless; it blends addictive, rewarding, challenging gameplay with storytelling that is genuinely affecting across the emotional scale. It is a masterpiece, a labor of love from Ken Levine and his team. I acquired it on PC during a recent Amazon sale, booted it up just to see how it runs, and ended up three hours into the game.

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Honorable Mention: [amazon_link id=”B0050SWUTQ” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Dead Space 3[/amazon_link]

Few games this year drew as much ire as Dead Space 3; between microtransactions, the increased action elements, and the inclusion of co-op, it was the focus of many poor reviews. For some, it stood for everything “wrong” with EA in recent years. I personally loved it, both in single player and in co-op, and feel it was wrongfully maligned. Also, Necromorphs are terrifying, period.

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Honorable Mention: [amazon_link id=”B00E4QOEFS” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]Saints Row IV[/amazon_link]

Fun. Raw, unmitigated, completely explicit and immature fun. You can read Erich’s thoughts on how much fun, or you could just go play it. Preferably in co-op, which is the best reason I’ve found in years as to why friends are a good thing. Go ahead, though, don’t play it. I won’t care, because I’ll be riding a velociraptor while listening to “Walk the Dinosaur.”

One response to “Trey’s Game of the Year 2013”

  1. Jeremiah Wolfwood Avatar
    Jeremiah Wolfwood

    I have played 4 of the 6 games listed in this article and like them all

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