We are quite late with this but here it is, LevelSave’s Game of the Year. Last year, we did a podcast in which some of us argued for our favorite games and that’s how we got our GOTY. This year, we decided to try something slightly different. We had our writers vote on their top six games. The games that were voted on the most, made it to the next round. We voted again with the three games that got the most votes getting GOTY honors.
Just like last year though,we’re doing honorable mentions. This gives each writer whose GOTY may have not been represented, a chance to give the game a nod. With that, let’s get to it. We’ll start with third place, moving to GOTY and then move on to honorable mentions.
Third place: Tomb Raider scratched the same Metroidvania itch that Batman: Arkham Asylum did for me. While that in itself would be enough for me, the feature that stood out to me the most was the stealth. I was overjoyed whenever I was able to take out an entire group of baddies with just a few arrows and some patience. None of this would have been fun if not for the intuitive cover system within the game. There is no crouch button, Lara just knows when it is time to duck and cover. Then if you come to some cover she will automatically meld to it ensuring you are perfectly hidden. It makes your movements seem much more natural and avoids the problem of pressing the wrong button then being discovered because of your simple error.
You would never pop out from behind a log, exposing yourself to the baddies, in real life. Why would you do it in a game.
Second place: The Last of Us, this is one hell of a game. The Last of Us forces you to become a survivor in a desolate world. One in which your own fellow humans may have lost their humanity quicker than the infected around you. The way in which it tells its story, how it unfolds the human qualities of the main characters, it does this in such an incredible way that you become so invested in them. You want for nothing more than for the main characters to survive and you’ll do whatever it takes to make sure that happens.
While hunting down dudes in Tomb Raider was fun, nothing compared to The Last of Us. There is one moment, late in the game, when you were forced to hunt someone down in a confined space while they are also hunting you. My heart picked up a near hummingbird pace and my hands produced liters of sweat. Once I had dealt the final blow there was such a release of tension that I rose from my chair and shouted at the TV. Not one of my better moments, but one of the best ones in games for sure.
Game of the Year: Bioshock Infinite is such a different game than most things out there. Sure you shoot fools but there are so many times that you do not shoot fools. Those moments when Booker puts the gun down were so full of wonder. It is akin to the opening of Half-Life 2 except it happens multiple times throughout the game. Sure, you can start shooting clerks and police officers, but if you just walk around and watch, you can see a living city. A city that, without your input, could seemingly continue on. You can see the marionette strings if you look hard enough but like all great art you tend to forget the medium when the piece is so wonderfully done.
Kenny’s Honorable Mention: My honorable mention goes to Gunpoint. Thanks to Steam I was able to get my mitts on this little 2-d game and was completely sucked into one of my favorite titles this year. The key gameplay element of routing and rerouting the levels’ electrical circuits to avoid/defeat the various henchmen is certainly one of those “Why didn’t I think of that?” kind of ideas. Gunpoint scratches that insatiable need to enter and exit without a trace, to use your wits to lure and dispatch. Accompanying Gunpoint is a moody and ambient soundtrack that sounds straight out of an old detective movie. The fourth wall is occasionally broken down with dialogue that is swimming in sarcasm, and a storyline that involves not so much cloak and daggers as it features just straight up double crossing and murder. Terrific game at a great price, if you haven’t gotten the chance, gives Gunpoint a “shot”.
Tim’s Honorable Mention: While not perfect, Diablo 3 fills a void I have felt in my heart for the past 8 or so years. If you, like I was, were looking for a great game to play with your family and friends with as much loot stealing, boss rushing and couch co-oping as the Champions series on PS2, you will have a great time with Diablo 3. It is a game that no RPG fan should miss out on.
Matt’s Honorable Mention: Bit Trip Presents Runner 2 Future Legend of Rhythm Alien. What at first seems like a typical endless runner quickly turns into a beautiful Saturday morning cartoon of a video game. From its weird characters to insanely beautiful music to Charles Martinet (AKA Super Mario) narrating the whole thing, Runner 2 was one of the best experiences of 2013. Smart intuitive controls only make this game better and the fact that I’ve purchased it three times for various platforms can tell you how much I love it. My PS Vita has quickly become my Runner 2 Machine and little else.
Chris’ Honorable Mention: It is a running joke at LevelSave that I am obsessed with Pokemon. Though my co-conspirators may not understand the true beauty of Pokemon, its glory is not lost on me. Maybe it is nostalgia, maybe it is the “good vibes” ascetic, maybe I truly am crazy; regardless Pokemon always strikes a series of chords with me.
Pokemon X (and Y through association) is the most well produced and polished game in the entire series. The jump to 3D came with an art style, that is that every Pokemon looks like a hand drawn cartoon from any angle, that I adore. Gameplay was changed dramatically with the additions of Mega Evolutions, which subsequently look super rad. Even things as simple as menu speed and optimization helped push this game to the top for me this year. I have spent over 200 hours with the game and have no intention of stopping, until generation 7 that is.
Barry’s Honorable Mention: The brilliance of Klei’s Don’t Starve made it a GOTY contender for me. You have this freaky yet, gorgeous world. Full of strange animals and beings, all wanting to eat you. On top of that you have to try to make a home, a safe home. Don’t Starve is created in such an intelligent manner, that there is no tutorial needed. You’re just dropped into this world and it’s like,” Go figure it out. Have fun.” That’s what had me playing Don’t Starve so much when it came out on Steam. Those “light bulb” moments.
Multiple writers helped in putting this article together.