Leviathyn’s Top Ten Games of 2013

Leviathyn’s Top Ten Games of 2013

If there’s anything that can be said about 2013, it’s that it offered us some of the most unique and varied game experiences of the past few years. From indie action games to narrative-driven shooters, the year had something for everyone and served as a great last hurrah of the current generation.

And because we all love debates, lists, and being right, we here at Leviathyn took it upon ourselves to have an all-out debate about the top ten best games the year had to offer. Have a listen to our epic deliberations here, and read the abridged version below:

Game of the Year 2013
From the spillover of the HUGE podcast, hit the six minute mark to get into the elimination process!

You can listen to Part One and Part Two as well!

10: State of Decay

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It’s certainly true that the zombie survival action sub-genre has had no shortage of games over the last few years, but Undead Labs’ State of Decay was a breath of fresh air in an otherwise stale sub-genre.

Combining elements of stealth, strategy, scavenging, survival, and other words that start with the letter “s”, the game took a unique and fun approach to engaging with a zombie-infested world the likes of which we haven’t really seen before in the same capacity. Sure, it got a bit janky at times, but sneaking around the map and trying to build up your camp while facing the threat of permadeath was a great new take on the zombie game of which we all hope future entries take note.

(Read the review here)

9: Fire Emblem: Awakening

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The 3DS has no shortage of great gaming experiences this year, and Fire Emblem: Awakening was no exception. Carrying on the traditions of the standout strategy RPG series, the game not only managed to appease its hardcore fan base by returning to the series’ classic combat stylings, but also allowed a certain level for accessibility for new players attempting to test their mettle.

On top of that, the game featured some pretty heavy permadeath (which could be turned off), great visuals, good writing, and had an overall fantastic way of re-invigorating the series for a new era, making it one of the standout games for 2013.

8: Tomb Raider

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Of all the long-standing characters that have existed in video game history, Lara Croft has to be one of the most unique. Being among the first women to star in their own game, Lara was a somewhat polarizing figure thanks to her voluptuous design and gratuitous movements on-screen.

Up until 2013, her most recent appearance had been in Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, a downloadable game that was fun enough in its own right, but didn’t necessarily do our intrepid hero any of the justice she so deserves. That was rectified in a big way, however, once Crystal Dynamics’ reboot of the series hit shelves this year.

Gone was the hardened and busty adventurer we had come to know so well, instead replaced with an eager young archaeology student who happened to find herself in a dire and desperate situation of survival. Forced outside of her comfort zone almost in an instant, the game took Lara from being the reluctant adventurer to a hardened survivor that would set up the template for who she would become as an adult.

Tomb Raider was a fantastic game in nearly every way; the controls were great, the world was beautiful, the story was interesting, and it got a fresh coat of paint that just did enough to make everything feel fresh and new while still remaining familiar.

(Read the review here)

7: Saints Row IV

Starting out as a quasi-GTA clone in its early days, it could be argued that the Saints Row franchise didn’t really hit its stride until it embraced the crazy in The Third. Well, Volition took things a step further with Saints Row IV, making a game that was so crazy it was downright unbelievable. And we loved it.

With an alien invasion to combat, multiple superpowers to enjoy, homages and riffs of classic film and pop culture, a virtual world to explore, insane side missions and story beats, and moments that ranged from amusing to flat-out hilarious, Saints Row IV took crazy, flipped it on its head, and succeeded in creating one of the most fun and off-the-wall games of 2013.

(Read the review here)

6: Rogue Legacy

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With ideas of permadeath and randomly-generated dungeons, Rogue Legacy is a roguelike-like that isn’t necessarily for the faintest of hearts. It’s fast, it’s difficult, and it presents a challenge that even hardened gamers will at times find difficult to overcome.

But it’s not even the challenge that makes Rogue Legacy such a brilliant game in the roguelike space. Rather, it’s the game’s Legacy convention that manages to mix things up a bit and really distinguish it from the rest of the crowd.

In Rogue Legacy, every death will force you to select one of your previous character’s progeny to run through the castle again. And like most children, each of your previous characters’ have different traits that will change the game in some way. Some might be afflicted with gigantism and take up more of the screen while moving slowly, while another might be colorblind and only see the world in black and white.

The most fun to be had with Rogue Legacy is experimenting with each of the different attributes given to each character and finding out how they effect the gameplay itself. It’s a convention that isn’t just entertaining, but also helps to take out the sting of defeat whenever you die.

(Read the review here)

5: Gone Home

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Gone Home reached something of a fever pitch in popularity halfway through the year, and deservedly so; after all, it’s a fantastic game whose narrative is both haunting and inspiring, and one that resonated with so many in different ways.

The premise of the game is pretty simple; you play as Katie Greenbriar, a 20-year-old student who’s arrived home from a trip abroad. It’s after midnight, a storm rages outside, and you find the house completely empty. After dropping your stuff by the door, you walk around the house, picking up items, reading notes, and trying to piece together what happened in your family while you were gone.

The most interesting part of Gone Home is the fact that it manages to be somewhat terrifying while still delivering a great story. While walking around this massive house at night in the midst of a storm, there’s an uncanny feeling not unlike being alone in the dark that starts to creep into your mind, making nearly every venture into a new area of the house a completely unsettling one at best. The atmosphere is spooky and engaging for all the right reasons, and serves to pull your expectations of the story in different directions.

No spoilers will be divulged here, obviously, but the twists the story takes and the things you learn about the Greenbriar family are relatable and interesting, complete with an ending that might just restore a small amount of your faith in humanity.

(Read the review here)

4: Pokemon X/Y

Pokémon X and Y

A gem that has only evolved as much as its denziens since its early introduction so many years ago, Pokemon is arguably one of the most beloved series in gaming today. There’s nothing quite like it; nothing that parallels the sense of adventure and wonder the game has, the secrets to be discovered, the battles to be had, and the Pokemon to be caught.Pokemon X/Y is essentially everything a good sequel should be: it keeps all of the core conventions of the series intact, while making improvements on its core conventions. Overhauled visuals make it look fantastic on the 3DS, the music is as great as ever, the meta game ideas of collecting shinies and breeding are still intact, the core story is interesting, and the battles have even become more interesting thanks to ideas of mega evolutions and group battles.

There’s a reason the game managed to sell gangbusters on its release day. It’s one of the standout games of this year, and one of the best entries in the Pokemon franchise.

(Read the review here)

3: BioShock Infinite

 

Fans of the original BioShock have long awaited the release of BioShock Infinite, a game that promised to take the original formula and blow it up into something bigger and better than what we’d seen before. Gone were the haunting dark corridors of Rapture and a protagonist driven by a subconcious will, instead replaced with the ethereal and whimsical city of Columbia floating above the world in the clouds and a voiced main character whose convictions were mixed and somewhat elusive. It was an ambitious project, and one that many shared concerns over.

Upon its release, we received nothing short of fantastic. From beginning to end, BioShock Infinite had everything we could have hoped for; great visuals, fun combat options, good acting, and a twisted story that tied your brain in knots whenever you tried to make sense of it. Sometimes the wait for sequels is a long and punishing one that ends in disappointment, but thankfully, Infinite was the exact opposite and delivered one of our favorite experiences of the year.

(Read the review here)

2. Grand Theft Auto V

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Ah, GTA. Few franchises are as feared and beloved as yours, and never have we had a Grand Theft Auto game that didn’t manage to continue driving the greatness of the series forward.

Grand Theft Auto V was a completely ambitious project that delivered in the best ways possible. More goofy missions, more satire, more protagonists, and more of the mayhem we’ve always loved creating in the virtual worlds of the franchise all came together and played beautifully like a perfect symphony. Add to that the craziness of a massive online multiplayer component, and it’s a great game that we’re still playing and aren’t likely to be stopping any time soon.

(Read the review here)

1: The Last of Us

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If there’s anything Naughty Dog will be remembered for as a studio, it’ll be for how it’s evolved over the years. Where it once was the studio behind the likes of goofy platformers like Crash Bandicoot and Jak and Daxter, the studio has now delivered fantastic cinematic experiences that serve to push the medium’s depiction of narrative forward in positive ways.

The Last of Us is not only a continuation of this, but a definite indicator that the studio is a force to be reckoned with in the realm of narrative-driven video games.

An apocalyptic tour de force in the same vein as books like The Road, The Last of Us presents us with a grim reality that is remedied by the tender emotions shared between the most unlikely of people brought together out of circumstance. The characters of Joel and Ellie are some of the best developed we’ve seen in a video game, and experiencing their troubles in the world was a fantastic and engaging experience not likely to be replicated any time soon, making it our top pick for game of the year.

(Read the review here)

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