Best Games of 2013: 15 – 6
StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm
StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm delivered more of the fan-favorite awesomeness PC gamers have come to expect from Blizzard's franchise over the years. The second of three planned games, Heart of the Swarm brought improvements on the gameplay in Wings of Liberty, and kept fans engaged with a new perspective in the ongoing battle for space supremacy. Blizzard is known for taking its time with releases, which can tick off gamers, but when the final product is as strong as StarCraft 2: Heart of the Swarm, it's hard to argue with their mentality.
Mario doesn't have a monopoly on platforming. Rayman is another legend of the genre and he is in full form with his latest game. It is platforming nirvana that allows three other friends to drop in and out to help or hinder your quest. The controls are fantastic and tight, but the real highlight of this game are the incredible visuals that border more on cartoonish paintings than digital artwork. Missing this game would be a huge disservice to a platformer fan.
Media Molecule returned to the PS Vita this year with new IP designed around papercraft. While it might have been impossibly difficult to try and follow up LittleBigPlanet's success, Tearaway is every bit as charming and delightful as its predecessor. Sharp gameplay teamed with an adorable presentation and world made Tearaway not just one of the best portable titles of the year, but also one of the Best Games of 2013.
The Stanely Parable
What is choice? Is it making a decision? Is choosing not to make a decision still a choice? What happens when an entire game is based around the choices you make, whether you make them or not? Confused and confounded yet? This is what it's like to play The Stanley Parable. More experiment than game (or is it?), the PC puzzler leaves everything that happens up to you. The questions it raises about design and games in general make it an experience you just can't miss out on.
Lara's return to the fold was well worth the wait, as Tomb Raider showed the leading lady still had a lot to offer an entirely new generation of fans. Crystal Dynamics learned a lot from Tomb Raider-inspired titles like Uncharted, and delivered what could be considered the most complete Tomb Raider adventure in the entire franchise. The action was intense, the reimagined origin was on point, and even if the tombs weren't as prevalent or important as they were in the past, Tomb Raider stands at out as one of 2013's best video games.
Taking place in the mid-90s, the exploratory gameplay in Gone Home is like a strange trip, in more than one way. As Kaitlin, you return home to your family's new digs to find everyone missing, and the only clues as to what's happened are found as a series of notes and items left behind. There's a deep mystery at the core of Gone Home, and it's an atmospheric adventure well worth embarking on.
Pokemon X and Y
In a year packed full of stellar 3DS exclusives, perhaps none was more anticipated than Pokemon X and Y. Even after all these years, fans still keep coming back for more and more Pokemon action, and that's a testament to the quality and playability the franchise provides. Pokemon X and Y improved on an already (nearly) impeccable gameplay system, and easily gave us the best Pokemon adventure we've had in years.
Forza Motorsport 5
Turn 10 returned to the franchise it brought to glory on previous Xbox consoles with Xbox One launch title Forza Motorsport 5. If there was ever a way to experience beauty and form and speed all at once, Forza 5 is it. Running at a crisp 60fps at 1080p, there's no feeling quite like taking a sharp turn in any number of Forza's cars as the sun beats down on you over the horizon. Plus, with Drivatars, even when you're playing offline, you'll still be able to race against friends to prove which of you is the superior racer. Racing games this good are rare, and not to be missed.
Antichamber is a first-person puzzler, wherein the player traverses non-Euclidean levels with only his wits and a specially designed gun to aid him. In development for quite a few years, Anitchamber originally started out as a mod for Unreal Tournament 3, and has since evolved beyond its original form to its current state. Developed entirely by just one man (Alexander Bruce), Antichamber challenges conventions and has won numerous indie game awards over the past year.
Fire Emblem: Awakening
Fire Emblem: Awakening is the latest in a long line of successful tactical role-playing games from Nintendo. This time the franchise has branched out to the 3DS, and with it comes new gameplay mechanics including the introduction of an overworld, job classes, and the ability to marry and have children. The primary focus is still on the strategic turn-based combat, but thanks to the new features this entry is among the deepest in the series.