Game of the Year 2013: Part 5
The day has finally come to announce our ultimate Game of the Year for 2013! Welcome to Part 5 in our awards ceremony, in which we discuss some of the biggest categories of the year, even a special Game of the Generation category in honor of our excellent past round of consoles. We hope you’ve enjoyed taking this week-long journey with us, and make sure to post your Game of the Year choices in the comments below!
We will be releasing five lists over the course of this week, each covering genres or facets of gaming that we think are important to our industry, culminating with the final “Game of the Year” decision. In the interest of full disclosure, we at Press Play have made the conscious choice to abstain from any “Best of Console” awards, as we would prefer not to encourage discussions we believe to be detrimental to the gaming community. With each ultimate choice, you can also see the individual choices of our three judges: Senior Producer Nick Hawryluk, and guest judges Chris Nagy and Peter Kendall from How Do I Jump. We have tried to be as impartial as possible, and in the interest of transparency, you can listen to our entire deliberations process in the embedded podcast as well.Jump to another part of our Game of the Year 2013 series: GOTY 2013 HQ • Part 1 • Part 2 • Part 3 • Part 4 • Part 5
Frictional Games’ AMNESIA: THE DARK DESCENT was a wake-up call for the horror genre, and its unique simulation-style mechanics and deep psychological scares left us wanting more. AMNESIA: A MACHINE FOR PIGS however, was not the strong second outing we wanted for this series. Dropping just about everything interesting introduced by its predecessor, developer The Chinese Room essentially hijacked the franchise to make a creepier version of their 2012 game DEAR ESTHER. The story was heavy handed enough to produce a steady stream of cringes, and with brain-dead enemy AI there was a real ceiling on the amount of tension it could actually build. There were some well-done moments, but because it didn’t even come close to filling the shoes of its older brother, AMNESIA: A MACHINE FOR PIGS is our Biggest Disappointment of 2013.EDITORS’ PICKS: Nick: Remember Me Chris: Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs Pete: Defiance
An obscure joke about fighting game conventions turned full-fledged release, DIVEKICK unexpectedly won our hearts this year. This was a two-button game in the literal sense, allowing players to choose between only two actions: ‘dive’ and ‘kick.’ Every hit in a DIVEKICK match was a lethal blow, essentially making every battle into the tense last seconds of a traditional fighting game match. The campy tone and intentionally crude visuals made this feel like it shouldn’t be taken seriously, but there’s actually a huge respect for this game among hardcore fight fans. Its mechanics were about as fine-tuned as any major fighter we’ve played, which goes to show you don’t need complex systems to make a compelling fighting game. Because it made us care about a joke we don’t even fully understand, DIVEKICK is our Biggest Surprise of 2013!EDITORS’ PICKS: Nick: Gone Home Chris: Divekick
THE STANLEY PARABLE is a game that defies explanation. It was a video game about playing video games, and the tricks it used to convey its satire made our brains hurt. Players were asked to challenge the role of the developer and writer by ignoring directions, but the game had already thought of every possible outcome. We invented this category to discuss a singular moment that made our heads spin, but every second of THE STANLEY PARABLE was an equally confusing and exciting occurrence. For knowing every move we were going to make before we made it, our entire time playing THE STANLEY PARABLE was our Best WTF Moment of 2013.EDITORS’ PICKS: Nick: The Stanley Parable (The Whole Game) Chris: Bioshock Infinite: Burial at Sea Episode 1 (Ending)
Pete: Bioshock Infinite (Ending)
This generation in gaming had too many influential titles to count. Because of its extended length, we ended up with more compelling new IPs, tonal shifts and micro-level refinements than we knew what to do with. We could make another five-day awards ceremony solely about this category and still not scratch the surface of what made the Xbox 360, PS3 and Wii so special. Since we had to narrow our decision down to one highlight from 2005 onward however, METAL GEAR SOLID 4 made the biggest impression on us.
Rounding out the epic tale of Solid Snake that players had been following since 1987, MGS4 shattered even the incredibly high expectations we had for the saga’s swan song. It not only presented a fitting and emotional end to the series, but its gameplay was an absolute paradigm shift on many levels. Since it was set in the middle of a warzone, Snake was forced to sneak through active battlefields. At the same time, the series’ trademark cartoon villains were running amok, each presenting him with new challenges and deftly crafted series callbacks. Plus, even after all those years, Kojima managed to continue surprising us with mind-blowing, fourth wall-breaking puzzles. There are moments from METAL GEAR SOLID 4: GUNS OF THE PATRIOTS that we’ll carry with us for the rest of our lives, and it’s our choice for Game of the Generation!EDITORS’ PICKS: Nick: Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots Chris: Dark Souls
Pete: Grand Theft Auto V
BIOSHOCK INFINITE is a masterpiece. Part shooter, part RPG, part study in quantum mechanics, this game gave us new hope about where the medium could really go. Set on a floating city in the year 1912, players embarked on a quest for a captive girl who wasn’t what she seemed. A video game set in the under-represented “early 1900s” time period doesn’t seem like a very attractive idea on paper, and this game uses that to its advantage. Since there’s not much social awareness of that era, INFINITE made clever use of anachronisms to catch us off guard, and brought to light some of the time’s more frightening real-life viewpoints to pack a real punch.
The ‘Shock series is notorious for its jabs at video game convention in its stories, and BIOSHOCK INFINITE took this to a real extreme. This was the sort of game that you needed to talk to someone about afterwards, and more importantly, left itself open to any number of different viewpoints. With modern AAA video games typically trying to cater to so many audiences, it was truly remarkable to see something content to leave us with unanswered questions.
The art direction in INFINITE was overwhelmingly beautiful; walking through the open environments felt like living in a J.C. Leyendecker painting, and the game’s levels were deftly crafted to feel like real places. Characters like the wonderfully creepy Lutece twins won our hearts instantly, and the whole world had a David Lynch-esque off-kilter quality at the seams. Traveling with the Elizabeth character really added something to the dynamic as well, meaningfully contributing to both gameplay and story in a way we haven’t seen since HALF-LIFE 2’s Alyx Vance. BIOSHOCK INFINITE is a huge game, both thematically and in its importance to this industry. Everything it tried to do was successful, creating a consistently entertaining and unusually intelligent video game experience. It should be mandatory for every video game fan to play BIOSHOCK INFINITE, and it’s our winner for Game of the Year 2013!EDITORS’ PICKS: Nick: Bioshock Infinite Chris: Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
Pete: The Last of Us
The Game of the Year 2013 Awards were judged by Press Play Senior Producer Nick Hawryluk and guests Peter Kendall and Chris Nagy from How Do I Jump. Don’t think we made the right choices in a category? Let us know what you think should have won in the comments below!
Trophy from The Noun Project