Original 24” X 19” oil painting and 19” X 13” prints available HERE.
No way. When it came out on Xbox, I made it to the ice caves before moving on to other things. The “daily challenge” feature on the PC, though, sounds like it could be a fun way to give it a shot more regularly. This article by designer Doug Wilson, in which he breaks down a Spelunky run, is what got me interested in seeing more of what the game can offer.
checking my phone in the middle of the night
This shit….fighting perfection
I’M TWENTY YEARS OLD AND I STILL LOSE MY SHIT AT THIS EVERY GODDAMN TIME
#1 - The Last of Us
I wrestled with my number one for a while but no matter how I justified it no game this year suited the spot better than Naughty Dog’s latest title; The Last of Us. To get the obvious out of the way The Last of Us is a stellar example of a linear narrative driven experience. The Last of Us is able to tell a singular well crafted story that is thematically pinned to its game-play in a manner that feels natural and non-obtrusive, it never feels like going through the motions in the way many other linear action games do. It’s ability to maintain a consistent tone throughout both interactive and non-interactive sequences is remarkable, making it feel like a genuine cohesive experience and not two disparate elements. The Last of Us reminded me that bespoke interactive content is not inherently inferior to its more systemic brother. The Last of Us is an experience unlike any other I played this year.
#2 - Spelunky
Technically, Spelunky came out last year on 360, and before that it was an even smaller indie game on PC too. Somehow I never managed to play any of those other versions, but Spelunky is such a clever piece of game design that I’d be remiss if I couldn’t represent it on this list somehow. Spelunky is basically a loop of both short and long term risk/reward scenarios under time and perma-death pressure. It is such a simple and elegant way to elevate the stakes of even the smallest encounter and it is full of decisions with enough ambiguity to them that you will debate with yourself over and over until you find the perfect way to handle it. The Daily Challenge combines the best of procedurally generated madness with a sense of persistence that allows you to share and communicate your experiences with others. Spelunky is brilliant game design.
#3 - Fire Emblem: Awakening
Fire Emblem has always been one of Nintendo’s stronger franchises that never really got the attention I felt it deserved. This year that changed when a perfect storm of sorts brewed right around the time of Awakenings release; The 3DS was booming, XCOM had just come out a few monthes prior and had created a strategy thirst that a lot of gamers wanted to quench, and Intelligent Systems created one of the best Fire Emblem games in recent memory. Awakening is successful in its ability to bring a lot of the more interesting and complex background systems of the series to the forefront and make them feel like core systems. In this way Awakening manages to take what makes Fire Emblem great; high stake character driven strategy, and add a sense of player expression through how you shape your army and their relationships. While I have reservations about the new art direction and the plot, Fire Emblem Awakening feels like the franchise breaking through its midlife crisis to rediscover what it is.
#4 - Gone Home
No game has been surrounded with such simultaneous hyperbole and vitriol this year as The Full Bright Company’s Gone Home. My mere inclusion of it on this list at number 4 is surely to garner some ill-opinions from a number of gamers. The game’s release and focus on environmental exploration and narrative surrounding the topic of forbidden love between two homosexual women came at time when the medium was deeply entrenched in debate over both female representation in games media and debate over what should merit the ever ambiguous title of video game. While I found the core narrative to be both simple and successful, albeit not something totally world shattering, I really enjoyed Gone Home’s focus on exploration of a single, well realized and grounded play space. The level of detail that was given to the environment gave the house a character that very few games achieve. Where so often an environment just feels like a boundary of play, Gone Home successfully created a grounded and human world.
#5 - Saint’s Row IV
Me and open world crime games don’t mesh. Whether it’s the fact that I’ve never clicked with the subject matter, or that I always get the sense a lot of aspect are underdeveloped for the sake of grandiosity. Saint’s Row IV’s ability to recognize the nauseating elements of its own genre and avoid or approach them in a more interesting manner make it an undoubtedly great game. The narrative and game-play constraints (or lack thereof) that the game plays off of make the kind of open-world mayhem the genre is built on actually enjoyable and entertaining. No longer does combat feel like an exercise in patience, with the super powers you now have the ability to take both aggressive and defensive routes in combat. The city no longer feels like obstacles on your way between mission markers as the game is now a joy to just run and jump around. Saint’s Row IV is a game in which I almost never use fast-travel and if that isn’t a testament to how successful of an open-world game this is than I don’t know what is. Also the game is just genuinely funny and clever, managing to parody both film and game tropes in the dumbest way possible.
Since it’s New Years Eve and I felt like writing about games I threw together a little list of my favourite games on 2013. I’ll queue up 5 posts with a little something about my top 5 but in the mean time here are 10 - 6 and the games I’ve enjoyed that I haven’t played enough of to say they’re among my top 10.
- State of Decay: State of Decay has a lot of interesting things going for it that make up for how janky of an experience it is. I really need to invest some time into the new DLC before I speak confidently about this game.
- The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds: I’m loving it so far but I have really only just started playing it.
- Gunpoint: I started playing this and really enjoyed it, put it down and never went back for some reason. I feel I need to finish it soon.
- Special mention to the games I never got a chance to play cause I don’t own a WiiU yet (Pikmin 3, W101, SM 3D World).
Favourite Games of 2013 (10 - 6)
10. Year Walk. Clever puzzle design unique to its platform, fantastic art and a final reveal that is so clever in its execution that it alone would’ve earned it a spot in my top 10.
9. Pokemon X & Y. Some really great new Pokemon, with interesting typings and move-pools along with the addition of Mega Evolutions, re-ignited my love for the core series.
8. Bioshock Infinite. A game with lofty ambitions that fell short in a lot of areas. Where it did succeed is in crafting an environment that was interesting and intriguing, and some audio-visual design that was top notch. It’s a shame the characters and game-play were less inspired.
7. The Stanley Parable. Quirky and clever deconstruction of the player/creator relationship as it relates to games narrative. Lacks the punch and wonder that the initial mod had had on me, but its hard to blame the game for that.
6. Resogun. A really simple premise combined with enough depth that I still feel I haven’t fully explored it yet. Resogun is a visually striking, satisfying game that has become my go to game to play on PS4.