Tag Archive: Game of the Year


It has been a great year for games overall, and one of the best in recent memory. I can’t remember the last time I had to wrestle with my top five as much as I had to this year, because there were honestly 15 or so games out of the 89 that I beat before official EGM game of the year voting that I could’ve slipped into these slots. After much internal deliberation, however, I hammered out a list that I think provides a variety of incredible experiences that are all more than worthy of your game-playing time.

#5 Publisher: Bethesda
Developer: MachineGames
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus
There were literally three games rotating in and out of this spot for me before I finally decided that talking about how great it is to kill Nazis—and in such a variety of ways—was worthy of a nod. There have never been a more disgusting or vile people on the Earth than the Nazis; they are the ultimate evil. And, reigning havoc on this fictional Reich was cathartic at a time when people seem to be forgetting just how heinous they were. If this game weren’t already in my top five, it’d be getting a special award just for being able to kick Hitler in the face. Throw in a terrific end credits scene that should get every patriot’s heart pumping, along with just how amazingly smooth the game’s gunplay was, and there’s no doubt that Wolfenstein II should be near the top of everyone’s lists.
#4 Publisher: Supergiant Games
Developer: Supergiant Games
Platforms: PS4, PC
Pyre
The folks at Supergiant Games are nothing if not expert storytellers. In each of their games, they’ve created unique worlds that you can’t help but get sucked into, and Pyre does that again here. It finds a way to make you care about the characters in your caravan right from the get-go, and as your party grows, the roots you place in this world only become stronger until it’s almost painful for you to leave it. What’s even more amazing is that the gameplay’s main mechanic—besides chatting with your party members in standard RPG fashion—is to basically win 3-on-3 basketball games. Of course, boiling this mechanic down like that to its very core peels away the stakes that surround each game. There’s a real sense of risk here, as well as loss should you fail. Pyre is a gorgeous game, both visually and content wise, and is a can’t-miss experience.
#3 Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo
Platforms: Switch
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Breath of the Wild is no doubt a game-changer for one of Nintendo’s most popular flagship franchises. It was a bold choice to focus more on puzzle-solving and world interaction than combat, and it paid off. People are still discovering new ways to interact with this latest iteration of Hyrule and its inhabitants, and it again proves that few companies are as good as Nintendo at just making games that are pure fun. Plus, there is plenty of fun to be had considering how massive the game’s world is, not to mention a tremendous amount of customization here, with Link being able to wear just about anything. I could’ve done without my weapons breaking so often, and I worry about Nintendo embracing the idea of DLC with this game, but even still, this is an instant classic.
#2 Publisher: Studio MDHR
Developer: Studio MDHR
Platforms: Xbox One, PC
Cuphead
It’s rare in today’s world for something to be hyped for as long as Cuphead was, and for it to then live up to that hype. And yet, somehow, it did. After 188 deaths, I had completed this game and was thrilled for every second I got to play with it. There is a randomness to each boss fight that tests your reflexes in ways few games like this can, as you can’t just sit back and memorize patterns. It’s an action-shooter, but there are definitely moments where this feels like a bullet hell, too—especially in the flying levels. On top of this, the art and musical style of 1930s cartoons is a surprisingly fresh take for a video game, and proves that sometimes what is old can be new again. Combine all this with tight controls (especially around the parry system), and Cuphead sits as one of the year’s most complete experiences if you’re like me and don’t mind the difficulty.
#1 Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Resident Evil VII
It’s rare for a game that releases in January to hold throughout the year at the top of my list, but Resident Evil 7 surprised us all in a lot of ways in 2017. It’s both a return to form and a strong step forward for the franchise. The atmosphere and intimateness of the Baker compound down in the bayou harkens back to earlier games in the series, helping to set up some truly horrific moments. The move to first-person was controversial for some, but for me I found it to be a smart step into the future that only enhanced the terror the game instilled in me. When you include the clever traps and puzzles, the unforgettable characters that were the Baker family, and the new enemies in the Molded, Resident Evil 7 quite simply might’ve saved the franchise. It also, though, was the first full game to completely support VR. Sure, the graphics took a hit, but playing with that headset on is a true test of anyone’s fortitude.
The 7th Annual “The Colors, Duke! The Colors!” Award for Most Colorful Game presented by Popsicle (not really, but I wish)
Assassin’s Creed Origins
Continuing my annual tradition of giving an award to the prettiest game of the year, Assassin’s Creed Origins’ visuals blew me away. This was one of the toughest years yet to judge for this award, but when everything was working—whether you were perched atop one of the Pyramids of Giza, or just soaring over the Nile with Senu—Assassin’s Creed Origins could take your breath away. The diversity of the landscape also played a huge part in Origins coming away with the win here, as there was so much more to explore than just the desert you likely first think of when thinking of Egypt.
The Rick Astley “Never Gonna Give You Up” Award
Injustice 2
For as great a year as it’s been in video games, few games have got me coming back for more as consistently as Injustice 2. Earning new gear in the game’s Multiverse mode has become something of an addiction, as I’m constantly trying to make my favorite characters stronger through the system. Online play has been solid—I’ve got a .540 winning percentage with my main, Batman—and the steady flood of new monthly DLC characters has kept things fresh with all these new characters to learn and arcade endings to discover. In a year full of memorable experiences, Injustice 2 just might be the most addicting.
The Don’t Let It Fall Under Your Radar Award
The Sexy Brutale
There have been a flurry of AAA-blockbusters that took our breath away this year, but we can’t forget to give indies their proper amount of love. While some smaller projects were fortunate enough to catapult themselves into the limelight from their first showing at fan expos and trade shows, others have toiled away hoping to breakthrough. The Sexy Brutale is a terrific murder-mystery with the added caveat of time-travel thrown in to help you relive the same day over and over in order to solve all the murders taking place around you. Throw in a stellar soundtrack and The Sexy Brutale is a game you might not have heard of until now, but is one you must go back and experience if you find the time.
EGM’s Best of 2017 Coverage
We’re taking a look at the best games of 2017 all week, from Christmas day through December 30th. Check back every day for our Top 25 Games of 2017, as well as our personal lists for the games we loved most this year. Check here for everything that’s been posted so far.

It’s very hard to whittle down a year’s worth of games to a list of merely five. EGM had almost 120 games up for best of the year voting this time around, of which I personally beat 87 at the moment of my writing this. (Who needs a family anyway? So overrated.) Nevertheless, some games took weeks, almost months to get through; some barely took more than a lunch break. But at the end of a grueling and arduous processing period that would have broken lesser men, I emerged with a list of my personal top five from 2016. I give these games my highest recommendation, and hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

#5
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Developer: The Coalition
Platforms: Xbox One, PC
Gears of War 4
I was cautiously optimistic when it came to Gears 4 prior to release. The original trilogy had wrapped everything up so nicely, and the prequel was so lackluster, that I really wasn’t sure if an adventure that followed Marcus’ son could capture the magic of the original three. But, thankfully, my fears were quickly assuaged. New enemies, a Sera wracked by new natural disasters as a result of Gears 3’s ending, and a new cast was just what the doctor ordered to put Gears of War back on top. Along with the thrilling campaign, the multiplayer was a return to form, too. New weapons, maps, and modes, plus the card system to reward players for playing certain ways, gave it a much-needed shot in the arm. If I ever find the time, this is the one multiplayer I’m returning to.

#4
Publisher: Microsoft Studios
Developer: Playground Games, Turn 10 Studios
Platforms: Xbox One, PC
Forza Horizon 3
As much as I love racing games,—and the Forza series in particular—it’s hard to believe it made my top five. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I’m saying it snuck in here. On the contrary, I just can’t believe how much I loved it. Sports and racing games sometimes get forgotten, or left in a category all their own (or weirdly mashed into one category). When it comes time for Game of the Year, for me anyway, everything is on the table. And hands down, no doubt, Forza Horizon 3 is one of the best all-around experiences I’ve had in 2016. If it wasn’t for the fact that my job requires me to play dozens of games a year, my tires would still be warm on my precious dune buggy as I bound over the hills of the Outback. With tons of championships still to be won, I can’t wait to dive back into this one over winter break.

#3
Publisher: The Pokémon Company
Developer: Game Freak
Platforms: 3DS
Pokémon Sun/Moon
I’ve said it a hundred times I think at this point, but I’ve been playing Pokémon since it first hit these shores almost 20 years ago, and I don’t think since that original entry has a game in the series made me so happy. Pokémon Sun/Moon’s removal of traditional gym battles, reimagining of friends and rivals, integration of legendary Pokémon into the story, and multitude of side activities to do blows away every previous entry. The fully-realized 3D world and movement make a huge difference when roaming around the islands of Alola, and the removal of HMs and adding ride Pokémon to get from point A to point B quickly make the chore of traversal a thing of the past. Almost every issue we’ve had with previous Pokémon games has been addressed, and the game still has all the great battle strategy and training we’ve come to expect over the years. I can’t wait to see where Pokémon goes next.

#2
Publisher: EA
Developer: Respawn Entertainment
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Titanfall 2
If you want to see a master course in level design in action, play Titanfall 2. Rectifying one of the major gaffs of the first game by including a campaign this go around, Respawn Entertainment turned my world on its head and inside out, and I loved every second of it. If you told me I was going to cherish the relationship between a pilot and his robot at this start of this, I’d have laughed you out of the office. Now, though, I think it’s one of the strongest bonds conveyed in a game. It’s not the best written, since gameplay definitely still takes the reigns most of the time here, but if you want a non-stop, adrenaline-fueled roller coaster ride with giant robots, then you need to play this game. Plus, the multiplayer is just as tight this go around as in the first one. It almost doesn’t get better than this.

#1
Publisher: Playdead
Developer: Playdead
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Inside
I’m just as shocked as anyone that I picked indies as my game of the year in back-to-back years now, but the truth of the matter is that I absolutely adored Inside. There was no other game that I was talking about well after I beat it more than this near-perfect little puzzle platformer. The adventure of trying to escape a world making its best attempt to crush you in every way imaginable surely has more metaphors buried in it than I can uncover here in this blurb, but throw that in with an insane ending that you’ll never see coming, and I’m still excited about it even just writing this. I did not know how Playdead would be able to top their first amazing effort with Limbo, but they did, and if anyone believes in the sophomore slump, they clearly never played Inside.
The 6th Annual “The Colors, Duke! The Colors!” Award for Most Colorful Game presented by Popsicle (not really)
Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End
Continuing my annual tradition, for as many great looking games as were out there this year, none looked as good to me as Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. From the animation for all the characters to the remote locales that Drake explored, the game was simply gorgeous. Driving my jeep through the mud, boating on crystal clear waters, and climbing through overgrown jungles are all things we’ve seen in games before, but I don’t think any game has ever done them better. So, it may not have made my Top 5, but I needed to at least shine a small light on the beauty of this visual gem.
The Michelle Obama Award for Battling Obesity
Pokémon Go
Although strides have been made with motion controls and virtual reality, gaming has always been, and really remains, a pretty sedentary activity. Then Niantic released Pokémon Go this summer, and millions of people got up out of their chairs and started walking around—including yours truly. Heck, even to this day it affects my lunch habits, as I’ll walk places now in order to hatch eggs and get candy in the game. I met new people, found new places in and around Los Angeles, and spent more time outdoors than I had in a very long time. I’d still love to see battling and trading implemented at some point, but for now, kudos to Niantic for doing what almost nothing could for me for a long time: giving me a reason to get up and go outside.
The “Reality Sucks, Let’s Go Somewhere Else” Award
Robinson: The Journey
2016 will be remembered as the year VR really hit mass-market, and so it seemed fitting to shine a light on one of the best games out there for it. While many games successfully brought the sensation of piloting mechs or planes to life, my favorite experience was when I got to explore a strange new world on foot. Robinson: The Journey revolves around a spacefaring boy lost on a strange planet filled with dinosaurs. Avoiding Velociraptors, T-Rexs, and Pterodactyls was invigorating, and got me using my PS VR headset probably more than any other game out there. This experience, more than any, other has sold me on the future of VR.
EGM’s Best of 2016 Coverage
We’re taking a look at the best games of 2016 all week, from Christmas day through December 30th. Check back every day for our Top 25 Games of 2016, as well as our personal lists for the games we loved most this year. Check here for everything that’s been posted so far.

GOTY-Todd_Howard_andFallout4team640

Fallout 4 surprised many when it took home Game of the Year at the 19th annual D.I.C.E. Awards last night in Las Vegas.

The win was Fallout 4‘s third of the night out of the eight categories it was nominated in, tying it for the most total hardware of the evening with The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Ori and the Blind Forest, and Rocket League. It also marks the second year in a row that a game that also won Best RPG/MMO took home the big prize of the night after Dragon Age Inquisition pulled off the same feat last year.

Surprisingly, the game with the most nominations—Rise of the Tomb Raider with nine—only picked up one win, which was for Outstanding Achievement in Character for Lara Croft.

Aside from the 22 awards given out in specific categories, the D.I.C.E. Awards also recognized Visual Basic with the second ever Technical Impact Award, Hideo Kojima was inducted into the show’s Hall of Fame, and Satoru Iwata was posthumously given the Lifetime Achievement award.

For all of the nominees in each category, you can check out the list below. Winners have been bolded.

Outstanding Achievement in Original Music Composition
Batman: Arkham Knight
Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture
Ori and the Blind Forest
Starcraft II: Legacy of the Void
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Outstanding Achievement in Sound Design
Destiny: The Taken King
Ori and the Blind Forest
Rise of the Tomb Raider
Star Wars Battlefront
The Order: 1886

Outstanding Achievement in Story
Fallout 4
Her Story
Rise of the Tomb Raider
Tales from the Borderlands
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Outstanding Technical Achievement
Just Cause 3
Rise of the Tomb Raider
Star Wars Battlefront
The Order: 1886
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Outstanding Achievement in Character
Assassin’s Creed Syndicate — Evie Frye
Her Story — Hannah Smith
Life is Strange — Maxine Caulfield
Rise of the Tomb Raider — Lara Croft
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt — Geralt of Rivia

D.I.C.E. Sprite Award
Galak-Z
Her Story
Kerbal Space Program
Rocket League
Undertale

Outstanding Achievement in Online Gaming
Destiny: The Taken King
Halo 5: Guardians
Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft
Rocket League
Splatoon

Mobile Game of the Year
DomiNations
Fallout Shelter
Lara Croft GO
PAC-MAN 256
The Room Three

Role-Playing/Massively Multiplayer Game of the Year
Bloodborne
Fallout 4
Pillars of Eternity
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Undertale

Sports Game of the Year
FIFA 16
Madden NFL 16
MLB 16 The Show
NBA 2K16
Rocket League

Racing Game of the Year
Forza Motorsport 6
Need for Speed
Project CARS

Fighting Game of the Year
Dead or Alive 5 Last Round
Mortal Kombat X
Rising Thunder

Strategy/Simulation Game of the Year
Cities Skylines
Fallout Shelter
Grey Goo
Heroes of the Storm
Kerbal Space Program

Family Game of the Year
Guitar Hero Live
LEGO Dimensions
Rock Band 4
Super Mario Maker
Tearaway Unfolded

Handheld Game of the Year
Earth Defense Force 2: Invaders from Planet Space
Helldivers
Pokemon Super Mystery Dungeon
Yo-Kai Watch

Adventure Game of the Year
Batman: Arkham Knight
Life is Strange
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
Ori and the Blind Forest
Rise of the Tomb Raider

Action Game of the Year
Destiny: The Taken King
Helldivers
Just Cause 3
Splatoon
Star Wars Battlefront

Outstanding Achievement in Animation
Assassin’s Creed Syndicate
Batman: Arkham Knight
Ori and the Blind Forest
Rise of the Tomb Raider
The Order: 1886

Outstanding Achievement in Art Direction
Lara Croft GO
Ori and the Blind Forest
Rise of the Tomb Raider
Star Wars Battlefront
The Order: 1886

Outstanding Achievement in Game Design
Fallout 4
Her Story
Lara Croft GO
Massive Chalice
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Outstanding Achievement in Game Direction
Fallout 4
Life is Strange
Rise of the Tomb Raider
The Witcher: Wild Hunt
Undertale

Game of the Year
Bloodborne
Fallout 4
Ori and the Blind Forest
Rise of the Tomb Raider
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Introduction

I’m a little obsessed with our Game of the Year lists. I keep track of every game that comes out in a top-secret master document and move games up and down with each new release, patiently waiting for that final day in December when me and the EGM crew finally hash things out. 2014 was a little easier on me, though, as many of my top games have been there since the first half of the year. Much like our managing editor, Andrew Fitch, big budget disappointments marred much of the second half for me, but a few—including my eventual Game of the Year—would serve as bright spots in what has been a rather bleak winter. Now, with the promise of an eventful 2015 on the horizon, I am ready to pass my final judgment on the year that was. Here are my top picks of 2014!

Ray’s Top Five Games for 2014

#05: Bayonetta 2

Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Platinum Games
Platforms: Wii U

Ray’s Take

If you had told me back in January that Bayonetta 2 would be in my top five at the end of the year, I’d have said you were insane. Sure, I enjoyed the first game (not nearly as much as our executive editor, Eric L. Patterson), but I saw some inherent flaws that, to me, kept it from being something beyond a niche, button-mashing, hack-n-slash game. Bayonetta 2, though, successfully built on that first game’s foundation, tweaked the combat, and added the Umbran Climax, giving me a larger sense of control in battle. I went from button mashing to carefully crafting crushing combos. Throw in one of the more charming protagonists out there and a story that finds an interesting way to tie into the first game, and I can’t help but admit that Bayonetta 2 made a believer out of me.

#04: Super Time Force

Publisher: Capybara Games
Developer: Capybara Games
Platforms: Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC

Ray’s Take

I might be hanging out with associate editor Josh Harmon too much, because looking at my Top 25 voting, I voted for more indies than ever before. One of them, though, legitimately blew me away. I love time travel, so Super Time Force’s ability to allow you to relive sections of gameplay over and over again as a near-endless army of clones of yourself teamed up to take on harder and harder threats was the kind of zany fun I’d been missing for a long time when this game came out. Admittedly, the off-the-wall humor might not be for everyone, but there was so much more strategy involved than you’d expect from an old-school side-scrolling shooter, and I loved every rewound second of it.

#03: South Park: The Stick of Truth

Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Obsidian Entertainment/South Park Digital Studios
Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, PC

Ray’s Take

For a time, many were worried this game would never actually get released. But after years of delays and a change in publisher, South Park: The Stick of Truth is the purest form of the TV show we can get in a videogame. Though it paid more homage to classic elements from the show than carving its own path into the South Park mythos, The Stick of Truth’s only real fault was how short it was for an RPG. The story had me laughing constantly, and the old-school turn-based RPG combat was a welcome throwback that worked perfectly for what show creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker wanted to portray here: the boys of South Park playing a game that quickly spirals out of control and pulls in forces far larger than a LARPing session should ever entail.

#02: Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze

Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Retro Studios
Platforms: Wii U

Ray’s Take

For much of the year, this was my game to beat—and with great reason. Not only is Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze a beautiful game graphically, but I’ll say it’s the best platformer Nintendo’s put out in quite some time. The level design was absolutely superb, and it mixed just enough difficulty and replayability into each area so that I never really got tired no matter how many times I tackled the game’s dozens of stages. The addition of Dixie Kong and Cranky Kong as playable characters also opened up so many exploration opportunities that led to secret levels and items—and added some pleasant variety between the Kongs. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze makes me wish Retro would take a crack at more classic Nintendo series after they first jump-started Metroid back on the GameCube, and now they’ve done the same with Donkey Kong Country.

#01: Dragon Age Inquisition

Publisher: Electronic Arts
Developer: BioWare
Platforms: Ps4, Xbox One, PC

Ray’s Take

When it comes to my fantasy, I’ve always been more of a “sci-fi” and not so much as a “high” kind of guy. But ever since an old co-worker turned me onto Dragon Age back in 2009, I’ve been hooked to this series. With decisions from the first two games coming to a head here, and with a massive world to explore, I couldn’t help but get sucked into this experience and easily clocked over 100 hours on my first playthrough. Considering our jobs here at EGM, and the fact we always have to move onto the next game, the fact I stuck with Inquisition for that long shows how immersive and addictive it is—hours would fly be in the blink of an eye. And I loved every minute of it. For the first time in a long time, I was grinding not for achievements, but just to squeeze every last line of dialogue from a cast of characters that I couldn’t help but fall in love with. And in terms of gameplay, whether it was playing the political game of Orlesian high society or the huge cheer that escaped my lips when I slayed my first gorgeous new-gen dragon, I couldn’t get enough of being the Inquisitor, and I happily choose Dragon Age: Inquisition as my personal game of the year.

Ray’s Off-Topic Awards for 2014

The 4th Annual “The Colors, Duke! The Colors!” Award for Most Colorful Game
(Brought to you by Popsicle)
The Banner Saga
I played a lot of great-looking games this year, including some that I already mentioned in my list above. But just eking them all out was Stoic’s The Banner Saga. This strategy title channeled the animation style of Don Bluth, and the character design and colors were a feast for the eyes. It’s more than deserving of this fourth annual award, especially because none of the quality is lost whether you’re playing the game on a high-end PC or an iOS device like an iPad 2.
The “Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better” Award
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
This one goes out to a game that heavily borrows some elements from other titles—but then does them better than the series it borrowed them from. This year, Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor is the recipient for this award, because they out–Assassin’s Creed-ed Assassin’s Creed, especially this year. Imitation may be the most sincere form of flattery, but if I’m the guys at Ubisoft, I’d be a little peeved that the folks at Monolith and Warner Bros. knocked out of the park on their first try things Ubisoft is still struggling to get right.
The “No Such Thing as a Sophomore Slump” Award
Transistor
When you consider how big a splash Supergiant Games made with their 2011 breakout indie hit, Bastion, it would’ve been understandable if the pressure of that success caused them to regress a little in their next effort. Instead, they showed that they’re a force to be reckoned with in the development community, as their second game, Transistor, was as intriguing and as moving as their first. Borrowing only a minimal amount of elements from Bastion, Transistor gave us compelling new combat and upgrade systems while telling the heart-wrenching story of protagonist Red and her lost love as it plays out in her dystopian future, and provided another immersive experience for gamers everywhere.

EGMNOW’s Best of 2014 Awards Schedule

http://www.egmnow.com/wp-content/themes/egmnowv3/christmas_links.php

Introduction

There were a lot of good games in 2013. For me, however, there weren’t a lot of great games, ones that were clearly head and shoulders above the pack and got me excited every time I talked about them.Aside from some Nintendo titles, the end of the year was surprisingly dull, due to the less-than-stellar launch lineups of the PS4 and Xbox One. Because of that, half my list is comprised of games that surprisingly came from the first six months of 2013. But when I look back, these are the five games I’d sit down and play again more than any others. Enjoy!

Ray’s Top Five Games for 2013

#05: Fire Emblem: Awakening

Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Intelligent Systems
Platforms: 3DS

Ray’s Take

Until Marth and Roy made their appearance in Super Smash Bros. Melee, I’d never heard of Fire Emblem, since it had only been released in Japan at that point. I personally didn’t get into the series until Path of Radiance a few years later, but since then, I’ve been hooked. The story and strategy is everything I could ever want from a game, and Awakening miraculously finds a way to raise what was already a high bar. Elements like character customization are also introduced to the States for the first time here, and pairing units adds another nuance that can’t be ignored when playing.

#04: Remember Me

Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Dontnod Entertainment
Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, PC

Ray’s Take

Some games take you by surprise so much that you can’t help but fall in love with them. Remember Me is one of those games for me. From futuristic high rises that pierce the clouds to the seedy sewers comprising Neo-Paris’ underbelly, Nilin’s world pulled me in, with no small effort from our dear protagonist herself. The unique memory remixes and combo-creation gameplay elements stoked my fire as I spent way too much time exploring every second of people’s pasts or playing with my Pressens in the Combo Lab.

#03: Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag

Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Ubisoft Montreal
Platforms: Xbox One, PS4, Wii U, Xbox 360, PS3, PC

Ray’s Take

Few games were able to just straight up impress me more than Assassin’s Creed IV did this year. The amount of freedom I felt on the open sea was unparalleled, and I’d lose hours on end just boarding enemy ships or diving beneath the waves to unearth some long-sunken treasure. I’m genuinely amazed at the progress made between this and Assassin’s Creed III, and I’m of the opinion that Black Flag is the best Assassin’s Creed since we first met Ezio back in Assassin’s Creed II.

#02: Injustice: Gods Among Us

Publisher:Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment
Developer: NetherRealm Studios
Platforms: PS4, Wii U, Xbox 360, PS3, PS Vita, PC

Ray’s Take

I have to play a lot of games over the course of a given year. I’m not complaining, but the only bad thing about this is that I rarely can find the time to go back to the games I truly enjoy. The one game I constantly found myself coming back to when I did find the time, however, was Injustice. I loved the story, I loved the mechanics, and I even loved playing online with other people—an activity that usually has me smashing controllers and living-room furniture left and right.

#01: The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds

Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo
Platforms: 3DS

Ray’s Take

A Link Between Worlds is simply the best handheld Zelda game ever. Sorry, Link’s Awakening, but your 20-year title reign is at an end. The subtle changes to the classic Zelda formula, like having all the items at the beginning of the game, admittedly took some getting used to. But in the end, none of those changes stopped me from enjoying the game—and I couldn’t put my 3DS down until the adventure was over. In regards to the greatest Zelda games ever conversation, I wouldn’t put A Link Between Worlds past A Link to the Past or Ocarina of Time, but it’s not far off either.

Ray’s Off-Topic Awards for 2013

The Razor Ramon Award for Best Bad Guy
Jacob Danik
A lot of games this year tried to offer up some shades of gray to the black-and-white conflicts we normally expect. And while plot twists and grandiose questions about morality are fun, sometimes you just want someone you can hate. A bad guy you love because he’s bad. This year had a few candidates, but in the end, I chose Jacob Danik from Dead Space 3. He was a religious zealot willing to sacrifice the entire human race for what he believed to be salvation, and Simon Templeman played him brilliantly, projecting a cold ruthlessness akin to space itself.
Popsicle’s “The Colors, Duke! The Colors!” Award for Most Colorful Game
Super Mario 3D World
This one’s become sort of a tradition, so I figured I should continue it. It was a close call between several games this year, but I had to go with Super Mario 3D World. This particular Mario outing may have been a bit too easy and a bit too short for my tastes, but there’s no denying how gorgeous it was because of the variety of levels Mario was able to traverse for the first time in full HD. From purple ponds of poison and snowcapped summits down to the shine on the buttons of Mario’s overalls, a Mario game has never looked so good.
The Best Co-Op Gaming with Your Girlfriend Award
BattleBlock Theater
I play a fair amount of games with my girlfriend, but she only ends up happy that she joined in on a few of them. So, I figured I’d give a little recognition to the game she had the most fun co-op marathoning this year: BattleBlock Theater. She still talks about that game to this day, and it remains the only game where it’s OK to tell your significant other to go kill themselves, as we’d often sacrifice one another on floor spikes to serve as makeshift platforms to get across gaps.