by Ellen Sweeney
This is a roundup of games from 2013 you shouldn’t have missed in the first place!
God, this game is beautiful. It made me want to get shipwrecked on some tropical island full of men who sacrifice attractive young women to their ancient and terrible gods just so I could smell the ocean as I watch the sun set over the mountains. The narrative was okay – forgettable supporting characters, too-simple puzzles – but it’s a believable coming of age for Lara, and a rare first person experience of a female character that is pretty spot on, which I found quite refreshing as a lady gamer. #1 A++ winner.
The Last of Us
Do you want to be a total freaking badass and then feel feelings? Meet Joel. You’ve managed to survive the zombie outbreak, the partial collapse of civilization, and our brave new police state for fifteen years, when you suddenly find yourself responsible for protecting something that might offer the hope of a cure and a brighter future for humanity, and escort a teenage girl halfway across our ruined nation chasing that dream. Just get it. It drags a little in the middle: stick with it.
It felt like the developers took two different games – a gory and cool shoot-‘em-up, and a mystery with colorful characters and crazy plot twists – and just squished them together between two pieces of bread and hoped it would be all PB&J (NB: it was not.) Whenever I could forget about the fact that my response to a minor misunderstanding with a cop at a carnival was to set down my cotton candy and CUT OFF HIS GODDAMN HEAD, then destroy all other life around me with birds pecking out their eyes and lighting their flailing corpses on fire, I loved the story, and the twists at the end made me want to immediately start another playthrough.
Grand Theft Auto V
I did not play this game. However, I still claim the right to judge people who do. The idea that it’s art or whatever because it’s supposedly satire is bullshit. It’s not satire. It’s the adrenaline rush of indulging in behavior that is completely inappropriate as a normal, socialized homo sapiens. If you can at least admit that as your true motivation, then you will regain 70% of respect lost, because that’s actually pretty legit and I get it, man. I get it.
The Walking Dead, Season 2
I haven’t actually played this yet, and you know what? It doesn’t matter. The first season was just so fucking epic that I’m gonna go ahead and give it eleven stars. CLEMENTINE 4EVA
Device 6 (tablet)
Just minutes into this game my inner voice was screaming YES YES YES THIS IS WHAT TABLET GAMING AND STORYTELLING CAN BE, LET US BOLDLY STRIDE INTO THE FUTURE OF THIS MEDIUM TOGETHER. It’s a mystery, essentially a written story but one requiring a lot of manipulation and seamlessly augmented with images, sound and puzzles. Simogo also released another game of interest this year: Year Walk. I don’t think it’s quite as effective as Device 6, but they really think outside the box in bridging the experience between the “game” in the main app, and the real story that unfolds in the “companion” app. As a bonus, you also learn a little bit about Scandinavian mythology, which you immediately wish you could forget since a lot of it for some reason involves dead babies.