DarkZero’s Other Unnumbered 10 Interesting Games of 2013
Not every game can be part of the DarkZero highly influential, perhaps Oprah-like Top 10 Games of the Year, but nevertheless many interesting games still got released over the course of the 2013.
While these game did not necessarily fill our staff with as many good feelings as the main Top 10, this newfangled, almost honorable-mention-like listing still filled us with something. Seriously, we still loved all these game, and had great memories playing them over the course of the year, they just were not as good as those other ten from that other list. Have you read that list? If so, Read on!
Grand Theft Auto
Dominic: Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas remains my favourite GTA game. I loved the world’s openness to do whatever the hell you wanted. The scope was insane at the time, having three cities joined by lots of countryside, water and mountains, simulating a state, rather than a city. I was disappointed with Grand Theft Auto IV, since it went back to the smaller, enclosed space of a city, removing a lot of what I loved about San Andreas. This is one of the main reasons why I enjoyed the hell out of Grand Theft Auto V – it brought back that grand thrill and scope of the open world that I loved to explore to see what is tucked away, especially in such a rich world as Los Santos.
The story is engaging, the world is full of wonder and the three protagonists add diversity to storytelling and gameplay. Trevor is the star of the game. He’s the insane man of the group, the horrible guy, but that makes it a nice change, as it isn’t often people are given the chance to play a hideous guy that should be detested by the player, yet I couldn’t help but be drawn in by Trevor’s actions. I want more games that put you in the role of a terrible person.
Perfect is such a strong word to define something, and while no game is ever perfect, there is no denying that Rockstar aimed in the right direction to perfect the formula of the franchise for Grand Theft Auto V.
Hotline Miami (Vita)
Simon: Initially I felt a little weird about putting this on the list. The original PC release made it into the top spot of my 2012 list, however, and with the control tweaks and the benefit of cross-buy/portability I’d be amiss if I didn’t admit to the fact that Hotline Miami on the Vita was one of my most played, and most enjoyed, games of this year. It is a game that feels so at home in your hands, it seems odd – in retrospect – that it wasn’t always portable.
DmC Devil May Cry
Ian: As a self-confessed Devil May Cry fanboy I was heartbroken when I heard that the original series was being scrapped and a new team was taking over, especially after witnessing the horrendous early trailers of the new cigarette-smoking emo Dante. Unexpectedly, once I got my hands on the new DMC I was not at all disappointed, in fact I was dazzled (although still sour about the previous story being left open). They managed to keep the fast-paced combo-crazy gun and sword combat just as fun as ever and even threw in a few improvements, allowing quick switching of weapons and the inclusion of new Angel and Devil moves, which really stirred things up. The story was a fresh new take with demons impacting the modern world, not just through sheer force and magic, but instead by infiltrating the government and huge corporations, using a different kind of power to control humans. Not only did it break down my ‘it will never be as good as the originals’ attitude, it absolutely shattered it with fantastic, unique boss fights and a visual style that looked great but still allowed flashy combat to stand out. The re-worked Dante and Vergil characters had great interactions and instead of being thrown into the middle of a brotherly dispute like the originals, here the origins of the characters unfolded throughout the game, setting itself up for a well deserved sequel that I can’t wait for.
Dominic: What a wonderful game Tearaway is. It’s a game crafted to bring tremendous joy to the player by the people that brought you LittleBigPlanet. From the papercraft visuals to the genius implementation of all the Vita’s features, Tearaway is an exceptional title for the Vita, which can finally say with confidence that it now has a game that defines the system.
Creativity is once again a showpiece that Media Molecule has designed this game around, but this time it’s more of a personal one, a story about your own creations and how they merge into the world around you and your little paper messenger. It’s a wonderful feeling seeing your hat, which you shaped with your finger using the Vita’s touchscreen, being worn by a squirrel, or your own designed snowflakes falling down past the skyline in the mountainous region. There’s just so much to like with Tearaway.
Not only is the game intelligent designed around the hardware, but one aspect of Tearaway that stood out for me was how the game manages to fuse the player into the story in a believable and contextualised way. I don’t think any other game has managed to involve the player so well in a game’s world without breaking the experience or having some disconnect with the story. That’s a massive achievement. It’s truly a magical game that people should no doubt try without hesitation and whisk themselves away into the beautiful world that Media Molecule has created.
The Stanley Parable
Thomas: Thomas is trying to write a paragraph about The Stanley Parable. He wonders what he should write in an effort to sum up such a complex game in just 200 words. He wonders will anyone even read this, as no one really cares about games outside the Top 10. People rarely remember who even got bronze in the Olympics, and this article is much less important than athletics after all.
Thomas now realizes that both he and Stanley went of on a tangent about unimportant things like the Olympics, and should get back on track. There are less than 100 words left now, and something needs to be said about The Stanley Parable, as it’s vitally important readers know why it has a place on the Games of the Year list.
Writing all that took the total down to 50 words, and Thomas realizes that too was a mistake, as it will be impossible to sum up such a complicated game in under 50 words. Thomas realizes he is now running out of space, and hopes someone else writes something better for this. This sentence will mean only two words are left – Thomas better make them count.
Simon: Anarchy Reigns’ online player base is a total wasteland now, which makes its inclusion on this list somewhat dubious. Unless you can create an environment of 8-16 players to populate a server, it’ll probably never be recognizable as the thing I loved. Even so, Anarchy Reigns – against all odds – was a successful marriage of classic brawlers and a modern online shooter framework. An irreverent, scrappy style made the utter chaos of its encounters strangely addictive, and it seems at odds with its loud and audacious nature that its presence faded so quickly and quietly.
The Denpa Men 2: Beyond the Waves
Ian: I never played the first game in this series The Denpa Men: They Came By Wave and I’d never even heard of the sequel until it was put up for review. That sucks, because it’s awesome and more people need to know. Basically, Denpa Men is an RPG series where the player is kind of an omnipotent all-seeing creature that is interacting with the game world through a magic seeing-hole (the 3DS screens). It’s enchanting in that Tearaway sense as it pulls you right into the game, making you a part of this fantastic new world. Not only are the world, characters and story funny and exciting but the exploration, progression and combat work together to form a full, satisfying experience.
Commanding a small army of unique Denpa Men is fun but is also seriously challenging, which personally I enjoyed. It may look like a children’s game but I had some hard times battling my way through some of the tougher dungeons and bosses. It really forces you to keep searching for new Denpa Men and to build your team strategically around your latest trials. The additions of an online battle system so you can face other players, a tonne of secrets, end game dungeons and good uses for the street pass system only serve to make it even more loveable.
All that and I haven’t even mention the cool part, Denpa Men are formed from radio waves! This isn’t a gimmick either, they are legitimately floating around in the air. By detecting radio waves through your 3DS and peering into the Denpa universe through the game you can catch Denpa Men to add to your team. Every single one will be unique in terms of strength, abilities, elemental type and cosmetic look. You can even share Denpa Men with your friends by turning them into QR codes and scanning them.
It’s an incredibly fun game with more extras than you can imagine, each adding a whole new layer of gameplay. This is the game that I’ll always jump on when I’m somewhere new, even just to scan the room in search for new potential team members.
Dominic: Let’s start this out with a strong statement; Rayman Legends is one of the best 2D platformers I have played for the past 15 plus years. Yep, it’s that good, and there’s a reason why it is. You see, apart from Rayman Legends having intuitive controls, the game’s levels are the real star of the show. Each level seems to offer something different, and when you think you have seen the use for one such application of a mechanic, it adds it again in a new way. Rayman Legends oozes joy from every angle, engulfing the player in a wonderful shower of love and affection that beats Nintendo’s lacklustre attempts at making astonishing 2D platformers. It just goes to show that even after all these years, you can still get excited pressing buttons to jump in a 2D space.
Simon: I would never recommend Antichamber to any one. It would probably sound more like listing an option. Antichamber is a thing – a game, if you will – that one could subject one-self to. It doesn’t make sense, and in its abandoning sense, it makes a new, different kind of sense. It’ll drive you up the wall or make you feel like you’re achieving the impossible. Antichamber is an option. One of the most… optional options of the year.
Persona 4 Golden
Dominic: The original Persona 4 on PlayStation 2 was one of my all-time favourite RPGs, so it makes sense that this Vita enhancement was going to score high in my game of the year list. Persona 4 Golden is the best version of the game. It’s the same charming characters blended into a fantastic murder mystery story that revolves around a personal experience with the cast, rather than saving the world as a whole. To top it off, it has a brilliant battle system to boot.
There’s plenty of additional content for this Golden celebration of the title, with more voice acting, extra scenes, a new character and a whole new dungeon to explore, along with a new ending to see. A special mention has to go out for the soundtrack created by Shoji Meguro, who seems to be a genius who can craft catchy j-pop, jazz and pop-rock with lyrics and not have them become tedious on the ears. At the end of it all, I simply can’t emphasis enough that Persona 4 Golden is simply a must own game for any RPG fan or Vita owner.