The Twenty Best Games Of 2013: Part 1

Much like our generational retrospective, Nathan Birch and I have once again teamed up to pick out the best games of 2013. We’ll be trading off, as usual; he’ll be here with #15 through #11 tomorrow. But first, #20 through #16

A brief note: We don’t handle this like other lists. We compare notes on the games we’ve enjoyed, and we rank them according to mutual love of them, not what sold the most. It makes it more person, and not remotely controversial, since I’m a pretentious ass and he’s a Nintendo-loving Canadian. Anyway, let’s start with…

#20) Antichamber

Antichamber, as written, is a pretentious and somewhat pompous game. But the puzzles were designed so cleverly, and solving them was so much fun, that it made for one of the best first-person puzzle games we’d seen in a while.

#19) The Stanley Parable HD

Video games are all about psychological manipulation of the player, carefully hidden. They’re designed to relentlessly push you towards a goal, but do so invisibly, carefully, subtly. The Stanley Parable, on the other hand, is designed to make those tricks visible and put them front and center. It’s a bizarre game that has tough, lingering questions on the nature of games and the illusion of freedom that they offer. But if you just like your video games funny, it’s also hilarious, which helps.

#18) Shin Megami Tensei IV

Nobody does JRPGs like Atlus, and this was a rare demonstration of the form, complete with monster farming, perfect for fans and surprisingly easy to pick up and play if you weren’t into JRPGs. The only downside was the voice-acting was a little off-putting at first, especially with social classes like Casualries, and samurai named Walter. But it was still one of the best games for the 3DS this year, and a blast to play.

#17) DmC: Devil May Cry

Fans whined about how Dante was now a punk instead of a man with pretty hair, but the truth is that this game is all about the combat system, and it’s a clever mix of weapons, ideas, and combos that made you explore every nook and cranny looking for collectibles and fun stuff to kill demons more violently and efficiently. A tap of the shoulder buttons changed the system completely, and mixing and matching fighting styles was simple and, most importantly, fun. The stunning art direction certainly helps, too.

#16) The Wonderful 101

When you first boot this game, it seems like an unplayable, miserable mess. But, give it an hour, and it starts to click. As you use the thumbstick motions to make things happen, the game starts to make sense. And the bright, candy-colored parody of tokusatsu movies and TV shows is actually simultaneously affectionate and cutting; there’s a lot for fans of men in silly suits and giant rubber monsters to enjoy here.

That’s our first five. Come back tomorrow for #15-#11, and, of course, tell us what you think of our picks below.