10: The Stanley Parable
The Stanley Parable has been described as an absolute thing of beauty. The linear first-person title finally understands that even in a video game where you’re simply supposed to follow the path, the player may have wildly different ideas than the developer on how to proceed.
Here, you’re told what is expected of you, but the door has been opened for you to simply go the other way and watch as the game tries to adapt. This is all brilliantly tied together by the quasi-omnipotent narrator.
9: Papers, Please
Standing in as one of Arstotzka’s immigration officers, you are tasked with deciding whether or not to allow immigrants into the nation. The catch is that you are faced with fines, bombings, or the death of one of your family members if you make a bad decision. If you take a bribe you can feed your family for a day, but your neighbours will report your sudden wealth and put you in deeper trouble.
Let someone through with an obviously fake passport so they can see their family, and the fine you face might mean living in the cold for another night, potentially making your family sick.
8: Fire Emblem Awakening
It’s hard to single out any one thing that role playing game Awakening excels at, due mainly to the fact that it accomplishes almost everything it sets out to do with the utmost precision and panache.
To start, the game’s visuals are sublime. Not only do they showcase some of the best stereoscopic 3D in the 3DS’ repository, but they manage to deliver high-end visuals without sacrificing classic aesthetic staples of the series’ handheld past.
The multitude of ways to configure various classes, skills, and weapons to meet your team’s needs is nothing short of staggering. Fire Emblem Awakening is jam packed with content, brimming with emotion, and represents the finest hour for what could have been the last game in a storied franchise.
7: Devil May Cry
The original Devil May Cry series stands as one of the most beloved and creative franchises of the PS2 generation, and protagonist Dante took up the mantle of one of gaming’s coolest leads with ease.
Fights were brutal and spectacles to watch, and combat was a flowing test of skill that took more than restless button mashing to master.
Dante’s younger self truly embodies the Devil May Cry attitude, injecting DMC with tons of humour and personality. The level designs were also absolutely brilliant and combat remained as stylish and challenging as always, making finishing off hordes of demons with a flourish more fun than ever.
6: Tomb Raider
Through the release of its raw and emotional Tomb Raider reboot the new gameplay offers an incredibly rich narrative experience. Gamers noticed and gave praise where it was due, as the game received critical acclaim and topped numerous regional sales charts.
The truth is that few of 2013’s digital and interactive experiences stood out more than Tomb Raider did.
All of the game’s mechanics clicked and worked extremely well, and the strong and unforgiving narrative allowed us to bear witness to the making of a gaming legend.
Lara Croft is punched, kicked and knocked down regularly, but she always manages to get up and fight back, delivering a strong-willed heroine for the ages.
5: Super Mario 3D World
Few characters have enjoyed as much pop culture-based success as Mario, Nintendo’s red and blue clad Italian plumber. In fact, one could say that the grandfather of platforming gaming stands alone as the de facto mascot of this very industry, which is a statement that would be nearly impossible to argue with.
Nintendo has once again proved its mastery of accessible, family friendly platforming with its Wii U exclusive, Super Mario 3D World.
The four-player title, which mixed the familiarity of Mario’s traditional left-to-right side-scrolling with the more open environments of three-dimensional titles like Super Mario 64, delivered a masterful campaign that was nothing short of magical.
4: The Legend of Zelda, a link between worlds
The main gameplay trope at hand this time around is Link’s ability to merge with walls as a painting, and it turns out that what initially seems like just another gimmick is one of the more game-changing implements in recent Zelda memory.
Additionally, Link Between Worlds is the polar opposite of Skyward Sword when it comes to linearity. Not only does the game feature a sizeable overworld, it actually lets you tackle dungeons in any order you so desire after a certain point in the story.
3: Grand Theft Auto V
Having experienced a four month delay earlier in 2013, the fifth numerical entry in Rockstar’s crime opus was a long time coming. Even still, there are few, if any, franchises in the video games industry that elicit a hype on par with GTA, and the criminal trifecta of Michael, Trevor and Franklin took the controversial series to dizzying new heights.
Purely on a design level, Grand Theft Auto V is awe-inspiring. Los Santos and its surrounding areas feel alive and buzzing with interactive NPCs and a plethora of random events — from impromptu robberies to drunk drivers, the game is brimming with spontaneity.
2: Bioshock, Infinite
Nobody doubted for a second that this true sequel to BioShock would be anything less than amazing, but the fact that it stands on its own as one of the best games of the generation is worthy of praise.
BioShock Infinite‘s story of Booker DeWitt’s search for a young girl in the floating city of Columbia is a modern classic, seamlessly blending visceral gunplay with a beautifully told and timeless story.
Whether you’re in it for the tight gameplay, the fascinating plot, or the truly realised characters, BioShock Infinite is a gamer’s dream.
1: The Last Of Us
What sets The Last of Us apart from its peers is its gripping and emotional campaign, which features polished gameplay as well as an unprecedented amount of realism within its protagonists’ friendship.
Even, now, months after the game’s release, we’ve yet to experience anything like it within the industry.
As such, Joel and Ellie still stand as the greatest example of how far video games have come with regards to storytelling, emotion and relationship-building.
Looking back, it’s tough to think of another game that set the bar as high as The Last of Us did with Naughty Dog at its helm. As an interactive experience, it continues to rival Hollywood, which is a promising thing when it comes to the future of gaming.