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The 25 Best Video Games of 2013
The 25 Best Video Games of 2013


The Stanley Parable

The Stanley Parable appears obvious: The player takes on the role of Stanley, whose job has been—for the last several years—to follow the exact directions of a computer. You can then either follow the Narrator’s directions, and figure out why the office is suddenly empty, or defy him and hide in a broom closet. Then again, as the Narrator’s tone shifts from gentle to peevish, one has to wonder if it’s even possible to defy the basic scripting, considering that now he’s talking about how stupid it is to stand in a broom closet. In fact, the game’s so well-programmed that even those who fool around with debugging the underlying source code may find that they’re still playing the game, albeit on different terms. Even the list of The Stanley Parable’s achievements is a joke designed to point out how arbitrary in-game awards are (one is more or less rightly labeled Unachievable). Nothing in this comic tour de force is sacred, or to quote the game: “The end is never the end is never the end.” Riccio

The 25 Best Video Games of 2013


Pokémon X and Y

With the introduction of Pokémon’s sixth generation, Game Freak made a monumental leap forward with one of the most bankable franchises in Nintendo’s coveted arsenal. Rather than simply churning out an incrementally prettier Pokémon game on the 3DS, a considerable overhaul of the core presentation was enacted. Admittedly, it’s at first a bit jarring, probing the expansive region of Kalos from a 3D perspective, but soon the updated visuals grow just as familiar as the enduring mechanics that have delighted Poké-fanatics for years. With the more-than-welcome debut of a new type, Fairy, and a veritable flood of revelatory features, including the flawlessly integrated ability to be constantly connected to other players around the world, making trades and battling to your heart’s content, X and Y declare themselves as the beginning of an endlessly profitable next-gen life for the series, adapting to the times while still giving diehard fans everything they desire. LeChevallier

The 25 Best Video Games of 2013


Dead Rising 3

Dead Rising 3 is a sequel that builds on its series’s strengths and narrative while refining core mechanics to render it accessible to newcomers as well as fans. Set across several days in an open world overrun by the undead, the game introduces survivor Nick Ramos racing to escape the city with other B-movie stereotypes. The game retains its infamous difficulty in a “Nightmare” mode for series veterans while the core Story Mode foregoes the difficult time limits and cutthroat RPG elements of the previous games for a much more manageable (and, for my money, enjoyable) experience. The game’s hilariously, bewilderingly awful writing adds to the B-grade joy, as does a terrifically implemented co-op mode and inventive use of the Xbox Smartglass ap. Witnessing literally thousands upon thousands of zombies on screen at once is breathtaking, as is charging through them with muscle cars or absurd super-powered weaponry. Dead Rising 3 is a technical achievement and currently the best argument for owning a next-gen console. Aston

The 25 Best Video Games of 2013


Saints Row IV

The natural evolution of the hyperactive, subversive Saints Row series is superpowers: With Saints Row IV, the “auto” part of what was once a mere Grand Theft Auto clone is no longer relevant because the player can run faster than all of the cars. Going even further off the grid than the previous series entries, the game makes the protagonist the president of the United States, then blow up the Earth and relocate the Third Street Saints to a dystopian cyberscape run by aliens. Saints Row IV retains the inventive RPG elements and enjoyable mission/side-mission structure of the series while giving players the ability to shoot fire from their hands. The result is addictively anarchic entertainment, in which the chaotic freedom of the open world gameplay is matched with smart, funny writing and occasional pot shots at other popular video games. I have no idea where Saints Row can go from here, but I can’t wait to find out. Aston

The 25 Best Video Games of 2013


Fire Emblem: Awakening

Proving that extending an olive branch to the less hardcore demographic of strategy RPG enthusiasts doesn’t mean sacrificing overall quality, Fire Emblem: Awakening secured itself as one of the best games on the 3DS by making a revered series accessible to everyone. With the eternal threat of perma-death vanquished in the game’s secondary casual mode, novice Fire Emblem players could experience what is unquestionably Intelligent Systems’ masterpiece: an unblemished combination of tactical role-playing craftsmanship and a surprisingly involving narrative that not only serves to push characters toward their goal, but develop them as real people worth caring about. Building relationships gives way to supreme confidence, and such determination, coupled with the fact that losing a party member in combat means saying sayonara to them forever, is what makes quickly switching over to Awakening’s classic setting a must, even for newbies. No other game this year put your hard work on the line as much, and it’s all more memorable for doing so. LeChevallier