This year came with some stellar releases in the world of videogames. Some of these titles I'd been waiting a long time to experience. Narrowing down my top five this year hasn't been as difficult as I originally expected because these titles have chiseled their way into my heart and there they will remain, in fondness, for some time to come.
5. Gone Home
If you don't leave this game with some sort of nostalgia, you missed the point. This game is poignant, moving, and bent on finding something for everyone to connect to. In this story exploration title, you return home after a long adventure abroad to find an eerily empty house and must scavenge through it to uncover information about your missing family. Fullbright Studios did a fantastic job of capturing a specific era in a way that feels tangible and real. My only real criticism of Gone Home is that it wasn't long enough, because I could have happily spent weeks discovering each and every secret buried in that house.
This game does a great job of transporting you to a world with life or death situations that are actually fun to fight through. Fight or flight is a central dilemma in this game and tacked on top of the initial survival aspect, you also have to deal with the insanity that the nighttime brings. The monsters thrown at you are ridiculous and humorous and perfect for the off-kilter feel that Don't Starve strives to project. The characters' skills are balanced and Klei's continual updates provide ways to continue playing the game with a fresh perspective. Not to mention that the fantastic lore for Don't Starve is already abundant and will only continue to grow as the game updates. Don't Starve is a game I don't see withering away anytime soon.
3. Tomb Raider
I waited a very long time for this Tomb Raider game. Not unlike other fans of the franchise, I'd been hoping for a next installment for nearly as long as I can remember and Tomb Raider didn't disappoint. The beginning sequence is still one of the most memorable I've played to this day. Never before have I felt so connected to Lara Croft, so in-her-shoes, and the experience made for a beautiful reboot even more enjoyable.
2. BioShock Infinite
This franchise has always been purely about escapism for me and BioShock Infinite didn't falter. This game is gorgeous and the implements successfully yet another glorious utopia-gone-wrong, pristine and perfect up front but riddled with horrible prejudices and a cult mentality to rival even some of those in the real world. I have spent hours simply exploring the society of Columbia, down to every propaganda poster and advertisement for Vigor I could find. And yes, I'll go ahead and say this right here: I'll take Vigor over Plasmid any day. BioShock Infinite was a perfect spiritual successor to the BioShock franchise and has left me waiting anxiously for whatever the next story may be.
It's been a while since a game has gripped me like Tearaway has. It pulled me into this quirky, imaginative paper world and gave me incredible, godlike powers in order to help the plight of my tiny messenger friend. Tearawaymade me an integral part in the game's success and instead of feeling separated from the experience by playing as the character; the success of my messenger's mission quickly became paramount to everything else because I was so caught up in the game. I had to help make sure atoi made it to the sun. She needed my help and I was the only one who could assist her. Tearaway is successful on many levels, but the sheer fact that I felt so connected to the journey of my messenger and was so expertly woven into the game's central story is what will keep me coming back for many more trips through that gorgeous paper world.
P.S. Please make the soundtrack available somewhere, anywhere! It's beautifully done and I would listen to it on repeat all day here at the office.
This year had some strong frontunners for me and these titles really had no chance of being overshadowed. I can only hope that 2014 steps up to the plate and delivers some titles that I'm just as excited about. If not, maybe I'll just play theses again.