Much to the disappointment of doomsday-preppers everywhere, the end of the year has finally reached us and we're all still kicking around. You know what that means! That's right, you get to watch me desperately try to think up ten different games that came out this year that I can remember liking. I knew what my choice for game of the year would be weeks in advance, but the other nine spots were a nightmare battlefield to choose the games that were almost the best, but just didn't quite have what it took.
A special note to all of the great games I haven't played this year - games such as Metal Gear Rising and Dragon's Crown. The only reason you aren't on this list right now is because I just haven't gotten around to playing you. But I'm sure someone will take you in and give you the praise you probably deserve.
10. Naruto: Ultimate Ninja Storm 3
I don't watch anime much anymore. I simply don't have the time unless it is something I really feel the need to watch. Naruto is not on that list of must-watch shows. But the games, great golly gosh are they just swell. At least, most of them are. Last year saw the release of Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm: Generations, a game that was clearly rushed out the door missing some of the series best features and gimmicks. It was awful and had no right to be on my shelf.
But Ultimate Ninja Storm 3 was a return to form with the game's huge cinematic boss battles, an endless list of playable characters and an art style that looks so much like the anime that you can't help but be impressed. It certainly isn't the best game of the year, but it is one of my most favorite fighting games released this year.
I bought Guacamelee the moment it released onto the Playstation store without so much as knowing what it was even about. It was on sale, I had money in my PSN wallet, and it was simply the best looking game that was going to release for that month's indie sales, so I had no choice but to get it. What followed was about five hours of pure lucha madness.
Unlocking new moves, exploring the world looking for hidden treasures and completing a multitude of quests throughout the game's story was just plain old fashioned fun. The game was hard at times without being so difficult that you'd get angry and quit, staring blankly into the mirror holding back the tears of your failure. Even though the story itself wasn't all there, it was still fun and had a very interesting ending considering how lighthearted the game itself was. You could really just buy it for the music alone and get your money's worth.
I'm a pretty big fan of those artsy fartsy indie games that have been coming out as of late. Case in point - I wouldn't have guessed in a million years that I'd ever nominate a game entirely about walking and jumping as GOTY, but that is exactly what happened last year when I put Journey as my favorite game of 2012. And it wasn't even the only game like it on my list. There was also The Unfinished Swan, a game about a boy trapped in an invisible world where he uses paint to see his surroundings, and though its story was poor at best in my opinion, the gameplay mechanics were dynamite.
And now in 2013, we're back here again with the PS3 game Rain. You play a young boy who turns invisible the moment he steps out into the rain pouring down over his town, but he isn't alone. Lurking in the unseen are strange, mangled beasts that want nothing more than to kill the children trapped in the rain. While people might not agree with me, the game gave me a huge Silent Hill vibe while I played. The further you progress, the more twisted and demented the game becomes. I can't recommend it enough, and that is what earned it a spot on this list. Be warned though, there isn't much replay value in the game itself. There are collectibles to find after you beat the game, but it isn't very fun to go through the same puzzles twice.
7. Grand Theft Auto V
Grand Theft Auto V didn't exactly get the best score in the world when it was reviewed here on Game Podunk. Some people liked it, some people didn't. That is just how opinions work. But even stranger are the day walkers people who both liked and disliked the game for the sum of its parts. The single-player portion of the game was mighty fun to just mess around in and the characters portrayed were impressive to say the least. It was the first GTA game where I actively wanted to play the story mode just to see where the characters went.
But then there are the game's extra activities. Things like yoga, tennis and bike riding. While those things are neat to see in a game where you can do so much, they just weren't fun to do. I would have been thrilled if they had been cut in favor of more heists or things like that, but that is just me. The thing that really pushed GTA V to my #7 spot had to be the online, though. It was so terribly broken and nearly impossible to get ahead in the game that outside of playing with friends, I had no fun whatsoever with it.
6. Beyond: Two Souls
Much like Heavy Rain before it, Beyond: Two Souls suffered from some pretty bad gaps in its story. From disjointed scenes that had nothing to do with the game's story to huge revelations that ultimately lead nowhere, Beyond was a pretty frustrating game at times, especially near the ending of the game. However, it wasn't really noticeable while I was in the thick of it. While everything was flying by me and I was fighting ghosts or some such, it all seemed pretty great. It was always after I turned the game off that I started realizing that certain things just didn't make sense.
I nearly had the same problem with Telltale's Walking Dead game when it released last year. While I played the game and avoided spoilers like they would kill me if i read them, it was all good exciting fun wrapped up in a neat little story. It was only after I beat the game that I figured out none of your choices mattered and you were essentially just clicking buttons until you got to the same scene as everybody else. Despite this, I'm still looking forward to TWD: Season 2 and whatever David Cage comes up with next.
5. Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
I'll admit, I have not yet beaten Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag yet. Judging by the game's percentage counter, I'm only about 30% into the story and still have a lot to see and do. But that doesn't mean I can't put the game on this list, because what I have seen and done has been pretty great. Much better than all of the past Assassin's Creed games I've played so far. One of the game's best improvements has to be the areas of the game that take place in the real world.
In the past iterations of the game, you were forced to jump around some ruins as Desmond Miles so you and your friends could turn on some lights or to simply walk from one area to another. It always annoyed me and the game felt incredibly boring during these areas. But in Black Flag, you can now search around an entire building in first-person mode looking for secrets and Easter eggs in people's offices as strange things begin to happen around your place of employment. For some reason I like this a lot more.
There is also the whole piracy thing. Being the captain of a pirate ship sailing the seven seas has been a refreshing change from all of the grim, dark, save-the-world stuff we've seen in the past Assassin's Creed games. In this one you're just some guy bumbling through life trying to make a buck. There might be more to this character, but at the moment it is just great being a pirate. More games should aspire to just be fun like this!
4. Bioshock Infinite
You all knew this was coming, don't deny it. The story was nonsensical at times, and there was absolutely no point to add in any player choice throughout the game since it never mattered in even the slightest. But the game was darn fun and the characters and setting were interesting as all get out. It is almost impossible to fail when your setting is in the early 1900's and your gameplay is at least passable.
Thankfully, the gameplay was pretty fun too, so there wasn't any problem there from me. My only complaint might be that, even on hard, the game was a bit too easy at times. I, of course, never played on 1999 mode since I was being worse than a pirate and only borrowing the game from a friend, but either way it isn't too big of a complaint.
Much like Assassin's Creed IV before it, I have not beaten Tearaway yet. This probably has to do with the fact that I do not own my own copy and it would be wrong of me to take it from the person who actually bought it seeing as they haven't beaten it yet either. But I have played a rather large portion of the game, and it is darn fun. One of the best Vita games I've played since I got my handheld a few months ago.
Now, if it so great, why haven't I bought my own copy yet? Well, Christmas is the main reason. But rest assured I will be buying my own copy after the holidays are over, and you should too since despite how great it is, it isn't really getting all that many sales or publicity. So get out there and get this! Let people know you want new well made IP's on the Vita!
EDIT: Shortly after this list was written up, Tearaway went on sale for $17 on the Playstation Store. Seeing as I couldn't pass that up, I now own my own copy.
2. The Last Of Us
Surprise! The Last of Us is not my personal game of the year despite being absolutely great in pretty much every way. It was my belief that you should at least play on hard during your first playthrough of the game to get the best end of the world feeling with the game, and I was absolutely right. At no point through the game's story did I ever feel safe in the slightest. I was always scrounging, always searching for anything that could have been used as a weapon.
In most games dealing with the end of the world, you never really feel threatened. In TLOU however, just hearing the distinct clicking noise of an infected was enough to put me into alert mode. With only a few areas in the game that felt out of place or overly action packed, it was the first game in years that actually felt like you were trying to survive. It was also the first game that let the feeling of survival by all means necessary actually flourish in its online mode. At least for me anyways, since I only ever played the modes where you could die once. More games need to make you feel nearly useless in every situation so that when you do manage to do something awesome, it actually feels amazing.
1. Ni No Kuni: The Wrath Of The Witch
While I don't get a lot of free time to watch shows and movies, my absolute favorite movie of all time goes to Hayao Miyazaki's The Castle of Cagliostro. That isn't just my favorite animated movie either. That is out of all of the movies ever released since I have been alive. So of course I might have been a bit excited at the prospect of a game being worked on by Miyazaki, but I kept my cool as the months ticked by awaiting it's release. But the moment it was available for download on the Playstation store was the same moment I killed my Playstation's hard drive with a humongous download.
But it was worth it, for after the nearly fifteen hour download and installation, I faced nearly 70 hours worth of gameplay. And while I might have beaten the main story in those 70 hours, there was still countless hours worth of content to still be found with endgame storylines, side missions, collectibles, monster taming and more. The game is just insane with how huge it is. In fact it is one of the game's downsides too. It takes nearly ten hours before you can even leave the first area in the game, and another ten hours before you can explore the world.
But if anything, that is just me picking at straws to try and find a flaw. Sure the game might have held your hand at first, but there was an awful lot it had to explain to you. As for the game's story, it was a very Miyazaki affair. Filled with more of a child-like wonder. While that might turn some of today's gamers away, I absolutely loved it. The lighthearted art style and characters really brought the game together as I reunited the world. I could go on forever about just how much I loved this game, so let me leave it as this.
If this game isn't at least mentioned on your list, I hate you. But not really though. Just go out and spend the $10 required to purchase a copy of your own and never look back as you get to truly enjoy a game of such a high caliber. You'll thank me for it. My thanks and congratulations go to Level-5 for making such an amazing game that I'm sure I will play for many more amazing hours. As always, thank you for reading, and have a happy new year.