From the moody and mysterious to the sublimely depressing to the hilarious and endearing, there were a lot of games this year that tickled our minds as much they drove our fingers through dextrous gauntlets.
Represented are everything from surprisingly moving AAA releases to poignant pixel art pieces to sprawling JRPGs to, well, whatever exactly The Stanley Parable is.
The Last of Us
There is more to The Last of Us than just combat and "emotional" story tropes. To touch on its setpiece moments, to detail its beautiful changes in pace, would be to spoil too much. It cannot be said enough, however, that Naughty Dog's new best creation is complete, and when I say complete, I mean it to pay the highest of compliments. I do not want more from The Last of Us: I do not need more. As the last line was uttered and the credits ushered in the close, I was done. The Last of Us had achieved everything it needed to achieve in order to provide me with everything I wanted.
And it ended perfectly.
Read the full The Last of Us review.
Grand Theft Auto V
Grand Theft Auto V is both a reflective and deflective game, diving into the heart of the GTAseries with more than a few subtle things to say about itself. Michael is tired, and old, and wants to change, but he can't, and eventually he grows to accept and even enjoy that. Franklin is smarter than his surroundings, dreaming big but held back by old fashioned ideas. Trevor is hilarious, surprising, and a disgusting degenerate. All three characters, in their respective ways, feel representative of the Grand Theft Auto series as a whole, and contribute to making GTA Vwhat it is -- the ultimate culmination of Rockstar's beloved and despised series. Personally, I think that's a fine thing to be.
Read the full Grand Theft Auto V review.
Wolf Among Us
The Wolf Among Us is an overall a good start to Telltale's next episodic series. There's a lot on offer here for fans of Fables, but I fear there's a bit too much happening that would scare off newcomers with episode one. Whether you're into the lore or not though, one thing is for sure -- the few moments where I got to be more detective than brawler were an absolute joy and I sincerely hope this is given more of a spotlight in the rest of the season.
Read the full The Wolf Among Us review
The beauty of Papers, Please comes from its ability to intertwine theme into gameplay. It takes the moral gray area that other games do their best to explore with emotionless gameplay, and perfects it. How long until you cave into the endearing old man who just wants to see his wife? When will you decide that the monotony is just too much and start straying from the thin, narrow guidelines? Papers, Please asks these questions and forces you, the player, to answer them.
As a game, BioShock Infinite has its successes and its falterings consistent with any suitably complex piece of interactive entertainment. As a story, as an exercise in drawing the player into a believable and relevant world, as proof of exactly what a videogame can mean to a person ...
Well, I already said it. BioShock Infinite is damn near perfect.
Read the full BioShock Infinite review.
It's just a wonderfully crafted, well-paced story about a family. And that's really it. There's not much else out there like it. It may not sound like much on paper, but Gone Home had such an impact on me that I'll be thinking about this game for years to come.
Read the full review of Gone Home.
If you're a lover of games that require you to put in before you get out, and you recall the glory days of the Eastern RPG, where experience points were the lifeblood and the grind was king, you have literally no decent excuse for not finding a way to play Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch. A classic of the modern age, built entirely from classics of the past, it's advised you get comfortable, cancel all your plans, and prepare to enjoy a game that will dominate your life for the next few months.
The Stanley Parable HD
So, how do you review what has become known as The Stanley Parable HD, the full-scale reimagining of one of the most intriguing mods available online? How do you discuss it, analyze it, and recommend it?
That's quite simple.
Read the full review of The Stanley Parable HD.
Fire Emblem: Awakening
While Fire Emblem: Awakening may not turn the notch up to 11, it's everything that's right about strategy RPGs. Whatever options you choose to go with at the beginning of the game, it's either one of the most accessible strategy games to date, or one of the most difficult.
It's a brilliant design that will pay dividends for Nintendo in the long run, as it will convert plenty of new fans. If you've been itching to get into a Fire Emblem game, this is a great place to start. If you've been playing them all along, you'll feel right at home.
Read the full Fire Emblem: Awakening review.
Kentucky Route Zero
Kentucky Route Zero evokes the feeling of old ghost stories told around a campfire. There's the familiarity of friends and family around a warm, man-made fire, but with it comes the unnerving tale of the strange and unusual. Kentucky Route Zero is beautifully bizarre and perfectly poignant, and most of all, deserves your attention.
Congrats to all the nominees! We'll be announcing the official winner on Monday, December 24.
Here's all the other nominee categories we've revealed so far:
In the mean time we want you to tell us which game has the best story of 2013.