As is tradition, here is a hastily-compiled list of some games from last year.
BEST GAME I DIDNT PLAY – Super Mario 3D World
Mario as a cat. Looks alright. Come back to me when the Wii U is £150.
BEST UTTER ARSEHOLE – Trevor (Grand Theft Auto V)
Oh, Trevor, you scallywag! Always picking fights with bikers and flushing human remains down a caravan toilet. When will you learn?
BEST GAME ABOUT PEOPLE – Papers, Please
I think that in ten years time, this game will be looked back on as a milestone in how and what games communicate narrative and mood to players. The design, mechanics, graphics and writing all contribute to the oppressive atmosphere, funnelling the player towards complicity and compromise, and an emotional experience quite unlike anything any other medium can deliver.
BEST GAME ABOUT GAMES – The Stanley Parable
The Stanley Parable differentiates itself from other walk-em-ups such as Dear Esther and Gone Home in a couple of key ways. One is that The Stanley Parable is extremely funny. The other is how the choices you make, rudimentary obey/disobey choices they may be, are totally crucial to the functioning of the game and the narrative. Dear Esther is a fine experience, but your actions have no real impact on what unfolds – it could easily be made into a film and still tell the same story. The Stanley Parable needs you to make a choice, and as such could ONLY be a videogame.
BEST MOBILE GAME – Snake
I have an old Nokia.
BEST SEA SHANTIES – Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag
This game has the best collection of sea shanties of any game I've ever played. It should have been titled Assassin's Creed IV: Shanty Boys. However, it had surprisingly strong competition this year – it was an unexpected pleasure to find that Call of Duty: Ghosts has a hidden all-sea-shanty alternate soundtrack.
HIPSTER AWARD FOR GAME I ENJOYED WHEN I WAS PLAYING IT BUT QUICKLY COOLED ON THEN PICKED APART IN MY HEAD THEN BANGED ON ABOUT HOW IT WASN'T VERY GOOD TO ANYONE WHO WOULD LISTEN EVEN THOUGH I HAD GENUINELY ENJOYED THE VAST MAJORITY OF THE EXPERIENCE AT THE TIME – Bioshock Infinite
BEST GAME OF 2013 THAT WAS RELEASED IN 2012 – Crusader Kings II
This is certainly the game I played the most in 2013. For those not in the know, Crusader Kings II is a medieval grand strategy game where you play as a dynasty, taking control of your descendants over several centuries, which makes it one of the best story generators I've ever played. Experiences I've had in this game will stay with me for a long time, such as the murderous triumph of King Finn the Cruel of Ireland, or the time my friend Joel and I took the King of France prisoner and every few years kicked him in the balls and annexed half his territory. The various chunky expansion packs that Paradox have released over the course of 2013 have evolved CK2 into an insanely expansive and deep experience, to the point where it is basically the sequel to itself.
BEST 90's THROWBACK – Knack
At last, a Zool for our times.
BEST DEATHS – Spelunky (technically a cheat, as the HD version was first released in 2012, but it was released for the PC in 2013 so it's fine)
In the last 24 hours, I have been killed 4 times by spikes, twice by those sodding bats, twice by my own bombs, once by a caveman, once by a tiki trap, once by a vengeful shopkeep, and once by a psychic fucking alien. I have never been so bad at a game I love so much.
BEST GAME EVER – Heroes of Might and Magic III