Civilization V (48.5 hrs): As is usually the case, spent a ton of time with Civilization this year. Played about 3.5 hours less than last year, but had way more fun by playing with Dan and Dave. Things have gone a little slower recently because we’ve all been away for the holidays, but I actually feel like there’s a good chance of us finishing the game. At least the one I have with Dave which is much further along.
Cities XL (21 hrs): Wow, I started off this year really spending a lot of time with Cities XL. Sim City’s launch had stoked my desire for a city building game and its self destructive behavior led to me sticking with Cities XL. I really enjoyed the game. I’ll definitely get back into it once I tear through some of the other games I have on my unplayed list.
Saints Row the Third (19 hrs): That was this year? Yup, the first quarter of 2013 found me finishing up Saints Row the Third. I had a lot more fun than I thought I would in such a ridiculous game, but I also got my fill. I have next to no desire to play the fourth game.
Costume Quest (10 hrs): This game was a surprise hit for me. I’d heard the podcasts yammer on about it forever, but I didn’t really understand exactly what the game was. As I mentioned before, this’ll probably be one of Scarlett’s first action RPGs. It strikes a nice balance – like a Disney movie – where I think it’s great for kids, but also great for adults.
Puzzle Agent (6 hrs): Another surprise hit for me. While I loved logic puzzles as a kid, I was never very good at more than a small subset of them, so I wasn’t sure I’d be able to make much progress with the game. I think is also helped that it had a sense of humor that seemed to jive quite well with mine (almost, but NOT QUITE Monty Pythonesque) and an art style that worked extremely well to match the setting with the tone.
Back to the Future: The Game (5.5 hrs): Coming off The Walking Dead, this game was a slight disappointment for two reasons. First of all, it’s more classic adventure gamey than The Walking Dead. Second, the conversation trees go on for way longer which makes it a lot harder to stop and start as needed to tend to the house, wife, and toddler. This lead to me spending my free time with games like Poker Night and Little Inferno, rather than finishing this one.
Assassin’s Creed: Revelations (5 hrs): A combination of needing to play this in the living room and knowing that this game and the next were considered disappointing to Giant Bomb (who were responsible for getting me into the series) conspired to keep me from playing. Still, I would like to close the narrative loop. Hopefully it doesn’t become like Arkham City – a game I just abandoned.
Thomas Was Alone (4 hrs): It was another year in which the indie games were the most promising and enjoyable for me. Thomas Was Alone was a strong contributor to that feeling.
LIMBO (3.5 hrs): I’ve already said a lot about this game. It was eye-opening to me although Dan does make good points about the frustration of the game mechanics even as they perfectly convey the world as desired by the devs of LIMBO.
Quantum Conundrum (3 hrs): It may have been developed by a team member from Portal, but it just didn’t quite have that punch. Perhaps it’s that the uncle was an imperfect GlaDOS or perhaps it was the fact that the puzzles required a precision I couldn’t achieve with my mouse and keyboard, but I disliked this game. At the moment it’s doubtful I’ll finish it.
Team Fortress 2 (2 hrs): This is the point as which I realize that even if I never played another narrative-based game again, I still have way too many games I love to play – Civilization, Cities XL, and Team Fortress 2. I jumped in during the holidays to play a little here and there. I need to play with Dan and Dave a bit more in 2014.
RPG Maker VX Ace Lite (2 hrs): Of all the computer-related things I wish were around when I was still in High School or younger, this is near the top of the list. Of course, I knew even less about story-telling back then and it would have been a horrible, corny mess (now it’d probably just be bad and corny), but I still would have LOVED to be able to make games in the vein of my favorite games ever – Square RPGs. I actually have a story I’d love to tell with this system, but just don’t have the time right now. I’d rather enjoy the games of others at this point in time. I am pretty stoked that my brother, David, is working with someone on a game based in RPG Maker. Can’t wait to play that. In the meantime, feel free to play my demo. RPG Maker VG Ace Lite – Demo1
Katamari Damacy (2 hrs): One of the shames in our lives being so short (relatively speaking) and the fact that we need to spend so much of our lives working just so we can eat and afford our entertainment is that you don’t have as much time to replay games (or reread books or rewatch movies) if you want to experience the new stuff. I would love to replay this game. I don’t really have the time.
Little Inferno (2 hrs): The review just came out a few days ago, so I’m not going to re-elaborate here.
Poker Night at the Inventory (1 hr): Also just wrote about this.
Skull Girls (30 minutes): Another one of those games I’d probably sink more time into if I had free time.
Air Forte (10 minutes): Good math game for kids.
English Country Tune (4 minutes): Sokoban.
Game of the Year
A reminder that these are based on games I played this year, not games that came out this year. Going into my deliberations, the contenders were Thomas Was Alone, LIMBO, and Little Inferno. All three of these games surprised me. They all ended up being deeper than it seemed on first glance. Given that this is my personal list, I’d place LIMBO in third place because I’m not into stories where you have no idea what happened when you get to the end of it – the problem I had with Inception. Additionally, unlike the other two, it was so unintuitive, it was impossible for me to finish without a strategy guide. (Well, technically an online walkthrough)
Thomas Was Alone takes it for me because it went from the ultimate deconstruction of the platformer to a game about relationships and self-sacrifice. The writing and voice acting were spot-on and the story was something that has always interested me – AI, singularity, etc. Congrats, Thomas Was Alone!