2013 was a great year for gaming, and while I tried to highlight the absolute best games that I played in the past 12 month, there are some notable titles that unfortunately slipped through the cracks or simply didn't line up with my award categories. As I result, I figured that I would give some of those games the recognition that they rightfully deserve.
Here are my honourable mentions for the best games of 2013. Note that this list excludes any games that either won, or were nominated for an actual game of the year award.
Euro Truck Simulator 2
Let's start this off with a weird one, shall we? I'm not mentioning this game ironically, nor am I just trying to fit in with the surprising number of people who have made 2013 the year of the mundane European job simulators. Euro Truck Simulator 2 was by far the most relaxing game that I played this year. Hitting the open road while listening to British internet radio (shout out to Absolute Radio UK, my station of choice while trucking) turned out to be a great way for me to unwind, and believe me that I needed a lot of time to unwind in this past year.
The Yawhg is less of a game and more of a series of choose-your-own adventure stories. Simply choose where your character will go on each given day, see what sort of situation arises from that, and make a few decisions along the way. The reason that it makes this list is that the storytelling in this game is pretty incredible, with all sorts of little details cycling back around and affecting your stories later on. While you can definitely play this game on your own, it is best experienced in 4 player multiplayer, where players individual stories slowly begin to cross over each other and intersect in interesting ways. The Yawhg's presentation is also great, featuring some absolutely beautiful art as well as a haunting soundtrack that really fits the game's tone. Just watch the video to get an idea of what I'm talking about.
DMC: Devil May Cry
Let's ignore all of the angry internet comments about how this game isn't true to the original character and all that, DMC is just really fun. The new Dante's attitude makes him a surprisingly likeable character, and the game features some really inventive uses of level design as well as some very entertaining boss battles. Combat felt fast, fluid, and above all, fun. My only real knock against this game was that most of its attempts at social commentary felt extremely forced, and basically didn't present any argument that hasn't already been done to death.
As a big fan of the Metroid series, Guacamelee is a game after my own heart. Drinkbox Studios have successfully merged the classic gameplay of Nintendo's series with a unique take on brawler combat. The result is a game that feels both nostalgic and modern at the same time. The game is incredibly fun, as well as quite humorous and filled with all sorts of bizarre references and internet memes.
Icarus Proudbottom Teaches Typing
Did you enjoy last year's Frog Fractions? If yes then you should definitely check out Icarus Proudbottom Teaches Typing. Made as part of a 30 day game jam, Holy Wow's game is one of the most unique uses of the "typing game" genre. Describing this game without spoiling it is difficult, so you might as well just go and play it yourself since it's free.
Call of Juarez: Gunslinger
Following up the unbelievably awful Call of Juarez: The Cartel, Gunslinger sees the series taking a complete left turn. Not only is this a surprisingly fun arcade-style shooter, but it also boasts some interesting connections between narrative and gameplay. Techland could have opted to make another traditional shooter to continue its series, but instead made a unique game that feels much better than the sum of its parts.
Like game of the year runner up PAYDAY 2, Monaco is a cooperative game about pulling off heists, and it is an incredibly fun experience to have with friends. In addition to the simple but engaging gameplay, it both looks and sounds amazing, with every aspect of the art direction feeding into in an overarching sense of style that really fits the game's theme and mechanics.
Grand Theft Auto V
One of the year's biggest games was also one of its best. I left this off of my game of the year list because, while the game is very good in a lot of respects, it doesn't excel in any one area as much as some of this year's more focused games do. That said, it's still a ton of fun to play, and the storyline is both interesting and superbly acted.
Divinity: Dragon Commander
This is a game that came completely out of left field and impressed a whole lot of people, myself included. Dragon Commander presented an interesting mix of real-time strategy gameplay with Panzer Dragoon style combat, and all of it wrapped up in a Risk-style campaign mode. Not only is the gameplay unique, but the story also tackles just about every real-world social issue that you can think of, and manages to do so in a refreshingly mature way. No game has made me sympathize with politicians more than Divinity: Dragon Commander.