The Christmas Leftovers – Part Three

By RPS on December 28th, 2013 at 11:00 am.

Ohh gawd, there are still so many games left in the fridge. Our poor, aching fingers. Come on – we can get through this. A pot luck? Stew? I’ve got it! Let’s invite other people over to dinner, and get them to eat all our games! Perfect. Here’s the final bumper collection of our favourite games of 2013 that didn’t make it into the Calendar. Part one is here, and part two is here.

LEGO MARVEL SUPER HEROES

Adam: I love comic books and I love Lego. Admittedly, you’re more likely to find me with a hardback copy of some early Segar Popeye strips or the ever-wonderful Calvin and Hobbes than the latest Superbiff volume in hand, but I enjoy the heroic worlds of Marvel, DC and Invincible as well. As for Lego, I occasionally desire an architectural box of bricks but haven’t played with the plastic for many years now.

The Lego games have been successfully scratching my cooperative toybox itch for several years now, even if I still occasionally lament the lack of actual construction and creative thinking that makes light of the license. It seems churlish to complain when the expanse and sheer silliness of the series has expanded at such a splendid rate, however, and every new instalment is a joy to play.

Is this the best of the Lego games? I think it is. When Scribblenauts Unmasked was announced, I expected it to be my favourite superhero themed game of the year and there’s a possible argument to be made that the word-building world-building of THAT series is in some ways more Lego-like than the clobbering action of the Lego Major Character or Franchise games. But Lego and Marvel make for a wonderful pairing and this is one of the largest, most entertaining and broadest games I’ve played over the last twelve months.

If it hadn’t been for the tower-bounding excess of Saints Row IV it might just be the best superhero game as well. Even if Saints Row isn’t really a superhero game. But it absolutely sort of is.

John: Of all the games in the Leftovers, this is the one I think should have been on the Calendar. I wasn’t outvoted – we just messed up, I think. (But then again, everything on there deserved its space too.) This is the best the Lego series has ever been, beating the Lego Harry Potter games for the top slot (and as ever, I say this as someone who finds Harry Potter as entertaining as tuberculosis). Not only does it present the usual fantastic levels to plunder for tokens, but a worthwhile, living city to explore. In the absence of a PC release, this was my GTA for the year.

The flying controls are abysmal, and sadly this is indicative of the undermining arrogance that comes with all of Traveller’s Tales’ games. They’ll ship enough to turn a good profit, so they appear to just not give a shit about fixing the series’ most common flaws. So yes, if you find any of the problems with previous games to be an obstacle to your enjoyment, you’ll find them an obstacle here too. If, like me, you find that the love and joy that goes into creating the game itself overcomes that, then Marvel Super Heroes will likely be your favourite yet.

CAPSULE

Alec: Another game I’m surprised and disappointed didn’t seem to earn itself more of a following. Space/underwater/who knows? survival and exploration odyssey of deathliness Capsule was to my mind this year’s best example of Less Is More. I suppose I’d hesitate to say I enjoyed an experience that is essentially psychological torture, but by God I’d admired what it did. So much atmosphere, claustrophobia and terror wrung from so little, from sound and blackness, from solitude and from starkness. All the time I played Capsule, I felt as though I was slowly dying. What an awful thing to want to simulate, but simulate it powerfully and chillingly it did. “Capsule feels just like dying! – Rock, Paper, Shotgun.” Stick that on the back of yer box.

RAYMAN LEMONS

Adam: Lemons is just as delectable an audio and visual treat as its predecessor. It presents an astonishing cartoon world to jump, bounce and swing through. Forget the Fancy Dan motion captured faces of Beyond: Two Souls – Rayman is the game that most resembles a cinematic feature to me. Every movement is so fluid that if I spend a few days away from the controls, I expect them to be horribly unresponsive, the characters anchored to the needs of the animators.

That’s not the case though. Lemons contains precision platforming as challenging and smooth as anything that I’ve played from Nintendo in recent years and there’s an fantastic variety in the levels and mini-games. Lemons is a stronger game than Oranges, stuffed with content, and it only lacked the element of surprise that came with Rayman’s first reincarnation.

Alec: If Rayman Oranges was WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE then Rayman Legumes was WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE
EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE
EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE.

Oh come on, you don’t really expect me to demean a game that’s basically Happiness Incarnate by trying to describe it, do you? Might as well ask me why cold beer on a hot day is so wonderful.

SAVE THE DATE

Nathan: Save The Date might actually be my game of the year. It’s definitely in the top three, along with Stanley Parable and Papers Please. Like the former, it toys with the nature of narrative and player choice, initially lulling you into a false sense of security with dark yet whimsical date comedy. Why won’t this poor girl stop getting diced to ribbons by ninjas or made into fish food (while eating at a seafood restaurant, no less) by a giant kraken? Oh ho ho ho, wait until I tell Tom and the boys at work about this one. But the rabbit hole runs deeper. The game and story keep resetting, but you don’t.

What’s going on here, and how can you save this girl you’re getting to know really well (by, um, experiencing her final moments again and again and again) from her grisly fate? Save The Date grabs meta commentary by its 1-and-0-shaped short and curlies, and it never lets go. For all that, however, it’s refreshingly un-cheeky about acknowledging you as Somebody Playing A Videogame. Instead of constantly turning toward the screen to wink at you, Save The Date watches your every move with purpose and clarity. It begs you to ask and answer troubling questions, and it makes the prospect of doing so utterly irresistable. By the end of its hour-and-a-half duration, I cared. I cared a stunning amount for a character whose face I hadn’t even seen in a very short, simplistic game. And then I quit out of the game, and it broke my heart. But I had to. I’ll say nothing more about that part. Just go play it. Save The Date is a wonderful, heartfelt piece of art that deserves every bit of attention it receives.

THE WOLF AMONG US

Alec: All these months, and I’ve only just got Nathan’s WOLFAMONGUS gag. Truly, Wolf Among Us is wolfamongous. Anyway, I really liked this, and I’m right narked that part two is taking so long to arrive. I think it’s Telltale’s best-realised effort yet – The Walking Dead can be a little too mawkish and heel-dragging for me on occasion, and the action scenes are jarringly unreal due to the (self-imposed) limitations of interaction. But because Wolf Among Us’ fairy-tales-are-real setting is much more consciously outlandish, its characters can be that much more crazily-behaved and exaggerated, and anything odd can be explained away by the sure sense that you’re somewhere Other. Also the noir theme and tone is forever a great one for adventure games, and Wolfamongous pretty much nails it in that respect.
(Less happily, it left me with a hunger for more of its world, so I started reading the Fables comics it’s based on. I do wish I hadn’t – nasty, mean, exploitative things, I thought.)

Adam: It didn’t have the immediate impact of The Walking Dead, perhaps because Telltale had raised the bar when it came to their own work, but Wolfamongous shows a great deal of promise. I haven’t found time for the first episode of The Walking Dead Season Two yet but I’d play Bigby’s next chapter straight away if it was released later today.

I was surprised by how efficiently the Fables setting was communicated – there are lots of big ideas and a mish-mash of potentially confusing genre-work thrown at the player, but the plot is anchored by simple mysteries and enjoyable characters.

And, blimey, they nailed the art style.

STARSEED PILGRIM

Adam: When its machinations are understood, Starseed Pilgrim can become a chore to complete, but unlocking its mysteries gave me a much pleasure as anything else I’ve played this year. In some ways it’s the polar opposite to many of our picks, including our top choice. Starseed Pilgrim is driven by systems rather than narrative (although it tells a fine story), but the impulse that keeps the player involved is directly tied to an understanding of those systems. You can walk, you can jump, you can plant seeds. Everything else is part of the game’s invisible force, awaiting discovery. Going through that process, across a series of late nights, was one of my favourite experiences of the year.

John: I still don’t get it.

TRIALS EVOLUTION: GOLD EDITION

John: Beginning as a PC game, and then VERY RUDELY buggering off into some stupidfaced console exclusivity, the prodigal gaming son finally came home. I welcomed it with robes, put rings on its fingers, and offered it the finest feast.

This is the best platform game of the year, which awkwardly pretends it’s about motorbikes. It’s not – it’s about a bouncy wheeled monster who has to clamber over ridiculous obstacle courses without falling over. It’s Trackmania’s wondrous platform levels refined, tightened, made 2D, and set on fire. And best of all, it’s just so damned accessible. You can complete most courses – you just can’t complete them well, and for some idiotic reason I start caring incredibly deeply that I be able to.

The catch? It was abysmally ported. A giant, fuzzy mess, of stupid menus and crapped up graphics. The fun remains, and is entirely accessible, but what a mistake. It may well be fixed by now – I really need to go back to check.

SID MEIER’S ACE PATROL

Adam: This goes for the sequel/standalone as well. I didn’t play Ace Patrol until the beginning of December and it didn’t take long to work its way under my skin. It’s a simple but inventive game of turn-based tactics, and the dapper and jolly wings of war. The presentation is light-hearted but I still get a wobble in my upper lip when one of my boys or girls goes down in flames.

Accessible and yet increasingly tricky as its mildly randomised campaigns progress, Ace Patrol is one of the standout turn-based games of the year. I don’t remember any indication that it was due for release, let alone that it would be such a smart piece of work, and wish I’d paid far more attention to it closer to its engine-rattling, bone-shaking launch.

STEAMWORLD DIG

John: If I were compiling a list of 2013′s best 3DS games (and what a splendid list that would be, at last, for the system), this would be at the top. By the time it came out on PC, I was playing it for a second time, and there’s no way to avoid that losing some impact. But wow, this is still such a stellar game, and perhaps one that would have been on the Calendar if it had been out earlier in the year, giving other RPSers a chance to have played it in time. Instead it came out when the Calendar was already running. It is such a wonderful piece of platforming/drilling/puzzle solving/Metroidvania/Spelunky-lite, and I want everyone to play it.

It’s so refined, the pacing of the addition of abilities perfect, the sense of progress spot on. It’s also immensely charming, and importantly, pleasantly under-written. There’s very little garble to get through, letting you focus on just playing. I think I preferred it as a handheld game, but it looks so lovely on PC. Definitely one not to miss this year.

ELDRITCH

Adam: I adore Eldritch. It’s a weirdly atmospheric take on Lovecraftian ideas that owes as much to Thief’s stranger moments as to any first-person roguelike precursor. The mumbles, gurgles and screams of its enemies unnerve and occasionally horrify me, and if it hadn’t been such a slight experience, I reckon I might have fought tooth and tentacle to slot it into our calendar.

Despite its brevity and the relative ease with which its worlds can be mantled and mauled through, I reckon I’ll still be returning to these dungeonous books of mystery and madness throughout 2014. It’s the perfect game for a late night plunge into peril and feels, to me, like an eternally changing trip back into the Bonehoard, Thief’s most claustrophobic and choking level.

The apparent simplicity and cartoonish nature of the graphics hides a sinister skeletal structure, and well-tuned mechanics of peril. Is it worth looting that corpse knowing that doing so will return something horrible to life in the abominable depths? Probably not, but if there’s one thing we all love, it’s loot.

Along with Knock Knock’s muffled creaks and brain-juddering thuds, Eldritch has some of the year’s best sound design. A deceptively chilling treat that deserves more attention from seekers of dark delights.

DRIFTMOON

John: It is with thanks to reader ‘caff’ that I at the last moment remember to include Driftmoon in the Leftovers. I could have sworn it was a 2012 game, despite first playing and reviewing it in March 2013. I am unstuck in time.

Driftmoon is special for a number of reasons. First, it’s a short RPG. That’s a very rare thing, a game that allows you to sink into an RPG story without having to lose 50+ hours to it. It’s about 15 hours long – long enough to care about what’s going on, but short enough to consume without taking a holiday. Secondly, it has a very charming story, which takes a rather traditional setting – your village has been turned to stone, your father is missing, and there’s an evil wizard on the loose – and approaches it in a far more personal way. This is very much about the life of your central character, and his connection to the world.

There’s a very homemade feel to the game. And that’s likely because it was created by a husband and wife team, in their home. It’s crude-looking, ugly even, but it quickly doesn’t matter. This feels like a very personal project, and never more so than how the game deals with faith.

And by now, there is a lot more of it too. The game comes with its own modding kit, and you can download other people’s adventures made with the engine. I’ve not done that, because I’m far too easily distracted. But … ooh, a bee.

SONIC & ALL-STARS RACING TRANSFORMED

Graham: There are some people who’ll love it for its nostalgic revival of classic Sega environments and characters, but as a Nintendo kid, I don’t even have that excuse. I’m as surprised as anyone that a Sonic kart racing game was one of my favourite PC games of 2013.

There are two ways I try to sell this game to people.

The first is pure novelty. This is a game that mixes together characters from Sega’s arcade past with their PC-focused, strategy gaming present. Do you want to play as Knuckles, or as General Winter, a tank-driving World War 2 metaphor inspired by Company of Heroes? Do you want to race as Ulala from Space Channel 5, or the eyeless, open-mouthed football manager from the Football Manager box art? Or the Heavy from Team Fortress 2? Or Ralph from Wreck-It-Ralph? Or a Shotgun from Total War? All are possible.

The second is its boundless, childlike sense of creativity and invention, in the transformation sequences that twist your vehicle from car to boat to plane, and in every inch of the gloriously colourful track design. The latter includes a House of the Dead track set inside an enormous mansion which has you power-sliding around the legs of a giant spider; a Sonic track set inside a neon space casino where roullette balls criss-cross the track; another Sonic track where flying robots try to laser you to death as you steer through an asteroid field; and a Samba de Amigo track where every building bounces gleefully to the music.

I was a Nintendo kid, but Sonic & All-Stars Racing Transformed makes me feel warm towards a cast of characters to whom I previously held no real affection.

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158 Comments »

  1. daphne says:

    Man, the poor Wargame series get so little love in these end of year proceedings.

    Thanks for reminding me of Driftmoon, it’s still not on Steam, I think.

    Also, +1 Save the Date. In case anyone wonders about it. You should play it.

    • cpugeek13 says:

      Yeah, Wargame Airland Battle was definitely not only one of my top games of the year, but also one of my favorite RTS games of all time. Its a shame that so many people seemed turned by its theme, or think that it is too overwhelming (which it isn’t, as long as your recruitment points aren’t set too high). Would really like to see some more love for this one.

      At the very least, it was better than Ace Patrol.

      • Goodtwist says:

        The thing is that all of the recommended games are kinda casual: easy to get in, easy learning curve.

        A game like Wargame on the other hand is a different beast. It’s quite improbable that a journalist will devout the necessary time to get into such game and start enjoying as it was meant.

        • CherryPhosphate says:

          I was also disappointed that Airland Battle didn’t make it. Its predecessor was good but not amazing so I wasn’t expecting to clock up 120 hours on the new one without even trying.

          It blends the scale and pace of Supcom with the immediacy and balance of World in Conflict and I love it dearly even though I am absolutely terrible at it.

          • rustybroomhandle says:

            Agreed, fantastic game, and I’m sure I am worse at it than you as I got my butt handed to me by the tutorial missions quite a lot before finally “getting” it.

          • Graerth says:

            One problem with WG:EE for me and a few friends of mine, was the whole “Earn stars to build your deck!”.

            I wanted to do multiplayer with friends, not play the game first for X hours to earn the rights to use a modern tank or god forbid, Hind or such <.<

            Thus EE was left in very small play time, which in turn affected ALB very, very negatively (I'd be tempted to buy that, but eh, we never played the previous one much either…)

          • LionsPhil says:

            Oh, what, it does persistent unlocks in multiplayer?

            Well, sod that then.

          • Cuddlefish says:

            Thankfully, it only ‘did’ the unnecessary unlock stuff – AirLand Battle contains no unlock mechanics of any sort.

          • Graerth says:

            Yeah, the “no unlocks” in ALB is a very tempting change at last, it just kind of still leaves a “but i already paid for a game that i couldn’t play earlier, why couldn’t you remove the god damn star system from that too?”.

            Or say, gift me ~100 stars from the get go so i could build 1 deck pretty much however i wanted but if i unlocked more i could then never need to reshuffle my stars.

        • RedViv says:

          Are they really? I find them up to the level of Total War’s battles, though admittedly with the intricacies of more modern utensils of combat. Nothing that should take too long to get into – least of all longer than the Paradox games, which have been presented.

          Either way, yes, Eugen Systems have not disappointed me yet, and I am very much looking forward to Red Dragon next year.

        • Meusli says:

          If that’s the case then they should not be reviewing PC games, because depth is the best reason to play them over casual games. IMHO

      • iaguz says:

        Gave ALB a shot and must say I really didn’t like it. It felt like World in Conflict but unnecessarily bloated. I also disliked some of it’s design decisions, like requiring log trucks to secure sectors (what’s wrong with just capping points with regular units?) and requiring me to have to memorize every units specific ID to understand it’s role. WIC did this sort of game but a lot better I think.

        I think what I dislike the most about it is the lack of real feedback with the units. I would advance and units would sort of just explode and maybe I’d win?

        I can kind of appreciate what it’s trying to do, a focus on tactical movements and unit composition (there does seem to be a really intricate network of unit relationships, but it’s hard to appreciate them since I’m so removed from the action a lot of units seem to just be randomly exploding), but I already played World in Conflict which felt like it was doing all this stuff better.

        Not for me I think.

        • Dominic White says:

          Aside from the cold-war-turned-hot setting, there are very few similarities between the two games. WiC is more of a close-quarters tactical game in the vein of Myth of Ground Control (albeit more action-oriented), wheras Wargame is… well, it’s a tabletop wargame played out in realtime. It walks a fine line between simulation and abstraction.

          That said, it’s probably the most accessible ‘serious’ wargame out there.

        • CookPassBabtridge says:

          I would have to agree. WiC felt much more ‘arcadey’ and straightforward, with the action tending to focus on small single areas. It was busy but never demanded much. Units felt kind of interchangeable apart from rudimentary armour and gun damage stats . ALB on the other hand is much much deeper, and what some might find to be bloat, I see as many layers of tactical depth ripe for understanding and learning. Its not easily accessible, and it takes a long time to get good at it. Thats why its rewarding to see yourself getting gradually better.

          The first time you ‘get it’, start understanding combined arms and the way units complement one another, it gives you such a rush. The buzzing of AAA units leading to enemy helis dropping out of the sky, carefully placed tank platoons opening up on freshly revealed units that your hidden recon teams spotted, and loads of “ROUT” markers appearing over all the opposition’s heads as your arty or napalm rains down and they retreat en masse from sectors you’re about to claim with that command vehicle you had specially waiting. To my mind, the more you put in, the more you get out, but it is a game that requires patience. Keep another game that you are already good at handy if you just want a quick blast.

    • Tim James says:

      Wargame: ALB saved RTS games for me. Great campaign.

      Until you said something, I hadn’t even noticed my top 3 weren’t on here: Wargame, One Finger Death Punch, Aces Wild. I guess I forgot to care this year.

      • Vinraith says:

        It really is wonderful to see a dynamic map campaign in an RTS again, isn’t it? I thought we’d lost the genre to those awful pre-written story things, which really have no place in a strategy title.

        • LionsPhil says:

          Odd. One of the negative points I got about ALB from the Steam reviews was that there was no real singleplayer to speak of?

          Wish RPS had WIT’d it.

          • Vinraith says:

            Those comment are from people who think “single player” = “linear, story based campaign ala Starcraft” ALB has several excellent dynamic map campaigns which can be played single player or co-op, as well as an outstanding and highly flexible skirmish mode.

            The “if it doesn’t have a story, it doesn’t have single player” crowd really pisses me off.

          • malkav11 says:

            I am incredibly uninterested in the skirmish gameplay that defines the multiplayer RTS, so if a game (like, say, Sins of a Solar Empire) has for “singleplayer” that gameplay but with bots, I’m definitely in the camp that it doesn’t have singleplayer content to speak of. That said, while I find Starcraft-style scripted campaigns more interesting on the whole as a story-oriented gamer (and there’s absolutely no reason story can’t be a component of a game focusing on strategic and/or tactical gameplay, thankyouverymuch), I think it’s crazy to write off things like AirLandBattle’s dynamic campaign map as not being a proper singleplayer mode. Give me meat around those skirmishes, make me make permanent, lasting decisions, and have persistent elements and you have something far more varied and exciting than multiplayer has ever been.

    • zapatapon says:

      If you are not a steam absolutist, Driftmoon is currently discounted at Gamersgate (3.75 EUR)

    • CookPassBabtridge says:

      Adam chatted about WALB in the comments the other day. The WG Games seem to have just not really registered on the RPS-O-dar, but given that so many people were talking about it in the comments, Adam decided to install it and try to find time to play it. It would be nice to see a belated review.

      There was a tiny amount written by Tim about upcoming releases and things, but he didnt review them. I think he appreciated the series though judging by his attitude to the game.

      • WinTurkey says:

        Really, Adam said that? That’s nice, maybe we’ll finally have a late Wot I Think, right when the sales end.

        • CookPassBabtridge says:

          If you’re debating whether to buy, its worth checking out the Steam user reviews which are overwhelmingly positive. There have been many praising comments from the RPS-O-Think-O-Matic (comments) too.

          • MartinWisse says:

            And if you’re really doubting, it’s only a tenner at the moment at Steam and you get free DLC thrown in.

          • LionsPhil says:

            If it matters to you, it’s on the 3rd-party DRM Steam list, which has put me off rather.

            From the sounds of it, it’s earnt its place there by using its own (mandatory, I assume) multiplayer account system, rather than Steam’s, or just letting you play without one, the way multiplayer games always used to.

          • Darloth says:

            Yeah, it has its own account system (which goes across all of Eugen systems games I think)

          • DatonKallandor says:

            If you’re interested in Wargame you have two options: Get AirLand Battle, the current one, at a heavily discounted price. You’ll get the whole game – because all Wargame DLC is free.
            Next Year the next Wargame will come out because the series is annual. But if you own the previous years Wargame, you get the next one heavily discounted – down to the price of an expansion. And you’ll always get a all DLC free (of which there’ll probably be between 2-3 going by past Wargame iterations)

            Eugens Business model is incredibly friendly to the customer, both new and old.

            Also I just checked: You CAN play Wargame WITHOUT logging into Eugens Account System (both campaign and skirmish), just not multiplayer. So there’s no 3rd Party DRM on it – just the Steam Integration (which pulls your Steam Name and Picture and probably some other stuff (probably VAC) to integrate into the multiplayer).

          • CookPassBabtridge says:

            Yes indeed when I play single player I just skip the login part. SP works fine without it

    • sinelnic says:

      I had just logged in to write the exact same re: Wargame. I think this is all because they’re french.

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    • lomaxgnome says:

      Driftmoon should be on Steam shortly after the end of the winter sale according to the developer. You can get a key for it here for a dollar as part of this bundle: http://groupees.com/hh

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  2. the_leveller says:

    We have angered Horace! The end-times have come! There can be no escape from his infiniteness! Repent! REPENT! Stop chewing upon his delicious flesh!

  3. Text_Fish says:

    So glad Eldritch finally got a mention. I was underwhelmed by it at first but then I found myself dipping back in to it whenever I had a spare ten minutes, and slowly but surely it wrapped its tentacles around my heart.

    The strategic possibilities become apparent through experimentation and discovery rather than being documented in a manual or tutorial, which is something I’ve always loved and an indicator of brilliant game design.

  4. LionsPhil says:

    Don’t forget the track where you’re in the middle of an airship battle as they blow up bits of the track as collateral damage.

    Or the one where you’re in a flooding underwater facility and a voice-in-your-ear alerts you to the changing conditions.

    • Text_Fish says:

      My favourite was the bit where you fly through an asteroid field. The flight physics feel really satisfying in All-Stars, which is something I’d struggle to say of any other game that allows multiple vehicle types. The boat bits were slightly less smooth, but I suppose that’s to be expected.

    • Guvornator says:

      “Or the one where you’re in a flooding underwater facility and a voice-in-your-ear alerts you to the changing conditions.”

      Ah, the Burning Rangers level. I think that’s my least favorite (along with the NiGHTS track, which is a bit too psychedelic for it’s own good)- too bland and a bit fiddly. The Golden Axe level is loads of fun – rivers of lava, twisting multiple routes you can skip across and wanton destruction.

    • The Random One says:

      Good call. There are a lot of tracks that get completely destroyed by the third lap, forcing you to switch to planes/boats for most of it, but the Skies of Arcadia one is the only that does it really well IMO. Of course, I’m one of the twelve people who actually played Skies of Arcadia, so I may be wearing my nostalgia googles for this one.

  5. Commander Gun says:

    Yep, completely agree with Sonic. I was a 100% Nintendo kid as well. A bit disappointed it didn’t make the top 24, but at least it got a mention :)

  6. Guvornator says:

    What’s great about Sonic: Transformed is it’s sheer creativity. The actual racing mechanics are pretty standard, lacking the levels of subtlety of Mario Kart, and for me, the character lineup goes to show how lacking modern Sega is regarding memorable characters (Danica Patrick, anyone?).

    But the creativity shines through. It’s rare that a race has 3 laps on the same track – they reshape, transform, tear themselves apart in front of your eyes. The first race contains more imagination in it than an entire Mario kart, and it’s one of the more standard tracks. It’s Saint’s Row-esque in it’s philosophy of “Always Everything, All At Once”. Oh yeah, and there’s LOADS of it. It’s my game of the year* for sheer exuberance, and I genuinely feel ashamed I bought it for £4. God knows what they’ll do for a sequel…

    *Not that I’ve played a lot of games this year – got a new PC for last xmas so spent the year catching up with older games I’ve never played.

    • anon459 says:

      The best part, for me, is that the game is surprisingly competitive. There are people online with 500+ hours played that I could never dream of beating in a race. I plan on playing for a long time to hone my skillz.

  7. ikehaiku says:

    One caveat about both Sonic AST and Trials Evolution: their multiplayer part is fun as hell…IF you ever manage to make it work.
    With Trials, you can blame both the uplay system and the game cluncky interface for the abyssimal experience . It requires all of you to be friend on uplay (and, since you have taste, you only have Steam friends), then create a party, then create a game within the party. And then pray. Or something like that.
    SAST is in a slighty better state, but you’ll still suffer from random deconnections, or maybe someone won’t find the game the 4 or 5 other players are able to see…
    But once you get it working, both are a bucketload load of fun to play with a Mumble/Teamspeak party.

  8. Wrex says:

    The Capsule link makes my avast go crazy. I remember I wanted to buy that game some time ago, but wasn’t sure if the website got hacked or something.

    Dunno. I wanna buy it.

    • frightlever says:

      Yeah, if that’s a marketing stunt it’s highly misconceived. I’m not about to use the shop on a site that claims to be hacked.

    • LifeSuport says:

      I can fully recommend CAPSULE.

      Game Play
      My play through took me about four hours with multiple attempts trying to reach some of the later stages. A great deal of the fun was the lack of all but movement instructions and the discovery of tricks along the way, like navigation which wasn’t clear at first. I was using dead reckoning which after I discovered the proper way to navigate I found dead reckoning actually enhanced the game play and the feeling of being trapped and alone.

      Audio Visual
      The style of the visuals harkens to the space race and the days of early computing or arcades with the utilization of a CRT screen as your view port. The lack of music and the minimal sound effects are a nice change when everything is so bombastic. It is akin to watching a western where you can hear the wind in the trees and the dialog and don’t have an explosion of rousing score going off every thirty seconds; In other words a nice treatment for attention deficit ills.

  9. Tom Walker says:

    Trials is very much not fixed yet, or at least it wasn’t a couple of weeks ago. It is still seemingly impossible to get an online game, even if you drag the matchmaker slider all the way towards gettiing matched quickly rather than with somone of the same skill.

    I loved it for the two (solid) days it took me to get as many medals as I was ever going to. Now I’ve uninstalled it. And fscking Uplay.

  10. mpk says:

    I am not as much a fan of Trials Gold as I was of Trials 2, back in the day. I think it suffers – much like Borderlands 2 – of too much polish. Too much smoothing off of rough edges.

  11. CherryPhosphate says:

    Also, missing ALB was one thing but whither Reus?

    Bought that on a whim in the Steam sale and it’s claimed all of my free time this week – it’s gameplay is beautiful, complex and emergent; total RPS fodder!

    • tigerfort says:

      I can’t speak for the RPS staff, but I tried Reus and just couldn’t find it enjoyable. I really really wanted to like it, but couldn’t. It should have been exactly the sort of game I like, and I tried three or four times, but… I think part of the problem was how slow things were – the giants plod g l a c i a l l y around the map, and you seem to spend most of your time waiting, but that definitely wasn’t all of it.

      • CherryPhosphate says:

        For me Reus is a game of observing and tweaking – in a way it reminds me of Settlers 2, you kind of potter around watching things grow up and giving them a helping hand.

        However once you learn the ropes and start having to stack t2 and t3 buffs for complex transmutations to build crazily big projects while managing the greed and violence with awe it unveils a whole additional layer to itself.

  12. SuicideKing says:

    You can be a Shotgun in Total War? What about Rock and Paper? :P

  13. kwyjibo says:

    Tomb Raider snubbed completely? Outlast? Metro: Last Light? Candy Box? CANDY BOX!

    • CookPassBabtridge says:

      I don’t know if you saw it, but in one of the reviews one of the RPS chaps was talking about why games like that had been left from the list, and it really made sense. I forget if it was Adam or Alec because both their names start with ‘A’, but they said that what with playing so many games and having played so many AAA type titles, anything that followed that mold just faded into the background for them. Games that induced surprising or intense emotions and reactions really stood out for them. If I’m honest i feel the same way – I have reached saturation point with shooters, no matter how competent, and the values usually enshrined within AAA titles give me a stomach ache. I can well understand why the ‘obvious’ choices have been overlooked.

      • John Walker says:

        I can assure you that Tomb Raider was not included because it was crap.

        • Carra says:

          I enjoyed it. It’s the first tomb raider that I’ve managed to finish. The shooting was good and the jumping around was well implemented.

          I did have a problem with Lara going Rambo from one minute to the other. And they went nuts with the shooty bits. There’s a YouTube clip showing the number of deaths in the original and this one which sums it up nicely. Still, an enjoyable game.

        • Fiyenyaa says:

          Man, I really liked Tomb Raider. I’d say it was definately the best Tomb Raider game I’ve ever played, and certainly the only one I’ve completed.
          Now it’s linear as heck generic-shooty action I’ll grant you, but I really enjoyed it. We don’t get these uncharted games on the PC, so a nice jog through a fun straight line was right up my street when most of the games I play are non-linear strategies or RPGs or whathaveyou.

          Having said that, those dang death sequences were horrible. The one with the pole in the river… *shudders* I coulda done without them.

        • kalirion says:

          I loved the new Tomb Raider. I preferred it to both the new Shadow Warrior, and to Brothers – Tale of Two Sons, though I enjoyed all three games.

          And I am hoping that Shattered Haven turns out to be worth the $2 price of the IndieGala Limited bundle I bought, because I only wanted 2 games from that, and Teleglitch turned out to be not for me despite my love of most things roguelike(like) including Binding of Isaac.

          So I guess what I’m saying is, to each his own :)

    • RiffRaff says:

      I don’t think tomb raider was well liked around these parts even though I loved it myself. It had its share of problems but I really dug the way it just went all out on the horror theme, it had the most satisfying shooty bits of the year, and it struck a nice balance between corridor uncharted style levels and more open stuff.

      The biggest complaint was that Lara goes from noob to killer in about ten seconds, now as far as the story goes she doesn’t, she has a very clear character arc through the game that I actually really liked. The problem was that as soon as you have a gun there really isn’t anything to stop you from using it, but since the character isn’t a killer (yet) it caused a disconnect between story and gameplay that was big enough for people to dismiss the game. It could have been handled better, probably by restricting how much ammo you get in the early parts, then as her character changes and becomes more violent give the player more ammo, but I thought the good far outweighed the bad.

      It also had some god awful QTEs (some of the worst I have ever seen) stuffed into the first hour of the game, they mostly disappear after that but I can understand if that soured the experience for a lot of people.

      • Philomelle says:

        According to interviews, the developers did want to restrict the use of guns early on. Unfortunately for both us and them, they were overruled by the executives who were afraid the game might make the players think and the whiny play-testers who complained that picking up a gun means they should get free reign to using it that very second.

        • kalirion says:

          What would restricting guns have accomplished? I went through most of the game using bow and arrow – only certain large shootouts towards the end made me switch to the auto.

          • Philomelle says:

            It would have smoothed out the narrative flow. The most common complaint about the game’s writing, the one that forced people out of immersion the most, is that when Lara gets access to the handgun, she is immediately given free reign to go nuts with it on everyone around her. There are no ammo restrictions and no attempts to enforce stealth by having the gunfire attract enemy attention. Lara goes from a spooked young woman to Rambo within the span of a single item pick-up, as if the gun is some kind of mystical totem of instant empowerment.

            A lot of people, both fans and developers, didn’t like that. But the marketers were adamant that a game that doesn’t worship guns would fail.

    • Zenicetus says:

      I bounced off both Tomb Raider and Metro:LL, quitting at about the halfway point of each game. I can understand why they didn’t make the list. A big budget doesn’t guarantee success.

      Tomb Raider was by far the worst of the two. Not just the horrible QTE’s, or even the way Lara turned into a female Rambo death machine, way too early in the game. It was the combination of predictable arena fights and the way the developers just brushed off what should have been the main attraction in the game… you know, Tomb Raiding? The tombs were throwaway one-shot puzzles. It was a waste of AAA resources. I wanted more tombs, fewer boring waves of flaming arrow fodder.

      I didn’t finish Metro:LL because the combat just stopped being fun after a while. Too much filler content thrown at the player to extend the game, and the plot wasn’t interesting enough to keep me wading through the combat. I might go back to it at some point.. The production values were good, the game was just sorta… meh.

      • wengart says:

        Out of interest what difficulty did you play Metro: LL on? My understanding is that the by increasing the difficulty you increase the chance of finding useful items and the damage weapons do, but not the health of enemies.

        Effectively meaning that combat can be either bullet spongey or very quick and reactive.

      • Blackcompany says:

        Hearing you on Metro: LL. About 1/3 of the way in now, and I have to say, its hard to go one. Its heavy handed, often choosing to yank even a semblance of control or agency away from the player for the sake of a narrative that is, quite frankly, not worth the resentment this heavy-handedness builds toward the developer. I can certainly say this barring some major changes to their game design – think more Fallout/Stalker and less CoD – I won’t purchase another Metro game.

        Between this and Bioshock: Infinite (Boredom) I have had my fill of linear shooters for the year. Perhaps forever. And I can certainly echo the “anything matching AAA Design/Gameplay templates fades into the background” sentiment. Believe me. I don’t make a living from anything having to do with games, and thus play considerably fewer per year than any review – and I STILL cannot help but think the AAA template for any given genre has become extremely tired at this point.

        • DirtyDivinity says:

          Under his AAA scraps (boobs, Ranger mod as a DLC, relatively classic gameplay, …), Metro Last Light delivers some dark, irradiated, sad and punchy poetry – in my opinion – as could the best of indie games. Not exactly the kind of poetry about smiling butterflies but more in the line of this lovable sentence from Peter Brook : “The poet has a foot in the mud, an eye on the stars and a dagger in the hand” (nice, huh?).
          The world is fascinating, environment tells ruthless stories to who takes time to contemplate his details… It’s living – and haunted.
          I’m pretty sure that the RPS dangerous gang has felt this dark soul and seen this remaining light in the depths of Metro and not only this boring (probably set by the former publisher THQ) AAA stuff – so i’m really curious about decision to skip this game, because the authors-with-a-shotgun’s opinion seems to me often highly interesting.

      • Kadayi says:

        It’s a reboot origin story dude. It’s not so much about raiding tombs as the transformation of the character from wet behind the ears archaeological graduate needing rescuing to capable young woman free to pursue her own path. No doubt assuming future titles there will plenty of tomb raiding in the sequels. Personally I enjoyed it for what it was. I didn’t find the QTEs egregious, I didn’t find the character over sexualized, I enjoyed the whole traversal aspect of the game and the bow and overall combat felt great. If I had any real criticisms it would be over the stereotypical nature of the NPCs (salty Seadog Captain, weaselly older Archaeologist, etc) as well as the largely predictable nature of the plot. In that regard, though I can’t help but feel that the marketing department did them no favours in terms of what was revealed though trailers before the game was released.

    • Philomelle says:

      Given that RPS’s authors are still going on about how Tomb Raider is nothing but a gigantic QTE despite there being all of three extended QTE sequences throughout the entire game, I assume all of them are still stuck at the prologue.

      • Zenicetus says:

        It wasn’t just the QTE sequences though. It was also those scripted cinematic bits like shooting the rapids, or that parachute steering thing.

        When some developers get a AAA budget like this, they can’t resist doing these “cinematic” sequences that take you out of the normal gameplay. I feel like I’m suddenly playing a different game when that happens. It’s like the Kayran tentacle sequence in Witcher 2, which broke immersion because suddenly you’re playing a scripted sequence where you have to do a certain series of moves to get through it.

        It may look cool, and exciting, but it’s also a jarring interruption for the player, when you’re trying to maintain immersion in the game world. I like games that manage to show me cool things without breaking out of the normal flow of the game.

        • Philomelle says:

          “When some developers get a AAA budget like this, they can’t resist doing these “cinematic” sequences that take you out of the normal gameplay.”

          Why do you assume the issue there is the developers? It’s been well-documented everywhere that the publishers had a lot of say in how the new Tomb Raider turned out. Several people on the development team commented that pushing out the gunplay so soon was an executive decision and not one of the game designers’, while the writer commented that she had to work under pretty strict guidelines. In the end, all they could do was work within the limitations they were given. That’s kind of the bane of being an AAA-developer working under a franchise belonging to a major publisher who wants it to make a lot of money.

          I won’t argue that Tomb Raider didn’t turn out to be as good as I hoped it wold be, but I really enjoyed its gunplay and platforming. I would often spend hours wandering around the empty areas, hopping from spot to spot. I also quite enjoyed the writing, at least the way they handled Lara. It wasn’t as smooth as it could’ve been, but I did like what they did to her character. The rare QTEs and mini-games, which people for some reason keep pretending are the entire game, were just minor annoyances to endure between going back to the otherwise great game. That is more than I can say for Bioshock Infinite, whose every single attempt at being a shooter made me want to gouge my eyes out with a spork.

          I do wish it would’ve been a game the developers could make on their own accord, without the publisher breathing down their necks about making it marketable. I still was quite happy with their effort.

          • DanMan says:

            I just came here to to pile my acknowledgement on your reply. TR is a good game, and the negative points you’ve raised are exactly mine (the increasing gap between the story and the action, the further you are into the game – unlockable finishing moves? really?). It’s good to know that it’s not the devs’ fault though.

            On the other hand, I wonder what they’re planning to do with the sequel. They’ve pretty much already given up any leeway they had by starting over, the way the current game ended up.

          • Philomelle says:

            The unlockable finishing moves left me scratching my head as well. They’re really tricky to use and don’t fit with how the game actually plays, they’re out of tune with the way Lara moves and talks in combat (even when angry, she doesn’t particularly revel in it) and they generally bring nothing to the table. But with the way they’re tucked all the way into the back of the combat skill tree, I assumed the the marketing board asked for some “bloody finishing moves” and the developers decided to go along by junking them as far out of sight as possible, so only people who really really want them would ever touch them.

            It’s a shame because TR could go from a good game to an excellent one. Crystal Dynamics have been doing games in its genre for 15 years now and it shows from how good the actual gameplay in TR is. You can actually tell where exactly in the game the executive board reared its ugly head and started spewing demands that were out of tune with the developers’ vision. It’s a shame, but that’s modern marketing for you.

            For the sequel, I’m both curious and wary. I keep hearing about a comic book that will bridge the two stories and advance Lara’s character from the weary and determined young woman from the first reboot game to the hardened adventurer we’re more familiar with. That’s the part that makes me worried. I was hoping they’d let the series grow up alongside Lara, not tell the prologue and then skip straight to her adulthood.

            But I guess we’ll see. The game has a good foundation, so the sequel has potential to at least be fun to play.

        • SkittleDiddler says:

          I never had such issues with Tomb Raider, and I traditionally loathe QTEs with a passion. I’d go so far as to say that TR has the best integration of cinematics and QTEs of any game I’ve ever played.

          It’s a pity that RPS are so inclined to heap praise on indie releases that they’d snub what was possibly the best video game of 2013.

          • drewski says:

            Yes, it’s a shame RPS don’t pretend to like games they didn’t like just because you liked them.

            I’m yet to play Tomb Raider – been watching my housemate play it yesterday and it looks like a fun enough Uncharted-a-like, which is fine, even if that’s not really Tomb Raider.

            But the idea that it’s some great shame that guys on the internet who write about videogames didn’t like it? Nope. You don’t need RPS to validate your gaming fun!

          • Philomelle says:

            No, we don’t. But we could do without RPS authors trying embarrassingly to shame people for liking the game.

          • SkittleDiddler says:

            drewski, RPS holds a strong indie bias, and it clearly has an effect on the way they write about AAA titles. There’s nothing wrong with that, so let’s not pretend it doesn’t exist.

          • AngelTear says:

            Considering how much they praised Saints Row and Assassin’s Creed and X-COM just to name a few, I’m not so sure of the indie bias. I think they generally like indie more because, at this time, indies are on the whole more innovative and interesting while most AAA games feel like “Same as last year episode 25″; not because they are biased towards indies *because* they are indies.

            If there really is a bias, though, it would be kind of a problem, because it’d mean their words are not reliable for me to judge games before I play them. One thing is having an opinion, a certain taste or inclination, but a bias is somewhat stronger than that, more like some strong prejudice that doesn’t allow you to see through it and judge something clearly, and it’d mean they are not doing journalism right.

            Personally, the number of indie titles that attracts me is far superior to that of AAA titles. I can only think of 2 AAA games I’d love to try (when they are cheaper) from this year: Saints Row 4 and Bioshock Infinite. I could name at least 25 indie titles from 2013 alone that fascinate me as much and often more than those two.

            (I have bought Tomb Raider for my father on PS3, I watched him play it – he liked it quite a bit – and I even tried it a little, and I was not impressed. I didn’t find it so bad that I actively wanted to stop playing, but for the few hours that I played it I did think that I had much better games waiting to be played and that it wasn’t really worth my time. I found it boring, as in “not offering anything of interest”, not having much substance to it)

          • drewski says:

            That’s absolute nonsense, @SkittleDiddler. Their GotY last year was what, Far Cry 3? That notorious indie battler.

          • Kadayi says:

            @Philomelle

            They did that? Why? It’s pretty good game. Not my personal GoTY. But it’s in the top 3.

  14. Anthile says:

    I was wondering why Drox Operative didn’t make the cut but apparently it really is a 2012 game but it didn’t make the 2012 calendar either. What a shame.

    • Blackcompany says:

      That is a shame. Drox is a game I don’t play often enough. An ARPG in an evolving 4X Universe. Smart design, with actual choices and consequences.

      I often find myself wishing that, just once, Soldak or Arcen could get their hands on AAA Monies to make a game. Not so much because I would love to see what they could o (though I would) as because I would love to see their work reach a wider audience, and perhaps open some minds to what video games can be, when they aren’t busy aping movies (poorly).

    • FriendGaru says:

      The game FINALLY went on sale for 50% off over the holidays and I picked it up. Soldak seems to be utterly terrible at marketing.

    • Gap Gen says:

      Since I’ve been shouting about it this past week, this is the best thing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yMIKs1PKrEM

    • Dromph says:

      I really enjoyed Rayman Lemons as well, but some parts of the game definetely fell short to Oranges in my opinion.

      The way you unlock the levels is a god damn mess. You complete the 6th level in world 2 and start unlocking the first level of world 4 and the 5th level in world 3, get some scratch cards and unlock another level from Oranges. Whoop-di-doo. It just didn’t feel right to me.

      This, in conjunction with all the other stuff you unlock after pretty much every level, really ruined the pacing of the game for me. Each level was really fun to play on its own, but the sense of progress and the overall game feel were subpar in my opinion.

      • Gap Gen says:

        I kinda felt the opposite; for someone who hasn’t played many platformers, Origins was quite unforgiving, whereas the almost random unlocking in Legends (and indeed you could still play through in order) meant that if you were stuck on a level you could try something else.

        • Dromph says:

          Yeah, I can see people liking that, especially those who are fairly new or not accustomed to the genre.

          I might be in the minority here, but it’s not my cup of tea at all. Some people enjoy the freedom, but to me it always felt like it didn’t even matter if I completed a level or not. There was just no sense of accomplishment.

          Again, I am not saying it’s a bad game. The levels alone were motivating enough for me to keep on playing it but they could have done better in that aspect. Legends is the better game, but Origins is the better experience.

          • Gap Gen says:

            I did like some of the incidental stuff in Origins better; the Sea of Serendipity music was particularly amazing. Then again, Legends has so many nice touches too. I agree that Legends feels more like a toy box than a linear game (not that Origins’ story ever made a jot of sense, though), and it depends on the person as to which they find better.

    • FriendlyFire says:

      Rayman Legends comes in here and no mention of Castle Rock? For shame, RPS. For shame.

  15. Heliocentric says:

    No Blacklist, bum biscuits.

    I know ‘eff yeah’ is the impression that the trailers give, that kill loud, kill quiet and put in hospital are your only 3 options. There are wide open levels you can ghost alongside letting you free flow brawl on a manner you’d expect from Hotline Miami.

    Eh… I think the franchise does the game more harm than good, people come to it with expectations and it does fulfil them mostly but it offers more.

    • HothMonster says:

      I was surprised by how enjoyable that one was. Certainly the best splinter cell game in a long time.

    • Max.I.Candy says:

      I’m really enjoying Blacklist…quite surprised by it actually, its just such a shame that they haven’t bothered at all to evolve graphically, insisting on using the ancient Unreal 2.5. (apart from some polish thx to Nvidia).
      I think Splinter Cell is a franchise that deserves to have the full AAA treatment, at least on par with Crysis 3. Hopefully the next SC gets this.

  16. biggergun says:

    Save the Date is absolutely brilliant. While playing my reaction shifted from “oh, right, another pretentious non-game” at the start to “yeah, definitely my game of the year.”
    I figured out the good ending (at least I think I did) and now I feel a little warm and fuzzy inside.

    • Strickebobo says:

      What exactly do you mean by ‘another pretentious non-game’?

      • biggergun says:

        Gone Home, mostly.

        • AngelTear says:

          I’ll probably never understand why people call things with a meaning or an artistic inclination “pretentious”. We have lots of words to use, like “I didn’t agree with its message” “I didn’t understand its message”, “I think its message was banal/stupid/poorly expressed”, “I didn’t enjoy playing it/It’s boring”; I definitely can’t understand why someone would say “This thing tries to say something therefore it’s pretentious”, as if having a meaning was a bad thing for a story. It’s as if a person decided to either have only idle meaningless chit-chat or not talk to people at all, because “who do hell do you think you are, it’s so pretentious that you are trying to have a proper conversation with me and tell me things”.

          That said, if I had to use the word pretentious, I’d definitely think that it’d apply a lot more to Save the Date (or The Stanley parable, to which StD is partially a response to) than Gone Home. I mean, Gone Home just tells a story about a teenager and her family, while SVD/TSP are all “Hey, you’re playing a game and now I’m going to bend and break all the rules and show you that”, surely that’s a lot more “pretentious”?
          (If I had to guess, I’d say that TSP/SVD are ok because they are funny, while Gone Home is serious)

          • biggergun says:

            Pretentiousness in art, at least in my opinion, is a case of artistic inclination over substance. Gone Home is bad art not because I don’t agree with the message (I do, and it is the choice of message that saves it from being a complete disaster) but because it is a banal and predictable story presented in a rather unimaginative way. It’s pretentious not because it tries to be art but because it tries and fails spectacularly.
            Save the Date has things to say, Gone Home doesn’t. The fact that Gone Home is dead serious about itself and SVD takes itself lightly just adds insult to injury.

            The problem with GH is that whoever made it clearly thought that cutting out guns and choosing a grown-up theme automatically elevated it to art. It did not.

            Don’t get me wrong, compared to what we usually get in videogames GH is remarkable and even original. But this really says more about the pitiful state of the medium than about the game itself.

  17. JeepBarnett says:

    I’m sad that my favorite game of the year, Toki Tori 2+, got zero mentions this year. DANGEROUS AND WRONG. It’s a metroidvania puzzle game with a perfect difficulty ramp, great interlocking mechanics, and super cute presentation. It’s very different from the previous Toki Tori games, so if you’re a fan of puzzle games, give it a second look.

    • mechabuddha says:

      Metroidvania? Every single skill is available from the beginning – you can go anywhere at anytime. But it’s still an AMAZING game. Loved it to bits.

      • JeepBarnett says:

        Yes, you technically can go anywhere, and that’s one of the things I love about it. Your progression is through gathering knowledge rather than in-game abilities. Areas and puzzles that seem impossible at first are solvable after you’ve discovered more tricks. Many things that look like minor details become parts of an intricate machine once you know what you’re looking for.

  18. Turkey says:

    You forgot Bubsy 3D: Bubsy Visits the James Turrell Retrospective. It’s the best game about Bubsy Visits the James Turrell Retrospective I’ve ever played.

  19. joshg says:

    “When its machinations are understood, Starseed Pilgrim can become a chore to complete, but …”

    FINALLY someone comes right out and says this. Would’ve been nice if this were acknowledged in the initial coverage by anybody, anywhere.

    • DrollRemark says:

      Yeah, as much as I enjoyed figuring out the game from scratch, the fact hat it just wasn’t that fun to actually play, once you’d done so, rather spoilt it for me. Too dependent on sheer chance.

      • horsemedic says:

        SPOILERS but keep reading because I promise they won’t ruin anything.

        Did you solve any of the three-key puzzles (the actual goal of the game)? That’s when it got fun for me. I realized I wasn’t supposed to just grind seeds but rather build a burning, careening bridge across an increasingly dangerous void, using random materials I had to produce myself whenever I could find a second to sit still, regularly setting the bridge on fire again directly behind me, desperately building away from the flames only so I could finally jump into them at exactly the right moment and face an even more insane challenge. I put ~50 hours into the game and, aside from the first few hours of confusion-induced boredom, loved every minute. And I typically hate platformers.

        Once you know the particulars of each seed, very little of it comes down to chance. Your destination(s) will always be in random locations. And you have to think on the fly to use each seed to its maximum advantage. But nearly every run should be doable if you’re skilled enough.

        Refusing to reveal the game’s mechanics was a serious mistake by the designer. And I don’t understand why nearly every reviewer calls it a discovery game. It’s not. If you’re stumped/bored while trying to figure out what game’s rules and goal are, go watch spoilers and then start playing.

        Or read this. This guy gets it: http://mightyvision.blogspot.ca/2013/07/starseed-pilgrim.html

        • joshg says:

          I got to the point of seeing the three-key locks, realized, dammit, I need to get three keys? And tried and mostly found that I was now wishing for a wiki, or some strategy hints, except everyone was so friggin’ busy going on about how YOU CAN’T SPOIL THE MAGICAL DISCOVERY EXPERIENCE that there was no such thing anywhere.

          I pretty much had all the seed types figured out, it just still seemed like a royal pain. I don’t know, maybe someone needed to call it a roguelike first and then I would’ve been okay with all the failing.

  20. pakoito says:

    No love for Dominions 4? Best strategy game of the land, even released on Steam. It’s so niche everyone forgot about it?

    • Yglorba says:

      As much as I love it, I think it does have to lose some points for being, basically, just an incremental improvement to Dominions 3. It could easily have just been DLC, and if it had been released as a free patch people would have been “wow, nice of them to provide support for so long for free” but wouldn’t have been shocked.

      (In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the sum total of patches to Dominions 3 from start to finish added more than the leap to Dominions 4 did.)

      None of this is to blame them for releasing it as a new game — they’ve already provided far more free improvements to Dominions 3 than anyone could have expected. But it’s hard to see it as something new and groundbreaking when it’s basically just an alternate game mode for their previous game.

  21. Walsh says:

    To be fair to Tt, they changed the flying controls from Lego batman 2. They are a smidge better than that terribleness but still awful.

    • Scurra says:

      I have something like 98% on both games now because I can’t get the last few bricks for which you need to complete ridiculous flying challenges. At least almost none of the “story” required that.
      But it made me laugh almost all the way through (which made a nice change from the Lego Lord of the Rings game which was horribly dour.) So yes, it probably does pip Harry Potter as the best of the series. But only just.

  22. DrollRemark says:

    I, for one, would love to know some of the possible constituents of John’s hypothetical 3DS calendar.

  23. Urthman says:

    No love for Race the Sun?

    • Jac says:

      My 2014 new years resolution is to create a decent game called “No love for no love for” that hopefully will be one of the best games of the year for RPS commentors, but sadly not be in the writers thoughts come the end of the year.

    • shimeril says:

      Plenty of love here. Late to that particular party but I enjoy playing it. My daughter had her first go yesterday and quickly slaughtered my best efforts. Damned 12 year olds. So easy to play, so hard to be good, at least for me. Love it.

  24. The Random One says:

    That’s why I say the Advent Calendar should consider December of the previous year as part of the current year. December is to the year what Sunday is to the week anyway.

  25. PopeRatzo says:

    Sonic Transformed Whatever was fine, except for the announcer, which caused me to try to play with the sound off. I love racing games and arcade racers, but something about the art direction of Sonic makes me sad and I’m not sure why. Nostalgia is not one of my big things. It’s too much like sentimentalism, which I believe is poison for the soul. Sentiment is great, but sentimentalism is bad and if you don’t get the distinction, let me know and I’ll write 2500 words on it.

    This has been an awful year for games. There were a few gems, but here’s hoping there’s a lot more wonderfulness in 2014. Maybe Saints Row IV & 1/2 and a Far Cry 4 which takes place in Eastern Europe. I don’t know. Just some new life. I’m counting on Wild Hog.

    Oh, and Lego Marvel was terrific.

    • gi_ty says:

      I find that I am inclined to agree with your premise on sentimentalism. If you did wish to expand upon it I would read it gladly.

  26. kud13 says:

    No mention of pretty much the only 2013-released game i’ve played all year: Shadowrun Returns? that’s a shame.

    oh well, here’s hoping Dragonfall will make the 2014 calendar.

    • The Random One says:

      I liked SR, but not really GotY material, sadly. It does a good enough job, and the gameplay is diverse enough, but Shadowrun has always been the young bratty annoying brother of the cyberpunk family, and the game reflects that.

    • drewski says:

      I think the general consensus is that it was a nice toolbox with a lackluster game, it didn’t review here particularly well.

    • dE says:

      That one had a few too many issues to be Game of the Year. For example, for a RPG it was extremely linear with only one possible direction to go – forward. I’m looking forward to the Berlin DLC that supposedly fixes a lot of the shortcomings.

  27. Scumbag says:

    While it kinda flew under the radar for some, kinda surprised that Rising Storm got no mention despite Jim seemed to love it lots in his review. Then again it is kinda just an expansion to Red Orchestra 2, and that in itself was a game that split hairs.

  28. Casimir's Blake says:

    Where is the new Rise Of The Triad? I’m disappointed that it didn’t make RPS’s leftovers at least, far more fun and inventive than Shadow Warrior which I found to be little more than Painkiller with a new skin.

    • SkittleDiddler says:

      RotT is still a buggy technical mess. Shadow Warrior, on the other hand, runs smooth as silk. Could be the RPS guys didn’t want to throw attention to a game that comes off as being designed by developers who are slightly inept, no matter how fun it is to play (and it is fun to play, but so is SW).

  29. cpt_freakout says:

    I found WOLFAMONGUS pretty and intense, but what I liked the most about it is that it trickled some of its design into the first episode of TWD season 2. As a result, the game/story/whatever is much more focused and leaves little room for the sometimes quirky and slow distractions of the first season, which makes it quite a lot more intense to play. However, I liked those ‘adventure game’ slow, click randomly around to look at stuff moments too, which could make the game a bit more easy-going on all the suffering and outright bleakness of TWD in general. I hope those moments come back when appropriate, like in camps and peaceful settings. I guess what I’m saying is I’M SURPRISED NO MENTION OF GOBLET GROTTO??

  30. lshyu799 says:

    It is the most comfortable work Ive ever done. There’s nothing to lose and everything to gain here, including more time with your family and more money in your wallet. You can make up to 500$ a week. The potential with this is endless. Try here http://Buzz95.com

  31. Shadram says:

    I hate to join the “but what about…?” club, but what about Neverwinter? That took a huge amount of my playtime this year, and given John’s posts on the subject, I don’t think I was the only one. It deserves some more attention, it was a pretty great RPG, despite its MMO leanings, and actually did free to play well.

  32. DirtyDivinity says:

    OK, I suggest a new section (in three parts) taking place after ‘The Leftovers Part 3′ – titled ‘The Unselected, And Why : The Best Of”.
    As illustration : maybe the remaining smile of Horace (without Horace).

  33. Saul says:

    What happened to Card Hunter, Adam? You called it one of the finest games of the year back in September, so surely is deserves at least a spot in the Leftovers?

    As much as I loved Gone Home and Kentucky Route Zero (and those are much more important games in terms of advancing the medium), in terms of sheer fun times there wasn’t anything that matched CH this year, from my perspective. And most of it is free!

  34. PaulineJTreece says:

    before I saw the paycheck of $5455, I accept that…my… father in law woz like trully earning money part-time from their laptop.. there neighbor haz done this for less than 17 months and as of now cleared the morgage on there condo and bourt a great Mercedes. look at this site http://www.jobs59.com

  35. kalirion says:

    So, no mention of Dust: Elysian Tail? Awesome game, highly recommended!

  36. Pantsman says:

    No love for Hate Plus? Not even a WIT?! I am a sad, sad person.

  37. AngelTear says:

    Lots of love for Hate Plus (that definitely sounds oxymoronic) by Christine Love (and now it sounds like bad teenage poetry). The game that made the cake become truth! (TM)

    But yeah, they only had an announcement/fanfiction article by Cara about it, which is weird considering they wrote the WIT for Digital as well as Analogue and Don’t take it Personally. (Some of them were even included in past years’ calendars). But, in the West visual novels are a niche genre, even within the “not-games that are ruining actual games for us hardcore gamers” genre and with all the stuff that comes out, they can’t just cover everything, include and celebrate everything worthy that came out this year, I guess.

    (this was supposed to be a reply to the comment above)

    • Pantsman says:

      I suppose I find it particularly surprising from RPS given their ample and very positive coverage of Love’s earlier work, and since it seemed that several members of the Hivemind were quite looking forward to this one. I suppose they must have all been too busy with other things when it actually came out. Maybe I should harass them about it to jog their memories…

  38. Colthor says:

    It’s a shame that Fez didn’t make more of a splash on PC, after its reception on 360. It’s a lovely game, and barely even got a mention. Maybe everybody played it on console and there’s just not as much reason to go back as Spelunky, especially with the Daily Challenge.

    Spelunky is the better game, but I like Fez more.

  39. Foosnark says:

    I could not get into Sonic at all. Granted I was playing a filthy console version, but still. I have been playing Need For Speed: Most Wanted on a filthy console, and before that Wipeout 2048. After those two, Sonic did not feel good at all.

    And so my record of hating every game with Sonic in it still stands.

  40. DantronLesotho says:

    I loved Lego Marvel Superheroes. I wish it had a lot more of the xmen-related characters or stories in it, but I really enjoyed it. And yeah, the flying could have been much improved and it would have been perfect. I’m looking forward to the sequel for sure. It renewed an interest in me for superhero games!

  41. RoselynJCombs says:

    just before I looked at the bank draft that said $9470, I be certain that my friends brother was realey receiving money part-time on-line.. there great aunt started doing this 4 less than 21 months and resently cleared the morgage on there place and got Ford Focus.

    view website … http://www.jobs59.com

  42. viniciusfernandesbarros says:

    my buddy’s step-aunt makes $82/hr on the computer. She has been out of work for 10 months but last month her paycheck was $18010 just working on the computer for a few hours. read this…http://www.dub30.com

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