Chirantan Raut – Saints Row IV
Saints Row IV is a very special game for me this year simply because of the story of how it came to be. 2013 saw the demise of Saints Row’s original publisher THQ and subsequent acquisition of the franchise by Deep Silver. But this change did not affect the over the top craziness that is Saints Row ever since the series decided it wanted to be more than a GTA clone. Playing as the Leader of the Free World who now possesses superpowers in a virtual Steelport, Saints Row IV offers insanely crazy fun in a somewhat familiar open world. Also, it has the Dubstep Gun. Wub Wub.
Tathagata Ray – The Last Of Us
2013 was overloaded with sequels and remakes, until Naughty Dog came around and pulled a new trick up its sleeve. Letting go of the glamorous Uncharted series, they unsettled the generation with a raw, flawless post-apocalyptic game – The Last Of Us. The game was distinctly divided into the sneaky, scary and the emotional moments. Flawless visuals, breath-taking sequences and a strong story made sure that this game went beyond every exclusive’s reaches.
Sahil Arora – DOTA 2
My pick for the year 2013 is hands down Dota 2. Having clocked gazillions of hours playing it (see above picture), I’m still as mesmerised by the game as I was the first time I played it. The sheer thrill I get during an intense battle is exhilarating. Dota 2 is an addiction, a guilty pleasure, sometimes I reach home at 2 AM from work (yes, games journalism is demanding), and I’d still sneak in a Dota 2 game before retiring for the day. Dota 2 has anchored a solid position in my video games ecosystem, and it’ll stay there hopefully for years to come.
Ajay Verma – Path of Exile
With a dedicated studio of developers that frequently engage with the players, constantly tweaking with the mechanics and skills; Path of Exile has grown considerably over time. Path of Exile uses tested ideas and introduces innovation while daring to change the redundant. It’s not afraid to take risks and embraces chaos. With countless variation and modifiers allowing for creative characters and unpredictable maps, it keeps the grind fresh and arduous. The combat is fluid, the challenge is welcome and atmosphere is spot on. It does not try to be accessible and punishes bad choice while always tempting you to try again. The games makes you feel in control challenging you to perfecting your build, the theory-crafting never stops. Just don’t be surprised if you wake up in the middle of the night only to try the new great build you thought of in your sleep. If you can colligate your thoughts the game gives you power enough to realize them and not many games can do that.
Ansh Patel – Papers, Please
In 2013, the strain between the traditionalists and indie gamers got worse owing to more divisive “Is this a game?” like Gone Home, Proteus and The Stanley Parable. But when genres and definitions become too restrictive, concept games like Papers, Please emerged to show a new pathway to the medium. Here is a game which does not belong to any of the genres we commonly tag every game as. Nor is it an abstract, artsy indie game. Papers, Please is the purest distillation of a concept being conveyed through gameplay mechanics. The tension, anxiety and claustrophobic life of an officer at a border check post living under the pressure of a totalitarian communist regime. A simple premise blooms beautifully and it happens all using mechanics. No cutscenes, no fancy facial animations but an expression which conveys the true strengths of this beautiful medium.
Mikhail Madnani – Gone Home
Gone Home is a lovely little indie game by The Fullbright Company that has an amazingly memorable story with unconventional themes. Everything from the atmosphere in the game to the reliance on the player to carry the story forward make this game what it is. The story has you playing as Kaitlin Greenbriar who returns home after a year abroad. Your sister, Samantha, has left notes for you all over and many items you interact with in the areas in the house have audio notes tied to them. These give you a better idea of what is happening. The story and interaction mechanics are intertwined deeply. The ambient sounds of the rain outside the house and a few elements inside add that element of mystery and the game has you on your toes throughout. There’s also a healthy dose of 90s nostalgia for those old enough to remember things like a slap bracelet. Memories from my experience in this game have been burned in my head and calling it memorable would be an understatement.
Rishi Alwani – Rayman Legends
Somewhere within Ubisoft’s massive studios, nestled beneath the myriad factories that churn out yearly additions to Assassin’s Creed (and that one, solitary outfit trying to push out the often delayed Watch Dogs) lies a powerhouse of bustling originality and unbridled epicness which showcases itself every now and then with a title in the Rayman franchise. You know, while we wait for the same team to wow us with another game in the Beyond Good and Evil series.
This year’s Legends is no different. Every single frame reeks of passion that we rarely see in an industry that loves to play it safe with its sequels. Be it the gorgeous animations or fantastic controls, this is one platformer made with love and creativity. Packed to the brim with non-stop entertainment, the humble bits of code that make up this delectable chunk of entertainment is a stunning example of what unshackled enthusiasm and gorgeous production values is capable of.