The Top 20 Games of 2013

2013 was a huge year for games - so big, in fact, that we've expanded our traditional Top 10 yearly list to a whopping 20 titles, all of which are deserving of your love. There's a lot of gaming awesomeness awaiting you below, so we're not going to dilly dally. These were the top 20 games of 2013, culminating in our Game of the Year.

20. Dead Rising 3

Dead Rising 3

Zombie slaying has never been bigger, better, or dumber than it is in Dead Rising 3. The new Combo Vehicles are just the right kind of dumb, and the game's massive open world completely trumps everything that's come before it while still delivering that "theme park gone wrong" feel thanks to the idyllic California backdrops.

19. Super Mario 3D World

Super Mario 3D World may not have reached the heights of the Galaxy games before it, but it was a creative and peppy platformer in its own right. Playing as Rosalina during the late-game chapters was a blast, as was discovering the game's hundreds of secret Stars.

18. Shelter

Who would've guessed that some of 2013's most memorable characters would be badgers? The developers at Might & Delight managed to take an outlandish concept - caring for five baby badgers and guiding them through a perilous forest - and make it into a memorable, emotional, and engaging experience. Shelter may have been short, but its ending moments marked some of the best storytelling we saw all year.

17. LEGO Marvel Superheroes

LEGO Marvel Superheroes - the 17th best game of 2013

Who says LEGO games have to be just for the kids? The goofy humor and accessible gameplay of LEGO Marvel Superheroes are enjoyable for players of all ages, but it's the older comics fans who will really appreciate in-jokes like Howard the Duck. Playing in co-op is a blast, especially as you'll be able to test the interplay of various powers with your friends. This might just be the best Marvel expeince of the year - including the Thor and Iron Man films.

16. The Wonderful 101

With colorful graphics, deadly fast combat, and gameplay that actually uses the Wii U GamePad in intelligent ways, The Wonderful 101 is a must for hardcore Nintendo gamers, and an absolute essential for fans of Platinum Games. The Saturday morning cartoon vibe of the story and characters is cheesy in the best possible way, but The Wonderful 101's gameplay is no pushover. You'll have to hone your reaction speed to keep up with the eye-searingly intense endgame battles, and we wouldn't have it any other way.

15. The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD

There's just no arguing with a classic. Wind Waker was a beautiful game on the GameCube, but on the Wii U it's positively effervescent. Shiny visuals aren't the only step forward this HD remake takes, though. The frustratingly protracted endgame has been shortened and polished, and new collectables and photo-taking features have been added, making this the definitive version of one of the best games of all time.

14. The Last of Us

The Last of Us

The Last of Us was not a particularly fun game to play. Its spastic shooting and one-hit-kill stealth sequences were downright bad, and worse, took you out of the fiction; wasn't Joel supposed to have been working with guns for some twenty years before this game started? It speaks to the quality of the game's superb dialogue and acting work that The Last of Us is at the place it is on this list, then. It's a gripping and fantastically directed story, and one that's worth wading through some frustrating gameplay for. Plus, the restaurant sequence with Ellie is one of the most memorable of the year thanks to the way it shakes up the gameplay (and mercifully asks no shooting of you.)

13. Gone Home

Speaking of fantastic stories, here's Gone Home - a spooky, mysterious, and above all heartwarming tale of teenage angst and sibling love. The attention to detail in rendering a home in a specific time and place is second to none, and chances are Gone Home will have you feeling nostalgic for Street Fighter and cassette tapes even if you weren't around in the 90s. But the real achievement is how the game plays with the expectations that video game stories have built up in all of us. Its ghost story subplot is one of the more clever tricks we've seen played in a game.

12. Killer Instinct

Killer Instinct wasn't just the most satisfying fighting game we played all year; it was the best Xbox One launch title, too. Oh, and did we mention that it's free? Yeah, you're basically downloading an extended demo if you get the free version, which comes with stock fighter Jago and one map, but it's a gateway to a world of addictive fighting, superbly balanced characters, and visually stunning environments. The real hook of the game was its combo system, which proved satisfying to master.

11. Pokemon X/Y

Pokemon X/Y

Pokemon reasserted itself as a competitive RPG franchise this year with a total revamp of all the mechanics that we loved 10 years ago, but which had started to grow stale in recent entries. The graphics received a much-needed upgrade, while gameplay was streamlined thanks to the new implementation of EXP Share. A whole new generation of Pokemon ensured that we won't stop catching 'em all anytime soon.

10. Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag

Black Flag was more than a great Assassin's Creed game; by refocusing on naval combat and a pluckish rogue of a protagonist, it reassured weary fans that the series could be fun again after the dreary Assassin's Creed III. Raiding enemy ships and hunting for whales in the deep blue were stratospheric heights for the series, and Assassin's Creed has never looked as pretty as it does running on next-gen consoles.

9. Animal Crossing: New Leaf

Animal Crossing: New Leaf

The old is new again in Animal Crossing: New Leaf. Digging up fossils, expanding upon your home, and chatting with the neighbors are all more or less the same as they were back on the GameCube, but it all feels just a little more polished here. Viewing other gamers' homes via StreetPass and visiting your friends in their towns were neat little additions that kept things feeling fresh in combination with a few new stores. Playing mayor was also a neat little touch. But above all, it was the charm of Animal Crossing and its furry residents that kept us coming back to our little towns day after day.

8. Tomb Raider

Tomb Raider

Fans couldn't have asked for a more successful reboot than Crystal Dynamics' thrilling vision for a new Tomb Raider. A young and inexperienced Lara Croft greats gamers in the game's opening minutes, and while her growth from naive girl to savage killer feels a bit rushed at times, it remains one of the more fascinating and human stories that games tried to tell this year, even as supernatural elements begin ton introduce themselves towards the middle. As we saw with The Last of Us, great story only gets a game so far without the gameplay to back it up, and luckily in this case both were fantastic. Shooting and stabbing enemies in Tomb Raider was a blood-pumping jolt, the platforming and action setpieces were over the top in all the right ways, and Lara's giddily gross death sequences were the talk of the industry this March for very good reason. All in all, a rock solid action game from one of this generation's rising developers.

7. Rogue Legacy

Rogue Legacy's precision platforming and randomly generated levels proved an intoxicating and all-too-addictive combination when the game released early this Summer. The game mixed masochism and progression, discovery and regret, and risk and reward with expert skill and off-the-wall humor.

6. The Swapper

The Swapper's clever puzzle mechanics challenged you to think in new ways, while its gorgeous world was unlike anything we'd ever seen before in a video game. But as we mentioned when we awarded the game our PC Game of the Year award last week, it was the feeling of isolation that The Swapper really nailed, cementing it as one of the most beautifully disturbing experiences of 2013.

5. Brothers

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons

Brothers made ingenious use of the traditional dual analog setup by casting gamers as not a character, but rather the bond between those two characters. By forcing both characters to cooperate and interact with the world around them in unique ways, using one analog stick and one trigger for each, Brothers set itself up for some increible moments in its touching endgame.

4. Rayman Legends

Rayman Legends was (and will continue to be, thanks to its next-gen port) pure platforming perfection. We can personally gurantee you that no game will embody the happiness and freedom that video games were originally created to impart quite like Legends; that sense of joy is soaked into the colorful levels and spewed through the speakers in the form of the ebullient soundtrack and voiceovers. The pixel-perfect platforming and streamlined level design tie everything together, making Rayman Legends one of the best platformers of the decade.

3. DmC - Devil May Cry

People questioned Ninja Theory's radical rebbot of Devil May Cry, and we were among them at a point. But the heavy, satisfying swordplay and distinctive visual style let us know immediately that we were in for something special when we popped the game into our disc drives. A surprisingly solid story and wild, creative world design really hit the point home; the new Devil May Cry is nothing short of amazing.

2. Fire Emblem: Awakening

Fire Emblem: Awakening was an early favorite of ours, and one of the only games to ever receive a perfect score on GameShampoo. It's remained at the top of our list ever since then thanks to its deep and thoughtful combat and deep, player-driven story. But all Fire Emblem games have offered the above to varying degrees of success. What really made Awakening stand above its peers was its out of battle systems, which had players pairing characters together to become friends, fight together on the battlefield, and potentially even marry and have children. It's  Mass Effect meets Fire Emblem, and the results couldn't have been sweeter.

1. BioShock Infinite

BioShock Infinite is our Game of The Year 2013

BioShock Infinite was one of those rare games that felt more like magic than technology. It captured the eye-opening thrill of exploring new worlds and characters that attracted most of us to gaming in the first place, and did so supported by smooth, arcade-y shooting and scary-good world building. From the characters to the setpieces to the posters on the walls, BioShock Infinite wears the passion and intelligence of its creators on its sleeve.

A game like BioShock Infinite only comes around a few times per generation, and it couldn't have been a more appropriate way to close out the Xbox 360 and PS3's lifecycle.

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