Team Joystiq is barging into 2014 with a celebration of last year's best games. Keep reading throughout the week to see our assembly of ingenious indies and triple-A triumphs.Rogue Legacy
Rogue Legacy is one of those games that comes out of nowhere. It's a name you see popping up on Twitter. Friends begin mentioning it in conversation. One day, you hop on Steam to download it – just to find out what everyone is talking about. You play for a few minutes. Minutes melt into hours, which soon dissolve into days.
Rogue Legacy borrows heavily from my 8- and 16-bit youth, injecting Ghosts N' Goblins sensibilities into a roguelike, action-heavy platformer. In short, it would be hard to target a game more directly at me. The deadly simple but deadly challenging gameplay, combined with and an ever-expanding tree of unlockable abilities and classes, is incredibly enticing (perhaps too enticing). The nail-biting encounters, the devious traps, huge bosses and evil fairy chests are enough to ensnare any old-school player.
It certainly ensnared me. I fell for Rogue Legacy, and I fell hard.
I've been a sucker for exploration-heavy action games since the original Metroid, so it's no surprise that Guacamelee sucked me in like Samus Aran's titular monster. The luchador / Dia De Muertos aesthetic is charming from top to bottom, as are the jokes and gags that developer DrinkBox cleverly hid for longtime gamers.
Even more clever is Guacamelee's use of wrestling maneuvers as both weapons and platforming techniques. A rising uppercut can either launch enemies into the air or send Juan, the game's hero, rocketing toward an out of reach ledge. A tackle can slam a monster into a wall or give Juan just a little more horizontal distance during a jump. Toss in a dimensional shifting mechanic that can instantly change the world's layout, and Guacamelee becomes a treasure for old platforming fanatics like me. Some of Guacamelee's more malicious challenges required a dexterous combination of multiple techniques and mid-air dimension shifts, making nimble fingers (and plenty of patience) a must.
And, of course, you can transform into a chicken.
If you told me one of my favorite games of 2013 would be a fishing game, I wouldn't have believed you – until you told me it was a fishing game developed by Vlambeer. Ridiculous Fishing, the tilt-controlled iOS game, is absolutely worthy of its name, as you'll spend more time blasting fish with an orbital laser than you will baiting a hook.
It's easy to lose hours tracking down every last fish and unlocking every lure, gun and hat. There's enough skill involved that a big catch really does feel rewarding, even though you've just spent the last minute waving your iPhone around like an idiot.
Perhaps even more amazing than its farcical premise is Ridiculous Fishing's oddly haunting and moving story, told largely through a fictional social network called Byrdr. To be clear, a fishing game – even a silly one – doesn't really need a story, but Ridiculous Fishing has the best.
If you haven't played Last Night on Earth, it's time to take a break from video games, grab five buddies and enjoy the best cooperative board game I've played. With up to two players controlling the zombies and up to four controlling human survivors, it's great fun. A modular board and multiple scenarios make it a different game every time. The zombie theme and relatively simple rules mean it will appeal even to your non-geeky friends.
Pro-tip for zombie players: Don't let Johnny get the chainsaw.
Yeah, I know, Awesomenauts came out in 2012. Even so, it has evolved to the point that it feels like a completely different (and even better) game that it was a year ago. It offers the same joys of MOBAs like DOTA and League of Legends, and the delightful 80s flavor and 2D platforming make it unique.
If you've been wanting to dip your toes in the MOBA genre without having to deal with all the crippling minutiae, Awesomenauts is the way to go.
Dead Space is one of my favorite series, and it makes me sad that it hasn't been more successful. Dead Space 3 takes the story to disquieting new places, whisking hero(?) Isaac Clarke to fantastic locales to do battle with bigger, badder and more horrific monstrosities than ever before. Some of the environments are awesome in the truest sense of the word, and the combat is still gruesome and satisfying, with a new weapon crafting system that allows for some impressive engines of death.
Dead Space 3, along with the (unfortunately short) Awakened DLC, put a button on Isaac's tale of lingering madness, and it should not be missed by any fan of space horror.
Another 2012 game? Yes. Like Rogue Legacy, The Room 2 was one of those games I kept hearing about from friends. It was so good, I was told, that it could be one of the best games of 2013. I'd never played the original, so I quickly downloaded The Room on my Nexus 7 and I was immediately hooked. Its fascinating puzzle boxes and surprisingly gripping story carried me through the whole game in no time. Right away, I went about downloading the sequel ... only to discover it was an iPad exclusive.
Suffice it to say that The Room was one of my favorite games this year, and I'll just have to wait for the Android version of The Room 2 – unless someone out there wants to give me an iPad.
Joystiq is highlighting its 10 favorite games of 2013 throughout the week. Keep reading for more top selections and every writer's personal picks in Best of the Rest roundups.