The 20 Best Videogames of 2013 (So Far)

Games Lists

From PCs to consoles to mobile devices, there are more ways to play videogames than ever before. That diversity can be seen in our list of the best games to come out in 2013 so far. No matter what technology you own, you’ll find something to play on this list, and hopefully you’ll like it as much as we do.

20. Antichamber
There were moments where it felt like the ‘god’ of Antichamber was dangling a carrot in front of me and laughing as I failed again and again to reach it. But the more I paused to consider the signs left behind, the more my eyes were opened to possibilities I probably wouldn’t have considered on my own. In this sense, Antichamber suggests that we can choose to let the unfortunate circumstances of life cripple us or we can refuse to bow to them and make our own way.—Drew Dixon

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19. Rising Storm
Rising Storm is one of the most realistic simulations of World War II battle not just in aesthetics but in spirit. It encompasses the important aspects of the military from tactical strategy, to weaponry, to teamwork. It’s more than just a game. It’s practically real life.—Carli Velocci

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18. Bioshock Infinite
Infinite reinforces Bioshock’s greatest revelation: No major studio is better at atmosphere and art design than Irrational Games. From the bright and idyllic town squares, neocolonial architecture and massive statuary of Columbia’s wealthier precincts, to the decaying slums of the impoverished industrial zone Finkton, Infinite introduces a glorious and instantly iconic setting, and eventually asks you to kill almost every living thing within.—Garrett Martin

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17. Remember Me
Remember Me has a lot to offer narratively and thematically. Many videogames are metaphorically about videogames already, but Remember Me manages to go beyond just that initial trope to also juggle a narrative about class, corporations and systems of power.—Maddy Myers

16. Battleblock Theater
If Battleblock was just a mechanically and conceptually sound expansion on game ideas we’ve blasted through since jungle gym days, it’d be one of a dozen interchangeable indie nostalgia fests. Yes, its puzzles are vexing, their solutions satisfying, the fingerwork precise and the difficulty curve a respectful and gentle slope. Just as important, though, is that Battleblock nails an irreverent and anarchic spirit that few games pull off well. The game’s got charm, and that’s worth battling for.—Garrett Martin

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15. State of Decay
The theme of any zombie fiction worth reading or watching is that, when there are so few people left in the world, each life assumes an importance well beyond its usual preciousness. State of Decay made me terrified of losing even a single individual because I understood this lesson, and thus it’s as perfect a simulation of a zombie apocalypse as it needs to be.—Dennis Scimeca

14. Tomb Raider
This reboot of Tomb Raider, with its experimental juxtapositions of different kinds of play, as well as its attempts to redefine Lara Croft as a human being rather than a caricature of a sexual femininity, feels like the first step on a shaky path towards a better franchise.—Maddy Myers

13. Towerfall
This multiplayer scrum (and Ouya exclusive) is a frantic four-way archery duel, like a single-screen Smash Bros. with a retro aesthetic and arrows instead of fists. Towerfall is intentionally limited to local-only play, which is a bummer if you don’t have friends over. Once you a get a group together, though, it’s as tense and trash-talkingly fun as the Mario Kart and Goldeneye bouts of our collective memory.—Garrett Martin

12. Proteus
Proteus asks us to actually pay attention to our surroundings, even if nothing outwardly exciting or memorable is happening. It expects us to care and think about how we interact with nature. It doesn’t attempt a realistic recreation of our world, but its chimerical approach makes us ponder the mysteries of nature. It recalls an earlier time, before science and technology made the world a less mystical and esoteric place (while also making computer gizmos like Proteus possible).—Garrett Martin

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11. Warhammer Quest
The high production value speaks to the attention to detail evident in the design. There’s nothing revolutionary about Warhammer Quest’s mechanics—each character can move a certain number of spaces and attack a certain number of times per turn before the monsters get a go, rinse and repeat—but they are executed so solidly and intuitively that the rhythm of play feels almost immediately familiar.—JP Grant

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10. Fire Emblem: Awakening
Fire Emblem: Awakening combines the compulsive thrill of a role-playing game with the addictive story-telling of a serialized drama. It’s a sprawling, turn-based fantasy epic with the story twists and personal relationships of a soap opera. It’s like Game of Thrones with just as much death but none of the Home Box Office sex.—Garrett Martin

9. Animal Crossing: New Leaf
If you follow game journalists on Twitter (and if you do: what’s wrong with you?) you’re probably sick of hearing about Animal Crossing: New Leaf. We can’t shut up about the dang thing. That’s because this fourth litter adds an ingenious form of social play to the old formula of talking animals into giving you furniture. Forget Facebook non-starters or squad-based afterthoughts—messing with your friends’ towns is the new king of the multiplayer hill.—Garrett Martin

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8. Metro: Last Light
The Metro games are heavily invested in world-building, and that level of detail is one reason why the universe has such appeal. Last Light succeeds more than its predecessor in this regard, if for no other reason than it works better: Refinements in level design, combat, and environmental storytelling make it a smoother experience without sacrificing any of the claustrophobic immediacy of the franchise. But what works best about Last Light is what makes the fiction resonate. Despite the glowing mushrooms, mutant monsters, and supernatural horror, this is a deeply human story.—JP Grant

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7. Bit.Trip Presents Runner 2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien
Playing Runner 2 is like a series of minute-long fugue states: When everything pulses in concert, the eyes widen, the pupils dilate, and the breathing slows, and time only starts to flow normally again when the level ends.—Joseph Leray

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6. Ridiculous Fishing
Ridiculous Fishing is a story about a man’s attempt at becoming one with nature in an attempt to settle a personal vendetta against the ocean. It is a story about a world that exchanges fish that have been liquified by gunfire for surprisingly large amounts of cash. It is a story about birds making fun of each other on the internet. Ultimately, and in a pretty roundabout way, it is a story about coming to terms with the infinite.—Joe Bernardi

5. Hundreds
Hundreds is about the distance between objects. It’s about making circles grow as much as they can without impeding the progress of others. It’s about coexisting peacefully in a cramped, indifferent world that we have minimal control over. Mostly, though, Hundreds is about touching.—Garrett Martin

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4. Year Walk
You’ll get lost really quickly—which makes it that much creepier when you stumble across one of the game’s many eerie puzzles and frightening creatures. I can’t remember the last time a game gave me the intense feeling of being completely lost and alone the way Year Walk does.—Luke Larsen

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3. The Last of Us
With its sorrowful tone The Last of Us evokes genuine emotions without feeling manipulative or exploitative. This isn’t a flashy game, despite its AAA pedigree. Unusually understated for a big budget shooter, it’s a confident work from a world class studio given the resources and freedom to do exactly what they want to do. If only that wasn’t so rare in the world of videogames.—Garrett Martin

2. Cart Life
Real life simulator Cart Life encourages us to accept and learn from our mistakes, but it also forces us to acknowledge that no amount of good intent can change their reality. The result is a rare game about balancing work and life that poignantly illustrates how difficult that balance really is.—Drew Dixon

1. Kentucky Route Zero Acts I and II
Kentucky Route Zero demonstrates how beauty and joy can arise unscathed from seemingly hopeless situations. There’s a thread of dark humor that pulses from the dialogue, and a continuous theme of music as a way of confronting tragedy and frustration. Strangers in the night cling to one another with jovial and inviting conversation and treat one another in that quaint friendly way that modern folk often think of as naive. They get right to the point, not of the practical matters, but of soul-matters. There is no shame in this world. Everyone recognizes their own brokenness and their neediness. There are no haves and have-nots. No one has enough.—Richard Clark

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