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SF Signal Readers’ Choice: What was Your Favorite SF/F/H Video Game of 2013?

The end of the year is often a time of reflection and, more importantly, list making!

Help us compile a list of the best genre video games of the year by telling us which science fiction, fantasy and/or horror games were your favorites. These do not have to necessarily be video games that were originally released this year — we are more interested in the best games that you played for the first time in 2013.

Sound off in the comments!

About John DeNardo (13012 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

12 Comments on SF Signal Readers’ Choice: What was Your Favorite SF/F/H Video Game of 2013?

  1. 2013 was a really great year for video games! Unfortunately didn’t get to play through many of them. Right now I’m playing Final Fantasy XIV, which is my first MMO. It’s a different experience, and while it’s fun, I much prefer the non-MMO RPGs.

    My favorite game was Ni no Kuni. It took two things I really love and mashed them together, RPGs and Studio Ghibli. The story wasn’t intricate, but I loved the characters and it was a really good story. The graphics/animation were also amazing, in the Studio Ghibli style. It’s been a really long time since I enjoyed an RPG so much.

    After Ni no Kuni, I really liked Saints Row IV. It was a game that didn’t take itself seriously one bit, but was made really well. The story didn’t make sense at all, and was incredibly stupid, but in a good way.

    2014 is going to be an incredible year with the new consoles out, and the releases that are planned!

  2. I have known for years that video games are a time and attitude suck for me. But I did recently download Oceanhorn for the iPad. It’s very similar to Zelda, which was my favorite game growing up. Great game.

  3. The Last of Us. As a post-apocalyptic tale with slight elements of horror and an “unrealistic” (fungal infection) premise, I feel it fits the bill. My favorite stories are those about survival, and some of my favorite games are post-apocalyptic SF games, and the Last of Us hit every single thing I look for in a game. Characters and dialogue were great, the world mostly made sense, the environments and scenes were immersive in an often scary way, and the ending really inspires thought and conversation. For the last reason alone I have it as the game of 2013 that made it in my top 5, but for all the other reasons I think it was *the* game of 2013 for me.

  4. Last of Us, BioShock Infinite and Ni no Kuni all deserve mention but my favorite was probably Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II with the restored content mod. It gets my vote for best Star Wars story possibly since Empire Strikes Back.

  5. I played through the first BioShock game this year and really enjoyed that. Aesthetically it is a beautiful game and it had enough of a story to drive the play forward.

    Tomb Raider came back with a game worthy of being described as rebooting the franchise. It is beautiful to look at, has good voice acting and game mechanics, and it is great fun, especially when using the bow and arrow to dispatch enemies.

    Puppeteer for the PS3 was a delight. It is a visually crazy and arresting game with a slight creepy factor. The gameplay mechanics are relatively simple to master allowing the player to simply have fun with all the wacky, wild shenanigans happening on the screen.

    Call of Duty: Ghosts has great graphics, a variety of settings that make it interesting including a couple of Gravity-esque levels, and a decent story for a game that is fairly scripted. It is way too short to pay full price for so I recommend renting, borrowing or waiting until the price drops significantly.

  6. 2013 is the year I went back to Trion World’s Rift MMO. I was lured by my friends’ raving about the Storm Legion expansion & free to play that wasn’t “pay to win”. I’ve been very happy with the game & the gaming community there.

    Also played Dishonored for the first time in 2013 with the expansion content. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and plan on going back to re-play it a few times with different choices.

    • I replayed Dishonored recently and should have included it on my list of games. I am a big fan of games where you can sneak around and this one is great for that. So much fun making guards unconscious and stacking them up like cord wood.

  7. Marcos Valdez // December 31, 2013 at 5:12 pm //

    I played Endless Space (with the Disharmony) expansion for the first time this year. It’s a 4X (Explore, Expand, Exploit, Exterminate) in the vein of Master of Orion and Galactic Civilizations. I love it. It’s just got a lot of personality and high production values that these games often lack. The turn-based game play is as addictively engrossing as any game in the genre (think Civilization if you haven’t played any of the games I listed). Fun aliens, fun technologies, and fun mechanics.

    As a story, The Last of Us is, unquestionably, the best of the year. The pathos between the protagonists, a middle-aged man and a teenage surrogate daughter, is incredible. The ending is perfect. The game play is tense and really makes you fear the enemies. The fact that it has an interesting science-fictional take on the tired zombie apocalypse is just icing on the cake.

    As pure science fiction speculation, the indie game The Swapper is my pick. It’s about consciousness transfer and sentient alien rocks, for crying out loud! Very much out of left field for me but amazing. It’s thick with sci-fi horror atmosphere and a unique art style of found objects (escape pods made of food cans, etc.). It’s also a wonderful, occasionally devious puzzle game.

    Bioshock Infinite makes the list for having such a well painted, physically-beautiful-yet-socially-ugly alternate history and a classic sense-of-wonder ending that is extremely impactful.

    Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon is just awesome. A standalone expansion to Far Cry: 3, it’s a neon-fueled homage to 80s action movies full of lasers, cyborgs, nuclear devastation, and genetically engineered dragons that shoot lasers from their eyes. If you don’t think that sounds like a good time, I don’t want to know you.

    Guacamelee! is a Metroidvania (look it up if you don’t know what it means) style game inspired by Mesoamerican myth. You play as an agave farmer who gains superpowers from an enchanted luchador mask. You have to save the day by traveling between the world of the living and the world of the dead. It’s pretty, funny, and a mechanically solid.

    Honorable mentions:

    Dungeon of the Endless (a sci-fi Rogue-like dungeon crawl) and Planetary Annihilation (a real-time strategy game) are both shaping up to be fantastic but are in Alpha and Beta, respectively. As such, I can’t suggest them as “game of the year material.” That said, if you have any interest in these types of games, I encourage you to check them out.

  8. Marcos Valdez // December 31, 2013 at 5:18 pm //

    Oh! How could I forget?

    The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, is not only the best fantasy game of the year by far, it’s possibly the best game of the year, full stop. The only game even in contention is The Last of Us.

    It’s a return to the less hand-holdy, more tutorial-light Zelda formula of old with beautiful art, arrangements of Link to the Past music, and some of the most inventive puzzles to ever be seen in the series.

  9. I think the only games I played this year that were also actually released this year were the new Pokemon games. So I guess based on my very limited experience, I’d have to rate them the best ones.

    I strongly suspect I missed out on a crapton of awesome games, though, for other systems that I don’t have at the moment. (Ni no Kuni being a major one.)

  10. David Whitbeck // January 4, 2014 at 8:55 am //

    Best science fiction game: Bioshock Infinite. Retains the steampunk feel of the first two games, while having a very different visual aesthetic. The story is ultimately a bunch of silly nonsense that fans treat either reverentially or with disdain. I personally enjoyed it a great deal, and it was my favorite game of the year.

    Honorable Mentions:

    Metro Last Light had a good story, great atmosphere, very well realized post-apocalytpic world. Amazing graphics. I felt frustrated with how it alternated between stealth and run and gun gameplay. It felt like two different games rolled into one. While it was common to overhear well written dialogue establishing NPCs as having real world issues, the sex in the game was crude and juvenile and out of place with everything else.

    Remember Me felt more like a proper sf game, with an awesome story about a dystopian future where memories can be altered. It had a noir Blade Runner feel to it and had stunning graphics to boot. Unfortunately the excruciatingly frustrating and dull combat marred the whole experience.


    I have not played Last of Us, Gone Home, or the new Zelda game yet.

    Beyond Two Souls: A character driven story with the most realized, complex character in maybe all of video game history. Following Ellen Page’s character, you see her at different stages of life for both good and dark moments. She tries to find her own path through life and happiness despite having a paranormal presence tied to her life and a government that considers her essentially their asset to do with as they wish.

    Honorable Mentions:

    The Stanley Parable: Hilarious, witty deconstruction of games. I consider it fantasy given some of the crazy stuff that happens in the game. The story is about how Stanley finds himself alone at work, his co-workers are gone. He leaves his office to explore. The narrator tells the story of his adventure. You can ignore the narrator and try to thwart his narrative but no matter what choices you make, the narrator is ready. The result is a short game that you replay over and over and over for myriads of endings and hilarious humor poking fun of the gamer’s pre-conceptions about what can be done in a game.

    Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon: Addictively fun game! Thanks to hidden gold, gems, and boos there is a lot of replay value. A puzzle game is fun, and even the combat with the ghosts is framed as a puzzle. It has a great Disney Land haunted mansion aesthetic. If the game had a checkpoint system, it would be my favorite game of the year. But it doesn’t, and it is frustrating to have to replay entire levels repeatedly just because of a difficulty spike at the end of the levels. As it stands it is still one of my favorite games of the year.

    All in all outside of any genre considerations my favorite games were: Bioshock Infinite, Beyond Two Souls, and Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon.

    Worst games that I played: Gears of War: Judgment, God of War: Ascension for being terrible games with poor controls, poor pacing, poor story, and no need to exist accept to make money.

    Game made mediocre by free to pay tactics: Dead Space 3. I paid $60 for this game, and unlike the first two games, tossed waves and waves of baddies at you. This is not survival horror. The intent is to nudge you in the direction of paying to upgrade your gear, instead of scrounging for parts. The game is playable without paying a single red cent beyond the original price, but made tedious instead of fun.

  11. State of Decay is probably my favorite genre game of the year, and is the zombie game I’ve wanted for over a decade. It’s set in an open world full of houses and businesses to loot, where you play as one of two friends, caring for the other who was injured in the opening scene. You find a camp of other survivors, organized by a sufferer of Lupus who stands out as a lovely example of the physically ill fitting into post-apocalyptic fantasies. But the big hook comes shortly later, after your friend recovers, and you can suddenly play as him. You rescue other survivors and can play as them. There is no main character: just as you can find new buildings to set up camps in, and go anywhere you want to find resources and allies, you can also play as anyone, and any character can die out in the world. The game even remembers the condition and placement of every car. It’s an entirely persistent experience.

    Some runner-ups:
    -The Last of Us: masters cinematic storytelling in ways the put most games to shame, very tense
    -Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons: beautiful, constantly surprising game where you control two brothers to solve puzzles by using two halves of the game controller
    -Don’t Starve: a Rogue-like that might as well be set in one of Tim Burton’s nightmares
    -Saint’s Row 4: finally a good Matrix parody, completely wacky and wonderful

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