Okay well this is a little embarrassing: we were so caught up in writing all of our “Best of” lists at the end of 2013, that we almost forgot to recognize all of the very best games that came out in December! Well it’s a good thing we finally remembered, because December 2013 had a few amazing games in store for us to help end the year on a real high note, and to keep us gaming strong well into the New Year.
It seems that a lot of December’s best games were all about location, location, location: from a pixelated brewery that you get to manage; to an underground mineshaft that’s filled with just as many hidden abilities as addictive gameplay; to an enigmatic “room” that’s been known to contain the occasional puzzle or two. And of course, let’s not forget the zombie-filled apocalyptic world of our very top pick for last month…
So what games had you glued to a screen this past December? Do you agree with our picks? Are there any other hidden gems that you thought should have made the cut? Then be sure to hit the comments section and guarantee that the last month in gaming will truly be a December to remember (even if it might have taken us a few more days than usual).
Ah, The Walking Dead! Considering that Season One of Telltale’s The Walking Dead was our number one pick for Game of the Year in 2012, it should almost come as no surprise that the highly anticipated first episode of The Walking Dead: Season Two snagged our highest accolades for the month of its release. Simply put, The Walking Dead returned with a bang last month, as Telltale’s acclaimed story-driven adventure series put us in the shoes of fan-favorite heroine Clementine, as we got to watch the little girl grow into her own amidst a world of pure horror and tough decisions.
The Walking Dead: Season 2, Episode 1 – All That Remains was not only remarkable for the ways in which we got to watch Clementine fend for herself, alone now for the most part in this ravished apocalyptic world, but also because Telltale showed us that they weren’t afraid to push the boundaries and work in some of the most unnerving scenarios in The Walking Dead history. And I would know, too: I personally reviewed every gut-wrenching moment myself, and despite how brutally uncomfortable some of them were, leave it to Telltale to keep me itching for more by the end of the brisk installment. But the best part about it is that we still have four more sure-to-be-fantastic episodes to keep us on the edge of our seats throughout the rest of 2014.
SteamWorld Dig is one of those rare gaming experiences that suddenly come out of nowhere and leave you absolutely floored at how good they really are. After a quiet but acclaimed release on Nintendo’s 3DS eShop earlier this year, SteamWorld Dig made the transition onto PC last month with glorious HD visuals, and gamers finally got to see what all of the fuss was about on a more widespread scale. And oh, was that fuss warranted! The game plays out like a cross between Super Metroid and Terraria, with an underground mining theme that could be taken right out of Spelunky. But it’s the gameplay of SteamWorld Dig that will really keep you coming back for more, as the addictive blend of explorative adventure elements are highlighted by dozens of abilities to find and collect, and randomly-generated worlds that make multiple playthroughs an absolute must.
If there’s one game that has managed to captivate the entire mobile community over the last several years, it would have to be the enigmatic puzzler The Room from Fireproof Games. So naturally, the long-awaited sequel The Room Two brought just as much intrigue and clever puzzle-solving last month with a return to the stylistic puzzle-within-a-puzzle mindset that made the first game such a huge success. But this time around, the environmental puzzles have expanded to include certain aspects of the actual rooms you find yourself in (there’s a series of them now), so you’d better get to searching every dusty and dimly-lit corner for anything that looks even remotely suspicious. And that’s all I’m going to say about the game for now, because no one wants a perfectly good mystery to be spoiled, now do they?
We’ve been seeing a lot of RPGs and simulation games pop up in some pretty unlikely settings these days: forgoing the typical fantasy realm to offer role playing experiences in out-of-sorts places like football fields. In that respect, Fiz: The Brewery Management Game from Bit By Bit is an RPG/sim that turned out to be exactly what it sounded like last month. It’s also a concept so unique that it winds up being so engaging. Besides letting you run your very own brewery, Fiz also offers a surprising amount of depth outside of the actual brewing gameplay components, with some rich RPG components and a lively cast of characters to keep you playing well after “last call” has come and gone. And better yet, there’s also no quicker way to becoming a full-fledged beer connoisseur from playing a video game than by immersing yourself in the bubbling and pixelated world of Fiz.
The Walking Dead: Season Two wasn’t the only long-awaited adventure game to make its debut last month, as Revolution Software’s Broken Sword 5: The Serpent’s Curse came out swinging (er, point-and-clicking) as the first new installment in the famed series since 2005’s The Angel of Death. The first episode of The Serpent’s Curse finds protagonist George Stobbart and Nicole “Nico” Collard reunited once again as the pair tries to get to the bottom of a mysterious detective case that surrounds the theft of an important painting. And not only is the story engaging, but the visuals and voice acting have both been given a serious upgrade over previous entries in the long-running series. There’s plenty of nostalgic adventuring to be had here, and even more when the concluding episode to The Serpent’s Curse releases later on this month (and don’t worry, there’s no infamous goat puzzles to speak of in this one).