If you thought our picks for #20-#16 were great, wait until you see what we’ve picked to outrank them. Today’s best of list features a healthy mix of puzzling, strategy, timing, and… zombies? Oh well – I suppose it wouldn’t be a video game top 20 without a little zombie in there. After all, our 2012 Game of the Year was all about them!
As we count down our favorite games of the year, we’d love for you to play along at home. Like our picks? Trying something new based on our recommendations? Have a “best of 2013” list of your own? Be sure to let us know in the comments.
15. rymdkapsel – Don’t let its simple appearance fool you: rymdkapsel is as amazing as it is impossible to pronounce. A space station simulation with a minimalist art style, players will build out their home in the sky room-by-room, always making sure they’re creating the resource they’ll need to make more rooms. You’ll need to build smart and work fast, though – before you know it invaders will be looking to blast your little astronauts out of the sky! It’s not uncommon to sink an hour, get obliterated, and sit right back down to lose another hour. Beware: rymdkapsel is exactly the sort of game that can eat up a whole day before you know it.
14. Deep Dungeons of Doom – It feels somewhat strange to put what I think of as an OUYA game on our best of list, but that’s the first place I fell in love with Deep Dungeons of Doom. Since then the game has found a home on iOS and Android as well, but I’ll be damned if I can’t help but want to play it with a controller and a big screen. Wherever you play it, though, you best make sure that you do play it. Players descend deep into a dungeon, squaring off against a different monster on every floor – and defeating those monsters will require perfect timing on your part. So much so, that it almost feels like a rhythm game. A finely tuned retro rhythm roguelike.
13. BIT.TRIP RUN! – In all of their wonderfully different incarnations, the BIT.TRIP games have been a blast to play. This year’s Runner2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien was no different. What really wowed us, though, was when they adapted it for iOS a few months later under the name BIT.TRIP RUN!. In principle it’s the same game as Runner2 – but when you factor in how brilliantly they adapted the game for touch screens, you can’t help but give the mobile version higher accolades. For a game to incorporate so many different controls – sliding, jumping, kicking, dancing, gliding – and to overcome so many of the pitfalls that could have occurred from the tricky level design (the use of trampolines was genius), it’s hard to not want to give Gaijin Games a standing ovation for this one.
12. The Room Two – 2012’s The Room is quite possibly the best puzzle game I’ve ever played. It wasn’t abstract, but rooted in real world objects that hid secrets within secrets. The only problem with it was that it eventually ended – and that’s saying a lot. So when the sequel finally hit in late 2013, the staff at Gamezebo was tripping over each other to be the first to download it. The Room Two delivers so much more of what we loved about the original – though it doesn’t really do anything to evolve the formula. If it did, there’s little doubt that it would rank even higher on our list.
11. Plants vs. Zombies 2: It’s About Time – If you’re looking for a sequel that delivers on everything it should, you’d have a hard time finding a better example than Plants vs. Zombies 2. It never does anything risky – this is still the same Plants vs. Zombies you know and love. By taking their tried-and-true formula and adding new plants, new environments, multiple challenges for each area, and a surprisingly great free-to-play model, PopCap’s latest Zombies effort is the perfect embodiment of the phrase “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”