The Pants List: Top 5 Best Games of 2013

It’s that time of the year again, when we put on our big boy “games journalism” pants and decide on our best games of the year. Nobody asked me what my best games of 2013 are, but I’m going to tell you anyway, because that’s what a proper games journalist does! After all, how else are game companies going to slap those big “game of the year” stickers on their games’ websites if someone doesn’t award them? It’s all a bit masturbatory, to be honest, but then, I LIKE masturbating, so let’s get at it! This is the Pants List.




This was a very popular game with great replay value, but its shelf life has dwindled sharply since the Xbone’s launch. Oh, and I hate to disappoint you, Major Nelson, but I am going to continue calling it the “Xbone”, because the Xbox One was and still is a stupid name. See, I’m still playing the game today, months after it came out, so the game still has some fairly serious legs on it.

But the game’s replay value has steadily been handicapped by successive patches, as Microsoft removed the features that irked the vast majority of gamers, and turned out some decent exclusives upon release, but there are still some stalwarts who enjoy playing this game, and I count myself among them. There’s just something so compelling about it. It feels really good to kick Microsoft in the face, though honestly, aside from their arrogance, they really haven’t done anything wrong. Oh, Windows 8, right, right, forgot about that.

Whatever, it’s still a really fun game, like Rogue Legacy, it’s more than fun enough to land on my games-of-the-year list, but there have been four more games that I enjoyed even more….




This game appears to be quite popular, especially on Reddit, where Gabe Newell is considered something of a god in human form. I stayed away from this game at first, I must admit. I have this thing where I don’t trust things that are hugely popular.

But the more time I spent checking out those amazing graphics, the more engrossed I became. And the sound design is incredible – just listen to his voice! I mean, it doesn’t have the best gameplay ever, I’ll grant you, you can pretty much only do one thing, and that’s to think about what it would be like to be able to run your fingers through it, gently, ever so gently.

Were there games in 2013 with better gameplay? Sure, of course, like Payday 2, but they simply can’t compare to the majesty of Gabe Newell’s beautifully soft, white face hair.



Tex Murphy - Tesla Effect Molten Silhouette

Now, I rarely get worked up over video games nowadays, but as soon as I knew Tesla Effect was being worked on, I HAD to start playing this game. I literally had no choice. I was going to be playing this game for months, and I had to dig in for the long haul.

Make no mistake, this game, like, say, The Last of Us, is not an easy or pleasant experience. This game will tug at your heartstrings, push your patience to the breaking point and miles beyond, and you won’t be able to stop playing it until it finally, mercifully ends. But here’s the thing – all of us playing this game knew it was coming. We knew this “waiting” game would be unlike any game we’ve ever played before. We kept hope alive, somehow, over fifteen long years, that Tesla Effect could finally be made, and when the Kickstarter succeeded, we knew the pressure, the longing, and the desire would be enormous.

But two things have kept me going through it – first, the ending is going to be INCREDIBLY satisfying. Big Finish Games hasn’t let me down yet, and everything I’ve seen indicates that I’m going to enjoy it immensely. And second, the gamers playing this game online with me are some of the best humans on the internet. Usually gamers on the internet are a mixed bag, and trust me, we’ll get to the bad ones, but these are some of the best I’ve ever run into, and I sincerely hope to meet some of them in person someday.




I know, I said earlier that I shy away from popular things, but sometimes they are popular for a reason, and choosing a game of the year is one of the greatest games of this generation, let alone this year. I know, it’s really a bit of a cheat to say that a game that is literally decades old could be one of the best games of this year, but here’s the thing – this game has only gotten bigger and bigger, year after year, to the point where EVERYBODY is playing it. And if you’re a games journalist, you pretty much HAVE to play it.

I don’t really see the point of everybody playing it honestly, the more people play it, the more games can claim “Game of the Year” status, the less that status actually means. We might actually reach critical mass this year, with more games than ever getting that slightly-less illustrious title. I mean, for crying out loud, John-motherfucking-Carpenter has a “games of the year” list. The whole thing has reached a level of absurdity that even the glorious ridiculousness of Saints Row IV can’t match.

And let’s be honest, games journos, the game IS just a bit disgusting, isn’t it? The pastime as a whole is kind of masturbatory and self-fellating, and is anyone else getting turned on right now?




Now, this is probably going to be a controversial pick for game of the year, because it’s a game that not a lot of people played, as it tackles something of an unpopular topic with gamers. But I’ve found an exceptional amount of joy and personal fulfillment in it. It’s one of those games where playing it actually makes you a better person, and those are exceedingly rare.

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I was bullied as a child, though I generally prefer to use the word “tortured”, because that’s what it was, and that’s what bullies really do. Calling them “bullies” lightens it somehow, makes it easier to say, “oh, they’re just being children”, and if we called them “torturers”, you can probably bet your ass our government would’ve done something about it by now. Sorry, didn’t mean to step on my soapbox there. My point is that bullying on the internet is no different. Someone needs to stand up.

So when some pathetic soulless taintmuffins harassed some female game devs, I rallied to their defense. And it was glorious. My anger at Zoe Quinn’s harassment led me to trying her game Depression Quest and having one of the most emotional, personal, and revelatory experiences I’ve ever HAD. Seeing the disgusting things some scumbags sent to Anita Sarkeesian led me to discover her brilliant Youtube videos, especially Tropes VS. Women in Video Games. Railing against the lack of solid female characters in video games probably gained me more twitter followers than anything else I’ve done, but all of these are bonuses that I could’ve lived without – the greatest reward came when I decided to stand up, support these women, and say “This isn’t right and it needs to change.”