6 – Hearthstone
When I heard Blizzard were making a card-based game set in the World Of Warcraft universe, I couldn’t think of anything I’d rather avoid. Yet when a friend at Blizzard sent me an invite to the beta test and convinced me to try it out, I was hooked. Hearthstone is simple, beautiful, addictive and perfect when you have half an hour to kill and need a game-fix.
5 – Sir, You Are Being Hunted
Also not technically released in 2013 as it’s still in alpha-testing, Sir has still really impressed – even more than Hearthstone, which has a few zillion Blizzard mega-bucks pumped into it.
A first-person survival/stealth affair, the game pits you against a variety of rather upper-class robots who love nothing more than a spot of human-hunting and a cup of tea. The various biomes are procedurally generated, completely stunning to look at and very, very British. Quite relaxing, if you can forget about the balloon-riding spotters, groups of hunters and their dogs. Sir is a little clunky on my under-powered laptop but is great fun, with more features being added all the time.
4 – Minecraft
Since signing up to the beta for about £10 a few years ago to see what the fuss was about, no game has stolen more time than Minecraft. I still play regularly, whether for jumping on for a few moments to run around the beautiful landscape or some dark cave, or for a few hours with some friends. This year, my girlfriend signed up and I was drawn back in until my laptop’s fan squealed for a respite that has yet to come.
3 – Hotline Miami
Massively-violent murder has never been so fun. After a brief and creepy tutorial, Hotline Miami drops you into the action as an unnamed protagonist and it all goes downhill from there, in the best possible way. The top-down view, simple controls and pixellated graphics suckered me in, and the 1980?s visuals, intense soundtrack and addictive gameplay kept me there. There are times when the ultra-violence in Hotline Miami verges on making you uncomfortable, and then you’re straight back into another mission, dying repeatedly and yelling at the screen.
2 – Skyrim
The siren-song of Skyrim routinely pulls me in. Not constantly – there may be periods of a few weeks or longer where I don’t play – but I always come back. I’m now probably approaching 100 hours of play-time, and yet still only level 20, as I tend to wander and dawdle and get drawn off by something shiny or spikey on the horizon. I’ve yet to uncover several of the major settlements in Skyrim, or even fully explore all the spells and skills available, and knowing that there is so much of the game left to explore even now makes me want to pick my pad up and head back to Tamriel.
1 – Grand Theft Auto 5
Finally, a game released in 2013!
Every time I play GTA 5 there is at least one moment where I’m sitting slack-jawed and staring at the screen thinking “What a game… What a game”. Whether it’s a sunset drive around the city, an accidental street-fight with some hipster who’s coffee you accidentally spilled or one of the many games-with-a-game, I’m always staggered.
GTA 5 has been so impressive because Rockstar have created more than just a game. They have built an entire world. There is something happening almost everywhere you look, unless you just want to cruise around sensibly – when that’s the case, even the game seems to realise and takes a step back for a while. Sometimes Los Santos can be overwhelming, but it is never boring.