With the end of 2013 only a little more than a week away, it is about time to go through all titles reviewed during the year to determine what ones stood out among the crowd in my “Release of the Year 2013″ awards. While there are many awards up for grabs in the secondary and specialization categories, there are two major awards which have the most contenders – Australian Anime Release of the Year 2013 and Video Game of the Year 2013.
While due to time constraints I was unable to get as many game reviews in this year as I had hoped (Some of this backlog should be dealt with in the coming days), there were many great games that I have had the opportunity to review and are strong candidates to win the title of The Otaku’s Study Video Game of the Year 2013. Grades mean nothing, with the only thing separating winning titles being the uniqueness of the experience they deliver. What ones will be victorious? Find out at the end of the year!
Do note that titles are eligible to be nominated until Christmas Day 2013 – with the currently potential winners listed below.
Requirements to be Eligible for Video Game Release of the Year 2013
- The game MUST have been published in 2013
- The game MUST have at least been published in Australia, PAL Regions and/or North America.
- On occasions where a game was originally region locked to a console, the Australian release date takes precedent over all others (Eg. Persona 4 Arena).
- Must have received at least an A- grade when reviewed OR received an A+ score in the key review subcategory for the title.
- The game must not have won any awards in previous years.
Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag | Ubisoft Montreal | Ubisoft | PC, PS3, PS4, Wii U, Xbox360, Xbox One
While the same can to some degree be said for online multiplayer titles, for a primarily single player series such as Assassin’s Creed with an annual release, there is the constant need to innovate, otherwise the series runs the risk of being repetitive and dull. Deciding to merge the Assassin and Pirate gameplay mechanics in Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag together was a wise decision by Ubisoft Monreal and resulted in a game that remained tied in with the series but offered something more distinct in terms of gameplay and storytelling. It is at this moment my favorite installment in the series. (Review on the 7th November 2013)
BEYOND: Two Souls | Quantic Dream | Sony Computer Entertainment | PS3
While there is little new in terms of gameplay for BEYOND: Two Souls and even less if you have already played Heavy Rain, it makes up for this downfall with an enticing storyline, realistic visuals and a strong voice cast. BEYOND is a unique experience that unlike many games allows its storyline to shine without being interrupted by long-periods of gameplay, and is a title I would happily recommend to those who love a good story in their games. In an industry that is always after the next “fresh” idea, I am curious to see how Quantic Dream will best themselves in the Playstation 4 era. (Review on the 27th October 2013)
Bravely Default | Silicon Studio / Square Enix | Nintendo | 3DS
After setting a high note after my unboxing of the game last week, Bravely Default has continued to impress by highlighting many aspects of what made the traditional RPG’s great while also making a mark of its own through the risk-and-reward battle system mechanics and the expansive job system. With high production values already setting a standard for new RPG’s on the Nintendo 3DS system, I am excited to see what the upcoming sequel Bravely Second has to offer. (Review on the 15th December 2013)
Deadly Premonition: The Director’s Cut | Access Games | Rising Star Games | PS3
Appreciation of Deadly Premonition: Director’s Cut really comes down to your preferences in a game. If you are after a fantastic psychological horror storyline or even a solid storyline in general than this game might be up your alley. If you are looking for more of a gameplay-oriented title or visually stunning graphics…. this may or may not be your cup of tea. Personally, I found Deadly Premonition to be a unique gameplay experience that appealed to my personal preferences, albeit could have used much refining to make it a truly memorable playthrough. (Review on the 28th May 2013)
Disgaea D2: A Brighter Darkness | Nippon Ichi Software | Nippon Ichi Software America | PS3
While making some features more approachable and lacking newly introduced functionality to the series, Disgaea D2 proved to be another worthy and enjoyable installment in the series with gameplay that could easily last you 50+ hours of gametime – not bad in comparison to other titles for its $59.95 AUD launch price. It was great to see that the writers could still handle Laharl, Etna and Flonne without falling into several of the traps that befall sequels, and makes me hopeful that NIS still have plenty in store for Disgaea 5. (Review on the 3rd October 2013)
Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch | Level-5 / Studio Ghibli | Namco Bandai | PS3
It has been many years since I have played an RPG at the standard of Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch, and I feel it could easily be up there with the Playstation 3 greats… and may just be the JRPG that Playstation 3 fans have been waiting for. Delivering an engaging storyline coupled with excellent visuals and an interesting and surprisingly complex battle system…. I enjoyed my time with this game and am looking forward to seeing what else this year holds for RPG’s. (Review on the 26th January 2013)
Persona 4 Arena | ATLUS / Arc System Works | ATLUS / Zen United / All Interactive Entertainment | PS3 / Xbox360
Overall, I am left just glad that Zen United et al. were FINALLY able to get Persona 4 Arena to the PAL region market. While I personally would have preferred more time being dedicated to the next RPG installment in the Persona franchise, what was presented was of great quality and I am left quite interested in where they will be taking the storyline of Persona 4 Arena – whether in something along the lines of Persona 3 Arena or something else as there are several different directions as to where they could take it. (Review on the 12th May 2013)
Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies | Capcom | Capcom / All Interactive Entertainment | 3DS
Overall, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies makes a welcome return for the Ace Attorney franchise, and here’s hoping that there is not a half-decade wait until the next installment either. While there are only a few minor gameplay tweaks to an already refined gameplay experience, it was thoroughly enjoyable when coupled with the plot and characters present in each case. If you are new to the series then this is a great starting block, otherwise it is still just as welcoming for returning fans. Just don’t forget to press down the microphone button and scream OBJECTION! at every opportunity. (Review on the 21st November 2013)
Rayman Legends | Ubisoft Montpellier | Ubisoft | PC / PS3 / PS Vita / Xbox360 / Wii U
While you still may require an affinity for side-scrolling platformers to fully enjoy the game, Rayman Legends like its predecessor offers much gameplay and challenge for its buck. It was a sequel that lived up to if not exceeded the initially high expectations put upon it with a wide variety of stage types and challenges to offer a different experience each time you jump into one. (Review on the 11th September 2013)
Saints Row IV (Australian Edition) | Volition | Deep Silver / All Interactive Entertainment | PC / PS3 / Xbox360
For its fourth major installment, Saints Row IV has gone out of its usual comfort zone and offered a considerably different experience from its predecessors or its market for that matter. Considering there was a possibility that this game would never be released in Australia due to it being refused classification, I think it would have been a real shame not to see it released on the market with an entertaining storyline, strong character customization options and some interesting additions to the gameplay mechanics. (Review on the 19th September 2013).
Tales of Xillia | Namco Bandai | Namco Bandai | PS3
Tales of Xillia attempted to set itself apart from its current generation predecessors in a number of ways and succeeded in doing so. With an interesting plotline, strong aesthetics and engaging gameplay, Tales of Xillia delivered an enjoyable gaming experience from start to finish. (Reviewed on the 8th August 2013)