Wyatt's 2013 of Games and Blogging into 2014!

Jan 02, 2014
battleblock theater hatty

Well, 2014 is here, but not long enough to reminisce. Not to be outdone by my still-in-college colleague, I would like to display that I somehow found enough free time to try and slay thousands of bad guys, conquer the world in a glorious fashion, or at least have Thursday Nights to call my own.

...Come to think of it, I'm not sure why I'm bragging about how many games I've spent hours on, whittling away hours and sometimes staying up way too late because of the 'just one....more....turn!' syndrome that some of these games create. Its probably because I want to still feel a bit like a kid, even as I grow up and end up having an adult job and a career I hope to pursue. Its also because some of these things on this list I'm genuinely proud of - as the 21st century continues, the gaming community is starting to show itself as a holdout for social gatherings, and studies are proving it. As more and more basic interactions become divided by screens and smart phones, I find it interesting that games... electronic or not, can keep bringing us together regardless.

...Or it could just be I really like pretending to be a wizard. Onto the list for 2013!

State of Decay

This one shouldn't be a surprise - maybe its because this was one of the first in depth write ups I did on this blog here, but this game is one of my favorites from 2013. I don't normally like zombie games...or I just grow bored with them quickly. This one I didn't, because I simply loved the feeling of dread survival about day-to-day living than most AAA offerings of the zombie experience. For an Indie game, I've sunk more than three times the amount of hours into this game for what I paid for it, and as I hoped in my follow up, there's now an expansion that just recently hit DLC - I can't wait to come back and try the new survival mode in 2014.

XCom: Enemy Unknown (And Enemy Within)

I know, this game was a 2012 release. I'm late to the party on this one - however, its been a while since a video game made me feel this alive in collaboration. Why, might you ask? I took a large group of Humans Vs. Zombies players and put their names into an Ironman run, and after every death, started narrating their tragic ends on their Facebook wall. It was a hit. Fifty comments after only dying by the time I found the hidden base on Earth. The next run through, even more. People talking back and forth hilariously, wondering who would die next, and trash talking about who looked more like a champion. If it isn't obvious by now, I'm a fan of any game that brings people together in excitement, and this game certainly did - amazingly so for a mostly single player game.

Of course, its not just the bizarre spectator sport of horrible deaths that makes this game fun - its the difficulty and play-style that is a throwback to when games could be merciless in a way we don't often see in modern games. The way the fights escalate, to the randomized variables you can through into each play-through, to how your individual soldiers that you name and gear up can suddenly drop dead with one wrong move, leaving them near a burning car, or turning a blind corner too quickly. Firaxis really hit the ball out of the park here, making the game feel sleek and modern while bringing back that old game charm that gives some of us that thrill we crave, wanting to come back for more.

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Super secret Alien-Fighting Organization... Not so secret explosions.

Speaking of more, Enemy Within is an expansion for the ages. While not adding an extension to the story per-say, it rounds it out, substantially, and allows for so much more customization throughout your campaign runs that its insane. Feel like cutting up your own soldiers to have walking mechwarrior-cyborgs? Sure, why not.

I'm looking forward to getting to the expansion soon, and doing another write up of how my friends died horribly in the name of humanity.

BattleBlock Theater

Its weird - I had been waiting for this game to come out for so long, but I still had no idea what I was getting myself into. I don't think anyone does, the first time they turn on the game. Sure, its just a platformer with that great Behemoth sense of art and humor, but man, that Narrator. Take the narrator for Bastion and give him a cocktail of medication and several Breaking Bad drugs, and that's what you end up with here. He insults you, he praises you. He gives advice, and then purposefully is so confusing or rambling that you have to stop the game while you laugh hysterically, especially if you are playing multi-player through the story.

God help you if you ever find a secret level.


Trust me... This will never make sense. Ever.

Defender's Quest

This one was a surprise for me - I mostly picked it up because Steam was having a big sale this summer, and I really wanted a simple tower defense game.

Forty+ hours later.... I wake up in a haze, but still furious that I haven't managed to collect every single skull in the game. Why can't I do it? What's wrong with my strategy? Is it because I'm spending too many points on dragons, or because I just am letting my archers die too quickly as I enter the final, cruelling levels of New Game+? I never play New Game+.

You can read my review here, but as a synopsis - its a indie game that seems a bit stripped down, and the graphics often feel lacking...the still screenshots kept me away for a while. But man, once I got it... I loved it. I mean, tower defense mixed with a pretty well written plot, some really great humor moments, and micromanaging leveling up a party? Well, okay, if you are sure. If you missed this round, the creator, Lars Doucet, is already working on a sequel, and now has enough funding to get a whole set of talent in...the art for it looks great - keep an eye out if Tower Defense is your thing.

The Secret World

It takes a lot for me to admire a game I can't even play correctly. But I have sunk hours and hours into this game just trying to figure out how to translate Morse code, or reading books on demonic ciphers to pay off a corrupt journalist for some cash and information.


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Oh, right, and things like this happen too.

Arriving in the summer of 2012, The Secret World was an MMO that tried something different - not science fiction, not fantasy with-the-giant-shoulder-armor-sets - but modern day. 'All the myths are true', the hype said, and when the game came out, you understood. You play as a new initiate to one of three secret societies, the Illuminati being one good example, and you are off trying to save the world. Of course, the first 'zone' isn't a hilly landscape filled with goblins and rabbits...but instead is an zombie-overrun town somewhere in Maine, where C'thulhu-esque horrors shamble out of the water and try to herald a local apocalypse.

This game tries a lot of new things, and not all of them hit its mark - the combat is still a bit stilted, although a great improvement from MMO's of the past. With many MMO's again, sometimes you might find yourself grinding for an achievement or an item you really want, and sometimes the strain of the game can cause frustrating lock ups on anything but the highest-end systems...but in the end, I don't care. Why? Well, because of the theme of the game, the style...the absurd quirkiness. It just feels different than any other MMO I've ever played, and a huge part of that might be because there are quests that don't require you to ever fire a gun or light up a fireball to defend yourself - instead, you are sent into the real internet to look for fake company websites to log in as deceased employees (you found their ID card in half-eaten pants) in order to solve a riddle. Maybe a ghost is trying to communicate with you, and the only way to get in touch is by using a Oujia board, and deciphering what exactly its trying to say with a random string of numbers and letters. You get the idea.

NEW SCREENSHOT The Secret World 2

The ambiance is great - it might not be something that outright scares you, but man, it's just downright creepy sometimes.

The Secret World makes you think - whether its building a classless character, solving one of their elaborate puzzles, or just soaking in the plot points they've left through forgotten parts of London or Egypt. It doesn't shy away from adult themes, and some of the player base I've been lucky enough to interact with has been wonderful, and keeps me coming back every so often, just to see what new craziness has been stirred up. If you like MMO's at all, I would suggest trying it out - its no longer subscription based, so what's keeping you from buying the initial download on steam? Trust me, you'll spend more hours on the game than dollars you drop, and that's without trying to do a raid grind.

Smash Up

Well, I've spoken enough about this game, both in a review for the original game, and then another post about its expansion only months later. A card game here as a favorite, you say? Well, why not? For me, some of my best gaming memories are around a table, not a computer screen. I love vegging out on the internet as much as the next person, but when I can pull out a card game at a restaurant with a table full of fellow nerds while waiting for food, or just play a game to make friends meet, its got a good place in my heart. And as I said in the reviews, this game is filled with something for every type of nerd out there, from Fantasy Lit to Robots to gaming references about ninjas.


Okay, most of you are thinking - lets not get crazy. Why are we starting to list things as nerdy as miniatures in a 'best of 2013' list? Because miniatures are games too, damnit, and just as fun as your fancy electronic doodads. And, quite honestly, I can recall certain moments of victory or defeat as if they were war stories I had endured myself.

Take MERCS, one of the most carved down miniature games I've ever played...and one of the most fun. Pick five highly trained soldiers from a mega corporation or anarchist movement from the 22nd century, and pit them on a 2 by 3 game board against another hit squad. No rulers, just measuring with the individual stat cards. No worries about infinite choices, as each corporation has only 6-7 models to choose from, a number that the developers say will probably cap out at 10 options for each group.

If it seems overly simplistic, it isn't - the guys who made the rules know what it feels like to be ducking for cover during a firefight, and it shows, with the game laden with rules for suppressing fire, coordinated runs over open ground to get to safety, and laying down hails of bullets if someone dares to poke their head out while you have a Gatling gun primed and ready.


There's something so satisfying about 1000 rounds a minute...

And sniper rifles...oh, sniper rifles. And sniper fights. In an abandoned factory, my friend and I found ourselves fighting with crews - mine rushed as an assault squad, while his played defense with tessellating bursts of power and machine pistols. However, our snipers climbed to the roof, desperate to get there first to reign shots down over the field. Mine got there first...and fired a round, hitting and breaking armor on the other sniper, burning a hole through his carefully made combat suit, rooting him in place, and causing blood.

His sniper promptly fired a magnetic pulse round - one that promptly ejected my guy off the roof, and screaming to his death.

That moment happened in September, while we were still learning the rules and figuring out what the best strategies were. When I hang out with that friend, we still laugh about that moment. And we are all a lot more nervous about finding high perches for covering fire in every game after.

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The Sefadu - an African Mega Corporation that shows this gamehas some amazing concepts. Also, laser-spears.


This skirmish miniatures game, more than any other, shaped my 2013. Its been my passion, the one that makes me run out every Thursday night. to the local hobby store and spend hours chatting with friends and plotting their demise in equal measure. Whether its the hours actually playing the game, painting the miniatures, plotting out possible crews, or just talking about previous ridiculous games with other players, I have gotten a lot of enjoyment out of this one. Not just enjoyment, but community, and even pride. One thing I will say right now is that table-top games you have to build for - whether its putting together models or crafting a story in a group like Dungeons and Dragons - to me, they have something special that most video games can't quite touch yet.


If you put in the effort, you get back satisfaction in droves.I dream to make terrain this good one day.

How do I describe Malifaux? I won't - not yet in detail, anyway. A game filled with personality, and set in about alternate 1910, it loves blending genres to create very familiar and very different archetype characters. You have an Ice-Witch that is also an escaped criminal. You have the gun-slinging lawmen of the land who also fester corrupt business practices for personal power. Pandora walks the streets, and hope dies where she goes. And then, of course, you have the Mad Hatter mixed with a necromancer mixed with Jack-the-Ripper, leading an army of undead...ahem, 'ladies of the evening'.

Malifaux Miss Model

So many iconic characters to choose from, so many bizarre creations to play in your crews...

Whatever your preference, your crews end up on a table, competing for victory points as one team might be trying to assassinate your leader while you? You actually want to keep the enemy team alive until the end of the game, paralyzed and helpless so they can be prisoners. Add in the fact that you are using cards and some poker-esque bluffing to win fights rather than random dice rolls, and well for me, that's a recipe for a hell of a game. And it is. Its on my list this year because they just moved to 2nd edition of the game, and quite successfully I might add - my local gaming store has a weekly following, one that is growing, and one where we meet at 6 PM, and don't usually disband until midnight - sure, the games go on only until 9 or so, but the fact that find a diner for food to gather and rant and rave after, sometimes ten or twelve at a time...well, what are games like this for?

Goodbye, 2013. Hello, 2014. And....that about does it for now, right? Wrong. First off, thank you to everyone that has been reading our blog - its been a humble effort, and one that we've sometimes had a tough time keeping updated, between work and school for the pair of us. But its been fun, contributing, and sometimes writing some articles that get some amazing responses. For those of us that have left comments, or Emailed us or left remarks on our Facebook page, thank you. To those of you that are newer, welcome!

2014 is where we really hope to become more responsive, and a bit faster in getting out new articles. For one, I myself will be breaking into the non-electronic side of things in a big way, with starting a series of articles about miniature gaming and its various games. There's even rumors of some audio going around as well... but more on that when it arrives. On Zoë's end, I know they'll be continuing their focus on Indie gaming, as well as following up with some more interviews like they've given us so far, adding a little more commentary to the blog besides our own.

2014 may have just begun, but there's already a lot to talk about. Here's to another year!


Wyatt Krause

Editor-in-chief, Co-founder