Here we go then, the top 10 games of the year begins today!
As mentioned previously, this is a highly subjective list compiled by the Guardian's games writers and reflecting our personal favourites from the past 12 months. Feel free to debate it out in the comments section.
Seemingly though, the selection does seem to have met with approval so far, although most of the predictions about our top five are way off the mark, and a few titles that commenters have said should-nay-must be on there… aren't.
Intrigued? Well, step this way into our grotto of games...
10. Proteus (Ed Key/David Kanaga/Curve Studios, Mac, PC, PS Vita, PS3)
You begin waist deep in the ocean and your eyes open to an island of woozy colour, like something painted by a Die Brücke artist. The trees shed vast flakes of blossom, weird creatures dart about in the undergrowth. And you're just here, just drinking it in. And that's really all you have to do, unless you want to follow the seasonal flow of lights, over the hills and into the swirl that advances the calendar. Asking if this is a game is like asking if Brian Eno's Ambient albums are music – it is because you play it. Even if you think it's like an unfinished Commodore 64 classic, a blocky landscape lacking a pixellated hero, it is a thing of soul and idiosyncratic beauty. This isle is full of noises that give delight and hurt not. Proteus is the setting for a digital production of The Tempest that will never take place.
9. Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons (505 Games, PC, PS3, Xbox 360)
Like Papo and Yo before it, this heart-wrenching adventure seemed to come out of nowhere to teach every multimillion dollar, 200-person mega-studio a thing or two about emotional storytelling. The fairy tale narrative follows siblings Naiee and Nyaa as they embark on a quest to find the tree of life and save their ill father. But at its very heart is the audacious control system, with each analogue stick controlling a different brother. It is, then, a story of family love in which the central relationship is symbolised by the interface – if that's ever happened before it certainly hasn't been done with such power.
8. Assassin's Creed IV (Ubisoft, PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One)
Pity Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed development teams, scattered around the globe, tasked with creating and launching a new sprawling adventure for the series every 12 months. Each game is set within a discrete period within time and space requiring unique architecture, costume and props. It's a tall order and more recent entries to the series have struggled to funnel all that workload into a coherent game. Black Flag, however, is a bold return to form, starring the grizzled privateer Edward Kenway as he swashbuckles through the Caribbean Sea, boarding and stealing ships, landing upon and plundering islands and, section by section, taking grim control of the high seas. It's a vast game, but not quite so needlessly bloated as its recent predecessors. It may lack the cinematic finesse of Grand Theft Auto V, but the life to live within its high seas is one of the year's most enjoyable.
7. Animal Crossing: New Leaf (Nintendo, 3DS)
There is no revolution within the latest Animal Crossing's gentle village; the game's lazy rhythms remain identical to how they first appeared in 2001 except now, when your character arrives jobless, homeless and penniless in town, they're mistaken for the new mayor. You still work for the local landlord and shopkeeper to pay the mortgage, delivering items to the village's various twittering inhabitants while you fly-fish, bug-catch and fossil-excavate for supplementary income, but there's a new urgency to everything now that you're a cog in the municipal machine. On the 3DS, Katsuya Eguchi's long-running village simulator (originally designed as a means for him to connect with his children when working long hours) makes wonderful use of the system's features with multiplayer and Street Pass connecting better than ever before, and a far greater opportunity for self-expression. It's a game that lodges itself into your daily routine, and once there, it won't be easily removed.
6. Zelda: Link Between Worlds (Nintendo, 3DS)
A smart, brisk sequel-cum-reimagining of 1991's seminal Super Nintendo game A Link to the Past, this, the final big-hitting 3DS release in a year of big-hitters on the system, is more eager than most to tread carefully in the series' tradition. And who can blame it? A Link to the Past remains one of the two tallest peaks in Shigeru Miyamoto's fantasy series – small wonder this game copies its structure, Hyrule map and, even, the names of the dungeons from its esteemed predecessor. But there is fresh invention here too: the way that Link's armory is now rented from the shops rather than plundered from dungeons and the ability that allows the hero to gloop onto walls by turning into a mural and shuffling around. A brightly curious and wonderful game in a series defined by curiosity and wonder.
Tomorrow: the big fiveThis article was written by Keith Stuart, for theguardian.com on Thursday 19th December 2013 10.25 Europe/London
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