The Year That Was: January 2013

Platforms: All

Oh January, you double edged sword of a thing, you seem so far away yet you are right around the corner once again. However, it’s not all bad as January 2013 saw some great releases fall into our grubby, gravy stained hands and truth be told we’d welcome the like of it once again next year.

Our gaming lives and perceptions of geometric shapes were to be forever changed with the arrival of Mike Bithell’s character driven side scrolling puzzler Thomas Was Alone. Our reviewer Stevie Mac fell under the spell of the characterisation of the simple shapes and highlighted that, “This game really exemplifies the power of strong characterisation and just how much feeling you can inject into a gaming experience, even without the resources of a major studio behind you.” It really does deserve to be mentioned in the same sentences of any of the most memorable games of this year, so do yourself a favour and go throw Mike some of your hard earned pennies at his store, call it a Christmas treat to yourself. Also don’t forget to keep an eye on his upcoming stealthy steal ‘em up curiosity Volume.

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Thomas Was Alone wasn’t the only title in January to score a 9/10, one other title scored the same but in terms of budget and production values it couldn’t be more different. Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch arrived on our pages in January and Studio Gibhli and Level 5 came together to deliver a JRPG that was truly bewitching and our reviewer James Marshall emphasised that point, saying, “Ni No Kuni is not only a brilliant game to start 2013 but also one of the best games in years. Studio Ghibli were wisely protective of their property but Level-5 have done a fantastic job that will appease fans and newcomers alike.”

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In January Rockstar dropped a piece of news that had nearly every gamer mark a date in their calendar, and that was the official release date of Grand Theft Auto V. Set to not drop into our lives until September we all counted down the hours while distracting ourselves with what we could. One such distraction that failed to inspire the masses was the lacklustre Ace of Spades, a Minecraft inspired arena combat game where players could build fortifications before leading their blocking soldiers to war. For all its three-dimensional play the game felt extremely flat and Stevie Mac was back to review this but with a less amenable tone, pointing out that, ”On paper it sounds like it could be a winning combination, and perhaps this will improve as the game evolves, but in practice the play styles don't mesh well together, seemingly diametrically opposed at times."

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January also saw the launch of our new feature series IMO which was designed to give all of the writers who live under The Digital Fix roof a platform to praise or destroy a game or topic of their choosing. First up was my love letter to a game that I would rate as one of the finest ever made and that game was Sony Santa Monica’s Journey. Dripping with praise and filled with hyperbole it would not have been uncalled for to tell me and Journey to go get a room but I meant it when I said,”I cannot envisage a game reaching me, at my core, like Journey has but I would love to be proved wrong. The best game ever? No. The best gaming experience I have ever had? Without question.”

So that was January 2013, not bad...not bad at all.

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