Review: Games Turning 10 in 2023
In this feature I’m reviewing games turning ten years old and will be taking a deep dive into games that have stood the test of time for a decade. This list includes a game that has turned into a TV show, a critical social commentary game, the scariest game I’ve ever played and a game that you have to play over and over again.
WARNING: Contains spoilers.
The Last of us
The cover art for the Last of Us which shows Ellie and Joel walking through a Marshland.
Image credit: Sony Computer Entertainment and Naughty Dog
The Last of Us is an action-adventure video game developed by Naughty Dog which follows protagonists Ellie and Joel through an extraordinary post-apocalyptic world fighting FEDRA (the military), guerillas and infected (zombies).
Your job as Joel is to smuggle Ellie across America who is immune to being infected to the Fireflies, a militia group who think Ellie’s the cure for humanity.
The video game series is highly praised for its visuals of a new world. A world where nature has rightfully reclaimed the land and has taken over cities that were heavily bombed to stop the spread of the virus.
Out of sheer visual love, the game producer even made two remasters, one for the Playstation 4 released in 2015 titled ‘The Last of Us Remastered’ and another for Playstation 5 ‘The Last of Us Part I’ both of which I’ve played through.
The beauty of the video game doesn’t just lie with it’s stunning landscapes of a dystopian world, but with it’s storytelling that’s received high appraisal from critics.
The game explores a queer love story with Bill and Frank, humanity turning to savagery with David and the ultimatums you have to make when someone is bitten by an infected. The brutality of grief is a running theme throughout the series.
The Last of Us was one of the best selling video games of 2013, it won multiple game of the year awards.
Its successful storyline and visuals were recently adapted into a now hit HBO show by the same name that stars Game of Thrones actors Pedro Pascal and Bella Ramsey.
The Last of Us TV show poster taking inspiration from the original cover art of the game
with Bella Ramsey as Ellie and Pedro Pascal as Joel. Image credit: HBOMAX
This game is a masterpiece from start to finish.
The cinematic heart wrenching storylines, the genuine fear and blood pumping I get when I hear a clicker (a type of infected) and the efforts in the small details of the artefacts and collectibles made this game one of my all time favourites.
Grand Theft Auto Five
The cover art for GTA 5 arranged in the iconic GTA Franchise segment pictures.
Image credit: Rockstar Games and Rockstar North
Grand Theft Auto Five is an action-adventure video game developed by Rockstar North (British video game publisher) and Rockstar Games.
It follows three protagonists; Grove Street gang member Franklin, retired bank robber Micheal and owner of Trevor Phillips industries (gunrunning and drug gang) Trevor.
The game held the title and broke the world record for one of the fastest selling video game products and entertainment products ever at the time, earning $1billion dollars in sales in just three days.
This is great for the developers as it cost a whopping £170 million pounds to produce making it at the time one of the most expensive video games ever made.
The fifth instalment in the Grand Theft Auto franchise pioneered open world gaming with the introduction of an option that lets you switch the character you're playing which opens up some hilarious cut-scenes.
Concept art of the three main protagonists of the game readying up for a heist which are common missions throughout the game: Micheal (left), Trevor (Middle) and Franklin (Right). Image credit: Rockstar Games and Rockstar North
The game’s storyline is entrenched with satire on contemporary American culture and zeitgeist of the time which was highly reviewed by critics.
It has storylines relating to the New Wave Feminist movement with Franklin’s mom in the mission ‘Chop’, hipster culture (Trevor) and the portrayal of the new age of social media in the mission ‘Friend Request’.
GTA V’s rendition of a modern day Los Angeles under the moniker Los Santos allowed players to experience an open world.
This includes side mission characters arcs ‘Strangers and Freaks’ that felt like authentic homage to the types of people you’d meet in LA such as Barry, the weed legalisation advocate, Beverly the crazed paparazzi and Joe and Joseph of the ‘civil border patrol’.
For me Grand Theft Auto Five exceeded my expectations of video games at the time.
Its wittiness, the stellar soundtrack provided by the radio stations (Blonded being my favourite) and carefully crafted storylines that have real consequences with the decisions you make made it all the more enjoyable to play.
Since the days of my XBOX 360 I’ve recently started playing the remastered version for PS5 which in HDR demonstrated how outstanding the open world is.
The Outlast cover art featuring antagonist Chris Walker. Image credit: Red Barrels
Outlast is a first-person survival horror game by Red Barrels. The game’s protagonist, Miles Upshur, is a freelance investigative journalist.
Miles investigates an isolated psychiatric hospital, Mount Massive Asylum based off the beaten track in the mountains of Lake County, Colorado.
The majority of the game play is stealth based meaning you can’t fight back against the homicidal patients who attack you on various levels of the game.
This is made all the more terrifying when you don’t have batteries for your camcorder, the only source of light in the game. Mix that with the score that Samuel Laflamme produced for the game and you have the stuff of nightmares.
Headshot of Samuel Laflamme who composed the games soundtrack of terror.
Image credit: Samuel Laflamme’s Twitter
The developers of the game who are industry professionals are said to have banded together from triple A game studios because they wanted to create a horror experience unlike any other.
The storyline is banded together through the documents and the games main antagonists:
Martin Loutermilch who acts as an ally towards you, Chris Walker a 6ft 9 beast of a man who you regularly have to run from and Richard Trager a doctor and Marta cult member.
It was from watching Pewdiepie walkthrough of the game a decade ago that led me to want to try out the game.
I was certainly not disappointed by the gore, spine-chilling soundtrack by Sameul Laflamme which heightened my adrenaline and disturbing backstories for the patients throughout.
It is one of the scariest video games I have ever played next to the Silent Hill and Resident Evil series.
Beyond two Souls
The main character of the game Jodie, voiced by actor Elliot Page.
Image credit: Sony Computer entertainment
Beyond Two Souls is an action-adventure game that centers around two main protagonists.
Jodie Holmes, played by actor Elliot Page, possesses a supernatural power link to the other main character Aiden, who is an incorporeal entity that’s been linked to Jodie since she was born.
The central storyline sees Jodie, a foster kid and Aiden taken into the custody of the US department of Paranormal activity by Dr Dawkins played by William Defoe.
This happens after an altercation with other kids in the neighbourhood that results in Aiden killing them. The game focuses on Jodie running from said government organisation.
The gameplay involves using Jodie’s telepathic powers such as possessing people, manipulating objects and traversing through walls. Throughout you are met with choices that contribute to what kind of person Jodie becomes.
Dr. Dawkins who runs the United States Department of Paranormal Activity.
Image credit: Sony Computer Entertainment
Some players of the game argue that Stranger Things completely ripped off this game with the government doing tests on psychic kids and running a secret facility to open a portal to another dimension.
Lets not forget to mention the parallels between Jodie and Eleven. Jodie is orphaned and in the opening scene of the game is seen sporting a shaved head and taking on the government with her telekinetic powers.
She even has nosebleeds when she’s over exerted as well as possessing the same supernatural powers as Eleven.
During a time where video games were starting to become more engineered towards aesthetics we got some pretty astonishing cinematic moments in the game which was described by Game Revolution as ‘uncannily gorgeous’.
I was completely hooked to the storyline and aesthetics, despite only having a HD TV at the time.
I played it almost every night when I got my hands on it and you could really feel the growth of the characters and the effort the developer put into this.
The Stanley Parable
The Lonely office space which Stanley is trapped in. Image credit: Davey Wreden and William Pugh
This never ends, it never ends, it never ends. The Stanley Parable is a story and choice based video game.
In the game you control Stanley, an office worker who’s entire workplace has been seemingly left deserted. It leads to multiple endings where inevitably each time you end up back in the office. This witty, philosophical and down right ludicrous game is a mash up of concepts we’ve come to expect of movies like Groundhog Day and The Truman Show where you are either led by the narrator or make your own choices and opt to go off the beaten track.
The Ultra Deluxe edition of the game or as the narrator and developers put it the Stanley parable 2 starts out in a museum where you get to look back at all the possible endings you can be met with in the first edition of the game.
The art gallery in which the Stanley Parable 2 is set. Image credit: Davey Wreden and William Pugh
Stanley Parable 2 then goes on to openly mock reviewers from a game distributor for legal reasons titled ‘Pressurised Gas’ you can have a guess as to who they actually mean…
With the narrator reading out a review that states ‘the narrator is obnoxious and unfunny with his humour and dialogue, providing to be more irritating than entertaining’.
To which the narrator mocks: “UNFUNNY, I’m not trying to be funny! I’m trying to make a serious work of art” The Stanley Parable 2 had possibly my favourite moment of the franchise with ‘the hole’ I won't spoil it for you though, that you can go and play on your own.
The satire, sarcasm and storylines that are seemingly endless with possibilities made this for me one of the best games of 2013.
The main protagonist of the game Booker Dewitt is the cover art for the game. Image credit: irrational games
Bioshock Infinite is the third and final game in the Bioshock series developed by irrational games.
It is set in the floating ‘idyllic paradise’ of Columbia which in real life is the woman national personification of the United States.
My streamer buddy Tom, who goes by TheJokerZXI on twitch, has replayed the entire series multiple times out of a deep love for one of his favourite video game series of all time. I asked him to weigh in his opinions on the third instalment of the franchise.
When it comes to the series Tom said that it’s his least favourite in the series although also the best:
“1 and 2 were based in the deep dark depths of the ocean, very dark, very gloomy and scary at times but infinite brought colours into the world”
Weighing in the visuals he added: “The scenery is simply stunning and when you really look at everything, all the details that went into Bioshock 3 made it astounding”
The floating world of Columbia. Image credit: Irrational games
The gameplay was the real game changer in Infinite for Tom:
“It brought a more fast paced action vibe with the Sky-Hook in comparison to the first Bioshock where your character is a normal man, to being a big daddy in Bioshock 2 to now being this lovely fresh fast paced hero”
As far as storylines go in games for me it really pushed boundaries with the themes throughout the game that concern colonialism, institutional racism and elitism which is widespread throughout the steampunk world of Colombia.
The fact that the main protagonist's backstory as a soldier was based on the true events of the Wounded Knee massacre made this game all the more compelling. It’s clear that the game's developers intended it to be a social commentary on exposing the atrocities that the US has committed in the past and the ongoing institutional racism and elitism marginalised Americans still face today.
Although we couldn’t do a deep dive into every game released in 2013, some honourable mentions include: Papers Please, Payday 2, Metro Last Light, Saints Row IV, Rayman Legends and the Wolf Among Us.
What's your favourite game from 2013?