It's easy to list off the best games of 2013, and often such lists contain a lot of crosstalk between different publications. So this year, instead of just giving off another similar list of the best games of the year, our staff has decided to talk about their favorite games of the year that might not have been the best sellers or the most popular. In no particular order, this is our list of some of our favorite under-appreciated games of 2013.
This was the one game that I kept coming back to on a nearly-daily basis. The mix of addition and Scrabble is something that appeals to my former life when I studied mathematics. It rewards pattern recognition, and smart play, rather than cheap obscure word usage. That I'm also really good at it doesn't hurt. - Carter Dotson
Space Agency is an amazingly fun game for those of us who have watched the space program since, well, forever. While it's a very lightweight simulation of a space program, it does require a fair bit of strategy, timing, and even a bit of luck. The challenges it presents have players going from the extremes of keeping a spacecraft in the air for a few seconds to multi-planet orbit missions where space station pieces are swapped out. All presented in bite-sized, mobile-optimized gameplay for space geeks like me. - Jeff Scott
A Ride Into the Mountains really caught my attention just from the screen shots. The visuals walk that fine line between "retro" and stylized detail quite nicely, and the game gives off this ICO/Shadow of the Colossus vibe which is always a huge plus for me. It doesn't hurt that the game itself is actually quite entertaining, too! - Rob Rich
This is basically a concierge service for games. It asks users what they're up to, where they are, how many people they're with, and generates a game based on all of that information. It's not like it creates a video game right then and there; more like a game that asks users to have fun with their surroundings, which is fun mainly because the app doesn't take itself too seriously.
The app's games are inventive as well, so don't expect it to generate "never have I ever" or "I spy." The creativity of the games, the humor in the app's writing, and the fact that the game generator actually works pretty well make this a satisfying experience unlike many others. - Campbell Bird
Blackbar is the perfect type of mobile game. It's completely addictive, suits the casual gamer, and exhibits some unexpected depth. Players need to fill in the blanks on a number of censored emails, reading for gist and typing out the missing words as they go. This simple mechanic becomes increasingly compelling as more and more is revealed about the totalitarian state in which it takes place. It's an intriguing and unique experience that anyone can pick up and play, making it a must-have in my book. - Lee Hamlet
This sequel is packed with more surprises than the original, while having addictive levels and way more challenges. There are two modes - Classic and Epic - so players won't grow bored quickly. It's not required to have played the original to enjoy this sequel. Players are free to run in all directions and never have to worry about falling into oblivion because each object has its own gravitational field. The beautiful graphics, groovy soundtrack, and flawless gameplay make this one of the more interesting and unique titles of the year. - Angela LaFollette
Narrowing down the best underappreciated game release of 2013 was hard, as the past year has been great in terms of releases for iOS. If I had to award just one though, that award would most definitely go to Division Cell. Providing unique gameplay, this is a geometric-based puzzler that will see players enter a teaseled dimension and race against the clock as they endeavor to break up the once harmonic and symmetrical forms of the shapes that inhabit Flatland in order to return them to their desired and non-symmetrical forms.
Carrying over 140 procedurally-generated levels to wade through, minimalist visuals, and a color palette to match, Division Cell’s overall art style, replay, and airy soundscape really come together to make for a gaming experience that I think you definitely shouldn’t pass up this holiday. - Arron Hirst
Although the controls take some getting used to, Toca Builders is an intricate building app for children where they guide six different robot-like builders that work to construct with square blocks in a linear fashion. Children will be drawn into this stylized world as they spend time creating brick by brick, as this app flexes users' focus, spatial ability, and creativity. An application that can occupy the right child for an extended period of time, parents will feel this is time well spent. - Amy Solomon