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Best & Worst of 2013: Best Sleeper Hit

While this year has been filled with blockbuster games and sequels along with the beginning of a new console generation, there are many games released this year that were definitely under the radar. These games, while still great, didn’t get as much as love as the blockbusters. Entertainment Fuse picks our sleeper hits of 2013 and they are all worth playing. Matt Rowles: State of Decay I was excited for State of Decay before release from the early trailers, but no one could have imagined the success that would greet this downloadable title from Undead Labs. The game launched earlier this year on XBLA and was a complete joy to behold. Even without the push of Summer of Arcade which it should have got, word still spread and the game sold incredibly well making it the 2nd fastest selling XBLA game ever. Since then the game has also come to Steam and got a new mode in the form of DLC. I reviewed the game when it launched and gave it a 9/10 and if you haven't already, you really should give the game a try. The success of the game means the studio should be able to go ahead on a next gen MMO sequel which is definitely one to keep an eye on over the coming years. Edward Oliveira: Fire Emblem Awakening Fire Emblem is not a series that Nintendo is normally very excited of releasing. Other than a successful little romp on the GBA thanks to the popularity of Marth and Roy in Super Smash Bros. Melee, the series haven’t been too successful on the GameCube or even the more successful DS and Wii. Because of the lack of traction of the DS’ Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon, the remake of the original that never released outside Japan, Nintendo believed that it was not worth releasing the remake of its sequel. Thankfully after the success of Xenoblade Chronicles, Nintendo thought they should try the JRPG again. However, this time on a system that at the time needed as much software as possible, the Nintendo 3DS. So they did and in February, we saw the return of Fire Emblem in the US with the release of Fire Emblem Awakening. After an incredibly good demo that released a few weeks earlier, the demand of the game showed itself. Retailers pulled the ability to pre-order it because their initial shipment sold out well before release. There was such a long shortage for the physical copy of the game that the eShop version did record numbers, with about a one-third digital adoption rate. For a Nintendo system that sort of digital record was crazy. I personally was not really looking forward to it, but like many others, the demo sold me. I played it as many times as the demo allowed me and when the retail version came, I played it consistently. Once I got further in the game, I got many of my friends into it and saw their progression by battling against their army via StreetPass when I felt like it. I rarely talk a lot about the nitty-gritty about games with friends, mainly because we have opposite tastes, but Awakening really unified my gaming community. Who your allies had relationships with, which party members died, how you upgraded your soldiers and battle strategies; for a game with no legit multiplayer, Awakening is pretty damn social. Jeffrey Dy: Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate Who would've thought I'd have a Wii U game be my pick for best sleeper hit for the second year in a row. I was always curious why Capcom’s Monster Hunter franchise is Japan’s most popular gaming series now. From numerous iterations and now more companies trying to get a piece of the pie over at Japan, Monster Hunter is no joke over there even though it continues to struggle replicating that success here in the states. With the Wii U, Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate was something Nintendo needed when it came out in March. It was arguably the game I spent the most time with out of everything else that came out this year and something with hundreds of hours worth of replay value keeping my Wii U active for months. Sure, games like this are too daunting to play at first glance and that is not an surprising assumption considering how the game still relies on Japanese game design philosophies. It does take a few hours to get started, but once you start defeating tougher monsters, it is one of the most satisfying moments you will experience in games this year. Of course, it is much more satisfying going on monster hunts with friends online and I personally had a group to play with for months. Despite the learning curve and understanding how everything works in these type of games, I do believe this is the most accessible Monster Hunter yet for newcomers that are interested. Monster Hunter 4 is already out at Japan for the 3DS and hopefully we get an announcement from Capcom regarding a US release sooner rather than later. Paul Lawford: Starbound The space version of Minecraft from Chucklefish Games has really taken the industry by storm. The 2D side scrolling RPG platformer has grown massively popular since being released at the start of December. The game won the most anticipated indie game of 2013 and its launch has hit the gaming world with thousands of people watching twitch streams of the game. I've had a chance to jump into the space sim and it's an absolute blast. It is really taking heed from the Minecraft style of play but with an awesome retro spin. This game is one to look forward to into 2014 and beyond. Patrick Cowles: Path of Exile How Path of Exile has not caught on as a mainstream title is simply beyond me. Word of mouf rules the internet and word has been spread about this game for years. Following a couple years in closed beta and one in year open beta, it has been around and playable for quite some time. However, with only 20 reviews on metacritic, it is still a game lurking under the radar. It is even on Steam, yet the official group is a meager 3,500 members strong...so sad as this is simply stated, a remarkable and exciting game to play. Cast into exile along the shore of the forsaken continent Wraeclast, the hack-slash-cast action-adventure RPG Path of Exile is everything gamers wanted out of Diablo III while visually paying homage to the previous two Diablo titles, which Torchlight and Torchlight II detracted from outright. Dark, demonic, gory, yet beautiful and natural; the game visually is a staggering accomplishment for the small studio Grinding Gear Games. The color palette is rich and vibrant while steering clear of over saturation which can visually turn a game into a Saturday morning cartoonish experience, the effects and lightning are of a remarkable quality with environments that are stunning at first glance. As for gameplay, Path of Exile offers a challenging experience with untold freedoms in character creation. Though there are classes, items from gear to skill gems allow you to play each class in a distinct and unique manner augmented by a verbose passive skill tree. If you haven't played it yet, get it now; you have no excuse as it is free-to-play. You don't want to miss out on this worthy experience.


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