So I laid down to sleep.
I was expecting this game to provide me with some very clever snow-pushing puzzles and Eureka moments, and it definitely delivered. I wasn't so much expecting to feel as touched (and occasionally disturbed) as I was by the game's character and setting. In its short (but dense) playtime, A Good Snowman manages to carve itself the kind of mysterious little world whose walls you're desperate to climb over.
So beautiful I had to keep stopping to look.
In the mold of Braid or Portal: a genuinely new concept, eureka-inducing puzzles, and a commitment to go the extra mile. Made by a couple of people from Helsinki who were no good at polygons, so its art is made almost entirely from physical materials. The story is challenging, menacing, and philosophical, in the best science fiction tradition. Easily my favorite game of 2013.
Burn it all down
Simple premise: burn things in a fireplace, buy more things to burn with the money you made from burning things. Keep buying and burning and get strange letters to jaunty '40s-era swing music. A biting, funny satire with terrific writing and a very unexpected ending. More here than meets the eye.
Take what you need.
A lonely little puzzle game by anna anthropy I've kept thinking about for years, Redder is an understated descent into madness. An open-ended, claustrophobic explorer to find the resources you need, and maybe the resources you want. One haunting song plays on loop the whole short time, maybe 2 hours. I could have played and listened for 10.
Finding the cracks in the universe
Fez is made for people who love feeling as if they've stumbled onto something secret and of terrible importance. With your companion hypercube, you flatten 3D into 2D, explore the folds of space, and decipher puzzles spread across the entire game. Numbers, music, and treasure maps are taken very seriously. It's difficult to convey how good Fez is from screens or short videos. Fez's creator is the definition of a perfectionist, and Fez is the perfect definition of a game greater than the sum of its parts.