2014 was all right by me. It was a year of positivity. It was one of my favorite years of gaming because I think it was the year I became most deeply imbedded in gaming. I played whatever I could get my hands on. It was really exhausting. I had a good year of podcasting with my two best friends. I missed my first podcast on Christmas Eve because I was super ill. I played so many games though.
I wish I could have added a few more to my list, but I can’t finish everything. I tried, but I couldn’t do it. Maybe if I was better and stronger. Here are some games I wanted to play but didn’t:
1. Divinity: Original Sin
2. Far Cry 4
3. Legend of Grimrock 2
4. Banner Saga
5. Fract OSC
6. South Park
Here are some Honorable Mentions who just missed the list:
2. Bravely Default
3. The Vanishing of Ethan Carter
4. Mario Kart 8
6. Coin Crypt
Without further ado, here are my top ten games of 2014:
10. ‘Shovel Knight’
Everybody I saw who reviewed or enjoyed this game was ripping on the same old BS stuff for why ‘Shovel Knight’ was so great. “It’s like a 90’s platformer!” Said every kid who was like me and born in the 90’s. Who cares? You know what made ‘Shovel Knight’ so good? It was unapologetically difficult, had some of the tightest controls of the year, and had some exceptional boss battles. How much does it matter that it looked and sounded like a 90’s game? Not at all. It’s just plain good.
9. ‘The Wolf Among Us’
‘The Wolf Among Us’ was my first Telltale game. It was a good place to start. I bought into the world they created, the characters they introduced, and the mystery that I was working to solve. Bloody Mary is probably the best villain this year, along with the “Elder One” from ‘Dragon Age’. The whole thing is capped off by an ending that just leaves you guessing and gets you excited for the second season. Franky and I talked for awhile about the ending in private, because we were so impressed with the writing and story. If you don’t particularly care about the ‘Walking Dead’, this is a fantastic place to start playing TellTale games.
‘Jazzpunk’ is the sexiest game to come out this year. Even sexier than ‘Bayonetta 2’. I remember too many moments and bits from ‘Jazzpunk’. Degaussing pigeons and taking drugs to begin a mission are both just so imbedded into my daily interactions with Frank. Watching the Swing-Wing movie also falls into the super-weirdness of ‘Jazzpunk’. If you haven’t played ‘Jazzpunk’ yet, you should go do it. Even if you regret the fact that you did.
7. ‘Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze’
Some cool things are happening on the Wii U. Don’t change the channel! I like my Wii U! ‘Donkey Kong’ was really quite good. Each level was its own contained journey with its own art and beautiful twists and turns to keep things exciting. This isn’t something that is necessarily revolutionary. It’s a 2D platformer. But it’s such concentrated genius. I had way more fun with this than I could’ve imagined. I feel like nobody is talking about this game anymore and that’s a shame. This was a really good one. If you have a Wii U and already beat ‘Bayonetta 2’, you need to go pick this up.
‘Bastion’ was a wow-moment for me when it was released. It was one of the first games I ever owned on a PC and was nearly perfect. Supergiant probably had more pressure on them to make something fantastic than anybody else making games this year. I don’t necessarily think ‘Transistor’ was what I wanted, but it was definitely awesome. I think the story was the weakest part of the game, but the combat was really cool. Turn-based and real-time at the same time. There was a balance to strike in managing combat scenarios, but it was all natural and implemented in a very polished way. I wish the world had been better, but the game was too good to keep it off of my list.
5. ‘Dragon Age: Inquisition’
How does Bioware handle a ‘Skyrim’ type scale RPG? With all the love and care that they can muster. Despite a myriad of graphical glitches and combat being less than interesting, ‘Dragon Age: Inquisition’ hit me where I wanted to be hit. I wanted a world and a story. I wanted characters with bold personalities and developed backgrounds. This was exactly what I wanted at the end of the year. This is our ‘Elder Scrolls’ game done in the new generation. I can’t tell you enough how much fun I had in this world.
4. ’80 Days’
This was easily my most surprising love of 2014. ’80 Days’ is such a deep adventure and practice in non-linear storytelling. It’s wholly original and it asks the player to create a character and story in a way most games don’t. I was such a sucker for the journey I took and my second time through was just as exciting. It’s hard to see all of this game, but the individual adventures you take are so incredibly satisfying.
3. ‘Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor’
I was unimpressed with so many things about ‘Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor’ before it was released. It has Batman combat, with Assassin’s Creed scaling, and all of the makings of one of the most trite and boring stories of the year. So, in terms of actual originality and ingenuity, there is very little in the core mechanics. Except for, boom, Nemesis system. Combine the tried, but definitely solid mechanics, that ‘Shadow of Mordor’ borrowed from other games with this weird system for enemy engagement and suddenly you have something amazing. The Nemesis system was honestly that interesting. Every engagement was new and had weight. It was wonderful.
2. ‘Bayonetta 2’
This game probably will win a most surprising game of the year award or two, but I don’t get why. The premise screams video games. 60 FPS, non-stop action, amazing boss fights, beautiful set-pieces. The whole thing is so perfect it is likely written on the back of the box. It’s everything you want out of an action game and then a bit more of the giant angels you’ve been crooning for. ‘Bayonetta 2’ is just an unreal experience, and as I have said before, is a game we probably will be talking about when the Wii U has overstayed it’s welcome.
1. ‘Dark Souls II’
It’s not ‘Dark Souls’ 1. I know that. It’s hard to follow-up the greatest game ever made. But ‘Dark Souls II’ was exceptional in its own right. It’s undeniably amazing. It had the best boss fights, combat, music, and scenery of any game this year. There is no forgetting your time with ‘Dark Souls II’. It never lets go. I love this game so deeply. I’ve even listened to the soundtrack while falling asleep. It’s all about the memories. You defeated.