It hasn’t been the best year for gaming when you take in to consideration all that has taken place. The whole gamergate situation left a dark spot on the industry as a whole, even forcing some writers to leave their homes. There were also an alarming number of games that released broken, or somewhat broken. It left a lot of gamers questioning whether or not they should purchase their games on day one, which really shouldn’t be a question.
Despite all the woes of the year, their were some great games however. Here’s my list of my favorites. Once again, I should note that I have not played every game under the sun. Thus, there are some great games that came out this year that I did not play.
Best game from previous year: Papers, Please
I was a little behind when it came to Papers, Please. It was met with a bunch of critical praise when it came out last year for being a dark tale about a border patrol officer for the great country of Arstotzka, a Soviet-esque nation. The mundane task of checking passport after passport, id after id, permit after permit, and more can become tedious and boring, but that captures the essence of the job. Each immigrant wants to get into the country, and they all have their story. It’s your job to determine whether their dreams can be realized, or shot down. The game puts a lot in your hands and expects you to make the right decision every time. It’s hard as hell to do this, and their will be many a decision that you make in which you feel awful with yourself.
10. Spelunky (PS4)
Technically Spelunky, the insanely hard rouge-like, came out in 2013. But if we are being technical here, the game was ported to the PS4 this year, making it eligable for the list. I have a love-hate relationship with the game. It’s a game about learning from your mistakes, mistakes that you will simply not be able to avoid. You play as a Indiana Jones like adventurer who explores randomly generated caves and ruins in search of treasure. When you die (and you will die…horribly), you have to start all over again. Yep, right back to the very start of the game. However, this didn’t detract me away from the game. Instead, it inspired me to keep working at it, so I could figure it out. Each run granted me a new lesson to learn, as well as a new item to harness. I always felt extremely accomplished whenever I finished a level unscathed…only to immediately die in gruesome fashion in the next level. I hate you Spelunky. I love you Spelunky.
Blizzard has a pretty high pedigree when it comes to the select list of games that they have put out. This year, they introduced Hearthstone, a new game to add to their repertoire. There are two things about this game that make it seem unlikely that I would like it; it’s a collectible card game and it is free-to-play. However, the game took care of those things brilliantly. I don’t tend to go for card games because of their complex nature, but Hearthstone managed to keep itself relatively simple, yet complex at the same time. It was extremely easy to get into. The game also didn’t seem like a free-to-play game. Yes, you can put a lot of money into the game if you want to, but the game doesn’t shove it’s free-to-play aspects nastily in your face like other free-to-play games. I spent countless hours grinding away and building my decks. A good job by Blizzard.
8. The Wolf Among Us
The concepts that surround The Wolf Among Us were probably the most intriguing part of the game for me. Telltale’s episodic adventure game is set in the backdrop of a secluded neighborhood in New York, populated by fables (fairy-tale characters disguised as humans). The main star of the game is the detective Bigby Wolf, more commonly known as the Big Bad Wolf. He is tasked with investigating some mysterious and fishy business that has been happening in the community, including a gruesome murder. There are a bunch of likable character that you come across during the course of the mystery, some recognizable and others not so much. There were also some quick time events that changed up the normal Telltale adventure game formula. The art style of the game looked pretty great too. I never got tired of the dark-cartoony atmosphere of the game.
7. Tales From The Borderlands
Telltale has had a pretty good year with their own brand of adventure games. Their newest one, Tales From The Borderland, is showing massive amounts of promise. There has only been one episode released in 2014, but that qualifies it for one of my favorite games of 2014. Telltale in the past has told a lot of dark and serious stories, but his time around we get a lighthearted and pretty funny adventure starring the unlikely duo of a Hyperion company man and a Pandora con-artist. The two end up teaming together in the most unlikely way. The dialogue trees and quick decisions are all there, and there is a lot more quick time events this time around. They provide some action that the Borderlands games are known for. The first episode showed lots of promise and I look forward to the coming pieces of the tale.
6. Dust: An Elysian Tail (PS4)
Once again, this is another game that technically came out in 2013, but was released on the PS4 this year. This was the first time I was introduced to the fantasy world of Dust: An Elysian Tail. The game puts you in the shoes of Dust, a soldier who doesn’t know who he is or what he was doing. He stumbles upon a talking sword, and then proceeds to meet Fidget, a flying squirrel like creature with a high pitched voice. He has to help a village with their problems, as well as uncover the mystery that surrounds his history. The story was brilliantly told. The game also looked terrific. It’s hand-painted feel made the game look mesmerizing. The combat and gameplay was also extremely tight and satisfying. Although it’s RPG mechanics aren’t your traditional mainstays, they still worked great and provided me with a great experience altogether.
This game made me feel conflicted. Watch_Dogs was a game that didn’t meet the intense amount of expectations that it was given. But does that make it a bad game? The amount of expectations may have been to high to begin with. I thoroughly enjoyed my experience with Watch_Dogs. Aiden Pierce, protagonist, is a family man, as well as a highly skilled hacker. His main mission is to avenge the murder of his niece, and he is willing to go to extreme lengths to accomplish this. Chicago was extremely fun to explore in this third-person open world. The game also looked pretty great as well graphically. The hacking mechanics, although not as deep as they could have been, were still fun and fresh. There was also a wealth of side missions and other things to do around the city besides the main story missions. This may not have been the “next-gen” experience that most wanted, but it was a game that I thought was pretty entertaining.
4. Broken Age Act 1
Tim Schafer and Double Fine were the masterminds behind one of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns in that service’s history. What it produced was Broken Age, a unique point-and-click adventure game that hearkens back to the golden age of adventure games. The game explores the story of two kids, who’s worlds seem to be far apart. The boy lives in a spaceship that contains a mother-like AI that controls his every decision. The girl on the other hand is forced with being selected as a sacrifice for a nasty sea monster. The twist that comes at the end of the first act is mind-blowing, and brilliant. It merges the two parallel plotlines in a perfect way. The game contains simple mechanics, akin to the adventure games of yesteryear, that made it enjoyable to play, and not frustrating. The main focus with this game is it’s story, and I will be heavily anticipating the conclusion yet to come.
I can’t really find the necessary words to describe the zaniness that is Jazzpunk. It’s a comedic adventure that is unlike anything that has come out this year. Let me tell you something, intentional comedy is pretty tough to pull off in a video game. It’s not an entertainment medium that favors comedy. However, Jazzpunk, during my brief time with the game, managed to make me laugh a ton. I never understood what I was doing in the game, or why I was doing it. I found myself exploring the environments and finding it’s every joke more often then the actual objective itself. I doubt I found every little secret in the game, but boy was it a fun game. I can’t say that enough. What a fun freaking game.
2. Smash Bros for Wii U
There haven’t been too many Smash Bros games, but they have all been some of the best game that Nintendo has put out. This time around, Smash Bros is on the Wii U and it provides the amount of fun you would expect. The game is obviously best played with a group of friends, but new for the series is the addition of an eight player brawl mode. It was one of the best parts about the game, yielding some insanely fun chaos. The additional new characters this time around, sans Mega Man, all feel great and bring some new stuff to the table. There’s also a new mode called Smash Tour, which is basically a new board game with some fights in between. In terms of content, there is a ton of it. Nintendo fans should be pleased with the package that Nintendo has delivered. The game is by far one of the best for the Wii U.
1. Far Cry 4
Far Cry 3 was a lot of fun, despite some of the gripes that people had with it. Far Cry 4? It’s pretty much the same thing, but with some much needed improvements. This time around we have a story that is more well-thought out and believable. We also get Pagan Min, who is, in my opinion, a much better villain than Vaas. He’s charismatic and brings his own brand of insanity to the table. The best part about Far Cry 4 is the emergent gameplay that is a by-product of the game’s open world. I cant’ begin to explain the amount of crazy and ridiculous situations that I got myself into as I roamed the fictional region of Kyrat. And don’t get me started on the animals. They are a vicious bunch. I didn’t like them one bit. There was a ton of fresh new side missions to take part in, as well as a rich amount of collectibles to go after. I haven’t completed the game yet, but I think it was easy to make my decision in calling this my best game of 2014. I’ve had a great time with the game, and I don’t think my opinion is going to change when I finish it up. Bravo Ubisoft. Bravo.