GOTY 2014

List items

  • Bayonetta 2 is the hyperkinetic stripper witch game that doles out batshit insanity and extremely fun, extremely well-made character action combat in equal measure. It's probably the best character action game I've played since Devil May Cry 3, but unlike that one it's actually approachable by normal humans.

  • The nemesis system and its underlying components elevate Shadow of Mordor, which what would otherwise be a good but unspectacular open world action game, into something that you could actually say has never been fully done before in a video game. Helps that it's a mechanically solid, dumb sandbox that smartly keeps the main story stuff in the background (because that stuff isn't what makes the game). Very interested to see how these ideas will show up in games during the coming years.

  • If games were ranked by hour count, Age of Wonders III would likely be number 1 on the list this year. It's a fun, well-made tactical wargame of the kind I enjoy so immensely, and it helps that the developers have been aggressive in their post-game support, patching and updating the game in such a way as to make it even better than it already was. Also doesn't hurt that the music is really good.

  • Dark Souls II is not Dark Souls. I take issue with parts of DS 2's structure, its boss design and storytelling, but it's more mechanically interesting with the first game and I had a lot of fun running around like a maniac with dual greatswords, killing invaders in the bell tower and using pyromancy to once again be sorta OP.

  • Might and Magic X is the best game I could've realistically hoped for under Ubisoft's tenure. It's a clearly low budget, clearly experimental title not without problems, but it also does the seemingly impossible thing of nailing the essence of what made its forebears so great.

  • Dragon Age is a return to form for Bioware after 3 years of disappointment. It has a little too much "Single-Player MMO-itis" for me to be comfortable putting it super high on the list (Also: I haven't played it all the way through), but it's a hell of a lot better than Mass Effect 3 and I liked that game well enough.

  • The only reason Divinity isn't higher on this list is due to my computer exploding near the end of this summer and with it my save from 30 hours into this game. Should I ever get over that disappointment, chances are I'd probably consider this to be one of the best RPGs in years, period.

  • Hah! Thought you had seen the last of me being the only guy who liked that Thief game, didn't you? Well, no. It's on this list, after all. A pure stealth game that is about being sneaky, not teleporting like a maniac or shooting your way through situations after you get discovered. Not without some pretty obvious flaws, but hey, that seems to be a common theme this year.

  • Yo, I really, really like the Ace Attorney franchise and think that crossing it over with Professor Layton is a thing that works surprisingly great. It might not be as good as Dual Destinies, but I'm glad it made it over here nonetheless.

  • Wasteland 2 is nothing if not unapologetic about what it is, which is to say that it's an old-school CRPG made in the style of something that wouldn't be out of place among the luminaries of the late 90s. It's not as GOOD as those games, mind you, but it's a dead on simulacrum and for that it has my appreciation. Still, if there's one old-school inspired RPG of this year to get, it's Divinity.