BisonHero's Top Ten Games of 2014

Well, what a year it has been. I didn't play everything I wanted to, but not for lack of trying. I'll probably write up a blog at some point with a few other games I feel are worth mentioning, but here are the ten games that left the biggest impression on me from 2014.

List items

  • This might be the best realized Lord of the Rings-esque fantasy game I've ever played, seen through the lens of a story about a caravan of refugees. I thought the story was incredibly well told, both through its world building and its character development, and even the little details like how much lore there is in the map screen. The tactical combat has some main class archetypes, though they have varying abilities, and I found it fun to construct a team. Ultimately the combat and the "morale" mechanic could use some work for the next game, but this game just impressed me immensely overall.

  • I haven't played a platformer this good in years. It nails what you remember being good about the structure of NES and SNES platformers, without any of the jankiness or poor game design of the era. The levels are neat, the bosses are inventive, and the music is fantastic.

  • You know, this game is the best Paper Mario game that has been made since Thousand Year Door. That alone would probably secure this game a solid spot on this list. But add in that it nails the South Park aesthetic and humour, and has such an involved story that it may as well be South Park: The Movie 2? Sold.

  • Mario Kart 8 is a pretty big improvement on Mario Kart Wii. I'm guessing a lot of the design changes aren't that different from Mario Kart 7 for the 3DS, but I skipped that one. Still, I'm glad that they've taken away the bike's ability to wheelie, and all the halfpipes that were on the Mario Kart Wii tracks. What you're left with is a great return to form for Mario Kart, with a solid amount of (largely cosmetic) customization.

  • Got to this one pretty late in the year, but it tells a good story. While not as gut wrenching as The Walking Dead (since being a prequel, they're limited in which good characters they can kill off at a moment's notice), but it tells a different kind of story entirely, so it's not fair to expect it to hit you in the same way. I like the detective story/police procedural that it told, and I think Episode 3 was a high point in terms of crazy shit happening. I also really appreciate the synth soundtrack.

  • I begrudgingly have to admit that the sheer amount of time I've logged in this game this year pretty much required that it make this list. It saddens me that the game doesn't have many truly weird cards that you could build a weird combo deck out of (especially when you can only include 2 copies of a given card), but the game still has crazy good production values, and the matches move briskly enough that you can play it when you have a short amount of time available.

  • This game gets this spot pretty much on the shoulders of its battle system and its music. Can't say I cared for the bland story and the utterly predictable character archetypes, but boy is it fun to mess around with all the classes and listen to that sweet battle music.

  • I liked Transistor, and I also didn't like Transistor. I liked that you could customize a set of abilities for Red that felt like your own, and then swap stories later with friends about what they used. I didn't like that it takes until about 75% of the way through the game until you have enough memory to equip a "fun" amount of abilities. I liked the idea of Cloudbank and the various celebrity figures you learn about, but the realities of the actual story were kinda boring, and I feel like the game doesn't tell you enough about Red or Transistor guy to care about them. I'm conflicted about the game, but I liked playing it.

  • This is just the craziest mix of roguelike/dungeon crawling, tower defense, and 4X (Civilization, etc.). That it gets most of it right on the first try is completely nuts. My only complaint is that the game gets really cheeky and 4th-wall-breaking when you read the item descriptions, when I wish it took its setting more seriously.

  • I really enjoyed my time with Wayward Souls. I think it's one of the best action games on mobile platforms. The different characters are all pretty interesting, and I really got into the stiff difficulty it throws at you. Also really dug the music.