Game of The Year 2014 Users Choice

List items

  • Maybe one of my favorite games ever, not just this year, but I'm glad that it finally came out on steam so I can play the hell out of it once more, and so that it qualifies for this list. I still haven't finished it, but I doubt I will for a while still, and what I have played (up to chapter 12/18), I adore to bits. Other strategy games come close to scratching the same itch, but all of them are lacking one of the pieces that makes Valkyria Chronicles come together so well for me. From the charming character designs and personalities to the super interesting and fun gameplay systems, Valkyria Chronicles is one of those special games you won't see many imitators of, despite how good it is. I think my favorite thing about it is how it figured out the formula XCOM popularized in 2012 back in 2008, and did it even better. Not only do you have levels and gear for all of your squadmates, who are of different classes that work well together, when you actually lose one in combat, you aren't reset to 0 and left to train another up to the level of the one you lost. Your Scouts will always be Scout Elites if you've leveled them that high, but each individual character has their own stats and potentials that will differentiate them and match their personalities, making you enjoy using them. Speaking of personalities, the more you use your squadmates, the more you learn about their backstories, which give you a little more insight into some of their motivations and hobbies. It's little touches like this on top of the actual combat missions that make you love using your squadmates over and over, like an actual squad, you know they're dependable, and have skills and personalities that mesh with everyone else, they're not just going to randomly forget their grenades...

  • My most played game this year, edged out only by the surprise release of VC for my game of the year. Dark Souls II takes the familiar Souls formula and makes it more accessible, which made me essentially go through the game 3 times without ever touching NG+ thanks to the ease of co-op with the #bopsquad. Many people complained about the ease of Dark Souls II the same way people who played Demon's Souls complained about Dark Souls, your first will always be the "hardest" and nothing is that hard once you know what to expect, the unknown is your only enemy in these games, so more unknown territory is definitely worth looking forward to with Bloodborne next year.

  • I was skeptical about this game at first. I already own the original and expansion, and played the hell out of them both, for 93 hours according to steam, so why would I need to spend another $15 to play essentially that same game plus some new things? Well, there's not a good answer for that. The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth is essentially just an upgraded version of the original. No longer is it a flash game, it's got full controller support, and it has all new pixel graphics that look so much better. New bosses, rooms, effects, etc. but none of it significant enough to say "THIS is why you need this game", and yet, even knowing that, here I am booting it up regularly to play, just like the original, it's got tons of unlocks and things to get it's hooks into you deep and keep you coming back potentially forever.

  • An unexpected entry on my list, I know next to nothing about anything LotR/whatever, but the hype machine for this game was far too strong, and I ended up buying into the hype hard. It is easy to dismiss it, since it pulls from a lot of other games, and the story is hot garbage, especially the ending. But for me, none of that matters, because it plays well, and despite the butt ugly setting of Mordor, it manages to build a world with distinct landmarks that's fun to get around, and has a lot going on. The most fun you'll have with this game is just messing with the systems at play, something I feel I could come back to for a while.

  • Despite it's troubled development history, Revengeance came out incredible from start to finish, it's super over the top and stupid in the absolute best ways, and the action is fast, tight, and easy to control. Zandatsu and blade mode are super fun to use in a fast action game like this, and the boss gimmicks that use them are cool as hell. Something I really enjoyed was how counter and timing based the combat was. So many of these games feel mashy because you barely have to pay attention and can just press square forever to make dudes die, but here, you're actively dodging and looking for windows to counter perfectly and cut a dude into a billion pieces so you can recharge your meter and do it again.

  • Finally coming out on steam is a theme this year I guess, I think this is the third game on my list that applies to, and also it's the second Metal Gear game it applies to. Ground Zeroes is gorgeous, and though it's super short in the main mission, there is a lot of added value in the side ops and collectibles and things scattered around the base. For $14, there is a lot to love about Ground Zeroes, and there's a lot to be hyped about for The Phantom Pain when it releases next year.

  • A late entry I got as a christmas gift from a friend, Momodora III is a pretty little pixel platformer with just the right amount of challenge and simplicity mixed together with beautiful music layered over the top of it to make just an all around pleasant experience. It's rather linear, but you can return to previous areas to grind for money to buy new items, which change the way you play enough to make different combinations interesting. There are two characters, Momo and Dora, which are the Hard and Easy difficulty settings respectively, but play the same. Momo just starts with less health and Dora has an item from the start that increases her invincibility frames on taking damage and makes her take less damage from hits overall. Momodora III is a short but sweet little adventure I would recommend to anyone, and the first two games in the series can be found for free online.

  • I always tell myself I'll get good at Street Fighter, this time it will be different, I'll try really hard and put in the time and actually get somewhere. The latest in a long line of being super wrong and not doing any of that is Ultra Street Fighter IV. While I mainly play Ibuki, so not much in the Ultra update actually mattered to me personally, having steamworks instead of games for windows live was a huge improvement in my opinion, though I know others have had issues with the netcode. I can't wait to repeat this cycle again with Street Fighter V.

  • Transistor is a game of managed expectations. After playing and loving Bastion, it was difficult to come into this without comparing it to that, and it took a lot to wrap my mind around the fact that I wasn't supposed to try to play it like that. Once I started using the Turn() system more/exclusively for encounters, and got farther along into the story, unlocking more abilities and upgrades, Transistor really really clicked with me and then served me up with one of the most bittersweet endings to a game in recent memory. One that was so enjoyable, i was happy leaving it at that and not just going through again in recursion mode.

  • I hate Hearthstone and everyone who has ever spent a single cent of money on it.