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GOTY 2014

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  • I liked Dragon Age 2, even if I was disappointed by it. I was also kinda neutral about the Mass Effect 3 ending, I thought it was bad, but I wasn't really all that upset about it. Yet whatever reason I was still ready to write off Bioware as a lost cause. Maybe I was just sick of saying "it should have been better."

    But man am I glad I turned around on Dragon Age: Inquisition. Sure, the combat isn't perfect, but that's never been the primary draw of RPGs for me. Exploring the world, interacting with the characters, making choices in my own personal fantasy epic and of course, the loot. Those are the things I'm really looking for in a fantasy RPG. Inquisition delivers on all fronts.

    I've spent over 60 hours in that world so far, and I'm expecting to spend a lot more time there. I haven't finished it, but only because I'm not done with it yet. I'm glad that I can call myself a Bioware fan with such assurance again.

    Now, let's so what they can do with a new Mass Effect.

  • South Park is so hit and miss for me. Sometimes it's the funniest thing on TV, sometimes it's nearly unwatchable. Fortunately The Stick of Truth fell on the good side of the spectrum, in fact, it's probably some of the best material Matt Stone and Trey Parker have ever done.

    Of course on top of being hilarious, The Stick of Truth is also a shockingly fun game, and a pretty decent little RPG. The combat is quick, funny and satisfying, the enemies are varied, and the levels are all incredibly unique, at least in terms of visual design.

    Visually it might be the best looking game of the year. It's the first time a South Park game has just looked like South Park, it's nearly indistinguishable from an episode of the show. That might not sound like much to everyone, but that crude animation style has taken the show pretty far. The style is able to show a lot with very little detail, and a game that so perfectly emulates that look is pretty impressive in my eyes.

  • Remember what I said about combat not being what I'm in an RPG for? Don't take that to mean that I don't love great RPG combat design when I come across it. I had a lot of fun with Divinity's challenging turn based combat. Combining elements to burn, shock, freeze, poison and blow up enemies never got old. Divinity was easily my game of the summer.

    We've been seeing a really cool resurgence of classic PC style RPGs. Divinity was the first really big release that's a part of that trent, and so far it's been a great sign of what's to come. I loved how open the game was. It didn't hold your hand with quest markers and map icons, you had to read the journal and figure it out yourself. The story wasn't spectacular, but I found myself being pulled into it anyway. Sure the companions could have been more interesting, and the ambient voice acting a little less repetitive. (Not in the mood for cheese?)

    I will admit that I haven't actually finished the game, yet. It's not because I got bored, it was a result of having to move away from my computer for about a month. By the time I got back to it, I felt kind of lost. I hope to force myself to get back into it come next year.

  • I've only owned this game for a week, but I've already had more fun with it than anything else on this list. I brought it home with me to play with the family, and it's been an absolute blast. It's not very often I find a game I can play with my entire family that everyone loves.

    I bought the pack for primarily for Fibbage, but Drawful turned out to be the real crowd pleaser. Not that Fibbage isn't fantastic in it's own right. But there's a really simple, endless joy in laughing at how terrible your drawing skills are.

    Of course You Don't Know Jack is also as great as it's ever been, although I'm pretty sure I like it a lot more than everyone else in my family.

    Word Spud and Lie Swatter aren't all that fun, but the other 3 game in the pack are so great that I'm hardly going to hold that against it.

  • Yeah maybe it's a bit of a cheat to throw this on here, but FTL: Advanced Edition came out this year and it's what really got me into the game. It's not that the game was bad before, I just hadn't really got into it. The release of FTL: AE convinced me to finally give it the chance it deserved.

    I think I spent most of my time with FLT while I was waiting for video clips to render. It's a great game to mess around with for a little bit at a time. It's easy to jump into whenever you want, and you can leave it pretty much whenever.

    Oh, and there's also the part where it's really, really fun.

  • Bastion was one of my favourite games of the last console generation. It was the first time I played an indie game that was so clearly better than the big AAA games coming out at the same time.

    So with that in mind, it's probably not surprising that I was REALLY excited for whatever Supergiant Games decided to make next. Transistor wasn't really as great as I was hoping it would be. It didn't reach the same heights that Bastion did, but that didn't stop it from being a great game.

    Supergiant has a penchant for making beautiful games. The art the music, the atmosphere and the story all really come together to make something that would be pretty remarkable, even without the really solid gameplay they create to back it up. The thing that I think held it back is that the story didn't quite grab me the way certain moments of Bastion did.

  • This game kinda came out of nowhere. If you'd told me that a Lord of the Rings game that kinda looks like Assassin's Creed would be one of my favourite games of the year, well I'd probably be surprised. The main thing that kept this game from being higher is that it's kind of a rehash in a lot of way. In fact, it's a rehash in almost every way except a really major one.

    I'm talking about the Nemesis system. The whole concept of Orc captain who'll remember you. Of this procedural system that would inspire personal stories of revenge, and rivalries. It all sounded too good to be true. I figured it'd just be a lot of scripted little scenes, maybe with randomized names to make it feel unique. Well, I was pretty wrong. It works, and it works as advertised. I really found myself hating some of those stupid Orcs, and when I was finally able to beat them, I felt pretty good about it.

    It's a shame that the actual story content is so weak. The missions are the same boing Assassin's Creed type mission design I've long gotten sick of. However, it's says something that this dynamic system it more interesting than scripted gameplay. I hope we'll see more of the Nemesis system in games going forward.

  • Oh look! Another classic PC style RPG!

    I really found myself getting sucked into the world of Wasteland 2 in a way that not a lot of games do. The world and characters were really interesting to explore. It all felt very fleshed out. Admittedly I haven't finished it (I know, but in my defence, these types of games are really long) It's as close as we'll ever get to another game like Fallout 1 and 2.

    It'd be a whole hell of a lot higher if the combat was a little bit better. It's fun, but last time I played it the guns just jammed way too much. I mean, I get why the mechanic is there, but man does it get frustrating. It also wasn't quite as strategic as I might have hoped.

  • I get that not everyone loves what Telltale does. But dammit, I can't get enough of it. The writing is great, and the kinds of choices you're forced to make can be pretty tough. I really liked that The Wolf Among Us was different than The Walking Dead. Sure, it was pretty dark, but it wasn't nearly as bleak and horrible and The Walking Dead was.

    It may not have hit me as hard as The Walking Dead did, but I enjoyed the world and characters of The Wolf Among Us a lot more. Telltale just needs to figure out how to release episodes faster.

  • Hey, it's another indie game with turn based combat.

    There's a lot of love about The Banner Saga. Primarily it's art style which is absolutely amazing. I also really enjoy the world its set in. A world of vikings and giants where the sun never sets. It's like something out of a cool fantasy novel.

    The combat is fun, if not great. What I really ended up loving was the Oregon Trail type mechanic for when your army was traveling. Having to keep supplies and moral up while you traveling felt pretty unique, and it covered a part of warfare that I feel a lot of games ignore. I was pretty excited about the announcement of The Banner Saga 2.