Best of 2014

When I started writing these Game of the Year lists a few years ago, I never thought I would approach a point where I would struggle to find at least 10 games that resonated with me over a course of twelve months. This year has been a blur, in the fact there were definitely some releases, but they didn't connect with me. Everything felt rushed, and I couldn't feel passionate in what I use to love. Maybe this is part of growing up, or maybe this year is just a stepping stone towards what the next-gen will truely be. Whatever the case may be, I'm ready to take on next year with open arms.

List items

  • Ask the 10-year old me what my dream driving game would be, and I would say a game where you could drive around the entire US with your friends. Sightseeing the gorgeous countryside with your friends in amazing cars, listening to some relaxing music, and race in the states with style. Now take that concept, give it to the developers of my childhood racing games, and it should be the game of my dreams. And while the game's many niggles and issues prevent it from reaching that point, The Crew is still an excellent game, if not a proof-of-concept of a future dream game.

  • If there was ever a franchise that was all about going back to the basics, it would certainly be this one. But The New Order takes the basics and splashes a new coat of paint on it. A singleplayer game that has the stealth mechanics, leveling system, and cinematics of a modern game, while maintaining the satisfying shooting, the crazy story and enemies that accompany it, and the fluid pacing of a classic first-person shooter game. It's hard to maintain a balance like that naturally, but Wolfenstein manages to keep the momentum with flying colors.

  • While this game was released last year, it was released this year for the PC. And it was worth the wait. While I've certainly played the eccentric Metal Gear games, this was my first dive into Platinum Games. And the combination of those two properties are like peanut butter and jelly. Except the peanut butter is the batshit-insane Kojima stories, characters and worlds of never-ending war. And the jelly is super-fast action, balls-to-the-wall action fighting with intense timing, button smashing, and adrenaline-pumping music that keeps you engaged and feeling like you are eating the most badass sandwich.

  • Despite not owning a Nintendo 3DS, or having any knowledge in the Etrian Odyssey games, that won't stop me from giving Atlus an excuse to milk a franchise that I endear. After begging my friend for his handheld, I got straight to work drawing stupid maps, constantly managing the party of a gazillion members, ruining the continuity of the canon of multiple stories, and enduring voice-over and art-style changes. And despite all that, I still enjoyed the charades and banter between the characters that I love, the super-catchy music, and the engaging dungeon battling that I've still come to love.

  • Yeah, I guess it wouldn't be a GOTY list from me without a second racing game on the list. But Bugbear has their latest, early-access game down to a T. Normally, I'd be against putting an early-access game on this list, as the game feels very barebones in some aspects. But the basic mechanics, gamemode, and handling system are already perfect. The driving feels rewarding yet fun, the destruction is intense, and the multiplayer with it's 24 car demo derbies and no-rules, balls-out circuit racing is an absolute blast. The advanced destruction and mechanical customization, mixed with the insanely simple, yet fresh arcade feel makes this 2014's 2015 GOTY for me.

  • When an old man asks you to spray canned cheese all over his beard, who are you to refuse? That's the kind of trivial questions you will be solving in Jazzpunk. The game's colorful, Pink Panther-esque art style mixed with the absurd cartoon antics of your espionage services, and the bizzare world around you make for the acid trip you always wanted when you were a Vietnam vet. Eating pigeons, following Hunter S. Thompson, and a whole lot more make this game a ride worth eating a brain-steeped sandwich for.

  • Bet you didn't see this coming, huh? Since I already went on about the music, characters and all that Persona love in the previous entry, let's go straight into the ring. If there's any benefit to Atlus taking the Teddie-train for a ride to cashland, it's that it's expanded my experience into different genres I'd never usually try. Compared to the previous game, the tutorial and arcade modes do a better job at teaching an Arc Systems-noob like myself the ropes and reacquainting myself with the mechanics. When going head-to-head with my fighting-game-veteran friend, my odds went from "a snowball's chance in hell" to "Hey, I broke your 17 game streak! I'm the MVP!"

  • The ol' Vita was collecting dust again, but I got the lemon Pledge out when Patrick wrote up his review on a Japanese game with the hardest name imaginable with a screaming monochrome bear on the front. Danganronpa could be best described as Ace Attorney ran by high school students on PCP listening to J-Pop renditions of American 90s sitcom theme music. You play the straight-man protagonist against about twelve-or-so psychologically distressed prodigies stuck in an assylum for forty hours with a self-destructing teddy bear. With great music, funny dialog, and a mystery in a video game that's actually worth solving using the power of music, this game is a must for your not-so-neglected handheld.

  • Another unexpected title for me. When I first heard about this game, I was told that it was Monster Hunters in a dystopian/apocolyptic future. I don't really care for Monster Hunters, so I was about to give this one a pass, but I was pleasantly surprised. There is plenty of action and arena fighting that you get in a similar game,but what has me caught on Freedom Wars is it's way it portrays the end-of-the-world scenario it resides in. While I don't feel the urge to grind through this game, it's always fun picking up where I left off for an hour and diving into it a bit further.

  • I was extremely reluctant to put this game on my list. Besides the horrendous PR blunders and the broken releases of it's parent company, Farcry 4 on the PC is a terrible port and a step down in comparison to it's predecessor. That being said, it is still a game that has me hooked with it's formulaic explore-and-seige gameplay, and the story and music of this iteration of the franchise is a lot more fluid and enjoyable. Ajay, while a more generic protagonist than whiny Jason Brody, is more relatable and consistent character. And going from a sun-drenched tropical island, to the frigid, oxygen-ridden elevations of the Himalayas is a welcome change in scenery.