Favourite Games of 2014

2014 has been another weird year for videogames for me, but it's also been one of my favourites. What follows is a list of things that may or may not have come out this year, but are all pretty good nonetheless.

Enjoy.

LAST MINUTE EDIT: Just played Gone Home for the first time and *dayum*.

List items

  • I find it difficult to describe just how much this game means to me. During a time where I was stressed out about my latest semester at uni and I was slipping into a bad mental space this game finally came out.

    I'm a huge fan of the original Grimrock game, it's naturalistic approach to world interaction, excellent atmosphere, great low-level story that didn't distract from the task at hand, and compelling puzzles blew me away when it came out in 2012.

    I can't say I wasn't a little worried when I heard that LOG2 was doing the Diablo -> Diablo 2 thing of sacrificing depth of level design for breadth. My fears were completely unfounded, however. Great enough depth is preserved in the change of dimensions in this entry in the series while also providing a beautiful overland world to explore and admire.

    The story maintains its non-distracting presence that provides just enough explanation for the goings on around you without taking too much time from the superbly designed puzzles, encounters, and areas.

    This is the real deal, people. It's one for the history books. Get on it if you haven't.

    Oh, and the game's main menu music is literally the sound of adventure.

  • (Maybe some spoilers in this? idk)

    I was pleasantly surprised when I decided to do a quick search on the app store on my ipad to see if this had finally been ported over from the 3DS and found that yes, they totally did.

    My elation at not having to buy a 3DS for literally one game might be influencing my glowing thoughts on this game, but I had an *excellent* time with this title. The lack of Gumshoe was a slight disappointment, but Bobby Fulbright was a great replacement.

    Playing this game I wasn't sure if it was just easier than the previous games, less intentionally obscure, or if I was just better at it. The lower difficulty (perceived or real), didn't detract from the overall experience though.

    Like previous games in the series, DD manages to successfully mix a dark subject matter with it's whimsical anime-ness without being too grating on anyone isn't really into that sort of thing. The addition of fully voiced anime cutscenes to the game is a major improvement, as is the wonderful "red laser" sections that represent a character's thought process to the final breakthrough of the case.

    Literally cried playing this one, multiple times.

  • I seem to be fairly on my own with this game. Quite a few people weren't as immediately smitten with this game as me, but dammit I love it.

    The combat system is great, any problems with getting stuck in a rut with your function combinations are solved both by giving you background info on various people for using different functions in different slots, as well as locking off your highest memory function for the next few checkpoints if you run out of health.

    The game's final encounter is absolute perfection in the way it crystallises all that experimentation and strategy of memory management into one great, dramatic puzzle of a fight.

    The story is immeasurably better than Bastions' to me. I love the setting more, I love how personal it is to Red, I love the ending, I love how stuff plays into Recursion (New Game +).

    The music is where most people do agree with me though. Darren Korb's work is masterful.

    Another one that made me cry. (That seems to be a running theme this year).

  • So I literally *just* played this tonight and fucking wow. This year is definitely the year of the game that makes me cry because *fuck*, man.

    For those of you that don't know (i.e. basically all of you), I'm gender-fluid and I don't really know how to describe my sexuality (Pansexual? Let's go with that.). That's why if you look at my twitter profile you'll see my name is Nic/ole.

    So you can understand why this game hit me *hard*. I never had to suffer the rejection from my parents or anything, my friends and family have been nothing but supportive since the time they knew, but that constant lingering fear that Sam has until her parents finally find out? That was me for such a long time.

    I'm going to stop here because it's a fucking GOTY list and you don't want to hear this shit, but this game is so, so good.

  • Gods Will Be Watching is the game on this list that I'm most conflicted on. I haven't gotten anywhere near finishing it (I'm up to the 3rd scenario) and as I've said a few time, I don't really *want* to finish it.

    This game is unfairly difficult at points. Some puzzles are based entirely on chance. It makes me feel like I am complete garbage, like I'm a terrible human being.

    And... I like all that. I shouldn't, though. I should hate it, but for some reason all of the efforts it makes to actively make me dislike playing it just make me love it more and more.

    Its soundtrack is wonderful too.

    (Another tear-inducing game).

  • I was initially a little worried about this game when I read that speed running was something that was going to be emphasised and encouraged in the game. Thankfully, the way that manifests in-game impacts the experience fairly minimally.

    A wonderful remake of great game with a bunch of extra functionality like co-op, level seeds, better item combination stuff, and being able to save and resume a run. The soundtrack's pretty good too.

  • Great soundtrack, awesome controls. Just a really solid arcade-y game. Not much to say, it's just really good.

  • Some of the most fun I've had on a couch with another person. Spine-swords are cool.

  • A deeply emotional and affecting story with some pretty damn smart puzzles in a really nice looking environment. I enjoyed this one quite a bit. I should really get around to 100%-ing it.

    I won't spoil what's going on for you, but *man*.

  • Some really interesting puzzles and an awesome soundtrack in a beautiful abstract world. The music synthesizer you unlock by finishing puzzles is rad, even if I didn't get too deep into messing with it.

    I had an excellent time exploring this weird thing.

  • While I have some trepidation putting this here, (I haven't played since they limited the amount of bodybags you can have), I still spent a pretty decent amount of time with this game. And while I mostly prefer to play this game solo, I did enjoy what little I played of it with a friend of mine.

    That is where it falls down for me, though. I almost exclusively prefer to play games that aren't couch multiplayer deals like some of the games listed here solo.

  • I know it's fairly blase to like PA these days, for both the decline in content and kinda shitty opinions, but I've always enjoyed the PAA games quite a bit. I was devastated when I heard we'd never get to see Hothead's versions of 3 and 4 when that went down, and while I don't think Zeboyd made as good a playing game as Hothead did, but this game does a great job of closing out the series' excellent story.

    I only just finished it after these awards lists last year, so I thought I'd give it a mention here. The ending is kinda beautiful.

  • As someone who's never really played a Metroidvania-type game, this was a really nice way to get into that. The furries didn't bother me, but the voice acting was *rough*.

    Had a great time jumping around exploring and killing monsters.

  • Another great couch multiplayer game along the lines of Nidhogg. The extra players is nice, but I still think I prefer Nidhogg's weirdness. Great soundtrack as well.

  • I'm generally not a big fan of the recent surge of survival games, and while I can't say I *really* like this game, the time that I did spend with it I enjoyed, but I can't really explain all that well why.

    Something about the way the world and robots look reminds of something that I just can't put my finger on. It could be Snowfight 3D thinking back on it, but I'm still not too sure.

    This game does have some problems, though. By the time robots with steeds started showing up I knew I wasn't ever going to finish this thing, but it was some fun stealth while it lasted.