Non-GOTYs 2014

As every year, there are a few games that could have made it to my list or will make it to other people's and I want to explain why they are missing. So here:

List items

  • So I'm not a huge fan of Bayonetta. Not that there's something specifically wrong about it. It's visually messy and mechanically overdone. And structurally a bit rigid, if you must know. It's just that nothing about it seems to break past those annoyances to get me involved with it. Nonsense and ludicrousness may just not play for me as they do for others, I don't know.

  • I really want to like what Alien Isolation is doing, I just can't get past the fact that it doesn't pull it off. It looks great, but sticks to memes from Alien as opposed of finding its own path. It tries all the right things about building tension, but it just comes across as slow and annoying. I guess the issues are epitomized for me in one shameful example: for some reason, Isolation feels compelled to draw bloody graffiti on walls just because it's a survival horror game and that's what you do.

  • I wish I'd been able to get into this game more than I did. It felt like a sequel to Fallout more than Fallout 3 did, after all. I just don't know if I think this style of RPG can hold my attention through a full length game anymore. Wasteland 2, it's not you, it's me.

  • Here's an example of getting every single decision wrong in a game. GW3 is so concerned about expanding its core that it doesn't bother to understand or stick to what makes the franchise good. Extraneous elements get in the way of the arcade purity of Retro Evolved and 2 way past the breaking point and very little about it does anything but detract from the originals.

  • I probably played Dark Souls 2 more than Dark Souls. There's just something about the framework of the game that feels played out now. We don't have as many games like this one as we do, say, shooters or platformers, but there is still something here that suggests that unless Bloodborne really mixes it up I may be done for a while.

  • So due to the GB database, I can't really put P.T. in as a GOTY this year, but know that it belongs there. Kojima and Del Toro nail the surreal fluidness of reality that makes the franchise so damn effective, and PT gave me more enjoyment as a demo than many full horror games this year (looking at you, Alien).

  • Local co-op made a big comeback this year, and that's cool. I even enjoyed it when I had the chance, but I get the feeling that it's become a crutch for indies strapped for assets and more of a performance for Youtubers than an exercise in design. I'm not discounting every Gang Beasts that comes out... but it'll take more than making a coop game to get my thumbs up from now on.

  • I wonder how much of the praise for this one is a result of extremely diminished expectations. TNO is a competent shooter that takes its Inglorious Basterds homages seriously enough to make them play, but it's not a revolution by any means.

  • Dude, it's WoW. I mean, even if I had liked the game nearly as much as everyone else a decade ago, the ongoing success of this thing is just about as infuriating as whatever bad trend in gaming you happen to dislike.

  • Mordor has one great mechanic that belongs in a different game. Otherwise, it's a relatively uninspired reskin of a Batman game. I think my biggest issue with it is how much flak the actually pretty solid Arkham Origins got for being a Batman game versus the unreasonable amount of praise for Mordor this year. Nemesis would have worked better with Batman villains rather than orcs. Mordor's traversal is hampered by being set outside the verticality of a city. The game's combat is unbalanced by lifting Batman's wholesale and the story is an absolute mess. But detract all of that from the notion of a non-Rocksteady Batman game and give people the hook of the great Nemesis metagame and all is forgiven. Shadows of Mordor isn't terrible, but it's a good idea salvaging a game from a lot of its own weird decisions, not a GOTY.