GOTY 2014 - What made it, what didn’t make it & random musings.

An Introduction

Rejoice! It’s this time of the year again.

Time to spend time with our families and loved ones, eat an unhealthy amount of cookies and hope that this time around we’ll actually get presents that we won’t have to later sell on Ebay (stealthyly of course, we don’t want to hurt anyone‘s feelings and all that).

So you guessed what time I meant by now? That’s right: It’s Christmas season again and so let’s talk a bit about…wait what do you mean we are a bit early for that and I can’t just assume that you are even celebrating Christmas in the first place? I mean come on, who wouldn’t celebrate Christmas? Oh I see, different religions and such - makes sense.

Well, okay then. I guess let’s not talk about Christmas, religion or why we hate that not everyone believes in the same things we do and instead let’s all despise and fight each other over things that really matter and make a difference:

Let’s all compile lists with our favorite games of the year and hate each other for including/excluding that one game that we really love/hate, since that’s just how we roll. (Yeah, I just used that phrase.)

Anyone wanna go first? No? Okay, then I’ll start.

Another Introduction (Can’t have too many of those)

With the intro out of the way (did anyone even read it and is still around?) I want to say that I felt a simple list just wouldn’t cut it for me this year and since I’m in a really good mood for writing some undoubtedly dumb stuff here we are.

*drumsticks*

It’s a GOTY blog in list form, because why not? One which includes not only my top 10 games of 2014, but also the games that didn’t quite make it and some random musings. See? Just like the title promised.

Everything‘s even blocked up in some handy categories, so highlights are quick to find and no one has to read anything they don’t want to. (Read it anyway, damn it!)

Games that might have made the list had I played them

  • Alien Isolation - I love the Alien franchise, and from what I've seen of the game it looks decent enough. First Alien game since Alien trilogy to pique me interest.
  • The Evil Within - Even though Resident Evil 4 isn't my favourite (it's 2), this still looks like a better successor than any of the actual RE games.
  • Far Cry 4 - Really liked 3 so the reasoning stands that I'll also like 4. Also spirit tiger!
  • This War of Mine - The QL was great and grim. I simply haven't bought this one yet, since I don't want to get new games on Steam before the holiday sale.
  • Dreamfall Chapters: Book One: Reborn - Shitbot. 'nough said.
  • Legend of Grimrock 2 - The first one was great, so yeah, this also looks pretty damn good.
  • D4 - Don't own an Xbone yet, so had no chance to play this, but come on, it's obvious that this is a genius game.
  • Titanfall - Since it's pretty similar to a game that made my top 10, this might have taken it's place had I played it. I even like the concept of the Titans and don't mind the missing single player campaign at all.
  • Wolfenstein: The New Order - This just simply looked fun and stupid in a way I can get behind.
  • Bayonetta 2 - I really liked the first one, but I don't own a Wii U, so I haven't had a chance to play this yet. From the looks of it, it seems to up the crazy even more, which is great.
  • Shovel Knight - Haven't played it, since for whatever reason it still hasn't shown up on the European E-Shop. I know I'd enjoy it though, since it's just a modern version of Duck Tales, which was great back in the day. (The remake not so much.)
  • Transistor - Just didn't find any time to give this one a shot yet, but I really liked Bastion and what I've seen of this game so far, so I'll probably enjoy it quiet a bit once I finally get to it.

Games that probably wouldn’t have made the list, even had I played them, but that I still want to at least comment on

  • Sunset Overdrive - From everything I've seen the movement just seems way too slow, even in later stages of the game, for this to make the list. I also don't particularly like the humour.
  • inFamous: Second Son - The second game was already not as great as the first one, and this seems mediocre at best.
  • Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 - I liked the first one, but it was seriously flawed. This doesn't seem any better honestly, so I'll play it someday, but am not expecting much.
  • Thief - Honestly I want to play it, because the original was great, but from all I've seen so far I'm really afraid I'll not like it at all.

Games I chose to ignore/skip (this year)

  • F1 2014 - All I can say is: I'll wait for the current gen versions.
  • Madden 2015 - Not enough changes. Not surprising of course, but still. No deal.
  • The Elder Scrolls: Online - I wanted to play this pre release, but after waiting and watching my interest just faded away. Might try it someday, if I'm really bored.
  • Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel - The first one was amazing, and I played 100+ hours with some friends, but the second one already felt really stale and this seems just plain unnecessary.

Games that will show up on lots of other lists, but I think just suck (feel free to hate me and this category)

  • Brothers - Oh wait, that was last year. Still rings true, though. Now with the obvious joke out of the way let’s get into the thick of it.
  • Destiny - I actually played a lot Destiny, but pretty much didn't like any of it. The shooting is fun, but that's all the good I can say about this. It's just a better looking, grindier and more boring version of Borderlands (which also sucks by now - 1 was amazing, though.). Also the DLC stuff and pricing is outrageously bad.
  • Final Fantasy XIII: Lightning Returns - In theory this could have been a great end for the series, but oh man, the story sucks so bad in my opinion, I could barely stand it. The battle system also didn't really click for me, so yeah, not a good game.

Games that didn’t make the list because of what most people might call „technicalities“ (and probably justifiably so)

  • The Wolf Among Us - Didn't come out this year in it's entirety. I liked it more than TWD Season 2, though, since the characters are done pretty well. Bigby is a pretty well done anti-hero. (Honestly he's just Wolverine 2.0).
  • The Walking Dead – Season 2 - Same deal. Also not that big of a fan of Clem as the protagonist.
  • Kentucky Route Zero - See Above. Aside from that a very unique experience, even for an indie adventure game. The setting and story are what make this game special and the wait for the last two acts excruciating.
  • Broken Age - Again. I really loved the first half, because of the typical Tim Schaefer humour and the rather inventive setting.
  • The Fall - And once more. An adventure game with a rather unique protagonist. Watching the an A.I. discover self interests is fun and the cliffhanger at the end really makes you hope they'll get to make an episode 2.
  • P.T. - It's a demo, but oh man, this is still a great experience. It's just that, though. An experience and not really much of a game. Also Dave Lang is a pussy, who'd a thought?
  • FTL Advanced Edition - Addon to an amazing game, that I by now have about 80 hours in. Still fun every time and that stupid enemy flagship remains a threat too.
  • Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls - Same deal as above. The improved loot system is amazing by the way.
  • Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes - Honestly this isn't much more than a demo, but it's fun while it lasts and justifies the hopes everyone has in MGS V. Also I liked the harsh story approach in this, sure it's over the top and overtly cruel, but that's the point. No reason to be okay with similar stuff in movies, but not in games. (The argument about the player being in control is redundant if you ask me.)

Games that shouldn't show up on any list, because they were on pretty much every list only LAST YEAR (presented without comment)

  • The Last Of Us: Remastered
  • GTA V

Games that didn’t come out this year, but that I played in 2014 and I think deserve a mention

  • Virtues Last Reward - Already loved 999, but this is even better if you ask me. I oh so hope that we will get a conclusion to the story someday.
  • Persona 4 Arena - More P4 is always great in my book, and I actually really like the fast paced battles. Haven't played the sequel yet.
  • Football Manager 2014 - It's been years since I last played any kind of real management sim, but I saw this on sale shortly before the World Cup started, bought it and ended up liking it quiet a bit. It was the ideal thing to play during less interesting World Cup games and I somehow ended up with 150+ hours of play time before I burned out.
  • MGS 1-3 - I bought the Legacy Collection and played through the first three games in a row over the course of a month or so. (Before Metal Gear Scanlon started by the way.) This are insanely good games, that can also be insanely annoying. My personal ranking: MGS 3>1>2. (Pre cyborg Raiden sucks.)

Games that came oh so close

  • Tales of Xillia 2 - Already really loved the first one, so I was happy the story was to be continued, even though I again didn't like the conclusion all that much. The fighting system is a bit better, but oh god, why so much recycling?
  • Civilication: Beyond Earth - Another game with too much recycling. It's cool, but Alpha Centauri this is not.
  • Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments - The QL convinced me to give this one a shot and it's actually a really great game right to the end. As a Sherlock Holmes fan this game was a real treat.
  • Valiant Hearts - I liked the setting, the story and the artstyle is just gorgeous, but the gameplay could have been better and more varied.
  • Tesla Effect - Tex Murphy rules. Nothing more to add.
  • Super Time Force - Mix a crazy story setup, with crazy characters and time travel mechanics, that are actually relevant to gameplay and you end up with this game. A very fun romp all around, but a bit too short to really matter.
  • Watch Dogs - Yes, I am serious. This game just has such a bad reputation, because it was hyped to be the best thing ever, which it wasn't. It's still a fun, good looking open world game and the story is also okay, even if nonsensical and divide of any kind of logic for most of the time.
  • The Jackbox Party Pack - You Don't Know Jack, Fibbage and Drawful are all amazing and a lot of fun to play at parties. The only thing that's keeping this out of my top 10 is that there aren't enough questions to keep this fresh for long enough.

And now finally the main event:

Top 10

Spoilers! It’s been a very RPG heavy year, with no less than 6 RPGs being featured in my Top 10 (If you are now going „Wow, that’s actually more than half of the list.“, you really earned that grade school degree. Good for you!), 5 of them battling it out for the top spot and 3 of them being games I have 100+ hours on in a single game file. RPG „heavy“ indeed.

(Read my more in depth Divinity review here.)

List items

  • Okay, this game truly came as a surprise to me. I'd heard of the Divinity series, but never played any of the games and wasn't even aware this was coming out. Then I saw the first minutes of this on UPF and I knew immediately I had to get it. Oh boy was that a good decision, because this game is just amazing. Amazing enough to score first place here!

    Let's start this off with the game's world and combat system.

    The world is huge (even though it doesn't seem like it at the start) and gorgeous and there's a lot of hidden stuff everywhere. The ability to mark and write stuff on the map should be in absolutely every game ever (from the start and not being added in by fan mods).

    Enemies don't auto-level along with you, so there is a, let's call it "suggested" route through the game, but you really don't have to follow it, if you feel up to the challenges of some very tough enemies that is.

    At the outset the game can be pretty harsh, but as soon as you recognize some of the tricks and synergies in the pretty much perfect combat system you feel like you can do anything (and kill everything). Nothing like casting a rain spell on fire demons to weaken them and then hit them with chain lightning to stun them or casting a fireball on a poison cloud and watch everything explode.

    So the combat is brilliant and the world is amazing. Now what about quest design, characters and story?

    Well, the quests are another thing that's great about the game, since there's just a lot do, with some cool, if ultimately meaningless, decision making involved. The general writing and dialogue in quests is outstanding and full of quirky humour. There's also quiet a lot of variety here, with quests ranging from solving a murder mystery, searching for a weresheep to playing a town full of orcs and mages, so the start killing each other.

    The NPCs, through the bank, are pretty great also. As an example: There are two talking wishing well brothers, named Walter and Wiliam Mc Wishing Well, who got tricked into fulfilling the wrong person's wishes. What more do you need to know?

    Oh and have I already mentioned that the game's sneaking system would even make Solid Snake proud? Here we have characters tiptoeing around hidden in barrels or bushes. It's ridiculous and fun.

    Of course there are some flaws also. The story isn't great (even though there's some potential there and it's enjoyable enough overall) and at times seems to build on some of the lore established in previous Divinity games.

    Another annoying thing is that sadly there are only two named NPCs who can become companions, seriously limiting your class choices for the two main characters if you want to plan ahead, but at least their respective backgrounds are interesting.

    Ultimately all that's really minor nitpickings in a game that shines in every other aspect.

    So this is the best game of the year by far and maybe even the best game in the last 5 or so years. Go and play it, if you haven't! Right now!

  • The first game is among my top games of the last generation and the second one was okay (I guess?), but who cares about DA2 really, because Inquisition pretty much just nails it.

    An amazingly crafted and ridiculously huge world for you to explore, an absolute ton of quests and collectibles, a combat system that's good for people who like action and also for more tactic oriented folks (believe me, you need the tactical few on Nightmare mode) and, like always in Bioware games, some truly great characters (Dorian is my favourite. That moustache alone is really selling him). The overall story is also pretty good.

    Just short of first place, really.

  • I loved the first game, which is evident if you look at my GOTY list from 2011 (top spot!), and this is a really good sequel. There are some nice improvements to most of the mechanics and the added enemies in NG+ runs are fun, but the kinda just didn't take things far enough. To me this feels more like a Dark Souls 1.5 than a true sequel.

    Also the world is not as great and well crafted as the world in the first game, which is a real bummer.

  • I love both P4 and P3 so this is another nobrainer. The persona systems mix nicely with Etrian Odyssey's dungeon crawling which makes for a truly great combat system. The story and characters are fun and as whimsical as always (except for newcomers Zen and Rei sadly, who I find just boring).

    Teddy deserves better than he gets in this game, though. Why can't anybody seem to bear him?

  • It's an overlong South Park episode. Do I need to say more?

    The combat is decent also, and it looks just like the show, which is quiet simply an amazing feat.

  • A very fun game, with one truly amazing feature (you guessed it) the much talked about Nemesis system. The story is forgettable (except for the very end), but this is just a well-polished fun world to explore, with much better combat than any of the recent AC games had.

    Also, oh my god I hate you so much Garokk Scar-Face!

  • I never would have thought, that I would jump on the COD train again, but here we are.

    I'm with Jeff that the movement in this game is almost perfect and just what this franchise needed. Nothing like getting the jump on your enemies, literally.

  • Everything in the vain on the old Fallout games is great in my book, so that I would love this game didn't come as a surprise to me.

    The combat is a bit clunky at times as is the technical aspect of the game, and the story is, well, not really there, but it's a cool game in a great setting.

  • I didn't like the original all to much, because for whatever reason I just couldn't handle the keyboard controls, but man the console version is amazing.

    It's just a clever random game and I for one really dig the art.

  • I'm a sucker for competitive card games and this is, in typical Blizzard fashion, just a very well polished game overall.

    With GvG just out, upsetting a lot the existing meta, this deserves a spot on the list.