Games I've Played Thoroughly in 2014

It's not rocket science, people!

...but here are a couple of notes anyways. Although I may not have played all of these to completion, I've played enough to know my opinion on them. Also note that there will be a couple of "runoff" games from my 2013 list that might merit a mention on this list for end-of-the-year award goodness. I'm also going to try to include award nomination ideas for games for perusal at the end of the year.

List items

  • This really deserves a mention here as I've played more of it in the early parts of 2014. See my 2013 list for more throughts, ut it's growing on me. I still don't see it beating anything I've chosen for my 2013 list, but with a couple of grace runes, it gets better.

    Nom. - Most Addicting Game

  • I'm including this and The Wolf Among Us in the hopes that both will see completion in 2014. Perhaps that's a bit in vain.

    Nom. - Best Story (if further chapters hold up)

    Nom. - Best Art Design

  • Nom. - Best Story (if further chapters hold up)

    Nom. - Best Art Design

  • Devil May Cry is a terrific actioner/platformer. It's not anything complex, but what's here is super polished and a whole lot of fun. I do sorta wish there were more upgrades of a passive nature, but that's simply because I'm awful at combos. It's a shame the score and soundtrack are so freakin' terrible. There's only so much death metal I can take. It's worse than goddamn country.

    Nom. - Best Art Design

    Nom. - Worst Score

  • In trying to knock down my Steam to-be-played list, I'm trying to pick off games that've been in my collection for some time without having actually played them. Tropico 4 is made by the same guys who impressed me so much last year in the kinda-bad-kinda-great Omerta. Unfortunately, this isn't quite as newbie-friendly as that hidden gem, and there are some awful UI decisions (seriously, where the fuck is my money displayed?). But overall, I like the basics. This probably won't make my top ten list at the end of the year, but damned if it isn't a little bit of fun on the way.

  • This specifically refers to the Telltale games, which were unfortunately bland. I only have the briefest history with the show, but this doesn't feel like something that anyone would find greatly amusing. The puzzles are too obtuse for children and act too much as a filler to allow a fun story. It's not as straight-up awful as Jurassic Park, but it's definitely not Telltale's finest effort.

  • The combat and job system are enormously fun, and while the story and characters are a drag, the world looks nice, the music is lively, and there's a lot of passion behind this game. This is the direction I had hoped to see out of Square Enix for the last several years, and I hope it's a sign of things to come from them in the future.

    Nom. - Best RPG

  • I'm still slogging my way through The Last of Us, and yes, I definitely do consider it a slog. I'm not finding the story to be particularly entertaining, though I do like the characters just fine. The gameplay is where the game loses me - the corridor-esque shooting, exploring, and stealth sections are a bland affair, leaving me to wonder if I'm playing the same game everyone else played in 2013. It does have the traditional amazing Naughty Dog presentation we've come to expect, but honestly, I sort of wish I'd skipped this one.

    Nom. - Most Disappointing Game

  • I loved this game enough to beat it. I loved it enough to play dozens of hours of blitzball with college buddies.

    Spoiler - it's still fucking amazing. And while this HD update is lacking in new content, it looks and sounds gorgeous, and I cannot wait to hit the end game content we didn't get to see in the States.

    Nom. GOTY Retro Evolved

  • For the price I paid for it (around $17), this was a ridiculously good bargain for the amount of fun I had with it. It's not quite as good as Arkham City - and in fact, it's bizarre how little of that game's visuals were changed for this game - but it's more of that game, which definitely isn't a bad thing. Some of the boss fights are mildly annoying, however, and there's a lack of creativity to the puzzles that's sort of disappointing. Still, though, I'd be surprised if this one doesn't sneak onto my top ten of the year. Whether or not that says more about this game or the quality of the other games I've played this year, I leave to you to decide.

  • Lackluster. That's pretty much Thieves in Time in a word. There's very little that's been done to update the gameplay beyond the PS2 games besides a graphics update, but even that gets boring quickly, as every level feels a bit bland and uninspired. If you're intterested in a PS3 platformer, go with the Ratchet and Clank series instead. You'll get a lot more fun out of them.

  • It's a cute little diversion playing with modern philosophy. Not a whole lot more to it than that.

  • I'm fairly conflicted about Tales of Graces F. On the one hand, it's tremendously fun, mixing a great stat-and-skill building system with fun variations on the tried-and-true Tales combat. On the other hand, though, this is a mixed bag of Tales staples and there are some frequent, glaring problems such as a huge amount of backtracking. It's the sort of Tales game I'd recommend only to fans of the series, but it's a really fun game regardless.

  • While not quite as compelling or as heartfelt as the Blackwell games, this is a terrific little point and clicker from the same company. I dug the setting and the lore, and wouldn't mind more sequels. Be warned, though. Ther is at least one instance where you can screw yourself over pretty good.

  • Completely unremarkable in just about every way. Nice music, I guess?

  • I can't remember the last time I played a game quite so clunky as this one. The menus and the unintelligble AI feel antiquated, and despite the countless (and mostly pointless) options, there isn't a whole lot of meat to this game besides unlocking stuff. It's definitely a case when a less-is-more approach would've worked wonders for the interface along with a more-is-more attitude towards game modes and content.

  • Pretty great game and definitely playable without buying anything, particularly when you open up the slots machine, which is extremely generous. It also controls fantastically well.

  • Neat little puzzler. It doesn't do a whole lot new, but what's here is really fun. Definitely makes the best of the iPad controls, too.

  • IPad - The iPad release is surprisingly serviceable, though this is a game that, aside from its great cartoony visuals, really wasn't ever my cup of tea. The PS1 era of RPGs completely surpassed it and other old nostalgic favorites. Sorry for the truth bombs.

  • IPad - I've played this game so many damned times. By now, it must be my most repurchased game, beating even Morrowind. The iPad version is far and away my favorite, due mostly to the added camera controls. This is still one of the very best games ever made and I dearly wish we had another.

  • It's the best robot-making-tea simulator on the market. Bar none.

    Nom. - Best Tea Making Simulator

    Nom. - Best Use of Earl Grey (throwing it on the floor)

    Nom. - Best Use of Hot Water

  • Here's a fun little game for you. It's surprisingly addictive, given how simple its "dig deeper, collect gems, get upgrades" gameplay is. There are some little irritating issues (I wish the lantern lasted longer, even with upgrades, and more teleports back to town would have been a godsend). But overall, this is a fantastic game.

  • Banished is an impressive accomplishment. It's a highly entertaining game, and astonishingly, it was made by one guy. This might be my sleeper hit of the year.

  • Really neat concept, blending a choose-your-own-adventure with RPG stats. Could've used a more interesting setting, but it works on a lot of interesting levels.

  • I'm completely missing it. This game blows chunks.

  • I really like the bones of Game Dev Tycoon's early-to-mid game, but everything beyond that was a bit of a snooze. A larger amount of randomness to the game's elements would have gone a long way towards helping its longevity, while adding in more conferences and options for said conferences (maybe even developing a publishing arm for your game company?) would have been interesting too. As it is, this was a fun time waster for a while.

  • This is the PS1-PSN version for the PS3. Whew.

    OK, so FFV isn't terrible. Sure, it's dated by modern standards, but coming at this as a fan of JRPGs in general, it was historically fascinating and pretty darned decent for being a twenty two year old game. Getting to know the Job system's roots is probably the neatest part, but I ended up liking the main characters, particularly Galuf, even if all of them were fantasy cliches, even by 1992 standards.

  • Dragon's Crown implements a lot of awesome RPG elements. But it suffers from the same problems we've seen from just about every 2D brawler on a 3D plane in that it feels like I'm controlling paper thin characters against enemies that never miss and have absurdly thin hit windows. It doesn't help that the game's fighting engine is straight up boring.

  • Xillia 2 is a hard sell. I personally really like it, but playing this game as a completionist will drive a person to drink, especially if they played the original. It recycles just about everything from that game - there are only a handful of new areas, none of which introduce anything astoundingly new. It's basically very much more of Xillia - more of its problems, less of its good qualities. It sacrifices the excellent sphere grid-esque leveling system in favor of an unintuitive, bland system where you gain skills automatically by picking between different elemental-themed skill trees. After the fun I had leveling in Xillia, this was maybe the most soul-crushing aspect of the game.

    There are other huge problems too. The same sound effects I bitched about with Xillia are still here and being shouted every few seconds (mutton! Fresh mutton!). Someone from up on high must have issued a decree that the game be less dark, as several good storylines like Elize's are dropped in favor of light-hearted teenybopper RPG fare. It's a big step backwards in terms of a narrative, and few, if any, of the side stories match the predecessor's in terms of quality.

    But truth be told, I'm still having tons of fun with Xillia 2. More of one of my favorite RPGs of recent memory isn't all a bad thing. The combat moves blisteringly fast and it's ridiculously easy to grind should you decide it's necessary. The two new characters are pretty awesome additions, and while I'm not fond of Milla's new voice actress, the rest of the voice acting is generally good-to-great.

    Also worth noting is the absolutely fantastic translation work that's gone into this one. It sucks we see games take so long to come West, but when the result is this kind of smooth text and dialogue without all the jagged edges of, say, a Final Fantasy IV or a Last Remnant, then hell yeah, the delay is worth it.

    So yeah, unless you're really a fan of the original like me, you might want to steer clear of this. But as it stands, I'm really, really enjoying the heck out of it.

  • It's got a great action-y combat system, some awesome out-of-combat mechanics, and the summoned companions are diverse and pretty terrific, but its positives can't outweigh the fact that this game is boring as hell. I'm a solid ten hours into it, and I really want to like it. But I can't. At no point whatsoever does the game exude any of the charm Persona or other SMT games give off.

  • Destiny is fine. The devs didn't quite get what made its influences so great, and wound up making some really dumb design decisions, including far-too-repetitive areas, uninteresting loot and weapons, and a plot that somewhat unsurprisingly copies much of its details from Halo and retitles them.

    That said, it looks gorgeous, the shooting is fun, and there's a solid foundation here for something greater. But that greatness isn't here. Not yet. Maybe Destiny 2 will get it right, but by then, will we be too busy with Borderlands 3 and Halo 5 to really care?

  • Like GTA V, Watch_Dogs suffers from a severe case of up-its-own-ass-itis, but I actually really like it. It needed some fine tuning, especially when it comes to its tuuuurrrrible control scheme, but I'm enjoying the relatively interesting missions, the varied side quests, and just gooding around in the city.

  • Definitely a front runner for most pleasant surprise of the year, and one of my current frontrunners for GOTy is Stick of Truth. This is downright hilarious, equalling some of the better episodes of the show, while also being - shocker - fun as hell. The combat system is pretty great, there's a stunning amount of customizable equipment (that actually shows on your character when you equip it), and they've hit a sweet spot between gameplay and cutscenes. I'm hoping they hit us up with a sequel. Perhaps one Bigger. Longer. And maybe even Uncut.

  • While I knew I'd probably like Pre Sequel, I had no idea it would turn out as remarkably fun as it did. This tells a great story in focusing on Jack's rise from middle management sleazeball to full on meglomaniacal villain. And the gameplay along the way is the usual sharp-as-hell Borderlands stuff. The O2 stuff is mostly unnecessary and there's a disappointing lack of an update to the game's mechanics, but it's still Borderlands, however you might look at that.

  • It's very cleverly written, with great voiceover work, but the tediousness of Thomas Was Alone makes it hard to see it through. I think I'm likely to just Youtube the last bits and peces of it, and call it a day on this one. Clever ideas, kind of boring execution.

  • I wanted to wait until the second half of Broken Age was released, but game development being what it is, I've waited from January until nearly November for that to happen, with no word from Double Fine as to the status of the game. So, having had enough of the wait, I jumped in and found myself facing down a charming, completely bland point and clicker.

    The art style is delicious, the voice acting is top notch, and the stories told are delightful - except that there's not much to them. And really, once you get beyond the pretty veneer, that sums up Broken Age nicely - there's just not much here. There are one or two objects per screen you pick up and combine with other objects, ala every adventure game ever, but the puzzles are simplistic and the objects sometimes infuriatingly difficult to find. This is, in essence, the very definition of a 90's era point-and-clicker, with all the good and bad that entails.

    I still want to finish it, but I'm not sure that this is quite the herald of Tim Schafer-ness I wanted it to be.

  • The game I played is actually Battleheart Legacy. Fun little grindy RPG. Kind of a little light on content.

  • Fun little iOS game. You win court cases by using abilities to knock down the "credibility" (health) of opponents. There's perhaps a bit too much randomness involved, and you can pretty easily back yourself into a corner by picking the wrong upgrades, but the backbone is fun and the art style is fantastic.

  • Really, this game feels more like a pretty cool tech demo than a fully realized game. The side missions are entirely bland and uninteresting, the gameplay lacks the mobility and flow of prior games, and the story is mediocre. That said, it's gorgeous, it plays well enough, and I kinda find myself liking the main character's youthfulness despite his "punk rebel" shtick.

  • Fascinating study in bad design choices surrounding a terrific backbone. Hugely disappointing, but I'd love to see a Mercenary Kings 2.

  • Is it weird that I'm in my thirties and I thoroughly expect someone to beat the shit out of me for playing this?

  • I'm of two minds about Shadow of Mordor. On the one hand, it's an ugly cash grab and further defacement of Tolkien's works, which irritates me to no end. The story, characters, and narrow setting are dreadful and there's the usual lack of ambition when it comes to exploring the other, oh, hundred thousand years or so of Tolkien's lore.

    But as a game? It's tremendous. Batman combat (no, really, it is ripped straight from that series), AC levels of parkour, and a unique boss system are the highlights.

  • This won't qualify for my GOTY lists until all the episodes are released, but so far, this has fixed a lot of issues with Telltale's games and features terrific characters, story, and dialogue.

  • Blackwell Epiphany - and the Blackwell games in general - is just a really good bit of interactive fiction. It knows the story it wants to tell, and I hugely respect that. This last one suffers a tiny bit from a bit of pixel hunting (damn you, gym key card), but overall, it's the best in the series and genuinely is one of the better bits of interactive fiction I've ever played. As a sendoff to the Blackwell series, this is superb and deserves to stand among the best of adventure games.

  • In an attempt to go big or go home, Injustice manages to make every single character suffer. The male heroes all look like roided monsters, the women all have twigs for legs and beer barrel chests, and almost all the characters share painfully similar movesets.

    It's a bland porridge of a game, designed from the ground up to make every struggle even, to adhere to some unspoken comic book to video game code of "thou shalt not favor any character." It's also a depressing reminder of just how similar many major DC comic characters have become. That's also true of Marvel, but at least Marvel has a much deeper B-tier rogues gallery.

  • While someone working on A Golden Wake clearly loved the setting and time period, he or she didn't have enough of a backbone for a plot to keep me truly hooked. It's a charming enough little diversion of an adventure game, but it's extremely thin and two-dimensional. Characters come off as flat, bland, and predictable. The extra few mini-games are so simple as to be insulting. If the plot had been stronger, I'd say the easy puzzles serviced the story, but as it is, all they serve to do is to make progress through the game at least rapid.

    I don't know. This is a tough sell to anyone, including me, but I still sort of find myself liking it. Setting the whole thing in 1920's Miami and focusing the plot around real estate of all things make this pretty interesting. It's just too bad the rest of the game isn't as fascinating.

  • The deeper you get into Inquisition, the better it gets. It's the sort of game where I start nitpicking little details like reused animations from prior games because there's so little else at fault here. It's easily the best Bioware game I've played, which says a lot.

  • Look, it's more Far Cry 3, but that's a great thing. Within the first few hours playing, a truck snapped to a stop in front of me, two armed guys jumped out, aimed into the sky, and began firing. Moments later, an eagle fell out of the sky, dead at my feet, and the guys just went about their business. It's that kind of insanity that makes me love this series.

  • There's an interesting premise behind The Novelist (you're a ghost that helps/hurts a family's healing process during their summer vacation), and it's something I'd like to see toyed with in the future. But overall, once you figure out the game's pattern, there's a fair bit of tedium until you reach the end. I had some fun mixing things up by not compromising and picking the most asshole-ish points possible, but it should be fairly easy to get the "best" ending if you're even halfway paying attention.