GOTY 2014

Two thousand fourteen!

Alright!

There are so many games that I wished I reached before this list was made, like Dragon Age: Inquisition, Far Cry 4, and Kentucky Route Zero.

Fortunately, Kentucky Route Zero isn't done yet, so I've still got a chance to have it on a later list.

Of the games that came out this year that I've played and are worth talking about, there's one omission on this list: Jazzpunk. I don't think it's good. It might have been if I had played it before Gravity Bone or 30 Flights. As it stands, it seems very derivative in its style, and the humor does not hit often enough to be entertaining. The first level is good, everything after that wore out its welcome.

List items

  • Considering this game just with the budget it had, it's my favorite game of 2014. God, what would this game be if it had the budget it wanted to have?

    The Banner Saga is gorgeous, strikingly gorgeous. It invents a mechanic entirely its own through which to tell a story that is so good at what it does that, honestly, if the game had only been watching a cart move left or right, I would have been happy. And this is coming from me, the guy who loves strategy games of all ilk.

    The Banner Saga tells its story so well that I even forgive it the story beats it has that I felt were weak, things like the very convenient wizards or the awkward reveal that one of the characters in your party was "legendary".

    I forgive its tactical combat system that has significant flaws. I give it points for innovating, but those innovations are a little suspect in my viewing. The turn order system makes little sense. Each side alternates regardless of how many units they have still on the field, in addition, units that have been hurt do less damage. This means that if you kill enemy units, you are actually hurting yourself, in killing a unit you have likely wounded your own unit, but by killing the enemy's unit they will be just as effective in fighting you, as the number of "moves" they have will remain the same.

    The music, the visuals, the storytelling and world-building, you won't find a better experience than The Banner Saga this year for those things.

  • You know, I think my biggest complaint with Wolfenstein is that, ironically, there is actually maybe a bit too much story. The story is told so well and the very fact that they managed to make BJ Blaskowicz a meaningful character is a tremendous feat.

    But man, playing the game is so much fun I wish I had the chance to do more of it.

    And you know, one of the most brilliant things I think Wolfenstein does is combine challenges and unlocks. To upgrade BJ's abilities and weapons, rather than leveling up by XP for each kill, there are specific challenges associated with the upgrade that must be completed. And every time I completed a challenge, I got an achievement for it. That is smart. That is smart achievement and challenge design. The people who don't care about achievements still accrue them, naturally, by playing the game to its fullest.

  • For the dialogue, for the characters.

    But mostly? For the ending.

  • I got an iPhone this Christmas. That's the 25th. Today is the 31st.

    Hitman Go is such a well done piece of work. Well designed, fun puzzles, this is one of those Hotline Miami/Luftrausers situations where I can't think of something out of place in the game. It's compact but it isn't simple, or it's deceptively simple, teaching you new tricks slowly over the course of the whole game.

    My complaint is that I played through the whole thing, completing every challenge objective, way too fast, and now I don't have any puzzles left.

  • I'd like a Nidhogg with better multiplayer, multiplayer that isn't ruined by lag. That's not possible, I know, but I wish I had more reasons to play Nidhogg. This will probably be the closest thing to a fighting game I ever play.

    Frenetic, strange, and mechanically tuned to a key, just watching a game over someone's shoulder is enough to get your heart racing.

  • Air Control is funnier than Jazzpunk.

    My time with Air Control was almost too perfect, I bought it for a friend for his birthday and then watched him play it, struggling with how broken and not-a-game it was. It offered you little glimpses around the edges from time to time, revealing its true nature. And then it fucking pulls out the rug. Discovering Air Control was one of my most memorable and most fun experiences of 2014.

    Air Control is *bad*, but I don't think that's it. There's something subversive going on in there. And, I mean, just listen to this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xDrxCqbsWBg

    Best soundtrack of 2014?

  • Okay, no, don't leave, hear me out. There was no easy way to get Rise of Nations running on a modern computer before this year. Before it came out on Steam a person needed two priests and some holy water just to get Rise of Nations chugging on Windows 7.

    Which was a big deal to me. Rise of Nations is my favorite strategy game of all time.

    So, yeah, sorry other game that would have been on this list if Rise of Nations didn't take up a spot (Jazzpunk, probably), but you just can't beat me re-uniting with what is close to my favorite game of all time.

  • Okay you know what? Luftrausers is too hard for me.

    But I mentioned it earlier when talking about Hitman Go. There is nothing out of place in Luftrausers, the whole thing is executed like it feels it exactly should be.

  • Valkyria Chronicles is cheeseballs as all get out. It's like a laundry list of anime stuff that it just checks off one after another: I am not playing Valkyria Chronicles even remotely for the plot. If any of these characters died, I would only be concerned in the sense that I've lost one gun meatbag.

    But people were right about the battles, they're fun. I don't think they're deep, at least not compared to a lot of what else is out there, but their artistic presentation and active time elements make them really enjoyable to play out.

    Funny, that's three nazi themed games for this year.

  • Oh Divinity.

    Divinity Divinity Divinity.

    How I want to like you more than I do.

    I truly enjoy your combat, I always like a game with systems so powerful that they can break the game.

    But man, MAN could I not care less about your setting, story, characters, or quests. It's like I'm running around in a high-res Runescape. I just do not engage with it.

    I guess it's a bit shocking to me that a game can be so lacking in atmosphere that I actually can't enjoy its unique combat system, but there it is. I really like you, Divinity: Original Sin. I couldn't care less about you, Divinity: Original Sin.

  • I had a shitty tmobile android phone that played nothing but Sudoku for most of the year.

    Sudoku and I, we got to know each other really, really well.

    Thanks for being there for me, Sudoku.