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TFP's Top 10 Games of 2014

Here it is, this year is in the books. Without further ado, here are my top 10 games of the year, in descending order (so number 10 is on top, number 1 is on the bottom.)

Let's get started!

List items

  • Number 10

    As a huge fan of mystery, even I'll admit that Sherlock Holmes's transition to video games tends to be rocky. Frogwares themselves aren't immune to this, with most of their past games being mediocre at best. However, eighth time is evidently the charm, with Crimes and Punishments being both an interesting, and at times exciting adventure game, in addition to being a compelling set of mysteries. The mental deduction board is also a fantastic addition to the series, providing each case with multiple endings depending on the conclusion that you draw, in addition to the somewhat binary punish/absolve decision at the end. All in all, Crimes and Punishments is the best video game adaptation of Sherlock Holmes yet, as well as my personal surprise of the year.

  • Number 9

    One thing that makes crossover events such an exciting concept is the amount of sheer spectacle that they bring forward. One thing that this game certainly does not skimp on is spectacle. From minute 1, Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney is a thrilling example of two titanic series clashing and attempting to meld into one small, cartridge based package. While they falter more often than they succeed when they attempt to combine their mechanics, it is more than made up for in the strengths of the individual Professor Layton and Ace Attorney packages. On the other hand, the story is exactly what I meant when I talked about the spectacle. It nearly effortlessly blends the strong characters writing from the Ace Attorney team, with the outstanding myth-arc creation from Professor Layton, culminating with the combined force of two series known for pulling out all the stops in the ending, and the end result is outstanding.

  • Number 8

    Most of what I could possibly say about Second Son, I said in my review, but the main point is that Sucker Punch made, quite possibly, the best transition into the current generation out of any developer, and the online, faux-ARG Paper Trail was super interesting. Moving right along.

  • Number 7

    A lot has been said about this game. A lot. And, truth be told, I don't have the most to add to that conversation. All I can say is that I really like the idea of 30 seconds into the future. I really like the atmosphere brought about by a world of unchecked technology. I really like how demanding the stealth was. I really like Jordi, as a character. And I really, really love the ambiguity of conspiracies. Watch_Dogs isn't necessarily the most shining example of all of these things that I like. But it's certainly one of the first to attempt to put all of those in one package. And for that, I can't fault it.

  • Number 6

    I'm not entirely certain what magic formula of comedy the people over at Jellyvision, now Jackbox, have stumbled upon. But it's certainly at a fever pitch in the Jackbox Party pack. Combining four amazing, off kilter trivia games (And Word Spud, which... seems like a failed experiment more than anything), into one ASTOUNDINGLY great value package, there isn't really any way to go wrong. Early in the year I was already considering placing Fibbage onto my game of the year list, with its fantastic combination of comedy, trivia, and deception, but providing a package of a more robust Fibbage package, combined with a new You Don't Know Jack alone would have been enough. The addition of Drawful and Lie Swatter are just icing on the cake.

  • Number 5

    I'll be the first to admit. I'm one of those crazy people who would say that my favorite Metal Gear Solid game is Peace Walker. So first of all, the idea of a direct continuation of that already has me interested. As a game, it certainly carves out its place as one of the most polished stealth games, with each piece refined and polished to near perfection. As a demo, it provides a compelling sneak peek into the systems and ideas going into The Phantom Pain. The fact that Ground Zeroes manages to succeed both on its own, as well as in the shadow of the much bigger, imminent release of The Phantom Pain speaks to the fact that, nearly 30 years since the release of Metal Gear, Hideo Kojima is still a compelling, compelling designer.

  • Number 4

    Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, as well as Super Smash Bros. for 3DS, are the biggest refinement of many of Sakurai's trademark concepts that he places in pretty much all of his games. Things like a UI that seems to have gone through so many refinements until it reaches perfection, a few, super fun minigames, and most importantly, entirely too much stuff crammed into a single package. While Smash Run, and particularly Smash Tour are a bit of a disappointment, the core fighting is the best its ever been. Some of the best new stages, as well as an all-star soundtrack and so many challenges and variations provide nearly infinite replayability. I don't see myself not playing these games for a long time coming.

  • Number 3

    I'm not sure if it wasn't readily apparent, but I'm a rather big fan of Persona games. In particular, Persona 4. So really, the idea of anything involving those characters, even when combined with the lackluster-at-best Gekkoukan students of Persona 3, and combined with the gameplay of Etrian Odyssey, a series I have, quite literally, never played, is something that I get excited about. Luckily, Even with the one drawback, as well as the one unknown, Persona Q delivers exactly what I wanted out of another Persona game. And that's the interaction between the characters. The dungeon crawling eventually became a chore, which I guess is the message that I should never play Etrian Odyssey. However, it was super easy to just push myself through it to see more and more of these characters that are so believable, so human, that there isn't a single one that I couldn't think of a real world facsimile from my time in rural high school. Combined with one of the most heartfelt, genuinely good endings in a game this year, dungeon crawling warts aside, I can't recommend this game enough.

  • Number 2

    You would think I like Persona games, including two of them on my list like this or something. Two years ago, Persona 4 Arena was essentially my gateway drug into fighting games. Without it, I wouldn't have made some of the best friends anyone could ever ask for in the #GB_P4A IRC room, practiced my broadcasting abilities as a fighting game commentator, or had nearly as much fun watching people run headfirst into traps. The fact that, not only was there a sequel, but the #GB_P4A room stuck together long enough to witness that happen is a testament to the community built up around this game. When the first reveal of the existence of this game happened, the room had a unified sense of shock and amazement that we had stuck together that long. Of course, it helps that Ultimax is fantastic. The addition of new characters and their respective shadows adds a new layer of depth, while still maintaining the first game's accessibility and fun. Golden Arena mode is fun and exciting, adding a little bit of classic RPG fun with the skills, levels, and social links. And while I consider the way the progression of the story is handled to be more of a side-grade from the individual stories of the original game, the content never ceases to impress. All in all, Persona 4 Arena Ultimax is an outstanding continuation of what Persona 4 Arena brought to the table, and I don't see #GB_P4A disappearing any time soon, either.

  • Number 1

    Here it is. One of the primary reasons I bought an Xbox One. And boy, do I feel my purchase was justified on the back of this alone. Swery65's latest adventure, taking cues from some amalgamation of Early Edition and Journeyman, is not only the best episodic game in recent memory, but effortlessly outdoes other, similar cinematic-style adventure games. Combining Swery's knack for creating some of the best mysteries in games today, as well as creating a game that almost solely focuses on pushing Swery's strengths to the forefront, D4 is the both the best game made by Access Games, as well as the best game currently on Xbox One.

    Presented like episodes of a procedural drama, D4 stands as the best example of one so far in video games. Combining a fantastic cast of characters with a compelling mystery is certainly not something that is easy to do in video games, given how many people have tried and failed. To me, how Swery succeeds where others fail in this area involves his very clear consistence to the rules of fair-play mystery. While he allows David to make the summations of the evidence without player interference to muck all of it up, he still gives the player the chance to draw their own conclusions about the nature of the evidence. In addition, Swery's use of the supernatural is intelligently limited; at no point is anything supernatural a shocking piece of evidence that turns a case on its head. It follows a logical set of rules in the framing of each case, and then bows out of the way to allow the cast to do their part. It seems like a very simple thing, but given the amount of mystery games that don't do that, it's a welcome change.

    In addition, the game uses Kinect fantastically. Simultaneously my first, only, and potentially last experience using a Kinect as a motion device, there's no other way I'd rather play it. It not only manages to be responsive, but it's also fantastically fun, performing some of the synchro stunts like knocking back a shot of tequila and slamming it on the table, or using a mannequin leg like a bat. The action scenes themselves are amazingly choreographed, and the controls sync up fantastically to the action on screen. It's simplistic, but it works fantastically well.

    All in all, D4 is fantastic, start to finish. If you have an Xbox One, there is literally no reason for you to not own this game. Literally no reason. It's one of the most exceptional mysteries in games, in addition to being incredibly fun to play. What more could you ask for?