2014 was a quite a tumultuous year for me, both in terms of gaming and my life overall. Without going into too much detail, I had several major changes to my life over the past year, most notably my move to the other side of the planet. Obviously this had a significant impact on my gaming lifestyle, which, while not extinguished, suffered at the hands of less time allotted for it. Nevertheless, 2014 saw many incredible games come and go, and while I may not have been able to play as many as I“d have liked, I definitely can“t complain.
This year saw the end of the first full year of games for both the PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One, but it was arguably the Wii U which touted the strongest line up of first party exclusives with heavy hitters such as Smash, Mario Kart and Donkey Kong Country making their way to the system. On the handheld front, both the 3DS and Vita continued to shine; the 3DS more so due to massive franchises such as Pokemon and Smash having iterations released this year. However, the Vita, while down, was definitely not out with a continuous stream of fantastic niche and indies titles coming it“s way this year.
Overall, I felt the two big next-gen systems failed to deliver much in the way of spectacle this year with many of their releases being available elsewhere or simply being downright lackluster. I had a bit of difficulty choosing my Game of the Year this time around, simply because there was no singular title that screamed â€œGAME OF THE YEARâ€ as there had been in prior years. Ultimately, 2014 was a pretty good year, which while not mind blowing, definitely did not disappoint!
And now, without further ado, here are my top 10 games of the year!
10. Dreamfall Chapters: The Longest Journey
The Longest Journey series has always been one of the best the adventure game genre had to offer, and the new Dreamfall Chapters continues that tradition albeit in episodic form. Only the first chapter has been released as of this writing, but if it continues to deliver at this caliber it“ll easily claim awards this year and next...
9. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
If there is anything Nintendo knows how to do, it“s make an excellent platformer, and Tropical Freeze proves this point many times over. Coupled with the classic Nintendo charm, and featuring a phenomenal soundtrack,Tropical Freeze slides in the top tier of triple-A Wii U games, an incredible feat considering the tough competition.
8. inFamous First Light
After touting the superiority of its PlayStation 4 console, Sony did little to deliver on good first party exclusives. Of the handful they did bring to the table, the newest entry in the inFamous franchise was the most notable. Second Son was a very enjoyable game overall but also extremely forgettable, a fact that First Light tries to counter by shifting gears and giving us Fetch, a character from the original game to whom Delsin owes his neon powers to. Visually, both games feature some incredible lighting and particle effects in an attempt to showcase the power of next-gen. There are some change-ups and the story is ultimately much more interesting—and more importantly—concise, giving First Light the edge over Second Son.
7. Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc
Both Danganronpa games saw US releases on Vita this year and while both are good, I“ll have to give the nod to the first game. The story is something we“ve all seen before—a Battle Royale-type mystery where students are killing each other off—but the execution and trial system is brilliant and makes for a fun and exciting gameplay experience. The game“s plot constantly took twists and turns that more often than not, I did not see coming. It is well written and each of the characters have their own likable (or dislikable in some cases) quirks that gives each character a unique flavour that added to the story.The villainous Monokuma is one of the most insane antagonists of the year, but is somehow lovable in a weird kind of way...
6. Child of Light
I came in knowing next to nothing about this game, but I had to play it based purely upon my first look at the art style which is absolutely gorgeous. I have to give kudos to Ubisoft for bringing out a game like this amongst its other massive blockbusters this year such as Assassin“s Creed, Watch_Dogs and Far Cry 4. It features a combat system that is essentially a watered-down RPG experience, which may turn off the more â€œhardcoreâ€ players but I did not mind in the slightest. The story is quirky, the visuals are stunning and soundtrack is enchanting,all of which come together to make a worthwhile experience which should not be overlooked.
5. Mario Kart 8
There“s not much I can say about Mario Kart 8 that hasn“t already been said. It“s this generation“s entry into the Mario Kart series and the first to be in HD. It“s huge array of characters and tracks, hours upon hours of multiplayer mayhem, and DLC featuring non-Mario character (a first for the series!) come together in what may be the best Mario Kart iteration since Double Dash. While it has gained many equally competent rivals out there, Mario Kart still reigns supreme amongst kart-racers.
4. Dragon Age Inquisition
Despite being a huge fan of Bioware“s much acclaimed Mass Effect series, Dragon Age has never really drawn me in the same way. That said, Inquisition definitely took some, scratch that, A WHOLE BUNCH of steps in the right direction and has finally gotten me interested in the series. It“s tactical combat mechanics gives it that extra bit of allure, and helped bump it up my list. Initially not wanting to pick this up I was finally convinced by friends making this my biggest surprise hit of the year!
3. Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn
While A Realm Reborn â€œtechnicallyâ€ came out in 2013, it received a much welcome PlayStation 4 release in 2014, which is when I first jumped into one of my biggest time sinks this year. The game has received a continuous stream of updates and seasonal events over the course of the year, giving you an endless supply of things to do and—with the first big expansion due in the spring—shows no sign of slowing down.
2. Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes
Often the butt of jokes regarding the time it takes to complete the game, Ground Zeroes is actually one of the best examples of quality over quantity. Indeed, the game itself is not much more than a small taste of what“s to come with Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, but what a taste it is! It boasts what is easily the most solid gameplay mechanics the Metal Gear franchise has had to date. Not only that but it packs hours upon hours of replay value into a single level through the clever use of giving you a multitude of options in the ways of completing the various missions. It is easily the most perfected gameplay experience of 2014, and because of that, a close contender for Game of the Year.
1. Zero: Nuregarasu no Miko / Fatal Frame: Oracle of the Sodden Raven (JP/ENG titles)
Fatal Frame is an often underappreciated franchise that hasn“t received much love in the US as of late, what with the fourth and now the fifth entry in the series failing to appear on our shores. Nevertheless, the series continues to deliver with Zero: Nuregarasu no Miku (Fatal Frame: Oracle of the Sodden Raven), which brings the franchise to the next generation as a Wii U exclusive. Utilizing the gamepad as the Camera Obscura adds an extra layer and really helps add to the ambience of the game.
This series continues to deliver one of the best survival horror experiences in video games and I can only hope that one day they bring the game stateside. Regardless, credit is must be given where credit is due and my Game of the Year goes to Zero: Nuregarasu no Miko (Fatal Frame: Oracle of the Sodden Raven).