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Game of the Year 2014: Marcus's Picks


Marcus Estrada

Hello everyone! 2014 has been a pretty great year for gaming! Of course, I think gaming fans usually think as much for every year. If you know anything about me then you can probably guess none of my favorite games will be those big budget titles most certainly getting accolades elsewhere. It“s not a matter of disliking them; I simply spend far too much time playing other games to even get around to anything else!

 

With that said, here is my selection of the best games released in 2014. Enjoy!

 


 

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Cho Dengeki Stryker

 

Do you like super heroes? Do you like reading a lot? Cho Dengeki Stryker is probably the perfect visual novel for you! Heck, I“m not even much of a superhero guy but it somehow rocketed up to my list all the same. That“s thanks to a great cast of characters, awesome action sequences, and tons of routes to pursue (which were expanded for this “Cho” release of Dengeki Stryker).

 

The best feature for non-eroge (erotic game) aficionados is that the Steam release removes particular sequences to obtain a T rating. And you know what, I“m actually glad that some of those are gone because they really hampered the otherwise engaging storyline for me.

 


 

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Cloud Chamber

 

ARGs (Alternate Reality Games) are not nearly as common as they should be—at least not in the way I particularly enjoy them. I love to play through a game which forces research things on the internet and interact with others to figure it out. Cloud Chamber was exactly that. An online-focused storytelling experience, you are given a database of videos and asked to discover the truth behind the storyline with other players.

 

Yes, the other players are real and comment on videos with theories and other interesting tidbits. At least, this is the way it was when I played around launch. Hopefully there“s still a current userbase working in conjunction to piece together the mysteries.

 


 

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Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc

 

I wasn“t sure what to expect after loading up Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc for the first time. As it turned out, this visual novel with courtroom elements may have taken inspiration from other games, but it still ended up as a very unique property. The cast of characters is great, weird, and worth interacting with to know even more about. Who wouldn“t want to uncover why a cast of high schoolers are trapped in a prestigious high school? Each murder mystery brings unique elements and usually isn“t completely transparent. Why did I select this game over its sequel? I felt that version dropped the ball even further in regards to courtroom minigames and had a less immediately likable cast overall.

 


 

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Escape Goat 2

 

Escape Goat (the original) was one of my most favorite platformers in a long time. The gameplay was fresh and fun and had great music and visuals to go along with that. Escape Goat 2 also excels in all these areas and brings me just what I wanted: More Escape Goat! There“s a ton of puzzles to solve, and many can be done in varying orders. This is great for those times when you get stuck on one particular puzzle and keep doing it in the same wrong way. All in all, the sequel may not have reinvented the game but that“s fine when the base is so wonderful to begin with.

 


 

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Extrasolar

 

It“s a bit hard to describe Extrasolar, but here“s my best attempt. This is a browser-based game which invites you to remotely control a rover exploring a planet. Your goal is simply to take pictures of the landscape so that scientists may analyze anything they find via your photos. So, in one sense it“s just like a strange twist on Pokemon Snap but there“s actually much more to it. Underneath this easy mechanic is a storyline, neat scientific analysis, and a weirdly engaging experience. Finally, you can play it for free as long as you don“t mind waiting a bit between photos.

 


 

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Iron Fisticle

 

It“s pretty hard to make a bad twin stick shooter but perhaps harder than that is making one which hooks me from the get go. Iron Fisticle certainly did, and kept its hooks in for a surprisingly long time. Sure, the main gameplay simply consists of going from room to room and shooting everything—but it looks and sounds great! Then there“s the neat aspects of copious weapon power ups, silly collectibles, boss encounters, and a persistent leveling system. Twin stick shooter fans owe it to themselves to nab a copy.

 


 

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Nidhogg

 

Here“s a game that had years worth of hype trailing behind it. Despite being tangentially aware of Nidhogg for all this time, I never quite understood the appeal. It was only when it finally launched that I saw the light. The gameplay consists of two characters fencing each other. Every players has the same base set of abilities to use but each match ends up completely different. Although the AI provides a pretty good opponent the most fun is definitely had by going against a human opponent. Oh, and don't even get me started on those visuals. It's definitely one of the coolest looking releases this year.

 


 

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OlliOlli

 

I never got into the whole skateboarding scene, but skateboarding video games usually hold a strange appeal to me. OlliOlli is not a simple riff on Tony Hawk's Pro Skater or even Skate. Instead, it turns the concept of skateboarding into a fast-paced 2D twitch platformer. Combined with a strange control scheme you“ve got a game which is incredibly simple to understand but that requires utter devotion to master. Oh, and let“s not forget that astounding mixtape soundtrack. It definitely raises the game up to another level when you get a huge combo on a stage while your favorite song plays.

 


 

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Rogue Shooter: The FPS Roguelike

 

Now, I“ll be the first to admit that Rogue Shooter: The FPS Roguelike does not have a particularly pretty name. In fact, it sounds like the most uncreative thing ever. However, this does perfectly describe it! Rogue Shooter takes roguelike elements (randomization, permadeath, leveling) and bakes them with retro FPS stylings. Somehow this works incredibly well. Thanks to its early 90s graphics it also manages to be ridiculously charming. If you like “hallway shooters” and roguelikes then I highly suggest playing this game.

 


 

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Platformines

 

Platformines is a pretty simple game in concept. You“ve got a gigantic randomized map to explore and only one tiny gun-toting dude to venture into the expansive world. According to the storyline, your goal is to collect pieces to rebuild your spaceship but it“ll take a lot of bullets to do so. After all, this place you“ve crashed is absolutely teeming with monsters. The 2D platformer/shooter hybrid includes an outrageous amount of guns and accessories to wreak havoc with. Near the end of the game it does become unfairly difficult, but that was just a little stumble in this otherwise fantastic, violent adventure.

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