GAF Games of the Year 2014 - Voting Thread [voting closed]

Not open for further replies.
Oct 23, 2011
GOTY 2014

1. Dragon Age: Inquisition ;

2. South Park: The Stick of Truth ;

3. Wolfenstein: The New Order ;

4. The Evil Within ;

Honorable Mentions

x. Grand Theft Auto V ;

x. The Last of Us Remastered ;

x. P.T. ;

x. inFAMOUS Second Son ; A beautiful, technically acomplished, light and fun game, but overall it was extremely mediocre.

I didn't play a lot of games this year. I don't own a Wii U and I'm not interested in one, but I borrowed one to play Bayonetta 2 and nope, not my kind of game. I'm waiting for the PS4 version of Dark Souls II, and I plan on playing Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor, Alien Isolation, Far Cry 4 and Divinity: Original Sin soon.
Feb 24, 2014
1. Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor ; This was my favorite game this year--the nemesis system really is a game changer and I feel like this is one of those things that every open-world action adventure type of game is going to need from now on. This is really the first thing I can look at and say, "this is something made for new gen." Sure, there's last gen ports, but from what it sounds like not only is the game really bad, but a lot of the randomization of the nemesis system is cut back, and as a result it's almost experience breaking.

2. Wolfenstein: The New Order ; This game had a better story and ending than it ever had a right to. That ending followed by the perfect credits song alone makes it a worthwhile experience. But even the gameplay was so good. So many parts of the campaign were incredibly enjoyable. While it was flawed, it still made a viable counter argument to having a linear, hollywood-esque story-based FPS in the vein of COD and Battlefield. This was my favorite game of all year for a very long time, until SoM came along and blew me away.

3. Titanfall ; This game was the game I had the most fun with this year. The parkour alone was some of the best game design in a while. Even now whenever I watch someone play CoD: AW I just think about how much better that game would be if it was Titanfall. Everything about that game was fun and enjoyable, but the lack of content and the fact the enjoyment quickly starts to wear out keeps it from being the best game this year.

4. Halo: The Master Chief Collection ; OK, yes, the multiplayer is still pretty bad. But I bought this game for the singleplayer, and that, for the most part, works fine. The sheer amount of value alone makes it a worthwhile purchase if you ever enjoyed Halo SP.

5. Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft ; It's a good time sink. It's better than most F2P models and the game is fun, but it also wears very quickly and the required internet connection even if you want to just play AI is a huge bummer.

6. Monument Valley ; I got it when it was free on the Amazon App Store. It's an alright game, but it really is pretty short and fails pretty hard at understanding how to manage the Android soft keys.

7. Forza Horizon 2 ; I only played a little of it (mostly the demo and then a few other things when I was able to play an actual copy) but I found it to be really fun.

8. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare ; The singleplayer is actually quite good at times, at others it's just the usual slog. Multiplayer is the same crap as always.

9. Mario Kart 8 ; I thought it was alright when I played it, I enjoyed MKDS way more.

10. Destiny ; I don't think much needs to be said about this game, Jeff Gerstmann said it best: "This was supposed to be the game of the year, the game that every other publisher was afraid of." It's still fun, but the lost potential hurts more than the grind or lack of story ever could.
Mar 7, 2011
1. Destiny ; It’s a great feeling to look forward to a game you know is going to deliver, and then it does. Halo mixed with PSO was such a ridiculously winning formula that is would never not be at the summit of my list. In reality, Destiny still defied my expectations and is chameleon-esq in what it offers. The marketing department would like you to think it’s a shared shooter with your friends. Okay. Some people expected an epic RPG. Some people wanted just more Halo combat. It was never going to be that straightforward, and this, clear lack on refusing to be easily categorized left too many not seeing the game for it’s merits. Destiny is about these differing experiences, solo, co-operatively, competitive in either basic, challenging or strategic settings, shifting through these ideas fluidly and wrapped up in the nicest bow. The most compelling game of the year.
2. Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA F 2nd ; When I started writing this list I didn’t expect Hatsune Miku to feature so high-up, but there she is. Character driven music rhythm games are such a niche that anything that comes along is likely to grab my attention. I thought the vocaloid songs would grate, and some do, but the standout tracks like Clover Club, Cantarella and Two-Faced Lovers are such listenable pop songs. Presentation is top notch and is unmatched for sheer euphoria at winning by the smallest of margins.
3. OlliOlli ; Ahh! OlliOlli - some late contenders made it impossible for you to reach the top, but for most of the year, you were the best game of the year. It’s just so satisfying. Nothing more needs to be said.
4. Hohokum ; Most underrated title of the year. Hohokum looks like one of those art installation type of games (think: Flower) but delivers something very different. Hohokum is a straight-up proper game - it’s closest bedfellow is FEZ in that it is a game with non-obvious puzzles. Sure, it has parts of it which are flying around and creating a nice audio/visual experience but the most interesting part is how the game uses basic controls to both tell a non-verbal story and give you enough elements to interact and solve puzzles. Throw in a soundtrack by Ghostly International and it’s nothing short of a beautiful example of medium of videogames.
5. TxK ; Minter reaches design perfection.
6. Mercenary Kings ; A deceptive title that merges elements of Monster Hunter to Gears of War with some Metal Slug style. Did not get the praise it deserved.
7. Road Not Taken ; A short, beautifully presented game, with mechanics designed so that loss is inevitable.
8. Earth Defense Force 2025 ; EDF just got better, and all it needed was some Havoc Physics.
9. P.T. ; A demo for a game I will never buy was one of the most engrossing experiences I've had gaming this year.
10. Driveclub ; More Drive than Club, a racer for the no-bullshit generation.
Dec 23, 2013
1. Bayonetta 2: Fun as hell, fast, filled with spectacle; it seems that Nintendo is having more fun than most games companies these days. Coupled with their other exclusives this year, it's clear that Nintendo just wants to make fun-ass games. And they succeed with Bayonetta 2. It's dumb, loud, and the story isn't important. It has the kind of easy to pick up, hard to master combat perfected by Platinum. This was the best time I had playing a game this year.
2. Wolfenstein: The New Order: This came out of nowhere, didn't it? The last game I expected to end up on a year-end list was a new Wolfenstein. And you know what? It's a damn fine FPS. Loaded with a robust and comitted story and supported by fun gunplay and enemy designs, this game was a blast to run through. In terms of FPS campaigns, this one is as focused as the best of them.
3. Threes!: I was obsessed with Threes! at multiple points this year. I slaved over my top scores, which I never do. Easy to understand and endlessly addicting, this is the exact kind of game I want on iOS.
4. Far Cry 4: I have to admit, I have not completely finished this game. But I've played enough to know that it's more of the same, and in a good way. I loved FC3, and yes, this is just a reskin, basically. But they added small improvements to make the entire experience feel more cohesive. The story is weak, but at this point I play these games for the crazy shit that occurs in the world. And the many side missions. And the hunting.
5. Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor: I am a fan of the LOTR books and movies, but I have always sworn that a good LOTR game could never be done. However, it looks like I was proved wrong. SoM is a mish-mash of styles of gameplay that worked last gen and continue to work this gen, all wrapped up in a package that includes perhaps the best example of a "next-gen" feature yet: the nemesis system. It takes those nameless thugs, throws a name on them, a little bit of characterization, and forces you to meet and fight them. As a result, this leaves the world of the game feeling more alive than a lot of semi-open world action games, such as the Arkham series. It also creates a legitimately thrilling and addicting distraction. Hell, to me, it's not even a distraction - it might as well be the game.
6. Mario Kart 8: I have never been the biggest MK fan, but boy did the online in this one hook me. The game plays amazingly well, looks beautiful, and has a smooth, however basic, online suite. Kart racers rarely get more fun than this.
7. South Park: The Stick of Truth: South Park is a series that sometimes makes me laugh and other times has me rolling my eyeballs. I believe it is almost always incredibly well-pointed in its satire, but when it tries to deviate from that, it falls flat for me. That's why I was surprised that I found myself laughing so damn much at this game. It is one of the funniest games ever made, no doubt, but it has some pretty solid gameplay. It's not particularly deep or anything, but it is a fun ride that never takes itself seriously.
8. The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth: The original BoI had its hooks deep in me for a while, and this remake did the same. With a bevvy of new content, Rebirth refreshes this always tough, always engaging game with a ton of life. It made me appreciate the original even more. I have a thing for addicting games, and this is one that I always keep coming back to.
9. Titanfall: Man, playing Titanfall around launch was damn fun. The movement while playing as a pilot just felt so good, and made a multiplayer shooter actually feel like something new. I rarely stick with these types of games, but I found myself coming back to Titanfall time and time again to gain that same thrill from jumping everywhere, popping dudes, and then jumping into my mech and causing so much chaos that I had to shoot myself out of it.
10. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze: Some of the hardest platforming, best music, best level design, and most beautiful visuals to emerge this year. This game shows that when Retro is firing on all cylinders, they really nail this genre. It is a fun yet crushingly brutal game at some times. That is a tough balancing act to maintain, yet TF does it from beginning to end.
Feb 17, 2012
Putting the finishing touches on my list. Can anyone speak to whether the parser will take ordered list tags or do I need to edit down to an actual list?

Ordered list is much easier while things are in flux but I don't want it to fuck up my vote now that I'm just about finalized. I'll probably set it up manually just to be safe, but interested in knowing all the same.
Jun 9, 2011
Well, this year has come and gone, and my time budget has taken a major hit. I finally found time to play great games I should have last year (The Wonderful 101, Pikmin 3, Etrian Odyssey IV, Super Mario 3DW), obviously finally got around to getting a WiiU, and came to wish I had waited to buy a PS4 until August.

Let's get the usual caveat out of the way first.

Among the dozens of games I should have played but didn't have time for, these are the ones I'm most eager to fit into 2015:

Divinity: Original Sin - Feel silly to have not played this this year. Almost bought it like 6 months ago, don't even remember why I didn't.

Wolfenstein: TNO
- Everyone I pay attention to on this site seems to like or love this game. I feel left out.

Earth Defense Force 2025 - Yep.

Freedom Wars - Like this kind of game, didn't have the time to try it though.

Dark Souls 2 - Didn't hook me at the start. Meant to play it on PC. Just didn't happen.

Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze - Rented it and never played past the first area before I had to send it back to get other games. Don't hurt me.

Pushmo World - Just got around to buying it :p

Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris - My cup of tea, will get around to it eventually.

Persona Q - My number 1 priority for January.

And now without further ado:

2014's Best Games Saddled with Unforgivable Bloat:

Dragon Age: Inquisition
Much to my surprise, I actually really enjoyed this game. Somewhat of a return to form to Origins, the game is still a bit of a mess at conflict with itself, held together with decent characters, great worldbuilding, and serviceable combat. But like so many RPGs in the last 10 years, sidequests have become rote pseudo-MMO fare to the extent of completely missing the point of side-quests. Whereas a game with alternate paths should mean more variety and better rewards for extra effort, side quests have become a method of padding with repetition for middling inconsequential nonsense or completely contrived and meaningless sideways progression. A shame, but predictable.

Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor
An unfortunate indication that good mechanics and a wonderfully clever system can't make the Assassin's Creed formula any more interesting, Shadow of Mordor is the epitome of a great title to rent and not bother finishing. Essentially the action equivalent of Dragon Age: Inquisition, only even thinner under the map marker skinner box fare and empty padding. That Nemesis System tho

InFamous: Second Son
I like games where you take over territory through skirmishes. There, I said it. While Second Son does make an effort to keep things fresh by constantly expanding your arsenal, the game simply wears thin long before you near the end. My condolences to any completionists.

Honorable Mentions:

x. Jojo's Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle ; Is it a good fighting game? I'm not sure tbh. Boasting the obligatory bizarre cast, this game brings some of the strangest attacks to the table I've seen in a fighting game in years and reminds me of all the wonderfully silly experimental fighters from back in the "let's copy Street Fighter or Tekken" heyday. Unlocking shit is actually pretty fun, and it has easily one of the best Soundtracks of the year.

x. South Park: The Stick of Truth ; By all measure, this game was a bit janky and stupidly easy, but the mechanics and systems were surprisingly fun all the same, and easily is one of the best licensed games of all time. Name another game that both captures the flavor, history, and look of its source material this well. I adored the point and click nature of exploring each area more than I would have imagined, and the combat was fun if slow.

x. Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky ; I'm a sucker for these games, and while I think I liked Meruru better, this was more of the same fare I've enjoyed time and time again, belts with furry tails and unnecessary fanservice aside. Collecting resources, crafting blending nicely with combat and time management, it's a relaxing experience that I haven't gotten from any other series.

x. Deception IV: Blood Ties ; Fun as hell on the Vita, I gotta say. It's frankly a bit of a mess in it's approach, and running away while futzing with the camera is occasionally annoying, but creating a contraption and watching everything come together is quite satisfying.

2014's Best Game I Can't Nominate:

Heroes of the Storm - Alpha
I've played more hours of this this year than probably anything else. I'm not a MOBA person at all - I could stand about a week of LoL with friends - but the focus on objectives in this title makes for something a bit different. The overall effect is like the fun and competitiveness of Vanilla WoW Battlegrounds, and I think that's what keeps me coming back. That and Abathur.

My Top 5:

5. TxK ; Why am I so drawn to this game? I played Tempest briefly way back in the day, but something about this new version simply turns it into as perfect a beast as it could be. Variety versus predictability, limitation versus endlessness, skill versus randomness, simplicity versus confounding complexity, all as endlessly challenging as you want it to be with as organic a difficulty curve as you could ask for, it's as distilled a retro arcade experience as I can imagine, yet feels fresh and modern all the same. Did not expect this to land anywhere near the top of my list, but it's had the staying power to keep me coming back all year.

4. Mario Kart 8 ; As barebones as this ended up, it was still everything I really wanted it to be. Easily one of the most fun competitive games I've ever played, with ridiculous staying power. One of those few games I recommend to anyone and everyone.

3. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker ; I'm a flat out sucker for puzzle games, and while the campaign is light on challenge, this game commits to its central conceit completely. Part Rubik's Cube, part navigating a Rube Goldberg machine, each level is a reintroduction to the fundamentals of creating a world in 3D and the intrinsic difficulty possible if you ignore the restrictions that visibility and convention have imposed on the medium for years. Gimmicky? Less than you might imagine, thanks to the talent behind this title. Puzzle platformers may have felt a dime a dozen in recent years, but honestly this doesn't feel much like any of them. Each stage is a fresh exploration of a theme in the kind of way that often only Nintendo can accomplish. So many will probably avoid this game because of the presentation, and that's a shame.

2. The Evil Within ; The Evil Within is another example of the kind of game I fall for in spite of myself. Ask anyone who actually enjoys this game, and you will get 5 or 6 stages they hate - roughly 1/3 of the game - with no consistency in which stages those are. This is a game which juggles variety with quality often, and has probably turned off half the people who have tried to finish it.

But again, this kind of game appeals to me. Like many games Mikami's hand is obvious in, this is a game that focuses on giving players a set of tools and then forms challenges around them to follow those tools to many potential ends. When the level design is good, it is very, very good, and for those with the patience and inclination, you are in for a set of open ended if linear playgrounds for you to experiment with your tools and explore a variety of approaches to each encounter.

Like SMTIV last year, I fell for this flawed gem because it's focus is right where I want it to be. The combat is satisfying, most encounters feel consistently challenging despite often superficially seeming similar, and this in combination with the level design creates a game that stays engaging even when it missteps.

1. Bayonetta 2 ; Such an utterly predictable number 1, but what can I say. Bayonetta 2 is everything I could ask for from a game - perfectly paced, well balanced, nearly devoid of bloat, designed as both a challenging campaign and something which promotes the development of playstyle and skill until the player has mastered every encounter, Bayonetta 2 is the epitome of the kind of game I thought would be everywhere by now 15 years ago. Instead the industry has gone in different directions, some tolerable, others not as much, but I am so thankful there are people out there still making this kind of game. With actually fun unlockables and lots of variety, this is the only new thing I've played this year I'm comfortable calling a new classic. The impact may be dulled by the lack of novelty as is the burden of any sequel, but for my money this takes Bayonetta 1 to its logical ends, and mercifully removes some of the first games more glaring flaws.
Jun 9, 2011
Fine Ham Abounds my nigga you know damn well you got to put the descriptions on the same line as the semi-colons

but cool list anyway, as expected

won't forgive you for what you did to Tropical Freeze tho
Coulda sworn I didn't do that last year. Will fix

I know man, I'll be renting it again soon

Thinking about it some more, I might throw a couple more honorable mentions in there later.
Apr 7, 2008
Well shit, i still have Dragon age, Shadow of mordor, and Isolation still sealed. I was hoping to be done with them by now but life got in the way. That doesn't include games like shovel knight or captain toad… FML.


1. Bayonetta 2 ; What can I say? This game was the most unforgettable game this year and one of the best games I have ever played.

2. Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze ; I think my experience with this game is vastly different from others. For one I play this game in co-op, I prefer to use the Wiimote + Nunchuck combo, and i held out on this game for 6 months before cracking it open. The reason for that is because this is a game I play with my sister, from beginning to end. While she is also a gamer we tend to play by ourselves, and co-op titles didn't grab us like this series did. I still thin our time with Returns is better, but by god did we love TF. Everything is exactly what we expected and it is a game I will cherish deeply in my heart because of it.

3. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U ; I'm actually kind of baffled that this is taking my number 3 spot, mainly because I think this series never resonated with me as much as it did for others. But this truly is an excellent game through and through. The content, the roster, stages, etc. Are all top notch, I found myself playing this game more than any other.

4. The Evil Within ; I made a promise to myself to not read people's thoughts on this game and form my own opinion on it. And I think that paid off considering it's on my GOTY list. The game has a lot of issues, such as the flow-disrupting upgrade system, the "real time" weapon switching, and some weak chapters. But when it gets rolling it hits hard. The game is never scary in a sense, but it is intense, and it is gripping. How the levels completely change from one chapter to the next was also refreshing to see in the so-called "immersive" games. It made for a very interestingly-paced title.

5. Mario Kart 8 ; It's Mario Kart, only the best version of it, by far.

6. P.T. ; I didn't want to put this into my top 10 list, but the experience was so powerful I couldn't just ignore it. Even for a 30 minute game it captured everything that made video games so good. If the full game is released next year there is a very good chance of it showing up at the top of my list. In a year where Zelda and the Last Guardian is released (fuck you it's going to happen, believe!) That's saying a lot

7. Bravely Default ; I am still debating whether or not to include this on my list, but ultimately I'm going for it just because of the time I spent on it. I enjoyed this game, a lot even, there are a lot of clever things done in there, and I am ready for the sequel… But that downfall, I've never seen a game in my life decline as fast as this title. Such a shame, it would've ended much higher on my list.

8. Game H ; Your thoughts on Game H.
9. Game I ; Your thoughts on Game I.
10. Game J ; Your thoughts on Game J.

And that's it on my part. there are more games I played this year ( TLOUR, SSB 3DS, ORAS, etc.) But I don't feel like they represent this year at all to me, so I'm just going to stick with these 7 games for now. I hope to at least include one more game before voting is closed.
May 8, 2012
1. Metal Gear Solid V Ground Zeroes; fun, many different missions, always enjoys the style of gameplay, world and character settings all for 10 dollars
2. Diablo III Ultimate Evil Edition; spent countless hours but it eventually came to a halt, great online component.
3. Hohokum; its kind of magical
4. MLB 14; baseball
5. Drive Club; great driving game, track variety became a problem later on.
6. Senran Kagura: Shinovi Versus; boobs and vita
7. The Last of Us: Remastered; great game became better
8. Infamous Second Son; those powers
9. Destiny of Spirits; i spent real money on this
10. The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings Enhanced Edition; the problem with it is its too good?
Feb 16, 2014
1. Alien:Isolation ; The return of real survival horror.
2. Titanfall ; Half of one of the best games I've played.
3. Resogun Survivor DLC ; More Resogun? Fuck yes!
4. Wolfenstein: New Order ; Retro shooting done right.
5. Dragon Age: Inquisition ; Dragon Age is back baby .
6. The Banner Saga ; Norse nirvana.
7. Wasteland 2 ; The real Fallout 3.
8. Bayonetta 2 ; A great sequel to a wonderful game.
9. South Park: Stick of Truth; A passionate mix of South Park and RPG gaming.
10.The Swapper ; Great style, amazing gameplay.

Honorable Mentions
x. Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes ; Great demo, misses top 10 for silly price should have been $10 tops.
x. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze ; More Kong is always a good thing.
Oct 17, 2010
1. P.T. - yeah, it's a demo that runs roughly around 2 hours from start to finish and it has no real gameplay to speak of. But everything from the visuals, to the sound design, to the scares themselves are executed to such a degree of perfection that this is a game I'll never forget. From the early days of consulting GAF on how to progress through the more cryptic parts, to replaying it and replaying it with different people and watching them experience it for the first time, P.T was the only truly exciting game I played this year.

2. Alien: Isolation - Another atmosphere horror game. Truthfully, this should probably be above P.T., but it has flaws. The Alien encounters are trivialized by the end and it's way too long for how simplistic the gameplay is. But this might be the most faithful adaptation of a movie license I've ever played and I had a great time with it.

3. Pokemon Omega Ruby/Alpha Sapphire - excellent remakes of excellent games. This is the best Pokemon game yet and is one of the few games on my list I'll be playing well into next year.

4. Far Cry 4 - I mean, I guess it's pretty good. 90% of the content feels like a chore and it's basically a re-skinned FC3, but I've managed to have a ton of fun with the bare bones co-op, so this places highly for me.

5. Smash Bros for 3DS - I'm impressed by how well the game has translated to a handheld system, but I can never shake the feeling that I'd rather be playing the Wii U version. Still a fantastic fighter.

6. inFamous: Second Son - this would be a lot higher if I had played it more recently, but I remember a beautiful and enjoyable game that gave me my first real taste of next gen.

7. South Park: The Stick of Truth - hilarious.

8. Titanfall - A buttload of fun, but lacking content. Didn't hold my interest for very long.

9. Destiny - I liked this game a lot initially, but the post level 20 loot grind killed it for me. I ended up trading it in and I don't miss it one bit.

10. Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes - got it cheap and it was well worth the money. So many ways to approach any given situation, mechanically excellent and just lots of fun.


Wow, what a shitty year for people who don't have a Wii U (and haven't gotten a chance to play Dragon Age yet ;-;)
Dec 21, 2010
1. Dark Souls 2 ; I rarely beat a game twice, I did that with this game and almost right after I beat it the first time, it just completely sucked me in.
2. Dragon Age: Inquisition ; A welcome return to form after the shit mountain that was DA2, still doesn't beat Origins though.
3. Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft ; A fun easy to learn card game that has only gotten better through out the year.
4. Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes ; Evolution to the right direction in MGS gameplay, even though this was pretty much a demo, it was still damn fun to play and Kojima always manages to keep it fresh.
5. Super Smash Bros Wii U ;
6. Mario Kart 8 ;
7. Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor ;
8. Infamous: First Light ;
9. Wolfenstein: The New Order ;
10. South Park: The Stick of Truth ;

1. Dark Souls 2 ; Sequel to one of my favorite games of all time. Not without its flaws, but this game surpasses most other games released this year easily. Absolutely brilliant.

2. Dragon Age: Inquisition ; Spent nearly 100 hours playing this and getting all the achievements. I adored it. The characters and narrative elements, in particular. The story itself was a bit lacking, but the banter, the dialogue, the development and intrapersonal relations with your Inquisitor and your team.. Just so good.

3. Divinity: Original Sin ; I fucking loved Divinity Original Sin. The combat was so rewarding, the dialogue and world-building were top notch. Story was subtle at times but came around by the end to be quite momentous. Hell of a game, looking forward to whatever Larian Studios comes out with next.

4. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U ; It's Smash Bros!

5. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze ; One of the greatest platformers of all time holding not only amazing gameplay but a god-tier soundtrack. I 100%'d this and can't wait to do it again.

6. Shovel Knight ; My praise for this game has no limits. I've pimped it out to everyone I know and played through it several times. The spritework is very good and the gameplay is rich, rewarding, and challenging.

7. Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor ; The Nemesis system and the combat in this are the essential selling points for me. But oh, what an experience. Had some epic-as-fuck battles take place with multiple captains simultaneously. Dat Arkham combat style does this game wonders. Looking forward to a sequel!

8. Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls ; Diablo 3 was rather lackluster for me; Reaper of Souls fixed all that and made D3 a game I quickly became addicted to. Played it religiously with my friends for several weeks after release, which is saying something considering I am a little ADD lol.

9. World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor ; It's WoW, and with that comes all the pro's - and con's - that the series holds. But this xpac is really well done. The story and pacing of the leveling are refined, the loot system feels so much better, and once you hit 100 the gear isn't being a grindwall of faction rep. It's just a lot of fun!

10. Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call ; I adore FF music so this was a no-brainer for me. Played the first one a bit but really dug into this one.
May 7, 2014
United Kingdom

1. Bayonetta 2 ; Bayonetta 2 is a game that really shouldn't exist, but boy am I glad it does. Easily the best game Platinum has put out to date, and the best spectacle fighter on the market. Not an easy feat when you consider the high quality of the developer's output over the last few years. It's an unrelenting rollercoaster ride from start to finish, throwing new, well thought out enemies, and bosses at you at an alarmingly fast pace, & changes set-pieces with reckless abandon. The insane spectacle of it all never lets up and I love it for that. The fact that I completed it first time through in one sitting, which is an extreme rarity for me should speak volumes about how much I adore this game. Combine all of that with the extremely polished gameplay mechanics that Platinum are known for, and a combat system that's easy enough for more casual players to grasp the basics of, but in-depth and flexible enough for experienced players to really sink their teeth into, and you've got one of the best games in recent years, and in my opinion the best game of 2014. Thanks Nintendo, for giving Platinum a platform to build this game on. Because nobody else sure as hell would've.

2. Shovel Knight ; What a debut from Yacht Club games. Over the last few years we've had plenty of games that either pay tribute to older games from the 8/16 bit era, or straight up rip those games and their ideas off shamelessly, but Shovel Knight is one of the few games that strikes a great balance between catering to that "retro" niche, while also trying it's own thing. The whole retro-esque platformer shtick was getting a bit tiresome for me, but the excellent theme of the game, the clever, and varied level design, the appealing art design and aesthetic, tight as fuck controls, charming writing and characters, and Jake Kaufman's stand-out soundtrack elevated this above all of the other games made in this vein over the last few years. Bloody brilliant. A big thank you to all of you who supported the game on kickstarter. Without your contributions we may not have played such a wonderful game.

3. Super Smash Bros. For Wii U ; Get your pitchforks and torches ready folks. I REALLY disliked Brawl, random tripping, and the slower and floatier movement and pacing of the game just really put me off playing that game by myself or with my friends after the first week of launch. Smash Bros Wii U strikes this perfect balance between the two previous games and it feels spot-on! Sure, the content outside of the smash mode feels a bit sparse compared to brawl's admittedly excellent "Subspace Emissary" mode, the main menu layout often feels a bit counter-intuitive, hiding things away, and the omission of Solid Snake is a tad disappointing, but the gameplay is the best it's ever been for me in a long time, and with Smash, that's all that ever truly matters. Goodbye Melee, it's been a great 12 years together, but you can finally be put to rest! Here's to many more friday nights of booze, pizza and a whole lotta smash!

4. Mario Kart 8 ; Sure it has an anaemic battle mode, and the character roster is a bit all over the place, but it's a testament to what the game does right that even with those steps back, this is easily still the best Mario Kart game I've played to date. They finally got the handling, track design, and feel of the game down to a science, and the game's fantastic aesthetic ranks it up there as one of the generations best looking games to date, combine that with the best DLC of the year, and the best online ninty has to offer and you've got a brilliant package overall. But please Nintendo, add a fully fledged battle mode next time, and not the half-arsed attempt that's in this game, okay?

5. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze ; Is there anything that those wizards at Retro Studios can't work their magic with? Tropical Freeze embraces the tight mechanics and gameplay of the original SNES games, builds on that solid framework, and adds a lot of modern tweaks to bring it up to scratch with today's platformers, including an interesting take on platforming co-op. Everything about the game just reeks of quality and care. Each world has so much variety, taking you across various, beautiful looking vistas, each incredibly well designed level throwing something different and unique at you, the difficulty curve is spot-on and that music, my god that music! Fucking amazing, the soundtrack dabbles in so many different musical genres, each track just as impressive as the other in their own unique way. This year's been a good one for platformers and Tropical Freeze is right up there at the top.

6. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker ; The Captain Toad sections in 2013's "Super Mario 3D World" were a brilliant distraction, a lovely concept and nice break from the main game, and the way Nintendo's expanded on the idea with Treasure Tracker is admirable. Over 65 levels of genuinely gorgeous looking, engaging puzzle platforming with a focus on camera manipulation, and careful navigation. The fact that you're playing a character navigating the Mario universe who can't even jump is incredibly refreshing, and the way each boxy diorama puzzle played out kept me playing, and wanting to advance. There's even a surprising amount of replay value, with each level having hidden collectables, bonus objectives, and even a time challenge for each level. Nintendo did a lot with such a small package, it's just a shame there wasn't a little bit more content, then it'd rank much higher on my list.

7. Wolfenstein: The New Order ; Well, holy shit did this come out of nowhere! A game that I had no anticipation for, due to misleading promotional trailers, previews and a lack of proper information about the game itself leading up to it's release day ends up being one of my games of the year. MachineGames' debut is easily one of the best FPS's I've played in recent years. The gameplay is arcadey and satisfying and it just feels great to play, and the whole alternative reality world War 2 theme and it's nazi twists on pop culture references and just the games overall aesthetic just really clicked with me. It feels like MachineGames went into this project with a fresh set of eyes and set out to make their own refreshing twist on the series, and they succeeded with aplomb! The studio consists of quite a few members of outstanding Swedish game developer Starbreeze, and it shows. It's refreshing to see an FPS focus on a lengthy single player campaign as well, ditching multiplayer. Best FPS of the year by far, and the biggest surprise too. Buy it!

8. Sunset Overdrive ; This game is bloody gorgeous. The whole blue and orange aesthetic just looks outstanding. Insomniac did a top notch job in making a AAA game that really stood out amongst the crowd of darker, more gritty big budget games of recent years, but what really elevates this game amongst most of the "next-gen" games released so far for me is it's idea of traversal and movement. Grinding on cables, fences, and walls, dashing mid-air from building to building, swinging off of lamp posts, and running across walls, and chaining all of these actions into combos whilst shooting just feels great. It harkens back to the likes of Jet Set Radio, the early Tony Hawk's games and even Crackdown where movement in general never felt tedious, or boring. Which is something most modern sandbox games seem to ignore, instead choosing to often to ground their games in reality, opting for your standard on-foot/vehicle movement. I hope that the genre takes a good hard look at the likes of Sunset Overdrive and it's previous ilk and tries to expand on what they've introduced. Kudos to Insomniac for proving to me that sandbox games can still be fun!

9. Earth Defense Force 2025 ; EDF 2025 is a game that most people will most likely despise right out of the gate, it has a ton of issues that most gamers today would dismiss the game for, the games framerate is all over the place, there's collision detection issues everywhere and it's ugly as sin, but EDF 2025, much like the games before it offers a fun experience that very few games can. Stomping around a city, shooting the ever-loving shit out of giant bugs, 200 foot tall robots, gigantic airborne wasps and dragons and UFO's the size of a small city all whilst toppling skyscrapers and buildings still feels as satisfying now than it did back then with the series debut back on the PS2. The addition of 4 classes, hundreds of new weapons for each class to unlock, and a local and online co-op mode add a ton of replay value to what is already a big game, with over 85 levels to play through. Oh, and the voice acting is woefully bad, but it really adds to the b-movie charm of these games. Despite all the technical issues, it's still a blast to play. Never change EDF!

10. Ziggurat ; The first early access game to ever make it onto one of my lists. Ziggurat, even in it's current state is easily one of the best examples of a "rogue-lite" in recent years. A great range of varied and useful magic and alchemy themed weaponry, mixed with a chunky WoW-esque aesthetic really helps Ziggurat stand out from the numerous first person rogue-lites we've had over the last couple of years. The blistering movement speed and pacing of the gameplay much like Tower of Guns really takes the tedium out of a genre that can often frustrate the player, and the random generation of each and every stage never feels too unfair, badly designed, or overly complex. And considering that the game's still in early access, the fact that it's this good even at this early stage, is impressive. Keep up the good work Milkstone games. Can't wait to see how this game will improve as exits early access next year.
Aug 18, 2014
10. Ziggurat ; The first early access game to ever make it onto one of my lists. Ziggurat, even in it's current state is easily one of the best examples of a "rogue-lite" in recent years. A great range of varied and useful magic and alchemy themed weaponry, mixed with a chunky WoW-esque aesthetic really helps Ziggurat stand out from the numerous first person rogue-lites we've had over the last couple of years. The blistering movement speed and pacing of the gameplay much like Tower of Guns really takes the tedium out of a genre that can often frustrate the player, and the random generation of each and every stage never feels too unfair, badly designed, or overly complex. And considering that the game's still in early access, the fact that it's this good even at this early stage, is impressive. Keep up the good work Milkstone games. Can't wait to see how this game will improve as exits early access next year.
I don't think early access games are eligible.
Feb 16, 2010
Call it pointless, but there have been some great lists and excellent writeups on the last few pages. Given so many other threads about what's terrible in gaming, seeing so much positivity is heartwarming. Brings a tear to the eye... well done everyone!
Aug 20, 2006
New Zealand
Ok, here goes. A lot of people were down on 2014 but I actually really enjoyed it game wise! And I'm usually pretty picky.

1. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U ; Simply the best game I played all year, while the 3DS one was impressive it was the big brother Wii U release that I was really waiting for.
2. Dark Souls II ; It goes to show how good Dark Souls 1 was when I say 2 wasn't as good but it was still my second most favourite game of the year! Awesome atmosphere, awesome gameplay, I hope they just keep making these games forever!
3. Mario Kart 8 ; Pure fun, that is the only way I can describe it - without doubt the best Mario Kart game ever, gawd is it beautiful too. Seriously, Nintendo HD is what dreams are made off.
4. Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare ; Wow! What a surprise, what started as just a 'filler game' until Titanfall hit turned out to become my most favourite online shooter of the year lol! While everything else in the category disappointed, PvZ kept me coming back with its ridiculously fun and engaging team fun.
5. Hyrule Warriors ; I am the Zelda fan but even I didn't expect I'd enjoy it as much as I did. I had never played a Warriors game before but the pure gameplay + attention to detail was really awesome, you can tell the guys who made it are huge Zelda fanboys too. :p
6. Bayonetta 2 ; Not as ga-ga for the series (or this type of game) as most people, but I still managed to enjoy it, which I guess goes to show how good a game it is. I'm not surprised people who actually like them were flying to the moon!
7. Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor ; Snuck in right at the end of the year, I jumped in late (was always on my radar though) and I'm very happy I did, LotR has a special place in my heart as a New Zealander and its so awesome to have a really good game to play in its world.
8. Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII ; I'm a huge FF fan and I don't care what other people think, I enjoy the FFXIII series, I really do, I'm not sure we needed 3 of them but I played through them all and still really enjoyed myself. Even 100%'ed the later two.
9. Tomodachi Life ; Weirdly, despite the number of great games for it still, for some reason it felt like a slower year for the 3DS than previously. Tomodachi Life still managed to take up 100+hrs of my real life though.
10. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze ; Criminally forgotten game, it really does not get the respect it deserves - and yet here it is, only 10th on my list, I'm not sure why. It was amazing, I don't know how to explain it.

Honorable Mentions
x. Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS ; Really awesome game, surprisingly much better 3DS effort than I expected, but don't want to put it on the main list because Wii U one is the main one, 3DS is more an 'accessory' to it for me.
x. Shovel Knight ; Despite being forced to wait a ridiculous amount of time for the PAL version, in the end it was well worth it, one of the few 'NES style' modern games I really really like.
x. The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth ; Only just started playing a few weeks ago, but much like Hotline Miami I can already tell why they're so popular. Really fun and addictive!
x. Titanfall ; Great game, its actually super fun to play, I just lost interest really quickly and I'm not sure why.
Dec 14, 2008
How'd I miss this until now? Anyway, really enjoying reading everyones lists so far. There's some great stuff that I would never have thought of including, such as Vib Ribbon and Lovely Planet.
Jul 12, 2014
1. Bayonetta 2 ; What can be said about Bayonetta 2 that hasn't been said over and over? It is Platinum at their finest. The action is on point, the cutscenes are fantastic and Bayonetta's attitude is always enjoyable. I just got Bayonetta 2 on Christmas so I haven't played it to my fill yet, I've finished the story and I intend to go back and play it a ton more. I just love that game. The boss fights are insane, I want to go back and watch someone else fight some of them just so I can see everything that is happening in the background. I hope that this game sells well enough that Platinum get to continue the series.

2. Dragon Age: Inquisition ; I had a really hard time trying to decide which game should be number one. I ended up going with Bayonetta 2 because while I absolutely loved DA:I... it has so many faults. I'm a huge Dragon Age fan, Origins is one of my favorite games ever. DA2 was awful, I hated it... DA:I gives me hope that the Dragon Age series can continue. Yeah, its filled with MMO-style quests and the story missions themselves aren't long... but goddamn if I don't love the characters and their stories. I adore the world of Dragon Age, I want to see it continue.

3. Dark Souls 2 ; The sequel to one of my favorite games of all time. I get why people are sour on it, it didn't quite live up to DS1 but it was still a fantastic game in its own right. Seeing Majula for the first time was breathtaking. The arena was a really cool idea but I'm not quite sure why they didn't disable Estus for it. Either way, it took me months to stop playing this game. I played it a ton on PS3 and then my friend bought it for me on PC upon release and I played it a ton more.

4. Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor ; This was probably my biggest surprise of 2014. I had no idea about this game until it was nearly out, I don't know if I just missed the coverage for it or I didn't care but once it was out and people were talking about it I had to check it out. What a fun game this was. The Nemesis System made for fantastic stories... making up for the lack of a decent main line story. The executions were gruesome (and awesome) and the world looked fantastic. I wish the side characters played a bigger role, some of them seemed pretty awesome but they'd show up and leave just as quickly as they appeared... then the final missions were a joke. Otherwise, the game was a blast. I did everything and don't regret it in the slightest.

5. Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls ; When Diablo 3 came out last year I expected so much. I played it a ton hoping I'd find that magic that I remembered from Diablo 2. I ended up beating Diablo on Inferno before he got nerfed on my super frustrating to play Demon Hunter, I had to do it solo because playing with friends made everything impossible. I quit and came back a few times but the game seemed lacking. Reaper of Souls came out and man... I couldn't stop playing. The Crusader was a blast to play. Rifts made farming items more enjoyable than running through the awful story over and over. Then the changes to legendaries and how they dropped just made the gameplay more rewarding. I'm looking forward to the next season, I'll definitely play that a bunch.

6. Transistor ; I fucking love Supergiant Games. My hype levels for Transistor were entirely too high and I still felt like the game met them once it was released. I played through the game twice, did every challenge map and loved every moment. I still listen to the amazing soundtrack to this day (Ashley Barrett's voice is godlike). I wish the game had been longer, I felt like I hit the end way too soon. However, I can honestly say I loved every minute of that game. I just want to know what Supergiant is working on right now.

7. The Last of Us: Left Behind ; The Last of Us was my game of the year last year by miles. Considering how hard I debated with myself over my number one this year... there was no question in 2013. Left Behind was an awesome experience... I liked how the DLC was split between "current day" Ellie trying to find supplies to help Joel and flashbacks of the last days she got to spend with Riley. Walking around that mall was fantastic. The costume store had some of the most hilarious stuff I've seen in a long time. We barely got to know Riley but she's a character I won't soon forget.

8. Infamous: First Light ; So Infamous: Second Son was the reason I wanted a PS4. I loved Infamous 1 and 2. Infamous: SS was a beautiful game but I hated it before I got traversal powers (like Neon) and I wasn't a fan of Delsin and DEFINITELY not his brother. Despite that it would still likely be my #10 game of the year. Infamous games are just fun as far as I'm concerned, I love the freedom of movement and powers. I held off on First Light. I heard it was just "more Infamous" and it wasn't very good. Well, I wish I would've bought it months ago. Fetch is a better character than Delsin, the expanded Neon powers are more fun than Second Son's combined powers. I hope that we get another Infamous a few years down the road where Fetch is the main character though I sincerely doubt it. Sucker Punch has some room for improvement with their formula and considering the open world games that have come out in recent years they can make leaps and bounds. So as silly as it is, First Light is the best Infamous game of 2014 in my opinion.

9. South Park: The Stick of Truth ; So, I'm not a fan of South Park. I watched it for a bit once it originally came out but I felt like I outgrew it pretty quick. I haven't watched an episode of the show in well over 12 years. Yet, I felt like I had to play the game. The idea that this RPG would look as if it was an episode of the show intrigued me. I'm really happy I played it. The writing was phenominal, this game had more laugh out loud moments than anything else I've played this year. By the end of the game the combat seemed to drag on for me but overall I'm really happy I played it.... that fucking Underpants Gnome scene. Holy shit.

10. The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth ; I really dug the idea of the original Binding of Isaac. I haaaaated playing it with a keyboard. I used Joy2Key to set up a controller and it always felt wonky to me. I got Rebirth through PS+ and I've played it a ton. The game is so fun and so frustrating at times but I'm always coming back for just another run. The more you play the more you learn and the better you do. It is just so much fun to get a couple awesome items and just mow through levels without a thought. One of my first runs ever got me homing tears followed by a laser. I didn't even have to aim anymore, the laser just arced throughout the entire room and destroyed everything. SO GOOD.
Mar 16, 2014
1) Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor - I had more fun with this than anything else this year. As a Middle-earth fan, I'd describe it as fun fan fiction and I had a blast finding the artifacts and other little hidden things. Also, I enjoyed the two protagonists a lot more than most seemed to. The story was neat even though it fizzled out a bit at the end.

2) Dragon Age: Inquisition

3) P.T.

May 4, 2005
1. Bayonetta 2: Fun as hell, fast, filled with spectacle; it seems that Nintendo is having more fun than most games companies these days. Coupled with their other exclusives this year, it's clear that Nintendo just wants to make fun-ass games. And they succeed with Bayonetta 2. It's dumb, loud, and the story isn't important. It has the kind of easy to pick up, hard to master combat perfected by Platinum. This was the best time I had playing a game this year.
2. Wolfenstein: The New Order: This came out of nowhere, didn't it? The last game I expected to end up on a year-end list was a new Wolfenstein. And you know what? It's a damn fine FPS. Loaded with a robust and comitted story and supported by fun gunplay and enemy designs, this game was a blast to run through. In terms of FPS campaigns, this one is as focused as the best of them.
3. Threes![/B]: I was obsessed with Threes! at multiple points this year. I slaved over my top scores, which I never do. Easy to understand and endlessly addicting, this is the exact kind of game I want on iOS.
4. Far Cry 4: I have to admit, I have not completely finished this game. But I've played enough to know that it's more of the same, and in a good way. I loved FC3, and yes, this is just a reskin, basically. But they added small improvements to make the entire experience feel more cohesive. The story is weak, but at this point I play these games for the crazy shit that occurs in the world. And the many side missions. And the hunting.
5. Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor: I am a fan of the LOTR books and movies, but I have always sworn that a good LOTR game could never be done. However, it looks like I was proved wrong. SoM is a mish-mash of styles of gameplay that worked last gen and continue to work this gen, all wrapped up in a package that includes perhaps the best example of a "next-gen" feature yet: the nemesis system. It takes those nameless thugs, throws a name on them, a little bit of characterization, and forces you to meet and fight them. As a result, this leaves the world of the game feeling more alive than a lot of semi-open world action games, such as the Arkham series. It also creates a legitimately thrilling and addicting distraction. Hell, to me, it's not even a distraction - it might as well be the game.
6. Mario Kart 8: I have never been the biggest MK fan, but boy did the online in this one hook me. The game plays amazingly well, looks beautiful, and has a smooth, however basic, online suite. Kart racers rarely get more fun than this.
7. South Park: The Stick of Truth: South Park is a series that sometimes makes me laugh and other times has me rolling my eyeballs. I believe it is almost always incredibly well-pointed in its satire, but when it tries to deviate from that, it falls flat for me. That's why I was surprised that I found myself laughing so damn much at this game. It is one of the funniest games ever made, no doubt, but it has some pretty solid gameplay. It's not particularly deep or anything, but it is a fun ride that never takes itself seriously.
8. The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth: The original BoI had its hooks deep in me for a while, and this remake did the same. With a bevvy of new content, Rebirth refreshes this always tough, always engaging game with a ton of life. It made me appreciate the original even more. I have a thing for addicting games, and this is one that I always keep coming back to.
9. Titanfall: Man, playing Titanfall around launch was damn fun. The movement while playing as a pilot just felt so good, and made a multiplayer shooter actually feel like something new. I rarely stick with these types of games, but I found myself coming back to Titanfall time and time again to gain that same thrill from jumping everywhere, popping dudes, and then jumping into my mech and causing so much chaos that I had to shoot myself out of it.
10. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze: Some of the hardest platforming, best music, best level design, and most beautiful visuals to emerge this year. This game shows that when Retro is firing on all cylinders, they really nail this genre. It is a fun yet crushingly brutal game at some times. That is a tough balancing act to maintain, yet TF does it from beginning to end.

You need to separate the game from the comments with a semicolon (;) not with a colon :)).
Dec 31, 2013

1) Dark Souls II ; Being the direct sequel to my favorite RPG of all time, I had fairly high expectations for this game. This game did not meet those expectations. In fact, this is easily my biggest disappointment of 2014. Anyone who paid any attention to the series probably recalls the deluge of threads criticizing every individual piece of the game. I can't say anything that hasn't already been said better many times over. The game, in terms of overall design, is a tangible step down. However, I've still put a couple hundred hours into the game and am anxious to play more. It still has lovably unforgiving gameplay, an grim world to explore, and countless ways to play. All in all, despite not being able to live up to the greatness of its predecessor, it is definitely my favorite game of the year. I suppose that only serves as a testament to how much I liked the first one.

2) Transistor ; Unlike my number 1 GOTY, I have a hard time coming up with any criticism of Transistor. The game has a killer art-style, soundtrack of the year, good writing, an interesting setting, and reasonably smooth blend of real-time and turn-based gameplay. Wrap all that in a tight, obscenely polished package, and you've got a great experience. I don't really want to spoil anything about it. If you enjoyed Bastion, I cannot recommend this game highly enough.

3) The Evil Within ; Yeah, this game had a lot of problems. Technical issues aside, the game's writing is flimsy at best and it has the cohesiveness you'd expect from a story set in a sociopath's brain. There are also issues with the encounter design. Most of the bosses have one-hit-kill attacks and, near the end, it commits the same crime RE5 & RE6 did in giving the zombies guns. That sucks. It isn't fun, it's annoying. So, why is this game so high on my list? Well, I'm a sucker for variety in horror games. Rather than just focus on one or two tropes like zombies and bioweapons, TEW tries to cover everything from chainsaw wielding maniacs to nightmare creatures borne of psychological trauma. Sure, it turns the game into a scrapbook for lunatics, but I got to see some weird shit while playing.

4) P.T. ; When I first heard there was going to be a Silent Hill game made by Kojima and Guillermo del Toro, I was not happy. I'm no fan of del Toro and Kojima's style is at odds with Silent Hill's tone. Boy, was I wrong. Even as a huge fan of the horror genre, this game scared the ever-loving shit out of me. Even though the game can be completed in 10 minutes, it is firmly seated as the scariest thing (movie or game) I have ever seen.

5) The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth ; This is another game that excels in my eyes mainly because of its subject matter. It's a game about a child fighting his way through biblically inspired horrors in order to face his fears and kill his mother. There is a profound amount of twisted thought that was put into this game. For example toothpicks are a power up. When you pick them up, Isaac shoves them into his eyes, stretching the lids away and turning his tears red with blood. It's disgusting, gory, needlessly violent, and tons of fun.

6) Shovel Knight ; If I had to list everything I want in a 2D platformer, I could just say "Shovel Knight". As with Transistor, I don't actually have anything bad to say about this game. Both games have good art, great music, and fun gameplay. I think Shovel Knight is slightly weaker in terms of art and music. But, it succeeds in having really terrific level design that teaches the player without the need for any formal tutorial. This is how 2D games should be made.

7) Super Smash Bros. for the Wii U ; I hated the 3ds version of this game. To me it was a bare bones version of what a Smash bros. game should be. For someone who usually plays alone, there was a dearth of content in it and I was very worried that the Wii U version would follow suit. Thankfully, the Wii U version released with a full supply of content and - unlike its handheld counterpart - it actually feels like a Smash game. I only have one real problem with the game, but it's too painful to speak of.


8) Child of Light ; When I was a kid, I had zero interest in turn-based games. I was always disappointed when I would get a rental back to my house only to find out that I had to go through 10 menus to throw a punch. Because of that bias, I never really got to enjoy any games like Pokemon or Final Fantasy. So, Child of Light was a revelation for me. It was the first turn-based I've ever enjoyed, which really opened me up to the genre (I'm still bashing my head against the brick wall that is SMT IV). Child of Light was simple charming fairytale and I enjoyed the hell out of it.

9) Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor ; When this game was first announced (out of nowhere) I was immediately enthralled. Free-roaming Mordor game with silky combat, Assassin's Creed platforming, and a "nemesis system". What's not to love? I was convinced that this game wasn't going to deliver and be "meh" at best. Ironically, it was one of the few games that delivered on its promises this year. Unfortunately, the game is held back by an anemic story told by cardboard characters and a terrible ending.
"The time has come for a new ring." Are you fucking kidding me?

10) Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes ; I've been eyeing the MGS series for quite some time now. There is something undeniably alluring about Kojima's universe, nonsensical as it may be. Though, I've picked a strange point to jump in. Ground Zeroes is a lightweight in cutscenes and weird dialogue. However, it has the best gameplay in the series to a newbie like me. So, now I really want to go back to the beginning, but now their age is more obvious than ever. Anyway, Ground Zeroes is a handful of missions on a single map. It cost me $40 and was worth every penny.

Honorable Mentions

x. Spelunky ; Spelunky is easily one of the best 2D platformers I've ever played. Despite ostensibly being a 2bit indie side-scroller, it puts the fear of god into me like very few games can. Every move you make has to be considered carefully, every resource has to be partitioned wisely, take absolutely nothing is to be taken for granted. You will die over and over again. The more you die, the more you will learn. The more you learn, the better you'll be. Spelunky's procedurally generated levels and steep difficulty curve, which prizes knowledge over skill, make it a blast to play over and over again. I think Spelunky is one of the best 2D sidescrollers ever made. The only reason it isn't on this list is because I think it's dishonest to call it a 2014 game.

x. Rogue Legacy ; Similar to Spelunky, Rogue Legacy would be close to the top of my list if I considered it a 2014 game. It's one of the best rogue-like games (along with Spelunky, FTL, and Isaac). If I die hundreds of times and keep coming back for more, you've done something right as a game designer.

x. Bayonetta 2 ; I'm ashamed to admit it, but I never got around to Bayo 2 in 2014. Even as a fan of the series and developer (and a Wii U owner), I still missed out on it.
Oct 5, 2013
1. Natural Doctrine; This is a game which is both challenging and unfair in equal measure, a strategy RPG with a seemingly simple set of rules which very quickly arrange themselves to completely screw you over. It's very easy to die. If you lose so much as one of the members of your party then you are presented with a game over screen. So why would I enjoy a game so much where the odds are stacked so heavily against you? There is just something about the game play that appeals to me, the delicate balancing act you have to perform to make your way through a level. The sense that if you put one foot wrong then you will pay for it. I like the story and characters as well, the English voice acting is a lot of fun. It's the most enjoyment I've had with an SRPG since Valkyria Chronicles, and it is the first SRPG since then to really pull me in and keep me interested over a long period of time. I've been playing it on and off since it's European launch and keep going back to it.

2. DriveClub; It feels like I've been waiting for this game a long time, and after going through the extended hype cycle I felt ready to be disappointed. It is rare for things to live up to such expectations but it did. I enjoyed Gran Turismo 5 & 6, but for all their admirable qualities, there was one thing that acted as a barrier to my enjoyment, and that is the time it takes to get into a race. DriveClub comes the closest I've ever seen to virtually eliminating that wait. It might not seem like a big thing, but it means that if you have the odd five minutes you can still have a go. And the game is like crack. So that five minutes quickly become two hours. Just one more lap. I'm quite fussy about handling when it comes to racing games, and if I don't like it will just put the game to one side and forget about it completely, but this game just nails it. The driving and that sense of terror when going at speed. I like the AI, which though maligned by some, is challenging and fun and gives you a sense of their being competitors rather than on rails opponents that you can lap and forget about. The tracks are one of the best parts of the game, so interesting and challenging, especially the point to point races, and there extra tracks that have come out since release have been great as well, not just offcuts. It feels like a game that is being constantly improved and expanded, and I for one have enjoyed going along for the ride.

3. Infamous: First Light; I enjoyed the original two infamous games a lot, so picking up a copy of Second Son was pretty much guaranteed. It was one of the main reasons I got a PS4 when I did. And I enjoyed the game a lot, but have yet to do the evil walk-though as I did with the other games. In some ways it felt as though the moral system had run its course, Delsin was just not as convincing as a morally ambiguous character as Cole was. First Light felt like a breath of fresh air, taking what they did in Second Son but cutting out a lot of the fat. It's streamlined and benefits for it, while being a much bigger game than I expected. Fetch is a great character, and the game feels less like a spin off and more like an enjoyable re-invention. They are both beautiful games, but in First Light the beauty feels more than skin deep, and gave them a chance to really hone the formula.

4. Rogue Legacy; I'd never quite got what Rogue-likes were all about. I'd played many versions of Rogue over the years, normally top down and tile based graphics where you didn't play long because you didn't last long. This is the game that made me appreciate the 2D side scrolling platforming versions of Rogue. It's secret was it's easy replayability. Die, and you will frequently, and it's just a quick hop, skip and jump and you're back in the action. Of course I didn't get to play for long, as for as soon as I got started my eight year old daughter would demand a go, and it would become a pass the controller game as my other kid joined in, until I was cycled out of the action completely. I never did get to finish it, but had such a great time, my daughter did, defeating all four of the bosses. Makes me feel old.

5. The Last of Us: Left Behind; I'd not bought this DLC after playing the original so I came to it fresh in the remastered edition and it was a great piece of the untold story that was done differently to how I'd expected. Having a good idea what was coming made it a bit of a bittersweet experience, as it was enjoyable travelling with those characters. A lot of great moments of humour as well which were unexpected. The gameplay was solid as you'd expect from a Naughty Dog game, and as a spin off from a game which pretty much nailed it you'd expect as much, though this one still tries a few new things.

6. Shadow of Mordor; Licensed spin offs have a reputation for being bad, but this is without doubt one of the few exceptions, like the Batman games before it, it takes an existing mythology and manages to create something interesting within that framework. Where the source material is a back drop against which the game plays out rather than the crutch it uses to support itself. The mix of stealth and combat and the almost seamless transition between them is really well done. The nemesis system is one of the best ideas to come out of games recently, encouraging personal grudges against NPCs. NPCs!

7. Diablo III: Reaper of Souls; I'd somehow managed to avoid the Diablo games before this and it was nothing like what I expected. The combat can be quite repetitive, but the variety of weapons and having a roll move helps spice things up a bit. Enjoyable enough traditional fantasy story, and some pretty nice voice acting.

8. Binding of Isaac: Rebirth; A wild and disturbing ride. From the opening narrative that really sets the tone, this game really grabs you. It's simple and challenging at the same time, requires a lot of luck as well as skill and something of a strong stomach. I'm not usually one for this kind of disturbing mix of blood and scatological toilet humour (if you can call it that) but it works and the game play is solid.

9. Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes; It took me a little while to get into this one, which is surprising considering how short it is, but it gives a glimpse of what will be possible in Phantom Pain.

10. Wolfenstein: The New Order; Unashamedly old school and brilliantly single player focussed, this is an enjoyable romp that harkens back to the classics. I wouldn't call it old fashioned though, just a refinement of classic game play with some wonderful dual wielding madness.

Honourable Mentions

X. Valiant Hearts; A brilliant point and click style adventure set in the First World War. It treats it's material with a lot of respect and tells a wonderfully melancholy story.
X. Alien Isolation; I've just not played through enough of this yet to put it in my top 10, but it's atmospheric. The environment isn't as dynamic as I'd like, but is likely a result of it being a multi-generational title.
X. Transistor; An interesting and original SRPG which I haven't played enough of yet.
Mar 4, 2012
1. The Last of Us Left Behind ; A wonderful, wonderful story that was expertly woven into the events of the main game. There was also a few fresh twists on the gameplay, which made me wish they were part of the main game. Though only a couple of hours long, this is my game of the year.

2. The Last of Us Remastered ; It feels a little bit naughty having both in the list, but I never got far into the PS3 version for various reasons, so this year's remaster gave me a second chance. It's great for so many reasons, but my favourite single aspect goes to the audio work that is an integral part of the gameplay. With listen-mode off and on hard (or higher), you really start to appreciate how the audio is more than just the decorative trimming that it often is in most AAA games. It's going to be a long wait for ND's next new IP (or follow up to this).

3. Mario Kart 8 ; This game has made my list for no other reason than local multiplayer. It is a great entry to the series and has consistently found itself in the disc tray long after other games have been forgotten about. Best entry since MK DS.

4. Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze ; It wasn't what I wanted from Retro, nonetheless, it's a great game. The platforming is challenging and action packed, the graphics are colourful and varied, the sound track drives everything on perfectly and the animation is supreme.

5. Pro Evolution Soccer 2015 ; Having an annual sports game on my list is unusual, but it has been so long since I enjoyed a good PES game. I'm loving this years' entry on the PS4, a lot. The licenses are still hit and miss, the menus aren't the most intuitive, but the gameplay feels so good that none of the other stuff matters. Great start, Konami.
Jan 12, 2009
1. Bayonetta 2 ; This game is fucking nuts. The action is so over-the-top, the music fits so well, and the encounters and enemy design are top-notch. I love the shit out of this game and am glad it was given the chance to see the light of day.

2. Super Smash Bros. For Wii U ; over 400 hours played already, and most of it all local co-op? Yeah, this will do. Also the amiibos have been a hit with me and my friends. I think we all at least own one a piece, some of us much more.

3. Professor Layton vs Phoenix Wright ; Two of my favorite series in one package? Yeah, this is awesome.

4. Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth ; Etrian tastiness with a Persona wrapper? Yeah, this will do. Having the superior P3 cast made it great too.

5. Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII ; The battle system in this game was fucking great, I enjoyed exploring the world, and Masashi Hamauzu and co. made some more awesome music as always.

6. Danganronpa 2 ; This game is even more fucking nuts. I marathoned the last 10 hours in one sitting, literally saying "holy fuck, what? what? wat? WHATAAAAAAT?" for the entire duration.

7. Danganronpa ; This game is fucking nuts, and I love it.

8. Mario Kart 8 ; Played over 60 hours with me and a friend in the same room going online. Non-stop fun.

9. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze ; This game is so solid. Loved doing the time trials especially.

10. World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor ; This is the best expansion yet. Blizzard keeps topping themselves.

Servbot #42

Unconfirmed Member
Sep 14, 2006
I haven't been able to play too many new games this year......But i still have time until January 16 so consider this partial list a work in progress.

1. Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft ; I always wanted to get into a CCG and so it happens Blizzard made a pretty awesome one. Easy to learn, hard to master. I put some much money and time into this game i feel guilty as fuck but whatever this game is awesome.

2. Call of Duty:Advanced Warfare ; the campaign is solid and the multiplayer is fun, pretty fun.

3. The Fall ; God this game is awesome, it has a cool premise with great writing and it meshes story with gameplay in a really clever way. Really looking forward to the next parts.

4. Last of us: Remastered ; Factions is such a cool multiplayer mode where being slow and methodical pays off in huge way. I even bought some DLC for it which is something i never do. The single player remains fantastic as well.

5. Hotline Miami ; I bought this on PC but i didn't really great into it that much until it came to consoles, the gameplay and the soundtrack made for an incredible experience. I fucking platinumed that game what else do want from me?!

6. Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare ; Holy shit i got this free and i felt i should have played something the multiplayer is awesome. Definitely not a kids only games.

7. Dark Souls 2 ; This game wasn't as good as the first dark souls, honestly looking back Dark souls 2 felt kinda phoned in. That's probably why i haven't come back since i finished, even for the trophies.

8. Metal Gear Solid 5: Ground Zeroes ; Finally a metal gear that doesn't play like shit (haven't played 4), short but sweet and makes me excited about phantom pain.

9. The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth; This game was allright.

10. The Swapper: I really like the look of this game and the puzzle are great.

Honorable Mentions
x. Gods Will be watching ; There's something about this fucking game that kept me going trough the story but the RNG gameplay just turned me away from the game for good.
x. Escape Goat 2 ; Worth the 4 bucks.
May 3, 2011
1. Age Of Wonders 3 ; I've played so much AOW3 this year and it eats my life away every single time. I don't even consider it a 4X really, not in the onboard mental compartmentalisation I go through -- it's a turn-based combat game with a 4X-ey strategy layer. The battle system is so good; variety, interesting systems, customisation and a distinct lack of dice rolls. That last point has a large part of why I enjoy the combat so much -- there's no missing on basic attacks and this allows for a lot more forward planning, you know you'll kill a unit and can position/focus/retreat in confidence. Tiny, simple system that I've spent a lot of this year thinking about.

2. Divinity: Original Sin ; Most fun turn-based combat ever put down in videogames, straight up. The opening 10, 15 hours are stunning, especially. A game which appreciates the part of pen n paper RPGs that's most fun - brain-engaging improvisation and playful, ego-stroking environmental interactions.

3. Might & Magic X: Legacy ; Janky and wobbly in places, presentation-wise. Skippable story. Lack of meaningful stats to consider outside of your core class choices. And amazing turn-based combat with exceptional balance. There's a recipe that this game follows to the letter, hell, beyond the letter. It nails why I play games like this and demands my attention, deliciously, from start to finish. It's a game that will grab you by the nuts by the second level up and not let go.

4. Banished ; Simple, clean, fresh, comforting, reliable, relaxing, nice, neat and uncommonly humble. I think I'll be playing Banished for years and years. It's a game entirely free from annoyances.

5. Shadowrun: Dragonfall - Director's Cut ; Combat's okay, serviceable, but the world-building, writing and characters are all perfectly pitched in the pulpy sweet spot that this genre revels in. A really fine piece of interactive story-telling, sublime escapism.

6. Legend Of Grimrock 2 ; A lovingly crafted world of buttons and puzzles and atmosphere with a combat system that I'm not fond of. The parts of Grimrock 2 which appeal to me, which suck me in and have me perma-grinning on the inside, are so strong that the minor design niggles inherent in the game (wall-staring, square-dancing) don't faze at all. For a tile-based 'puzzle island', this game's most surprising element is its little story moments, its scripted events; the game has exceptional character.

7. Wasteland 2 ; Flavour, writing, scenarios and world are spot on. Atmosphere through the roof. Combat's good enough to avoid tedium. Some UI elements aside, hard to actually fault the game. It does what it sets out to do with great success. Really easy to have fun with this game when you're in a mood for its specific setting. The game is a huge celebration of telling tales of the wastes.

8. The Banner Saga ; I've several problems with the combat, but they're on the side of 'interesting system design discussion', rather than dismissive 'this is crap'. I think the battle system just needs more time in the oven, the next iteration should be fantastic. And that aside, the rest of the game is superb. The writing is tight, directed and uses brevity where other games would wallow in exposition. The presentation is outstanding, truly beautiful in a retro cartoon way that lends an odd (perhaps personal to me, based on my childhood) legitimacy to this other-worldly magical land that the events occur within. It also has the best gameworld map. The best ever.

9. This War Of Mine ; Respectful and muted and just complicated enough to let its emegent storytelling sing. Not a happy song, but a personal and maudlin one, with a voice somewhat unique in this kind of resource management, pseudo-stealth game. Definitely a mood game, not one to have as a fallback - I can only play it when I'm after a certain experience. But if I'm looking to engage with emotions and uncertain fates in the face of adversity, TWOM has my back.

10. Blackguards ; A combat game, just a combat game, with an intensely open and detailed party-building foundation underneath it. The story is forgettable, flawed in places. The world is just a spreadsheet you go through. The writing has its moments but, for the most part, it's uninspired fantasy fare. None of which matters! This is wonderful turn-based grid combat, with varied and deadly encounter maps, brutally unforgiving dice and enemies abound. The game absolutely does not focus on its weaker aspects, the game absolutely does focus on getting you into mean fights and one-upping itself every battle. There's arguably an odd reliance on save-scumming for initial encounters, if only to figure out how the environmental interactions on any given map function, or to stick a middle finger up to five shitty opening dice rolls, but it is what it is. A very satisfying combat game. An additional positive aspect of the presentation is also an important, simple one -- everything's very, very snappy, very responsive. The game feels nice.

Aaagh, I look at that top 10 and I just think, "Fuck, 2014 was, for my personal tastes, really damn good."

Honourable Mentions
x. Wolfenstein: The New Order ;
x. South Park: The Stick Of Truth ;
x. Hearthstone ;
x. Endless Legend ;
x. Dragon Age: Inquisition ;
x. Xenonauts ;
x. Dark Souls 2 ;
x. Warlock 2 ;
x. Valkyria Chronicles ;

I wish I'd picked up and played The Talos Principle, everything I've seen about the game screams "mmmm, delicious." Just a bad month for finding 'treat myself' funds where games are concerned. Damn you, Santa.
Sep 6, 2014
Welp time to dive into my top 10:

1. Bayonetta 2 ; This game is chaotically beautiful. Each chapter filled with sheer style and execution. Endless combo opportunities and room for experimentation. The story is bombastic in a good extreme in your face anime kind of way and Bayonetta embodies both sexiness and confidence that makes every attack look graceful and elegant as much as it's bloody and brutal. All my life I thought DMC3 could never be toppled by any game in it's genre. Clearly I need to think again. Well done Platinum.

2. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze ; Classic Donkey Kong and David Wise coming back to do what he does best. This is the return that Donkey Kong deserves. Best Soudtrack and Platformer I played this year.

3. The Evil Within ; I've been waiting for that classic Japanese style horror game for a long time. Mikami delivered with this one. Despite the uneven FPS and letterbox presentation hiding a lot on screen, this game challenged me to approach and kill enemies with more than just a gun. I discovered every corner of this game and abused any trap I can find to one up my enemies. The crossbow alone had me approaching enemies differently with frost, fire, and normal bolts being my main uses. Never in any game did I feel the unnerving disappointment of missing a shot and becoming frustrated that I had just wasted a bullet for nothing. Ammo is scarce and item management had me thinking which weapon I would use to overcome an obstacle. This game isn't about being scared of the monsters. It's being scared that your ill-equipped to even take them on in the first place. My best action-survival horror this year.

4. Transistor ; I love the art style and the character Red. The world is fascinating and mysterious and so much to explore through cryptic messages and dialogue. The music is memorizing and plays a part in the world in telling a story. My favorite Indie game this year.

5. Super Time Force ; It's wacky time traveling skateboard dinosaur riding pure mayhem hijinks fun. The rewind time mechanic adds a whole new puzzle layer to getting through levels that is an absolute blast to use every single time. Your gonna need to do more than just contra your way through it. Also Zackasaurus is the best new character this year for me.

6. Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare ; I thought I was done with this series after Ghost but Advanced Warfare gave this series a much needed boost it needed. The story is the best that the series has had in years with Kevin Spacey delivering a top notch performance as the menacing Jonathan Irons and exo suits introduce a whole new way to maneuver and combat in this game. It's the breath of fresh air CoD needed in a long time.

7. Sunset Overdrive ; Insomniac is back doing what they do best, making crazy weapons. Humor is hit and miss but the world is colorful and the Tony Hawk and Jet Set Radio style of grinding and bouncing to build up powers and traverse is fun. Nothing about the game is serious and that's how it should be. It's got heart and personality and that's all that matters.

8. Middle-Earth: Shadows of Mordor ; Killing Orcs (or Uruks) is satisfying and the nemesis system is something that other devs need to take notes on.

9. Octodad: Dadliest Catch ; This is charming and adorable and weird and crazy and all sorts of other things to describe this wonderful joy of being an octopus disguised as a loving father.

10. Far Cry 4 ; More of the same from FC3 but Kyrat is fun to explore and the story is a huge step up even though it's still heavily flawed in some aspects. If nothing else at least Ubisoft put out something that actually worked and was good.

Honorable Mentions:
x. Destiny ; I can't deny that I had some fun with this game despite it not being the game we were promised since it was announced.
x. The Last of Us: Remastered ; A game worthy of a next-gen remaster and a story that got me hooked.
x. D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die ; I love you Swery.
x. Shovel Knight ; A nice homage to classic Mega Man and 8-bit platformers.
Jun 7, 2007
I'll try to write up about these later on, but I usually forget about deadlines on these things so just in case...

1. The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth ;
2. South Park: The Stick of Truth ;
3. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance ;
4. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U ;
5. Mario Kart 8 ;

Honorable Mentions

x. The Last of Us: Remastered ;
Jul 12, 2007
1. Driveclub ; I was a bit worried by the focus on social BS we got fed with pre-release but the game is so much more than that and, I have to admit it, this social BS turned out pretty great once fixed. Thrilling races, fantastic gameplay, outstanding sound and visuals put the game on top of my 2014 gaming experiences. It’s a blast to play and the sensations the game produces are just unmatched. And then there is this jaw dropping weather patch… You have to see it to believe it. I send a big, big thank you to Evolution Studios. What a game…
2. FTL: Advanced Edition ; this game is pure addiction, especially on my iPad. The tablet version is amazing. It’s the game I always return to when I have some time to kill (minutes or hours) and the game that ruined my sleep pattern with the god damn « one last turn and I stop… ». So good.
3. Wolfenstein: The New Order ; one of the very best solo campaign since Half-life 2 and episodes. A long and involving story I played several times already just because I enjoyed it. I like my solo, story driven games and Wolfenstein was the best in that department.
4. Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition ; a great console port, Blizzard did not force the PC experience down console gamers’ throat, instead they made several modifications to the UI and gameplay that are specific to the console versions. This is a great success, the game is a bliss to play and is as addictive as the computer version. Good job Blizzard.

That’s all, I played several other games in 2014 (Infamous second son, GTA5, …) but, while competent, they did not strike me as great games. They were OK games so they won’t join my GOTY list.

Adam Prime

hates soccer, is Mexican
Sep 1, 2008
Austin, TX
Seeing these lists has reminded me I need to add Binding of Isaac and Shovel Knight to my HMs, and that I forgot I owned but haven't played The Banner Saga :p
You still have a few days left in 2014 to play Shovel Knight... it'll make your Top 10, guaranteed. It's about a 7 hour game on your first playthrough.
May 3, 2011
You still have a few days left in 2014 to play Shovel Knight... it'll make your Top 10, guaranteed. It's about a 7 hour game on your first playthrough.
Unless I'm misreading it, I think the quote you're responding to suggests that the person already played Shovel Knight (listed as being included for an honourable mention). But in the spirit of your comment, it can totally be applied to The Banner Saga! :p
Sep 13, 2013
I'm still working through a few games, but if you asked me right now to list them, here they be!

1. Dragon Age: Inquisition ; I'm still deep into the world of Thedas, but unless something goes horrifically wrong over the next few dozen hours, Dragon Age: Inquisition will stand as my favorite game of 2014. Good, satisfying combat mixed with an enormous world, weighty decision and perhaps most importantly, a cast of truly interesting characters. This was virtual escapism at is finest for me all year long.
2. Infamous: Second Son ; This was the first step into the next generation for me. It was easy to play, with lots of neat powers and looked absolutely stunning. It was one of the few games this year where every time I would pick up the controller, I would fight with myself to put it down, several hours later.
3. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze ; Of all the games on this list, this is the only one I would call "perfect". It's absolutely perfect in every way, and the only reason it's not higher is that it simply draws too much from the past to truly break new ground for me.
4. Sunset Overdrive ; As the trailers said, "It's a f***ing video game", and that's exactly what this year needed. Fun, quirky, nonsensical chaos.
5. Shovel Knight ; Yacht Club Games didn't decide to make an "NES-inspired game". They decided to make one of the best NES games ever. Nostalgia can only take you so far, excellent design took this much further.
6. Super Smash Bros for Wii U ; I've been a Nintendo lover since I was a kid, and Smash Bros always felt like a fun little present, and a riot to play with friends. Of all the Smash presents Nintendo has given me, this one is the shiniest!
7. Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc ; I don't know what it was that sucked me into this game so badly when it launched back in Feb, but I can easily say this is the game I lost the most sleep over all year. Sadly, I was not as enamored with the sequel.
8. Forza Horizon 2 ; Pure joy in game form. Not a "racing" game per se, but probably the greatest "driving" game I've ever played.
9. South Park: Stick of Truth ; Not the best turn-based RPG I've played, but one of the best written licensed games ever made, and the laughs and show references made the entire journey worth it.
10. Persona Q: Shadow of the Labryrinth ; Only a short way into this game, but it is really a gift for Persona 3 & 4 players. It's been a fun little dungeon exploring stop-gap during the long wait for Persona 5.
Like last year, I'm doing a Top 5. Five games that I really enjoyed, five games I can hold up and say, yeah, video games are the fuckin' best and that's just the way it is.


The Last of Us: Left Behind
Naughty Dog, Sony Computer Entertainment

How do you do a direct follow-up to the Last of Us? Something that seem so confident and complete that upon completion, it feels like its particular narrative has been fully extracted. Any other embellishments, superfluous. But when your new ip sells six million copies in a single year, you don't get to NOT make expansions to sell to customers for a bit more money. The single player story expansion is a dubious idea; how many really GOOD ones have they're been in the last decade? Shadow Broker, Citadel, Minerva's Den...its a small list. Well, pencil in another nominee, as Neil Druckmann, Bruce Straley and the rest of their team at Naughty Dog decided to handle Left Behind with the same amount of care and craft that went into the Last of Us proper.

The DLC has you controlling Ellie, playing out a crucial moment that the main game by-passed interspersed with flashbacks to her earlier years with fellow teen survivor, Riley. This structure allows Naughty Dog the ability to indulge in whatever passive bits of interaction and softer story elements in the younger years while still giving gamers a more traditional action/puzzle side with the older Ellie. These action sections are familiar, admitingly, after 15+ hours of playing the last game, but with Ellie's weak state and lack of inventory(especially on higher difficulties), they can still deliver a pulpy, visceral thrill. The Hunter AI is still dynamic, improvisonal fun, with bloody desperate bursts of action popping up in-between the longer beats of quiet sneaking tension. Furthermore, Left Behind introduces the idea of playing the Hunters and the Infected zombies against one enough. The enemy of my enemy, as they say, as you lure the factions against the other into combat, picking off the stranglers or just darting right pass the mayhem.

But its in the earlier years of Ellie's life where the heart of the game lies. Its the final day before Ellie's best friend Riley goes off to travel the country as a Firefly, a bittersweet girls night out at the abandoned mall. Carousals glow with a nostalgic brown hue, moss and plant life bursting through the pavement, reclaiming the world humans left behind. Silly superficial attractions like Halloween masks and record players come to life for a brief moment as two innocent kids indulge themselves like children used to do before everything went to Hell. There's a tangible context that justifies searching every room and touching everything, and its to Naughty Dog's credit they justify this environmental interaction with humorous asides and meaningful storytelling alike. Won't spoil everything here, but its absurdly delightful experience all told, delivering a level of levity that makes its dark reality all the more powerful. It ends with a wonderful "final battle" that walks the tightrope between tragic and playful, and it totally sticks the ending of that particular sequence.

This is all delivered with a industry standard level of craftsmanship, especially on the 1080p/60fps Remastered edition. Ashley Johnson is goddamn note perfect as Ellie, Yaani King almost as good as Riley. The animations, both big and small, loud and subtle, are top of the line in 2014. Lots of great, detailed art assets that make the world feel tangible, and there's another great soundtrack that manages to enhance all its various emotional beats without overpowering them.

Left Behind is one of those rare things in video games; an expansion that actually ADDS to the original game. It deepens the relationship between Ellie and Joel even when the latter isn't around, and gives us a greater knowledge of who Ellie is and what her motives are. Its an highly polished affair that leaves you wanting more, even when you know its time to move on. Well, until the inevitable sequel of course...the game sold six million copies, remember?


Wolfenstein: The New Order
MachineGames, Bethsada

One of my favorite lines from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade is when Indy finds out its his old foes from the Third Reich behind his latest adventure. “Nazis…I hate these guys!” he quips, as if he was dealing with some pesky rodents rummaging through his house. Nazis have become the ultimate cartoon villains in pop culture over the past 50 or so years. Their all-black ensemble, funny sounding German accents, and universally agreed upon evilness makes them easy fodder for our heroes to beat again and again without offending anyone. Wolfenstein is a franchise built on the resilient idea that shooting Nazis is an appealing idea you can sell to anyone, and the latest entry continues this tradition, with a few interesting quirks.

The original hero BJ Blackowicz returns, who after a failed WW2 mission to kill General Deathshead, wakes from a coma 18 years later to find out the Nazi succeeded in taking over the world. The episodic plot sends BJ to different interesting locations to gather the tools and people he’ll need to bring down the fascist totalitarian regime. The story is a mix of the Indiana Jones pulp adventure fun of killing Nazis mixed with a more serious approach to the inherent terror of these enemies and how ultimately good people cope in these terrible times. It doesn’t always work of course; several of its sober-minded incidents don’t land in the context of robot dog murdering and ancient Jewish power armor, but its always interesting nonetheless. The real power comes through in the various character interactions. MachineGames was founded by key members of Starbreeze Studios (the creators of Chronicles of Riddick and The Darkness) and it shows. Their skill at mining great performances out of pulpy material is on full display here, crafting likable characters though nicely animated scenes and surprisingly good dialog.

But anyway: Nazi shooting, right? Wolfenstein: The New Order is littered with hundred of evil fascist bastards to gun down in various shapes and sizes. Mecha Nazis! Dog Nazis! Giant Mecha Dog Nazis! Its quite an array of antagonists, but BJ acquires a satisfying arsenal of weapons throughout the game. There are the usual machine guns, snipers, and shotguns players are familiar with, with a couple of unique tools thrown in like a Laser gun that can cut through metal and evolves into a pretty deadly sci-fi WMD near the end. Almost every weapon can be dual-wielded (yes, even the sniper rifles), and there’s really nothing like tearing down a hall of Nazis with dual shotguns blazing. Guns fire with a satisfying weight and recoil, mildly shaking the screen and hitting enemies with a chunky sound and/or bright hit indicators for the mechs. In a refreshingly old school approach, players are granted more than two weapons a time, combined with level design that often encourages multiple approaches to battle. There’s a distinct Goldeneye 64 feel to it, really, with optional stealth approaches and secondary objectives, not to mention the glory of dual wielding anything. BJ’s health is a mix of modern regenerating health systems and old school pick-ups, complete with overcharging health and 90s sound effects. The hard difficulty is a pretty decent challenge, forcing the player to think on their feet in battle and fully utilize their arsenal and environment to survive.

Its not all shooting Nazis in the face. TNO has a fantastic sense of pacing throughout, where corridor battles are off-set by larger multi-tiered fights, stealth areas following vehicular/turret sections, and exciting set pieces mixed with moments of down time and exploration. The mandatory exploration parts are the weak link and a bit naff, admitingly, but its almost forgivable just as a breather and interaction with the characters. MachineGames decided against tacked-on multiplayer in favor a meaty single player FPS experience, milking the Wolfenstein concept for all its worth. Before the game is over, players will storm Nazi castles, breach underwater fortresses in search of ancient power weapons, escape from a Jewish containment camp in style, and yes, walk across the mothafuckin’ Moon. In a world of short, subpar single player FPS campaigns, The New Order is a breath of fresh air.

There’s a distinct unpolished B-game feel to everything that holds it back from real greatness. Perhaps it’s the id tech5 engine that makes everything look like an impressive last gen game at best, or maybe it’s the rather shit sound mix that comes and goes without rhyme or reason. Maybe it’s the way the dual barreled shotgun sounds, a meek muffled wimpy cough that would make baby black Jesus cry, or not being able to listen to journals/recordings as you play. Its definitely got something to do with how braindead the stealth often is, with idiotic AI and inconsistent enemy sight/sound ranges. A more concerning player could nitpick this to death if that is their will.

However, this would be a fool’s errand. What is here works, often very well, and its flaws and imperfections work to make its lengthy experience a more interesting one than your typical AAA action game. Wolfenstein: The New Order doesn’t reinvent the wheel, and it didn’t have to. It knows full well that killing Nazis is a fun and simple idea, but not an excuse for lazy craftsmanship or disrespecting the audience’s intelligence.


Mario Kart 8
Nintendo EAD 1, Nintendo

A new Nintendo console, a new Mario Kart. Like clockwork the big N puts out another entry in its ever-popular franchise, adding a few things but keeping the same accessible charm of cartoon characters racing really fast around colorful courses. After a couple of, IMO, disappointing console entries in Double Dash and Wii, Mario Kart 8 has assimilated all the past games innovations and polished them to a shine. Annoying features like item hording and snaking have been removed, and cool ideas like trick jumps and drift boosts work wonders for the rhythm of the race. The brilliance of Mario Kart has always been there from the beginning however: the item system. Scattered around the course are random item boxes you pick up and reward you with things like homing projectiles, giant bombs, slippery banana peels, brief bouts of invincibility, or maybe a Bullet Bull that lets you speed through to the head of the pack. Even with skilled application, its all a bit of random of course, and that’s the genius of it. In Mario Kart 8, you can collect all the coins for max speed, hit your max drift boosts around tight corners and nail all your trick jumps, find all the shortcuts, and still end up at the bottom of the pack with some unlucky rolls. And its there you realize that the fun of Mario Kart isn’t in being in first unchallenged (which is frankly kinda boring), but in the chaotic middle as you struggle to get ahead. There’s few things better than the thrill of coming in top 3 after clawing your way back, and nothing quite like the “FUCK THIS GAME” throwing of hands when you get hit by a red shell, bullet bill, and horn in quick succession. That bit of randomness in these tracks keeps the game alive, evens the playing field, and makes every race a new experience.

This all takes place on 40 different tracks, almost all of them excellent, almost all of them gorgeous. The new lighting system and texture work really sparkle in HD, with a smooth 60fps experience that makes MK8 a spectacle to behold. Races play out like perfect pop songs, 3 minutes in length, laudable feats of engineering and co-ordination look effortless in the pursuits of addictive hooks and rhythms. Its an exciting, often hilarious game, win or lose, packed with so many little incidental details that showcase the kind of prowess Nintendo has attained at this now 20+ year old franchise. It’s the prettiest, most polished, downright best Mario Kart they’ve ever made.


Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
Retro Studios, Nintendo

In 2010, Retro Studios released one of the greatest 2D platformers of all-time in Donkey Kong Country Returns. Now I don’t know the inner workings of the studio, but playing the sequel Tropical Freeze, I have to imagine the main design philosophy was, “let’s do that again, but better”.

A quick glance of screenshots or even videos, you might be hard pressed to see the difference. It’s a nice enough lookin’ game, busy with highly detailed animations and architectural elements working together, although its clearly made on the Returns Wii engine, with a nice HD sheen. The lighting has improved, and DK’s fur is furrier than ever, but if you played the original you know what to expect on that front.

Donkey Kong still moves with the hefty mass a tie-wearing gorilla of his size should carry. While not quite as nimble on his feet of his former rival Mario, controlling DK is still highly enjoyable. He explodes onto each level with a screen-shaking slam and a howl of domination, and it really sets the course for the entire game. When he lands from barrel blast, a cartoony explosion under his feet lands, and when he hops on enemies there’s a deep bass “plomp” sound aided by a super addictive and rewarding higher-pitched “bop” that comes out of your controller that gives you a real sense of how powerful this anthropomorphic monkey is. The roll jump feels better than ever, now more dependable with the satisfying tactility of a button press, DK’s natural slow acceleration giving way to sudden bursts of freewheeling momentum.

The feel of controlling a force of a nature is further reflected in the level design proper. Unlike the mostly static environments of Rare’s DKC trilogy, Retro’s interpretation of the franchise has some of the liveliest 2D platformer stages you’ll ever see. You regularly interact with the background elements, and your actions frequently and dynamically change up the landscape of the world. The stages are cleverly choreographed calamity, feeling much like the best kind of action movies; intricately painstaking crafted to look as wildly chaotic as possible. The stages have various peaks and valleys, switching between ideas at the benefit of the pacing. They build logically and organically, the elements foreshadowed in the background coming into play in the future, the new elements you’re introduced to gradually building into a grand climax or combination. They’re real marvels of game design, as one level they’re full of areas and avenues to slow down and explore, yet all the enemy and platform placement has been distinctly designed for speed runs(as the Gold Medal Time Trial videos expertly display). This multi-purpose structure opens the doors to a variety of play styles you can choose or switch between on the fly, reacting and adapting to whatever new obstacle the game throws at you.

The ever-changing level design is aided by the dynamically-shifting tunes of David Wise, the original composer of the DKC trilogy brought in to sprinkle his musical magic on us mortals. He’s generally in a bit more “happy” mood ala his Diddy Kong Racing and DKC3GBA soundtracks, but it fits the more celebratory and lively Retro games. From the Switzerland Alps to the depths of the oceans, the burning Savannah and the dark caverns, the songs are a perfect match to the environments and the atmosphere Retro wants to convey. Irate Eight flips back and forth from a ponderous Yamamoto Metroid Prime style to the frantic escape remix of Wise’s Lockjaw’s Saga. The already popular Grassland Groove grows and shifts with the three tiers of the stage design, before combining its previous sounds into one climatic explosion as the level nears its conclusion and combines its own platforming elements. Amiss Abyss matches the classic Aquatic Ambiance for its soothing melodies that capture the mysterious and wonderful sea of serendipity you often find yourself in this time around.

All these elements combine into an incredibly polished and cohesive experience. My appreciation of the Dong has grown over time, no doubt. Can’t get enough of it, really. Think I’m bout to go play with dat Dong right now, actually.


Bayonetta 2
Platinum Games, Nintendo

Bayonetta 2 feels like it came from an alternate dimension where the Sega Dreamcast and its bright blue skies arcade style won the console war. A world in which immediate fun AND an abundance of depth lived in harmony, and were awarded with millions of adoring fans. A place where games were expected to be polished affairs filled with bonus unlockable content and actually worked day one without day one patches or retailer exclusive DLC. A masterpiece that almost didn't actually get made in our world, but we're all a little lucky that it did.

Bayonetta 2 is like playing with all of DMC4 Dante's Styles as the same time and married it to God of War's bombast. It has the slick aggressive defense of Ninja Gaiden Black that will occasionally explode into a DMC Devil Trigger. It has Battletoad's satisfying combo enders of enlarged limbs and Streets of Rage 3's weapon pick-ups with a limited bar for special move usage.

Bayonetta 2 has a dodge, a completely invincible, free-wheeling dodge on the right trigger that for a brief moment allows you to dodge everything from laser swords to kung-fu strikes by cosmic deities. A dodge that encourages the player to learn their opponents tells both visual and audio, to stylishly avoid a hit and continue the relentless offensive. A dodge that, when pressed twice in quick succession turns you into a panther that controls like sex, so smooth in its movements and so right in its weight.

Bayonetta 2 was not satisfied with the many heights its predecessor reached. The first game's piss filter is gone, replaced with an HD sheen and vibrant colors. Weapons have been expanded from their default movesets, with all new animations and effects to make them more differentiated and viable. The arcadey variety segments have been shortened, their camera angles improved for proper visibility, tuned to maximum efficiency. Bosses have been improved, with a larger focus on one-on-one fights and less giant platforming challenges. Level design has been streamlined, almost every chapter a string of memorable, replayable encounters, with almost twice as many enemy types as before.

Bayonetta 2 is hardly satisfied with just delivering bang for your buck. It wants to overdeliver. It must grant the player a stupid amount of delectable distractions, ooddles of collectibles and secret fights and a dozen costumes and cheats and modes in the vein that modern AAA games just don't do very much of anymore. It even throws in the best version of Bayonetta 1 entirely for free, out of the kindness of its heart. There's even a fuckin' Star Fox 64 section, complete with original visual designs and sound effects.

Bayonetta 2 is like the feeling you get when you play Virtua Cop with both hands. Its like dodging a tight bullet pattern in DoDonPachi. Its like taking on Nemesis with just the knife. Its like following up a Hadouken and going in for a tic throw in Street Fighter 2. Its the sound of time of distorting when you come in and out of slow-mo in F.E.A.R. Its like running up a wall in Sonic and jumping off, using the momentum to reach heights you couldn't at walking speed. Its like discovering how to wall jump in Super Metroid. Its like completing Contra without the Konami Code. Its like discovering a secret chest in Zelda. Its like getting the high score in Time Crisis 2 in the arcade, a small following of on-lookers gazing at awe at the grace in which you dispatch its color-coded criminals. Its like main-lining PURE FUCKIN' VIDEO GAME for close to a dozen hours straight. And then you do it again in a blue Chinese dress with whips on your feet and chainsaw gauntlets.

Its the greatest video game of 2014.


alright, that's it. Thanks Riposte for being a lame and not making a list, so I can safely still his format and nobody will notice. GET AT ME

1. Bayonetta 2; the ne plus ultra of video games
2. Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze; One of the great 2D platformers of our time, or any time.
3. Mario Kart 8; the best Mario Kart ever
4. Wolfenstein: The New Order; a well-crafted shooter in a style we rarely see
5. The Last of Us: Left Behind; a powerful, poignant farewell
Jan 1, 2009
1. Dragon Age Inquisition ; Bioware did it! They concluded a trilogy in the most epic way with tons of set pieces, great character, fun battles, and a satisfying ending.
2. Transistor ; The absolute majesty of this world with the sauve narration to guide Red through danger was a well crafted experience.
3. Octodad Dadliest Catch ; Silly game mechanics turn Octodad into a funny game. Who cares about fun mechanics. I like funny mechanics.
4. Town of Salem ; The most immersive game of this year that innovates and keeps you playing or watching even after you lost. Superbly clever.
5. Driveclub ; Perfecting the balance between arcade and sim keeps the frustration to minimal while raising the bar on thrill. What a beauty.
6. The Last of Us Left Behind ; A tragic story retold in the most masterful way. We all lose our loved ones.
7. inFamous Second Son ; Another great inFamous title showcasing our hero's super powers with the best special effects. The aftermath of Cole's death left a lot of open strings to tie up.
8. LittleBigPlanet 3 ; Three new heroes enter the scene and added a ton of variety and charm to the already charming LBP series. It just keeps getting better every iteration.
9. South Park Stick of Truth ; What's not to love from a giant South Park episode. Full of humour and very solid RPG gameplay.
10. Destiny ; Despite all the hate, Destiny is the best shooter and my best PVP experience. Sure, it lacked a lot of story, but everything else about it was really solid.
x. The Last of Us Remastered ; I won't count this one, but another GOTY from a GOTY. Credited Left Behind though.
Oct 19, 2007
1. Might & Magic X: Legacy ; Despite being a fan of all types of RPGs, I could never get into western dungeon crawlers. Might & Magic X changed that. It has a user friendly interface and modern features without removing any of the complexity. Diving into a huge world with a customized party is a great experience.
2. Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft ; I have played loads of different collectible card games since I discovered magic 20+ years ago. Hearthstone is the first one I can see myself continuing playing for a longer period.
3. Destiny ; I poured many hours into this shooter even though it has obvious flaws and an incomplete story. The core mechanics are solid enough to make it worthwhile anyway.
4. Legend of Grimrock 2 ; I'm only a few hours into this and if I had more time it would probably rank higher. The first game was my GOTY 2012.
5. Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth ; Highly addictive and satisfying until I noticed all the minor flaws. I hope we get an expansion soon that addresses its issues.
6. Shin Megami Tensei IV ; Another solid dungeon crawler.
7. Blackwell Epiphany ; The fifth and final entry in this great adventure game series managed to tie everything together and end on a high note.
8. The Banner Saga ; I loved the setting and the difficult choices. The combat system never resonated with me though.
9. Threes! ; A great puzzle game that everyone should have on their phone or tablet.
10. Monument Valley ; An artsy puzzle game with Escher-inspired art that is pretty and interesting. It is rather easy and thankfully doesn't overstay its welcome.
1. Bayonetta 2 ; A contender for Game of All Time for me. Removed almost everything I disliked about the first, and increased everything I liked.
2. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance ; The combination of the Metal Gear craziness in story with gameplay that I can actually enjoy unlike stealth. Deeper as an action game than some give it credit for as well, with great new characters for the Metal Gear Universe.
3. Killer Instinct: Season 2 ; A super fun game with tons of depth and great characters. I'm impressed at how it stacks up to the other titles in the genre while still being so distinct in its design. The KI combo system is something you can't get anywhere else.
4. The Legend of Korra ; While held down heavily by the limitations of the dev time and budget Activision gave it, Platinum continues to show their strength as a game developer, despite short length, limited enemy types and obvious padding, the act of pressing buttons, controlling Korra, and fighting enemies is so satisfying. I can only hope for a full retail sequel.
5. Super Smash Bros. for WiiU ; The ability to control multiple various character designs I do like, in an action based combat game. I'm not the biggest fan of several key design decisions, but it can still be fun with the options it offers.
6. Guilty Gear Xrd ; A tour de force of audiovisual design, an amazing feat in the translation of specific 2D art into an accurate recreation in 3D. A good quality story mode and tutorials as well.
7. JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: All Star Battle ; I'm a fan of the source material, so seeing the characters from the manga in motion and color before the anime was nice. Good soundtrack too.
8. Jazzpunk ; Very funny at times, always giving at least a chuckle with its nonsequiters.
9. Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 ; A video game I played in 2014. Not the worst I've ever played. I liked it more than what I played of the first.

Really stretching in some cases. A weak year, despite having my current possible favorite of all time in it.
Not open for further replies.