As 2014 comes to a close, as does this list of the year’s best video games. The year saw some new shooters, revival of almost forgotten genres, the return of Nintendo and the occasional reason to buy a next-gen console. With only one game remaining on the list, it becomes hard to not recognize all of the efforts from so many developers and publishers. As an industry, people lose jobs, projects and many hours of sleep, but the conclusive products speak volumes about the passion required to make these visions a reality. A few games did some really unique things over the course of 2014, which is why there will be such a large honorable mention section before the top game of the year.
When discussing games that break the mold, it is important to remember the game that utilizes sandbox humor with the freedom of the player as an unusual protagonist; Goat Simulator. A strange concoction of chaotic Tony Hawk Pro Skater as a goat, the glitchy package is one that splits sides as easily as it does eat grass. With the latest free expansion, the game has since transformed into something almost like a MMO Skyrim; classes included.
With few third-party exclusives, the Wii U is lucky to have Bayonetta 2. High-speed action and style grace this package as one this is ultimately full of replay value. After four years it appears Platinum Games still knows what they are doing.
One specific free-to-play has been massively download during 2014, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft. A well thought out handheld/ mobile release can offer a lot, especially would loaded with imagination. Sadly the game does not allow trading cards with other players.
The rebirth of old school nostalgia innovation has led to none other than Shovel Knight. A title which reveals traditional gaming ways of approaching style, soundtrack and even gameplay. As well as being a game well suited for speedruns.
Take the two biggest games from a series, mix them together and give them gameplay from something entirely unexpected. Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth follows the Etrian Odyssey formula of gameplay while the characters from both Persona 3 and Persona 4 lead the story. Additionally, the soundtrack features a very funky soundtrack.
Transistor offers a love letter to jazz disguised as a video game. The game encourages the player to piece everything together through solid gameplay and choose-your-own adventure style of setting the pace.
1) Mario Kart 8 – Wii U
The initial boost the Wii U desperately needed, Mario Kart 8 brings friends and family together in drifting, banana tossing madness. As a long running series, most people are at least familiar with it by name, or even more likely from one of the many previous installments. If alone or with family, the game proves fun every time.
The game features 32 tracks, half of which are brand new and half of which are remade versions of courses from past games. Nintendo has already created downloadable content that is hard to pass up. Each pack comes with eight courses as well as a few characters, some of which have never been included in the Mario Kart series. Unfortunately, the battle mode is rather unenthusiastic, leaving much to be desired.
Mario Kart 8 offers players lots of options when it comes to controllers, giving the game a sense of comfortability as each person can drive in whatever way they enjoy most (luigi stare optional). In the end, it is a gorgeous multiplayer experience that is hard to refuse, no matter the game.
Even with so many honorable mentions, a number of great games have still been left from the list. These titles were close to making the list, and in most situations did something unexpected or extraordinary. Some of which are pushing the bounds and narrative expression and self-created gameplay, both of which are ways video games can use the innovation of interaction to craft they own means of storytelling. 2014 had a lot of good video games, what were some other games that could have made the list?
By Garrett Jutte
Guardian LV – Last Year’s Best Games
Photo by NewGameNetwork – Flickr Licence