2014 is in the books, and the time for reflection is upon us! I played a lot of great games this year, but only five could rise to the top and secure a coveted spot on my "Games of the Year" list. While I haven't played everything — and there's plenty of great 2014 titles I've yet to sample (*cough* Dragon Age: Inquisition *cough*) — I've played enough to know these five games are my faves.
These are, of course, in no particular order.
What more can I say about Destiny? (If you listen to our podcast, you're probably thinking, "Not much..." And if you don't listen to our podcast, rectify this grave error in judgment immediately!)According to the iOS companion app, I've already spent 3 days, 1 hour and 37 minutes of my life playing the game, and that number looks to balloon considerably throughout 2015. The Vault of Glass Raid was the best thing I played all year, and the prospect of tackling Crota's End (the second of Destiny's raids, 'natch) in the near future has me all kinds of schoolgirl giddy. 73 hours later, grinding light levels with friends is still as appealing as ever, which is high praise in and of itself.
2) Shovel Knight
This game could be on here for the epic chiptune soundtrack alone. The fact that it's the best 8-bit platformer of the modern age is just icing on the cake. Inspired by Mega Man, Ducktales, Zelda II and several other NES classics, Shovel Knight presents a challenging, immensely fun package that should make any gamer who grew up playing the Nintendo Entertainment System all warm and fuzzy inside. Tight controls, terrific level design, and memorable bosses make developer Yacht Club Games' debut title an instant classic. Oh, and the trophy gods have answered my prayers. Shovel Knight hits PlayStation platforms later this year! Can't wait to fire this up on my Vita!
See what we thought of Shovel Knight here!
3) Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor
It should come as no surprise to any one that knows me that Batman: Arkham Knight is my most anticipated game of 2015. The fact that I got to experience Rocksteady's renowned Freeflow combat system in a next-gen game 9 months before its release was one of 2014's most pleasant surprises. Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor takes elements of Assassin's Creed, Batman: Arkham City, and Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, and throws them all into an industrial sized blender. The resulting mixture is an open-world, dark fantasy epic, with a fantastic combat system that I just couldn't get enough of. Sprinkle in the unique Nemesis system that introduces strategy and personality to your moment-to-moment combat, and you've got an action/adventure game that's at once both familiar and innovative. And Troy Baker kills it as Talion.
See what we thought of Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor here!
4) Rogue Legacy
While I realize Rogue Legacy originally released on PC in 2013, I didn't get a chance to experience the game until it hit PlayStation platforms this past summer. And this game is crazy addicting. What begins as a seemingly straightforward punishing platformer, quickly evolves into an innovative rogue-like that continues to keep me coming back for more. The genealogy system, which finds you taking the mantle of the relative of your choice — should you die — is a novel approach to a procedurally generated platformer. I love experimenting with the different classes and character traits, playing with a variety of strategic approaches as I make my way through the cursed castle in search of the cure to save the King. There is a ton of depth under the hood of Rogue Legacy, with a robust skill tree and wealth of RPG-like progression options at your disposal. As an added bonus, even though the story is a background element in this gameplay driven affair, there is a surprisingly somber and effective narrative on display here.
P.S. Completionists be warned. The optional "remixed" bosses are quite possibly the hardest bosses ever concocted for a 2D platformer. The masochist in me is determined to conquer them.
See what we thought of Rogue Legacy here!
Strider. Velocity 2x. Outlast. Mercenary Kings. There were a number of titles I could have placed in the fifth and final spot on my list. In the end, I decided to highlight developer Double Helix's reboot of Capcom's classic side-scrolling franchise. For myself, it was a poor year overall in regards to obtaining platinum trophies (I managed to snag a measly 2), but Strider — along with some mop-up duty in PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale — was one of the only exceptions to my hindered hunting in 2014. I managed to persevere, overcome Grandmaster Meio's forces, and secure the coveted plat, and I had a ton of fun doing it! I'm a sucker for the Metroidvania formula, and the new Strider was an example of this style of game done right. Combat was fast-paced and flashy, and exploration was not only encouraged, but fun and rewarding (the Magnetic Catapult is a life saver in Meio's Tower!). It's pretty exhilarating running from one end of the map to the other, laying waste to every enemy in-between, and never stopping to take a breath. There were some pretty wicked boss battles throughout, as well (Xi Wang Mu, anyone?). Here's hoping Double Helix gets around to giving us a sequel (hint, hint). There can never be enough Metroidvania games, right?
There you have it! The year in games according to yours truly. Did your favorite make the list? Agree? Disagree? Let your voice be heard in the comments below!
And from all of us here at Short Pause, Happy New Year! 2015 is going to be an epic year for gaming!