Now that I got my disappointments out of the way, it’s time to go through my favorites of the year. Like last year there are a few points to this:
- There’s no real order to these outside my top of the year, so just because something comes before another game in the list doesn’t mean I necessarily put it above or below the next in the list. It’s just how I lazily arranged the games.
- I tried to keep it to games that I played this year. So while something like Bayonetta 2 most likely would’ve ended up on my list, I didn’t play it yet so it’s not there.
- Jumping off that point, I tried to avoid any ports or remakes in the list. Things like Kingdom Hearts II.5 HD ReMIX and Valkyria Chronicles on Steam would’ve made the list, but since they aren’t “new” I didn’t think it was very fair to put them on it. They’re still awesome either way.
- Since I’m covering so many games, each description is a bit more condensed than if I made a separate post for each game, which is way more than you all really want to read.
With that said…
You know, I’m perfectly comfortable putting this on the list. I got a lot of play time out of the game and enjoyed every minute of it. Respawn promised fast paced gameplay mixing on-foot battles with giant mechs and we got it. The controls were so fluid while running around, double jumping, climbing up and running against walls, and jumping over to your Titan which was just LAUNCHED FROM SPACE.
It would’ve been nice to have a full single player campaign, but the flip side of that is they were able to focus entirely on the multiplayer. More maps were added in the DLC packs in the months after the game’s launch and they were pretty awesome. The maps were varied both in layout and locale so you didn’t feel like you were playing the same area back to back, and each one was surprisingly balanced for both on-foot and in-titan combat.
Unlike Destiny I felt I got exactly what was advertised and got my money’s worth out of it, rather than waiting a reward from the endless grinding that just wasn’t going to happen.
Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call
This one was a must. I love Final Fantasy, and I particularly love how each game’s music was great no matter how good or bad the game was around it. With hundreds of songs from a wide range of Final Fantasy entries, a non-touch screen control scheme, and more characters I was hooked. I’m still tossing the game in and playing a few songs when I have some down time or before I go to sleep. I just want more Final Fantasy 14 songs in the next one they already told us isn’t happening.
Check out my Drunken Thoughts about Final Fantasy music for more raving about Curtain Call.
The Wolf Among Us
Technically the first episode came out in 2013, but since Episodes 2-5 came out in 2014 it’s on the list. I knew nothing about the Fables series outside of what Gaming Mistress had told me. I liked the concept but never got around to picking any of them up. With a stellar recommendation from her on The Wolf Among Us, Telltale Games’ take on Fables, I jumped on the Season Pass and was glad I did.
The characters were interesting and worked well with the crime noire theme. There isn’t a lot of action to speak of in the game except in each episode’s climax, but that didn’t matter. The story was the real seller, and it delivered. Each episode ended up a cliffhanger making me hungry for more and by writing this I remember just how much I want the next installment to come out, since they conveniently left us with questions even though they wrapped up their first story.
Forget Tales from the Borderlands, I want more Wolf Among Us.
Someone had a theory that even though Bravely Default is a Final Fantasy through and through (just look at the item names, spells, classes, etc.) Square Enix made it under a new name and franchise to try and distance themselves from the negative attitudes toward things like Final Fantasy XIII and XIV 1.0. Not a bad theory, and since the game was well received and already has a sequel, Bravely Second, close to release we might be seeing a new successful franchise to take up where Final Fantasy left off at its peak.
It shows that Square Enix still has it and its warm reception showed them that people are completely fine with a more old school approach to JRPGs, as long as its a well done old school approach. Although the story gets repetitive in the later chapters, it hooked me enough with its fantastic music and solid gameplay that I didn’t care. Two of the characters, Edea and Ringabel, were so good that they negated how plain or annoying the other two were.
Bravely Default is my favorite RPG of the year and one every Final Fantasy fan should pick up, no question.
South Park: The Stick of Truth
If you aren’t a fan of South Park, you’re definitely not going to enjoy this one. But since I AM a fan of South Park and RPGs, I had a blast with The Stick of Truth even though it was a bit on the short side. The game was 100% faithful to its source material thanks to its graphics, story, and humor.
It wasn’t for the easily offended, with ample nazi references, cursing, and zombie fetuses. But outside that you had hilarious touches like Randy casually guiding you through an alien spaceship as though he’s been through the scenario dozens of times in the past and the entire adventure through 8-Bit Canada. Using Kyle’s little brother Ike as a pirate projectile never got old.
If there’s ever a sequel I hope Trey Parker and Matt Stone work as closely with it as they did this, because that’s the only way a game like this should be made.
Mario Kart 8
Everyone loves Mario Kart, right? If they say no they either haven’t played it, or they’re lying. Mario Kart 8 did everything it needed to and more: gorgeous HD graphics, solid controls, well-designed tracks, and, most importantly, flawless online play. One of my favorite parts about the game is that there doesn’t seem to be one single character/kart combination that beats out all others. Every character has strengths and drawbacks alone and when combined with the karts, bikes, or ATVs, so you’re free to play whoever you want with whatever vehicle you want without fear of min-maxxers blowing you out of the water.
Even little touches like how you’re brought back onto the track much faster if you fall off add to how great this game is. The majority of the negative comments about MK8 I’ve seen are about the massive changes to the Battle Mode, which I can agree with even though Battle Mode was my least favorite part about Mario Kart as a whole. If they had added the new Battle Mode in addition to the original style with Block Fort I think this would have gotten near perfect scores across the board.
I’d go so far as to say Mario Kart 8 is a system seller for the Wii U. It’s a killer app and a must-have for the console. If it isn’t enough to convince people to take the Wii U plunge then maybe my next game is.
Super Smash Bros. for Wii U
There was a lot of “Well Mario Kart 8 is good, but what I’m REALLY waiting for is Smash Bros.” Well, here it is. And it’s fantastic. The 3DS version isn’t bad by any means, but the Wii U version is the definitive version. Obviously it’s easier to play on a bigger screen (at full 1080p by the way), but Smash Bros. for Wii U just brings a crazy amount of content with it. There’s over 400 songs in the game, short demos for many of the games from which the Smash characters originated, online mode (even if it is a bit shaky at times, but when it works its PERFECT), Amiibo support, and just so much stuff to do.
The biggest addition is the 8-Player Smash mode. “Chaotic” doesn’t even begin to describe it. Normal Smash with 4 players gets crazy, but put 8 people on a small stage like Onett and you’ll have no idea what’s going on, but you’ll still be having fun.
Like Mario Kart 8, Smash Bros. for Wii U is an absolute must-have for Wii U. I mean, it’s so good they revived the Gamecube controller for it. You know, the best controller ever.
So there’s my top of 2014 in no discernable order except for my top of the year. It’s probably more accurate to call it my favorite game of the year, but in many lists like this it’s about the same thing. So here we go:
My Favorite of 2014: Five Night’s at Freddy’s 1 & 2
I lumped both games together into one because they released so close to one another and honestly they form one complete package together, much better than focusing on just one.
Despite coming out later in the year these games have reached a level of interest I haven’t had with any others except maybe Bravely Default. I just can’t get enough of these goddamn games. Scott Cawthon’s survival horror nightmare of Chuck E. Cheese-like animatronics trying to kill you during the night accomplished so much with so few resources. The (mostly) still images and minimal assets in the game only add to the creepiness factor. Mix in the inability to move and those damn screams from the animatronics during their jump scares and the hairs on the back of your neck are definitely going to stand up.
Very little of the story is given to you directly, leaving you to discover the rest of it yourself through subtle clues like newspaper clippings and posters on the walls. It’s a mystery people have slowly been unraveling since the sequel’s release as it brought so much more to the table, so many more questions despite the answers. The fact that the original game was most likely at least partially inspired by a real life murder at a Chuck E. Cheese makes it scarier and honestly even more fucked up than the concept was to begin with. It’s like there’s an adventure game hidden inside the survival horror, with one subtle clue to what’s happened and what’s going on leading you to investigate something you thought was mundane or pointless the first time you saw it.
I can’t stop reading discussions and theories on just what the hell is going on at Freddy Fazbear’s and watching the hilarious gameplay videos of Markiplier on Youtube. Scott has hinted that he’s working on Five Night’s at Freddy’s 3 right now, but no details have surfaced beyond that. Both FNaF 1 and 2 are both topping the charts on the Android and iOS markets, occupying the top 5 spaces on the paid game sections, and they aren’t doing too badly on Steam either.
The game is creepy, infinitely interesting, and a great example of how you can have more with less. I want more Five Nights, but maybe not TOO much more. For all we know the next game could focus on Golden Freddy entirely, and that’s one big cup of Nope.
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