2014 was a rough year for video games and I ended up not playing a lot of new games as a result. Therefore, coming up with this list was actually pretty hard. The reason wasn’t necessarily because there weren’t enough good games released in 2014 but there weren’t enough great games. Games like Octodad: Dadliest Catch were fun but not particularly exceptional. Still, 2014 had some titles that surprised me and if I can say anything positive about 2014, it’s that it was a year that surprised me. So without further delay, I give you my personal favorite games of 2014!
I did not like the first Bayonetta game. I had trouble with not being able to see the enemies around me and too much showing up on screen for me to handle. However, all the positive buzz around Bayonetta 2 convinced me to take a risk and buy this game new. Easily the best risk I took this year, Bayonetta 2 is a lot like the first game but fixed and better in every way. The combat is fluid and action packed, always demanding your full attention. The camera is improved from the first game and allows you to see all the action clearly with helps both with your technique and the vast spectacle that is this game. Giant enemies with crazy inventive designs, huge set pieces in alternate realms, crazy attack animations, Bayonetta 2 is an adrenaline rush unlike any other this year and it’s definitely one of the main reasons to own a Wii U.
I’ve never been a fan of multiplayer shooters. I’m always the guy getting maybe one kill and dying 20 times in Counter-Strike and Gears of War. I’m just not that good at this style of genre. However, Loadout is different. Loadout doesn’t have one, two hit kills and there’s an emphasis on mobility. It’s just frantic action where the lifebars of the characters is large enough that if you don’t know what you’re doing, you’re given enough time to figure it out. There’s several different play modes, such as deathmatch and CTF, and the maps are well designed so that none of the modes feel like a slog. The most addicting aspect of the game, however, has to be the gun customization. As you play matches, you’ll earn points that you’ll use to customize your arsenal and essentially create your own custom class. Best of all, it’s a free to play game with unobtrusive micro-transactions. It has a more accessible play style to other shooters and is my favorite shooter of the year.
The Wii U had a great year and in my opinion, the best exclusive the console has is Mario Kart 8. I’m a big Mario Kart fan but the last console release (Mario Kart Wii) was a big letdown for me and the 3DS game Mario Kart 7 was fine but not up to the standards of the best of the series (Double Dash, 64, DS). Mario Kart 8 is the real deal. The course selection is diverse and inventive and most of the changes made to the older courses make them feel like new. The item randomization has been fixed and it makes the game feel less luck based, letting skill shine through. Other little changes, like quicker recovery after falling off the track, help to keep the pace of the races fast and fun. Finally, the online play works sublimely and playing with others around the world keeps the game fun even when you don’t have friends on your couch. It’s admittedly not that much of a change from the Mario Kart formula but it’s a refinement that polishes the tried and true formula to near perfection.
Shovel Knight was a game I had heard about before its release but not a title I paid much attention to. However, like Bayonetta 2, the buzz over the game after its release compelled me to give it a shot. It’s strange that a game that looks like it was made in 1989 is more polished and entertaining than almost any other game in 2014. I want to emphasis just how good it feels to just play this game. The mechanics are fun just to execute. Bouncing on enemies with your shovel, firing fireballs, traversing over bottomless pits, all of the abilities you gain feel great to do. The controls are more responsive than most modern video games and it makes you truly feel in control of Shovel Knight. Every level you go through has obstacles that are not only challenging but enjoyable to overcome, thanks to the aforementioned as well as the diverse design and creativity in the levels. Add in various upgrades, new abilities, optional levels, awesome boss fights, numerous secrets, and a surprisingly touching story and you have a modern classic and a perfect love letter to its influences.
There are a lot of games released these days that want to be compelling and they do that by testing your reflexes, your morality, your intelligence, your emotions and more. However, there are some games that just want to be fun. My list this year reflects that they best games this year were the ones that aimed to be fun, above anything else. And no other game this year, to me, that was more fun than South Park: The Stick of Truth. Even if you aren’t a fan of the show or just have a casual interest in it like me, this RPG has a great world to explore and fun combat system, as well as a bizarre story that has the show’s trademark humor and commentary well in place. The town of South Park has been lovingly recreated and simply the act of exploring the streets, homes, and outskirts of this mountain town is fun. Searching drawers and talking to the townsfolk is fun. How many RPGs have managed that!? The combat system is essentially the system from Paper Mario and the attack commands are essential to do well in the game. Finally, the story will have you escaping from aliens, working for Al Gore, performing abortions, and a bunch of other ridiculous objectives. You will laugh from just the sheer idiocy of the situations. South Park: The Stick of Truth is so aggressive in it’s fierce determination to make you enjoy yourself and it succeeds in so many ways, including being my game of the year.
There were my favorite games of the year. Remember that this isn’t a list of games that were the most popular or best selling but my personal list. However, now I want to know what your favorite games of the year were. Let me know in the comment section what games were your favorite this year. Peace and love, gamers and players! Colorwind out!