A Paladin’s Favorite Games of 2014

Time to talk about my favorite games of the year 2014. KingIsaacLinksr Transparent Blog2

It’s an ever perpetual cycle of catching up with games and this year I whittled down my “to complete” list of games to 13 titles. Which isn’t too shabby all things considered. However, I’ve just recently added a bunch to the pile so I’ll be quite busy in 2015. Anyway, enough about that. Here’s the rules for the list this year:

  1. I have to have played it this year.
  2. I have no minimum or maximum amount of games that can be on this list.
  3. These games are listed in no particular order. They are simply the most memorable and enjoyable games I have played from the previous year.

Let’s get to it, here are my favorite games of 2014.

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Risk of Rain

What I remember enjoying most about Risk of Rain is the absolutely fantastic soundtrack it has. That isn’t to slam the game itself as its rather solid. For me, Rogue-like games still sit in this weird area where I like/don’t like them. I haven’t figured out if its a personal problem or something that I don’t understand mechanically about them. But I think if I continue to keep trying at the genre with games like Risk of Rain, FTL and others, I’ll finally figure it out.

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One Finger Death Punch

This game is great. Yet, it shouldn’t be for the following reasons: 1) OFDP shows itself as a budget title, with graphics & music that are so basic it almost hurts. 2) It only uses two buttons. 3) It has an insane amount of variety and levels for having a two-button combat system. 4) It comes from a developer who has made some really awful games in the past. Yet, despite all of this, the game is….insanely enjoyable. I…I…can’t explain why. I am flabbergasted that this game is this good yet it is! HOW?! I recommend you check it out and find out for yourself because….I’m still amazed that it’s this fun. It has no right to be.

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Analogue: A Hate Story & Hate Plus

One of my first forays into the Anime Visual Novels genre and I….didn’t hate it. I meant to do a review of this months ago but I never got around to it. Analogue pulled my interest with its sci-fi setting and press praise that it received. While it seems to contain a fairly standard story, the more you dig into the past, the darker the tone becomes. To the point that it becomes a bit horrifying. I’m still not sure what I think of the genre as a whole…it comes close to the line of book reading. Anyway, I enjoyed my time with it and Hate Plus, the expansion that fleshes out more of the universe initially explored in the first game.

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Shadow Warrior

Released to a lot of acclaim last year, I finally got around to tackling this re-imagining of the classic FPS. The aesthetic, humor and melee combat is really great. The melee combat is one of the best I’ve seen in a FPS game recently and incredibly satisfying. However, if I had to complain about the game, it’s that the game dragged on too long and boss battles were very anti-climactic bullet sponges. Some of the guns weren’t all that fun to use either.

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The Stanley Parable:

I did tackle The Stanley Parable this year. While the gameplay is minimal, I feel that the questions this game asks you as a gamer (and developer) makes it worth experiencing. This is one of those games where I’d really like to see how people interpret it, because there are so many ways that you could. My review is located here.

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Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition

By all rights, this game shouldn’t be on this list. The PC port is awful, the DRM was worse, the textures passable at best, framerate problems (and a 30FPS cap) all over the place and awful keyboard + mouse controls. Oh and it did have Games for Windows Live integrated into it. But, it was the interesting, if depressing, world to explore, the in-depth weighty combat system, fantastic monster design and all around great experience that won me over in the end. I’m just glad that this will be the LAST time I ever deal with Games for Windows Live as the devs recently removed it from the game. Between that and the modding scene, Dark Souls is a very playable experience now, so long as you have a controller. I have zero doubts that we’ll see future RPGs try to copy & improve the combat system (as one game already has) and I am looking forward to it.

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Marlow Briggs and the Mask of Death

I love games where you can tell that the developers put their heart and soul into it, even if it was a low budget game. This reasonable hack-and-slash features a Fireman who gets revived from the dead by a Mayan Death mask to save his girlfriend and stop a power-crazed man from taking over the world. The plot isn’t very deep, the graphics aren’t the best thing on earth and the combat is fairly standard for the genre. But it’s the over the top acting performance by the villain, (who I’m 99% certain is James Hong) the revelry in being a b-movie game and the amount of joy that I got puts it on the list. You can read my review.

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The Swapper

I had to include at least one 2D puzzle platformer game this year, right? Well, that goes to the Swapper. A gorgeous visual style, challenging puzzles and an interesting story makes it a winner. There’s really not much more to say about it so if you’re going to pick up at least one platformer, try this one out.

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The Last Federation

If a game was to win a “Criminally Underplayed Game of the Year” award, The Last Federation would be it. I’m still not certain why I only put in a scant four hours into the game. What I’ve played of this grand strategy, sort of 4X with a twist, turn-based SHMUP combat game, has really intrigued me. It’s the kind of game Arcen does so really well and the new expansion really adds some more twists to the table. I will be returning to this title this year and playing a lot more of it because it deserves it.

smite-logo SMITE: Battleground of the Gods

Gah, Hi-Rez, I can’t quit you. I haven’t dared figure out how many hours I’ve sunk into SMITE because I know it will depress me. But I know it’s my most played game of all time so far. The only other games that come close are MMOs and AI War: Fleet Command. Released from beta earlier this year, SMITE has continued to grow and improve upon itself. The game is in a really balanced state right now, there isn’t a single god I can point to and say: “yeah, you’ll bring your team down by playing that god”. Even the Smite Pro League has been getting better and more intense. That said, I feel that SMITE is still in growing pains. Server issues remain abound, Hi-Rez’s communications with its players has been lacking at times and I don’t feel that the game does enough to punish toxic players or reward helpful ones. And its ladder system is in need of an overhaul. Still, SMITE’s many games modes and gods to choose from make it an enjoyable time day after day. It’s the drug I just can’t quit.

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Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

I have played the Metal Gear series since Metal Gear Solid 2 and while this is certainly an odd departure from the series, I can’t help but love this game. The extreme over the top action and combat sold me on this game. Add in a kickass soundtrack and I could enjoy this game over and over again. MGR has one of the most enjoyable, in-depth hack-and-slash combat systems I’ve run into. Even better when you can slice off pieces of enemies and get points for it. It’s got a lot more depth than you would initially think too. Not much more I can say about it other than what I said in my review of it here.

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Age of Wonders III

If I did have to pick a top game of the year, I think that would have to be Age of Wonders III. This incredibly well polished turn-based grand strategy RPG game mixes so many genres so well it’s worthy of praise for that alone. Mix in one of my favorite soundtracks this year and a ton of content that keeps the game fresh every time and this is a game I will be playing for years to come. It is just that good. There were some framerate performance problems on launch but those are slowly being worked out over patches. With a recent expansion released and another one on the way, I can’t help but feel giddy about playing more of this excellent game.

Honorable Mentions:

The Wolf Among Us

The Wolf Among Us was going to be up with the others, but I decided at the last minute to make it an honorable mention instead. While I certainly enjoyed TWAU, its quality is all over the place. The second episode is startling short and lackluster. The fifth episode has some buggy problems with the ending scenes. And while TellTale’s likes to say that you influence the direction of the story, some of what happens in the fourth and fifth episode feels like a Mass Effect storytelling event. (No matter what you do, the game compensates and you’re back on the “true” path). With Telltales recent series additions, I’m beginning to fear they’re biting off way more than they can chew. TWAU & Walking Dead S2 are showing troubling signs already….time will tell whether my fears are justified or not.

Pinball FX2: DLC Tables

Zen Studios has a lot of kudos coming from me. Every new DLC table continually ups the quality and experience you get. This is one of the few games where I actively pursue getting the highest score possible and Pinball FX2 makes it a great experience.

Distance

The only reason Distance is here and not up there is that its still in Beta. I’ve mostly avoided playing it while it’s in active development so I can enjoy it in its final form. That said, I have dipped my toes in from time to time and I’m really impressed with what I see. The racing is intense, graphics impressive and there’s a lot you can do with the recent addition of Workshop integration. This is looking to be one heck of an impressive game in 2015.

Supreme Commander: Forged Alliance: FA Forever Mod

Recently been picking up some more of this title lately and I am really impressed with how well developed the mod has become. Thousands of players are still playing this game to this day, which I think is rather crazy. FA remains one of my favorite RTSes of all time and if you haven’t checked out the FA Forever mod, you’re missing out.

AI War: Fleet Command: Destroyer of Worlds

Five years later and Arcen’s RTS game is still going strong. It is amazing how much time and effort continues to get spent into this one and the latest expansion really adds some new mechanics that intrigue me. This is a title I plan on coming back to in 2015 and enjoying the heck out of it.

Triple Town

What I initially wrote off as a cutesy mobile game with F2P aspects turned out to not be the whole truth. Triple Town is indeed from those roots, but the port over to the PC was smartly done. There is no aspect of F2P and it’s actually pretty engaging for a “match-3” type of puzzle game. I enjoyed the few hours I put into the game and I have to give the devs kudos for it.

The Walking Dead: Season 2:

It’s a very noteworthy game but it has underlying problems and inconsistencies with the storytelling and character actions. I’m beginning to worry that Telltale has too many projects running right now and their games are starting to suffer for it. Still, this tale that follows Clem has some heart wrenching scenes and choices to be made, just what you would expect of The Walking Dead series. I can only hope we get to see more of Clem in S3.

War Thunder

Another criminally underplayed game this year, this online airplane PVP game is quite the impressive experience. I keep dipping into it every now and again and who knows, I might get more involved with it this year. I feel like the default controls aren’t as good as they should be but the great graphics, satisfying feelings from shooting down enemy planes and enjoyable experience keeps me coming back.

Thanks for reading! I’ll be back soon with a wrap up of the year 2014 soon. Until then, have a Happy New Year!

-KingIsaacLinksr

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