2015 is upon us and there are many titles to look to which we look forward, but before I start waiting (very impatiently) let’s take a look back of some of the best games of 2014. Now these are the games I consider to be the best. I don’t have a real stringent rating scale, what with stars and decimals and what not, so these are in no particular order. These are just the games I had the most fun playing in the past year.
Dark Souls II
Dark Souls is quickly shaping up to be one of my favorite action RPG franchises, and this newest installment is definitely living up to Namco’s promises to maintain the difficulty level in the series. While casual gamers might not appreciate the increasing difficulty found in the DS games, I love the challenge. I was a bit disappointed with the PC controls in the original game, and even broke down and bought a USB controller to finish the game, but that wasn’t an issue with the sequel. Comparing the console and PC versions I have to say PC came out on top. Not only are the graphics and performance more impressive, but there’s far less loading time1 and the controls have obviously been designed with a mouse and keyboard in mind. This wasn’t simply a game designed for console and ported to the PC; the developers, From Software, were clearly thinking of PC players in designing this version. This is the sort of courtesy developers used to afford console players when porting PC games to Playstation and Xbox, but the recent trend has been to simply design for the base system, consoles, and release it to all platforms even if it’s crap on PC. I’m hoping titles like this can show developers like EA that you don’t have to sacrifice PC franchises to the Gods of Console to make a decent game.
Divinity: Original Sin
A prequel to Divine Divinity and a Kickstarter I was excited to get behind, Original Sin comes with the game’s actual editing tool with which to create single- and multi-player adventures. Maybe it’s the turn-based fighting or the plot and and characters I actually care about, but something about this game harkens back to the RPGs of yesteryear that were actually fun to play. It’s massive as well. I spent a solid three hours in the first town, and I didn’t even complete all of the sidequests before I decided to move on. It’s the kind of game you can get lost in for hours. It just has the certain something we haven’t seen in games in a very long time, but it still feels relevant and improves on the RPG genre.
Another Kickstarter I stumbled upon that produced amazing results. The original Wasteland was developed by Interplay in 1988, and though its planned sequels didn’t pan out you might be familiar with a little game Interplay released in 1997 that was based on it, Fallout. Another turn-based game with tactical camera, the awesome part of this sequel is the morality. The decisions of the four playable, and customizable, characters in your party have an effect on the world and plot. I’ve played through it a few times and the plot is so nuanced that it didn’t get old.
Dragon Age: Inquisition
Okay, it’s entirely possible I should have called this list “Best RPGs of 2014”, but it’s my list and I like RPGs so whatevs. I’m a bit iffish about whether Inquisition deserves a place on this list. It’s not Dragon Age 2, but it’s also not Dragon Age: Origins. I can’t decide if I like this game simply because the bar was set so low or if it’s because it’s actually a decent game. If there had been no Dragon Age 2 and we’d gone straight from Origins to Inquisition, would it still be an enjoyable experience? I can’t say for sure, but I can say I have had a lot fun and I’m already on my third play through.
Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor
Full disclosure: This is the first LotR game I’ve ever played. I was just never really interested in the previous incarnations, and the MMORPG came out right around the time I was getting burned out on WoW. I have of course read the books – even The Silmarillion, ’cause I got nerd cred – and seen the movies – even Battle of Five Armies, which was about 60% closeups of Tauriel and Kíli looking at each other intensely. Y’all know to which scene I’m referring. The other 40% should have just been Lee Pace looking all hot in a wig. Anyways, this was a phenomenal game. My favorite part were the Nemeses, randomly generated orc NPCs that have the ability to rise through the ranks of the Uruk clans and become your greatest foes; your nemeses, if you will. Your actions in the game affect their standing in their tribes, they’ll have different responses to your excursions into Mordor, and they’ll even interact with each other and other NPCs by developing rivalries and acting as bodyguards. You can kill these guys to earn runes for improving your weapons, and the runes you earn depend on how powerful they are. It’s interesting to resist cutting them down when they’re up and coming and waiting for them to rise to power so you can kill them when they’re worth more. It’s a fascinating mechanism and adds a lot of depth to the game, which is already fun to play and explore.
Binding of Isaac: Rebirth
I got the original Binding of Isaac in a Humble Indie Bundle and was surprised by the fear such a cute game could inspire. All around creepy and enthralling , Rebirth is a remake of the original plus the Wrath of Lamb expansion and some additional new content. As well as a new final chapter and ending that was cut from the original due to development constraints there are also new playable characters, bosses, and rooms to explore. The main reason for the remake is to boost the original from its rather limiting Flash platform, and I’m pretty happy with the results. It’s the same creepy and fun game, but a little better. And if you haven’t played the original you definitely have to play Rebirth. Though you should play it no matter what.
Why? Why not? Goat Simulator was bound for glory. You’re a goat and your sole purpose is mess stuff up. You can destroy buildings and kill people as a goat, so of course it’s one of the best games. With ridiculous objectives that are mysteriously compelling, like landing awesome flips and causing insane damage, it’s easy to lose some time to this sim.
Because PCs are better computers than consoles. It had to be said. ↩