Ben Jeanotte’s GOTY Nominees for 2014

2014 was a Dull Year for me

Extremely critical and selective gamer that I am, I can’t say 2014 was a very good gaming year for me and I found myself revisiting more than a couple titles from the past. Few games this year seemed like they were worth beating, but let’s take a look at a couple that were. Submitted here for your approval, Nation, are my GOTY Nominees.

Dark Souls II

Just being a fan of the Souls series is a controversial stance to have, with many gamers shunning its brutal difficulty — not me however. No, I even plowed through that symphony of masochism known as Demon’s Souls. Of course I was going to like Dark Souls II. It’s a great game I enjoyed playing though, but it did feel lesser than its previous iteration. I beat many of Dark Souls II’s bosses on my first try; something that just seems blasphemous for a Souls title. In the effort to become more mainstream, the series is starting to turn away from the intense difficulty of its predecessors. While I can admit that Demon’s Souls was a tad too hard for me, and that the original Dark Souls got it just right. Being given the ability to fast-travel from the beginning of DS2 made it feel like it was pandering to noobs. It is a more accessible entry to the series. Maybe curious gamers should start here and work their way back. Still, my minor complaints aside, Dark Souls II delivers a recognizably Souls-experience with all the expected graphical upgrades of a sequel.  It’s absolutely one of my favorite games of 2014 and I’m thankful for its release in this relatively dry year of sparse but rushed titles for the new consoles.

DarkSoulsII 2014-05-06 14-36-37-42

Dragon Age: Inquisition

A very close contender for my Game of the Year was Dragon Age: Inquisition. The title made me question, but then accept the series new direction. Inquisition gave me a sense of agency that I can not remember previously experiencing with any other game. It never ceased to ask me for directives and opinions. I truly felt like I was the leader of a burgeoning but powerful force. Its AAA assets; such as beautiful and meticulously detailed graphics; hours and hours of quality voice acting; and the intense customization of gear, as well as my own character, did not go unappreciated. Even though there’s still a lot of room for refinement and improvement this title was more than worth the $60 I paid for it.  Words that do not come lightly from me.

DragonAgeInquisition 2014-12-03 20-21-30-54

 

Game of the Year: Might & Magic X: Legacy

forgive the obscure pick here, when I talk about Might & Magic X, people usually give me sideways glances. It didn’t review very strongly, but I refuse to believe you have to be an aged-gamer, like myself, to enjoy this title.GOTY Nominee

 

Might and Magic X’s Gameplay is a Nod to the Past.

Legacy builds from a very old-school core, and is sure to tickle your nostalgia bone. Especially if you happened to play the older first-person RPG games. Not that I enjoyed those titles. I find being lost in a labyrinth of never -ending corridors consisting of self-same walls immanently frustrating. No, Might & Magic X builds on a gameplay style from the past, but thoroughly modernizes it. While exploration occurs in a first-person grid-based manner. Environments are now extremely varied and getting lost is no longer a problem. I actually found the graphics to be very impressive, though there are a lot of people who would say otherwise.

While you will be experiencing the world one grid-space at a time — the game offers an excellent sense of exploration. Beautiful Vistas, psychedelic caves, castles, beaches, forests, jungles, they’re all there and more. A few areas are a little unpolished, but that’s hardly the rule. 

Might and Magic X Legacy 2014-01-28 20-11-38-82

 

You Don’t See Combat Like This These Days.

X’s combat is very interesting and unique to our modern times. You have your four party members that occupy one grid-space, while enemies are situated on others throughout the world. If you notice them before they notice you, you can ambush them at range — maybe get a couple turns in before they close the distance. Each turn, your entire party may move or perform their individual combat-actions. There’s actually a lot of strategy involving distance. You may cast root spells to keep them out of melee range, blow them back with air-spells, or set traps and lure them to their doom. Alerted enemies will often draw the attention of others. You will have to carefully manage their movements by luring them to choke-points because getting flanked usually spells certain death. A player will probably have to reset many encounters to refine their approach strategy, but this isn’t a cheep feeling difficulty — clever tactics will be rewarded. 

Once you are actually beating down your foes face to face; you will find yourself juggling stuns to breach defensive units; Casting buffs, damage-shields, and regeneration spells to keep your own party from too much harm; and finding windows of opportunity to land your own blows. Combat is so tight that any new spells, skills, or loot you find, can make a decisive difference in the outcome of battles. Some encounters will just have to be ignored until you have acquired the tools for success. This all makes for some painfully addictive goal fulfillment. Going back to that cave after that ogre trounced you three times in a row after you’ve gained a few more weapons and skills, and then barely eking out a victory… That, that is the pure joy of accomplishment. It helps that boss-type encounters usually offer incredible loot.

  Might and Magic X Legacy 2014-01-26 18-43-14-17

 

This Game Will Punish You

With cutting difficulty, and an excellent balance of battle, loot, puzzles and upgrades, I simply could not put this title down. The learning-curve is steep! I even restarted 3 times to get my initial party to a place where it was moderately effective, but even the restarts didn’t stop me from living and breathing this game for several days.  With one foot in the past, X has still managed to become something completely unique to this decade. If you are a fan of Dark Souls, and turn-based RPGs, you really owe it to yourself to give this gem a try.

Other titles I considered for my Game Of The Year were Dark Souls 2, and Dragon Age: Inquisition. While those are definitely games with bigger budgets, more features and shinier graphics. They simply didn’t take hold of me like Legacy. Might & Magic X felt like a new type of game that I had never played before, and thus, I became lost in its mysteries. I hope some of you readers end up trying it too. It’d be really nice to have someone else to gush over it with!

Might and Magic X Legacy 2014-01-30 06-14-31-52

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