It’s been a heckuva year 2014, filled with laughs, tears, an unhealthy amount of DotA 2, and now it’s time to reflect and decide the games that were truly worth my time, and the games that will likely live on when we shift into 2015. So let’s get started into the best of 2014, complete with a couple honorable mentions as well as the best of the best. Submitted here for your approval Nation are my GOTY Nominees:
Honorable Mention: Wasteland 2 – PC (InXile)
Wasteland 2 was a sequel over 20 years in the making, with a successful Kickstarter finally giving InXile the funds to create the sequel to the classic RPG. I personally loved the character customization options present, being able to input custom images for each user-generated character. In my game I had Triss the leader, Yennefer the sniper, Adam Jensen the technician, and Lara Croft the heavy weapons specialist roaming the wastes. I especially loved how the player made significant choices regarding the game without ever knowing they were making the choice in the first place. Entire settlements were wiped off the map due to choices I made hours before, a mark of my impact on the game world.
The combat system was very simple, using a turn-based cover and shoot system for its purposes. But it’s the little things that give the gameplay a bit a magic, such as the possibility of stray bullets hitting unintended units near the shooter or the target during fights. In my personal game, I couldn’t help but laugh at my own stupidity when Yennefer blew a teammate’s face off because they happened to be standing in front of my intended target, or when Triss caught a stray bullet from Lara for the umpteenth time. When I had a mini-nuke explosion engulf several of my characters, I noticed post-fight that all of their clothing was destroyed, literally burned off from the explosion leaving my party in their underwear. It’s these little touches that really make Wasteland 2 something special.
Honorable Mention: Divinity: Original Sin (Larian Studios)
Divinity: Original Sin was the first game I bought for full price in I don’t know how long. I’m the kind of destitute gamer that only has money to buy year old games during Steam sales for pennies on the dollar, but in a moment of weakness I forked over the $40 on impulse. It must have been a divine intervention that my first impulse purchase in forever was actually an amazing game.
The game is a typical medieval fantasy, magic, and monsters setting with a bit of personality. Players can create two unique characters that can be fully customized in both appearance and skills. Similar to Wasteland 2, Divinity: Original Sin uses a turn-based combat system. However the combat is so dynamic that with some careful planning players can alter the field of battle in their favor. Ignite poison clouds, summon rainstorms to put out fires,and use the smoke of doused fires to block enemies’ vision — the possibilities in combat are astounding.
I had the most fun playing the game co-op with a buddy, with each of us taking over one of the custom characters. While most games treat the option of co-operative gameplay as lazy, usually forcing the second player to be passive in the flow of gameplay, Divinity: Original Sin has players fight in a small rock-paper-scissors minigame when conflicts in choices occur. This option brings roleplay to life, as my partner is no longer just watching me play and occasionally helping me kill things, but rather we are enjoying a dynamic partnered experience.
Best of 2014: Transistor (Supergiant Games)
Transistor is one of those games that remind me why I play video games. It’s the type of game that as I’m playing I feel like I’m living through a story — immersing me in the universe. Every aspect of the game merges seamlessly into the players experience as they follow Red in her story.
Like with Supergiant Game’s previous work, Bastion, the music in the game is phenomenal. Darren Korb does an excellent job of producing tracks that set the mood for every setting the game takes place in with the voice of Ashley Barrett performing outstanding vocals. Couple the music with the unique art style of the game, and it’s a stark reminder of the creativity and beauty that can be in video games. Complete with the vocal guidance of Logan Cunningham, the atmosphere of the game brings you to another world.
Transistor‘s combat allows players to use a variety of skills acquired throughout the game to defeat enemies, either in real-time or by using the turn system which grants Red the option to perform a set of pre-planned moves instantly at the cost of a moment of vulnerability. The abilities players use can be combined to create augmented effects or equipped in passive slots to give boosts and augments to all of Red’s abilities. This variability allows players to craft a unique combat style of their choosing.
The story had me completely invested, giving me enough scraps of information to keep me guessing the plot but leaving me frantically hungry for more. Transistor exploited this hunger — as players use abilities in different slots more of the background of the setting is revealed. This forces the player to adapt to a multitude of play styles in order to unearth the whole story, a creative option for bringing players outside their comfort zone.
I personally believe Transistor had it all. The voicework, gameplay, art style, setting, characters, it all brings the game together in an experience that makes you feel like you didn’t just play a game, but lived through an experience.
So there you have it, my picks of 2014. Like what I picked or think my tastes are terrible? Let me know in the comments below or harass me on Twitter at @BearKun3. Also be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us at @APGNation