It’s never too late for a year end wrap up, right? Though we’re a little bit into 2015, I think there’s still time to take a look back and digest 2014’s games. While it may not have been the most exciting year in gaming history, there were a few standouts to make it bearable amidst GamerGate’s toxic bullshit. While 2014 may not have had it’s share of Gone Homes an Papers Pleases, it definitely had its less-talked about but still deserving Mibibli’s Quests and 2s. Before we get into the why’s and what’s that made 2014 unique, here was my prediction of what my end of the year list might look like, as of January 8th of last year:
#1. Dark Souls II
#2. Shovel Knight
#4. Super Smash Bros. U
#5. The Walking Dead Season 2
#6. Bayonetta 2
#7. The Witness
#8. Hotline Miami 2
#9. The Evil Within
(#11. A Hat in Time)
And here’s how the final 2014 list actually turned out:
#2. Dark Souls 2
#4. Mibibli’s Quest
#5. Shovel Knight
#6. The Evil Within
#7. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS
#8. The Wolf Among Us
So there were some changes, but a few of the pieces were already put together. Dark Souls was amazing, Shovel Knight was good, Smash Bros. was Smash Bros., and The Evil Within was a weird-ass horror game that was halfway broken, and I still loved it.
As for the rest: Titanfall was fun, but wore out its welcome after just a few short weeks. There’s just not that much there, especially when the game didn’t launch with any single player or co-op modes, and with a lacking variety of upgrades to seek out and earn.
I never pushed myself to finish the second season of The Walking Dead, but I never really felt like I had to. I enjoyed what was there, but the magic that the first season had just couldn’t find its way back into the mix. Episode 2 was pretty good, though.
Bayonetta 2 and The Binding of Isaac didn’t make the final cut, not because they aren’t incredible in almost every way, but because of the way I’ve come to view sequels. I love both of these games, but I also feel like I’ve given them their dues. The original Bayonetta is my favorite action game of all time, and Bayonetta 2 did just about everything the same. I don’t think I enjoyed the second as much as the first, but I still had a blast going through it over the course of a weekend. As for Isaac, Rebirth is just a bigger, better version of a game I’ve talked about incessantly. I could throw Isaac anywhere in my top 10 for 2014 and be happy, but I just didn’t play much of it because of how much time I spent with the original PC game. I’m just now getting back into playing Rebirth, and the co-op makes for an entirely different, and almost always more fun, experience. But it’s still the same game, just better, and I have other games I’d like to see rewarded for being different.
That being said, a fourth iteration of Smash Bros. appearing on this list seems like hypocrisy, and it kind of is. But I had more fun playing Smash Bros. in 2014 than I did with Isaac or Bayonetta, and I still seek out opportunities to boot it up and play a few rounds. One HUGE surprise for me, was just how fun the 1v1 online multiplayer with strangers is. I had so many memorable moments playing against some tough opponents that I never spoke a word to, that I couldn’t see any version of my Game of the Year list without recognizing how damn good it is.
I played about 15 minutes of Transistor and never felt like going back. The Witness, Hotline Miami 2, and A Hat in Time didn’t come out in 2014, and even when Hotline Miami 2 does come out, the whole sequel thing may feel too familiar for it to be on the list.
I feel pretty happy with the list I ended up with, and think that maybe I should have bumped The Wolf Among Us down a couple pegs. I liked it, but I go back and forth wondering if it’s too high on the list. Not that it matters, because lists are stupid to begin with.
Hearthstone was a huge surprise, and after trying it out in January I didn’t pick it up for another couple months. I liked it at first, but when the iPad release was coming, I got DEEP. Like, ready to devote about 200-300 hours deep.
Danganronpa came out of nowhere and blew me away, and now I’m really deep into that series as well. When a game makes you go to message boards for hours and hours to discuss the plot, and then you read the couple short novels/side stories of the games, you know something was done right.
Mibibli’s Quest is one of my new favorite platformers ever, and I could talk about it all day. It’s got such a huge breadth of variety, watching a trailer I had forgotten that it turns into a fighting game for a minute or two. The whole thing is fantastic, and I want Ryan Melmoth to make games forever.
Hubol Gordon’s 2 is another fantastic indie game, and I wouldn’t have found out about it without sites like Indiegames.com and Indiestatik (whose writers are now spread through Warp Door, Kill Screen, etc.) and I appreciate all the hard work the people of those sites do. Thank you Paul Hack, Chris Priestman, Tim W., Luca Colosso and everyone else.
And I guess here is where I make some bold predictions about 2015, even though I have no idea what’s going to happen. As I’ve said many times before, my favorite games are the ones that come out of nowhere and surprise me. But here goes nothing:
#2. The Legend of Zelda (Wii U)
#3. Persona 5
#4. Metal Gear Solid 5
#5. Axiom Verge
#6. Mario Maker
#7. Mighty No. 9
#8. Final Fantasy XV
#9. Titan Souls
…but really I have no idea. The top two I feel like I’m pretty solid on (if Zelda is somehow actually released when they said it would be) and I’m really stoked about Persona 5. As a fan of the rest of the series, I want Metal Gear to be better than I actually think it will be, so maybe by sheer willpower I can force it to be good. Axiom Verge looks great, as does everything following that.
So there’s to 2014, and here’s to hoping 2015 brings even more great and exciting things. Let’s do this.