How will 2014 be remembered in the gaming world? It certainly will not be recalled as the year the console died. 2014 brought us some amazing games, and you don’t have to squint at a smartphone to play each one. Here is Blast’s 25 Best Video Games of 2014:
Published by: Konami
Forget about the fact that P.T., the playable trailer for the upcoming Silent Hill game is just a piece of promotion and you’re left with a game that does creepy and scary better than any game this year. Games like The Evil Within and Alien Isolation may have tried to get us on the edge of our seat with big budgets and even bigger worlds, but all P.T. Needed was a hallway and little else.
- The Talos Principle
Developed by: Devolver Digital
Published by: Devolver Digital
This quirky puzzle game may seem like just another indie puzzler but the depth and heart on display here are something truly special. With some rather inventive puzzles and a philosophical message that never gets too preachy and you’ll have The Talos Principle; easily one of the best puzzle games we’ve seen since Valve’s masterpiece, Portal 2.
- Never Alone
Developed by: Upper One Games
Published by: E-Line Media
Seemingly coming out of nowhere, Never Alone tells a touching story, delivers on some interesting puzzle elements and seeks to raise awareness for a cause that would otherwise go unnoticed. It sometimes got a bit too ambitious for even it’s own ideas but there’s no denying that when Never Alone succeeded it did so with wild imagination and success.
Developed by: Respawn Entertainment
Published by: EA
It would be easy to dismiss Titanfall as just another Call of Duty clone, but it’s far from it. With elements of sci-fi, mechs and even parkour, Titanfall breathes new life into a genre that has quickly grown stale. It may be missing some genre mainstays, but the fun and frantic nature of the game make for one worthwhile and unique experience. Plus, you get to blow up giant robots and yes, that’s just as satisfying as it sounds.
- Crypt of the Necrodancer
Developed by: Brace Yourself Games
Published by: Brace Yourself Games
One look at Crypt of the Necrodancer and you’d be forgiven if you were hesitant to look back, this who do so will be rewarded with one of the most inventive takes on the dungeon crawlers to be released in years. It’s perhaps easiest to look at Crypt of the Necrodancer as a cross between The Binding of Issac and rhythm games like Just Dance. While that may sound strange, it’s a wildly fun and challenging experience that deserves to be the sleeper hit of 2014.
- Sunset Overdrive
Developed by: Insomniac Games
Published by: Microsoft Games
In a time where games are overly serious and aim to be as epic as possible, Insomniac’s Sunset Overdrive bucks the trend and delivers a game that’s truly focused on fun and exploration first. Breaking the fourth wall, mocking the player and never taking itself seriously, Sunset Overdrive was one of the rare console exclusives that didn’t come out broken and is a reminder of why we play games in the first place; for escape and fun.
- This War of Mine
Developed by: 11-Bit Studios
Published by: 11-Bit Studios
Then there’s This War of Mine. A war game like no other, This War of Mine charges players with making decisions that all have harsh consequences and most players won’t be proud of. Yes, you’re about to pay $20 to become depressed and hate yourself for what you choose to help your survivors make it through another day but it’s worth it to take part in a war experience like no other.
- Civilization: Beyond Earth
Published by: 2K Games
I’ve played Civilization for years, in fact some of my first gaming memories are experimenting with the game on our first true PC but I’ve never felt like that game was this inventive and refreshed. Beyond Earth takes a lot of chances and most of them pay off widely to create something that builds off previous iterations of the franchise but also creates a unique identity all its own. Fans of the franchise will love where Beyond Earth goes, and there’s never been a better point for new gamers to jump in to one of the medium’s most beloved franchises.
Developed by: Sirvo LLC
Published by: Sirvo LLC
If you’ve been around someone playing a game on their phone this year, there’s a good chance they were playing Threes! The inventive and addicting puzzle game became a cultural phenomenon and even made the jump from iOS and Android to living room when it made it’s debut on the Xbox One this year. Threes! Is the perfect game to play on the go though and to get the real experience all you have to do is join the millions already playing it from their pockets.
- Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
Developed by: Retro Studios
Published by: Nintendo
I’m convinced that Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze is built off the same DNA as Dark Souls 2 and just features fu, fuzzy characters to mock me with how challenging it is. That being said, there may not be a better 2D platformer on the market than the Wii U’s ape adventure, just be ready to fail… a lot.
- Super Smash Bros Wii U
Developed by: Nintendo
Published by: Nintendo
Nintendo’s other big game from the later half of this year promised a lot and delivered on even more. It may not break the mold from what’s come before it, but fans of the Smash Bros formula (colorful mascots beating the hell out of each other with even more colorful props) felt right at home with the latest in the series and with new additions like 8-player fights and stage creators, this is a game that’s sure to have a long life span.
- Forza Horizon 2
Published by: Microsoft
While other “racing games” are focused on wins and beefing up your ride, Forza Horizon 2 celebrates driving and the love of driving like no other experience. Going through the game and experiencing how it feels to get behind the wheel and drive some of the rarest rides through some of the most picturesque spots in Europe is a car lovers dream almost has a freeing aspect to it. In a year filled with driving games Forza Horizon 2 is miles ahead of the competition.
- Monument Valley
Developed by: ustwo
Published by: ustwo
Monument Valley, the curious iOS game bucks the trend that mobile games need to be quick and accessible by giving us a creative, fun, artistic and inventive game to play from our pockets. Best on tablets to appreciate the gorgeous visuals, the developers at ustwo have created the blueprint for creating a mobile game that means something and is still fun to play at the same time.
- Broken Age
Developed by: Double Fine Entertainment
Published by: Double Fine Entertainment
No one could have really guessed that the game once known only as the Double Fine Adventure Kickstarter project would be so pitch perfect and deliver a touching and fun story that rivals even the greatest animated movies of recent years. We may still be waiting for the final chapter of Broken Age’s tale but the first half of the game was inventive and fun enough to warrant such a high placement on the list. If you’re a fan of adventure games or just really fun and creative stories, you absolutely have to check out Double Fine’s Broken Age.
- Mario Kart 8
Published by: Nintendo
It’s Nintendo. It’s Mario Kart. By now you know exactly what you’re getting into with the mascot racing series but Mario Kart 8 introduces a new anti-gravity feature that ahem…turns the franchise upside down (sorry, I had to). Even more important though it refines but also retains the massively popular and accessible racing formula for a whole new generation, and in stunning HD. Mario Kart has never looked or played this well in history.
- Bayonetta 2
Developed by: Platinum Games
Published by: Nintendo
Playing through the provocative Bayonetta 2, I often felt like I was looking at something I shouldn’t but it’s worth the sideways looks from anyone for it’s huge action set pieces and fun hack and slash gameplay. Extremely fluid combat mechanics, responsive controls and extremely satisfying finishers make for one hell of a surprisingly great experience.
It may not seem like it, but Bayonetta 2 has everything I love about games wrapped into a nice and neat package; great combat, responsive controls and huge bosses to take down. It never takes itself too seriously (come on, it’s a witch that fights demons with her hair) and is loads of fun throughout the experience.
- Dark Souls 2
Developed by: From Software
Published by: Namco Bandai
I like to think of Dark Souls 2 as the video game equivalent of an urban legend. You’ll hear people talking about how they beat a boss or how they were cheated out of doing so. Did it really happen? It’s tough to tell, but with Dark Soul’s legendary level of challenge upped for the sequel, Dark Souls 2 is easily the stuff of legend.
Like Demon Souls and the original Dark Souls before it, Dark Souls 2 is not for everyone. It’s a punishing and insanely difficult test of not just your video game prowess but your sanity and dedication at the same time. It is also however one of the most rewarding and satisfying games you’ll ever play and those who survive it’s massive amount of content and live to tell the tale will find they have a badge of honor of sorts. You’re going to hate Dark Souls 2, but strangely you’ll also love every minute of it.
- Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare
Published by: Activision
If you would have told me at this time last year, especially after the lackluster release of Ghosts, that a Call of Duty game would make the list of the top games of 2014, let alone place so high, I probably would have laughed at you but Advanced Warfare is a remarkably great step in the right direction. Built from the ground up with a focus on delivering new and fresh ideas from gamings biggest punching bag.
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare won’t change how the many detractors the series has garnered feel about the game, but it’s most definitely a step in the right direction. Full of new ideas, ambition and life, Sledgehammer Games has crafted one of the most fun and thrilling entires in the mega-popular shooter series in quite some time. If you’ve been away from the series waiting for a time to jump back in, there’s no better time than Advanced Warfare as it proves that there’s still life left the franchise, and never to count a good soldier out.
Developed by: SuperGiant Games
Published by: SuperGiant Games
With its sophomore effort, Super Giant Games has taken what they learned from Bastion and created a remarkable and intimate experience that marvels at every turn. With it’s hand-painted visuals and remarkable soundtrack, Transistor is easily one of my favorite games this year. The developers are quickly establishing themselves as one of those teams where you simply must play their games the day they’re released. I can’t stress this enough, whether on PC or PS4, you must find a way to play this game.
Transistor is one of those rare experiences where everything from it’s superb soundtrack to an inventive combat system and engaging story all come together to create something remarkably unique and more than worthwhile. It’s unlike anything you’ve played before and likely unlike anything you’ll play anytime soon. Delivering in nearly every aspect, Transistor is a testament to what an indie studio can deliver.
- Far Cry 4
Developed by: Ubisoft Montreal
Published by: Ubisoft
Far Cry 4 is a lot like that one friend that everyone has; the one that’s able to convince you to do some incredibly stupid but fun things even against your better judgement. He’s the friend who convinced you that the last minute trip to Vegas on a single tank of gas was a great idea and that you could definitely take that guy in the bar. Far Cry 4 is similarly packed with gorgeous action set pieces and jaw droopingly fun moments, it just lacks an interesting enough story to make you care why you’re doing any of it. Still, fans of shooters, adventure games or just plain fun shouldn’t miss their flight to Kyrat.
With Far Cry 4, Ubisoft may take the “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” approach, but there’s nothing wrong with that when the end result is this much fun. Far Cry 4 takes everything it’s predecessor did right and turns it up another notch, leading to one of the most insanely fun and packed shooters of the year. It’s highly unlikely that you’ll run out of things to do in your time in Kyrat, especially if you bring a friend with you. The story may not be the most inventive but it never seems to get too much in the way. If you’re looking for a fun and seemingly limitless shooter to pick up this holiday and pass the time, you can’t go wrong with Far Cry 4.
Developed by: Bungie
Published by: Activision
Forget what you’ve heard about Destiny. Forget about all the problems with player progression and loot drops, and how it sometimes takes advantage of the player. Forget how the story is almost non-existent. Destiny is easily the most refined, tightest shooter to release this year.
Whether you’re taking on a raid or just trying to grind and level up, Bungie’s history of developing fun and well designed shooters can be seen throughout your time with Destiny. Some of my most thrilling gaming moments of the year have been within Destiny’s world and with how much Bungie is proving that it’s willing to fix what doesn’t work with Destiny by listening to it’s fans, this is an experience you simply must take, especially with the new content being added almost daily.
Destiny is not a perfect game, no where near it in fact, but it is a superb shooter experience, especially for fans of the Bungie formula.
- Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor
Published by: Warner Brothers Interactive
Brutal, filled with content and incredibly fun to explore, Shadow of Mordor plays like a love letter to the Tolkein Universe that isn’t afraid to strike out on it’s own. I’ll admit that I didn’t expect a lot from Monolith Production’s foray into MiddleEarth, but I was completely surprised at how much fun I had with it. Fans of the Lord of the Rings universe finally have a game that’s worth their passion and those who just like a good action game can’t go wrong here.
What really separates Shadow of Mordor from the competition isn’t it’s gameplay, it’s not even it’s story or combat (though all of those are well done as well), it’s the remarkable Nemesis system. For the first time, any random enemy in the game can become a boss thanks to a fascinating hierarchy system that makes every pay through different. It’s fascinating to watch the system play itself out, especially as it starts to evolve even without your participation. Shadow of Mordor is truly something special.
- Shovel Knight
Developed by: Yacht Club Games
Published by: Yacht Club Games
Shovel Knight represents both the gaming past I remember and loved and the gaming past that never was. It represents the rosy colored glasses that we often look at the 8 and 16-bit eras through, but it’s remarkable by any means.
Somewhere in my parent’s attic there’s a home video of me on Christmas morning, jumping around in my footy pajamas screaming in joy that “We got Super Nintendo.” The tape then continues to show the joy on my face as I discover Super Mario World for the first time. Playing through Shovel Knight often feels a lot like that Christmas morning; it’s one of the few throwback games that nails what made the 8-16-bit era so much fun to live through but also manages to create an identity all its own. It smartly channels some of the most loved games of the period, and puts it’s own spin on them to result in something that feels similar but still feels so fresh that you absolutely must play through it.
Shovel Knight may look like just another retro throwback title but it’s far from it. Yacht Club games has crafted one of the few games that both nails what made the 8-bit era so fun but also creates an identity all its own.Shovel Knight is fun, challenging (though admittedly not as much as you’d think) and nostalgic. It’s a game for anyone who believes the notion that they don’t make them like they used to anymore because they sometimes make them better.
- South Park: The Stick of Truth
Developed by: Obsidian Entertainment
Published by: Ubisoft
The love affair between South Park and video games has been a one-way street so far. While creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker have given us episodes based on everything from Guitar Hero to Pokemon and Tiger Woods PGA Tour, the games industry has given them…Chef’s Luv Shack. All that changes now though as the latest game based on the long-running animated series is not only the best you’ll ever play, but a damn good game in general. The stick of Truth is sharp-witted, fun and deep and it has enough more than enough fan service to go around.
Forget the gimmicky South Park titles of the past, The Stick of Truth puts you right in the middle of everyone’s favorite mountain town and apparently into the middle of a war. Cartman has taken the role of the Wizard King and rules over an army as they do battle with a race of elves over the fabled Stick of Truth. The story is most reminiscent of the episode “The Return of The Fellowship of the Ring to the To Towers,” since the kids are embroiled in this war, but it’s just kids playing to everyone else, and South Park goes on just like normal (well, as normal as South Park can be) to everyone else.
The Stick of Truth isn’t just a great South Park game, it’s a great game period. It’s a spot-on and fun representation of the world the show has created, full of fan service and inside jokes that’ll stick with those who knew the show. More importantly though, The Stick of Truth features a robust and deep old-school RPG experience that rivals that of some of the best in the genre. If you’re a fan of the series, you need to play The Stick of Truth and if you’re not – this may even change your mind.
- Dragon Age: Inquisition
Developed by: Bioware
Published by: EA
Don’t call it a comeback.
By the time I “finished” Dragon Age III: Inquisition‘s near 90-hour main story, I was spent. I had overthrown political parties, traveled thousands of miles and even slayed a few dragons. Somehow though, I still wanted more. Dragon Age III: Inquisition easily atones for the previous sins of Origins but still manages to fall into some of the same traps as it’s older brethren. It’s a sweeping game where you’ll care more for the story you create than the one the game tells you is of utmost importance. It’s one of the biggest games I’ve ever played, but I rarely felt like I was just wandering since the game is so packed with stuff to do and things to discover. It may still be haunted by the same problems that Bioware can’t seem to shake, but Inquisition marks the return of what makes Dragon Age so great.
The depth and ambition found in Dragon Age: Inquisition is borderline absurd. Slaying the demons that are pouring out of the sky seem like a side quest to the layers upon layers of social, political and yes, even romance gameplay that has made the Dragon Age series so remarkable for years, but feels even more well done in Inquisition.
Dragon Age III: Inquisition feels like reuniting with a friend right after they get out of a bad relationship and in this case, her name is Dragon Age: Origins. It feels comfortably familiar yet excitingly new at the same time. Inquisition may not do that much new, but it does what it does so well that it’s more than forgivable, it’s encouraged. From the excellent combat to the wonderfully created world around it, you’re bound to be playing Dragon Age III: Inquisition for quite some time, and having a blast doing it.