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Destructoid's award for Overall Best Game of 2014 goes to... photo
Destructoid's award for Overall Best Game of 2014 goes to...
by Jonathan Holmes

[Image credit: Mike Lambert]

Why do we love videogames? Some say it's the escapism, or the ability to wrap you up in a story that you get to help tell as it's being told to you. Others say it's the way they can bring friends together, or occupy your mind with interesting mechanics to master and problems to solve. 

The truth is though, no one really knows why we love videogames so much. When you truly connect with something, be it a song, a movie, a game, or another person, it's not always easy to put the feeling into words. When asked "How do you know when it's love," legendary rock and roll group Van Halen responded with the unhelpful axiom "I can't tell you but it lasts forever." If Van Halen couldn't explain love, then how the heck are we supposed to? 

We may not be able to explain why we love games, but we sure as spit can talk about which ones we love the most. We saw a lot of write-in votes here, for games like Bravely Default, Hyrule Warriors, Grimrock 2, inFamous: Second Son, Tomodachi Life, and a bunch of others that we talked about in the Mechanics, World Design, Multiplayer Design, and Narrative Design award announcements earlier this week. In the end, the top four games came within arm's reach of each other. Dark Souls II came in fourth, Shovel Knight beat it out for third. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U just barely missed the top spot, landing in second. 

The winner is a true Cinderella story of gaming, which I will likely gush about in the paragraphs to follow. Before we get into that, be sure to vote in our reader's poll. It's democracy in action.

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The winner of Destructoid's Best Narrative Design of 2014 is... photo
The winner of Destructoid's Best Narrative Design of 2014 is...
by Jonathan Holmes

[Image credit: Mike Lambert]

Any game can use cut scenes to tell a great story. That trick was impressive back when CD-ROMs were cutting-edge technology. Today, the expectation for story-focused games is to work towards interweaving narrative techniques into every aspect of the design. Videogames can do so much more than pure linear storytelling devices like text or film. The best Narrative Design award is Destructoid's way of acknowledging the games that best proved that in 2014. 

Telltale had two games nominated this year. Neither won the award, though they didn't do half bad either. The Wolf Among Us and The Walking Dead Season 2 found a place next to Broken Age: Act 1, Either One, and Dragon Age: Inquisition near the middle of the pack. Notable write-in votes include The Talos Principal, The Banner Saga, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, Wolfenstein: The New Order, Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, Danganropa 2, Civilization: Beyond Earth, 80 Days, Wasteland 2, and Valiant Hearts, among others.

In what some would call a Christmas miracle, two games got the exact same amount of votes to win, making them Prom King and Queen of this year's best Narrative Design award ceremony. I know a lot of people hate ties, but I love them, so I'm going to embrace it. Sometimes two things are equally successful, standing side by side with their own important roles to fill. It's hard for me to find anything not to like about that. If you don't feel the same, go on and vote in our Reader's GOTY poll and make your tie-hating voice heard. The two winners of today's best narrative design award will be waiting for you below when you get back. 

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The award for Best Game Mechanics of 2014 goes to... photo
The award for Best Game Mechanics of 2014 goes to...
by Jonathan Holmes

[Image credit: Mike Lambert]

The idea behind the best mechanics category is to highlight games that you'd love to play even if they had stick-figure graphics, no multiplayer, no music, and no story. Some of them may be filled with complex operations. Others may be simple one-button affairs. Regardless, these are games that keep you coming back again and again, hoping to get all the parts to fit together just a little bit better each time.  

The votes were really all over the place here. Games that I figured had a good chance of taking the top spot like Sunset Overdrive and Geometry Wars 3 were beat out by write-ins like Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, The Castle Doctrine and Divinity: Original Sin. Other surprise staff nominations like Wolfenstein: The New Order, Xeodrifter, Road Not Taken, Mario Kart 8, Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, Bravely Default, Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, Dragon Age: Inquisition, Xenonauts, Mercenary Kings, Freedom Wars, Destiny, and Infamous: Second Son didn't do quite as well, but regardless, the message is clear: the Destructoid staff plays a lot of different kinds of games strictly for the mechanics. 

There was also a three-way tie for third place in this category, between three games that couldn't be much more different. In the end, Bayonetta 2, Octodad, and Shovel Knight all tied for the bronze medal in this particular popularity contest. Now that's a three-way crossover I'd pay top dollar for. With those games down, only OlliOlli and Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor remained. Keep reading to see which one landed on top, and don't forget to vote in our Reader's Poll for your favorite game of 2014

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Rust Cohle's GOTY games for 2014 photo
Rust Cohle's GOTY games for 2014
by Rust Cohle Games

Another year, another series of GOTY lists fueled by fanboyism and cognitive dissonance. We all know the AAA games get their fair share of nods and stick shakes. That's why I'm here to tell the world what my GOTY games are for 2014.

Not that it matters; we're all living in our own linear perceptions, anyway. Our ideals, biases, telling us right and wrong. All I can give is a taste of what my mind perceives to be true.

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The winner of Destructoid's Best Multiplayer Design of the year is... photo
The winner of Destructoid's Best Multiplayer Design of the year is...
by Jonathan Holmes

[Image credit: Mike Lambert]

Counting up the votes for Dtoid's Best Multiplayer Design was exciting. I had no idea how the voting would go. Big games like Destiny, Titanfall, and Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare didn't do half as well as you might have expected In fact, Advanced Warfare got just as many votes as small-but-scrappy titles like Sportsball and 1001 Spikes. Nidhogg and Sportsfriends managed to beat the lot of them though, landing near the middle of the ranks.

Sadly, Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare didn't do so hot, though I chalk that up in part to the fact that not a ton of our staff have played it yet. On the other hand, it was nice to see a strong showing from write-ins like Samurai Gunn, Octodad, Divinity: Original Sin, Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, Screencheat, Crawl, Cannon BrawlGang Beasts, Mercenary Kings, Hearthstone, Magicka Wizard, and GTA Online.

In the end, it was down to three big games: Towerfall: Ascension, Mario Kart 8, and Smash Bros. for Wii U. Keep reading to find out which title won, and don't forget to vote in the Reader Poll!

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Nominees for Destructoid's Best World Design of 2014 photo
Nominees for Destructoid's Best World Design of 2014
by Steven Hansen

[Image credit: Mike Lambert]

If we are the world, then technically this award is for all of us. Pat yourselves on the back. Only 12 games are being nominated, though, and only 1 will be winning the award. But it's an honor just to be nominated. 

Creating worlds, interactive digital spaces for us to dive into, is one of the strength of games, tying back to that good old feeling, "immersion." These nominees created coherent or otherwise arresting virtual realities. Alien tension. Sweeping scope. Hot Topic's vision of punk rock. Southern Gothic magical realism. 

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Nominees for Destructoid's Best Game Mechanics of 2014 photo
Nominees for Destructoid's Best Game Mechanics of 2014
by Brittany Vincent

[Image credit: Mike Lambert]

You can have the greatest narrative in the world and sprinkle memorable characters and scenes throughout a game, but all of it's for naught if your mechanics can't shine through. As the great Irving Mills once wrote, "it don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing."

These nominees spotlight the best of games that transcend the simple title of "functional" and instead go for the gold when it comes to making things feel absolutely solid. Pulling off combos is akin to wrapping yourself up in a silk robe. You never have to fight these games in order to complete objectives. They're all titles you'd be playing over and over even if the other aspects were lacking. They simply feel right. We all know I'm talking about Bayonetta 2, but here's a list of other games, I guess. 

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GOTY 2014: Best interpretive representation of Jeff Goldblum photo
GOTY 2014: Best interpretive representation of Jeff Goldblum
by Steven Hansen

Someone once told me I talk like Jeff Goldblum. This is not true. I also don't look like Charlie Day, Peter Frampton, Bret McKenzie, Michael Sheen, or Dikembe Mutombo. But at least I appreciated the former (tip: don't tell people who they look like; it is confusing and uncanny at best, offensive at worst). If I could channel a fraction of Goldblum's swarthy, gangly, aloof sex appeal or ability to vomit stomach acid onto his food while his shedding, greasy hair starts to look like a perm, my life would definitely be better. Especially if I had the vomit thing. 

And so it is that the third Steven Hansen's Destructoid's GOTY 2014 award is for the Best interpretive representation of Jeff Goldblum. If you missed them, here are the awards for illiteracy (Best willful misspelling in a title) and Best musical.  

Because I am being sneaky/horny and using a shirtless Goldblum to adorn this post rather than art from the winner, now it feels like I have the element of surprise on my side and I'm pussyfooting around giving the award. Juking left, juking right. Will there be a world-shattering upset? I can feel you tittering with suspense as if you were hanging on Jeff Goldblum's every word and "Look," hand gestures. 

Without further stalling, I hereby award Transistor the Steven Hansen's Destructoid's GOTY 2014 award for Best interpretive representation of Jeff Goldblum! Supergiant's sophomore effort is almost cool to a fault. It is aloof, but with a sumptuous, angular aesthetic that mirror's Goldblum's icy-hot mystery. 

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Nominees for Destructoid's Best Narrative Design of 2014 photo
Nominees for Destructoid's Best Narrative Design of 2014
by Brett Makedonski

[Image credit: Mike Lambert]

It's impossible to pinpoint exactly what it is that makes for great narrative design. It's just something you know when you see. It's more than an outstanding story (although, that's certainly a requisite). It's the melding of game mechanics with narrative to create an experience that's elevated beyond those two parts individually.

But, the thing is, there's no formula to ensure it'll work in perfect harmony. All too often, games that excel at telling a story fall somewhat flat with gameplay, or vice versa. It takes a special title to work hand-in-hand with itself to create that seamless whole.

When that happens, it's a wondrous feeling. We're left with the games that can keep us on the edge of our seat in delight, or slouched as deep in the couch as possible, gutted with despair. We're left with the games that we can't stop playing, or that we can't stop thinking about when we're not playing. We're left with the titles that cement the idea that videogames are a transcendent medium.

These are Destructoid's nominees for Best Narrative Design of 2014.

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GOTY 2014: Best musical photo
GOTY 2014: Best musical
by Steven Hansen

What a dismal showing this year. Last year had Frozen, which tailed into this year, world without end, amen, with a long icy tail like Halley's comet. When are we going to have the "Let it Go" of videogames? We'll never have made it as an artform until games can produce a number with such virality and ubiquity that I start to wonder, "Wouldn't my life be better without a son," and "Remember the end of Ichi the Killer, with the sewing needles? That movie had some good ideas." 

Here are some of the so-called "big musicals" of 2014 that failed to register a single musical number: Alien: Isolation. Dragon Age: Inquisition. The trailer for the new Star Wars film. Bayonetta 2. Dark Souls II. Embarrassing. 

While no one put their bach into it to interrupt all sense of tone and pacing with a barrage of gaudy sung intermissions, I hereby award Kentucky Route Zero Steven Hansen's Destructoid's GOTY 2014 for Best musical, namely for its one stirring musical number in Act 3. This is quality over quantity folks. Kentucky Route Zero's first two parts are enough to make it one of the best games of last year, and the lone Act 3 enough to make it one of this year's best--and the best musical. 

First, the number pop ups organically, at a place you might expect song singing to happen, rather than in a prison or a dementia care home or the post office or just generally a place where you might not expect synchronized singing of thoughts and emotions by patrons. Oh, also a hair enhancement clinic. That's another one where a musical number feels out of place. Anyways, the sensibility of the time and place clashes beautifully with the levels of mediation inherent to the genre and toyed with in the mechanics. Just play the damn thing, the whole of it. 

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Nominees for Destructoid's Best Multiplayer Design of 2014 photo
Nominees for Destructoid's Best Multiplayer Design of 2014
by Chris Carter

[Image credit: Mike Lambert]

Friends can make any game worth playing. Growing up, couch play was a staple in my household. I would often have videogame themed birthday parties, inviting all of my buddies over to have fighting game tournaments and, one time, a Tenchu II level editor challenge.

While a great single-player game can always elicit strong emotional reactions within oneself, a great multiplayer game lets you share those emotions with your loved ones. These are the games that made us feel special this year. The ones that had an impact on our lives as we gamed into the late night hours with the best of company.

These nominees have mechanics specifically designed to facilitate engaging interactions with others, which inherently differs from the design choices found in solo experiences.

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GOTY 2014: Best willful misspelling in a title  photo
GOTY 2014: Best willful misspelling in a title
by Steven Hansen

Might be your taste makers on this webpage made a Huge™ boner and left Samurai Gunn out of its 2014 game of the year plans. Because of its mid-December 2013 release, it was left out last year, too, and should have had 2014 eligibility. And there certainly isn't a multiplayer game I've had more fun with over the course of the year than the only game trying to carry Bushido Blade's torch. 

And there ain't a game that makes better use of a superfluous double consonant neither, so I am hereby awarding Samurai Gunn the Steven Hansen's Destructoid's 2014 GOTY award for Best willful misspelling in a title.  

Like a real gun or a decorative katana beneath your anime tits wall scroll, the second 'n' just makes you look cooler. This is how you name a game folks (incidentally, this is how you don't name a game, for the love of my Rouroni Kenshin reverse blade replica katana).

Do you see a lazy, '90s raditude 'z' slapped on the end there? Oh hell no. You may get three bullets per life, but there ain't no god damn, highfalutin pluralization nonsense happening here on the part of developer Teknopants. No. They doubled downn. That shows grit. Character. "You pronounce every god damnn letter," it screams. And you have to, or else you're pronouncing it wrong, like when you pronounce anno (year) as ano (anus). This isn't Samurai Ass. It's Samurai Gunn. Though I wouldn't mind seeing the former. Hit me up. 

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The five best indie games at PlayStation Experience photo
The five best indie games at PlayStation Experience
by Brett Makedonski

With regard to games shown at last weekend's PlayStation Experience, Sony had two noticeable strengths: its first-party mega-titles and the projects of its ever-growing stable of independent developers. While PlayStation fans finally got the chance to go hands-on with the publisher's biggest names like The Order: 1886 and Bloodborne, it was the indies along the length of the entire side wall where the true gems could be found.

In that sense, PlayStation Experience stepped right in line with all the year's other conventions; in relatively small crowds, players got to move from station to station, and fell in love with new games that they knew little-to-nothing about. Checking out the giant booths is all fine and fun, but ask anyone and they'll tell you that talking to passionate indie devs about their games and playing it at their small, humbling exhibits is the glue that holds community shows together.

These were Destructoid's favorite indie games at PlayStation Experience.

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10:40 PM on 12.05.2014

Sierra and Odd Gentlemen show off new King's Quest at The Game Awards

At the Game Awards tonight, the founders of Sierra Ken and Roberta Williams were honored with the Industry Icon Award for their work in the early days of videogame development. After Ken demonstrated his inability to adjust ...

Darren Nakamura

7:00 PM on 12.05.2014

Game Awards? In this economy? Watch them here!

Geoff Keighley's not-affiliated-with-Spike Game Awards are tonight. Gosh, it really has been a year since he co-hosted VGX with Joel McHale. (Let us never speak of that again.) The show will be streamed live out of Las Vegas...

Jordan Devore

5:30 PM on 12.02.2014

Xbox isn't revealing anything at The Game Awards 2014

There are a few dates every year that we can bank on new videogames being revealed. The first couple days of E3 are the best for this. However, in recent years, the annual December videogames awards show has proven to hold it...

Brett Makedonski