2014 was such a weird year in games for me. If you had asked me last January how I thought this list would have shook out, I'd have been far off the mark. For one thing, I would have expected a slew of amazing new Xbox One and PS4 games taking up the top slots, but we all know that didn't happen for various reasons (maybe next year!). From the games that did make the list, some of my most anticipated titles of the year hit harder than others, while some of my absolute favorites turned out to be complete surprises!
Whatever my expectations were, I had an amazing time in 2014. Here are the titles that touched the black soylent mass of my heart the most this year.
2014 was a phenomenal year for gaming. I don’t think there was a genre that didn't have a game I absolutely loved. Now, the truth is that I’m easy to please; I could never do reviews. I see the fault in games, but...
And, suddenly, another year passed us by. It seems like 2014 had only just arrived, and already it's being hauled away, kicking and screaming, never to be seen or heard from ever again.
It's important that we take this time to reflect on the previous twelve months, to remember the good times and repress the bad. Soon we will be looking to the future, or anywhere else really, so long as we can stave off the here and now. So breathe deep, my friend. Take in those plummy aromas. Savor their toasty bouquets. And espy the subtle hints of oak and herb.
It was a good year. Hot and dry, no mildew, few pests. Soon it will be time to award ribbons and medals to the finest varieties, you know the ones. Not yet, though! No, it's time for a special treat.
Feast your eyes on this here list of the most wonderful games of 2014, according to yours truly.
This has been an unusual year for me. In previous years, coming up with my favorite games has amounted to listing the ten games I played and then ranking them. In 2014 I took on many more reviews than I have in the past, so now I have some actual trimming to do. For the first time, there are games I enjoyed that did not make the cut.
A more striking aspect I noticed after building my list is that my preferred platform has shifted. Where my favorite games in previous years mostly released on major consoles, this year it is almost all PC and 3DS. Heck, I moved across the country in September, and while my PC was the first thing I set up in the new place, I still have not hooked my Xbox 360 up.
I've long been of the opinion that the relationship between a person and a videogame is similar to the relationship between a person and another living being. It's part of why you see people fiercely defend their favorite games, like they would their friends or family. It's undeniable -- we form two way relationships with these things. I first picked up on that back when Little Computer People launched on the Commadore 64, though the idea didn't really solidify in my mind until Nintendogs was released on the Nintendo DS.
The idea of reviewing a videogame like it is a static, concrete product is similar to the idea of reviewing a person via some testing method or other wholly "objective" assessment tool. It can't ever be totally accurate. There will always be some subjectivity in there. More so, trying to diminish the importance of the personal relationship between two things, be they a game and person or a person and a person, causes you to bypass the most interesting stuff. We can't ever completely separate our unique perspectives from out assessment of videogames, so why not embrace them?
That's what we did with this year's Game of the Year Awards. While we worked to do a some analysis on why the world design, multiplayer design, mechanics, and narrative design of various games were particularly impressive in 2014, the truth is we don't really understand why we love certain games, just like we don't always understand why we love certain people. We just do. They fit with our brains and make us feel right.
Here are some of the games we loved the most in 2014. Don't forget to vote for yours!
2014 was the most hectic twelve months of my life. Up until late September, I'm fairly certain I spent more of the year on the road than at home. I did so much travelling that I honestly considered eschewing a top five games of the year list in favor of the top five conventions.
While I definitely love the jet-set life, it unfortunately meant that I played fewer games than ever before. I previewed way more titles than I ever saw the final build of. That's why you only get five games from me, because I didn't get a chance to play all that many in 2014. Still, I believe each of the titles on this list is incredibly important in its own right.
Despite what people may say, I thought 2014 was an excellent year. Heck, nearly every year is great for gaming. I played over 300 titles across all platforms, a little more than last year -- but mostly that's because of my promotion to Reviews Director at Destructoid.
It took me weeks to narrow down my top selections, a process I started in earnest in November. There was so much to play this year, with offerings all across the spectrum of gaming.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Another year has come and gone and holy sh*t were a lot of videogames released in 2014. Did you folks play any this year? I played a few, but mostly I just watched Netflix because it has achievements now.
Anyway, some of you were bound to have played a videogame or two in 2014, and if so, we want to hear which one you thought was the best! To participate, just vote for your personal game of 2014 in the poll below, and then let us know your choice in the comments so we can all argue about it because, well, this is the Internet god dammit.
In the coming weeks, the Dtoid staff will be unveiling our own awards (we're doing things a bit differently this year, so stay tuned for details!), after which we will count up the votes and unveil the official Destructoid Game of the Year 2014 Community Choice Award!
Congratulations once again to Naughty Dog, as The Last of Us is our Game of the Year for 2013. It also won our best console exclusive, and more importantly it won the community choice award as voted by you.
Here are all the rest of our Best of 2013 categories so you can find out exactly what game won this year in each section!
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