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game of the year

The winner of Destructoid's Best Multiplayer Design of the year is...

Dec 22 // Jonathan Holmes
[Image by Thormeister] Don't act too surprised. Like you might have guessed, Super Smash Bros. for the Wii U won our award for Best Multiplayer Design, and for good reason. Eight-player brawls, the Smash Tour board game mode, the incredibly varied and interesting character roster, co-op in just about everything, and the weird "multiplayer against your toys" amiibo integration all added together to help Smash Bros. push past the always crowd-pleasing Mario Kart 8 and the young and plucky Towerfall: Ascension. That's not to say it wasn't close call. This one was a squeaker. If just one of our staff members had voted differently, either of the two runners-up could have taken the top spot. Congratulations to the teams at Nintendo, Bandai Namco Entertainment, and Sora for the win! Now about that rumored Ice Climbers DLC...
Multiplayer GOTY photo
...not a first-person shooter
[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 ...

Nic Rowen's list of the best games of the year

Dec 22 // Nic Rowen
Best Game of the Year – The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth My GOTY should come as no surprise: The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth was hands down the best game I played all year. Yeah, I know it's a half-remake/half-sequel of the original, but that doesn't matter to me – it's still number one. When you stack up all the games I played this year and measure them based on the sheer number of smiles, gasps, and blood-pressure spiking moments of sublime concentration they brought into my life, Rebirth blows them all away. I gushed all over Rebirth in my 10/10 review, so I'm not going to subject you all to a long litany of praises again. But you wanna know a secret? Something I didn't mention in the review? I've spent just as much time playing Rebirth solo as I have shoulder-to-shoulder with my girlfriend. That toss-away co-op mode that seemed like a polite afterthought ended up being one of my favorite things about the game. Rebirth is an exercise in barely-controlled chaos. Random enemies, random upgrades, and painful trade-offs at every turn. A single bad room can end a potentially great run, while one lucky item grab can turn a dark situation around. It's a balloon filled with wasps that you bat around the living room and try not to smack into the ceiling fan. What could possibly be better than adding another person to that volatile mix? Runners-up – Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor Call my tastes predictable, but yes, I loved the big showy licensed action game this year. What can I say? I love stabbing monsters, especially when they're as lovingly rendered and gorgeously hideous as the Orcs in Mordor. I still enjoy Arkham-style combat, particularly when it's used for things like beheading an enemy in the middle of a fight, brainwashing a fool into backstabbing his friends, or teleporting into a fleeing dude sword-first like a heavy-metal version of Nightcrawler. Most of all though, I loved the Nemesis system. I'm the kind of nerd who will make up his own stories while playing a game, and a system that will specifically engineer colorful characters and on-going rivalries is so perfectly designed to appeal to me that it is almost scary. If game developers are looking for the next big mechanic to steal, PLEASE make it the Nemesis system. Dark Souls II It feels like sacrilege to place Dark Souls II as a runner-up. My deep affection for the series knows no bounds and I had an amazing time with this sequel. Sadly, its excellence was frequently hindered by small (maybe even petty) quibbles I couldn't help but fixate on. Some uneven difficulty spikes occasionally crossed the line into unfair territory. I expect a Dark Souls game to take me out behind the woodshed from time to time, but I want to learn something in the process, or see how I could have avoided death if I had been smarter. I don't want to get my shit wrecked by five undead suicide bombs charging me from around a corner. Honestly, Dark Souls II's biggest flaw might be that it lives in the shadow of the original. Dark Souls II is a fantastic game, but Dark Souls was a masterpiece – a work of art. It's hard to compare to that standard.   Transistor I am so glad this game exists. Sometimes I just think about Transistor – I consider the look and feel of the game, the melancholy tone, the subtle character touches, that it has a dedicated button to make Red hum a song – and I smile a deep inward smile. I think every gamer secretly dreams about the game they would make if they could, or the one they wish they had made. For me, Transistor is that game. I'm hard pressed to think of a single thing I didn't like about Transistor, other than the fact that there wasn't more of it.   Best Online Multiplayer Game of the Year - Titanfall Holy shit, was I the only person on earth who loved Titanfall? Despite the crazy poop-flinging backlash Titanfall seems to have inspired from some corners of the internet, I absolutely adored my time with the game. I mean c'mon, bouncing from building to building with parkour skills and a jetpack while shooting dudes? Crushing helpless Grunts beneath a Titan's steel foot? Launching streams of missiles at a robot before finishing it off with a pneumatic right-hook? How do you NOT have a great time doing that? Sometimes our choices aren't complicated. The heart wants what the heart wants, and mine beats to the rhythm of stompy robot footfalls. Titanfall put on the biggest and best spectacle I've seen from a online shooter in years and I couldn't get enough. Runner-up – Dark Souls II Dark Souls II threaded the needle between the unique qualities of the original Dark Souls' harsh multiplayer experience and some reasonable concessions to what players were actually getting up to. The end result was a multiplayer system that still embraced chaos, random chance, and isolation, while providing an olive branch to players who wanted to co-op up with specific players or engage in certain kinds of PVP. Kind of a best-of-both-worlds solution that miraculously worked. Make no mistake, this is Dark Souls. You'll still get invaded by bloodthirsty jackals prepped with gear and skills that will let them take a shit in your lunch. You'll still occasionally join a world as a White Phantom only to find out your host takes a bizarre delight in running into every possible trap and enemy. But you can also steer the sails of fate a bit, make it a bit easier to join your brother for some co-op when you want to, or meet up with your pal from the forum for a quick duel. Dark Souls II found a fair compromise. Best Couch Multiplayer – Gang Beasts 2014 was a great year for hanging out with your jerk-ass friends and shouting at each other. While Gang Beasts couldn't make it into Dtoid's official GOTY lists because it's still early access, I'm a totally baller renegade who won't let the “rules” hold me down when it comes to my personal list. Gang Beasts' fat, drunken wrestling babies were one of the highlights of the year in my circle of friends (which sounds kind of weird when you put it like that.) Best Surprise of the Year – Payday 2 To be perfectly accurate, Payday 2 was a 2013 game but I only got around to it this year. But that seems to have been the perfect way to play it. Skipping over several months of thin content and buggy heists, I came in at the perfect time to snatch up steep discounts on the game and DLC, and enjoy a renaissance of armed robbery. Since starting to play the game in June, there have been five or six major updates, injecting new heists, skills, and even characters into the game. There is so much to do that I've had trouble keeping up! When I picked PD2 up on sale I figured it would be fun for a weekend or two and then I'd quietly uninstall it when I had my fill of smashing store windows and zip-tying hostages. But that hasn't happened yet. I'm finding new ways to take down heists, new attachments to my silly-looking machine gun, and having such a great time with my friends it should be illegal (oh wait, it totally is.) Jazzpunk of the Year – Jazzpunk Take two missionoyl and call me in the morning. You'll thank me. Best Creepy Animatronics – Five Nights at Freddy's Let's eat! Seriously, I stabbed a lot of dudes – Mordor Stab, stab, stab, stab...
Nic's Best photo
From my private reserve
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 an...

Bill's GOTY picks photo
Bill's GOTY picks

Bill Platt's personal picks for Game of the Year 2014

2014 was an amazing year!
Dec 22
// ChillyBilly
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...

Kyle MacGregor's sexy picks for Game of the Year 2014

Dec 21 // Kyle MacGregor
Never Alone: Kisima Inŋitchuŋa Never Alone isn't a terribly good game, but the concept more than makes up for any of its technical shortcomings. Getting to learn about the Iñupiat people and other Alaska Native cultures is one of the more meaningful interactive experiences to be had in 2014. This is a project I respect, appreciate, and want to see more of in the future. I'm hopeful Never Alone will give other indigenous tribes from similarly remote corners of the globe the opportunity to share their stories with the world. We will be richer for it. Helen's Mysterious Castle You've probably never heard of Helen's Mysterious Castle. That's okay. This role-playing game is by far the most obscure name on my ballot, coming from Japanese indie developer Satsu.  Helen's Mysterious Castle may not look like much, given it was created using RPG Maker, but this is a game with a lot of heart. It's synchronously deconstructive and progressive, compelling players to be calculating and defensive like few RPGs before it. Oh, and it's pretty hilarious, too.  Bayonetta 2 Platinum Games knows how to make action games and Bayonetta 2 might just be the studio's magnum opus. This insane battle between Heaven and Hell demands your attention. OlliOlli OlliOlli has been a mainstay in my rotation since its debut on PlayStation Vita this January. It boils the joy of skating games down to its essence, siring an experience so addictive and rewarding you can pick it up for a moment only to lose hours tricking and grinding along rails. Bravely Default Creators often feel the need to reinvent the wheel, throwing out what's worked since time immemorial to craft second-rate facsimiles in the name of "innovation." Bravely Default, on the other hand, takes what made the JRPGs of yore so great and injects contemporary ideas into the mix. The result is something that feels cozily retro, rather than archaic. It's a modern classic. Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth Persona Q shouldn't work as well as it does. It's a fusion of two incredibly disparate types of role-playing games that could have easily mixed like oil and water, but it's fantastic. Etrian Odyssey and Persona are nothing alike, but fit together like two sides of the same coin. Atlus can do no wrong. Terra Battle Terra Battle is my jam. Yeah, that game with ads plastered all over the site. It's actually good, guys! Mistwalker really blew me away with this mobile strategy game. I love it to death. It's become something of an obsession, really. I might have poured more time into flanking monsters in this tile-based RPG than I've spent with any other game on this list. Drakengard 3 Drakengard 3 is sort of bad. It definitely has problems. But these are my personal favorites, not a list of games with the best frame rates. The storytelling and characterization here are fantastic. This might be the only game released in 2014 that consistently had me in stitches. Astebreed I can't say "Astebreed" with a straight face, but it's a damn fine shmup with many wonderful qualities. Its dynamic camera gives the experience a raw cinematic quality. Panning around cosmic battlefields and shifting between angles, it evokes memories of Einhänder, Radiant Silvergun, and Sin & Punishment all in the space of a few moments. Persona 4 Arena Ultimax Persona 4 Arena is one of my favorite fighting games ever, and Ultimax takes it up a notch. Arc System Works and Atlus are masters of their respective crafts, and to see them come together and collaborate on something that highlights their unique strengths is a real treat.  Dark Souls II Dark Souls II grabbed me from the outset and didn't let go until I saw the credits roll. Actually, even then it still had its talons in me. From Software really knows how to make an engrossing RPG. Shovel Knight It was love at first sight when I laid eyes on Shovel Knight at PAX East nearly two years ago. It made me feel like a kid again, seeing videogames for the very first time. Then I played the demo and talked to the good people at Yacht Club Games. The connection only grew stronger. You can feel the love in Shovel Knight. It's something its creators firmly believe in, something they've poured their hearts and souls into, something they've obviously wanted to make all their lives. Upon seeing that first slice of Shovel Knight, I had some pretty lofty expectations for the game. But, it delivered. And then some. It's by far my favorite game of 2014. Bravo!
Kyle's Goaty photo
Hyper Kawaii Suplex Hold
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 t...

Darren Nakamura's personal picks for Game of the Year 2014

Dec 21 // Darren Nakamura
10. Mario Kart 8 Growing up, I played way too much Mario Kart. I started with Super Mario Kart, I mastered Mario Kart 64, and I had some fun with Double Dash!! After that, none of the games really grabbed me. They were fine, but I would play each track once and never really touch them again. That changed with Mario Kart 8. For the first time in years, I was not only playing through every cup, but I was also playing to win with each of the (many) characters, and shooting for the elusive three star gold medals. It is difficult to say exactly what unique about this iteration in the franchise that it has been able to hold my attention better than the last few have. It may just be that all of the little things come together to form a dense, quality experience. Also there is a submarine kart called "Steel Driver."  9. Octodad: Dadliest Catch On paper, Octodad sounds like a miserable experience. Simple locomotion is taken for granted in almost every videogame, and breaking it down into each individual physical interaction can lead to impossibly frustrating gameplay (see: QWOP). Octodad: Dadliest Catch succeeds in this light, presenting control that is just awkward enough to convey the discomfort of living as an octopus disguised as a human, but not awkward enough to be infuriating. Couple the unorthodox control scheme with some exploration, light stealth, physical gags, and a Saturday morning cartoon-style story, and Octodad: Dadliest Catch ends up as a charming little game that made me smile throughout. 8. OlliOlli Where Octodad is about living a normal life with stretchy, slippery control, OlliOlli is about being the raddest skater on the helicopter blades with sharp, timing-based control. I have always had a soft spot for skateboarding games, and I never thought a 2D take would ever be able to capture the right feel, but OlliOlli does it. There's something about going for the perfect run, spending an hour and a few layers of thumb skin in the process. Achieving success after such a trial is a powerful high, but since the levels are so short, it's one that I found myself constantly chasing after. Sure, I just finished this really hard challenge and it was intrinsically rewarding... I wonder what the next level has in store for me. 7. The Wolf Among Us I have become a steady fan of Telltale's recent games. The studio has carved out its niche in crafting stories set in interesting worlds full of introspective decisions. That said, I didn't get into The Walking Dead Season 2 as much as I did Season 1, and though I loved the first episodes of Tales from the Borderlands and Game of Thrones, we are not far enough into either series to claim best of the year. The Wolf Among Us was the Telltale game that hit me the hardest this year. Unlike with The Walking Dead, I knew next to nothing about the Fables series going into The Wolf Among Us, so it had the unenviable task of drawing me into the sketchy neighborhood of Fabletown on its merits alone. It succeeded in that endeavor. Though many lament that the choices involved have little impact on the overall plot, there are some that stick with me. Perhaps the most poignant for me is when Snow White asks Bigby if he enjoys becoming the Big Bad Wolf. Despite directing Bigby toward the morally righteous actions more often than not, I had to be truthful: I do enjoy dropping the niceties and tearing off limbs from time to time. 6. Bravely Default Back when I had all the time in the world, I was pretty big on JRPGs. I caught the bug from EarthBound and went into a frenzy on the PlayStation. Since then, I have been saddled with all these dumb responsibilities that keep me from spending hundreds of hours on a single game. Now, I only touch a JRPG about once every couple years. Dragon Quest IX was my previous obsession, but Bravely Default took over early this year. It is no coincidence that the last two role-playing games I dug deep into are handheld titles. The ability to flip open a 3DS, grind out a battle or two, then put it to sleep just as quickly helps tremendously with getting around the time constraints. Past that, the Brave and Default system is such a clever addition to traditional turn-based battles that I will miss it in any other JRPGs I play. But of course, the main strength of a role-playing game is its story, and Bravely Default has a great one. Each of the main characters is interesting in his or her own right, cultivating genuine sympathy by the end. And what an end! Seriously, I don't even know how Bravely Second plans to top that ending. How do you raise the stakes from [SPOILERS REDACTED]? 5. Super Smash Bros. There is a running theme with my Nintendo experience in 2014. As with Mario Kart, I played a ton of Super Smash Bros. on the Nintendo 64 and the GameCube, but couldn't cultivate lasting interest for the Wii entry. I would only start up Brawl when people were over, and they would say, "Wait, you don't even have all the characters unlocked!" and then we would put it away and play something else, and I would never go back to do single player to unlock the characters. Releasing on the 3DS addressed that. On the handheld, single player is the default for me. As with Bravely Default, the ability to just play one or two matches at a time has allowed me to invest in going through Classic and All-Star modes with every character. I have long since unlocked all of the characters, stages, and options, but I am still at it, going for trophies and customizations. Despite owning both the 3DS and the Wii U versions, and despite liking the controls and graphics better on the Wii U, I still find myself playing the 3DS more often. The thing Super Smash Bros. for 3DS has over its big brother? I always have it with me in my pocket, ready for one match or ten. 4. The Talos Principle For our official awards, December releases are excluded simply because most of the staff has not had the opportunity to play them yet. That said, I have played The Talos Principle, I am putting it on my personal list, and I fully expect it to end up somewhere on Destructoid's Game of the Year awards in 2015. It certainly deserves it. The Talos Principle is easily the smartest game I played all year, and in more ways than one. The base gameplay consists of mentally taxing tool-based puzzles, which are accompanied by thought-provoking philosophical discussions. If it contained the puzzles alone, it would be a great title, but the writing elevates it to one of the best of the year. The strength in Tom Jubert's and Jonas Kyratzes's script is that it not only presents ideas of consciousness, personhood, and morality, but it demands that the player carefully considers those ideas. This is a must for anybody who is not averse to deep thought. 3. Extrasolar I feel for Lazy 8 Studios. It has seen moderate success with Extrasolar, along with high praise from those who played it, but it deserves a lot more recognition than it has as one of the most innovative, fourth wall-breaking titles of 2014. Its fatal flaw is that telling others why it is so good robs those players from the full experience. As I do every time I write about it, I will now urge you to skip the next two paragraphs, go sign up to play, and then come back to this list in a month or two when you are done. It's free. You don't have anything to lose but some time. Extrasolar presents itself as a science simulator in which players control a robotic rover on an Earth-like planet orbiting a nearby star. Players give instructions to the rover, sending it to certain coordinates and taking photographs of the surroundings. Eventually, the game bleeds out into other media: emails come in from characters, PDFs require downloading, faux video chats are held, and more. There is drama, suspense, deception, and murder. Though it is easy to see the tricks it uses, they are robust enough that players can suspend disbelief long enough to really get into the story. It is clearly science fiction, but those who let go can be convinced, if only for a moment, that it is actually happening. There is nothing else like Extrasolar out there. 2. Civilization: Beyond Earth Civilization: Beyond Earth is time-travel software. I can start it up at just about any time during the evening, and then I am transported to 4AM, incredulous about being warped hours into the future with nothing to show for it except for a monstrous alien under my control. There are some gripes with Beyond Earth, most notably that the Affinity system reduces the volume of unique factions in play and that the victory conditions are all too similar, but those don't bother me too much. It still has the classic Civilization draw of building an efficient society, outmaneuvering opponents, and achieving greatness. As a bonus, Beyond Earth includes a narrative that brings up salient points about the present state of the world and asks important questions about the future of the human race. Will our hubris eventually lead to the destruction of Earth? (Yes, probably.) Should we fight to retain what makes us human or speed up evolution to become something greater? (Well, one gets us control of city-sized alien titans and the other doesn't, so...) 1. Tomodachi Life Reflecting on my list, it runs the gamut of genres. There's a racing game, an action adventure, an extreme sports title, an adventure game, a role-playing game, a fighter, a puzzler, a science simulator, and a strategy title. Some require intense dexterity and persistence, others careful thought and consideration. But the game that came out on top is Tomodachi Life, Nintendo's out-of-left-field life simulator. Why? Simple: Tomodachi Life has made me smile more than any other game I played in 2014. No matter what is happening on the bizarre island, I cannot help but have a big grin plastered to my face. When the avatars of people I know in real life do something weird or out of character, I imagine the real people doing it and I laugh. When the Miis say or do something particularly in character, I reminisce on my friends and family and all their goofy mannerisms. This game just makes me happy. Tomodachi Life came out in June, and now in December I am still playing it. Maybe I just collect money and buy some new food, maybe I stick around long enough to play a silly game with my college roommate, or maybe I go all out with solving problems and setting up dates. No matter what I do in the game, it never fails to put a smile on my face. Honorable mentions: Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel, Constant C, The Powerpuff Girls: Defenders of Townsville, Size DOES Matter, Sokobond
Darren's GOTY picks photo
PC and handheld gems
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 n...

Nominees for Destructoid's Overall Best Game of 2014

Dec 21 // Jonathan Holmes
Best Overall Game of 2014 Aban Hawkins and the 1001 Spikes Alien Isolation Bayonetta 2 Binding of Isaac: Rebirth Dark Souls 2 Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze Dragon Age: Inquisition  Far Cry 4 Kentucky Route Zero 3 Shovel Knight Super Smash Bros. for Wii U The Wolf Among Us [NOTE: Re-releases of games that contain minimal new content, incomplete products like Steam Early Access titles, and episodic titles that are not fair to asses as stand alone experiences were not eligible for this year's awards. Due to time constraints, games released in December 2014 were also not eligible.]
Overall GOTY photo
The overall best fit
[Image credit: Mike Lambert] 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 ...

Brett Makedonski's personal picks for Game of the Year 2014

Dec 21 // Brett Makedonski
5. The Wolf Among Us I just about missed out on The Wolf Among Us. I didn't end up playing it until a few weeks ago. The only reason I even picked it up is because I needed something bite-sized, something to act as a palate cleanser after spending most of November slogging through the massive open worlds of Assassin's Creed Rogue and Unity. I knew The Wolf Among Us would do the trick. One episode before bed each night was my goal. That plan didn't last long. Completing the first episode in the wee hours of the morning, I had a tough time containing my excitement to continue. The next day, I burned through episodes two through four. On day three, I wrapped up the saga. It all came as quite a surprise, especially given that I didn't care much for Telltale's Walking Dead games. However, The Wolf Among Us just grabbed me. I don't know if it was the characters, the seedy underbelly of Fabletown, or my Mass Effect-learned compulsion to play everything as "Paragon" as possible. Whatever it is, I loved The Wolf Among Us in a way that I didn't think was possible. 4. Alien: Isolation Alien is probably my favorite sci-fi universe. Giger's creation just strikes a chord with me that no other fictional monster ever has. The Xenomorph has always been the perfect predator in my eyes -- even more perfect than Predator. That said, Creative Assembly's Alien: Isolation captures what Alien is all about. It's about being helpless, being the prey. Frankly, it's all about the Alien. Even when it's not around, there's always the possibility that it'll come around. That's almost the more terrifying prospect. There have been a lot of swing-and-misses in the Alien canon. My barometer for quality of entries in the series has always been "If I were trying to sell someone on this franchise, would I want to include this?" Alien: Isolation may be the first game where the answer to that question is a resounding "Yes!" 3. D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die To say that Swery's Dark Dreams Don't Die wasn't on my radar may be an understatement; I'm not sure I knew it existed before my appointment to see it at Tokyo Game Show. Still, after a short hands-off presentation, I couldn't wait to get home and try it. What I ended up finding was weird, off-the-wall, and marvelous -- a fat man devouring entire fish, a zoomorphic roommate with feline qualities, and some seriously slick tequila shot glass tricks. That's just the tip of the iceberg. Despite taking place in fairly small locations, D4 had so much to explore, so much to learn. That was most of the appeal. Trying to piece together what this world was about, all from the viewpoint of someone who was equally confused. As the story progressed and I hit the mandatory action sequences, I delightfully switched the controls over to Kinect. These bits reacted with such precision and were so snappy, I dare say they're the best reason to own the optional motion sensor yet. 2. P.T. Is P.T. a game? It's just an acronym for "playable teaser," right? It's just promotional material for Silent Hills. How can it be a game? P.T. was a full, self-contained experience, and one of the most memorable things I've played in 2014. As far as I'm concerned, that's absolutely enough to be considered a game. However, P.T. isn't something that you describe to someone else. You can't just tell them what makes it so great. You have to get them in a dark room and let them figure it out for themselves. You have to let them encounter Lisa for the first time. You have to let them figure out what the hell that thing in the sink is. In my opinion, P.T.'s greatest downfall is the disparity between the first 98 percent of it, and the difficulty of the final puzzle. Tension and terror give way to frustration and perplexion. Still, the vast majority of it is a masterpiece in horror -- even if it is just a teaser. 1. Valiant Hearts: The Great War My personal game of the year isn't much of a surprise to anyone that pays any attention at all to me. I shoehorn it into posts where it doesn't belong. I always bring it up on Hardline. I won't shut up about it on Twitter. I practically climb on my rooftop and shout to all my neighbors. Valiant Hearts: The Great War is my personal game of the year for 2014 because it's so heavy-handed with such an innocent approach. It imposes the gloom of war with a cute animated style. It juxtaposes love and warm reunions with gutting tragedies. It radiates emotion not through dialogue, but through the curvature of lips. Most importantly, it enforces that behind every conflict of nationalistic powers, there are thousands of individuals -- all with their own stories and their own people that care about them. As far as I'm concerned, Valiant Hearts is the most important game about war ever. There's no grim focus on killing, no "us versus them" mentality. There's so much despair, yet so little shooting. Valiant Hearts is a stark reminder that war isn't something to be glorified, or something to strive for; rather, it's a tornado. Some escape unscathed, others aren't so lucky. Regardless, everyone ends up deeply affected. Honorable Mentions: Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, Nidhogg, Forza Horizon 2, Geometry Wars 3: Dimensions
Brett's GOTY photo
Top five
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 ...

Chris Carter's personal picks for Game of the Year 2014

Dec 20 // Chris Carter
Shovel Knight Yacht Club Games unequivocally proved its worth with its first title, and wow was it a bombshell. Shovel Knight looks and feels like a retro adventure that would have been considered a classic in that time period, but it has all the bells and whistles of modern game design. Nearly every platform and enemy is painstakingly placed to provide a near-perfect experience, and the bosses themselves are so wonderfully designed that I can recall their patterns and palettes in my head right now. When Yacht Club re-releases the game on Sony consoles next year I can't wait to get lost in it all over again. Oh, and don't forget about all that free bonus content that's still coming. Super Smash Bros. Wii U After being disappointed by Super Smash Bros. Brawl in a multitude of ways, the new Smash was what I needed. The physics feel greatly improved, the cast has a ton of additions that are some of my favorite fighters yet (like Villager), and it just looks beautiful on the Wii U. It also helps that there's a ton of content to sift through, including the eight-player mode, amiibo distractions, Smash Tour, and of course -- trophy hunting. I love that I can take a break from the typical four-player format and have an all-out eight-person brawl. It really helps break up the monotony, and is perfect for casual and hardcore fans alike. It may be my favorite Smash to date. Bayonetta 2 What can be said about Bayonetta 2 that hasn't already been said? Although I stated that this list was in no particular order, I'd be lying if I said Bayonetta wasn't first. It does nearly everything right, and in what could be considered an outlier for this year, it worked at launch and had more stuff to do than most games have a year later with DLC tacked on. Platinum remains one of the best purveyors of action games to this day. I hope the studio stays independent and continues to align itself with companies like Nintendo -- I'd hate to see it run into the ground when it's been so consistently brilliant. Dark Souls II Although I was worried about Dark Souls II (especially after the easy beta), my fears were unfounded. I absolutely loved the third iteration of the Souls series, and I became addicted all over again with searching every nook and cranny for the tiniest upgrade or glimmer of hope. Although there were some parts that could be considered "cheaper" than the past two games, I enjoyed the challenge and thought the environmental diversity more than made up for it. There's also a lot more under the surface, and I probably won't find everything even years later as I replay the base game and the three DLC packs. From Software still has it. D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die I didn't expect much from D4. Heck, I didn't expect anything. Although I'm generally a fan of Swery and his studio Access Games, the trailers for the Xbox One-exclusive adventure game were so erratic that it was hard to get excited for it. Alas, it ended up surprising me, as many games did this year. I loved the characters, the setting, and the entire concept of jumping into objects to relive moments. It had a very Lost feel to it all, on top of the hilarious and wacky Swery touch that I've come to enjoy over the years. I really hope subsequent episodes come sooner than later. Hyrule Warriors Hyrule Warriors, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways -- 300...hours that is. While I am a Dynasty Warriors fan at heart, I'm an even bigger Zelda fan, and this game delivered in all the ways I needed it to. From the amazing soundtrack to a playable rogue's gallery, I was able to live out my dreams of playing as some of my favorite Zelda characters. The fact that Omega Force thought to add the Adventure maps to the game is genius, because although the campaign is rather short, the need to do "just one more" map space is undeniable. This is easily one of my most played games of the year. Cloudbuilt While I'll give any game a chance, there are certain games that come around at just the right time. Cloudbuilt was one such title, as I really felt an itch for a good speedrunning experience. One part Mirror's Edge and another part Mega Man, Cloudbuilt was not only a gorgeous-looking experience, but it was well-crafted and had a ton of depth. The development team also took the time to listen to fans, and fixed a multitude of issues over the course of the game's launch period, augmenting the already strong package into one of my favorites of the year. I still go back and try to best my times, and I think I'll be doing that for years to come. Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare As yet another surprise, Garden Warfare took over my living room for a good four weeks straight. I never thought that Electronic Arts could have devised something that broke the shooter mold like this, and although I feel as if most class-based shooters tend to blend over time, Garden did so much to make itself feel unique. From the giant Sunflower defense missions to the sniping cacti, every game was different. In another "not really EA" move, a great deal of free content was released to keep the title relevant, including new modes and maps. This is one game this year that definitely needs more recognition. Deception IV: Blood Ties It's no secret that I love trap games. The joy of setting up a great plan and executing it perfectly is why I enjoy games like Monaco, and I've been wanting a new Deception game for years on end. Blood Ties was able to satisfy me in a particular way that most games just can't, as the gameplay is unique to the series -- there's still almost nothing like it. Similar to Bayonetta 2 and a few other eastern titles this year, there's so much content to dig through it would take you days to uncover it all, and the mysterious and occult nature of the franchise makes it perfect for hiding secrets. I can't wait for the upcoming expansion and the newly announced follow-up. Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XII Wait, what?! Yep, Lightning Returns is up here. I bet you never expected that, right? Well too bad, I enjoyed it! While I'm right up there on the rooftops yelling with you in regards to the stark drop in quality of Final Fantasy XIII, Lightning Returns was a much more fun experience in nearly every way. For starters, the developers embraced the silliness tenfold, and gave us ridiculous quests like one man's adventure to become a top chef, and of course, the Lady Gaga-esque Moogle suit. My favorite part though had to be how well each sandbox was designed. Every realm was huge, and distinct on its own terms. I spent hours getting lost in them, searching for new fun sidequests and items, which to me, is what JRPGs are all about. It also had a really kickass battle system and an infuriating (in a good way) final boss that I haven't seen the likes of since the first Prinny game. Honorable mentions: The Wolf Among Us, Strider, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, Bravely Default.
Chris' GOTY photo
Top 10
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 pr...

Nominees for Destructoid's Best World Design of 2014

Dec 20 // Steven Hansen
These are Destructoid's nominees for Best World Design of 2014. Alien Isolation  Bravely Default  Destiny  Dragon Age Inquisition  Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy  Five Nights at Freddy's 2  JazzPunk  Kentucky Route Zero 3  Persona Q  South Park: The Stick of Truth  Sunset Overdrive  Valiant Hearts [NOTE: Re-releases of games that contain minimal new content, incomplete products like Steam Early Access titles, and episodic titles that are not fair to asses as stand alone experiences were not eligible for this year's awards. Due to time constraints, games released in December 2014 were also not eligible.] [Disclosure: Jim Sterling, former Reviews Editor at Destructoid, did voice work for Jazzpunk. No relationships, personal or professional, were factored into the Game of the Year voting process.]
GOTY Awards photo
Best of 2014
[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 hon...

Nominees for Destructoid's Best Game Mechanics of 2014

Dec 19 // Brittany Vincent
Best Mechanics of 2014 Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor  Titanfall  Sunset Overdrive  Dark Souls 2  Octodad: Dadliest Catch Shovel Knight  Bayonetta 2  OlliOlli  Woah Dave!  Geometry Wars 3  Super Time Force [NOTE: Re-releases of games that contain minimal new content, incomplete products like Steam Early Access titles, and episodic titles that are not fair to assess as stand alone experiences were not eligible for this year's awards. Due to time constraints, games released in December 2014 were also not eligible.]
GOTY Awards photo
Best of 2014
[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 Irvi...

Nominees for Destructoid's Best Narrative Design of 2014

Dec 18 // Brett Makedonski
Actual Sunlight Always Sometimes Monsters Broken Age: Act One Consensual Torture Simulator Dragon Age: Inquisition Ether One Gods Will Be Watching JazzPunk Ranko Tsukigime's Longest Day Transistor The Walking Dead Season Two The Wolf Among Us [NOTE: Re-releases of games that contain minimal new content, incomplete products like Steam Early Access titles, and episodic titles that are not fair to asses as stand alone experiences were not eligible for this year's awards. Due to time constraints, games released in December 2014 were also not eligible.] [Disclosure: Jim Sterling, former Reviews Editor at Destructoid, did voice work for Jazzpunk. No relationships, personal or professional, were factored into the Game of the Year voting process.]
GOTY Awards photo
Best of 2014
[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 certainl...

Nominees for Destructoid's Best Multiplayer Design of 2014

Dec 17 // Chris Carter
Best Multiplayer Design of 2014 Towerfall Ascension Mario Kart 8 Sportsfriends Nidhogg Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare Destiny Titanfall Super Smash Bros for Wii U Aban Hawkins and the 1001 Spikes Sportsball Plants Vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare Ultra Street Fighter IV [NOTE: Re-releases of games that contain minimal new content, incomplete products like Steam Early Access titles, and episodic titles that are not fair to asses as stand alone experiences were not eligible for this year's awards. Due to time constraints, games released in December 2014 were also not eligible.]
GOTY Awards photo
Best of 2014
[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...

Vote now for your 2014 Game of the Year!

Dec 09 // mrandydixon
Community Choice Award photo
The Destructoid Community Choice Award
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 ...

Check out all the winners from our Best of 2013 awards

Dec 25 // Hamza CTZ Aziz
Best of 2013 photo
Best of 2013
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 r...

Best of 2013 photo
Best of 2013

The winner of Destructoid's best 2013 character

Best of 2013
Dec 24
// Conrad Zimmerman
And now we present the award for best character of the year. The options this year were as interesting as they were broad, and narrowing down our list just to the nominees was painful enough, let alone the brow-furrowing whic...
Best of 2013 photo
Best of 2013

The winner of Destructoid's best 2013 adventure game

Best of 2013
Dec 24
// Conrad Zimmerman
I like to think of adventure games as the games that make you think. They are the ones that keep you awake at night not because your pulse is pounding but because your brain is on fire. Here are the nominees for 201...
GOTY: RPG photo

The winner of Destructoid's best 2013 role-playing game

Best of 2013
Dec 24
// Steven Hansen
No Persona 4: Golden this year? Well, it wasn't all bad. The year certainly wasn't slouching when it came to doling out 50+ hour time sinks. It started out strong with Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch all the way back i...
Winner: Best Platformer photo
Winner: Best Platformer

The winner of Destructoid's best 2013 platformer

Best of 2013
Dec 24
// Kyle MacGregor
The frustrating thing about these game of the year posts is they all follow the same format. First I'll tell you about what a great year 2013 was for games. Then I'll briefly talk in vague terms about the category in question...
Best of 2013 photo
Best of 2013

The winner of Destructoid's best 2013 fighting game

Best of 2013
Dec 24
// Chris Carter
There weren't a whole lot of fighting games this year, but the ones that did make the cut were mostly beloved by the community. We finally have a winner, but let's take a look at all of the hopefuls first. Here are the n...
Best multiplatform game photo
Best multiplatform game

The winner of Destructoid's best 2013 multiplatform game

Best of 2013
Dec 24
// Kyle MacGregor
Unless you're filthy rich and have all the consoles, chances are you've missed out on a hot exclusive here or there. You probably would have loved to get your hands on that blockbuster du jour, if only you owned that other sy...
GOTY: Story photo
GOTY: Story

The winner of Destructoid's best of 2013 story

Best of 2013
Dec 24
// Steven Hansen
From the moody and mysterious to the sublimely depressing to the hilarious and endearing, there were a lot of games this year that tickled our minds as much they drove our fingers through dextrous gauntlets. Represented ar...
Trigger warning: Dogs
Hey gang, remember 2013? I sure (mostly) do! It was a wild and crazy year not just for video games, but for the video game industry as a whole. So here are my Top 10 Things And Stuff That Happened In 2013.

The winner of Destructoid's best 2013 console exclusive

Dec 24 // Chris Carter
The Last of Us While the post-apocalyptic routine has been done to death these days, Naughty Dog managed to put their own spin on it with The Last of Us, and it paid off. Joel and Ellie both made our "top new characters of 2013" list, and for good reason -- they're more than just walking tropes -- they're living, breathing characters that we can identify with. The cast of The Last of Us was nothing short of an accomplishment, both in terms of writing and the performances from the actors themselves. Naughty Dog has come a long way in just the short span of one console, and I think all of us can't wait to see what they have in store next. Congratulations, Naughty Dog! That was our pick for best console  exclusive game of 2013. As for our community poll, you all voted Super Mario 3D World as your number one console exclusive game of 2013. That was followed by The Last of Us, and Pikmin 3.
Best of 2013 photo
Best of 2013
It was a great year for consoles. Not only did we get two new ones, but the Wii U steadily gained a killer library of software. That's not even including the strong year for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, which offered up to...

The winner of Destructoid's best of 2013 community choice

Dec 24 // mrandydixon
The Last of Us I've made no attempt to mask my absolute adoration for Naughty Dog's dismal tale of survival and redemption. It was my favorite game to grace the PlayStation 3, as well as my favorite gaming moment of the year. Jim Sterling was equally impressed, awarding it a 10 out of 10 in our official review. In my mind, it is as close to perfection as a videogame can get, and many, many of you agreed with that sentiment; in fact, The Last of Us received more votes than BioShock Infinite, Super Mario 3D World, and Grand Theft Auto V combined! So congratulations to Sony Computer Entertainment and Naughty Dog, winners of the 2013 Destructoid Game of the Year Community Choice Award! And thank you, from all of us who had the chance to enjoy your beautiful creation. Here were your runners-up, in order of votes received: BioShock Infinite Super Mario 3D World Grand Theft Auto V Fire Emblem: Awakening Dota 2 Ni No Kuni The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds Tomb Raider Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons Congratulations to all the nominees! And thanks to everyone who voted!
Community Choice 2013 photo
Best of 2013
Oh my god this was an amazing year for gaming. There were so many extraordinary releases from studios big and small that I may never have a chance to play them all -- talk about a wonderful, lucky "problem" to have! But of co...

The winner of Destructoid's 2013 Game of the Year

Dec 24 // Steven Hansen
The Last of Us The Last of Us is a beautiful send off for the PlayStation 3. It carries with it Naughty Dog's considerably heft; the artistic, technical, and budgetary ability to build what we call "AAA games." It leaves behind the vibrant pulp adventure that is Uncharted in favor of something more challenging. Mechanically it is still third-person action, but the reduction in platforming elements alone informs on its design tone. It is weighty, and the player carries that weight. There is no handsomely clambering up walls like a sprightly mountain goat. You're constantly seeking ladders or other means of coping with human deficiency and limits. The stealthy neck snaps are not aggressive leaps and a quick twist pulled off in an instant. They are drawn out and inelegant. You slowly choke the life out of another human as they gurgle and sputter away the last breaths of their life.  Naughty Dog has done something rare in the medium and that is tell a mature tell in a mature way. For as raw and grotesque as it is, The Last of Us is an exercise in subtlety and subdued story-telling. The writing is good, but it knows when to shut the dialogue off and continue telling the story in others ways, with affective music or the meticulously crafted homes you work your way through that all tell their own tale. The Last of Us in some ways represents the height of big budget development. It isn't unfamiliar or arcane, treading in well worn post apocalyptic ruin and third-person action/horror gameplay. It also upsets this familiarity and quietly offers a much deeper, challenging experience for anyone who wants to explore it.
GOTY 2013 photo
Best of 2013
Boiling a year's worth of content down to ten top picks, as we did with our nominees, is taxing enough. Picking one as our Game of the Year? It's not easy. We covered a large swath of titles in our nominations, from the tripl...

GOTY: Original concept photo
GOTY: Original concept

The winner of Destructoid's best 2013 original concept

Best of 2013
Dec 24
// Steven Hansen
Boy howdy, there sure were some mighty fine and dangerous new ideas during this, the year of Luigi. While our patron saint may not qualify due to his age, these fresh faces are sure to leave you impressed. Or refreshed. Or...
GOTY: Soundtrack photo
GOTY: Soundtrack

The winner of Destructoid's best of 2013 soundtrack

Best of 2013
Dec 24
// Darren Nakamura
A great soundtrack can help make a great game legendary, and can even make a mediocre title memorable. In recent years, more emphasis has been put into crafting a noteworthy and fitting soundtrack for a game, and more compose...
GOTY: Strategy photo
GOTY: Strategy

The winner of Destructoid's best 2013 strategy game

Best of 2013
Dec 24
// Steven Hansen
Sometimes, the best strategy is to not play at all. This is not one of those times. Unless you value your spare time, because this year's wondrous array of strategy games will inevitably gobble it up in oodles like a bull ...
GOTY: Visuals photo
GOTY: Visuals

The winner of Destructoid's best of 2013 visuals

Best of 2013
Dec 24
// Steven Hansen
There were so many desktop wallpaper worthy games this year. Heck, one of the entrants comes from a collaboration with Studio Ghibli. I've considered buying an old iPad and converting it into a digital photo frame because exi...

The winner of Destructoid's best of 2013 PC exclusive

Dec 24 // Patrick Hancock
Papers, Please A game that is nearly impossible to accurately describe to someone who has never seen it, Papers, Please is about as unique as they come. Who could have predicted that the PC game of the year would have been about allowing or not allowing immigrants into a fictional country? I'll tell you who: anybody who has actually played it. It's hard not to get caught up in the world while playing Papers, Please. The satisfying sound effect when you reject someone's plea to enter the country is just so ... mmm mmm good.  Congratulations to Papers, Please and Lucas Pope! That was our pick for best PC game of 2013. As for our community poll, you all voted Shadow Warrior as your number one PC game of 2013. That was followed by The Stanley Parable HD, and Papers, Please.
Best PC of 2013 photo
Best of 2013
I just love the variety offered in this category every single year. No nominee really plays like another. Even Gone Home and The Stanley Parable HD have a similar control scheme, but their experiences are about...

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