Published on January 4th, 2015 | by Michaela Buckley0
Top Ten Videogames of 2014
As a whole, 2014 wasn’t a spectacular year for gamers; the majority of releases weren’t too amazing and the many controversies both regarding games and its culture has left us with little positivity towards gaming in the future. Despite this, there were a few key games that reminded us that not everything about 2014 was complete bollocks and so I present this year’s top 10 games with the usual caveat that, if it’s not on here, it’s either because I didn’t play it, or it is shit.
Released on the Vita as Koei-Tecmo’s response to the platform’s lack of Monster Hunter, the game offered a more action-oriented experience and a more engaging story. Toukiden is a great entry-level hunter game, the difficulty is low and the gameplay is fun, but it’s not anything groundbreaking.
9. Hyrule Warriors
Dynasty Warriors meets Legend of Zelda, this was an obvious addition to the list, when else do you get to play as Ganondorf beating up dozens of Hyrulians? The story mode is good to play about in and there are lots of characters to suit different play-styles, Hyrule Warriors is probably a lot of people’s first experience of a Warriors-style game, so it was nice to see it looking a little more polished than previous entries.
The murderous visual novel sets itself apart from others, it has a compelling plot, fun and comical characters and even good replay value, but the drawn out length and droopy third act prevent it from travelling higher in the list. Nevertheless, Danganronpa is a must for lovers of point & clicks, puzzle games and visual novels.
7. Super Smash Bros. for Wii-U
Returning with more characters, but more importantly, better movelists and tweaks, forget Brawl, Super Smash for Wii-U throws out Brawl in favour of Melée inspired gameplay and with better stages. The game now has lots of features for entry-level gamers as well as veterans making this the most definitive version of Super Smash Bros.
6. Bayonetta 2
Bayonetta is not just about new hair in this instalment, with smoother gameplay and a more useful Witch-Time, Bayonetta is better than ever, the story is more comprehensible if not so good and the pacing is much better, making Bayonetta 2 the best action hack & slash game by a mile.
By all rights not a shining point in Ace Attorney’s history, it’s still better than most Prof. Layton games and other visual novels by a wide margin. The mixed vision from both of the games dilutes the narrative, especially towards the end, but the new gameplay mechanics and the pleasure of seeing these two together is all it needs.
The visual novel reaches western shores at long last and is the delight we all expected, if it’s more of what the animé gave you then you’re in for a treat, first timers to Steins; Gate can easily start on this as it’s as hard to get into as the animé with similar rewards. A narrative-driven sci-fi with some good comedy, Steins; Gate is a riot all the way through.
3. Alien: Isolation
After the mess that was Colonial Marines, I think we were all a bit skeptical of Alien: Isolation despite the promising footage we were being shown, but our fears were allayed when it came out and was the Alien game we have been wanting since the closing credits of Scott’s original Alien film. The aesthetic and sound design are perfect at creating the suffocating atmosphere of Alien, the gameplay is stealth-based and the terror of the Alien is maintained throughout the experience. The only down side to Alien: Isolation is the failure to focus on central characters as well as the station Ripley is on board, but in all other areas it excels like no other Alien or even horror title, this year.
2. Wolfenstein: The New Order
It’s not often that a title such as Wolfenstein can get a look in on a top 10 list, let alone appear so high, but this year’s The New Order offered all the fun of a typical Wolfy game, with more bang for your buck on the story department. Set in 1960 after we all lost the war to the Nazis, Cap. Blazkowicz is fighting the unwinnable fight against alternate history technology which includes cyborg dogs and titanium super soldiers.
The gameplay is tight enough to compete with modern-shooters and guns dynamic enough to have a bit of gun-toting fun with. The main character was not the muscular idiot he looked like, but a sensitive and realistic war vet whose many motivations weren’t necessary but greatly appreciated when the enemies are Nazis.
Wolfenstein: The New Order leaves little room for improvement, I wonder if Id Software might have set themselves a precedent they’ll be unable to follow with Doom 4.
There was never any doubt what this year’s top game was for me, I never played Bastion, but Transistor’s blurry cyberpunk aesthetic caught my eye and I gave it a go, I was initially pretty disappointed that the main character was a woman, because I thought it was a dude from what I saw in the trailers, but the soulful vocal performances by Ashley Lynn Barrett as Red soon won me over.
The art style is colourful with good use of dull tones and wonderful architectural design to make Cloudbank come vividly to life and the sorrowful music echoes the sense of loss that is seen at the beginning of the game, Red’s loss of her voice and the young man’s lost body.
If Transistor was only a beautiful game with astounding music it probably would have place fairly high on the list, but it’s the complex and engaging game mechanics that can be changed and played with on the fly that makes it the standout game it is. Use of limiters is a creative gamble, making the game more difficult in various ways with different payoffs, the freezing feature that allows you to pause and plan a move set lend the game a strategic edge to the action fuelled mechanics.
Transistor is a game that rewards creativity greatly and for a gamer like myself, who refuses to change tactics until I have been royally bruised, it’s important to feel like my micromanagement and playstyle changes are worth it and with Transistor, every battle is a new experience and every piece of plot which is tantalisingly teased out is savoured, in the end, you’ll finish the game wanting to start over again.