This past year may have had more misses than hits, but there were some stellar games that stood out amongst the utter letdowns. From titles with stunning graphics, to gripping narratives, to being big surprises, here are my personal Game of the Year picks for 2014.
Game of the Year: Valiant Hearts: The Great War
Valiant Hearts is a perfect blend of graphical detail, immersive music, and brilliant storytelling. The Ubisoft puzzler is one of the few games where the player actually learns something of importance; it had, by far, the best story of all the games I played this year. It was really engrossing to not only play a great game, but to learn about an important period in world history.
The characters were absolutely fantastic, and the comical and emotive soundtrack, as well as the simple gameplay mechanics, kept your attention on the narrative. Furthermore, its art style managed to keep the game from being too realistic and thus a completely depressing experience. For all of these reasons, Valiant Hearts: The Great War is more than worthy of being named my 2014 Game of the Year.
Honorable Mention: Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
When the gaming calendar had dried up and was crying out for a riveting AAA title, Monolith’s Shadow of Mordor delivered. At face value it looks like a mash-up of Batman and Assassin’s Creed – but it’s much more than that. It nailed the stealth and combat aspects whilst managing to keep the gameplay feeling fresh, and was definitely my favourite action/adventure game of the year.
Shadow of Mordor deserves particular praise for bringing the Nemesis System into play. It allowed the player to investigate and cause conflict within the Uruk ranks whilst using a raft of abilities and melee combinations to their advantage.
Honorable Mention: Dragon Age: Inquisition
What BioWare put together in Dragon Age: Inquisition was an immersive world that oozed fantasy, perfectly complemented with crisp graphics and story-driven gameplay.
Inquisition boasted well-written characters with their own in-depth dialogue and skill trees to assist players in combat. Particular praise has to go to the great character and weapon customisation system, which was of high quality, considering the world’s gigantic landscape. It’s safe to say Bioware have redeemed themselves after an underwhelming Dragon Age 2.
Honorable Mention: Child of Light
The water-colour effects in Child of Light made for a new and unique gaming experience; reminiscent of Studio Ghibli. I think what made it more enjoyable was the fact that we’re not used to games like this from Ubisoft and it was, by all accounts, a beautifully crafted game.
It’s also the small details, such as Aurora’s long red locks waving in the blustering winds, and the simple but engaging combat style, that makes Child of Light a worthy nomination.
Honorable Mention: South Park: The Stick of Truth
It could’ve gone so wrong for The Stick of Truth, but it turned to be one of those ‘so bad it’s good’ scenarios. It was the uncanny art style, voice acting, and crude humour (and visuals) that made the game one of the best of 2014.
The premise to the Obsidian title’s story did a fantastic job of transporting the player into the imaginative minds of the South Park characters, and how they’d each be depicted in a fantasy setting. It was basically a near-perfect transition from the television show to a video game and was definitely surprising.