At first glance 2014 was a pretty rotten year for gaming, what with all the delays, broken games and high-profile disappointments, and yet if you actually look closely a lot of surprisingly good stuff came out over the past 12 months. At this point the video game industry is large and diverse enough that the whole triple-A sector can fall flat on its face (as it largely did this year) and there can still be a ton of good stuff to play. Indies, handhelds, hell, even licensed games stepped up to fill the gap this year and make 2014 more tolerable than it had any right to be.
So, without further ado, here’s our suprisingly solid Top 25 games of 2014…
Note: We don’t have a bustling 30-person IGN-like newsroom here at GammaSquad. This list is basically just the opinion of two guys with fairly specific tastes. If something you like didn’t make the list, we probably didn’t play it, or it just wasn’t in our respective wheelhouses. Either way, tough titty.
25) Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze was stuck with a weird February release date, and was forgotten almost as soon as it was released, but it was a damn solid little platformer. The game was beautiful, varied, absolutely balls hard and featured maybe the best soundtrack of the year courtesy of a returning David Wise (he did all of Rare’s classic soundtracks back in the SNES and early-N64 days). If you’re picking up a Wii U for Mario Kart and/or Smash, you should definitely think about checking the bargain bin for this one.
24) Five Nights At Freddy’s
2014 was a bit of a Renaissance for the horror genre, and yet surprisingly one of the most terrifying experiences of the year was Five Nights at Freddy’s, which is essentially a remake of Night Trap featuring horrifying Chuck E. Cheese-like animatronic monstrosities. Freddy’s is a brief experience, but you’ll be sick with tension and shrieking your head off like a 10-year-old girl at a slumber party throughout the 40-minutes or so it takes to complete the game, and as soon as you’re done, you’re going to want to inflict the game on all your friends.
Nidhogg looks extremely simple, but beneath its Atari 2600-looking exterior lays a surprisingly deep and nasty combat system. The goal of the game is to simply run your little dude, armed only with a fencing foil, to the far edge of a 2D arena, but you’ll have to battle for every inch against a determined opposing fencer. The battles in Nidhogg match the flow and pacing of a good action movie fight scene more closely than maybe any other game ever made. Nidhogg is, straight up, the most original new twist on the fighting genre since Smash Bros.
22) Valiant Hearts
It wasn’t a great year for Ubisoft, but in amongst disasters like Assassin’s Creed Unity and disappointments like The Crew, they delivered the unexpected, well-done little World War I tale, Valiant Hearts. Somehow Valiant Hearts delivers a genuinely touching story with very few words and engaging puzzle-platforming gameplay that doesn’t feel out of place within the game’s trench warfare setting. Ubisoft’s business decisions may be infuriating, but Valiant Hearts is proof a creative soul still glows faintly somewhere within the company.
21) Broken Age
Tim Schafer’s industry-changing, Kickstarter-funded adventure game, Broken Age didn’t reinvent the point-and-click wheel, but then it was never supposed to. Schafer promised to bring back old-school, lushly-produced adventure gaming, and he largely succeeded with Broken Age (or at least the first half of the game we got in 2014). Broken Age’s visual are gorgeous, its story is charming and its gameplay is engaging (if not overly challenging) – that’s all adventure game and Tim Schafer fans ever really wanted. Hopefully Act 2 of the story ranks even higher on our 2015 Best Of list.
And there we have it. Dan will have part two tomorrow, but until then, what do you think of the list so far?