So, a little late to the pitcher's mound, but here's a list for ALL the games I played in 2014 (not just the ones released in 2014). In no particular order, these are the best, most enjoyable, and most enriching games I played in 2014.
Endless Legend is the first strategy game to grab my attention in years. It's not since Civilization 3 that I've been this interested in a strategy game. When I reviewed it, it felt like I was experiencing a perfect blend of Tolkien and George R.R. Martin, purely through mechanics and the game's dynamic design. Endless Legend is deceptively simple, but so deep that I fear it'll be years before I truly have a handle on it. That's fine with me though, that should keep me busy until the next big strategy game comes to scratch that itch.
It's available on PC/Mac on Steam, and the developers have both mod support and work with the community through their GAMES2GETHER initiative. Seriously, give it a look.
Whenever you want to know what I think a linear shooter should be like, just look at Wolfenstein: The New Order. The developer, Machinegames, is primarily made up of developers from Starbreeze, who made the under-appreciated gem that is the Syndicate reboot, so I already knew to expect good things. This is better than anything I'd anticipated.
Wolfenstein: The New Order one of those rare games that can satisfy you with answers to all your questions, but still leave you wanting more. A fantastic mix of camp, seriousness, and retro sci-fi charm, this alternative-history 1960s world is a one worth fighting for. Few single-player games are created with as much competence as Wolfenstein, and other developers (looking at you, Naughty Dog) should take note.
It's available on PC via Steam, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One. I played it on 360, and so long as you don't mind low-res textures and 30 FPS, there's absolutely no reason for you to not get it now on whatever console you have.
Normally I sigh at Ubisoft for their frustrating development practices and questionable DRM choices. Then there are moments when I remember why I enjoy their games. Assassin's Creed: Rogue was one of those times. It received almost no fanfare, and most people acted as if it never existed. Very few, if any, review copies were sent out. Yet somehow, I had a hunch, this was going to be the real next step in the series. Equal parts a fitting conclusion to the America Saga and a step forward into the realm of Unity's new storyline, AC: Rogue is an all-around solid sandbox game.
It cuts out a lot of the fluff in AC3-4, and combines almost all the best ideas of AC4 into an AC3 framework. I'm not sure if this is the largest world Ubisoft has ever made, but it is the most content-rich one that I've experienced. Reconstructing a Viking sword, intercepting Assassins, and capturing all manner of fortresses makes this one of the most enjoyable games in the series. I truly wish we'd seen some invasion-style multiplayer a la Dark Souls, but even without any kind of multiplayer, this title is well-worth the asking price. I can hardly say that of most AAA 2014 releases. It seems protagonist Shay managed to defy the odds in the real world, just as much as in his fictional realm.
It's available on Xbox 360 and PS3 right now, but it's coming to Steam, PS4, and Xbox One later this year. Wait for the price to drop around $40 or less, and you're in for a treat.
Yes, one of the best games I played in 2014 was a mobile game. Badland is an amazing, almost spellbinding remix of Jetpack Joyride's "one press to do everything" mentality. Except instead of being about a crazed scientist or a flappy bird, this is about you guiding a species of flying animals through hell and back in one of the most beautiful and dark mobile games out there.
It's available on iOS/Android, with the first campaign now available for free. Play it, and experience one of the best mobile games out there that isn't an Infinity Blade clone.
You know, the first review I ever wrote for GameSkinny was for the Tomb Raider reboot. Man, I did not like that. So when I booted up Tomb Raider: Anniversary, I did NOT expect how much better it would be. It boasted platforming that required thought, with large open-ended levels that further enticed you to explore and figure things out on your own. Lara's journal does not tell you the exact answer you need; it only gives vague hints. Combat is not at the forefront, but it keeps the pacing fresh.
I haven't finished Anniversary yet, but I don't care. Any game fun enough to keep me going for five hours, without a break or much complaint, gets the seal of approval regardless. I also had the added benefit of playing it on PC, where the graphics are incredibly crisp compared to its Wii and PS2 versions.
Not since Portal has an adventure game treated me with so much respect as a gamer, and trusted me to handle playing without a constant guiding hand. I may never know how Crystal Dynamics got from this to the Tomb Raider reboot, but I sincerely hope they bring the more realistic Lara back to her roots soon. This is the action-adventure game I've been waiting years for.
It's available on PC, PS2, PS3 (via Tomb Raider Collection), Xbox 360, Wii, and PSP. Whatever platform you can play it on, get it. Even if you never touch Legend or Underworld, you should play Anniversary.
There's a free demo of Gunpoint on Steam right now. GO! Download it! Play it! Do it now!
Okay, back? So you see why Gunpoint is awesome, yes?! This puzzle-platformer defies indie conventions by being more like an elaborate set of dominos you must manipulate until you achieve your objective - with hilarious dialogue trees and a deep unlock system to boot. Plus there's user-generated levels now. It hardly can get better than this!
Gunpoint is on PC, Mac, and Linux. So unless you have absolutely no personal computer (in which case, how on earth are you reading this?), play Gunpoint now! If I had to rank these for GOTY, this would be in the top three at least.
My review for this one is nearly finished, but I just can't keep it off this list. As flawed and gritty as its protagonist, WET is an action game I just cannot put down. The mix of flowing gun-ballet, brutal sword-slashing, and gonzo moments keeps me coming back. WET may not objectively be the best game on this list, but it tops as one of my favorite experiences this year.
The story is wonky, the graphics are badly aged for the year it released, and there certainly are some rough spots. But with a core as solid as WET's combat, I just can't help but come back every now and then. The added bonus of a score-hunting mode for every level in the game helps put a little spice in each replay as well. For more of my thoughts, keep an eye out for my review.
WET is available on PS3 and Xbox 360. It's cheap enough to look past the flaws, and strong enough at its core to show you why it's yet another cult-classic of the seventh console generation.
I know, I know. One of my most popular articles on this site is about how Titanfall failed to meet the challenge. But hey, at least by the end of the year, it finally did. It took way too long, but with the addition of co-op, an in-game store (with only in-game currency, no real world money), and optimized matchmaking, the game is finally worth noting.
The soundtrack is amazing, the game design is some of the slickest in the industry. It remains one of the best PC games I can think of. I usually forget about it for weeks at a time, but whenever I play it, I am satisfied in a way few multiplayer games can satisfy me. Titanfall isn't a great leap into the future of multiplayer gaming, but it is a fitting bridge between the games of old and the new games on the horizon.
There's a free 48-hour trial on Origin, and it's on sale for chump change right now. The Complete Edition is available as well, but it only contains the three DLC map packs, which almost no one is playing on PC. You may have better luck on 360 and Xbox One, but it's best just to get the core game. The new modes and all other content are free - and with twenty maps, you won't miss the nine new ones.
Tales from the Borderlands/The Walking Dead Season 2. Really, I can't pick between these two. It's amazing what Telltale pulled off in both an entire season with Clementine and a single episode in Borderlands. The storytelling was top notch, and the ending of The Walking Dead Season 2 still blows me away. You did good this year, Telltale. You did damn good.
Telltale's games can be found on anything electronic. Your PC? Telltale. Your console? Telltale? Your toaster? Telltale! Buy it on one of them.