It’s finally time to talk about some of the best games of the year. So before we jump head first into 2015, lets first quickly take a look back at this past year. What a year it was as 2014 represented the first full year for “next-generation” consoles and as such, many of the promises that were made during the console launches were finally delivered to us including games like Titanfall, inFAMOUS Second Son, and more. This year also saw a number of high profile delays to games like Batman Arkham Knight, Evolve, and Tom Clandcy’s The Division. While the future continues to look bright for the gaming industry, fans of games were also given a huge amount of excellent content to play this year, so without further adieu, lets have a look at what stood out to me.
For me, the biggest part of this award is simply remember what I managed to play from this past year. While I managed to play and enjoy a lot of titles this year, it felt more or less like there were fewer games that really managed to leave an impact on me than in previous years. While that made things a little more challenging putting a list together, the deed is done! Here is are my absolute favorite games from this past year.
And the winners are…
Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
I told you, Mordor would return didn’t I? Shadow of Mordor remains as one of my favorite titles from this year all stemming from the absolutely fantastic Nemesis System. Typically something that gets under-delivered on, Monolith stuck to their guns and developed an entire system which can reshuffle and populate the game full of named orcs that have strengths, weaknesses, and memory of you. Instead of showing a player the game over screen for dying, the Nemesis System takes over shuffling the deck, promoting orcs, creating new orcs, and keeps the game fresh for the payer. It was so well made that even BioShock creator, Ken Levine dropped a lot of praise on it. It’s a system that can infinitely extend the life of the game, giving you a new experience every time you play. Hopefully this is something that will continue down the road as it’s fascinating and completely wonderful. For what it’s worth, there’s a lot of additional content here as well including a story I generally cared about as I played through it. Spoiler Alert: If I absolutely had to pick a GotY, my vote would be for this game.
It would seem that Supergiant Games can do no wrong in my eyes. After delivering Bastion a few years ago, this year they gave us Transistor, a completely different looking game this time set in a more futuristic setting. Beautiful, stunning, fun – all words that could easily describe Transistor. With the world of Cloudbank falling apart during an attack by a robotic like force called The Process, you come across a weapon known as the Transistor which has an ability that a rival faction is hunting you for. Featuring the talented voice acting of Logan Cunningham again, another incredible soundtrack from Darren Korb and Ashley Barrett, Transistor’s other ace in the hole is with it’s very fun and tactical combat. It’s a triple threat, people.
Mixing Rock and Roll with a hyperactive and unique traversal system is what makes Sunset Overdrive pure magic. Bright with color and doing everything it can to help you have fun, Sunset Overdrive mixes third person shooting with grinding, bouncing, gliding, and other unique ways to get around. Couple that with the fact that you can literally make the main character into whatever you want through customization options and constant fourth wall breaking humor through it’s witty writing, Sunset Overdrive just may be the most fun I’ve had in gaming this year.
Shovel Knight speaks directly to my nostalgia. Created in the spirit of old school games like Mega Man, Duck Tales, and Mario 3, Shovel Knight tasks you with taking down the dreaded Order of No Quarter, enemy Knights all based on a certain theme. For fans of Mega Man, you’ll feel right at home as the platforming is well made, the music will be stuck in your head for days, and you’ll even grow attached to the little blue knight through the well told story. I knew I’d like Shovel Knight, but I was left in awe by just how well made the game was especially from a new studio like Yacht Club Games. With even more content and modes rolling out constantly from those guys, it’s almost like the gift that keeps on giving.
Far Cry 4
There’s something noteworthy when you can admit that even well over 20 hours in, you’re still really enjoying your time with a game. That’s how it is for me and Far Cry 4. While it does share many similar gameplay elements to Far Cry 3 (Outpost captures, Radio towers, etc), Far Cry 4 introduces us to this amazing world of Kyrat where literally anything can happen. I’ve been attacked by all sorts of animals, seen an eagle pick up a goat and drop it off of a mountain cliff, climbed into the highest peaks of the Himalaya Mountain range, rode elephants into battle with a friend, and just had so many unique and funny moments that it would take me hours to list them all here. While I’ve really enjoyed the story and characters, it’s those gameplay moments which just really click for me. Just like Shadow of Mordor, the dynamic and emergent gameplay systems at work behind the scenes help make Far Cry 4 one of the best games of this year.