It felt appropriate for me to do a look back at some of my favorite games of the past year, so I summoned Wikipedia’s list of 2014 video game releases and I was struck by two things:
- Of the games that I’ve played and played enough of, it was hard to judge whether they counted as “favorite” or not, and
- I found myself reminded of a lot more games that have come out this year that I still want to go back and try, but have never managed to find the time for.
So what DID I like out of this past year? My favorite game of the year is easily Gang Beasts.
Gang Beasts is a local multiplayer game where you try to pummel your friends and throw them out of the game arena. A simple set of physics-based combat options (here is a full list of what you can do: punch, jump, grab, and lift) and some smartly-assembled arenas make this an outstandingly fun game for you and your friends to scream at one another with. It’s the most fun I’ve had with a group of people with controllers in our hands since Smash Bros. The simple, play-doh characters and the brutality of the stages (meat grinders, speeding trains, and burning infernos make appearances alongside graceful Ferris wheels and high-rise scaffolds) make for a hilarious scene. What you intend to have happen is not nearly as entertaining as what actually happens when your plans are spoiled by another player’s insidious betrayal. If you have friends and you enjoy hearing them scream, play Gang Beasts immediately.
There’s other games that I’ve played this year and enjoyed but none have given me so many hours of obsessive concentration as Threes.
The screen in the image that you see is the entire game of Threes. You slide tiles from left to right, combining either 1s and 2s to make Threes, or combining matching tiles (like 6 and 6, or 72 and 72) to create a higher-value tile. This is the entire game, and it is brilliantly composed, capable of stealing whole days of my life away in 30 second chunks as I stare intensely at my phone, determined to beat my high score (which, at a mere 21,000, comes nowhere near the millions-of-points high scores that good players can achieve.) It is a wondrous, ingenious game.
Honorable Mentions: Dragon Age Inquisition (lots of dragons and cartoon friends), Dark Souls 2 (not as many dragons but still some dragons), Out There (great despair-in-outer-space atmosphere and clever mechanics, but too random and unfair), Wolf Among Us (great noir-fairy tale world, good storytelling), Nidhogg (simple, subtle, serene), Strider (ninjas!), WoW: Warlords of Draenor (great at making your character feel like the most important hero in the game world, which is really something given that it’s WoW we’re talking about), Shovel Knight (a great soundtrack accompanied by a pretty good game), Shadow of Mordor (sandbox sword-and-shadows done well), and The Silent Age (another iOS release, a terrific, tense point-and-click adventure.)
Games from 2014 I still need to go back and play: Bravely Default, Super Time Force Ultra, Lightning Returns FF13 (shut up), Thief, Towerfall Ascension, Alien Isolation, Talos Principle, Guilty Gear Xrd
Happy New Year!