2014 was one of the more gaming-light years of my life, which has been an interesting realization for me. I parted with a company I spent many years with and graduated college, started boxing, hiked more than I ever have, and started a career at a company I really dig.
In 2014, there just wasn’t as much time allotted to games as usual… and games have been a very important hobby to me since my early childhood. I still love them, but other parts of life take priority — as they healthily should.
But that doesn’t mean I don’t have at least ten great games I really enjoyed and really recommend! Because I certainly do!
Personal Top Ten Games of 2014
10. Hitman Go
Hitman Go took the somewhat inaccessible Hitman game formula and made it work stupendously so on tablets. And it did it without fake, on-screen analog sticks and visual downgrades that are usually par for publishers that try to pull it off.
The game has a beautiful style, is cute in its tongue and cheek approach to its source material, and makes for a wonderful short-time puzzle game with tons of content.
I don’t like collectible card games — even though I collected Pokemon cards like everyone else as a kid. I didn’t enjoy the endless rulesets, nerdy high fantasy fiction, or the fact that I had to buy my way into good decks in most cases.
Hearthstone doesn’t escape all of those genre trappings, but it does straighten the accessibility curve quite substantially, and makes for a fast and fun digital card game that rewards you for your time and money spent. I didn’t want to put in the time or money (both didn’t seem to be required thankfully) to stay competitive, but it remains a great relaxation game to play with a cup of coffee.
Ah, Threes — you are so nearly perfect as a mobile game could be. You can be played in rapid, short bursts, you’re a satisfying mix of puzzle and math-driven gameplay, and you’re not seeping with microtransactions or ads. You cost me $3, and that’s all you asked of me.
I love you.
7. Peggle 2
I knew I’d love Peggle 2 from the moment I saw its announcement live at E3, and the moment I first played it at PAX. It’s more of what I like: fun, relaxing, plachinko-style physics gaming — plus hilarious characters both new and old.
Nidhogg is the epitome of incredible local multiplayer. Nidhogg is cold-blooded, chest-beating, adrenaline-fueled, swashbuckling friend-to-friend competition at its absolute finest. If you and a buddy play games competitively, you have to give Nidhogg your time and money.
5. Super Smash Bros. 3DS/Wii U
I’ll keep it short: this is an incredible Smash game. Take it from a series veteran and self-proclaimed knowledge bank on all Smash games. It’s not as fast as I wanted it to be, like Melee and Project M, but it’s better than what Nintendo delivered with Brawl — in spades. It’s gorgeous, dripping with personality, and all around a great achievement on Wii U and 3DS. And Smash in my pocket? Yes, I’ll take seven.
4. Far Cry 4
Far Cry 4 is Far Cry 3 again, but more polished, more understandable, and snowier. It’s a beautiful sandbox that just oozes everybody’s favorite game industry buzzword: emergent gameplay. It’s got that and player expression for days. In what other game can you fly a tiny helicopter over a base, parachute down and take it over, then hop on an elephant, strap it with C4, and stampede it straight into a river (come at me PETA). And I’ll agree with Giant Bomb’s Jeff Gerstmann on this: Ubisoft can get away with this once, but with Far Cry 5, they’ll really have to branch out and try some new things.
Don’t let Far Cry 5 become your Assassin’s Creed Unity. But otherwise: sick game you’ve got here.
3. Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor
Holy crap was everything stacked against this game. Lord of the Rings license. Overall flat looking story. Very little press coverage leading up to launch. It looked like the Assassin’s Creed world structure with Batman combat — and funny enough, it came together great. The incredible nemesis system makes characters feel real and have growth and personality, and the combat is stunning and immensely satisfying as the game progresses. An incredible first outing, even if the ending was really flat and sort of lame.
2. Project M
A mod on a top ten list? Weird, right? Not really, when you consider the sheer task the developers took upon themselves in making this game. Take the slower, methodical, defense-oriented engine of Super Smash Bros. Brawl, and tune it from scratch to be like the fast, aggressive, technical Super Smash Bros. Melee, and on top of all that, balance the roster in a way the game hasn’t been before. This opened up incredible avenues for players across the Smash community, giving hope to players of traditionally considered “lower tier” characters on the roster. Project M is fast, technical and fun, and with competitive Melee on the rise following the Smash Brothers documentary, it’s never been a better time to play Smash.
1. Broken Age
Beautiful, charming, hilarious, and fun. That’s what you need to know about Broken Age. From the creative guru behind some of the most fundamental adventure games of gaming’s history, Tim Schaefer, Broken Age is the modern adventure game I exactly wanted. No verb trees, no hard-stop puzzles that take days to muster (though there are some super smart puzzles to beat), and top it all off with the quirk, charm and humor Tim’s games are known for, and you’ve got a recipe for success.
Now we just have the gruesome wait for Act 2…
That’s it folks! Thanks for reading. If I missed any of your favorites, let me know on here or on Twitter.