It’s that time of year, already… Time to reflect on the best (and worst) of these past three hundred and sixty-something days. In all honestly, for games, it’s been a pretty shitty year, with very little in the way of major releases. Seemingly caught off-guard by the new console releases, developers blew their load when they came out, with this year being the proverbial refractory period, as they prepare for all the hot jams coming out next year (see also: #delayedto2015).
On the other hand, it’s been a godsend for the indie movement, as the absence of high-profile “AAA” games has given them a chance to shine where they otherwise might not.
GAME OF THE YEAR:
Jazzpunk is perhaps the funniest game ever made, and definitely the funniest since the heyday of LucasArts adventure games. Humor in games is a very hard thing to do correctly, as it can often by ruined by the player’s agency. Jazzpunk avoids this by making you the catalyst of most of the humor, and assaulting you with a barrage of Police Squad-on-acid visual gags, seen through the veneer of a cartoonish cyberpunk noir.
Other great games this year included Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor, a pretty amazing game that legitimately innovates in what has become a crowded, staid genre, and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, which, while not as good as the first Donkey Kong Country Returns, is an absolute gem of a platformer. Honestly, it’s pretty hard to follow up on what might be the best platformer of all time. Rounding out the list: Sunset Overdrive, Insomniac’s return to form in an open-world explosion of insanity and parkour; Wolfenstein: The New Order, a surprisingly meditative take on the horrors of WW2 and what it did to soldiers’ psyche (plus, super-space-suits and laser guns); Persona Q, which blends the core Shin Megami Tensei formula with the more in-depth dungeon crawling of Atlus’ own Etrian Odyssey series; D4, more surrealist insanity from the creator of Deadly Premonition; Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, a prologue to The Phantom Pain and a fully realized, if short, experience in its own right; and Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN-, a characteristically awkwardly-titled, blisteringly fast, and absolutely beautiful fighting game from Arc System Works.
- Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor
- Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
- Sunset Overdrive
- Wolfenstein: The New Order
- Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth
- D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die
- Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes
- Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN-