10. Dead Man’s Draw
It is immensely fun to examine your opponent’s traits, choose two that completely nullify them and then win a game in a landslide victory. With 18 traits and the eventual ability to use two of them simultaneously, there is always a way to win a tournament and always a new strategy to try out. Parry and Beastmaster synergize well offensively, while Captain’s Hook and Miser work well together defensively. Dead Man’s Draw is a great press-your-luck card game, and I can’t wait for my physical copy to arrive so I can play with friends when I’m not at the PC. READ MORE
There were many great games in 2014, but these were the best of the best! Here are our selections for best 3DS game and best Vita game of the year, as well as deserving runners-up. READ MORE
10. Assassin’s Creed: Unity
This game has gotten so much hate from the gaming community this year, some of it admittedly deserved, that it feels strange to say that I really enjoyed it. I don’t like the pirate ship combat and controls in Assassin’s Creed, and I thought that Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag was a weak entry (albeit worlds ahead of the abysmal Assassin’s Creed III). In an Assassin’s Creed game, I want a solid city to explore with lots of interesting things to do, as well as some connections to the modern-day struggle between the templars and the assassins. While Assassin’s Creed: Unity completely abandons the modern plot, the city is interesting, and I found Arno’s character to be the best replacement for Ezio the series has found yet. I, luckily, didn’t run into the myriad of technical issues that so many others seemed to experience. If you’re a fan of Assassin’s Creed II, I would implore you to give Unity a chance. It’s not perfect, but it really is a lot of fun. READ MORE
We kick off our Game of the Year awards with some special staff-selected categories: Best Original Soundtrack, Best Licensed Game and Best Retro Re-Release.
10. Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse
2014 was a great year for WayForward, continuing its tradition of releasing uncharacteristically good licensed titles, and having a highly successful Kickstarter for a full HD console game in its own Shantae series. In the midst of all this, it quietly released one of the best Metroidvanias in a great while. Pirate’s Curse polished the exploration mechanics and added interesting new uses for transformations using the extra horsepower of the 3DS, all while sticking to the creative puzzles, clear progression and memorable characterization that makes the series great. READ MORE
This wasn’t gaming’s best year for many reasons, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t have plenty of worthwhile titles. Honestly, some of this year’s best could easily stand up against the best from stronger years. It was also full of surprises, with plenty of games that would often be overlooked during more crowded years. While my list was easier to put together than 2013’s, I still wanted to take the time to focus on both: smaller titles that might have been overlooked and also games that deserve all of the praise in the world.
The end of the year is a great time to reflect, so we’ll be doing just that. From now until January, we’ll be sharing what we think, both individually and as a group, are the best that 2014 had to offer. If you do need something to pick up, rest assured: we’ll put you on the right path!
Also, in this holiday season of peace and joy, maybe play some fun games with friends? Or settle down at the table with a good unplugged title? Maybe even use our Amazon page to order some things, and give us the gift of being able to pay our hosting bills.
Mostly, though: have a happy holiday! We’ll be back to our normal schedule in January.
Lev Grossman is one of my favorite authors. The first two books in his Magicians trilogy, The Magicians and The Magician King, are right up my alley. They’re Narnia meets Harry Potter with a macabre twist. The series is scary, realistic in its own way and has a protagonist whose voice matches my own at times. It really does feel like it was written for guys just like me; obsessed with fantasy and not exactly sure what to do in life. The third book was released recently, The Magician’s Land, and it, too, was spectacular. Some scenes were so beautifully written that I will never forget them. But something wasn’t quite the same. READ MORE
Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light was a real surprise when it came out. That’s partly because it happened just as the series was being rebooted and used the old Lara and not the new one, but partly because it was a well-designed cooperative puzzle game that seemingly came out of nowhere. Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris is a direct sequel to Guardian, expanding the potential player count to four from the original’s two. READ MORE
Fantasy Hero: Unsigned Legacy achieves the gameplay goals that it sets out to hit quite well. It functions as a straight dungeon crawl, with individual quest runs broken up into bite-sized five-to-15-minute chunks. It isn’t the most interesting game, and it doesn’t really push the envelope in any new ways, but it is fun and it is designed well for portable play. If you enjoy short dungeon runs, beating up bad guys and collecting loot, then you should seriously consider Fantasy Hero. READ MORE