Roundtable: Our Game (not) of the Year 2014

December 17, 2014


We’re human. We don’t always get to every game before the end of its year of release. This is our way of making amends: the best games we missed out on until 2014. Because we can’t go back in time and honor them in a more timely fashion.

Graham Russell: Saints Row IV

While it got lost in the shuffle last year, Saints Row IV was always on my to-play list, and the summer lull let me dig into it as much as I was hoping to do. Saints Row games have been funny for a while now, but they leaned too heavily on the GTA spoofing to fully grab my attention. IV goes all out to make fun moments and doesn’t worry too much about what happens between them, and it works marvelously. Oh, and running around with superpowers is pretty great.

Andrew Passafiume: Spelunky

If you remember way back during the early months of 2014, I wrote a bunch about a little game called Spelunky. It essentially dominated the first two months of my life this year, and has gone on to become a favorite of mine. It’s tough but fair, and each failed attempt at taking down Olmec taught me something new about the game’s many subtleties. Few games I’ve played this year, past or present, affected me the same way.


Justin Last: Saints Row IV

Saints Row IV is a profoundly dumb game. The Boss is, thanks to Earth’s new alien overlord, turned into a superhero in a virtual recreation of Steelport. He can run at super-speed, get into a Tron-inspired tank to wreak havoc, escape to the real world in your Matrix-inspired ship, proposition Vice President Keith David and then fly around the decimated real world to Haddaway’s “What Is Love?” It’s irreverent, funny and ridiculous, and sometimes that’s exactly what I need in a game.

Chris Ingersoll: Bayonetta

This game grabbed me so hard that I nearly blasted through it in a single (12-hour) sitting, putting it down only when muscle and eye fatigue became too much of a factor in the late stages. And I wasn’t even really exploring it! I just wanted to get caught up on the story as background for Bayonetta 2, but still did so on a “normal” difficulty to get a more authentic experience. I would still have purchased Bayonetta 2 even without the inclusion of its predecessor, but I know I definitely appreciated the sequel much more for finally having played the first, even if it was only 24 hours beforehand instead of several years.

Henry Skey: Dishonored

Hoo-boy, was Andrew right. Dishonored is a gem. It’s oozing with stylish architecture and fantastic lore. The world feels alive, instead of it being shoehorned to accommodate your expansive set of abilities. The blink ability made this my favorite stealth game of all time and challenging in all the right spots. There’s no chance I’ll let Dishonored 2 go unplayed for more than a year.


Chris Dominowski: Pokémon Stadium

I finally decided to build a competitive team in Pokémon Red this year so that I could have shot at beating Pokémon Stadium once and for all. In the midst of the challenge, I realized why I loved the game: it could only exist in its time and place. Released at the height of Pokémania, it offered the first chance to interact with Pokémon that weren’t static images. Controlling animated, living representations of the monsters we grew attached to on the small screen was enchanting, and stuck with fans forever. Though it doesn’t hold up today, Stadium knew exactly what it was, and how to invoke a fan’s sense of wonder and amazement.

Eric Albuen: Persona 4 Golden

I had gotten started on the game on the PS2, but never had the chance to finish it. I’m almost amazed on how much more was added to this version, and that it’s packed into a portable title blew my mind even more. There was so much more content added into the game, and the inclusion of Marie in the main storyline was made so seamless. While I know it’s almost completely unlikely to happen, I would love to see Persona 3 get a definitive port like Persona 4 did.

Jeff deSolla: Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds

With two new consoles out, things got tight last year. I suppose it’s my love of being on the ground floor that made me focus on the PS4, and looking back, those launch games were pretty forgettable, as launch games tend to be. Doing a move in the summer really led to a lot of handheld games, and I played A Link Between Worlds start-to-finish in one weekend. It’s a real shame I skipped this one, because it’s one of my favorite Zelda and 3DS titles so far.


Ryan Dunn: Jak & Daxter

I was a huge platformer fan, but after the glory days of Super Mario 64 and Banjo-Kazooie, I just fizzled out. I tried the Sly Cooper series last year and enjoyed it, but this year I had a chance to finally play Jak & Daxter and fell in love. It feels like the best parts of Mario 64, as it gives you big levels with multiple objectives to discover and lots of different types of platforming challenges to overcome. The story is delivered fairly crudely, and Daxter’s character had worn out its welcome by the end of the game, but the gameplay and inventive levels had me coming back over and over to find every last secret.

Lucas White: Batman: Arkham Origins

I was over the moon with Batman: Arkham Asylum when it first came out, but a few hours into Arkham City was enough to turn me off of the series outright. Thanks to my morbid curiosity and an excellent Steam deal, I finally checked out Arkham Origins and was blown away. For the first time ever, I got to play a well-written Batman game. The plot was intriguing, featured interesting characters, didn’t shamelessly lean on Paul Dini’s past work and even treated its female characters with something resembling respect. It was pretty fun to play, too.