After much deliberation, here are Boss Wave’s favorite games of 2014. There’s not as much crossover as there was last year and there’s been plenty of confusion over non-2014 games somehow making the 2014 lists… but the result is a fun compilation of a lot of the best stuff we played over the past year. Make sure to tune into the companion episode #079 and, as always, we’d love to hear any thoughts you might have, so give us a shout!
The Wolf Among Us
I’m a huge fan of the Telltale formula and, as far as I’m concerned, The Wolf Among Us is the high point of the genre thus far. In a way it’s hard to put my finger on why it’s just so good. The Walking Dead is certainly more emotional and, by all accounts, Tales From The Borderlands is more funny. Wolf is equally well written though, and there’s really just something about the unexpected twists, smoky back alley vibes and Bigby’s rugged coolness that took it over the top for me. I played through the entire season in just three sittings and now I can’t wait for the next installment. Bring on more Bigby!
Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare
Advanced Warfare is the game that reminded me just how and why Call of Duty is so good and has completely renewed my love affair with the series. That it’s the best looking Call of Duty to date should come as no surprise, but in my opinion it’s also the best and most polished entry in the franchise since Modern Warfare 2. My hat goes off to the very talented team over at Sledgehammer. Now just give me back my Spec-Ops!
Assassin’s Creed Unity
It’s really a shame that Unity had as many issues as it did upon its launch this past November. Numerous patches, apologies and peace offerings later and Unity is finally in tip top shape as a playable experience. Unfortunately the PR stain will dissuade some from playing this excellent chapter in the AC series. While it might lack some of the bravado, charm and sense of exploration of Black Flag, it makes up for it with improvements to almost every aspect of play. The parkour is the best it’s ever been by far, the battle system has undergone substantial upgrades and the graphics… oh those graphics. The attention to detail and the sheer fidelity of some of the visual flourishes really constituted all new interactive experiences for me. (see: stained glass windows) If you give it a chance, virtual Paris is well worth the visit.
Far Cry 4
Far Cry 3 was fantastic. Far Cry 4 is more of the same. In the Himalayas. And there are honey badgers.
Valiant Hearts: The Great War
I really loved Valiant Hearts. There’s just something about its charming presentation and raggedy cast of characters that drew me into its tales of personal tragedy and triumphs amidst the ravages of World War I. As an adventure game it functions pretty well (even if it leans towards being too easy for much of the campaign) and it succeeds in inspiring that special curiosity about will happen if I poke Object A or combine it with Object B. Visually it’s just really striking. Each and every lovingly crafted level shines with its hand drawn and layered backgrounds. Ubisoft Montepellier has taken great advantage of the UbiArt Framework they created with Rayman Origins. Give it ago. You might even learn a little something.
If the evocative mood and unique aesthetic appeal were completely stripped from Monument Valley you’d still be left with a nice little perspective-based puzzler, but it’s not the mechanics that makes it such a special experience. The game took me less than 90 minutes to complete and yet it stuck with me as much as any game in 2014. It’s a beautiful feast for the senses and pretty unlike anything else I can think of. And since the barrier to entry is so low ($3.99 at last glance) that all I’ll say. Just play it. Seriously.
South Park: The Stick of Truth
The Walking Dead Season 2
Portents of Greatness
Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor
Watch Dogs and Shadow of Mordor are both really enjoyable games and each for very different reasons. Mordor might be too laser-focused on what it does best, to the detriment of the overall experience, and Watch Dogs might be the exact opposite. What they share in common though is a sense of optimism of what the next installment in each series might achieve. Think Far Cry 2 or Mass Effect – and allow me to direct your attention to FC3 and ME2… Both Watch Dogs and Middle Earth are in the hands of talented development teams and I have every expectation that they will deliver something special the next time out.
Valiant Hearts: The Great War
The Banner Saga
Child of Light
What Could Have Been…
Spacebase DF-9 – It sort of kills me to call Spacebase out like this. I actually really enjoyed Spacebase… for a while. In a way it’s hard for me to complain too much about Double Fine’s decision to end development and release the game out of Early Access far before they had reached their stated goals for its scope and feature set. I really like what they’re doing with running multiple smallish teams on a variety of projects – each taking its own approach to funding. Really though, no amount of transparency, good intentions or legitimate financial concerns can entirely mask the fact that the decision to abandon the game after the initial claims and promises resulted in a certain amount of dishonesty. Many a gamer – myself included – may have felt a bit burned by the experience. In spite of all that though, Double Fine puts together fun and personable experiences and there’s still a good deal of fun on offer in Spacebase DF-9 if you can find it on the cheap.
Haven’t Played (enough of) It
The Banner Saga – The Banner Saga is good. Really good in fact. The art style, the lore and the beautiful score are absolutely top notch and there’s a solid little tactical RPG battle system in there to boot. Had I played just a few more hours I may have felt comfortable putting it in the top list. As it is, I look forward to getting back to it and would have no trouble recommending it if you’re at all intrigued.
Wolfenstein: The New Order – Sort of similar situation really. I don’t have any qualms telling you that Wolfenstin is a very good game, I just need to play more. It handles storytelling in a shooter better than most and it strikes a unique balance between retro sensibilities and modern gameplay advancements. Well worth a play.
Child of Light
Best Things I Finally Played
Max & The Curse of Brotherhood