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Thursday, 8 January 2015

Editorial: Top 5 Video Games of 2014.

Getting this done early to post later, because Thursdays are always a slightly risky proposition for me.

Editorial: Top 5 Video Games of 2014.

So, in our rundown of top things of 2014, we've looked at music and TV shows. This one was a little more difficult. In all truth, I didn't play that many new video games this year. Some of that was a lack of interest, most of that a lack of time or funds. But from the looks of it, I did play enough to make this list a heavily contested one, with several games warring for the fifth and fourth spots, so without further ado, let's look at my top five video games for this year.

For reference, by 'of 2014', I mean 'games released in Europe in 2014.' If they were released earlier in the US or Japan, they still count for the purposes of this list. Just - burn that sentence into your memory before you read on. It'll be very relevant later.

5. Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII.

Ugh, this shouldn't be on this list. There is absolutely nothing worse than a timed puzzle in a game, and the idea of putting an entire game on a timer, with your only way to acquire more time being to use up time was absurd and awful and should have killed this game, this blighted progeny of two blandly terrible games, in its tracks.

But actually, I really did enjoy Lightning Returns.

I enjoyed mocking it too, but yes, I unironically enjoyed playing it, once I got the hang of it. It's not a game I'll ever play again, not least because I'd have to spend half an hour before each play session planning an itinerary, and that's probably not what most people think of when they think fun, but I appreciated that brief week we had together. 

... Ugh, god, it's a testament to how few games I've played this year that this is here.

4. Murdered: Soul Suspect.

Murdered: Soul Suspect was fun, but it outstayed its welcome pretty quickly. The simple, often repetitive gameplay was not backed up with an interesting enough plot to make it entirely worthwhile, and I didn't quite manage to finish it.

But it brimmed with potential, and it was an exercise in original thought that I appreciated. More game companies should partake of that pioneering spirit, preferably with somewhat more thought towards the actual mechanics of making something entertaining.

Not the worst game, not the best, but certainly a very original one.

3. Shin Megami Tensei IV. 

I haven't finished this game yet, but it's still earned a spot on this list. Had I finished it before writing this, it might have been higher, but alas I'm still working my way through it.

But it is a genuinely fascinating game, and one that's not nearly as hard as people have claimed it is, with an interesting and well-crafted storyline combining religion themed fantasy with soft science fiction, backed up by a main cast of four interesting, fun, engaging characters.

It shows its wear in places: Artwork for demons is clearly drawn haphazardly from a string of older games, and is thus wildly inconsistent in quality and style; the exploring-Tokyo-on-a-map sections aren't especially fun; the battle system can sometimes get a shade repetitive. But I did spend, like, five hours playing it last night, and only reluctantly stopped because I had to sleep, and that should tell you a lot.

2. Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire.

I established yesterday that I really like this game, and I can't imagine a year where that year's Pokemon game wouldn't end up in my top five, although perhaps not always this high.

A lot of people deride Nintendo for reasons which are totally not at all suspect, but while they have put out their fair share of dross, they also consistently produce high quality games, including the Pokemon series, and ORAS is a fine example of a remake that takes the strengths of what it's remaking and combines it with the advancements made since.

Really looking forward to Pokemon Pot and Pokemon Kettle, coming 2015.

1. Dragon Age: Inquisition.

Oh, come on, you guys all saw this one coming. Probably. 

I love me some Dragon Age, and some Bioware in general, and Dragon Age: Inquisition might just be my favourite in the series thus far. While it ended disappointingly (epilogue notwithstanding), it had a great story that was sweeping, epic and fascinated, and it did a fine job at making you feel like the leader of a powerful holy organisation that you built from the ground up.

The gameplay was well-balanced, if nothing exactly new, and a great OST and voice cast rounded out a gaming experience that I think might actually be the best game of 2014.

Also, we got to romance Cullen. I just really want to display him in a tank of scaldingly hot balsamic vinegar, you guys. I really want that.

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