If you follow some of us here at Counter Attack over on Twitter or listen to us on our little podcast CA! Radio then you will know that in 2014 gaming took somewhat of a backseat for me. As I continue furthering my training in school and improving my skills in coding and designing the amount of free time I had to complete games was minimal at best, but the games that I did enjoy in 2014 left lasting impressions.
From games that introduced me to entirely new genre’s to some that managed to make old ones feel fresh again; 2014 was a year of surprises and massive failures and one that was definitely interesting to say the least. Here’s hoping for an awesome 2015.
“Randy’s Top 5 Games of 2014”
If you listened to CA! Radio’s “Game of the Year” episodes, you might be under the impression that I hate this game, but on the contrary, Shovel Knight comes packed with heart and nostalgia and is just a fun game to play. I never played Mega Man to the extent as other gamers but I now understand what all the excitement is about. Shovel Knight blends smart combat with perfect platforming that combine to make it one of the best games of the year. It borrows from a plethora of games with a Mario style map to towns and backtracking similar to that of Zelda. At the end of the day Shovel Knight is a fresh new take on retro game design.
Whoa whoa, what? A first person shooter? Yes, that’s right! Titanfall did what Bioshock did last year and that was make an FPS fun to someone that usually can’t get into them. While Titanfall doesn’t have much going for it in terms of story it more than makes up for it with fun and intense multiplayer action. What a game! Respawn came back into the FPS scene fast and hard with Titanfall. A combination of Call of Duty’s naturally fast paced combat coupled with an ingenious parkouring system made Titanfall a very memorable experience for me. The cherry on top of it all and actually one of the bigger surprises for me were the mechs themselves. Having the Titans keep up with the rest of the fast paced gameplay was a game changer. I was expecting slow lumbering mechs but was instead introduced to Titans that were as agile and deadly as the players themselves. Titanfall is a great step for FPS games and I can’t wait for the next installment!
Oh, how I waited for Supergiant’s game. After an impressive showing with Bastion the team comes back with a game packed with great storytelling and imagination. Transistor sets you free in a world of mystery and intrigue while drawing you in with it’s beautiful aesthetic. Logan Cunningham brings back his amazing voice to narrate and once again, captures the game for us. The soundtrack to your adventure is perfect for this sci-fi world. It’s pretty funny as I started playing Transistor just as I began my dive into programming. Transistor’s code and world stood out to me and drew me in even more. Just like in Bastion the fighting style was a fun challenge to explore. There are 16 skills which are called functions (programming nod), that can be slotted with other functions to act completely differently depending on the combinations, adding extra depth to the combat. Combat in Transistor can be fought just as in Bastion or the player may opt to pause and set up attacks in a turn based manner. The latter is how I blasted my way through the game and what a treat it was! All in all Transistor sets itself up for many more playthroughs and is another hit from Supergiant Games.
I’m going to be unprofessional here and say “OMG! What a game!” Divinity captured thousands of lives last year by dousing hardcore PC role players with blissful nostalgia. Divinity could have been any standard hardcore RPG but the team at Larian Studios added a clever twist to the genre; requiring players to role play with a partner. Not just any old partner, but one that can disagree with you and shape your whole experience, for both good and ill. While the AI co-op is one of Divinity’s major draws, the combat is where the game reigns supreme. During most of the experience you’re at a level disadvantage and grinding is never an option. You must use your wits, the environment and the elements around you to tactically slay those that stand in your path. The best part is that it all works beautifully and the enemy will dish out the same treatment. Word to the wise, save a lot and tread carefully!
There was no game in 2014 that encapsulated “fun” more so than Hearthstone. First a nod to Blizzard for making an entry level card game that is both simple yet strategic and both fun and delightful. This game comes packed with character, from the Innkeeper to his ever present “Good day sir!”. Even in small doses the boards themselves are alive with charm. From launching boulders off screen and hearing them take out a goblin to creating colorful rainbows with a waterfall, all of the little details within Hearthstone are satisfying. But regardless of personality, when all is said and done card dueling itself has never been more rewarding than it is here in Hearthstone. The end goal is simple, take your opponent from thirty health down to zero. How you do it is entirely up to you and is the most satisfying part of the game. Some games can be won in four turns while others can be nail biters that come down to the last few cards. Just like my favorite competitive games the near limitless possibilities keep me coming back to Hearthstone time and again. Add onto all of this the fact the game is entirely free to play and Blizzard has made yet another landmark title.