As the end of 2014 rapidly approaches, the time has finally come to look back on the exciting year that the video game world has had. With the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One finally beginning to hit their stride in full, dozens of outstanding new games to play, and a stellar slew of titles announced for the near future, the past eleven months have been some of the most rewarding and enjoyable in recent video game history.
Throughout the year, major publishers have released a handful of massive blockbuster video games. From new entries in beloved franchises to new IPs with unbridled potential, 2014’s games are sure to be remembered fondly in the years that come. While many of these games are destined to find themselves on many Game of the Year lists, it is important to remember that these past eleven months have brought the gaming world plenty of games that haven’t attracted nearly as much attention.
Be it due to a more niche genre, lesser known development teams and publishers, or having an unfortunate release window within the shadow of a blockbuster title, the games below represent the best – and most under appreciated – video game releases of 2014
Released in January for the PlayStation Vita, OlliOlli picks up the skateboarding slack where Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and Skate left off. The 2D title captured the attention of those pining for more radical skateboard sensibilities. Months after OlliOlli’s initial release, the indie title made its way to Steam, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360 and the Xbox One, ensuring that anyone wanting to shred could do so on the platform of their choice.
OlliOlli’s amusing mix of awesome tricks with arcade gameplay and retro-inspired graphics have earned it a place as an instant cult classic.
4) Freedom Wars:
Another PlayStation Vita release, Freedom Wars is a complex, yet rewarding action RPG that players can sink hundreds – if not thousands – of hours into.
Set in a universe where most humans are imprisoned, sentenced to live in penal colonies for absurdly long times for breaking strangely specific laws. Players take on the role of a character who has been sentenced 1,000,000 years simply for being alive. As such, the player character must complete missions, avoid infractions and fight to reduce the sentence as much as possible.
While certainly a strange premise, Freedom Wars is a surprisingly deep JRP with tons of content that ensures players will keep coming back for years and years and years.
3) The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky:
One of the most beloved and praised JRPGs series in recent years, The Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky trilogy has been considered a hallmark of game design and strong writing by those who played the Japanese release. Those without knowledge of the language (or access to a PSP to play the original North American release) were unfortunately left by the wayside.
This summer, Trails in the Sky made its way to a Steam release, with enhanced HD visuals, showcasing the brilliance of the game once and for all to a wider audience than ever before. Trails in the Sky is a must play for lovers of a strong narrative and RPG fans alike that has plenty to love. The best part about the game, however, is that it is only the first chapter in the trilogy.
Bastion developer Supergiant Games is one of the gaming world’s premier indie developers. The studio’s second game, Transistor had massive expectations to meet when it finally released. Fortunately for all, Supergiant rose to the challenge with Transistor, showing the world that lightening can strike twice.
Transistor’s jaw-dropping art style and exciting gameplay merged the divide between games and art, proving to those who played it that there are some seriously amazing games coming out of the indie world with each passing year.
Director Hidetaka ‘Swery 65’ Suehiro has built a reputation for himself based off of his knack for making some of the most bizarre and immersive games of the last few generations. Swery’s latest offering, D4, released exclusively for the Xbox One this year, blurring the line between absurdism and interactive gameplay while making solid use of the Kinect’s motion controls.
D4’s first chapter introduced the gaming world to the strange tale of David Young, a detective who is seeking out his wife’s murderer. With little information to go off of other than the killer’s name beginning with ‘D’, Young’s quest to avenge his beloved has him travelling through time in order to uncover any clues he can.
As expected, D4 is rife with crazy characters, nutty non sequiturs and memorable moments, making it this year’s most intriguing and underrated game.
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