Eric Sandroni’s Top 10 Games of 2014

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Compiling these sort of “end of the year” lists is always difficult in the sense that you have to go back and check all the titles you’ve played and try to identify the ones that have personal meaning or the ones that have had some impact. But at the same time, it’s also great because it makes me feel good about all that work and it makes me really excited about all those games I haven’t had a chance to check out yet. As you can see, some of the games that are part of this list didn’t even come out this year, but Games Retrospect has always been about catching up on older games and sharing my thoughts. But enough chit-chat! These are the best games I’ve played in 2014.

10. Jazzpunk

I like things that don’t take themselves too seriously and that’s why Adult Swim is so appealing to me. Jazzpunk has a quirky and weird sense of humor, so if you like a game that goes bonkers every once in a while, you’ll be hard pressed to find something more bizarre than Jazzpunk.

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“Jazzpunk is a bizarre adventure that makes no sense and that’s what makes it so mesmerizing and undeniably charming.”

9. Papers, Please

Papers, Please was one of those games that everyone was talking about and describing it as a boring and repetitive indie game. They were right, but the game uses those elements to make something special. Although there’s a lot to take into account when it comes to mechanics, the story is where Papers, Please stand out.

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“Papers, Please is a monotonous and tedious experience, yet the game manages to convey one of the medium’s most inviting and impactful stories.”

8. Braid

If you’ve been following my website for a while, you’re probably tired of hearing about Braid. Braid uses the medium to tell a unique story and while a lot of people might have missed the point (it’s easy to forget about the story when the game makes constant references to classic platformers,) this is a game worth revisiting every once in a while. Also, I hope other developers took note of what Braid did and try to do something similar in the future.

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“Braid is an emotionally resonant experience that tries to convey a message through its mechanics and that’s an achievement in itself.”

7. Super Meat Boy

The first time I launched Super Meat Boy, I had to force myself to play the game for the purposes of review. But once I was playing the game, I completely forgot about the review, the outside world and all responsibilities. I guess it’s ironic that I had to force myself to stop playing, but Super Meat Boy is that kind of game.

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“Equal parts homage and genre-redefining platformer, Super Meat Boy is a brutally difficult game that you can’t help but fall in love with.”

6. Insurgency

Insurgency felt too ambitious. After all, this first-person shooter incorporates ideas from Battlefield and Counter-Strike. So at the time, I thought how can an independent FPS compete with those titles? The answer is by doing something similar, but something that feels completely different at the same time and that’s Insurgency’s biggest triumph. Everything you see in the game will look familiar, but the experience if playing it is unique. When I was reviewing the game, something that really surprised me was its healthy community.

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“The next Counter-Strike this is not, but Insurgency is still a terrific competitive first-person shooter that will keep you entertained for hours and hours.”

5. Final Fantasy III

The PlayStation Portable version of Final Fantasy III is a great one. It changes its audiovisual aspect enough to make it appealing to new players, but its core aspects are still here. There were times when I definitely hated this game and I mean really hated the game. But when I overcame some of the harder boss fights and when I finally saw the credits roll, I got the feeling that I did something that was well worth my time and that’s something I don’t feel very often.

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“Final Fantasy III is a role-playing game that no fan of the genre should miss.”

4. Half-Life

A lot has been said about Half-Life over the years, so that’s why it’s so difficult to write about the game. But if someone asked me to recommend them a first-person shooter on the PC, this is one I’d definitely tell them about. After all, Half-Life is one of the few titles that have aged remarkably well and one of the best games when it comes to telling a compelling story.

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“Even after so many years of its release, it’s easy to see what makes Half-Life such a revolutionary title.”

3. The Wolf Among Us

I really like Telltale Games. Something you just want to forget about complex mechanics and be part of a story and that’s exactly what their games offer. Before playing The Wolf Among Us, I wasn’t familiar with the universe of Fables, but once I launched the game I got lost in that world.

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“The Wolf Among Us is an absorbing point-and-click adventure game with a strong cast of characters and for that alone, no fan of the genre should miss it.”

2. Shovel Knight

Shovel Knight likes another cutesy platformer that looks like an NES title. It’s been done before and several times for that matter. But once you start playing this game, you realize that Shovel Knight is really special. Apart from its audiovisual aspects, there are many other elements that make Shovel Knight “feel” retro: the gameplay, the enemy design, the mechanics and the map will bring you back to the NES era. And once you’re there, you won’t want to come back to the real world.

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“Shovel Knight is like one of the treasures the main character finds inside hidden chests: this is a polished, bright and valuable gem you shouldn’t miss.”

1. Portal 2

The original Portal was a terrific game, but its sequel takes everything that makes the original Portal so good and runs with it. The single-player campaign is longer, there are exciting new mechanics, the voice acting is amazing and for the first time, there’s cooperative play. Without a doubt, my favorite part about Portal 2 is playing with someone else and trying to solve puzzles using two sets of portals. I can’t wait to see what Valve does with Portal 3, but until that happens, there’s nothing that compares to this entry in the series.

Portal 2 (Coop)

“Not only is Portal 2 faithful to the original, but also takes some concepts from its predecessor and improves upon them in clever new ways.”