Telltale Games

The 25 Best Video Games of 2014
The 25 Best Video Games of 2014

20

A Bird Story

As developer Kan Gao’s follow-up to the universally acclaimed To the Moon, A Bird Story meets all the expectations one might have based on the previous game, but not exactly the way one might expect. The same level of warmth and tenderhearted care of the previous game is here; the verbose poetry and musing To the Moon is not. Instead, the story is all in the visuals, in the experience of using your keyboard or joypad, and on a much smaller scale than its predecessor. The result is something of a digital Red Balloon, a perfect moment in time for a young, introverted latchkey kid who will never forget the best friend he ever had: a bird with a broken wing. It’s not necessarily a game that breaks new ground, but the amount of heart conveyed using the simplest storytelling tools is incredible.  Clark

The 25 Best Video Games of 2014

19

Never Alone

As a simple platformer, Never Alone would still be worthy of mention this year, as a beautiful game set in a unique place that takes full advantage of its environment. It would simply be a gentle, inviting change of pace for the genre. But Never Alone is more, as to play it is to hold a piece of heritage, something that only existed from the lips of elders to the ears of the young before this game gave it brilliant life. There’s a profound reverence to the Inupiat folklore told inNever Alone’s approximate four hours—a sense of their ideals, of the power in the retelling through the game’s omniscient narrator, of the respect for the frozen Earth little Nuna and her fox friend walk on, and what children were meant to take from the tale. The fact that a game is being used to convey all of that is breathtaking in its implications, and it makes what would have been a minor gem into something incredibly special.  Clark

The 25 Best Video Games of 2014

18

Persona 4 Arena Ultimax

We’re hopefully fortunate enough to make lifelong friends. But we can’t make mud pies forever; we adapt and find new ways to enjoy one another’s company. That’s Persona 4 Arena Ultimax, which takes the characters from Persona 3 and 4 and has them grow up a little bit, shifting from the conventions of an RPG to those of a fighting game, all while continuing to develop your favorite characters. Even as the game restricts combat to a two-dimensional plane, it expands the gameplay, with the ability to level up and modify character skills throughout battles in the Golden Arena and a customizable online lobby options (packed with likeminded, passionate fans). More importantly, each character now plays with their own unique mechanics (like Teddy’s bag of toy traps; Ken’s canine companion, Koromaru; and Junpei’s reflective baseball bat), and that personalizes them far more than the social-link conversations used to flesh them out in Persona. Riccio

The 25 Best Video Games of 2014

17

Dragon Age: Inquisition

It’s strange that what makes Dragon Age: Inquisition the best entry in BioWare’s fantastical role-playing series isn’t the dragons, the inquisition, or the many other well-done standardized RPG aspects that are laid out in this massive, minimum 80-hour epic of a game. No, what keeps this third Dragon Age installment in any 2014 Game of the Year conversation is the individualized experiences of anyone who’s fully given themselves over to the process of building metaphorical, person-to-person bridges in the fractured land of Thedas. To guarantee yourself worthy of the respect of those you meet along your journey, earning their trust and loyalty for the long run, is to carefully navigate a fickle latticework of personality quirks, idiosyncratic ticks, and prolonged incidental discourse. Yes, you can stick to the major routes, languishing in the distracting to-do list nature of the Hinterlands and beyond, but the true exhilaration available in Inquisition surfaces when meticulously forging enduring alliances, united in soul and purpose, with minimal extended inquiry necessary to break the ice.  LeChevallier

The 25 Best Video Games of 2014

16

Bravely Default

The legacy and cult status of Bravely Default was established so quickly that many who played it failed to realize its spiritual successor association to Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light. Stepping away from many of the trademarks of Square Enix’s prized property while also retaining an immense respect for the genre it aims to elevate (the JRPG), Bravely Default assertively and triumphantly ushers in imaginative ways to do battle with its easy-to-learn-tricky-to-master combat system and use of augmented reality. It’s unsubtly embedded in the atypical moniker: Brave, or Default. The former tactic is basically useless without the latter, which bypasses moves to store attack points to be expended later. This simple yet ingenious concept adds an astounding amount of complexity to each and every encounter. Bravely Default’s narrative is less innovative, but the aesthetic style (spearheaded by Squaresoft veteran Akihiko Yoshida) is quite the opposite. There isn’t another 3DS game that looks or sounds like this, and most likely won’t be until the forthcoming, eagerly anticipated sequel, Bravely SecondLeChevallier

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