Press Start’s GOTY Awards 2014: The Winners

Yesterday we looked at the team’s runner-ups for Game Of The Year. You can view those HERE. Today, we’ve asked each member on the team to list their Game Of The Year. We’ve decided to do this as our team is based all over the world and has completely different tastes in games. We felt that it’s much fairer to let everyone have their own opinion rather than choose just one game as a whole. We’ll then hand things over to you and find out our reader’s GOTY.

KEVINIn a year plagued with unfinished games, bugged up messes and the age-old microtransactions, Bayonetta 2 was a genuine saviour for me for 2014. Some of the best gameplay with a near-perfect combat system, a ridiculously over the top story with tongue firmly in cheek, one of the strongest heroines in gaming and perfect in how it handled all of it’s extra content (hint, not making any of it DLC). I never believed in one game being able to sell a console but the existence of Bayonetta 2 completely justifies the purchase of a Wii U.

After thinking long and hard about this one, I realised how hard it was to nail down just one game from this very busy release season as my game of the year. There were so many fantastic experiences but, honestly? There was one that stood out the most. One that surprised me and exceeded my expectations. Sure, Bayonetta 2 was a fantastic balls to the wall action game – but I was expecting that! Alien, on the other hand, was a whole other situation.

Isolation was a game developed by a developer who had previously only ever tried their hand at strategy games. It was releasing after the brand was arguably tarnished by SEGA and Gearbox’s abysmal Colonial Marines. And most importantly – it was releasing as a game in a genre that has previously been abandoned in place of a typical, almost Michael Bay-esque flurry of explosions and spectacle.

But no, Alien Isolation was a defiantly old school game. It subverted most of my expectations and brought my back to gaming when I was younger. I had to save manually. I had to savour those little victories where I’d complete a small amount of the game and then commit that progress to some kind of permanent record. And I had to do it all while being stalked by an Alien. Not the several hundred I gunned down in Colonial Marines, but a singular Alien who followed me and learnt what I did. It was a frightening experience that actually made me fear the Alien – something the films never actually did in their several decade run.

But it didn’t stop there – Alien: Isolation made androids scary. It made the act of walking along across a dilapidated and abandoned space station scary despite the lack of any impending threat. It nailed the atmosphere of the original film – perfectly emulating the lo-fi beeps and bloops of the equipment. It was ridiculously brave in it’s design and not afraid to alienate (sorry) people with it’s slower paced approach.

But even more important – it was authentic and genuine. It was a game clearly curated by fans for fans without compromise. And it’s because of this it remained to be my most memorable game of 2014 and one that I will no doubt recall for years to come. Absolutely fantastic.

Mario Kart is and always will be my favourite series, having played probably thousands of hours since childhood. While I enjoyed every game, nothing was ever as good as Mario Kart 64. That game felt like home to me, where I knew every shortcut, easter egg, cheat, etc. But then Mario Kart 8 changed all of that for me. Awesome character selection, a proper live recorded soundtrack, and the best Mario Kart track of all time, Mount Wario. However, looking back, the anti-gravity isn’t nearly as excited as I remember, but it’s still a welcome addition. And the extra DLC! This is the game I keep coming back to for a quick bit of fun.

This year, Bioware have once again created an another amazing entry in the Dragon Age series. The game has absolutely stunning graphics, new tactical ways to play, and a massive immersive world just waiting to be explored; Dragon Age: Inquisition almost easily clinches my Game of the Year vote.

As the world of Thedas begins to fall into darkness, your character awakens with a sketchy memory and the power to close demon-spawning Rifts that plague the land. Combine this with the uprising of dragons, and a war between rebellious Mages and Templars, it becomes your job to form the Inquisition and seek a means to an end for the terrible threats that plague a way of life in the land. Engage in tactical battles, romance characters and befriend others to strengthen your party’s power, and close the Rifts in order to bring light back to Thedas and save the land from destruction.

I’ve always thought that Super Smash Bros was the perfect portable game. For myself, I’m somebody who will play a game for half an hour, watch a TV show then play it again for another half an hour to an hour later on. I’m somebody who plays games in short bursts and that’s why I was extremely excited when Super Smash Bros was announced for 3DS. It’s amazing with just how much content Nintendo were able to fit onto the cartidge and still have the game feel so familiar. The game is even better on the NEW 3DS with the extra nub.

Fast forward a few months to the Wii U release and the series is taken to a whole new level. Never has a game looked this gorgeous and it’s just a glimpse into what we can expect from Nintendo over the next few months. The addition of Amiibo and a number of other modes make this the most definitive version of the game to date. Online is seamless and runs better than most these days which shows just how far Nintendo has come in the past few years. This isn’t the game that i’ve put the most time into and i’m certainly not a competitive Smash Brothers player by any means, but it just shows how great Nintendo are at creating entire experiences that are suitable for anybody.

Sunset Overdrive – I never anticipated this title to be so high up on my list for 2014, let alone the actual GOTY. Whilst picking a AAA title for GOTY may seem generic and non-inspired, the gameplay and wonderfully-executed satire of the writing made Sunset Overdrive a stand-out title for me, that combined many mechanics of games I’ve enjoyed in the past, wrapped them all up in a single package and added a plot that not only works to be over-the-top, but acts as a jab at videogame-design in general.

2013 was a year dominated by AAA games with a heavy emphasis on story – BioShock Infinite, The Last Of Us and GTA V to name a few. 2014 however – essentially the first year of the next generation – had a strong focus on the surge of indie rapidly flooding the industry and becoming a point of competition for both PlayStation and Xbox. Many of the triple AAA titles failed to meet the hype or were ridden with bugs and server errors that left many next-gen consoles dissappointed. However many of the indie titles emerging daily, often at fraction of the price of Ubisoft’s or Activisions releases, gracefully combined past inspiration with next-gen innovation and made our $500+ investments seemingly justifiable.

Rogue Legacy was one such game and for these reasons, and more, it deserves recognition as one of the best games of the year. It’s unique rogue-like formula, each generational hero born with different random attribute, disability, personality and level of flatulence provided both challenging gameplay and humour. The subtle social commentary on sexuality – homosexual hereos noticeably no different to heterosexual hereos – is a commendable touch.

Rogue Legacy
The fast-paced, ruthless gameplay is instantaneously fun but it’s challenge and the gradual progress you make through the upgrades you make to your castle are sink the hooks in. Streaming my struggles is some of the best fun I’ve had all year and the cross-save feature between PS4 and PS Vita felt like a long-awaited next-gen technological advancement finally a reality.

Rogue Legacy was a great escape in what was a busy year for me, as fantastic on the Vita as it was on the PS4. Whilst I waited for a connection to finally establish, I was always able to turn to Rogue Legacy.

After 40+ hours and several thousand OD killed, Sunset Overdrive has soared to the top of my 2014 list of best games of the year – no small feat considering some of the huge contenders it’s had to go up against. From its reveal trailer back at Microsoft’s E3 2013 press event through to its October release, I was kept eagerly anticipating this combination of Jet Grind Radio free-movement and classic Ratchet and Clank explosions-galore mayhem. And boy did it deliver. Sunset Overdrive is an absolute joy to play thanks to its fluid controls, varied missions, and lighthearted story. It is without a doubt one of this generation’s best gaming experiences.

Jake A
Initially Outlast released last year exclusively for the PC but was ported to the PS4 and Xbox One consoles throughout this year. I didn’t have the opportunity to play on PC so I jumped right on board when Red Barrels bought the game to PS4 in February.

Typically I’m not a horror fan in any form of media. I don’t see the point of scaring myself when there are enough real horrors in this world but something intrigued me about Outlast. Perhaps it was the idea that this was a true fight for survival being disallowed the advantage of weapons and being given a humble aid of agility, manoeuvrability and a night vision camera.

The eerie setting of a shady mental asylum was all too familiar but the life that was breathed into the world was remarkable. Red Barrels took the extra step by doing their research into a variety of mental and social issues and incorporating them into the patients of the facility, leaving each encounter with a patient a risky gamble to how they would react.

Crafted by a small Indie team with previous experience on some of the worlds biggest franchises, Assassins Creed, Prince of Persia and Uncharted to name a few. The team created the perfect system of lighting, atmosphere, gore and soundtrack (or lack of at times for those tenser moments).

I will always be thankful for manning up and tackling this torturous adventure, I struggled through it but only as I battled with my own paranoia. Never has a game given me this rich of an experience and it will be a long, long time before I forget it.

Jake B
Out of all the games realised this year and all the ones I was most excited for, I wouldn’t have thought I’d be choosing InFAMOUS Second Son for game of the year, but I think it is well deserved.

This game was one of the first titles to release for next-gen consoles, but gave us a glimpse of the power and potential the hardware could offer. The moment I took control of Delsin, was the moment I knew the level of awesomeness that would follow in the months (and years) ahead for gaming. The story was a great, fresh way to continue the foundation Sucker Punch had laid previously and the mechanics and gameplay really showcased the ability of new engines as well as the new-designed DualShock 4 controller and touch pad. I have only recently experienced other new titles that have satisfied my excitement and anticipation on top of really showcasing what next-gen gaming is all about. Yes inFAMOUS may be a AAA title, but considering a gaming year plagued by a variety of issues and the hyped games that left me disappointed, I think inFAMOUS Second Son set a personal benchmark of what I want and look forward to for the future of next-gen.

I sank so many hours into that game on my 360, not only online but into that story that just sucked me in. I found myself playing all three characters differently and explored Los Santos as much as I could. Rockstar somehow took a game that I instantly loved and made it better in every way possible. Even after a few days back into the story I have to stop what I’m doing and just take in how beautiful it looks on next gen. It just looks and sounds beautiful. The new story content, additional hours of new radio and the smoothness of the online play are a great incentive for returning players as well. It’s almost like a new game completely.