Best indie game (smaller priced games that we loved (i.e. no more than $20)

Winner: Nidhogg

It was tough for me to reflect back and think of all the indie games i’ve played last year but the one that resonated with me was Nidhogg when I played local co-op with Ricky. It really brought me excitement that you can only get when playing with someone next to you. Ricky and I went back and forth (although in the beginning I was terrible) but there were some laughs, tears and victory celebrations.

Best game that’s available through early access (games that are not quite finished but are fun so far)

Winner: Prison Architect

While this game has been available for a while now, this is the poster boy for how early access should be done. Frequent updates and completely transparent with its plans for the future. I had taken a couple of month off from this game and when I dove back into the game I was greeted with a plethora of new concepts, items, game play mechanics, etc. This has been the only game where I have watched Youtube after Youtube video from its creators explaining how the new concept works and why they believe it should be in there. If you have not played this game in a while it is definitely time for you to jump back in. Being able to imprison min, med, and max security prisoners and keeping them happy and alive is quite a daunting, yet satisfying task. Of course, when all hell breaks loose that’s when the fun really starts. Attack dogs and armored guards with shotguns can only do so much and it really requires strict strategic thinking from the get go.

Runner Up: The Long Dark

This was a great atmospheric game that gripped me for a couple of hours. Battling against no one but only against the elements (and maybe a wolf or two) with limited resources was challenging and fun for a while. There needs to be some additions as it is still early access but I believe that the direction it’s going in is fresh and interesting. Go Canada!

Most Interesting Gaming Moment

Winner: South Park: The Stick of Truth

While I can’t narrow down any specific moment, there are many instances in this game that I could not forget. Some were small like how your dad makes fun of you for not talking to him “Hey, well, yeah, thanks dad!” and some were large like how your parents are having sex, or being inside Mr. Slave… Without really spoiling a lot I have to say that the game was truly memorable all the way. The references to previous episodes and the pandering to the fans was truly epic this time around. It was wholly satisfying and it was one of the first games of the year I played start to finish as well as getting all the collectibles, extras, etc. This game set the benchmark for how all crossover media should be judge. Matt and Trey really hit the nail on the head in this epic game.

Runner Up: This War of Mine

I was down to one meal, no bandages, and two fellow survivors injured and in bed. I had no choice but to steal — even if it was from an elderly couple. At first, I had no remorse as I was in “video game” mode. But the aftermath and the effects it had on my survivors trickled down to me. Could I have survived another way rather than breaking in and stealing all their food? I left them alive but my intuition told me that they wouldn’t be able to survive without the goods I had stolen. Later on, revisiting the house to pick through the remaining items I had left behind proved to me that my intuition was right.

Best Art Style/Graphics/Prettiest/Nicest Looking

Winner: Wolfenstein: The New Order

The graphics in this game look amazing. It’s a shame I need a computer upgrade. I can already tell that if my PC was top of the line this would a game to behold. Regardless, the details (even on my computer) in the game are quite realistic and the imagery is haunting. The start of the game has some of the best graphical details I have seen in a very long time.

Funniest Gaming Moment

Winner: South Park: The Stick of Truth

Again, I cannot narrow down specifics because there are many, many funny moments in this game. From the City Wok owner, Tuong Lu Kim doing his Chinese war dance (as an ally) to Mr. and Mrs. Poo getting into a drunken fight, to the Nazi dogs (and random shouting), to getting into fights with the underpants gnomes while dodging your dad’s balls … South Park: The Stick of Truth had some truly funny moments. And some things you cannot unsee.

Game I want to see a sequel to

Winner: Dead State

I liked Dead State, for the first 10 hours. Then it got increasingly tedious without reward. I know RPGs have some slow grinds but after setting people’s work schedules and heading into the world to scavenge — rinse and repeat. It got boring. However, there is something to be said about how the game approaches the zombie apocalypse. It’s not about combat but the politics indoors.. where the real monsters are the people you’re surviving with. I want to see another Dead State but with a more incentives and meaningful rewards. Also, if they could speed up the AI that would be great. Pretty sure that’s where most of my time got spent — waiting for slow shuffling zombies to step up to the plate before I bashed their heads in with a sledgehammer.

Game I never want to see again

Winner: Dungeon Keeper (Mobile)

EA took the pay-to-play model on mobile and made the worse possible game using Dungeon Keeper skin. You want to make a room? Use this currency. You want to speed the process up? Use this currency that you can only buy with real money. Oh, by the way, after you complete one room the wait time goes up hours at a time. Yeah. Pass.

Best Audio

Winner: Tropico 5

There is something that gets my heart pumping when I am fighting rebels while listening to happy island music. I think the best and shortest way to describe my feeling is watching Victor Cruz (previous 2014) catching a TD and doing a salsa dance. “Just created an oil refinery and am rolling in cash…. time to boogie!”

Biggest disappointment

Winner: Thief (2014)

This was one of the only games I preordered all year. I quickly learnt my lesson. I could not even play this game for longer than an hour before becoming bored. Truly a disappointment for a huge fanboy of the series. The movement made me feel like I was playing a platforming game and it felt truly gamified without any immersion that the previous titles had. This game stole my trust. Bad thief! That’s a very bad thief.

Biggest surprise (in games in general or a specific game)

Winner: Middle Earth: Shadows of Mordor

This game was no where on my radar. Ricky told me about it and I was skeptical. Boy, was I wrong. This game was incredible. The nemesis system truly created a unique experience for every player and was the perfect incentive to not die. If you do die, rest assured that the Uruk who killed you has risen in rank and depending on what they were already may be next in line to be a personal guard for the Warchief — making your life all the more harder to kill him the next time. The combat was similar to that of Batman or Assassin’s Creed but fit the bill perfectly. I am by no means a huge fan of LOTRs but it was a very enjoyable game in that world. Of course the end was TERRIBLE, but hey, you can’t win them all. You can however, bind all the Uruks to your side and have them turn against their Warchief at the right moment or poison their Grog and watch them all beat each other to death. Both are good options.

Game I’m most looking forward to in 2015

Winner: Dying Light

For some reason I cannot shake my love for zombie games. Combine the running around that Mirror’s Edge + Brink and the survival aspects with RPG elements for stats and loot and you got me hooked. I can’t wait to try this out with some peeps. The whole aspect of being the hunter in the day and the hunted at night really appeals to me and brings an edge that a lot of FPS lack these days in my mind. Techland has really expanded the zombie concept and the whole parkour aspect leaves me curious while slightly aroused.

Best co-op game/Multi-player game

Winner: Insurgency

I believe this only hit steam in 2014. If not who cares? It was really fun to play this with Gamentary peeps. It was reminiscent of SWAT and Rainbow 6 with some CS sprinkled in there. This game was more fun with people and the challenging nature to complete the map with a buttload of enemies made this my favorite co-op AND multi-player game.

Runner Up: Gauntlet

I only put this here because of the hilarity that is fighting to keep the crown at the end of each map. Damn you Preezie!

Most addictive game

Winner: Dead Rising 3 (PC)

Dead Rising 3 wins this category for me because I could not stop playing this game until I had finished the story. I wanted to see it through and could not wait to see all the toys I could make for zombie killing. The graphics, audio, and gameplay all earned positive marks from me. Thank god they remapped the AI friendly controls and allows moving and shooting. There was not a VERY rushed timer in the game which allowed me to still complete all the story missions while leaving me enough time to put Blanka heads on zombies and throw cds at them while I stood on a car. It’s the little things really.

My dirty little secret game (which game were you most ashamed of liking?)

Winner: Breach & Clear

Breach and Clear is so simplistic yet I could not stop playing it for a while. Leveling my operatives up and buying better guns to clear the same maps over and over again became an obsession. Of course, this game has been around a long time on mobile and was ported over to PC. So why was I playing it? I had already bought it on my Android a year ago. All I know is that I yearned to play some old school Rainbow 6 map preparation and it was a blast.

Best handheld / mobile game

Winner: Biz Builder Delux

We mind as well call this the Kairosoft category. This game is a combination of other Kairosoft games: Game Dev Story, Magazine Mogul, Dungeon Village, Cafeteria Nipponica, Pocket Clothier, Mega Mall Story, The Sushi Spinnery, etc. Biz Builder packs all its predecessors into one neat little mobile game. You manage multiple businesses (Games, Magazines, Clothes, Bakery, Food Stalls, etc) and everything in them: Staff, Products, Research, Items AS well as the City and Mayor. Want to bring more people to your store? Influence the Mayor to cut taxes, build an airport, and throw the Olympics in your backyard. There is tons of replayability and it’s 8 bit goodness is still awesome.

The 2nd Annual Wall Punch Award (which game made you so frustrated that you wanted to throw a controller or punch a hole in a wall?)

Winner: Dead State

Considering that I want a sequel to this game can’t mean its all bad. I’ve done a pretty good job of not playing games that make me want to punch a wall this year but I put Dead State here too because the combat mechanics are just awful. It’s slow, boring, and at sometimes a stall. Even if you can’t see the zombies there is a little loading button that doesn’t allow you to move but you are just waiting for their movement (or at least I think something is going on there). I have read that the creator had really released it out of early access without completing it… it is scary to think of the future implications for the gaming industry if this happens to be the norm.

Best 2014 Game

Winner: Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor

Say what? Lord of the Rings? Mordor? These all used to be foreign words to me. I actually had never even watched any of the movies (that has changed since playing this game). ME: SoM is a conglomerate of all the best pieces of open-world games anchored by the best AI hook: The Nemesis system. I actually got 100% in this game. I went after every collectible — ANYTHING to kept me playing this game. The enemies all seem to be unique and randomly generated so you could replay this game forever. There are multiple ways to attack the enemy and I found myself testing out each one just so I could add it to my already large bag of tricks. If this is what LOTRs games are going to be like after 2014 — well just consider me a long-term fan of the series.

Runner Up: Wasteland 2

Wasteland 2 was a great distraction away from current games. It’s old school mechanics and style really brought me back to the days of Fallout 1 and 2. The story is given to the player through a lot of text so each dialogue is something special and you need to pay attention to it much closer than most modern games. Wasteland throws in some Xcom-like combat, hardcore RPG stat crunching, sweet phat loots, and throws you in a post apocalyptic wasteland that has all the makings of a depressing, yet great and memorable time. My god I always needed bullets.

Runner Up: This War of Mine

Speaking of depressing. Yeesh. This is one of my recently played games so the wounds are still fresh. I made it to day 41 and each day was a struggle. I think it is rare for a game to be so struggling and for me to constantly want to dish that punishment out on myself. But This War of Mine really has its hooks in me. Everything in this game is emotional. Who do you feed? Who do you rob? Who do you kill? Who do you give bandages? Do you help your neighbor? Do you trade food for resources? Should I drink the alcohol to make me forget that I just murdered 2 elderly people or do I sell it for ammo because tomorrow night you know the gangs are going to come back and try to steal all your belongings? You face hard questions every day and at night you face the hard questions of what to do. I lost my first person to a lethal wound that I got defending the shelter during a gang raid. I lost my second person to frostbite in winter because I ran out of fuel to heat my make-shift stove. My third person became broken from killing innocent people and could not bear the guilt and ran away taking some essential supplies. With only one person left I only could survive a couple more days until I finally met my demise from an untreated wound. Truly a gripping game with depressing consequences.

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