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[22.02.2015]

The Top Ten Games Of 2014

Tom Breedveld

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A rift in the gaming community most certainly presented itself in 2014, and has turned into a full-blown schism, whose battles and discussions will be going strong for a long time. I am talking of course about what is colloquially referred to as ‘GamerGate’, the divide between those who suspected corruption in game journalism, even in the form of sexual favors, and wanted this to end, and those who believed the other group to be using a scapegoat to try and force out women and other undesirables in what they believe to be ‘their’ medium.

The good and honorable people of this, your favorite source for unadulterated opinions, have asked me before to write an article explaining what GamerGate entailed. I tried, and then declined, because I simply couldn’t write an objective piece about the matter, and there already are too few.

Misogynistic, racist scum

I have a strong opinion of course, but in the interest of always being the devil’s advocate – since so few are ever willing to take up the mantle, instead choosing to heedlessly follow the rabble just so that they won’t have to participate in one of those dreaded discussions where one might actually be pressed upon to present facts and arguments to make one’s case – I couldn’t just spew my discontent and let the fires of my fury roar… It wouldn’t be fair.

To show my true colors, I believe that games and gamers are nót all the horrible, misogynistic, racist scum that some media desperately wants to portray them as in the interest of keeping their foul games afoot, or simply because they believe those who scream loudest and know not what is going on but I also believe that this whole discussion will eventually be for the better, and whatever doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, and so on, and so forth, blah blah bleading hearts.

Unrepentant mediocrity

I always ramble on with these things, so I conclude with this, and start my otherwise concise list of the Top Ten Games Of 2014; games are meant to be fun, to teach, to help with life’s lessons and morals, to make us feel. They are books, movies, comics, plays, with the exception that we control them, that we get to live another’s life. Those were my criteria this year: to have made the list, you had to make me forget my tribulations, and prove that games were still fun and inspiring, not cold and bigoted. Because even without GamerGate, many game developers are still to blame for unrepentant mediocrity and penny pinching. Shame on DRM, shame on P2P, shame on Ubisoft and EA Games (what else is new).

If you will follow me this way, please:

10. Goat Simulator

You’re a goat. You can summon demon powers, fly from buildings with a jetpack, wreak havoc on a town full of dancing everymen, explore the many glitches that where left in the game on purpose. You can fuck about. It’s not the game we deserve, but the one we need right now. In a world of brown environments and characters who are constantly derided for failing to meet the politically correct standards, there isn’t much to say for being a goat and just wasting hours laughing your ass off – it speaks entirely for itself. Fun is on the menu again, and every argument against it can be answered with: ‘What do I know? I’m only a goat. Let’s get abducted by aliens!’ My Spanish friend, I thank you for introducing me, once again, to something silly to take the jagged edge off.

 

 

9. Octodad: Dadliest Catch

An octopus masquerading as a run-of-the-mill suburban dad with a loving wife and two tykes must act as human as possible to not be discovered. How he managed to father two children with a decidedly mammalian female is never explained.

The sequel to Octodad, this indie game requires the player to control four of the cephalopod’s eight limbs, which function as arms and legs, to complete simple household tasks that to the invertebrate are complex challenges, while avoiding the evil chef Fujimoto, who aims to expose and cook Octodad. The controls are hilariously impossible but never frustrating and the graphics and story remind you of the fantastically absurd Saturday morning cartoons you used to watch fervently. It’s short and very sweet, as no family was ever more full of bliss than this family is with their Octodad. Happy endings are even sweeter when accompanied by heartwarming middles and beginnings.

 

 

8. Child Of Light

I don’t care much for the gameplay of Child Of Light, but the game looks absolutely amazing. I love these 2.5D games where the environment and feel is more important than what’s actually happening on screen. It makes me forget myself, and lose myself completely in the worlds that have been set up for me. Limbo, Journey, Rayman Legends, you’ve gained a sister. From the lighting to the diegetic sounds, this game is a universe to be experienced.

 

 

7. Monument Valley

Mi hermano de otra madre introduced another indie game to me, Monument Valley. Inspired by Japanese minimalist art, this game mixes Escherian architecture with puzzle gameplay, and it works like a charm. Rack your brain to find the exit in this non-Euclidian architecture, and help a princess find her way back to a happier place. The music makes you feel as if you are perpetually inhabiting a music box, and the décors are stunning space ruins. A game for handhelds, you can play it on the go, which the short levels will attest to.

 

 

6. Alien: Isolation

Ridley Scott is making Prometheus a trilogy, and has plans for new Alien-films. And there’s finally a good Alien-game, that holds the series’ claustrophobic atmosphere to heart and revives the long-dead survival horror genre. I need my brown pants for this one, and it makes me giddy. To top it off, it’s from Sega. How ‘bout that.
You play as Ellen Ripley’s daughter, searching for her mother after the events of Alien. You are stalked by a single predatory alien, and you need to hide. There are no gunfights, explosions or nunchucks; there’s you, something that means to kill you, dark, empty corridors with flickering lights, and the occasional feeling of safety which is quickly plucked away from you. Horror as it should be, while being new and refreshing.

 

 

5. Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes

A birthday gift from a good friend, I’ll admit I was not looking forward to this game. But when said good friend popped it in for a cooperative play session, I was amazed. A prequel to the fifth part of the Metal Gear series that is coming soon (fifth only in name, not counting the numerous spin offs and expansions), by Hideo Kojima and the Konami company, the game fixes everything that made me unable to enjoy the series. The story is worthy of a Usual Suspects type of movie, the characters and dialog are ironclad, and the gameplay is intense and asks all of the player. I felt like a true Cold War spy while playing, and I wanted to get to know these characters. Fine writing, superb directing, and I for one cannot wait for the real fifth part to soon come out.

 

 

4. South Park: The Stick Of Truth

Censored because it was too vile. Overall completely absurd. Best time I have ever had with a game. What the fuck did you expect, moral guardians? It’s SOUTH PARK.
Always meant to judge, belittle and question the status quo, the creators themselves finally took it upon them to create a South Park-game that captured the essence of the show and the medium that was being used, and they more than succeeded. Hilarious and oh so wrong, I can’t decide if flinging my shit at Kim Kardashian’s aborted Nazi fetus, or getting assraped by aliens with big black dildos made me laugh harder. Drawn in true South Park style, this game fits the list perfectly, since it’s a game for gaming’s sake. It’s so good, it’s surprisingly enormous, and if it isn’t your thing, fuck off. Go do whatever you erroneously perceive to be more fun, and stop bothering me.

 

 

3. Sometimes You Die

Set to a haunting melody, this black and white minimalistic game with a Microsoft Sam-voice over is so unknown, it doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page. You play a cube who must kill himself over and over so that his reincarnations can use the discarded corpses to progress through the levels. I immediately fell in love with the philosophical and depressing view on games the robot voice confided in you. Why do you kill yourself to progress? What do you hope to gain? Doesn’t this detach from reality?

Maybe I’m just waxing philosophical, but I like that stuff. I like dream sequences and hell, last year The Stanley Parable was my number one game. I live with an engineering student roommate, and while he’s receptive to these games, his college friends most certainly were not. It’s a way of thinking, I suppose, a romanticized and often cynical view that the arts only reveal to those who look for it. Whatever it is, I’m glad I’m a part of it. It doesn’t hurt to stop and ask ‘What did I learn?’ after playing a game or watching a movie, and the good ones provide an answer.

 

 

2. P.T.

Konami is making another Silent Hill game! Directed by Hideo Kojima and Guillermo del fucking Toro! With Norman Reedus as the main character!

After many an American mishap (leave Japanese horror to the Japanese, you morons, or at least stop westernizing everything), Silent Hill is back in the game. P.T. is no more than a playable teaser for Silent Hills coming out next year, but I’m counting it as a fucking game, because I was scared shitless and simultaneously surprised by the amount of atmosphere walking through a corridor could have. The Eraserhead-baby in the sink will haunt my nightmares for years to come. It is indeed a good year for Konami, and these are just the previews, so expect the full products to be on my 2015 list next year. There is simply no other possible outcome.

 

 

1. BioShock: Infinite; Burial At Sea; Episode 2

Okay, so my top two entries are sort of cheats. Not my fault, they should have made better games. And I don’t care about Bayonetta 2, Borderlands was okay, The Evil Within sucked balls, so those did not appear. No, the absolute best gaming experience of 2014 had it all: a bit of nostalgia, a solid ending to a series I hold dear and learned to take my first true gaming steps with, a wonderful film noir feel that many a film noir could not reproduce, creepy gameplay and stunning underwater décors, guest stars from the first game… I am talking about the second part of the downloadable extra content for the second sequel of BioShock; BioShock: Infinite – Burial At Sea – Episode 2.

My list from last year included the core game, BioShock: Infinite, where we were introduced to a interdimensional traveler named Elisabeth. In Burial At Sea we find out that she has misused and lost her powers and is now stuck in Rapture, the city at the bottom of the ocean, featured in the original BioShock. She wants to save a little girl, but gets mixed up with all the villains from the first game, and finds out that her actions will define all the events that have happened and have yet to happen…

The very bittersweet ending was the only possible ending for a series that mixed Ayn Rand with time travel and Occupy-movements. All the loose ends are tied up, and you as a gamer are once and for all shown what BioShock tried so hard to teach us: Your actions dó matter, if only for yourself. But perhaps, for some others too, if we try very hard, and really strive.

 

 

This lesson is what every gamer, hell, every person needs to hear now and then. It’s a comforting notion, especially in these trying times where everybody simply wants to hate, and unleash their rage. I paraphrase Alan Moore when I say that our integrity will always be our final inch.

Rests me to thank you for sticking it out with me, and I hope to speak with you soon. The exit is on the left. I trust you can let yourself out?

Tom Breedveld (1994) is filmwetenschapper by day, crime-fighter by night. He’s also a smart-ass.

Tom Breedveld, 22.02.2015 @ 15:22

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6 Reacties

op 22 02 2015 at 15:46 schreef Murat:

Ho Tom,

WAIT a minute!

No mentioning of Divinity: Original Sin!?
That’s a sin my man!

And Resident Evil HD Remastered is also worth mentioning. A remaster of the great classic itself!

Love this topic by the way.

op 22 02 2015 at 15:55 schreef Ana:

Wat zijn goeie Spaanse links om te gebruiken in de klas?

op 22 02 2015 at 17:07 schreef Bertje:

Mooie lijst.
Als gamer van het eerste uur, ik kom uit de zx 81 en vic 20 tijd heb ik genoten van alien isolation een geweldig spel.
En ik deel je conclusie dat the evil within wel heel erg tegen viel.
Leuk om op FN weer eens een game item tegen te komen.

op 25 02 2015 at 20:52 schreef Maurits Burgers:

Goat Simulator had eigenlijk op 1 moeten staan … Hulde voor deze rijke cultuurtoevoeging. It’s all in the games

op 25 02 2015 at 21:29 schreef Maurits Burgers:

Ik schreef eens een parlingo gedicht over GTA V:
In GTA 5

invisibility is irritant
als je dat maar voor een tijdje kan
nee ze slapen
maar dat die hond dood is
die kan er niet voor kiezen
om te sterven
die heeft geen keuzes
ook juist in een game man
ben je invisible of invinceble
make it rain
cheat verpest het gozer
zal ik er daytime van maken
met sunny rainbows
of doe yoga
gaaf
shit weer een cult waar ik bij kan
you can do this you can do this
andere radio please
review your tactics
soon for practise
je vernielt die man zijn oogst
mijn god de factory farm
goeie muziek ook op East Lost LA
wat de fuck kijk op de map
hoe kun je daar ooit uitkomen
wat doe je wat doe je wat ben je dan
Wat ben je aan het doen
nee pap dat zei die vrachtwagenchauffeur
dag uit
supervet
saved
kan ik naar bed
in GTA 5

op 01 03 2015 at 00:20 schreef Maurits Burgers:

Helaas geen weerwoord.
lul ik tegen mijzelve, helaas is het reactiepanel koest. of reactie?

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