Jazzpunk / Necrophone Games
Geoff Keighley’s new show, The Game Awards, will pick its winner for Game of The Year this Friday at 9 p.m. ET.
It will choose from its five nominees, which include: Bayonetta 2, Dark Souls 2, Dragon Age: Inquisition, Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, and Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor.
The problem is, that list is seriously lacking several of 2014’s best games. Here’s some more that may or may not be better than its choices, but can easily stand among them.
Jazzpunk is weird. Jazzpunk is simple. Jazzpunk is hilarious. Necrophone Games’ exploration-based, comedy game does what game are only now getting good at for its entirety. It’s witty, yet full of meta humor that isn’t cringe-worthy. It finds ways to subvert its ’70s spy movie aesthetic, while keeping a cohesive narrative. And it gives you meaningful control over how far its jokes go. Combined, all these things make Jazzpunk easily the funniest game of the year.
What it does best: The writing, animations, and mechanics are perfectly synchronized to make you laugh throughout the whole game.
The Banner Saga / Stoic
The Banner Saga
Dragon Age and World of Warcraft tell epic stories over a hundred hours, but The Banner Saga tells one in a fraction of the time with an effective combat system to boot. Stoic’s debut balances the weight of a world breaking apart and the emotional interpersonal relationships between its beautifully drawn cast of Norse-influenced characters. It’s turn-based combat is also really challenging and therefore rewarding, which is especially poignant given the tragic narrative it creates.
What it does best: An epic story with refined turn-based combat that will make waiting for its sequel incredibly hard.
I don’t know what events caused Sunset Overdrive to miss The Game Awards mark, because Insomniac Games’ latest is not only a return to form for the developer, but also an action game with an outstanding mix of traversal and shooter combat. There’s nothing like sliding, jumping, and bursting through Sunset City with some kind of absurd weapon in your hand blowing away packs of charging enemies. The weapon upgrades and and amp modifiers pressure you to keep changing your style and the clothing is, well, it’s great.
What it does best: A kinetic and refined traversal and combat system that supports however you want to play.
The Wolf Among Us / Telltale Games
The Wolf Among Us: Season 1
Technically, the first episode of Telltale Games’ first season of The Wolf Among Us came out last year, but since the rest of it hit this year, it counts for 2014.
At times, The Wolf Among Us is better than the well-praised first season of Telltale’s The Walking Dead. It’s tense, it’s evocative, and it’s magnetic. This is Telltale’s take on the noir-infused fantasy comic series and it nails everything from the tone to the themes. Being fairly recent, it also takes advantage of what Telltale learned from TWD and brings strong player-driven conversations and simple and effective adventure game mechanics.
What it does best: For what it lacks in systemic complexity, The Wolf Among Us makes it up in narrative and moral complexity with its powerful main character, Bigby Wolf.