Logo for Byte Magazine at Ball State University

Jake's Top Five Games of 2014

5. Super Smash Bros 

“Settle it in Smash!

I’ve always been in the mindset that it’s more fun to talk about Smash then to play it, the build up to the newest entry in the series is always filled with rumors and speculation that often times trump the actual game. But with Super Smash Bros I finally got the excitement for the series. Both the Wii U and 3DS versions offer up robust fighting experience with many different ways to play and just as many modes to explore. But perhaps the best thing Super Smash Bros is its full realization of its party game routes. Eight-player Smash and Smash Tour/Run feel like a natural extension of the games past and a bright sight of the future.

4. Broken Age: Act One 

“When you tire of child’s play, come see me.

One of the best parts of growing up is getting to make your own decisions, and one of the worst things about growing up is being responsible for them. Double Fine’s newest point-and-click adventure, Broken Age, follows two characters that make the first big decisions of their adult lives and suffer the consequences. And while that may seem like a cold setup, the game reveals itself to be full of life and humor. No other game this year has had me laughing one moment and on the edge of tears at the next. 

3. The Wolf Among Us 

“Do you even care about us?”

For a while there it was difficult to see how Telltale could possible top the wonderful First Season of The Walking Dead, but after playing TheWolf Among Us it was easy to see that they had made their masterpiece. Where The Walking Dead was centered on one mans journey, Wolf Among Us aimed for something grander by focusing on a town. And what a beautiful town it was, getting to build the relationships and systems that would come to define Fabletown was one of the most delightful experiences of the year. By the end of the game I truly felt like I had an impact of this place, and now I only wish to return to it sometime in the future.

2. Shovel Knight 

“A new adventure is about to begin…

As I said in my review for Shovel Knight, I’ve found this newest genre of gaming, retro revival, to be something of a catch-22. While its always nice to go back and experience something from the past, but more often than not these trips down memory lane offer nothing new in the way of advancements we’ve come to expect.  But Yacht Club Games pleasantly surprised me with Shovel Knight, a game that perfectly melds the past and present.  From its Dark Souls inspired death system to its meddling of Zelda, Mario, and even Ducktails mechanics the games biggest achievement is making every one of these things feel unique.  Shovel Knight is a very special game, and it signals a very bright future for Yacht Club Games future, just like Shovel Knight looks up at the stars after every boss, one can only imagine what comes next.

1.  Kentucky Route Zero: Act Three

“So, I guess I start in the morning”

The character of Cardboard Computers Kentucky Route Zero has accumulated their fair share of debt.  Loans, lost jobs and favors have put all their futures in the hands of those who control their debts. And with the third episode of the series, these characters finally have to admit they can no longer run from it anymore. To say anymore would spoil one of the most heartbreaking journeys to come to gaming in the longest time. What can be said though is Cardboard Computers have created a masterpiece of emotion and story as the journey of Conway and crew take is one that demands to be experienced. Every moment of Kentucky Route Zero: Act Three offers up something new to ponder and an extra layer to the world, and to single one out would be a disservice to the overall experience. No game this year has stuck with me to my very core like this one, and with three episodes remaining it will be a delight to see how Cardboard Computers tops it. 
Jake Doolin is the Podcasting Editor for BYTE