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The year 2014 has been good to gaming. We’ve seen Ubisoft’s newest entries in the Assassin’s Creed Series, Unity and Rogue, (and seen them release, piled high with glitches). We’ve seen Bethesda’s The Evil Within redefining the Japanese horror-action genre, and also offbeat titles like Klei Entertainment’s Don’t Starve Together and South Park: The Stick of Truth become shining beacons of dark humour in gaming.
But what about the real game changers? The ones that went above and beyond the call of duty (or the insistent whining of entitled gamers, as the case may be); where is their trophy? Why it’s right here, and I made it, and it’s a very shiny one if I do say so myself. So here’s our roundup of five games in 2014 that broke the mould, threw away the chisel and baked delicious cookies instead.
Nidhogg is a two-player, side-scroller, where the players duel each other, and attempt to push to the opposite end of the arena to win the game. But, rather than Street Fighter-esque brawl fests, the game employs a one-hit kill mechanic that forces players to wait, dodge, fake and occasionally hurl their sword to achieve victory. If that seems to not have enough slashing (or MIchael Bay-esque explosions if you’re a COD player) don’t be fooled; the setup makes for fever-paced gameplay and truckloads of fun with the right gaming buddy. All of that combined with Nidhogg’s ‘80s-themed pixel art graphic style land this title square in our list.
Smite falls into a slightly less complicated category; MOBA (Massively Online Battle Arena). I know what you’re thinking. “What’s the meaning of this tomfoolery? Don’t you know that (insert MOBA title here) is the greatest because (insert nitpicky reason here)?” Now, every MOBA these days is alike in it’s basic outline. Top down, three lanes, jungle areas, and heroes and minions. But that’s exactly why Smite, though not yet as popular as it should be, is a breath of fresh air, and for just one reason. Third Person View.
When playing a MOBA, you’re now used to getting a bird’s eye and making sure you’re in range to attack and cast spells. But what if landing your attacks depended on your aim? What if that powerful ultimate you fired was rendered useless just because the enemy strolled behind you? (Yes, that’s happened to me, yes, it was as hilarious and infuriating as it sounds). The third person camera changes everything about how the genre controls and it does it well.
Bakasura from Smite
And it absolutely doesn’t hurt that Smite has a pretty strong India connect. Champions available for play are all gods and goddesses, picked from various pantheons, and Hinduism makes its appearance in the form of playable Kali, Agni, Kumbhakarna, Vamana, Bakasura and Rama. Other pantheons included are from Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Mayan, Norse and Chinese mythology. You can download the game free-to-play from it’s websitehere.
3. Goat simulator
Originally designed as a joke, Goat Simulator has come a long way ever since. The game puts you in the highly destructive shoes of a little goat and insists you get up to the most ridiculous shenanigans in its open-world environment. Headbutting partygoers across the front lawn, cruising to the local radio tower on your special goat jetpack, and….licking things… That’s totally a thing you can do in-game, by the way and, once you lick, no force on earth will be able to separate you from the object of your soggy affection. Another reason this game on the list is because of all the bugs in the official release version of the game. While this happens a lot in the gaming industry today, the bugs here were intentionally left during fixes, and that decision is to be thanked when you’re crying with laughter at your monitor. No game crashing bugs, but plenty that will make your little goat neck twist and swivel in Exorcist fashion.
4. Five Nights at Freddy’s
Five Nights at Freddy’s does a good job of teaching us all over again, what horror titles can be. No shooting, no hiding, and not even any running involved; minimalism is the name of the game. Sit at your desk in-game, as the night watchman, and pay attention to the security cameras, or the malfunctioning animatronics will get you. And all you can do is watch for them and close your security doors if they get too close. And you’d better not let your power run out, or you’re done for. Just the general air of helplessness the game thrusts you into makes this title pure gold.
5. Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor
Shadow of Mordor may seem like your typical RPG (Role Playing Game) at first look, and it does that part of the job beautifully, but there’s so much more hidden beneath the surface. The brightest gem, however, is the Nemesis system. With this feature, Orcs that you’ve encountered before will remember you, taunting you if you’ve lost to them before. And the orcs themselves aren’t just faceless drones. Leaders of each clan are named and marked for death by your hands and, should you succeed in your mission, you will see the clan’s hierarchy shift to to provide a new leader. For instance, you can mind control an Orc lieutenant and then attempt to kill his captain. Once that’s done, if you’ve played your cards right, your lieutenant can make his play for power, and you will hold an entire battalion in your sway. A lot of thought has been put into the mechanics of Orcish politics (both the direct assault takeovers and secret backstab coup kind) and it brings a never before seen depth to your enemies, and irreplaceable personalities for the Orcs.
Obviously, this game is worth a mention for it’s dual-mode combat system. While it’s been done before in games like Airmech never has it been done with this kind of flair. Play as a gun toting soldier, executing impressive parkour maneuvers with rocket boots, or call down a Titan mech to blow everything up real good.
Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare
This deserves a mention, not just for creating a decent arena shooter, but for actually being the first title to make a successful transition from casual gaming to hardcore multiplayer shooter. Where Plants vs Zombies was a linear tower defense, Garden Warfare is another beast entirely. Play as either the Plants or the Zombies in a team deathmatch, or in a co-op match to take down wave after wave of zombies.