Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Best of 2014: Part Six

Welcome back to a very festive entry of my Best of 2014 list! We've finally cracked the top 10 games I've enjoyed this year; I hope you're excited because these ones are truly excellent.

Also, fun fact about this particular entry: neither of these games were released in 2014 at all! That being said, I played both this year and both ranked high enough in my memory to deserve spots on this list. So, without further ado, let's begin!

Actually, quick ado before we start: With the holiday fast approaching, I may not follow the schedule as written to this point and may move the next update to Monday: given that Thursday is Christmas I'm not sure I'll have the opportunity to put another update online until the following week. This may cause our previous deadline of January 1st to be postponed until the 2nd but fear not! I fully intend to complete this list in full!

Missed some of the list so far? Fear not!


And now, with that out of the way, back to your original programming:

10. Legendary (Upper Deck)
Legendary comes with an awesome board that allows
for easy setup and play. Well, easy play anyway...
Who doesn't love superheroes? Without getting into the big debate of Marvel vs. DC, or even the Avengers vs. the X-Men, most everyone can agree that the concept of superheroes is pretty awesome -- and why not? Having superpowers, vanquishing villains: everybody has dreamed about it at one time. There have been plenty of games, both digital and not, designed around superheroes but I have yet to find one that is as entertaining as Upper Deck's Legendary.

First and foremost, you should know that Legendary is a deck-building card game. What this means is that, as you play, you spend resource cards from your deck to "buy" new cards. These new cards are added to your deck and, when you play them, have bigger and better effects than your starting cards. This was a genre of board game pioneered by Dominion but has really been perfected in Legendary with the theme of Marvel superheroes.

Each card you can add to your deck are abilities from different superheroes and, given the theme, most revolve around defeating villains before they escape off the board. Complicating this are a number of different factors, chief among them being the Mastermind: representing the big bad guy of this particular story, the only way to win the game is to defeat the Mastermind before they can complete their evil scheme.

A game with tight mechanics and dramatic vignettes, Legendary is a staple in our home. Most nights with friends will end at 2AM, long after most people have gone, while me and a small few valiantly face off against Galactus or Apocalypse, teaming up Iron Man and Punisher in order to bring peace back to the world. Legendary is also a game with numerous expansions and spinoffs; just recently, they released a small box with the five Guardians of the Galaxy! How awesome is that!

Legendary is a game that intends to stick around for a long time and, given the amount of fun the box holds, I can't imagine it leaving anytime soon.

9. Gone Home (The Fullbright Company)
The game is set in the mid-90's, so expect some
dated references and culture beats.
Easily the most thought-provoking game on this list is Gone Home, an indie title with a gigantic heart. Released in 2013, it made a huge impression on both critics and consumers alike, almost entirely because of the masterful way it crafted a narrative through exploration.

As far as video games go, Gone Home is one that eschews all genre: it is a game from a first-person perspective but there is no shooting anywhere. There is exploration but only inside the confines of a single house. There is tension and suspense but it is not a horror. Really, the only real way to explain Gone Home is to talk about the narrative -- but discussing it somewhat ruins the experience. I really don't want to spoil it for anyone -- it's really that good -- but know that it is a powerful experience, one that has no true counterpart in the current market of games.

It is truly crazy how eery a normal house can seem
when you are exploring it for the first time.
To get a bit of an idea of what you'd be getting into, I'll explain the premise: you play a young adult, Kaitlin Greenbriar, returning home from a year abroad. The mansion where your family lives is expansive, detailed and empty except for you. You spend the entirety of the game exploring the mansion, finding ways to access different wings of the house, all the while finding bits and pieces of information that eventually form a story as to where your family is.

The game is spectacular and will stick with you for some time. The message at the end of the game is beautiful, if not delivered with a bit of a heavy hand. Nevertheless, it is worth the two or three hours it will take you to delve into the Greenbriar home and discover what has become of Kaitlin's family. Truly excellent storytelling is something that is hard to come by in video games -- any title that succeeds as spectacularly as Gone Home deserves to be in your library.

Part Six
Part Six is complete! Huzzah! As mentioned above, the next update most likely won't hit until the 29th -- but fear not! The list will continue and will finish by the end of next week. Until then, dear readers, I wish you all the happiest of holidays and a merry merry Christmas!

Missed any entries, or want to skip ahead? Check out the whole list here:


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