In the past, Invisible Gamer has published individual Game of the Year lists from our various editors and contributors, which we believe offer a look at the effect such diverse tastes can have on a ranking system. While we still published those this year (six of them, in fact!), we decided our larger staff gave us a great opportunity to publish our first official Invisible Gamer Top 10 list. To settle on these 10 games, every Invisible Gamer staff member ranked their favorite games of the year, which were then assigned points based on where they were in the lists. The top 10 vote-getters make up Invisible Gamer’s Top 10 Games of 2014!
10. Wolfenstein: The New Order
“For a game that needed to prove that it can go toe-to-toe with the biggest shooters in the industry, Wolfenstein: The New Order pulls it off like a veteran who has done it countless times. It’s a blast to play, delivering tons of set piece moments that don’t feel at all stale or trite, and I was genuinely interested in the plot from beginning to end. MachineGames might have been tested and scrutinized with its first game being from such a well-known franchise, but I can say with complete certainty that Wolfenstein belongs to them.” – Gabe Gurwin
9. Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call
“Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call is one of those games that completely blows its predecessor out of the water. Curtain Call basically remakes the first game while adding in an enormous amount of content that any fan of the Final Fantasy series will swoon over. What makes the Theatrhythm series so special is it allows us to re-live our favorite moments and memories from this beloved RPG series that’s been going for over 25 years. With over 200 tracks from the franchise, and DLC expanding into other Square titles, you can spend dozens of hours playing without experiencing every song. With a catalog of gaming’s greatest music, there’s so much to enjoy for fans of Final Fantasy and rhythm games that it keeps you coming back for more.” – Austin Clark
8. Child of Light
“Even the world of Lemuria is inviting, despite the undertones involving death and loss linked into the story. The art style is almost watercolor, and during dialogue we get a chance to see the major characters up close and in beautiful detail. As Aurora flies across the screen, it’s a smooth, graceful feeling, and the music of the game just adds to the atmosphere. Composer Coeur de Pirate’s soundtrack starts with simple piano melodies which grow into an expansive, epic orchestral sound.” – Amy Elyse Brighter
7. Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
“Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor is not only one of the best games of the year, but also one of the best surprises. The game introduced the Nemesis System, which randomly generates an orc hierarchy with different strengths, weaknesses, and personalities for you to take out in any order or manner. The organic randomness of these orc encounters, coupled with excellent gameplay that combines the best elements from Assassin’s Creed and Batman: Arkham Asylum, makes Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor stand out as one of the best-playing games of late.” – Jonah Ort
6. Far Cry 4
“Pagan Min, Ajay Ghale, and the large supporting cast aside, the real star of Far Cry 4 is Kyrat itself. The map is covered with mountains, lakes, caves, forests, and Eastern architecture that create an environment unlike anything the series has seen, but the aesthetic differences are the least important change: this is one of the densest open worlds in recent memory. You can’t go more than a hundred meters without running into a new area to explore, a convoy to fight, or a quest to complete, and these are as dynamic as they are varied.” – Gabe Gurwin
5. Super Smash Bros. for 3DS and Wii U
“Super Smash Bros. is a series that, at its worst, is a fantastic museum celebrating all the creativity and fun Nintendo has built over the last 30 years. At its best, it’s a massive fighting game, packed to the brim with content, that provides endless hours of fun. The newest entry to the series introduces a handful of welcome changes, as well as making the series’ first jump to handheld consoles. And it’s an overwhelming success. The gameplay is smooth, the content is massive, the humor is spot-on and the online is exactly what the series needed. And you’d be hard pressed to find a game that caters to so many different skill levels and flavors of Nintendo fandom.” – Seth S. Scott
4. Sunset Overdrive
“Sunset Overdrive is the anti-AAA game — it’s a brash, colorful, hilarious, and even whimsical take on the open-world genre, but even as a new franchise, it has the same coat of polish I’d expect from a focus-tested series in its seventh iteration. It’s this refinement of insanity that is most remarkable, and for a game with influences ranging from Tony Hawk to Dead Rising, I’m astounded at how well the team pulled off the final product. Sunset Overdrive is pure dumb fun, and while only time will tell if the game will be a system-seller for the Xbox One, it damn well deserves to be.” – Gabe Gurwin
3. Dragon Age: Inquisition
“The world of Thedas is created with quite a bit of care. There is an incredible amount of detail in the lore of the world, and you are constantly picking up different items that will teach you about the varying cultures that have crossed the continent. The varied landscapes of the different regions bring with them flora, fauna, and minerals that can be hunted and collected to complete various improvements to your base of operations. The scenery is beautiful to look at, and there are small details left to be appreciated. When selecting your companions for a trip, or even when you are creating your character, you choose from a hand of cards, beautifully created to represent your choices.” – Amy Elyse Brighter
2. Shovel Knight
“Shovel Knight is a tremendous success story for Yacht Club Games — one that validates not only the power of a unified vision, but also the determination to dive into the great unknown when that vision isn’t being supported by publishers. It’s challenging in a way that few games are anymore, yet accessible enough for players enticed by its quirky take on swords, sorcery and medieval times. It’s a feast for the eyes and ears that hearkens back to yesteryear while not being slavishly dedicated to preserving pointless design limitations for the sake of nostalgia.” – Michael Burns
1. Mario Kart 8
“Mario Kart 8 is a near perfect culmination of everything that Nintendo has ever done right with the series, with all of the great high level play of the recent portable entries and none of the casual kowtowing that ruined the Wii version. But it’s more than that; it’s also a gorgeous reminder that as long as there’s an audience for it, Nintendo will keep putting out the kind of games that bring people together. If that sounds like the kind of world you want to live in, you don’t want to miss this.” – Michael Burns
But wait, there’s more!
Here are Invisible Gamer’s picks for the best graphics, audio, multiplayer, and narrative in 2014, as well as our biggest disappointment!
Best Graphics: Mario Kart 8
Photorealism does not necessarily equate to quality, and Mario Kart 8’s incredible aesthetic appeal proved that in 2014. Nintendo games have never looked so good as they do on the Wii U, and no Wii U game has been quite as beautiful as Mario Kart 8. The game’s graphical brilliance only benefits from the improved technical capabilities of Nintendo’s first HD console, but the artistic choices that went into Mario Kart 8’s vehicle and track design ultimately propel it past the dark and gritty worlds that are present in the medium.
Best Audio: Super Smash Bros. for 3DS and Wii U
Super Smash Bros. for 3DS and Wii U is the best entry in the series, and one of the things we love about it is its soundtrack, which features the best music from nearly three decades of Nintendo classics. Game director Masahiro Sakurai wasn’t joking when he said the full soundtrack would cost more than the game itself; with over 400 songs to enjoy, including original arrangements, remixes and newly orchestrated takes on the old standards, you’d be hard pressed to find a song that doesn’t ring a nostalgic bell. But it’s not all just about nostalgia — nearly every single track is downright incredible. Some of our favorites: re-arranged takes on the original Tetris themes, funky modern Mega Man mixes, the Theme of Love from Mother 3, and pretty much every Zelda song. Smash’s soundtrack is made up of songs that we’ve heard countless times over the last 30 years, but we still can’t help but smile when we hear them playing in the background while we’re smashing our buddies into oblivion.
Best Multiplayer: Super Smash Bros. for 3DS and Wii U
Super Smash Bros. is one of those games where, if you’re lucky enough to find the right group of friends to play with, you never, ever want to think about playing anything else. For those of us who find it increasingly difficult to get a Smash game going (being an adult sucks, kids … never do it!), Super Smash Bros. for 3DS and Wii U makes it easier than ever to enjoy the chaotic revelry, thanks both to its online multiplayer that finally works (most of the time), and to a first-ever portable version that means you never have to lug around a backpack full of plastic and silicon just to get a few matches in. This Smash is more accessible, more finely tuned, and just plain more fun than it’s ever been, and that’s why it’s our favorite multiplayer game of 2014.
Best Narrative: Valiant Hearts: The Great War
It’s not the death that makes a war story so powerful, but the life. Ubisoft Montpellier’s tale of serendipity and unlikely comradery exemplifies this better than any other “mature” game to come out this year, all while managing to avoid the more disturbing elements of combat. Make no mistake: Valiant Hearts is not a “family” game, but its anti-war message shines through brighter because of the attention it plays to all of its characters instead of the carnage surrounding them. The moral ambiguity of World War 1 — at least relative to its “sequel” — is a topic never before explored in a video game, and Valiant Hearts tackles it with ease.
Biggest Disappointment: Destiny
If Destiny delivered on what it made itself out to be before release, it could’ve easily been our game of the year. Promises of exploration, meaningful loot, and a rich story had Destiny poised to be an incredible experience. Unfortunately, Destiny failed to deliver, with the game only featuring a small handful of unique areas, enemies, mission types, and weapon variants. The game simply felt small, and the overall experience suffered greatly for it.