2014 was kind of a strange year for games. It seemed like there was either a drought of great games being released or we were being overwhelmed by them. October and November in particular were especially hard on my wallet. In addition, 2014 was home to an emerging trend for current generation consoles: Remasters and ports from previous gen consoles to current ones. I have to admit that I'm not a huge fan of this, but it seems as if the trend will continue far into 2015. Regardless, there were some incredible games released this year!
Favorite Game Released Before 2014, Played in 2014: Bioshock Infinite
Ah, Bioshock Infinite. This game was praised and heralded by everyone, but I just couldn't bring myself to play it when it was released. Although I enjoyed the previous entries in the series, I couldn't shake the feeling that it would be more of the same. The new mechanics introduced weren't enough to justify me buying the game. However, Sony made Bioshock Infinite a part of the PS Plus collection in early 2014, so I had no reason not to buckle down and give it a try. While I did find the gameplay to be average at best, the strong narrative compelled me to plow through the game at an incredible pace. I beat the game on the hardest difficulty in under 3 days and have no regrets. I still think the game is a bit overhyped, but it was a great experience and I'm glad I finally played it.
5. Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth
Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth is the love child of the Etrian Odyssey and Persona franchises and it is fantastic. The casts of Persona 3 and Persona 4 come together in a first-person dungeon crawler that takes the best of both worlds and delivers them with a hefty amount of fanservice. Some of the characters aren't necessarily represented in the best way, but everything else in the game is nigh perfect. It's also a great game to sink your teeth into if you find yourself having some extra spare time.
4. Bayonetta 2
Bayonetta 2 was one of those games that I was expecting to do very well, but despite that, it still managed to far exceed my expectations. Bayonetta 2 takes everything that was great in the first game and improves it. The combat, music, and overall gameplay mesh together into an experience that is not only action-packed, but tremendously rewarding. To make things even better, it comes packaged with the original Bayonetta! If you have a Wii U, but aren't really sure about this game, I highly recommend you at least rent it.
3. Mario Kart 8
You would think after all of this time that the Mario Kart formula would begin to get somewhat stale, but Mario Kart 8 stands in open defiance of that statement. With the new gravity mechanics, the newly introduced items, an incredible soundtrack, and a sound multiplayer experience, Mario Kart 8 is everything you could want from a Mario Kart game. Well, except for a good Battle Mode, that is. That aside, the game is also breathtaking to behold. Each character is full of expression and the environments are practically alive as you drive through them. Easily a must-have for the Wii U.
2. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U
Nintendo has been spreading the word for Smash Bros. for well over a year. They were obviously banking on it being a hit and well, they were right. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U oozes quality from every conceivable angle. The fighters themselves, the music, the stages, the Online, the different modes, and the sheer amount of things to do will keep anyone busy for months to come. It's truly astounding to think about just how much Nintendo managed to pack into this one game. The Smash series is essentially a Nintendo history book and this entry is easily the most exciting and comprehensive to date.
OK, so I'm kind of a sucker for visual novels. Not only is the premise of the entire game interesting, but the characters are all incredibly fleshed out and fun to talk to. As the trials progressed, a kind of fear started to creep up on me that my favorite characters would probably be the next in line to die, and having a game elicit that kind of reaction is amazing. I truly felt like I was connecting with the characters and that pushed me to continue playing. I could not put my Vita down when this game came out and was sad to see the experience come to an end. The Vita admittedly doesn't have the most substantial library of games, but Danganronpa is definitely one of its heavy-hitters. The second game is great too!
Honorable Mentions: Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, Bravely Default, Persona 4 Arena Ultimax, Dark Souls II, Shovel Knight, Dragon Age: Inquisition, Child of Light, Titanfall, Destiny