I’m not one of those people who immediately plays every promising looking game when they come out. Because I’ve been absorbed in The World of Warcraft the last ten years, I’ve skipped so many interesting games that I’ve lost count. So I always have a couple of hundred titles on my backlog. Then I just pick something I feel like playing and go for it. So my top games for any year, or game reviews in general, will most likely not be about brand new titles. That being said, I noticed that my best games of 2014 all ended up being titles from the last few years anyway.
I’m probably going to write a bit more about the top 5, but first, here’s the titles from 6 to 10:
The Maker’s Eden was made with a motion comic technique and basically it plays a like an adventure/visual novel hybrid, having quite light game play with some puzzles and dialogue options to choose from. The setting of the game is sci-fi noir, the player adventures in a rainy cyberpunk world filled with androids.
The art, music and overall atmosphere in the game is very compelling. (There is no voice acting.) The story itself is also engaging, even with the quite common ‘protagonist with no memory’ gimmick. The first episode is very short, it plays barely over 1 hour. To me it didn’t really matter though, as I thought the episode makes a whole package with a marvelous ending. Currently there’s two very short ‘vignette’ stories available in addition to the first act – the second act is still not out.
Well, here’s the reason to my latest obsession with virtual novels and consequently anime and manga. I wasn’t a stranger to them before, but something had to be the first with my latest boom, and this was it, even though it isn’t even Japanese. But I don’t really mind the origins of anything that much anyway. I was interested in this story because of the sci-fi setting, and I had heard plenty of good things about the game, so I gave it a shot. And I don’t regret a thing.
I really liked the somewhat unusual game play for a visual novel. Scouring through the database and handling the computer as well as the conversations made me feel like I was solving puzzles while playing. I was wondering if I should consider this game a hybrid instead of a visual novel, but I’ll let it stay as a VN for now. The story I found really interesting and eventually I went through all the data and well as the different endings. Some people have put this game under ‘dating sim’ which I find a bit weird. I mean it’s certainly possible to kind of flirt with the AIs but I never thought about this game that way. Oh well, I don’t know what weird stuff is possibly going on in the sequel. Will play it some day but I haven’t purchased it yet.
Chains of Satinav is a game I thought I’d be bored with: this old school point and click adventure with a fantasy world, the protagonist being some young loser guy that eventually ends up saving everyone. Like, haven’t I seen this a trillion times? But I was feeling hungry for some romance and I heard this had a sweet one, so I gave it a go and was very pleasantly surprised. I mean, it’s true, there’s nothing really groundbreaking or incredible in this game, but all that regular stuff that’s done, it has done so well.
The art is beautiful, the main characters are likable (I heard some people found them annoying but each to their own) and their love story is indeed lovely. The world in the game is surprisingly dark and bleak for the fantasy setting, though it’s nothing terribly disturbing really, just something closer to the original Grimm tales than your usual Disney princess stuff. Game play is point & click adventure at its best – at least most of the time. There are a few magical gimmicks in the fantasy setting that make many of the puzzles a bit more interesting than in your average adventure.
Here’s a boys love visual novel from America, which is a rarity I guess, though a delightful one in this case. The game was able to see the light of day thanks to Kickstarter. I never noticed the project when it was still open for pledges but I did buy the game immediately when it was released.
The game starts with your college student protagonist deciding to come out to his roommates. This plays very much like a normal visual novel/dating sim, with five very different guys to pursue. I was quite pleasantly surprised to notice that I managed to actually get interested in each and every one of the romances (I seriously did not think I’d be interested in a jock or a soldier dude but their story lines were great). The writing is awesome, the dialogue is funny as hell. Playing through the game is a weird mix of constant laughter and arousal. There are several endings, including a really weird one that still cracks me up.
There’s no voice acting but I didn’t really mind. Of course great voice acting in (erotic) visual novels really add to the game, but it’s not always necessary. I like the art, especially the facial expressions of the characters. The guys are a bit bulkier than your regular Japanese bishies but I don’t mind at all, I like many kinds of men. The possibility to turn beards and body hair on and off from individual characters had a surprisingly big impact in a dating sim: I could make the men look more to my tastes this way. Also, the protagonist is a seke, which I like (meaning he’s both a top and a bottom).
In my opinion, Double Fine’s expensive Kickstarter project delivered. The second part is coming out soon and it is one of the games I will certainly be playing this year. Broken Age is very polished, pretty and funny. Its story has aroused a lot of speculation on how the two plots tie together and what the hell is happening in general. The puzzles are rather easy but the game is fun to play, and the enjoyment is even enhanced by the possibility of switching quite freely between the two protagonists that venture in a very different settings.