2014 was an interesting year for me in games. I didn’t play any games that screamed, “This is the game of the year!” I got my hands on a lot of good, fun games, but no single game completely blew me away while I played it. However, looking back over the list of what I played, only one game came even close. The funny part is, I probably wouldn’t have even played the game if it weren’t for watching some let’s play videos.

I would like to give a pair of honorable mentions to two mobile games that have taken up quite a bit of my time during my long commutes, but neither one quite made this list: first is MinuteQuest an addicting, one-finger RPG where you run right and kill all the things. The other is Love Live: School Idol Festival, a rhythm game based on the Love Live anime. Both are free and worth checking out, for sure. Without further ado, though, here are my five favorite games from 2014:

#5 Fantasy Life – 3DS
Fantasy Life is an interesting title that probably shouldn’t be as fun as it is. In the game, you play a protagonist whose roof is caved in by a meteorite. The player is asked to investigate this and other strange happenings by the king, which leads to a cute little adventure. It’s a pretty simple and straightforward story in many respects, but for some reason it is still quite captivating. Fantasy Life also scratches an itch by letting you play as all sorts of jobs including fighting classes like paladin or magician and also non-combat classes like carpenter, cook, and miner. There is something about playing those non-combat classes in this game that is really gratifying to me.
#4 Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – 3DS
The wait for this game felt like forever, and I was so glad when it finally released here in North America. It took almost two years to come over from Japan, but it was worth the wait. The story, while not the best told by either series, was still enjoyable. It did a good job building up some mystery and tying it all together in the end, and it featured an interesting mix of gameplay from both titles. It was also good to see Maya Fey again, as she is one of my favorite characters in any video game.
#3 Civilization: Beyond Earth – PC
After waiting forever for a sequel to Alpha CentauriCiv fans finally got a chance to colonize another planet. While not a direct sequel, the spiritual successor did a great job capturing some of the magic of the original while adding some interesting new elements. The technology web was an interesting change to research, and the new victory conditions are a nice change from the traditional Civ formula. The base game is a strong entry in the series, but I’m really interested to see what additions are made down the line.
#2 Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy: Curtain Call – 3DS
This game is everything that the original Theatrhythm could have been and more. The additional songs and characters are great, though it is sad that a couple tunes have gone missing from the first game. However, with such a library, you really don’t miss the couple of exclusions in the long run. The big change, the treasure maps that you can save and continue later, is a huge improvement over the Dark Notes from the first game. It adds more depth and also recognizes that, as a portable game, sometimes you can’t marathon a bunch of songs in a row. I’ll be playing this game for a long, long time.
#1 Transistor – PS4
I have Jimmy to thank for this one. If I hadn’t watched his let’s play of Transistor, I may not have tried it myself, and that would have been a huge mistake. The game is visually stunning, has great voice work and an interesting battle system. While you can play most of the game using real-time combat, the ability to pause and layout multiple attacks when things get hairy is a perfect way to balance the difficulty. This game deserves every accolade it’s received, and probably more.
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