2014 in retrospect //@BradBraddington

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2014 has come to an end. So what better way to introduce the New Year than recounting my video games experiences from the past 12 months. I feel it would be most fitting to begin with my most anticipated game from 2014, Dark Souls 2.
I was a late starter with the Souls franchise, my first delve into the franchise began with Demons Souls in 2013. I found myself sucked into the vivid world of Boletaria, the engrossing lore, the phenomenal soundtrack and of course Maiden Astraea who gave me one of my most beloved moments in gaming. The highly anticipated release of Dark Souls 2 came in March. I would spend the following week entirely absorbed by Dark Souls 2 and ultimately I found myself returning to the real world battle hardened and with a feeling of glowing gratification. I recall being astonished at the beautiful sun soaked cliffs and forgotten shacks of Majula. I was satisfied with the tweaks to the character stats to avoid previously impractical stats such as resistance and in general Dark Souls 2 provided more of the unforgiving but ultimately rewarding gameplay that I had come to expect from the talent at From Software. On the other hand I felt that the level design of Dark Souls 2 lacked the originality and genius of previous iterations. This trend continued with the boss fights as well. It is no secret that many of the boss fights were re-hashed and in some cases almost directly ripped from Dark Souls, it left the overall product feeling rushed and soulless at times. Dark Souls 2 was by no means a blunder but I could not shake the feeling that it could have been more.
Shinji Mikami’s The Evil Within. Those five words filled me with a manic eagerness that lingered with me right up to launch day. Which was only logical as Resident Evil 4 is my most beloved game of all time and the similarities between the two were undeniable. Much was promised, the return of survival horror by the godfather of the genre himself was just one such promise. Following the chaotic and explosive finale I slumped back from the edge of my seat with mixed sentiments. I found the gunplay to be a joy to handle, the atmosphere was genuinely nerve-racking and the game world and its repulsive inhabitants were designed wonderfully. The Evil Within was certainly not without its flaws. The stealth sections felt half-baked and I found the black borders to be very tiresome and redundant. My biggest gripe however was how paper-thin and dull the characters of The Evil Within were. This issue only accentuated the rather lackadaisical storytelling. The term ‘Diamond in the Rough’ fits The Evil Within perfectly, a terrific title hindered by some glaring snags.
The first season of the Walking Dead championed as my Game of the Year 2012. Telltale Games delivered an unforgettable tale of survival and sacrifice and in turn it was only natural that I had extremely high expectations for the second season. I was thrilled by Telltale’s decision to use Clementine as a leading role. I found her to be an adorable yet mature and intelligent character who I found myself emotionally invested in much like her makeshift guardian Lee Everett from the first season of The Walking Dead. Even under the lofty expectations that I, critics and fans worldwide had set, the team at Telltale Games flourished and delivered a superb tale with fantastic characters. From the gripping rhetoric between the characters to the harrowing scenarios that would each leave young Clementine more desensitized than before, The Walking Dead: Season 2 delivered an unforgettable journey marred only by the occasional graphic and audio bugs and as such I award it my Game of the Year 2014.
I would like to finish with a quick observation of some other great titles I had the chance to play last year. P.T was the brilliantly out-of-nowhere teaser for Silent Hills. The Silent Hill franchise has been on a dishearteningly mediocre streak since Silent Hill: Origins but I was absolutely astonished by what Kojima Productions delivered. P.T offers a truly terrifying experience with phenomenal visuals and simply ingenious game mechanics. If you have not yet played it, please do so as soon as possible. Continuing on the Kojima hype train, I also had the opportunity to play Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes. Although disappointingly short, Ground Zeroes treated me to some superb visuals and stealth gameplay not to mention more of the engrossing storytelling and characters I have come to expect from the Metal Gear Solid franchise. I have only just begun playing Aliens: Isolation. Early impressions consist of panicked screams and muffled sobbing, review to follow soon. Last but certainly not least. Hatsune Miku Project Diva f 2nd was a sweet Christmas gift from my lovely lady friend. It has since taken over both our lives and I don’t know how much longer our thumbs or our controllers will survive.
So what was your game of the year 2014?
Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed, and please come back again soon.

@BradBraddington