2014 was a rough year for AAA releases. There isn’t really one big standout in terms of quality. Sure, quite a few still sold really well, but there aren’t many on this list that are still talked about today. In its place, indie games filled in the gap with a pretty phenomenal year. With that said, there are some debut titles here from AAA games that are pretty great, leading to many great games in future years.
Keep an eye out here for every year’s list of the past decade, including an overall best 100 games of the 2010s.
The 15 Best Games of 2014
15 – Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor
Developer: Monolith Productions | Release Date: September 30th, 2014 | Game Page
It seems like it’s been a while since we saw a quality Lord of the Rings game, and Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor was just what we needed. It turns out bringing together Arkham-styled combat, Assassin’s Creed-styled platforming, and a great license was all you needed. However when you also stick the impressively awesome nemesis feature, which saw you fighting varied and unique Orc captains, then you really get something special, and that means people remember it.
14 – Super Smash Brothers 4
Developer: Sora Ltd. | Release Date: October 3rd, 2014
There’s something always satisfying about punching friends while playing as Nintendo characters. The enjoyable platformer-fighting game series made a return and hit handhelds for the first time this year. It got an even bigger cast, surprise characters like Duck Hunt, Pac-Man, Bayonetta, and Cloud Strife, and a perfectly fun single-player mode to boot. It’s nice seeing a franchise continue to be a favorite for each release.
2014 TechRaptor Awards Won: Best Multiplayer
13 – Titanfall
Developer: Respawn Entertainment | Release Date: March 11th, 2014
When you quit working on Call of Duty you can go anywhere. The answer? Go to EA and make a multiplayer FPS where you can hop in and out of a mech at any point. Titanfall saw two teams, both with players and AI, battle it out while dropping mech into the battlefield and taking control of them. Featuring a clever card system for temporary upgrades, a fun combination of parkour and first-person shooting, and a unique attempt to add a campaign to multiplayer, Titanfall is still a unique shooter to this day.
12 – Alien: Isolation
Developer: Creative Assembly | Release Date: October 7th, 2014
Its been a long time since someone has managed to make Alien scary again. Most video game adaptions look towards Aliens instead. So it came as a surprise to a lot of us when Alien: Isolation brought the fear of a single alien back. It helped that the game was absolutely terrifying. With one of the smartest monster AIs in gaming, the Alien had to be totally feared and every time you start to realize you haven’t seen it in a while things just become more terrifying. You never know when it’ll be behind you again.
11 – South Park: The Stick of Truth
Developer: Obsidian Entertainment | Release Date: March 4th, 2014
Still one of the most entertaining shows on TV, South Park: The Stick of Truth was one of the most surprising adaptions of the source material. Turning the series into a turn-based RPG may not have been anyone’s first choice, but it turns out that works worlds better than one would think, and fitting it into a goofy LARP session in South Park made a lot of sense. Hilarious and surprisingly fun, The Stick of Truth is great for both fans and newcomers to the show.
10 – Binding of Issac: Rebirth
Developer: Nicalis | Release Date: November 4th, 2014 | Game Page
When you make the definitive twin-stick roguelite game, it’s hard to follow it up. So what do you do? Well, you sit down and completely rework the game you already made. Rebirth added more features to the already beloved game, regenerating it for a new crowd and making it once again stand out among the rest of the roguelites. You can see right away why Binding of Issac kickstarted the genre’s resurgence, while still getting the best version of the game.
9 – Nidhogg
Developer: Messhof | Release Date: January 13th, 2014
Sometimes you just want to stab a friend with a sword in an effort to appeal to an old god. So for such an act you go to Nidhogg. A 2D fighting game where players tried to advance past their friends so they could appease an old god, Nidhogg was weird enough to catch attention and fun enough to hold it. Now you just need to get yourself eaten by said god, naturally.
8 – Transistor
Developer: Supergiant Games | Release Date: May 20th, 2014
How do you follow up Bastion? You bring it to the future, give it a second killer soundtrack, and add some tactical decision making. Transistor followed a voiceless singer after someone attempts to assassinate her and her city is getting destroyed. In the process, she uses a giant USB sword to collect moves and use them against digital monsters. With a wonderful story and aesthetics, it’s no wonder Transistor was as loved as it is.
2014 TechRaptor Awards Won: Best Soundtrack
7 – The Wolf Among Us
Developer: Telltale Games | Release Date: July 8th, 2014
We don’t see too much modern fantasy in video games. The Wolf Among Us brought us to a fairytale version of New York City, putting you in the role of Bigby Wolf, aka the Big Bad Wolf. It’s a gritty crime story with plenty of interesting ideas to keep it going, and it managed to expand upon all the right things that Telltale hit with The Walking Dead. Full of fantastic characters, great story moments, and clever twists on fairy tales, The Wolf Among Us quickly became a favorite and it’s no wonder a sequel is the first project of the new Telltale.
6 – The Banner Saga
Developer: Stoic Studio | Release Date: January 14th, 2014
Turn-based tactic games are usually all about the fights, but The Banner Saga decided to try something different. The first entry in a beautiful trilogy, you’ll be guiding your people across the land, making difficult decisions on what to do. People will live and die depending on your actions, and you need to keep moving lest you fall to the opposing army. It helps that there’s some fun tactical combat to go with all of this. The Banner Saga is probably one of the best ways to start your saga.
Our 5 Best Games of 2014
5 – Mario Kart 8
Developer: Nintendo | Release Date: May 30th, 2014
How do you keep Mario Kart exciting? Trick question, Mario Kart is always exciting. Mario Kart 8 instead just takes all of the things people loved and ramped it up to 11. With beautiful graphics and some of the best stages to race on, it’s no wonder that 8 ends up being among the favorites of fans. There’s always a good time to be had throwing blue shells at your first place friend.
4 – Divinity: Original Sin
Developer: Larian Studios | Release Date: June 30th, 2014
cRPGs had been dead for a while. However, the success of both Kickstarter and Pillars of Eternity brought the genre back to the masses. Divinity: Original Sin was the first game to really reap the rewards of the revival. A lengthy RPG with a deep story and turn-based tactical combat that itched many genre fans right where they needed it, it’s no wonder that it quickly became the most celebrated cRPG in years.
3 – Wolfenstein: The New Order
Developer: MachineGames | Release Date: May 20th, 2014 | Game Page
There’s nothing wrong with a little Nazi murder. Or a lot of Nazi murder. Bucking many recent FPS trends by being single-player focused, Wolfenstein: The New Order was an amazing new entry to the classic series that no one saw coming. It helps that the game had one of the most shockingly compelling stories, with B.J. Blazkowicz’s Nazi-hunting managing to have several surprisingly tense scenes to keep the player watching for more.
2 – P.T.
Developer: Kojima Productions | Release Date: August 12th, 2014
Ah, what could have been. P.T. was supposed to be a prequel horror game that would lead into the Hideo Kojima directed Silent Hills. One thing led to another and the full game was canceled. At least, for a brief time, we had P.T. One of the most absolutely shocking horror games, P.T. would inspire fans and other developers for years to come, and eventually led to Kojima getting his own studio and Death Stranding. It’s just a shame you can’t actually play it anymore.
1 – Shovel Knight
Developer: Yacht Club Games | Release Date: June 26th, 2014
In a year where AAA games weren’t doing so hot, indies rose. Shovel Knight was the one that rose the highest. A Kickstarter success that received an insane amount of free content after launch, Shovel Knight took all the best things about classic games and emulated their looks without making them a drag to play. Wonderful levels, awesome boss fights, and fantastic platformer challenges were wrapped in a retro aesthetic and soundtrack. Fans had a lot to love with the base game, but three free game-length major expansions and a free multiplayer mode means the fun got to last well after the initial release. Shovel Knight did so much right for a game that it’s no wonder we considered it the top game of 2014.
2014 TechRaptor Awards Won: Indie Game of the Year