It is safe to say that 2014 has been a good year for games. It’s not just that we’ve seen spectacular blockbusters released almost from the start of the year, across all game consoles; 2014 has been a spectacular year for game creativity as we’ve seen indies and arthouse titles find real success courtesy of download platforms.
Our awards this year have been the most popular that we’ve ever seen on the site, with well over 1,000 people voting for their favourite games across 16 categories. Over the next couple of weeks we’ll be listing the two highly commendeds (second and third place) and winner of each category, one per day.
Yesterday we looked at blockbuster games. Today we’re looking at the indies. Despite the small budgets, these games all share sheer creativity and brilliant aesthetics, proving that it’s not all about the budget.
Shovel Knight is a brilliant throwback to the games of yesteryear, where platformers were purely in two dimensions and the difficulty level was sky high. What is so great about the game is that even though it owes a lot to the 8-big games of yesteryear, Shovel Knight plays like a modern, mature game, mixing in best practices with the retro aesthetic. The result is something that is impossible to put down.
Guacamelee! is a truly wonderful action platformer, with plenty of attitude and a unique theme and energy to it. For the most part it plays out like a “Metroidvania” where you’ll need to explore and backtrack as new paths open up to you. It’s easy for games of this genre to become monotonous as you backtrack across environments over and over again, but that’s not the case here. Guacamelle! is entertaining from start to finish.
It’s difficult to see how The Banner Saga was made by such a small team, when it is easily the equal of other tactical strategy games, even the likes of Fire Emblem and XCOM. From an intense plot that really makes you consider the ramifications of your actions, through to the stunning art style, and gameplay that manages to bring innovations to a very tired genre, The Banner Saga is truly something special, and a game that every person needs to play in some form.
– Matt S.
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