Rather than pick just one game of the year, we’ve asked each member of our editorial staff to select her own favorite. Here are our own personal picks for the best game of 2014.
Skylanders: Trap Team—Simone
Skylanders: Trap Team was one of the best surprises of 2014. I loved how it integrated smart toy technology into a fun adventure game. The characters, the art style, and the satisfying gameplay all came together to make an incredibly solid, family-friendly gaming experience. In Skylanders: Trap Team, you’re a heroic Skylander who sets out to capture a bunch of villains that escaped from Cloudcracker prison. Along the way, you can capture the villains in traps and use them to help you in battle. Most of the game is spent exploring the unique levels, but there’s also a bunch of mini-games and challenges along the way. It can be played with one or two players, and a second player can jump in and out at any time. Definitely worth it for a busy parent.
Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved—Nicole
The best way for me to describe Disney Fantasia: Music Evolved is simply that its magical—not just because you’re training to be the next apprentice to Yen Sid— but because it makes you feel like you have control over the music. The gameplay is completely unique. Music games are nothing new to developer Harmonix (they made Rock Band and Dance Central) but Fantasia is a whole other animal. At the end of the day, it’s just plain fun, which is something lots of games lose sight of these days. I always end a gameplay session of Fantasia with a smile on my face.
Dragon Age: Inquisition—Keezy
Dragon Age: Inquisition is not only my favorite game of the year, it’s probably one of my favorite games of all time. I love the sheer magntitude of the game. This is hundreds of hours of gameplay, plus incredible replay value since I can go back and make different choices and play as different characters. The graphics are gorgeous, the story is deepy engaging and emotionally riveting, and the characters are ones that will stick with me for years as among the best video games have to offer. While Inquisition is both the third part in a series, and an M-rated game, I would absolutely recommend it (along with Dragon Age: Origins and Dragon Age 2) to mature teens and fellow adults of all ages.
There’s so much I liked about Monument Valley! It’s like a beautiful little animated film—the music and sound effects are gorgeous and the visuals are just beautiful. Everything works together—the sounds, the story, the images, and the gameplay. You’re solving puzzles within environments that are like Escher paintings; if you can just change the way you’re looking at the puzzle, you can figure out how to make your way through the maze and solve the puzzle. Another thing I really like about it is that it’s relaxing. I’ve played it over and over again just to experience the music and the feeling it gives me. Monument Valley can be just the thing for people who love puzzles but don’t necessarily like video games (or don’t know yet that they like video games). That’s because it’s so easy to operate the game. You just touch places on the screen to move the little princess around, and the game twists and turns and expands to adjust your view. Some people have criticized the game for being too expensive for its size—it can be played in only a few hours—but I never felt I’d spent too much money on it. I’ve replayed many times and enjoyed introducing it to all my friends and family!
The whole time that I was playing Broken Age, I felt like it was made just for me. It’s a point-and-click puzzle adventure game by Double Fine, and it tells the stories of two teenagers: Vella and Shay. Vella is chosen by her village to be sacrificed to the monster Mog Chothra, who rolls into town every 14 years to eat some maidens and/or cause some mayhem. Shay is trapped on a spaceship that thinks he’s a 5-year-old, and he’s desperate to escape. Both stories are excellent allegories for real-world issues faced by teens. The game is filled with tricky puzzles, interesting characters, and gorgeous artwork. If you’re interested in coming-of-age fantasies, this game is for you.