Eric Gerson’s Top 10 Games of 2014

Deck the wall’s the Pagan’s entrails. Fa La La La La, La La La La. Bowser rips off Pikachu’s tail. Fa La La La La, La La La La. Don the Inquisition symbol. Fa La La, La La La, La La La. Cryptarch please give me a purple. Fa La La La La, La La La La!

…woah, sorry. I blacked out there for a moment. What were we talking about…ah yes! The end of December brings about two things: holiday cheer, and Game of the Year! To mark this occasion, each video game writer here at We The Nerdy submitted their own top ten list, which will be compiled and used to determine the official We The Nerdy Top Ten Games of the Year (which you can find here at in the coming days). Until then, you can check out each of our individual lists to see how we all voted. And here’s mine! Let me know what you think in the comments below!! And happy holidays everyone!!!

Honorable Mention – Shadow of Mordor

shadow-of-mordor-1940x1091Full disclosure–this game is still in its wrapping up on my shelf. I missed it when it first launched, and only first picked it up a few days ago as part of a B2G1 free deal, alongside GTAV Remastered and Dragon Age: Inquisition. Long story short: I HAVEN’T PLAYED IT YET. But I am a scholar of the industry, and I must give credit where credit is due. To not recognize this game on any top ten list would be doing it a major disservice; it is arguably one of the first “next-gen” titles to go beyond a simple graphical upgrade, instead implementing new “next-gen” gameplay features too, such as its much-lauded Nemesis System. I can’t wait to sink my teeth into this game–once I finish Dragon Age, of course.

10. Mario Golf World Tour

mario-golf-world-tour-screen-4This may seem like an odd choice to some. While I always loved the Nintendo sports titles, and this one is no slouch, there is no denying that Mario Gold World Tour on 3DS was also a bit odd. Its content is cordoned off into two separate, fairly ambiguous categories, leaving the RPG-esque half feeling thin on content and shallow. In this mode, character progression is tied to unlocking and equipping different items (many of which grant the same attribute boost), instead of leveling up your abilities over time through use and experience points. It makes me miss the good old days, where the portable Golf and Tennis games played like true RPGs. ~Sigh~ All that said, I still sunk (pun) hours upon hours into this title, hunting star and moon coins, and facing off against friends online (both head-to-head and in the game’s novel tournament feature). In the end, Mario Golf World Tour is a great on-the-go golf game with tight gameplay and tons of charm, held just shy of greatness by some odd design choices.

9. Child of Light

Child of LightBOY did this game tug at my nostalgia strings, and in a few different directions no less. On the one hand, the story-book aesthetic and poetic dialogue reminded me of childhood fairy tails. This game literally looks like a moving children’s book. On the other, the turn-based RPG combat reminded me of many of the games I enjoyed as a child on the NES and SNES. Playing Child of Light made me feel like a kid again, in the best way possible. Don’t sleep on this little gem–its look and feel are dreamy enough.

8. Shovel Knight

Shovel KnightSome of you may remember a month or so ago I wrote a little article about rebooting the Mega Man franchise. At the top of that piece, I gushed about my obsession with the Blue Bomber, and how I used to play those titles until my fingers bled. And while my dreams of a reboot may never come to fruition, this year, I got the next best thing: Shovel Knight. A Kickstarter success story, Yacht Club Games’ first endeavor is the perfect encapsulation of everything we loved about the NES-era sidescroller–an awesome mix of Super Mario Bros 3, Ducktales, and yes, the Mega Man games. Tearing through the game’s varied bosses and unlocking new abilities, I almost forgot about my longing for a new Mega Man. And I think if we see Shovel Knight turn into franchise, my Mega Man hunger pangs might just be sated for good.

7. Destiny

Destiny_20140914190911Oh Destiny. My time with you is the definition of a love-hate relationship. Truth be told, we had some amazing times. In fact, I’ve never experienced online co-op like I did with Destiny. Maybe that’s a result of all my friends being Xbox kids up until this generation, when they all jumped ship for the PS4. But whatever the case may be, I still had an absolute BLAST playing Destiny for hours on end along my friends. That said, as the weeks passed, and I reflected on all the time I spent farming helium filaments, glitching bullet-sponge bosses, and running the same missions over and over, I was left feeling very empty. So much fun, but so much wasted potential. Destiny is more an accomplishment in demonstrating how playing alongside friends can add a ton of enjoyment to any experience. And while this first entry in this franchise may not have been all we hoped for, I absolutely cannot WAIT for the inevitable sequel.

6. Mario Kart 8

mario kart 8Mario Kart 8 does just about everything right–from its beautiful cartoon graphics and bright color palate, to its fun and wacky selection of courses, to its smart use of its new anti-gravity mechanic. But Mario Kart 8 earns its place on this list for a different reason. To me, Mario Kart 8 marked the Wii U’s coming of age. For the first time since its launch, I saw people take interest in Nintendo’s latest console. While it may have been easy to write-off before, with Mario Kart 8‘s launch, I received questions from many friends asking “wow, should I get a Wii U?” Mario Kart 8 also represented a growing-up of sorts for Nintendo, as the game is one of their first to embrace modern online sensibilities AND smartly priced DLC. And while it may have been out-shined by some recent releases on the hardware, I think many people will look back on Mario Kart 8 as the moment Nintendo and the Wii U got serious.

5. Dragon Age: Inquisition

Dragon Age InquisitionUgh, this one I feel bad about. I picked this game up as part of the B2G1 free at Best Buy that I referenced earlier. After only a few hours of play, I made this list–time, after all, was ticking, and I couldn’t delay any longer. Then, over the course of the next few weeks, I absolutely LOST myself to this game. I played for 20 hours in the first three days. I am no where near completion, but damn, I love this game. It is gorgeous (I am particularly enamored with the way rain effects the environments and the character models). It is deep (the weapon and armor customization alone is taking up much of my time). It is intelligent (none of the dialogue choices are black-and-white, forcing you to truly think how your responses will be received by your companions). It is well crafted (the balance between story missions and sandbox environments, and where they intersect, is genius). And above all else, it is fun. Had I played more of this game by the time I submitted my list, DA:I would be much much higher. And that’s coming from someone who barely touched the first two in the series!

4. Transistor

TransistorThere are many things I can praise about Transistor, Supergiant Games’ follow-up to the excellent Bastion. Its story is heartfelt. Its music is amazing. Its hand-drawn graphics are stunning. Its voice work, while limited, is masterful. Its mood and tone are genuine. And its gameplay, and the level of customization its combat offers, is one-of-a-kind. But really, only one thing needs to be said about Transistor, and I think it elegantly captures all of these sentiments: Transistor is an absolute work of ART. If you ever want to win an argument about games being art, sit your opponent in front of a TV, give them a controller and a pair of good headphones, and play through Transistor. Argument over.

3. InFamous: Second Son

Infamous Second SonMy first platinum trophy, and I couldn’t be prouder. No, InFamous Second Son isn’t perfect; its story isn’t as epic or comic book-y as it could have been, and its side missions were repetitive. But Second Son thrives in a way that a lot of games stumble: it is just plain fun. The different powers Delsin obtains are varied, and the way they altered both combat and traversal left me feeling truly empowered. The result was a game that was at all times incredibly fun to play; so much so that I didn’t flinch once as I burned through my good and evil playthroughs on my way to the platinum. Here’s hoping a sequel is in the works, and that it takes Delsin’s story to the epic heights it is destined to reach. After all, a Conduit who can steal any power–he could save the world (or completely destroy it)!

2. Far Cry 4

Far Cry 4In Far Cry 4, Ubisoft sure nails the setting. Kyrat is a vast, beautiful, unpredictable and incredibly dangerous place to explore. As a result, wing-suitting from objective to objective is a joy. But the game’s biggest success is demonstrating how good Ubisoft games can be when done right. Let’s be honest; most modern Ubi games follows a similar format. From Watch Dogs to Assassin’s Creed, and even cross-country racing game The Crew, each title features a huge map packed to the brim with missions, objectives, and collectibles, and you reveal new areas by accessing certain “sync points.” But whereas, at this point, this formula feels trite, played out, and exhausting in most of the aforementioned titles, Far Cry 4 is an example of how when it works, it works. In other games, the missions are repetitive and at times, seemingly random. In Far Cry 4, everything is well contextualized AND incredibly varied–even different side missions of the same type feel distinct. It is the Ubisfot formula perfected, and an absolute blast from start to finish. Just watch out for the Honey Badgers!!

1. Smash Bros Wii U

Smash-bros-imageAlright, we are at the top of the list, so I think it’s time to put all my cards on the table: I am an unabashed Nintendo fanboy. As a result, the Smash Bros franchise has a very special place in my heart. In fact, it is the only franchise for which I’ve ever went to a midnight launch. So as long as a Smash Bros game launches in any given year and it isn’t completely broken, it will always be one of my favorite games of that year. But in all seriousness; with the launch of Smash Bros Wii U, Nintendo finally has the killer app it is looking for on its latest console. This game is the full realization and, in some cases, and improvement upon of everything that has made the franchise so fantastic in years past. Lightning-quick but intricate; wacky and wild but fair and balanced; varied artwork that all just fits; and above all else, a wealth of content to please any Nintendo fan. This game is the perfect digital salute to Nintendo’s amazing library of titles from its decades in the industry. They wrote the book on video games, and Smash Bros Wii U is the encyclopedia about that book. Play it alone, play it with friends, play it online. Just make sure you play it.