Arcadian Invaders!

Your Games of 2014: Give Us They

Soon, Clan Arcadian Rhythms will be slathering itself in woad and charging into battle against our mortal enemies. It’s a metaphorical battle, you understand: our weapon is a podcast and our target is 2014. It must be destroyed.

We’ll be discussing the games of 2014, focusing - because we are such positive bunnies – on those we loved or found particularly interesting. We’ll also take advantage of the opportunity to discuss the year’s low points, such as Assassin’s Creed: Unity ‘fixing’ its only interesting elements, and being unable to poke Milo Yiannopoulos in the eye.

It would also, dear readers, be splendid to have some opinions from outside our clannish bubble. So if there are any games you thought were particularly great, or particularly not-great, let us know either in the comments or by tweeting @arcadianinvader. We’ll read out as many as we can (assuming we get any).

Shaun and Potter promise that they’ll edit the recorded audio really really promptly this time and the finished podcast will actually actually go live in the near future. Honestly honestly.





19 responses to “Your Games of 2014: Give Us They”

  1. Ben Avatar

    I'm loving Elite: Dangerous just for the fact that it's been a very long time since anyone attempted a space "sim". It's flawed in that it's sort of a skeleton that needs fleshing out, but it's a MASSIVE one. And combat is actually fun.

    1. badgercommander Avatar

      I funded this game through Kickstarter but don't play PC games, that is how excited I was that they were making a new Elite.

      Everyone I know who is playing it just loves the hell out of it. I just don't know anyone who will have got on it

  2. bigbald Avatar

    Somewhere around September or October I made a decision to become a gamer again. Not a hardcore, frothing at the mouth gamer that plays every game at Super Hyper Nightmare Difficulty Turbo, but the type of gamer who plays the big games that pop up, and some of the lesser knowns. At 37 years old, I am officially outside of the target demographic that developers try to target, and my ability to play games is nowhere near what it used to be. For the past few years, my 360 has done little more than collect dust, while I "played" my share of WoW. My decision was to change that.

    My wife picked me up a PS4 for Christmas. The sole reason that the PS4 was chosen is because I really wanted to play The Last of Us. Now I have a shiny new console, a handful of games, and a list of games to go through. The Last of Us is now behind me, and it was probably the perfect game for me to return to. Mostly because it really felt like it was designed to bring people back to gaming. Low on game mechanics and complexity, high on story and presentation. It's the type of game that likely frustrated the more hardcore gamers, but hand held the new and returning ones whilst giving them the chance to enjoy something with a great production value.

    The game that I'm playing now though, is the one I want to look at a little more closely. Dragon Age: Inquisition. I was a big fan of the first DA when it came out, and didn't hate the second one as much as most people did. So I was excited to get into this. Back in my WoW addiction days, DA was the game series that managed to pull me away for chunks of time. So imagine my surprise when Inquisition could easily be renamed Dragon Age: World of Warcraft Edition. Thin story, lots of area to look around, random questing, siloed zones, seemingly impossible terrain designed to force you to navigate throughout the entire zone time and again, no sense of urgency, and a looooong and tedious grind. And yet I keep playing.

    Most of the characters are so flat and dull that I hardly ever interact with them. They have quests and story elements that I sometimes try, but mostly just fast forward through. I have this looming threat that wants to destroy the world and become a god (or something… I'm not quite sure) but naturally I have the time to find a farmer's lost sheep, or go scouting for wood, or locate a book from a stolen caravan just so I can get laid.

    And yet I keep playing. I'm somewhere near the 40 hour mark of game play time, no idea how much I have left, usually pretty darn bored whilst I play, and wondering constantly why despite people bowing to my character and calling him "your lordship", I still have to help people find sheep.

    DA: Inquisition feels like it was made to be a game to lure WoW players in with repetitive and pointless gameplay. It doesn't feel fun, it doesn't actually bring much of anything new to the series since the debut 5 years ago, and it continuously makes you wonder why you are still playing. Sure, it dangles some carrots in the form of the handful of interesting characters involved, and the potential to bang, but other than that? No idea. And yet, I'm still playing…

    1. badgercommander Avatar

      Thanks for that, I must say that is one of the most depressing and illuminating descriptions of Dragon Age: Inquisition I have ever read.

      To give you an overview, I went 'oh bigbald is playing Dragon Age maybe I will give it a go then, oh wait, no, no, definitely not. Shit, I need a drink after that'

      As for the Last of Us, we talked about it on last year's podcast (Shaun and I liked it):

      I also did a big old write up about The Last of Us a while back and went into some detail about the ending:

      Dylan also wrote about The Last of Us and disliked it:

      But he compared it to Remember Me, that might be one of the worst games I have played in a while.

      1. bigbald Avatar

        For DA: Inquisition, it really might be a case of different strokes for different folks. I've read a lot of reviews that love a lot of the stuff I dislike. One of my friends is pretty keen on the game, and likes the approach that BioWare took. When you boil a lot of it down, my gripe is that so much of the game feels like filler. Random tasks that exist solely to pad the total play time count. That's not always a bad thing, but I find their approach lacks elegance. I'd rather have a game with half the amount of playable hours, but make those hours incredibly kick ass, than a game that stretches that total though mundane quests that don't do much to further the core experience.

        The Last of Us, felt like it was catered to me in a lot of ways. Relatively non complex game mechanics, pretty linear in approach, some choices along the way but nothing overly complex, with an emotional story designed to generate a specific response. It's almost like a fun Hollywood movie that isn't an extravagant summer blockbuster type, but also not a faux artistic romp. Just a movie that doesn't really pretend to be more than it is.

        I agree about the ending though. In a weird twist, I felt like I had suddenly become the bad guy for that segment. Brutally murdering a group of people that are trying to essentially save the world was weird. I understand how Joel would have gone that route, but it still stuck out. To be fair though, I was expecting a tragic ending of some sort. I was about 75% sure that Joel wasn't going to make it. Not saying it would have been better, but rather it was where I thought they were going.

        For me though, it worked because by and large the game was pretty simple, and that's what I needed. It got me jazzed to try out some other games on my list (like Shadows of Mordor or The Evil Within). If I had gone with DA: Inquisition first I might have decided to let the PS4 collect that layer of dust. The Last of Us felt more like an experience than a real game, and I think for some people that's great, and for others it comes off as lacking. To be honest, anything that keeps me playing actual games rather than life grinds like WoW gets a thumb up from me.

        1. ShaunCG Avatar

          I've not played DA: Inquisition but I did play through the original earlier this year, and feel that a lot of your gripes in the first paragraph of your last comment could equally apply to that game. It was 80 hours long and I might have loved it had it been 40.

          I'm not sure what this sort of thing results from. A gaming audience that equates "value for money" to "how long a game takes to finish"? The propensity of a lot of fantasy readers to gobble down trilogies and ceaseless series with increasing word- and page-count (probably because the author has gotten too arrogant to appreciate an editor)? Whatever it is, it drives me to frustration. I've ended up with negative feelings towards a lot of games because they were simply too long. I could stop playing, of course, but an unfinished story is just as frustrating to me when we're talking narrative-heavy games like RPGs.

          1. bigbald Avatar

            I have fond memories of Origin, mostly it being compelling all the way through. If I were to replay it now, I'm not sure if that would still be the case, or if it would feel more akin to my opinion of Inquisition… I do remember thinking that one of the things I liked about DA2 was that it pulled you out of the "saviour of the world" character type, and put you more into the "smaller story adventurer" role. I find that when you are not some mysterious "chosen one", the more mundane quests feel better and offer more of a personal experience. Padding a game with hour after hour of them though, gets tedious regardless. Optional quests for completionists is one thing, but when they constitute progression blockers, then I wonder why I'm devoting so much time to a game when I'm not really enjoying myself.

            I remember some time ago there being something of an uproar when the first Metal Gear Solid came out and it having something south of 10 hours of gameplay, and the comparison was made to Final Fantasy 7 and its 32,086 or so hours of gameplay. Quality versus quantity is a weird one for me to wrap my head around. I don't think there is a perfect number for how long a game should be. One of my favourite games I can think of is Grim Fandango, which if I remember correctly was something in the 20-25 hours mark. Is that good value for the dollar? I like to think so, since I really enjoyed each of those hours (even when I was stumped and borderline furious). But at 40 hours of playtime with Inquisition so far, I should consider myself up a good 15 hours. Yet, I feel like it is a cost, and not a benefit. I'll take 20 great hours of gaming over 40 good hours of gaming any day.

          2. ShaunCG Avatar

            I completely agree with the sentiment of your second paragraph. I don't think there's any rule of thumb for how long a game 'should' be, but I too would take 20 great hours over 40 good any day of the week.

  3. @kenty Avatar

    I didn't play many games in 2014 that were actually released in 2014, I was mostly working through my backlog of older games such as Darksiders 2, Catherine, Deadly Premonition, Diablo 3 and many others.

    I already mentioned on Facebook that Valiant Hearts was a standout game for me, if only something like that could have existed when I was back at school, I would have been much more engaged during history lessons about the 1st and 2nd world wars!!

    I'd like to mention a couple more. Firstly, Monument Valley. Not only the my favourite [mobile] game of 2014 but one of the best mobiles game I've ever played. When they released an additional 8 levels via IAP for $1.99 I almost wished I could give them more money, this game is so finely crafted, a real labour of love. I think that if it had been released on console or steam it would have been just as well received but I'm not sure if the experience would be as good as it is on iPad, it looks beautiful even on my non-retina iPad and you directly manipulate the environment via touch, so something would be lost if it was adapted for mouse/game pad input. Whenever I load this up on my IPad and shove it under somebody's nose, they become entranced with it, gamer or non-gamer alike.

    The other game that was important to me in 2014 was Broken Age, and not just because it's the first time where I've managed to get credited twice in the same game lol (was a backer and also did some work related stuff) but because it's also a labour of love, it's a great game (despite not living up to everybody's expectations maybe) and is notable for marking the point when crowd funded niche games became a 'thing' (or at least, reached a certain critical mass)

    1. ShaunCG Avatar

      You and me both, Kenty! I've made okay progress against my backlog over the past year (although, see also most recent post about backlogs – I'm trying to ditch the psychological baggage around 'em). This has meant not buying or playing very many new games (although AJ and Potter were kind enough to buy me EDF 2025 at the start of the year so we could all play it together).

      Valiant Hearts I've heard mixed things about, but as a game about social history I think it is quite a unique creation. I enjoyed the demo.

      Grats for the Broken Age credits! I enjoyed it, and hope Double Fine release the second part before too much more time passes.

    2. badgercommander Avatar

      I think that, apart from the two sentences where you seem to be fellating Apple, I completely agree with you about Monument Valley.

      I stumbled across it on the Amazon store for my Kindle and loved the main story. My girlfriend is also very much in love with it.

      Tried to hand it around to a few different people (and you will probably see a change to the facebook banner soon) but we hadn't gone deep enough on it to be able to talk about it on the podcast (the epic 7 hrs long podcast). Just wanted to say thanks for putting it on the radar as it was delightful mix of Echochrome and Lazy Raiders.

      1. ShaunCG Avatar

        My favourite part of trying out Monument Valley was when I said: "What was that ga-" and you said "Echochrome." And were correct.

  4. @Beechbone Avatar

    I concluded 2014 with a playthrough of AC: Unity which is both the best and worst AC to date for me. Technical problems aside, what I mean by that is that almost every design decision that looks great on paper is so badly executed that it becomes a major flaw. With a yearly release schedule AC series had to eventually collapse. There were some good games and some rather poor ones in the past but it never hit the bottom like that.

    However, the AC fiasco was kind of OK with me. What was most disapponting was the whole Destiny thing. After playing it for few weeks I was both saddend and enraged. I tried to convince myself that it's a good game. The core shooting was fun, right! The visuals were pretty and soundtrack was neat. Well, screw that, everything else was just horrible. The way the game treats its players is insulting. Destiny is a big marketing lie that pushes how far huge publisher can go to take your money and give little in return. Much has already been said on Destiny and I don't want to repeat half of the Internet here but if you have something to add to the subject on the podcast then I will gladly listen.

    On the bright note, 2014 was not that bad overall. I guess, for me it was a year of this-couldn't-go-right-but-it-did games. Alien: Isolation turned out to be a great horror game and better than expected homage to the 1979 film. The awesomely awesome awesomeness of Bayonetta 2 managed to iron out whatever was already not perfect about the first game. Shadow of Mordor was by far the best Assassin's Creed of the year. And DA: Inquisition allowed me to forget about the oh so underwhelming DA2 for a minute or two or more like over 90 hours.

    Also, I spent delightful time with the Super Turbo Championship Edition of Guacamelee! which is technically eligible as a 2014 release and currently I'm making my way through Shovel Knight, a game pretty much everyone should play.

    It's interesting that in my personal 2014 gaming experience all these are still trumped by Dark Souls, the first one. That was the year I played through it for the first time and it felt like I had just discovered video games. That was a great feeling.

    1. ShaunCG Avatar

      Funnily enough, 2014 was also the year of Dark Souls for me! It was utterly fantastic and I wish I could have the experience of playing it through for the first time back again.

      Bayonetta 2 and Alien: Isolation are both high up my personal lists of games I really want to play as soon as possible.

    2. badgercommander Avatar

      I have never liked Assassin's Creed but I have to say that Unity was the first one to even remotely interest me. It saddens me that they dropped the ball as hard as they did.

      Guacamelee was awesome, I loved every minute of it and the Co-Op is great as I am able to help out friends with the combat. I normally don't notice things like music (unless it is bad) but guacamelee should be commended for really standing out.

      Also, saying nice things about Dark Souls is always going to get you a thumbs up on this site.

  5. @kenty Avatar

    So is there any kind of ETA yet on the podcast?

    1. badgercommander Avatar

      Hopefully one will come out at the end of this week or the beginning of next.

      Part one is edited and I am doing the timeline and final notes

      1. ShaunCG Avatar

        Aye, apologies Kenty and others but it's running a bit late. Editing has proven a more demanding process than for our usual smaller and shorter podcasts!

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