The 25 Best Games of E3 2014

By Kyle LeClair in Daily Lists, Video Games
Friday, June 13, 2014 at 6:00 am

8. Hyper Light Drifter

Holy crap, LOOK AT IT. LOOK AT HOW GLORIOUS THIS IS. God, every part of my inner old-school gamer is crying out in ecstasy over this game. A Zelda-like adventure with some of the most eye-popping visuals in video games today, a lot of Hyper Light Drifter's story has been shrouded in secrecy, but even just mere glimpses of the game's world suggests a land of pure wonder, imagination and kickassery. And the movement and combat...so simple, yet so fast, fluid and awesome. God, this drifter can't get here fast enough...

7. Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair

The original Danganronpa was one of the most pleasant surprises of this year so far, an engrossing visual novel about a group of high school students trapped in a large high school and held hostage by a psychotic stuffed bear who tells them that the only way to escape is to murder another student and then get away with it by surviving a mock trial with objections take the form of metaphorical bullets and rhythm games can break out (Spoilers: It was a Japanese game). Needless to say, the sequel promises more of the same goodness with a new crop of students trapped on a tropical island; the intro at E3 already showed off an eclectic bunch of characters. Most of them will wind up as corpses in interactive murder mysteries, mind you, but eclectic nonetheless. Sure to be a bloody good time, in more ways than one (sorry, I couldn't help it).

6. Far Cry 4

The only things you need to know are that you can manipulate surrounding elements to cause elephant stampedes that crash through your enemies this time around, and Troy Baker plays what is already shaping up to be one of the best antagonists in recent gaming memory, as seen above. If the finished product somehow involves Troy Baker riding a stampeding elephant, we can pretty much fork over all our GOTY awards to this one, folks.

5. Valiant Hearts: The Great War

Note to all other major gaming companies: THIS is how you do a war game, dammit. You go for something unique like a puzzle-adevnture game set in World War I, set around the intertwining struggles of four different people, and based on real-life letters from WWI veterans. And maybe you also highlight it all with the type of jaw-dropping visuals from the people who brought you the equally gorgeous Rayman Origins and Child of Light. Oh, and of course, incredible writing designed to tug at one's heartstrings. Hell, even throw in a partnership with the upcoming documentary Apocalypse WWI just to point out how this game plans to seriously handle the subject of war, juxtaposed with comic book-like visuals and a more cerebral style of gameplay. And it comes out in less than two weeks, so don't miss out on it, dang it.

4. Road Not Taken

One of the definite indie highlights at E3, Spryfox's tale about the surprises in life inspired by a Robert Frost poem (yeah, bet you didn't see that forming the basis for a video game) ended up capturing the hearts of several attendees thanks to its gorgeous art and simple yet unique and elaborate gameplay. The best way I can describe the game is a sort of cross between a modern roguelike game and an old-school puzzle game, you know, think The Binding of Isaac meets The Adventures of Lolo. Your quest to help restore lost children separated by a blizzard to their parents is complicated by the limited amount of time you have on this earth, specifically the fact that moving around objects to navigate and solve puzzles takes away a bit of your life essence each time, so you have to plan out every move you make...and sometimes just rely on luck. Hopefully this won't be the Road less travelled by, because a game this promising deserves to be enjoyed by as many as possible.

3. Splatoon

THIS, Nintendo. THIS. This is what I've wanted from you all this time: A unique new franchise that makes for a damn fun video game that you prominently highlight for the world to see, proving that you've rediscovered your creative spark in what will hopefully kick off a return to your glory days. And the idea of a kid-friendly shooter? As someone who preaches that we need more major kid-friendly games, I commend you fully for it. And what better premise for a shooter than a game where your manic characters use colored ink ammo to destroy enemies and gain territory that you can swim in by transforming into a squid at the the click of a button? Truly some ingenious stuff! A bunch of tentacled creatures swimming around in and gushing notable amounts of goo before they ambush young girls and...um, maybe we should re-consider that "kid-friendly" thing again. Nonetheless, bravo.

2. Evolve

A new shooter from the makers of Left 4 Dead that can basically be summed up as Left 4 Dead but with the zombie hordes replaced by a miniature kaiju? I fail to see how this can go wrong in any way possible. Four different class-based hunters with various skills versus one giant monster that can hunt, evolve, and gain new skills throughout the pursuit makes for some damn good multiplayer, with both sides being nicely balanced so far. It just goes to prove once again that truly, battle with giant monsters can bring out the best in us all...

1. Sunset Overdrive

...So as it turns out, my pick for the best game of E3 2014 turned out to be an Xbox One game after all. Go figure! Appropriate, I suppose?

Anyhow, I'm not going to lie, I went into E3 with Sunset Overdrive as my own personal frontrunner for Best in Show. And after having actually played it, I do not regret backing this game one bit. Sunset Overdrive is practically everything I love about video games wrapped up in a single package, chock full of fast-paced carnage, vivid colors and imaginative designs, a vast array of creative weaponry, sheer insanity and a sense of humor, and a plot involving an evil soft drink (which I think the last Devil May Cry game had as well; here's hoping this trend sticks).

All of the arcade-y goodness of the best classic action titles with gameplay that feels like a delicious cross between Dead Rising and Jet Set Radio, juiced up with the next-gen power needed to give us huge hordes of mutant enemies and a vast open-world to kill them all in via a spray of vinyl records embedded in their heads. It is a joyful, candy-coated wedgie to the overflow of brown-grey gritty shooters we have right now, and I just can't stop loving it. Sheer insanity, I embrace thee with open arms and a potential boner. Gob bless you, Insomniac. I shall indeed punch Peter in the face for dismissing your genius.

...Lasty, why the hell not, some Honorable Mentions: Crackdown, Battlecry, Destiny, Inside, Scalebound, Kirby and the Rainbow Curse, Entwined, Let it Die, Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth, Nuclear Throne, Abzu, Oddworld: New 'n' Tasty, Not A Hero, Galak-Z, Secret Ponchos, and the remastered version of Grim Fandango, the latter of which would have won Game of the Show if they had any footage.

Anyhow, that takes care of another E3 for this year. We truly hope you've enjoyed all of our coverage this week, and let it be known that we took pride in hopefully bringing you the type of game that you will all truly enjoy, and that this final act was a grandiose showcase of what the show had to offer. We enjoyed making it, and we hope you enjoyed reading it all and hearing about the games of the finest quality that the industry has to offer in the bright, radiant future.

...Now if you'll excuse me, I haven't slept in 72 hours. *collapses*


Previously by Kyle LeClair:

TR's 10 Best Indie Games of 2013

Ten More Great Games From E3 (That Might've Flown Under Your Radar)

The 10 Best Original Games of E3 2012

The Ten Best Games From PAX 2013

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