The best game on the Xbox One is not a heavily mo-capped Roman battle simulator; it's not car porn, nor is it a parkour-filled first-person shooter. No, the flagship title on Microsoft's shiny new console is a pixelated, 2D bullet hell game, combining shades of Contra and Braid to make something incredibly special.
Though it can be vague, strange, and inaccessible, Transistor is one of the strongest games of 2014 so far. Its unique take on standard video game practices make it feel undoubtedly fresh. With strong combat, great enemy design, and a lovely story, Transistor will reward those who put in the time. Its parts are solid, but as a whole, it's a wonderfully sound, beautiful RPG that will stick with players for a considerable amount of time.
While its concept is unique, its execution leaves an incredible amount to be desired. Unfortunately, the mystery of Ronan's murder is not nearly as thought-provoking as the mystery of when Murdered: Soul Suspect will be offered at a discount.
Those willing to give 1001 Spikes a fair try will find that its mind-numbing challenge can lead to some incredibly satisfying moments. Its brilliantly crafted mechanics give players every opportunity to best the treacherous traps of Ukampa. Unfortunately, it's easy to see countless players quitting after a couple of levels, as its difficulty severely limits is accessibility.
It's easy to see why Sony chose to give Entwined air-time during its conference, as it is absolutely exceptional. This is one of those games that players will go to time and time again due to its extensive replay value. Entwined has the potential to cheer up the heartbroken, enlighten the lonely, and reinvigorate the jaded.
While the UbiArt Framework logo at the beginning of the game should be a clear sign that Valiant Hearts is visually beautiful, its breathtaking, unforgettable narrative comes somewhat as a surprise. While its occasionally dull gameplay and noticeably low level of challenge prevent it from being a masterpiece, Valiant Hearts is one of best games a Ubisoft studio has created in recent history.
With new content, minor balancing, and smart new formula tweaks, Drinkbox has managed to improve their already fantastic Mexican Metroidvania title. Guacamelee! Super Turbo Championship Edition is a better version of an outstanding game, meaning that players new and old alike should take great pleasure from it.
Though its stealth-based sniping gameplay can provide some exciting moments, Sniper Elite III is a decidedly mixed bag. Its abysmal narrative, outdated mission design, boring protagonist and weak non-campaign modes overshadow everything that it does well.
Road Not Taken is a decidedly "okay" experience, as its strategic gameplay is fundamentally flawed from the very beginning. Matching puzzles and roguelike mechanics make for an annoying combination, as the core gameplay isn't exciting enough to bring players back for more.
Perhaps confusion is the ultimate goal of Hohokum, or maybe it's to simply see something unlike anything else in the gaming space. Is it supposed to elate us, or be the last thing we do before drifting off into slumber? It's unclear whether or not the developers accomplished their goals, but does it truly matter? Hohokum is a charming, unique experience that often feels as though it doesn't stick to its guns.
D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die is one of the more pleasant surprises of the year. When one hears "bizarre episodic mystery title that uses Kinect," a high-quality product isn't what immediately comes to mind, but that's exactly what D4 is. It feels like a Telltale Game on LSD, which couldn't be more of a compliment. This is a mystery that's hard not to get sucked into, as its "anything goes" logic will leave players wondering what's going to come next. From its insanely quirky characters to its underlying tragedy, D4: Dark Dreams Don't Die is oddity done right.