2014’s Surprise Great Games – GameSided Roundtable

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Greetings! This is our weekly GameSided Roundtable feature, where our writers converge to provide their opinions, wishes, statements or critical thought on one general topic centered around video games. Sometimes it can be funny, sometimes it can be serious. Contemporary, classic; we hope to cover a wide variety of things in this segment as a group. If you wish to submit an idea for a GameSided Roundtable discussion topic, you can leave the editor an email at: daniel.george@fansided.com. We’ll totally give you (and your Twitter account, if applicable) a shoutout!

This week’s GameSided Roundtable topic: “What is your lesser-known game of the year? To qualify, the game must have garnered success without reliance on large marketing budgets, through a sudden cult following or seemingly coming out of nowhere.

Rebekah Valentine (Twitter)

I let out audible cheers when Shovel Knight won Best Indie Game at The Game Awards 2014. My husband convinced me to play the game after he picked it up on Steam, so I played it on the 3DS store and was hooked within minutes.

If you haven’t heard of this indie title from Yacht Club Games that’s been picked up by nearly every major console and received rave reviews, here’s the lowdown: you’re the Shovel Knight. Wielding your trusty shovel, it is your job to fight your way through the Order of No Quarter in their respective hideaways, gain new powers, and eventually defeat the evil Enchantress and end her reign of terror over the land. The game plays like a beautiful union of Megaman, Dark Souls, and Castlevania–it uses 8-bit graphics, the puzzles are challenging and interesting, the platforming is fun, and the characters are quirky as all get out. Plus, the storyline–the bond between Shovel Knight and his partner Shield Knight–is told simply but beautifully. You might tear up by the end.

Shovel Knight is one of the few redeemers of the Kickstarter fad. The game was begun with Kickstarter funding, and actually made it to full development and success, unlike hundreds of other titles that are scrapped and lost at different points on the assembly line. It’s a baseline that such developers will hopefully strive for in the future, and definitely a must-play.

Georgina Young (Twitter)

While it is extremely infamous now I would say that Goat Simulator was my surprise find of this year. If you have an extremely childish sense of humour like me, then it really can keep you entertained for hours in a kind of mindless way. With the new MMO version out you can now explore your little goat’s world with you fellow goat. Ragdoll and lick your way to destruction. Is it stupid? Yes. Is it full of bugs? Definitely. But that doesn’t stop it being some of the best fun I’ve had playing games this year. GO(A)TY anyone?

Eric Chrisman (Twitter)

My favorite smaller game this year is Child of Light. Not only does it have gorgeous music and a stunning & unique art-style, it has an incredibly touching, yet fun fantasy story. Also, pretty novel for being a game with a strong young female protagonist. Add in a surprisingly complex battle system where you are constantly switching out party members on the fly to change out your strategy along with the charming dialogue that’s all in iambic pentameter and it is one of the most unique, gorgeous and fun lesser known titles this year. Even more of a surprise when you consider that it’s a Ubisoft title, who seems to do nothing but variations on Assassin’s Creed & Far Cry.

Child of Light is available on pretty much every platform but 3DS so if you haven’t picked it up by now and appreciate great smaller games you should really give it a shot.

Next: More Shovel Knight Love, Plus Two Grim Games In Different Ways