5) Dungeonmans (PC)
"Yeah, sh--sh, shh, should the game that references G.O.B. Bluth not make the the game of the year list? Come on!!"
This one snuck onto my list at the last minute. I had heard of the game thanks to Andrew Barker's preview
and following along with Andrew "zircon" Aversa's updates on the soundtrack, but never got around to checking it out. After picking it up for review on a whim and burning 20 hours in less than a week, it's an easy choice for this list. It's got some bugs and glitches, but this is tight, addictive roguelike RPG gameplay. It's charming, genuinely funny, has a fantastic soundtrack, and thanks in no small part to some Rogue Legacy-like persistent elements, it's profoundly addicting.
4) Diablo III: Reaper of Souls (PC)
"No one can stop Death... except for stupid writing."
Diablo III was (is?) the cool game to hate in favor of whatever other hack-and-slash is currently making the rounds on the gaming circuit. Somewhere in the midst of all the "it was ruined by 'x,'" though, Blizzard killed the auction house and released a series of patches and this expansion pack that have made the game not just good, but fantastic. Adventure mode, a vastly improved loot system, ladders, and a skill revamp that produced really great build diversity have all made this a game I was happy to sink over 200 hours into on several new characters. The rollout of ladder season 2 is bringing with it even more new items, legendary gems, and an entirely new tier of majestic supergear to hunt down, so it's clear Blizzard isn't slowing down on this one. Just like Final Fantasy XIV's stunning turnaround with A Realm Reborn, Reaper of Souls has made the Diablo III my top choice in its genre, hands-down.
3) The Banner Saga (PC)
"The silence is what I remember."
I can't overstate just how good The Banner Saga is. It's beautiful, haunting, and fun. As a self-contained, relatively quick but unforgettable experience, it flirts as close to perfection as a game can. You should own it.
2) Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call (3DS)
"Onward Whatever We March Derpishly"
Curtain Call is an obvious match for me. I love Final Fantasy, and I love game music, and the sequel to Theatrhythm Final Fantasy has a massive amount of both. Revised gameplay mechanics, an exceptionally addictive Quest mode, and near-complete representation of the series' musical legacy are all descriptors that, while accurate, fail to truly capture why this game continues to be such a magical experience for me. The DLC selection is reasonably-priced and supplements an already complete package, and with Square Enix promising to support and expand the game for the foreseeable future, this one's another easy recommendation. Plus, it now includes SaGa, Chrono Trigger, Secret of Mana, and Bravely Default music. No brainer.
1) Divinity: Original Sin (PC)
"Intruder! Int... int... int... DER!"
There's a whole mess of classically-styled CRPGs crowding for your time lately. Wasteland 2, Pillars of Eternity, Torment, and certainly others I'm forgetting. All of them promise in some way to recreate that old-school computer role-playing experience we all remember so fondly, and at least Wasteland 2 certainly does. I loved the games these new ones are inspired by, so why is it that I'm suddenly so much less interested in all of them?
It's because of my 2014 game of the year, Larian Studios' Divinity: Original Sin, which is one of the best RPGs I've ever played, and certainly the best CRPG in many, many years. Even setting aside the excellent implementation of true cooperative play, funny dialogue, detailed crafting system, massive world and quest, and supremely entertaining tactical combat, you're still left with one of the best magic and skill systems around. Skills and magic are governed by a set of consistent physics, means each new one offers some new method of interacting with the world. In a given situation, you could set the land ablaze, call down rain to create steam from the licking flames, enchant your sword-wielding buddy to make him immune to lightning, zap the cloud to stun all the foes in it, and then teleport your buddy into the midst of it and watch as he whirlwinds around gutting the hapless fools, safely free from the electricity crackling around him. It's intuitive, and the rate at which the game unlocks new powers makes all the ways in which they work together totally comprehensible.
The experience I had traipsing through this world with my best buddy as the heroic team of Taelus the mage and the warrior Butters, along with their erstwhile sidekicks Lady Svanhild and Kris Death-Jordan, is one that'll be hard for the spate of upcoming CRPGs to top. It's some of the best role-playing I've ever done, and I heartily recommend Divinity: Original to hardcore RPG fans. You won't be sorry.