2014 has come and gone. With it, from beginning to end, we saw some standout landmarks in gaming, both positive and negative. From the very highs to the very lows, 2014 offered up some extreme excellence in our preferred playable medium. In this list, you’ll find Andrea’s Top 5 games of 2014!

5. Hyrule Warriors

A love letter game is what I feel best describe titles like this and others such as Theathrythm Final Fantasy, Persona Q, and Project X Zone. They’re games I wouldn’t recommend to anyone without a prior attachment to the series they’re based on, and don’t particularly stand strong on their own. Hyrule Warriors is the epitome of just that. It is packed full of the Legend of Zelda’s most iconic characters and references that acknowledge all generations of the Zelda franchise.

Characters I thought I would never see again, like Midna and Sheik, are now playable. Skins, skins, and more skins let me revisit my favorite Link and Zelda designs from across the timeline. The Great Fairy is of course included, Epona too, and what would a Zelda title be without chickens? Also, if you thought the Moon was terrifying in Majora’s Mask, check it out in Hyrule Warriors. With more DLC planned, this fan service title is one I’ll continue to revisit well on into 2015.

4. Don’t Starve Together

I grabbed the first Don’t Starve one night early this year, and before I knew it, it was suddenly morning and I had sunk all of my time that night into collecting twigs and beating spiders to death. One thing I always maintained though, was that it was a game perfectly fit for multiplayer.

Klei Entertainment heard me, and several other fans, and granted us just that in Don’t Starve Together. Tim Burton’s Harvest Moon is the best way I can describe it. With a unique art style and an inventive world unique to multiplayer survival, it’s a gem that stands out in a genre over saturated with clone titles. Even in its limited, early access form, Don’t Starve Together easily earns its spot among my favorite titles for the year. With more content coming from the original version and being so enjoyable this early on, Don’t Starve Together is the one game on my list I feel confident recommending to anybody, no matter their preferred style of gaming.

3. Transistor

Transistor made it onto my Steam wishlist after hearing a few songs from the soundtrack. As much as I liked Bastion, I still wasn’t particularly interested in Transistor from first glance. A friend bought it for me and I beat it in two days while I was suppose to be out enjoying a vacation.

Red, the game’s protagonist, is characterized through one-sided conversations with her sword companion and interactions with the world around her. She’s a silent protagonist, but rises above and beyond the typical, simple avatar for the player feeling characters like her tend to have. Her place in Cloudbank and what would become of her special relationship with the voice accompanying her journey kept me hooked. I found Transistor’s combat pretty boring, but between exploring the environment, progressing through the story, and just enjoying the sights and sounds – I didn’t care.

2. Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth

I already mentioned Persona Q, touching on how it requires some prior connection to the series before indulging in the dungeon crawler, as it is another fan service game. For fans of the series who enjoyed Persona 3, 4, or both, Persona Q has all of the charm each game held and offers one more adventure with both casts.

Persona 3 and 4 each have their own story to follow in the game, depending on which protagonist you choose. I’m still on my first run, and I’m already smitten. Despite having not finished it yet, it still goes on my games of the year list. The banter between my favorite characters like Mitsuru, Akihiko, and Shinjiro made it well worth the price tag on their own. For fans of the series, this is the perfect Persona love letter from Atlus.

1. DanganRonpa 2: Goodbye Despair

I have a rule, one that I don’t think is particularly irrational, but I never buy a new console just for one game. Investing $200 or more in something I may only use for thirty hours just doesn’t seem worth it. However, if I didn’t already own a PlayStation Vita, DanganRonpa would be a game I’d break that rule for.

Let’s pretend DanganRonpa: Trigger Happy Havoc is included at the number one spot too, because playing the first one is a must before diving into the second. I have trouble articulating just why I love the series in one short paragraph, but you can read my more in-depth review of DanganRonpa 2 here. Not only am I including Monokuma‘s tale of despair and chaos in my top five of the year, but DanganRonpa has landed somewhere in my top ten games of all time. For anybody contemplating a Vita purchase, I urge you to let this be the game that persuades you into picking up Sony’s handheld.

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