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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 Kyle’s Top 5 games of 2014!

5. Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN-

Having been gone for so long, nobody truly expected the Guilty Gear series to return to form—or at all—when BlazBlue became a long-standing fighting franchise from Arc System Works on last-generation consoles. Imagine the surprise when Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN- was announced not only as an arcade game, but later as a Sony exclusive. A PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 exclusive, to be precise. The legacy lives on in Guilty Gear Xrd, with its nearly flawless fighting mechanics, bombastic visuals (that received quite a kick thanks to this new title’s development in Unreal Engine 3), and euphoric rock/metal soundtrack. The battle start screen says, “Heaven or Hell,” but this is definitely exclusively “Heaven.”

4. Far Cry 4

Far Cry 3 admittedly had problems, from its diluted attempt at subvertive storytelling to many of its game mechanics that grimly pushed stealth over allowing the player to charge in with reckless abandon. Far Cry 4 sought to rectify a great deal of its predecessor’s faults and succeeded with flying colors. It’s almost unbelievable how much better Far Cry 4 is than 3 in nearly every conceivable way. Not only that, even though Vaas was a clever character, Pagan Min is cruel, charming, and wonderfully psychotic. Troy Baker is a treasure in the role of the King of Kyrat and elevates an already good game into the stratosphere.

3. Transistor

There were many who doubted that Supergiant Games could bring a thoughtful successor to the seminal Bastion, it’s hard to say that Transistor did not succeed or even surpass in several ways. With a beautiful futuristic dystopian aesthetic, traversing Cloudbank while the slow takeover of the Process happens throughout is daunting, as the inorganic life form proceeds to assimilate anything and everything. Coupled with one of the most interesting action/turn-based hybrid combat systems to date, Transistor remains interesting to explore and play more than once. Furthermore, the game reaches new heights thanks to the incredible disembodied narration of Logan Cunningham that accompanies a hauntingly beautiful soundtrack courtesy of Darren Korb with tracks sung by Ashley Barrett. Supergiant knocked it out of the park.

2. Bayonetta 2

Grace and brutality are words that are not often used together to describe a single entity, but the fact of the matter is, Platinum GamesBayonetta 2 is the perfect intersectionality of these true opposites. Renowned for their fantastic control work, Bayonetta 2 serves as a worth successor to Bayonetta on the merit alone of its playability, but further succeeds in having a strong soundtrack and a cleverly-written cast that make the sometimes-difficult romp through the environments all the more pleasing. Stylish, sexy, maddening, merciless—whatever adjective you care to apply to Bayonetta 2 will almost always be true and be one of its more charming qualities.

1. Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair

To be honest, I don’t think any of us know what a “Danganronpa” is, but it’s safe to say that we all kinda like it. The funny-name visual novel is a gutting, hilarious, and mysterious tale of friendship and betrayal, hope and despair, and a thoughtful look at what lengths people will go through to get what they want. Carrying a heart-wrenching story and one of the most solid translations ever to grace a localization, Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair is a diamond on what many consider a failing platform. With one of the most colorful casts of characters in just about any game, Danganronpa 2 will leave you attached to nearly every one and have your head playing favorites so that your in-game dear isn’t the next one to succumb to despair…

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