Today offers a good occasion for posting my own GOTY list since this is my 4th birthday on GameSpot, though to be correct, I've been following the site already more than half a year before finally becoming a registered subscriber at the end of 2010.
Game release-wise 2014 hasn't been disappointing for me, and quite a bunch of games I've been anticipating—Titanfall, inFamous: Second Son, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2, Destiny, Dragon Age: Inquisition, Bayonetta 2, The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, Valiant Hearts—did completely meet my expectations. A few did not comply (Thief) or haven't been finished yet (Alien Isolation, The Evil Within, Far Cry 4) whereas others I hadn't planned into playing—Wolfenstein The New Order, The Wolf Among Us, Child of Light—have been a positive surprise. Again others have been postponed to 2015, so let's see what the upcoming year will bring about (maybe stuff for another blog).
- Overall – Well, I didn't succumb to any anti-hype hipsterist temptation to vote the most anti-Destiny Game of the Year. To me Destiny (PS4)* deserves the GOTY for being a phenomenon rather than only a game, with thousands of players letting themselves getting conditioned by the game's weekly schedules, namely Tuesdays and Fridays, not to mention DLCs, patches, and temporary stoppages... Also, its being hyped doesn't prevent Destiny from being a truly addictive game featuring well-functioning gameplay and outstanding graphics, and I don't really regret the 800+ hours put into upleveling my three characters and many more favorite weapons so far.
- Action/Adventure: inFamous: Second Son (PS4) – I thoroughly enjoyed rushing through visually splendid Seattle with Delsin Rowe's thoroughly enjoyable superpowers. In gameplay and context Second Son reminded me positively of two of my favoritest games, Jet Set Radio Future and The Saboteur, and it is notably better than 2012's Prototype 2.
Runners-up: Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 (PC), Bayonetta 2 (Wii U)
- Shooter: Titanfall (PC) – I eventually decided in favor of Titanfall for its Titan mechs' contributing to making it a nicely original online shooter game, and in spite of the new Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare's outstanding technical perks.
- Role-Playing Game: Dragon Age: Inquisition (PS4) – Admittedly, I am a fan of BioWare's style, from KOTOR to SWTOR, and played also the previous two Dragon Age games so I am quite a connoisseur of the story background (and even recall Corypheus from DA2's Legacy DLC). Moreover, Inquisition does take the best of Origins and DA2 to provide vast, explorable maps and manageable squad-wielding gameplay.
- Racing: Mario Kart 8 (Wii U) – Isn't it the only racing game not having known server issues (Driveclub, The Crew...) this year? There is pretty much everything to like of Mario Kart 8, the fancy circuits, the familiar characters, the car customizations (including the free Mercedes DLC), the co-op fun...
- Fighting: would be Super Smash Bros. (Wii U) if I had gotten it already (though I bought already some amiibos); it will surely be one of my next games to purchase for the Wii U, though. On the other hand I did play (and like) UFC (PS4) but decided to rather not nominate any fighting game this year.
- Platforming: Shovel Knight (Wii U) – Cute story and pixelated, retro-style graphics plus challenging levels with achievable difficulty. What makes Shovel Knight “retro” is also the fact that no tutorials or hint bubbles help playing the game, but as likewise for the shovel-wielding protagonist, the tools are limited and their use relies on the player's own inventiveness.
Runner-up: Valiant Hearts: The Great War (PC)
- Indie: The Vanishing of Ethan Carter (PC) – Taking place in a splendid autumnal forest landscape to the tunes of atmospheric ambient music while covering a pastoral psycho-horror story that skilfully generates a sensation of blankness which its puzzles, once resolved, don't really attempt filling out, this is a game for curious, melancholic people. "Faggot" Ethan Carter could have been the teenage Alan Wake.
Runner-up: Shovel Knight (Wii U)
- Graphics: Castlevania: Lords of Shadows 2 (PC) – There have been quite a lot of contenders for visual splendidness this year, including Destiny, inFamous: Second Son, Dragon Age: Inquisition, yet I decided in favor of Castlevania: Lords of Shadows 2 whose PC version sports nearly next-gen graphics. Not only as regards the cinematic takes on action and drama scenes, but also the environments juxtaposing Gothic and modern architecture as well as the textures (metal, stone, bone, wood, skin) are modeled stunningly realistically and with cherished detail.
Runner-up: The Vanishing of Ethan Carter (PC)
- Soundtrack: Shovel Knight (by Jake Kaufman), cf. http://virt.bandcamp.com/album/shovel-knight-original-soundtrack – This sort of "electro-baroque" music making use of several ancient musical forms (Passacaglia, Tarantella, Bourrée, Waltz) a bit à la Neo-Couperin really made my summer; while not "atmospheric" at all the individual tracks that can be collected as hidden music sheets in the game itself fit also extraordinarily well to the game's different quest levels.
Runner-up: The Vanishing Ethan Carter, by Mikołaj Stroiński; cf. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jvX7r_OlaOo&list=RDjvX7r_OlaOo#t=642
* The platform displayed in brackets indicates the one I've been playing the game on.