I recently wrote about my favorite games of 2019 in order to wrap up my rankings from the year that I left unfinished when I went on hiatus. As I wrote each entry, one thing that I found interesting is how much my opinions of certain titles have changed with time. Games I thought I didn’t enjoy all that much are stuck in my head to this day, whereas my favorite experience according to the 2019 version of me is The Outer Worlds, a title that I forgot I even played until I looked at my rankings. This got me curious about how my thoughts change over time, and since I have been ranking games since long before I started my blog, I thought it would be fun to look at my list of completed games of 2014 and see how I regard them in the modern day.
21. Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories
I get to start this list off with an easy one. I hated Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories in 2014, and I still shudder every time I think of doing a full replay of the series because I would have to go back and experience the card-battling horror all over again. If anything, because I have a lot of negative thoughts and no positive ones here, my hatred has only grown over the years. In part, I will admit that my issues probably stem from not ever fully understanding the combat mechanics, but I also didn’t understand them because I didn’t like them enough to dive in and learn the intricacies. I’m not sure if I will ever recover my love of Destiny Islands after I got stuck grinding there for hours because I couldn’t beat the boss at the end of the area. Someone who loves card battlers would probably enjoy this game, but I am not that person.
Verdict: I hate this game more than I did in 2014, and that’s saying something.
20. Touch My Katamari
I forgot Touch My Katamari existed until looking at this list, and I’m a huge fan of the franchise. This is the PlayStation Vita version of the ball-rolling, town-eating extravaganza and it was…incredibly forgettable. It felt like a parody of the franchise, which already didn’t take itself too seriously, and it felt like it was being wild and random just to be wild and random. It wasn’t funny and it was only a few hours long. I don’t really hate this game, but I don’t like it either, which is probably the worst position a game can find itself in. My feelings haven’t really changed over time, and I instead forgot it existed at all.
Verdict: Will never touch this Katamari ever again.
19. Dear Esther
Dear Esther is an interesting case. It was the first “walking simulator” that I can recall playing, and I hated it. Later on, however, titles like Firewatch and What Remains of Edith Finch became beloved experiences of mine, so I decided to give it another shot in 2018, thinking that I just didn’t connect with the genre in 2014. Well, I booted up the remastered version and…still didn’t enjoy it. In the absence of any real gameplay, a walking simulator has to tell a phenomenal story and have visuals with meaning, and I didn’t believe that Dear Esther had either of those features. It was just boring and even though it only takes around ninety minutes to finish, I seriously considered dropping the replay. I believe my game tastes have changed a lot over the years and continue to shift to this day, but unfortunately, there are some titles that will just never work for me, and this is likely one of them.
Verdict: Even a replay couldn’t save this one.
18. Call of Duty: World at War
I don’t really like Call of Duty that much, but my husband (boyfriend at the time) is really into the franchise, so I decided to humor him and play through some of the campaigns. Some of the other titles in the series will appear later on in this list, implying I like them more, but if I’m being honest, World at War is the only one that I would go back and replay in 2021. Something about the World War II setting and the way that multiple storylines were told made this a far more interesting narrative experience than the other Call of Duty titles I have played. I’m positive that I ranked this in the lower part of the list because this was a really hard game, even on the easiest difficulty, but one recurring theme through this list is that I remember story far more than gameplay, so my opinion has definitely risen over time.
Verdict: I got to use a flamethrower in this game, so that’s all you need to know to understand my 2021 feelings on this one.
A constant truth of my gaming history is that I hate any game where their sole purpose for existing is to be artsy, and any title by Amanita Design fits this bill. I know Botanicula is beloved by many people for its beautiful art style and point-and-click gameplay, but I was just bored. There really wasn’t enough of a story to keep me engaged, and the beautiful art style was not enough to keep me hooked. I’ve tried to play other Amanita Design games since and didn’t enjoy those, either, so I think this is a case of the developer just making titles where I am not the target audience.
Verdict: Absolutely not for me and never will be.
16. Castle Crashers
Here is another example of how difficult it can be to sort out emotions on a game years later. I have fond memories of Castle Crashers and would personally place it in a much better spot in 2021, but it’s because I played it with friends over summer break from school. We all gathered together and spent hours planning out who would be which character and how we should boost our stats. It’s difficult to separate the actual gameplay experience itself from how much fun I had playing it with other people.
Verdict: This is a very nostalgic experience for me, and I love it.
I have a fondness for Bastion now that I didn’t have when I played it in 2014, and like with Castle Crashers, it is for unconventional reasons. The soundtrack is beautiful and I listen to it regularly, which has elevated the game as a whole in my mind. Additionally, I have played other titles by Supergiant Games in the years since first picking this up and enjoyed those titles enough that Bastion also came along for the ride in my head as a personal favorite. It just goes to show how easily memories can get jumbled up and opinions can be swayed.
Verdict: my love of Hades has helped Bastion out quite a bit.
14. Thomas Was Alone
I cannot believe how low I ranked Thomas Was Alone. This is a title that I frequently credit as being one of the main reasons that I got into indie gaming (with the other reason coming later in this list). The plot and characters are memorable, which is impressive given that every character is a rectangle. I’m sure if I went back and did a replay, I’d probably find that this is another situation where the gameplay isn’t great and I’m feeling nostalgia that is based purely upon the story quality, but I’m still completely shocked to see how low this ranked.
Verdict: Thomas Was Alone deserved better and the 2014 version of me is wrong
13. The Walking Dead Season 1
This might be a slightly controversial opinion, but while I enjoyed The Walking Dead well enough when it first came out, I am so over zombies in 2021. I still remember this game quite vividly, so the plot seems to have stuck with me, but I can’t honestly say that I care that much about it anymore. It’s kind of a shame because I remember enjoying the story in 2014, but the fact that I never went on past the first season should probably show how much anything about it resonated with me in the long run.
Verdict: If a walker ate this game so it left this world forever, I wouldn’t miss it.
12. Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons
Oh boy, another example of how distance from a game can help me ignore terrible gameplay in favor of fondly remembering a strong story! Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons has one of the most memorable endings that I have ever seen in a video game. Unfortunately, my experience was hurt by the fact that the game forced me to control two characters at the same time, one with the left half of the controller and one with the right half. I can appreciate the artistic choice made here, as it is a notably unique example of the control scheme actually tying into the plot in a way that helped elevate the already touching ending into a masterpiece, but that doesn’t change that it was not fun to play.
Verdict: I’m glad I experienced it, but never again.
11. Call of Duty: Black Ops
I blame my husband for this ranking. Call of Duty: Black Ops is a personal favorite of his, and I think he hyped it up to the point where in the moment, I thought it was a favorite of mine, as well. While I do enjoy the title well enough and think it has a fantastic plot twist, the rest of the story wasn’t anything all that special and I don’t think back as fondly on it as I do many other experiences on this list.
Verdict: I loved it then, but it would now be the video game representation of a shoulder shrug.
10. Little Inferno
I’m starting the top ten off with a confusing bang. I like Little Inferno well enough, but it’s definitely not top ten material. Honestly, I had to go back and look at screenshots in order to remember the gameplay well enough to even write this entry. In the moment, I probably enjoyed it because it was relaxing and easy to play, but a title that presents no challenge and the bare minimum that is required for a narrative experience is quickly forgotten in my mind.
Verdict: Why did I like this so much?
Okay, this is a weird one. In truth, I can’t say how I feel about Halo as an individual entity because I played through the entire series in rapid succession and can’t separate them in my head. This is my only title from the series on the 2014 list because I must have played it towards the end of the year, since the rest of the series is on my 2015 list. If that doesn’t make things complicated enough, I also always play these games in co-op with my husband, which makes me enjoy them a lot more, as well. Overall, I love Halo as a series, but I don’t know how much I love the game.
Verdict: Uh…good, I guess?
8. Kingdom Hearts
Kingdom Hearts is a childhood favorite of mine. I believe that 2014 was the first time that I actually rolled credits on the game, but I have been playing it since its initial release on the PlayStation 2. This is absolutely a case of nostalgia talking, but I love this title. Its gameplay is messy, its story is dumb, and the voice acting is pretty hit-or-miss, but I can’t stop smiling whenever I pick it up for a replay.
Verdict: Nostalgic fave.
Portal is the reason that I love puzzle games today. It feels more like a glorified tech demo than an entity all its own, but it’s still a ton of fun to play. I really want to get to the point where I can’t remember the puzzle solutions so I can do a replay, but unfortunately, a few of the harder puzzles frustrated me enough that their solutions seem to be permanently burned into my brain.
Verdict: I need a third Portal game so I have new puzzles to solve instead of playing this one again.
6. Rogue Legacy
Alongside Thomas Was Alone, Rogue Legacy cemented my love for indie games. It’s surprising that this title was such a hit for me because I don’t like metroidvanias or roguelikes, but something about the way it was combined with an addicting levelling system worked for me. I’d love to do a replay sometime, but I’m afraid it won’t hold up all these years later, and I don’t want to ruin one of my favorite games for myself.
Verdict: Its legacy is strong for me.
5. To the Moon
To the Moon is one of the most underrated indie games that I have ever played, and I continue to stand by this statement. Its story is impactful and the pixel art is beautiful. I know there are some people that struggle with the minimal amount of gameplay, but I’m honestly okay with it. While I believe that its sequels have been a little more all over the place in terms of quality, I love this series and cannot wait to see where it goes next.
Verdict: Hold on, I have to go cry over the ending again.
4. Persona 3 Portable
Has it really been this long since I played Persona 3? I know I gave this my number four spot even in 2014, but my love for this game has only grown since then, likely due to the phenomenon of forgetting some of the moment to moment tedium that the gameplay produced in favor of the stellar story. The characters were probably the weakest of the three modern Persona titles, but the story is arguably my favorite because of how unrelentingly dark it is from start to finish. I don’t think I could bring myself to replay this on my Vita because I would get a terrible headache staring at the tiny screen for eighty hours, but I hope this comes to a modern platform eventually so I can experience it again one day.
Verdict: Steam version when?
3. Portal 2
I loved Portal 2 when it first game out and that still holds up, but I can’t remember much about it anymore. In a weird way, because I found the puzzles in the first game harder due to the unfamiliarity of the overall mechanics, I think I remember more about the first Portal than I do the second. This seems like a title that is due for a replay, perhaps more than anything else on this list.
Verdict: The cake is a lie, but this game’s quality is not
2. Bioshock Infinite
Bioshock Infinite is one of my favorite games of all time, though I can’t remember for certain if this is the first time that I played it or not since I didn’t keep track of my completions before 2014. It’s number eight on my top 100 games of all time list that I made in 2019, and while I’m sure that list will shift around a lot when I do an overhaul, I doubt its position will move much. I have never found myself to be a huge fan of shooters (though a large portion of this list has been shooters, so maybe 2014 was when I discovered this), but Infinite is the best one I have ever played. The guns felt great and the story is one of my favorites. I still regularly quote lines from the script in my everyday conversation, which is the marker of some memorable writing, as well.
Verdict: Now I want to start replaying this game as soon as I wrap up writing!
1. Persona 4 Golden
Finally, we have reached number one. 2014 was obviously a great year for me, as Persona 4 Golden is my number six game of all time on my top 100, and I would not disagree with this placement, either. In fact, my love has really only grown over time, as when I talk to people in normal conversation and they ask for my favorite game, I usually give them three: Final Fantasy X, Fallout: New Vegas, and Persona 4 Golden. I honestly don’t know how to talk about this title because I love it so much and I feel like I can’t do it justice. This experience is nearly flawless. Every character has meaning and purpose, to the point that I cannot pick a singular favorite from the main crew, the story is perfectly paced, and it has one of the best twist endings of all time. The murder mystery theme is probably what got me into other favorite titles that I found later on, too, like Danganronpa.
Verdict: This game is the reason that I prefer character-focused narratives.
Overall, I’m pleasantly surprised by my list. There are a few that I disagree with the rankings for when I look at them now, but a lot of my favorite games of the year are ranked exactly how I would expect. There’s actually quite a few titles on here that I would like to replay, so I might try and pick a few out and dive deeper into what has changed in my opinions since my 2014 playthroughs.
How do your video game opinions change over time? Let me know in the comments!