AppSpy's Best Games of 2014 - James's Top 5

By , on December 30, 2014

With Glen's top picks and Peter's favourite games out of the way, it's time to share my prime gaming slices of 2014.

These are the games which, for a variety of reason, I couldn't put down over the past 12 months. Add them all to your wishlist, and give me a huge kiss of slobbering gratitude when you next see me.


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For me, few games have ever truly captured the spirit of space travel better than FTL. The isolation, the claustraphobia - the infinite dark filled peppered with glimmering wonders and invisible threats.

Yet somehow, despite it's lo-fi 2D visuals and complete lack of explosive cutscenes and shots of the Millenium Falcon doing barrel rolls, FTL totally nails space.

The granular micromanagement of your ship's systems makes you feel like Scotty, while the life or death decisions you are forced to make whenever you're under attack give you a thrilling Kirk rush. Plus, the randomly generated runs make it infinitely replayable. If you have an iPad, this should be at the top of your wishlist.

80 Days 

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Where FTL explores the dangers of space, Inkle's adventure book triumph 80 Days celebrates the adventure of travel. Based on classic novel Around the World in 80 Days, this beautifully presented story lets you make your own voyage across the globe.

However, though the game is essentially a choose-your-own-adventure, you have an unprecedented level of choice when working out what gear to take, what route to travel, and what mode of transportation to use. Yet this freedom is always grounded in a story of cameraderie which is as elegant and compelling as the silhouettes of the cities you pass through.

Monument Valley

Of course I love Monument Valley. How could I not?

Like The Room series, it's a game that puts architecture at the core of its puzzle design, that eschews guns and gruff-voiced male leads switches and a silent white waife.

It's unquestionably gorgeous, but like the fantastical towers you must explore, there's are mechanisms at work beneath the surface which make it far more than just an aesthetic triumph.

Rearranging the pillars and staircases of Monument Valley's Escher-inspired kingdom offered more genuinely thrilling moments in its short (though now doubled) runtime than all the grotty first-person shooters of 2014 put together, and you owe it to yourself to play it.

Papers, Please

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This one snuck in right at the end of the year, to the point where I debated whether or not to include it in this list. But Lucas Pope's fascinating - and deeply uncomfortable - exploration of life as a border control officer is not only a fantastic game, but a perfect fit for touchscreens.

Sure, the deliberately drab visuals and oppressive atmosphere have carried over well to the App Store. And the game itself remains as thought provoking and emotionally draining as it was when it hit Steam last year.

But where this iPad version shines is in its tactility. You can now shuffle the papers around your workstation with your hands, and push that life-changing 'Approved' stamp with your finger, removing another small but tangible barrier between you and your virtual actions. What's more, you even get to hand the passport back to each traveller, futher amplifying that feeling of generosity, or making that stab of guilt all the more painful.

Hitman Go

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Instead of trying to recreate the third person shenanigans of the stealthy and violent console series on a touchscreen, the folks at Square Enix decided to distill the essence of Hitman into a tabletop-style boardgame.

What's makes Hitman Go so impressive is that, despite the turn-based gameplay being completely different to anything explored in the Hitman universe to-date, it manages to convey the strategy and stealth for which the franchise is so beloved - and all through a tiny touchscreen.

You have to watch your enemies, learn their movement patterns, then pick the best approach to reach your target. You have the option to kill or distract, and the ability to dive into a potted plant when your jig is up. For me, this is a bold interpretation of the Hitman material, and one which pays off in spades.