This is it. The year is almost over. December is here and there are only like eight games left in 2014. We made it, friends! Let’s rejoice with a nice holiday break from the world of videogames. Well, after we play the five games below, all of which promise good times and great vibes. And after we catch up on all the games from earlier this year that we haven’t had time for yet. (We’ve been doing these lists for months now, and the lesson remains: there are too many games.) But we’re talking about December, a month of farewells. Here are five games we will say hello to before bidding 2014 adieu. We can already vouch for the bountiful goodness of the first game on our list, and hopefully the other four will keep up their end of the bargain.
1. Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
Release date: 12/5
Platform: Wii U
Okay, I’m no longer actively looking forward to this one. I’ve been playing it for the last week. It’s pretty good! It would’ve been number one on this list either way, as the Captain Toad puzzles were a great addition to Super Mario 3D World and I am always in favor of adorable games grown partially out of nostalgia. Treasure Tracker is the first game to go all-in on Toad as the hero, and between the smartly crafted platforming puzzles and too cute aesthetic, it’s a fine capstone to a great year for the Wii U.
2. The Talos Principle
Release date: 12/11
Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux
The Talos Principle bills itself as a “philosophical first-person puzzle game”, which would probably get at least a little bit of my attention no matter who made it. It’s co-written by Tom Jubert, who wrote FTL and The Swapper, two of the best games from the last couple of years. His co-writer is the idiosyncratic independent designer Jonas Kyratzes, and the game is designed by Croteam, the developers behind the solid Serious Sam series. Together they’ve crafted what appears to be an existential riff on exploratory puzzle games like Myst, and one of the more interesting games coming out this month.
3. Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris
Release date: 12/9
Platforms: Playstation 4, Xbox One, PC
After years of ambivalence towards Tomb Raider, I finally found a Lara Croft game I could enjoy with 2010’s Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light. The co-op heavy action game was part platformer, part puzzle game, and part Gauntlet tribute. Crystal Dynamics returns to that style with Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris, which doubles the amount of simultaneous players to four, finally nailing that sweet spot Gauntlet figured out so many decades ago.
4. Game of Thrones: Episode 1—Iron From Ice
Release date: 12/2
Platforms: PC, Playstation 3, Playstation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, iOS, Mac
I probably shouldn’t play Telltale’s new Game of Thrones adventure games. I haven’t read the books and quit watching the show halfway through the second season. (That smoke assassin and the constant threat of sexual violence were just too much.) Still, Westeros is fertile ground for the type of game that Telltale makes, and Telltale is so good at making that type of game that I’m pretty sure I’ll wind up checking out Iron From Ice before too long. I know our editor-in-chief and loyal Game of Thrones TV reviewer Josh Jackson is excited.
5. Elite: Dangerous
Release date: 12/16
I want to make fun of Elite: Dangerous for having one of the most generic names ever, but it’s a series that dates back to 1985. We didn’t expect much from game titles in 1985. Simple, one-word descriptions of the main action would suffice. Elite: Dangerous is a spacefaring MMO that lets players build their fortunes in a massive recreation of the Milky Way. It’s the kind of ambitious and open-ended game I would love to immerse myself in if I didn’t have a job and a family and a life. If I ever have a week suddenly open up, or turn into a professional stay-at-home jobless man, I plan on making a serious effort to get into this game.
Garrett Martin edits Paste’s games section.