Disappointment of the Year 201408 Dec 2014 0
The Disappointment of the Year wasn't the worst game of 2014 -- but it was the biggest let-down for sure. It was our very own Freddy Adu: keenly anticipated for its potential, utterly forgettable once it arrived.
Back in May of 2013, new Finnish studio PlayRaven gave us the first look at a game that, in broad strokes, sounded like a PT reader's dream: Spymaster, a turn-based strategy game where you managed a team of Allied saboteurs as they raised hell behind Axis lines in WWII Europe. Spymaster would draw inspiration from board games but would take full advantage of tablets to create a one-of-a-kind experience best described as Football Manager for spies.
Once we had all picked ourselves up off the ground and patted dry our drooled-on jumpers, we started asking more questions. Would there be permadeath for agents? Yes indeed. How about dynamic events and emergent storytelling? You betcha. And it's a premium game, right?
When Spymaster eventually arrived in September, it was a strange chimera of hardcore game concepts extruded through a slimy free-to-play press. Every interesting element of the game's design was undercut by its constant squeals for money. Dead secret agent? Resurrect for gold! Lose a mission? Get more turns for gold! You could see the bones of an engaging, intelligent game somewhere inside Spymaster, but it required a grimly determined autopsy to discover them.
PlayRaven had tried to keep a foot in two camps: old-school hardcore gamers who wanted cerebral experiences and new-school free-to-play gamers who demand no barriers to entry. They certainly didn't please us (as my review from this autumn underlines) but they apparently didn't please anyone else either -- Spymaster slipped off the App Store charts relatively quickly and didn't come back.
It was (and remains) a great concept, but Spymaster's insidious free-to-play execution leaves it firmly out in the cold this year.
Runner-up: Rollercoaster Tycoon 4
(Dis)-honourable Mention: Dungeon Keeper, Manhattan Project, Civ Rev 2
To see all of the games recognised in the Pocket Tactics Best of 2014 Awards, visit the 2014 Awards Index page.
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