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Felix Kramer's Top 10 Games of 2018

Like many of us, Felix did not love 2018, but they did love some of 2018's video games.

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Felix produces indie games. They run Polytron with Phil Fish, and work on numerous other projects, including TUNIC and the upcoming Neo Cab. Follow them at @legobutts on Twitter.

Hello, friends. I’m very, very tired and here are some games I loved that came out in the decade that has passed since January 1st 2018.

Donut County

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I’m trash but this game certainly is not. It’s gorgeous, it’s funny, it’s about a terrible raccoon and his wonderful friends, and it has the most realistic texting mechanic I’ve ever seen in a game. I’ve heard it described as a “reverse Katamari” which I’m on board with--it’s full of wonderfully mundane items with delightful descriptions. Which character am I? Probably “Cool Snake” which you can look up in the Trashopedia (a list of every item you swallow in the game as your donut hole grows to biblical proportions). Cool Snake’s entry states that it is “Alive spaghetti with the ability to hate”… Same, snake. Same.

Dragon Quest XI

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I play every DQ that comes out, so take this one with a grain of salt. Typically JRPGs require so much grinding that I use them as a processing tool--any time I need to Do a Big Think, I put on something that I can make progress in by just pressing the same button over and over. I come out of those sessions a little bit calmer, sometimes with a solution to my issue, but always with a stronger JRPG protagonist. I’m a big fan of DQ’s tactics, where I can inform my entire party to switch to what is pretty decent AI, so I don’t have to do the action selection for every fight.

I understand I sound like I’m trying to push the driest gameplay on the planet, so if that doesn’t appeal please recall: I’m trash. And as if I haven’t had enough grinding in battles, I’m also obsessed with gambling in the DQXI casino. It involves a slot machine that is its own RPG within the game. I could speak for actually hours about this, but I’ll just say the slot machine RPG (titled Slime Time, with protagonist Goolysses) has it’s own manual and rulesets and leveling and impenetrable RNG stuff going on. Listen. I get it. You’ve got questions. Am I spending an egregious amount of time following Goolysses on his adventure in Slime Time? Maybe. Do I regret anything? No. Have I even progressed past the town with the casino in DQXI yet? Don’t at me.

Pokémon: Let’s Go Pikachu

*takes deep breath*

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YOU CATCH POKEMON BY TOSSING YOUR CONTROLLER AT YOUR TV. YOU CAN RIDE AROUND ON BIG POKEMON’S BACKS. I HAVE A PERSIAN THAT I RIDE AROUND ON. PIKACHU IS ALWAYS ON MY SHOULDER AND TELLS ME HOW IT'S FEELING. I CAN GET MATCHING OUTFITS FOR ME AND MY PIKACHU. I CAN PET IT. I CAN PET THE PIKACHU ANY TIME I WANT.

*breathes again*

When I purchased this game, I had no idea it was a “reboot” (is it a reboot, can we say that?) of the game I played in my teens. Just saying that makes me feel ancient. Teens? Was I really a teen when I played Pokémon Yellow? Good god. How am I even alive. Anyway Pikachu is the only correct choice for this game and as previously mentioned, don’t @ me.

Katamari Damacy Reroll

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This game is just now releasing as I submit this list to Alex. I know it’s on my top 10. I have the demo. Playing Katamari on Switch is going to feel SO GOOD. Katamari got me into games, and taught me that games can be weird and strange and charming--and commentary. I am very pleased that in 2018 we are seeing a Katamari remaster. I would give my soul for a We <3 Katamari remaster. My tired, tired soul.

Celeste

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In Celeste you climb a mountain. I cried four times while climbing this mountain. And when I say cried, I mean real, big, giant tears. Waterworks. I bawled four times while climbing this video game mountain, and it wasn’t out of frustration. It was insight, epiphany, and out of the compassion the game offered me. This game reminded me I have permission to feel like climbing a mountain is really tough, and to breathe while doing it, and believed in me the whole way. If you’re worried about the precision platforming or the difficulty levels, take a look at the assist options. They’re there for you to use, and turning them on still gives you a rich, full experience. Anyway, play this game. This one is important.

Diablo III (Switch)

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It’s the year 2018 and this game is still on my list. How have I been playing this game so long? Oh, because it’s one of the best games of all time? And now I can play it on planes? With my friends? And I’m not tired of it??? SURE. ITS ON THE LIST. IT WILL BE EVERY YEAR UNTIL I DIE, APPARENTLY.

Dad of War

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It’s tough not to mention this gorgeous reimagining of a series I cared so little about before 2018. Every year there’s a AAA game that I play that reminds me that the games I work on are tiny. Even when they’re huge for indie, they’re just so so small--in previous years there was Uncharted 4 and Breath of the Wild and this year it was Dad of War. And normally in AAA I’ve got something to say about the execution of vision, but Dad of War just feels so cohesive to me, like it knew what it wanted to be. I have no idea if that’s true, or what its development was actually like, but congrats everyone who worked on this one, ya done good. Plus, I love you Teal’C. I wish you’d just hug your son but hey, I get it. Being a Dad of War is tough.

Minit

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On my left arm I have a tattoo that is a series of shapes. Point, line, triangle, square, pentagon, hexagon, in that order. It’s a SUPERHEXAGON tattoo, and I got it to remind me that measurable progress in small increments and cycles is the only way forward through life. Try, fail, repeat. Minit is a game that speaks to me in the same way. Part of the joy is playing and realizing the mechanics as you go, so I won’t completely spoil it all in case you haven’t picked it up, but Jesus this game is good. It’s my top example of elegant game design in 2018. Being in control of the fail case while feeling the pressure of the main mechanic is just so meaningful to me. I’m very very close to making this one my next tattoo, just need a design that expresses what makes it so special.

Return of the Obra Dinn

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I’m not quite finished with this one yet, so this will be short and sweet. A friend described this game to me as “murder sudoku” and I can’t think of a better shorthand for this masterpiece. Never has a game trusted me as a player so fully. It hasn’t held my hand so far and I see no future in which that starts. It put me on a ship, told me to use a magical pocket watch to discover how everybody died, and sent me on my way. I will say: it’s sad, and so I’m sad while playing most of the game, and this feeling is something Lucas Pope is excellent at. It’s so meditative, and grim, and perfectly art directed. It requires my full attention but doesn’t demand it as a skill challenge. I feel clever when I play, and wow does that feel good these days.

Tetris Effect

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My game of the year is a game I haven’t played. If I play this game, I will never work again. I have to pay rent, so I haven’t played this game. I need to eat, so I haven’t played this game. I have games to ship, so I have not. Played. This. Game. I don’t have to play this game to understand: it’s my game of the year. I’m literally banned from playing this game. Please play this game for me.

That’s it! There were loads of other games I didn’t get to play this year yet--Dusk and Iconoclasts and all the Destiny 2 content that I legitimately am taking a week off in December to just play nonstop. If you play on PlayStation, let me know.