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Sébastien Bénard's Top 10 Games of 2018

Dead Cells designer Sébastien Bénard released a hit game AND became a new dad in 2018, but here are the games he still made time for.

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Sébastien Bénard is a developer and game designer at Motion Twin, the French studio behind Dead Cells. You can find him on Twitter @deepnightfr.

So my top 10 list includes some “not so 2018” titles, or even older older stuff. The reason is pretty simple: I’m a new dad, and I didn’t have much time this year to play many new things, except maybe this new Baby Simulator 2018 thing. Anyway, let’s get started!

10. Deadbolt

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Deadbolt is an amazing title that perfectly mixes really smooth and fast stealth gameplay with strategic bits. I’m a huge fan of stealth games, but most of them do share the same issue: make a mistake and you’re screwed. They all basically encourage you to perfect things. Deadbolt is different: for me, it’s all about improvisation & adaptation. Make noise, kill bad guys with shotgun, hide, flee, and get to your target using any possible means. A fresh take on stealth gameplay.

9. Tom Clancy's The Division

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In the category of “I still play this”, Division is like Minecraft or Skyrim to me. It is always installed on my PC, and I like to play from time to time. What I love about this game is the mood: this sort-of post-apo New York City feels incredible, and it’s always a pleasure to explore all the details this game has to offer. Special mention to the lost phones and audio logs which are the best I’ve ever listened to.

8. Legend of Grimrock 2

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I’m a huge fan of Dungeon Master on the Atari ST. Legend of Grimrock 2 is like a modern approach to this very old game, making it a must-play for me. The level design is top-notch, and the riddles are (mostly) perfectly balanced. I was a bit disappointed by the large amount of “external” levels, as I’m more a fan of “dark dungeons".

7. Vaporum

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Another modern take on Dungeon Master. This one is really interesting because you control a single guy, rather than a party of four people. The level design is what makes Vaporum so great. Everything was shaped with great talent and it’s always a pleasure to solve a tough puzzle without any wiki to help. The only major issue I see with the game is the quite poor itemization aspect, as you rarely find anything really interesting, or at least, defining in these deep dungeons.

6. Distance

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Great soundtrack with intense racing gameplay that will require you to leave control to your brain stem. I’m usually not into racing games, but this one is an exception (along with Rollcage), because it’s… different. It feels more like Tron on cocaine with some crazy DJ mixing in the background. Even if its campaign is short, it’s still one of the most intense things I've played recently.

5. DOOM (2016)

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This is the Doom we’d all been waiting for. We all imagine how hard it was to come with a new Doom that would live up to its ancestors, but these guys did it. And they did it in an incredibly intense and satisfying fashion. Along with Shadow Warrior (2013), it now stands in my personal “best modern FPS” category.

4. Return of the Obra Dinn

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Return of the Obra Dinn is basically an open world investigation game. You only have some clues, a book, and your brain to solve 60 cases. The controls are sometimes great and sometime terrible, making this game an unnecessarily hard to play title. But the satisfaction you’ll get from solving every single mystery is amazing, so...

3. Beat Saber

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If you have a VR headset, Beat Saber is a game you simply must possess. Period. Along with Superhot and Elite: Dangerous, it’s one of those rare games that actually understands what VR games should be all about: slashing cubes with fucking lightsabers in rhythm with heavy beats. Not a deep experience, but definitely one that deserves to be played, and for me, the first game I show when I introduce people to VR.

2. Legend of Grimrock 1 (Dungeon Master mod)

Did I mention I loved Dungeon Master? So, when someone announced he remade the whole game using LoG1 engine, I was like, OK, who should I kill to play that?

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When I first played Dungeon Master (probably by the age of 8), I didn’t understand anything and couldn’t get past the 3rd floor. But I didn’t care, I already had tons of fun drawing maps on paper, killing mummies, looking for water. It was already legendary to me. Playing it now, I was able to beat it for the first time after 30 years, and the nostalgic feeling was incredible. Little 8-year-old me would be super proud.

1. Subnautica

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Without doubt, my most beloved title in years. Subnautica has it all: survival with narrative in deep waters. Every single discovery in Subnautica feels great. The first time you meet a Reefback is a terrifying moment, and that’s what make the game so amazing: the sense of fear and fascination you get from swimming above dark deep waters is crazy. The gameplay has its flaws and would benefit from some polish, but that really is a minor issue compared to everything else. I can’t wait to see what’s coming next in the Below Zero expansion.