GOTY 2018

If there's one thing I can say about 2018, it's that it was definitely a year!

In terms of games, the year certainly had some highlights =] To shamelessly plug, you can hear my detailed thoughts on all of these games and more by listening to our weekly podcast, Gaming Fyx! With that out of the way, let's get to some thoughts.

There were a lot of games I finished this year! A fair number of them will not be making their way onto this list (including Dead Cells, Obra Dinn, Cat Condo, Into the Breach, and Subnautica)

Before getting to my top ten best of the year, let's chat about the games that were tied for 11th! These will be in alphabetical order, so no ordering with these bad boys

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4:

I have played a lot more CoD in the past two years than the prior ten years combined, and BLOPS4 is a strong point in the series. It feels great, it looks great, and it's fun. I didn't stick with it, but it is absolutely a well-made game.

Donut County:

Charming as heck, cute, simple, and fun. I thought this would be a shoe-in on my GOTY list; but as the year continued, a lot of other games kept pushing it further and further down until it is here - in limbo. It's still great and wonderful, though!

Hungry Hearts Diner:

I never would have expected for an idle game to make me contemplate parts of my life, and to question things in the way Hungry Hearts did. It is relaxing, sweet, and has a whole lot of heart. I got misty eyed at certain parts, and still have it installed on my phone despite having finished it months ago.

Super Smash Bros Ultimate:

I have never been huge into the Smash series; but this game is really fun, and the online has been a really rewarding experience. I have enjoyed playing Inkling a lot, and am excited to get deeper into more online matches.

Two Point Hospital:

Easily the best management sim made in years! It is mechanically complex; while also being wholly approachable. It's so charming and funny, but also challenging and rewarding. A fantastic game that is 100% worth your time.

Wonderful Everyday:

The game is really well written madness, and also extremely hard to recommend to most people. I love it, and have put about 50 hours into it, but also don't feel great putting it on the top-10 list given that it's a few years old, and I'm also not at the end. It's a really unique story, though.

Wordscapes:

I think this technically came out in late 2017; but I didn't come to it until early this year haha. I still play the dailies every day, and it is a fun challenge! It isn't mechanically deep or anything; but it is well-crafted and a good way to kill 5 - 20 minutes.

Alright, let's get to the real list!

List items

  • Upon finishing The Missing, I took my headphones off and walked around my house for a solid ten minutes while contemplating what just happened. I'd played it along with a friend, and after having wiped away some tears following that ten minute contemplation, we both sat down and talked about how bold, progressive, and beautiful it was. Admittedly, the game has a lot of problems. It controls very poorly, the visuals are sometimes muddy, the puzzles aren't always the best, it has some issues with pacing; but despite all of this, it firmly remains my #1 game of 2018. Its characters feel real, the text message threads had me wanting to know more, and I was actively invested in JJ's story. The last 30 minutes of this game were executed so perfectly that I can look back on any of the issues I'd had with The Missing and be fine with them. While I do want to talk directly about the things this game has to say, to spoil it here would be a huge disservice to anyone who may want to play it, so I absolutely will not deprive anyone of that experience. I'll just say that the game opens with the words "This game was made with the belief that nobody is wrong for being what they are," and that message resonates with me to my core. The way this game has affected certain communities for the better astounds me, and it has solidified my belief that Swery is far better of a writer and director than anyone ever made him out to be. I recognize that this game may not be for everyone, and while I may not personally identify with every theme it tackles, it is still 100% for me, and it stands heads-and-shoulders above any other game on this list. Thank you, Swery.

  • I love masocore games - I beat Super Meat Boy, loved I Wanna Be The Guy, and 100%'ed VVVVVV. Celeste absolutely shares that DNA, and it feels like each screen was crafted with an expert attention to detail. Also, its B and C-Sides are so crazy fun. Not only that; but it has a wonderful soundtrack! Many props to Lena Raine on a unique and beautiful work =D More importantly, though - Celeste is willing to talk about mental illness in a direct and affirming way. The game de-stigmatizes the rhetoric which usually accompanies talking about things like depression, and that is something I appreciate at a molecular level. This masocore game had a 10-minute section where two characters talk about their lives, their struggles, and their pain - that's unique, and it felt earned. I love Celeste.

  • I come from a Norwegian family, and one of my good friends in high school was also Norwegian. We finished playing God of War 2 together, and immediately launched into a talk about "can you imagine how cool it would be if they made a GoW using Norse mythology?" Low and behold, some 11 years later they did exactly that, and it is even better than I could have imagined back then. Kratos finally feels like a relatable character, and maybe even more surprisingly, it tells one of the best stories of the year. It feels good to play, it has tons of content, it has fantastic characters, it handles Norse mythology in a creative & great way. There were some parts of the writing that I felt were a bit sloppy, but in the end, this is still a triumph of a game. Very much looking forward to its sequel in another half decade!

  • I don't want to say too much about Florence because it is a 30 - 45 minute experience, and it is best experienced by knowing as little as possible going in. Its soundtrack is perfection, which was brought to life by the wonderful Kevin Penkin. Its story is deeply relatable and moved me to tears, and I can't say enough good about it. Don't sleep on Florence, it is easily one of the best games of the year.

  • I was so skeptical about picking this game up. For one, I don't have PSVR. I am also very frugal, and thought "$40 for a Tetris game?? Ughhh, I don't know..." But after continually hearing positive things about it, I decided to give the game a shot. I am so very glad to have taken this chance because it was an amazing experience. The one word I would use to describe this game is "optimistic." So many games tell stories which are dark, sad, and/or brooding. I feel like we've become entrenched by nihilistic tropes, and have gotten more and more down on humanity as a whole; but Tetris Effect is all about celebrating how far we have come despite any differences we may have as people. I deeply respect the game for said viewpoint, and on top of that, each level felt unique and had its own arc to contextualize this vision. It is beautiful, and I love the way its music blends perfectly with the gameplay.

  • This is one of the strongest indie efforts I've seen in a long time, and I applaud the developers quite a bit. The artstyle and music convey the Ghibli aesthetic to a tee (I might say moreso than Ni No Kuni 2), and it tells a story which makes you think quite a bit. The universe it creates is quite unique, and extremely well thought out. Each character has their own personality, each story beat feels necessary, and every decision carries weight. There were parts of the game where I was left stunned, and said "wow" aloud. It is wonderful, and extra props for its soundtrack having a live orchestral recording - that is insane for an indie effort. That being said, I really didn't like the way it controlled. It kind of felt like LittleBigPlanet, so playing through it was sometimes a slog - had that not been an issue, this game easily would have been top 3. Don't let it slip under your radar!

  • I was introduced to this game by a good friend who said "hey... This game may be very, very much for you." Spoilers, she was absolutely right. This game is so cool! To boil it down, it is a rhythm game crossed with a bullethell - albeit one where you don't shoot. Its gameplay wholly depends on its music, and its music hits hard - they work together in tandem stylishly and in a way which will satisfy anyone who likes either EDM or super-hard games. And, indeed, it is very difficult, but making it to the end of some of the harder tracks is immensely satisfying. Also... This game totally has a story mode. When going in, the last thing I was expecting to see was an overworld, and it's kind of incredible how much they do with so little - the art is literally 'just shapes,' and the creators squeeze a ton of character and personality out of these shapes. Thoroughly recommended, though know going in that it is hella hard.

  • This was my first foray into a full Forza game. I'd played a decent amount of Forza 3 on my friend's 360; but the series never grabbed me. I can't pinpoint why Horizon 4 was the one to finally do it, but I am so glad it did. It's gorgeous, smooth, well-designed, has a massive breadth of content, and above all, is fun. It feels somewhere between a simmy mainline Forza game and Burnout Paradise, and that's something I am very into. I have a few criticisms of the game; but ultimately they pale in comparison to how great of a "sit down for 30 minutes and play a bunch of this" kind of game it is. It is also what got me to try Game Pass, and I think that service is one of the best things out there!

  • I loved 2016's Hitman - it was a return to form that was completely unexpected. IO has always been a good developer, but it had felt like they were losing their touch after Absolution. That made it all the better when 2016's Hitman nailed it. Earlier this year when it seemed like the studio's future was in jeopardy, I was so sad because of the potential loss of a great amount of momentum; but after being saved from oblivion, Hitman 2 shows that not only are they fully capable of building upon what made the original great, they are able to exceed it in a lot of ways! While you can tell that this game had budget constraints when compared to the previous entry, they allocated all of the resources they had available to them in the exact right ways. The cutscenes lack animation and are a bit dull; but the gameplay is demonstrably better with massive crowds, mirrors which factor into gameplay, etc. A wonderful experience through-and-through.

  • I need to play way more of this game!!! I am 23 hours in, and am well under halfway through. I am loving every part of it - the mechanics, the characters, even the story. I am decidedly not a fan of MMOs, nor grinding; but this game makes both of those tropes fun! By chaining the grinding together to give you massive bonuses to XP, it felt like grinding was actually worthwhile. Also, having a cast of characters who are charming and likable makes for a pleasant experience overall. I haven't finished the game, so I would feel bad putting it any higher than 10; but had I finished it before making this list, it probably would have sat far higher - still very recommended!

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beard_of_zeus

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beard_of_zeus • 

Great list, enjoyed reading it! CrossCode sounds up my alley, I should really check that out.

I played through Forgotton Anne as well, I liked it pretty well, I really wish it controlled way better (which you mentioned) though. The platforming somehow felt even stiffer than something like Flashback or Prince of Persia. I did like the art style, music, and story though. The dialog was also consistently mixed way too low, which was annoying (especially since there's a lot of it, and it is all pretty entertaining); I kept having to turn the volume up and down the whole time.