The Heroes and Villains of 2018 (GOTY)

Blog version with pretty pictures and videos.

The past year was undoubtedly great for video games, so before we close ranks on the phalanx formation and prepare against the tidal wave of games coming early next year, let's sharpen our weapons and remember the heroes of 2018.

But first,

The Villains

Here are some games I played (and some I didn't) that didn't make the list, either because they were bad, or because they just weren't quite good enough.

Far Cry 5

Yeah, this thing came out in 2018. What a miserably bland experience from top to bottom, chock full of Ubisoft open world trappings and tired and meaningless side content.

Far Cry 5 didn't know what it wanted to be, at times striving for levity with monster trucks, drug trips and screaming eagles and at others trying to tell a serious story about a horrifying doomsday cult so cartoonishly evil that when they play the old "Who's the real monster" -card, you can't help but laugh and roll your eyes through the nuclear explosion.

Maybe Far Cry: New Dawn will make the existence of this game worth it, but between the two post-apocalyptic shooters coming in the first half of 2019 I'd rather put my money on Rage 2.

Yakuza 6: The Song of Life

Calling Yakuza 6 a villain is unfair, it's a good game that just barely fell out of my top ten. If I hadn't played through four Yakuza games this year, it might've fared better, the visual improvements over it's predecessors are impressive, but the baby steps the franchise takes on the gameplay front are starting to wear on me.

I honestly can't say that the games have changed or improved much since at least Yakuza 4, so now that Kiryu's story has come to an end, it would be high time to give the series a complete makeover, but Judgment is already out in Japan and it seems that's not happening (yet).

GRIS

GRIS is one of those artsy puzzle platformers, you know the type, and like many others before it GRIS is undeniably beautiful but offers little else. In puzzles, platforming and storytelling GRIS is incredibly simple and straightforward and that's probably the intention, the player is supposed to move effortlessly through the pretty scenery and just enjoy the journey (*coughcough*), but in doing so the game forgoes any sense of discovery or moment of epiphany.

As the game progresses, you unlock such exciting new abilities as double jump and diving, but the more interesting mechanics are reserved solely for their specific areas and you'll only spend a couple of puzzles worth of time with them. The game does have collectibles, which are hidden just slightly off the beaten path behind simple platforming puzzles and getting them usually just requires a keen eye. I found that distracting, because instead of just enjoying the art I was now constantly scanning for collectibles, staring at the details rather than looking at the full splendor of the image before me.

GRIS isn't bad, but it's only three hours long and I don't know if I can recommend it at full price (17€/$ at the time of writing). If you really like what you see in promo material then maybe, but be warned: if you saw the launch trailer, you've already seen the best of what GRIS has to offer in terms of art and animation.

Games I Didn't Play

This year was somewhat of a tipping point for me. Instead of compulsively buying the biggest triple-A games out of FOMO and to be part of the conversation, I decided to skip the games that weren't particularly interesting to me, here's a few:

Detroit: Become Human
Every piece of promo material that came out of this was just so boring to me, to top it off it's a David Cagegame, so my expectations were low to begin with. I still ended up watching at least three let's plays of it, and I'm kinda glad I didn't buy this.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider
Oh Eidos Montreal... What happened? I guess Square Enix isn't known for making the best decisions these days, so it should be no surprise that when Deus Ex: Mankind Divided didn't set the world on fire they'd be sent off to the soulless sequel -mines to hammer out another chunk of bland. But I guess I didn't play this, so who am I to judge. Although it really did seem like everyone completely forgot about this game as soon as it released.

Assassin's Creed: Odyssey
When details about Odyssey started to come out, I said that I wouldn't buy this without a hefty discount and I've stuck to my guns. Origins just barely made it to my top 10 last year and this just seemed like more of that, another Ubisoft everygame with icon barf and insane amounts of padding. I watched some people stream this and at least the side quests seemed better, so if I eventually end up playing this, maybe I'll actually enjoy it.

Red Dead Redemption 2
Here's the big one. When the fervor was at it's peak, I almost broke and bought this, even though I've had a miserable time with Red Dead Redemption and most other Rockstar games I've played. Since then I've seen the narrative change, especially around these parts of the internet, and it sounds like RDR2 has a lot of the same problems that made me hate the previous game. I'll play it eventually, maybe when it comes out on PC or is on sale.

So there's the dirty laundry, triple-A still mostly dominated my top 10, but there's a couple of slightly smaller budget games that made the cut. Here we go:

The Heroes

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