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Top Ten Games I Played in 2018

Oh boy, 9 years. I've been on this site 9 years! That's crazy, but I've had an account on Steam 14 years, and Gamespot since the 90s (although I only made an account in 2004). That's CRAZY!

As always, this is a list of the best games I played for the first time this year. What year they released isn't really important to how I do things. I just don't have the time (nor does anyone at this point) to play every, even just halfway decent, games that come out. So I play games when I play them, and sometimes I find new stuff that I never knew about 10... 20 years ago. Whatever.

Also, I'm about to give up on open world games. There are too many, and they fill them with so much filler and bullshit. They last waaaayyyy too long, even if they're good games overall, and I am still tired of it. I HATE OPEN WORLD GAMES AND PROCEDURAL CRAP!

But that being said open world games can still be good (Fallout 4 is my favorite game, possibly of all time at this point). I just cannot stand all the filler and how long they go on sometimes. It's not ok! Although, "rouge likes" may possibly take the spot for EVEN WORSE!

Beware, also, that I may spoil games. I don't remember. To be honest I've been writing this over the course of two weeks now. I finished editing it today, and will still edit it now, but who knows what you consider a spoiler.

Also, RIP pinball arcade. One of the runner ups appended to the end of my lists for many years after having been on it. It's still a great game, however another developer that makes Pinball FX3 stole the license they held for years away only to put in their inferior pinball game because they aren't very good at making pinball. Also, unfortunately, the developer does not treat their customers very well so getting new tables seems... like it's not going to happen anymore.

Anyway, Too the list now...

List items

  • This is a fascinating game. I did not expect to like it at all. It's much different than the God of War games before it were, and in a lot of ways this game wasn't even necessary (or so it felt when they first announced it). Kratos' story ended, for all intents and purposes, at the end of God of War 3.

    I played all three original God of War games again before playing the new one, and experienced again all the frustrations behind playing those original games. The shortcomings of the third game (because, ultimately, those original games - even when they're at their best- are frustrating to play and the third one did nothing to change or fix that in any way) stood out even more, and after playing those games about 4 times at this point all the way through I was just tired of the way those games actually play.

    However, those games are so vicious, violent, ferocious and play in a way that makes you feel connected to Kratos' fight that often you find yourself giving them leeway because ultimately what Kratos is doing would not be easy, and would be very painful and difficult to get through.

    This new game is incredible for multiple reasons, and I really look forward to any sequels they plan to have. The dynamic behind Kratos and the boy (his name is Atreus, but you'll hear Kratos call him "boy" a lot, so get used to it) is very well written, directed, and performed, and really helps to sell a different take on God of War. The game as a whole is very intelligently written, not at all forgetting where Kratos was at before, and in fact touching upon who Kratos was as well as who Kratos is now in ways that really matter and can also be reflective of who I was when I played those previous games and who I am now.

    The gameplay is different from the old games, but the game is made well enough that it mostly begs the question of whether or not that actually matters. Kratos is different now, and while he is still Kratos, this in turn still means that the way he fights is now different.

    I didn't think at first that I would like the Axe, for instance, but you do come around on it very quickly. The combat is so different that playing this after the originals is a bit tough. They don't play the same at all and I think that made it harder to wrap my head around. When I did figure it out, though, I felt that this may actually be the best game in the entire series. I may not actually ever play the original three again. This one just feels too good, whereas those- while again playing in a way that feels right- are just not fun to play and do not feel very good to play anymore.

    Ultimately there is a lot more I could say about God of War. I worry I may have said too much already, though. If you have not played God of War (2018) by now, you are making a mistake. This is an incredible game- both in story and in complete gameplay. To dismiss it based on it not being like the old games would be a mistake. Even to dismiss it because it didn't feel like it would be necessary, just due to the story, would be a mistake due to how well they bridge that gap.

    There are instances where games like this did not feel right, or were not successful in proving that they were necessary stories to tell. "Reboot" is a scary word and it's scary when things change, but when they do it right, and do justice to what something already is then I believe that should be rewarded or even celebrated. God of War is an incredible experience. To even call it a reboot feels slightly misleading and selling the game short. I think you owe it to yourself to grow and evolve with the series. Check it out- especially if you were a fan of the originals.

  • There is a lot of talk around this game. Mostly for the curve. See, this game is some what an action game, but also not really. It tries a little too hard to sell you on the reality of the situation, and to make you live in the world they created, but then it also gets silly sometimes.

    You know you're in for a slower experience than maybe even the previous Red Dead when one of the first things you do when you get in the open world is just go to the store, buy groceries, and then take a nap right outside. It's a game that just asks you to come along for the ride.

    I have never been the biggest fan of certain types of Westerns. A lot of the films that are considered "classics" are important historically, but I can not sit through most of them. I feel Red Dead in general (from Revolver to this one) has always tried to bring those concepts (especially Spaghetti Westerns) into the modern era. Much like what Tarantino has done with film.

    I would argue what this mostly does right is making the characters feel incredibly relatable, but I would also argue that maybe they are too likable at times- verging on it being a bit unrealistic for them to discuss their feelings SO much. That even conceptually is still fairly new, and I feel it's a tad bit misrepresented in this game just to make you like these people. Just a little.

    The somewhat uneven tone of the writing aside, I do like the characters a lot (Arthur is in fact a better character than John was-I'll fight over this), and it's one of the reasons I like the game so much.

    There are some other problems with the game (such as the game seeming to want to make sure any chance it gets that you do something it wants to judge you for- even if it has to force you to), and mechanically I still don't like the way Rockstar games feel on a console controller (I actually think this one somehow feels worse than the the last RDR), but I still enjoy moseying around in a western setting getting things done and living in the world they created. It even made me go back and watch a bunch of Western movies I actually do like. Despite any flaws, I really the simulation they crafted here and I enjoy spending time in this world.

  • I want to start off by saying I do not tend to like "Rogue-likes." I tend to skip them intentionally if the term is even noted on steam. If "Rogue" is even invoked it's almost 98% of the time an immediate ignore and pass.

    Most of them are incredibly cringey to me, and they only made it because it is, at a base level, the most simplistic way to make a "challenging" video game- and make a video game cheaply and quickly. It tends to be gross, to me, and they don't tend to be made for fun or my enjoyment. I have to say- Fuck most games claiming to be "Roguelikes."

    That being said- this game is incredible. From the get you are stricken by how gorgeous the visuals are. The SNES like fidelity, mixed with smooth animations (that remind me a bit of how Aladdin on the Genesis felt when it came out) really helps to sell the game more so than its- honestly quite frustrating- "Roguelike" mechanics.

    It helps that the game is fun to play, and incredibly addictive. It only gets frustrating because every time you die you have to start... all... over... again. For a little while this will feel fine. It is fun to discover new items. At some point, though, you find what works best for you and you only want to use that. Then you discover a really awesome blueprint (which seems to almost never drop), but oh you didn't make it back to the safe place in time to save it so... you... lose... everything. That still sucks.

    And no. It's not like Dark Souls. People who like to make that comparison are just justifying terrible, yet still somehow widely propagated, mechanics. Darksouls at least gives you a chance to get everything you lose back. If you lose everything in a true "Roguelike" you never get it back. Period. And that is how it is here. Well, unless you find it again.

    There are some amazing mechanics here; combat feels great, the dodge is phenomenal and fun to learn how to use so you become effective in combat, but I still hate "Roguelikes." Even so, this game is really fuckin' cool.

  • I didn't think I would come back to yet another Assassin's Creed. I was very very done with them after AC4 (which is a great game filled to the brim with boring filler). Yet somehow I did. It helped that Alex Navarro was so high on it. He talked about it so much I HAD to check it out.

    I would argue, though, this game is not Assassin's Creed. Sure, it uses Assassin's Creed concepts, has some themes going through the narrative, but I really wish they would just drop the "Assassin's Creed" name at this point because AC is done, and they clearly don't actually want to make it anymore. They want to make other games. This is only proven by the fact that this game (much like the original Assassin's Creed actually) was not an Assassin's Creed game until they just decided to make it one (probably for the name recognition).

    This is a fantastic game- don't get me wrong. You can tell they (Ubisoft) are taking the criticisms about the monotony of their games to heart and are trying to find ways to circumvent that. It's actually a lot more fun in this to try and see everything than it has ever been, and you can tell they are becoming inspired by other games to try and find ideas so they don't have so much filler.

    But they still do too much. There is still too much busy work and the game still goes on way past it's welcome. Fortunately there is a lot of cool stuff to see in this game, and a lot less tedium. That's a step in the right direction.

    Get rid of the real world stuff at least Ubisoft. The new girl is not interesting, and I skipped as much of the real world stuff as possible. It's so pointless and dumb at this point I wish they'd stop it already. It's not fun.

  • Who would have thought we would see another game like Spider-man 2 from 2004? Who would have thought I'd be making comparisons to video games based off franchises that were, against all odds, incredibly fun?

    For the first 15 hours, or maybe a little less, this game is cool as shit. The traversal is well done (absolutely rivaling, if not overall topping, Spider-man 2 from 2004), the combat is interesting enough that you want to get good at it, and the story is mostly fine.

    For a little while anyway.

    Eventually you will find the combat to be incredibly frustrating- often stopping you from doing cool combos because it's not actually as fluid as you want it to be (as the Batman Arkham games are). It's not that you can't get good at it. You can, but the animation priorities are different (and I don't think animations ever interrupt each other like Batman would), and this can account for most of the frustrations because you think just because you hit the dodge when your spider senses are tingling he will stop doing something in the middle of it to move out of the way. Spider-man just doesn't work like that.

    You may also hit a wall with the traversal if you play like me and do not put any points into it until way later in the game. You find you hit a point when it starts to feel very slow. The only way to fix this is to invest in traversal in the skill tree (thereby using points you could spend on combat instead) and get a certain suit that makes you go a little faster. Even then, it still starts to feel tedious when you've played the game for a while. You may even start using the subway just because it starts to feel sooo slow- no matter how cool it is.

    The combat encounters near the end of the game are not very good, either, and overall I found the story to actually feel like they stapled a second story on top of the first one in a way that feels really poorly done by the time you finish. I feel like they wanted to come up with a "Rogues gallery" type story, like Batman Arkham did, but it fails to do that in a way that is fun or... good. It just feels like an after thought or a realization late in the writing process that that was where they wanted to go with it.

    Just a short aside- I know that Spider-man 2 (2004) (the game they are actually inspired the most by) was where most concepts for this game came from and that Batman Arkham came after and followed up on ideas from that game more than this game being inspired by BA directly. So, no need to tell me.

    Anyway, the frustrations with combat, and late game tedium, are what really lowers this game for me. There is a lot of cool stuff here (although, for me, I was less impressed by the character models than some- the faces especially look really bad to me), but it's a real shame that it doesn't feel like any of that stuff actually evolves in a way that is fun to expand it into the late game. With that, and the story late in the game feeling stapled together, it just kind of falls apart and loses all the cool stuff it had going for it. Maybe with a sequel we will get to see better things. For now, this game is worth checking out, and is definitely one of the better games of this year (generation even), but it's still got a ways to go.

  • I only just got to play this finally this year and I feel a little bit mislead. I only heard negative things about this game, or at least the terms in which this game was described were a much more cautious vibe than I feel this game deserves. This is definitely my favorite release from Doublefine since Psychonauts. The writing is top notch- very funny and clever. The look hits all the buttons for me as well as just being really fun to look at for a while, and minus maybe one section I never really completely hated any of the puzzles or level designs (but that one section is pretty bad- just get passed it and it's fine).

    I was absolutely happy to play through most of this game. High praise, I know, but I did really enjoy it and I actually wish I had not passed on it for so long.

  • This game got overlooked by GiantBomb minus Jeff playing it maybe one time on a UPF a while ago while it was still in early access.

    Well, as far as I know it is now out-out, and what I played of it is very fun. It's definitely the spiritual successor to Road Rash (and that's a good thing), and it actually mostly stands out despite it's fairly dull looking main first level.

    There are a few problems. One, it's a "Roguelike." It didn't have to be, but it is. Fuck them slightly for this choice even if it extends the life of the game a little. I'd rather the game be somewhat short than to have to keep starting over. Two, because of "one" you have to play the first road design area over and over and over and over. At least until you unlock it so you can start at a different map. But, even then, it's actually better to start from the dullest looking map in order to build up on weapons and upgrades because the higher level maps are actually harder in a way that seems to punish you if you start there from the beginning with nothing.

    Still, it is very fun to ride up alongside someone and chop their head off, or attach a bomb to a truck and drive away, or drop pipe bombs on the road and watch enemies behind you try to dodge them or die. There is some really cool vehicle combat in this that I don't think I have seen in a modern game before, and it is, mechanically, really fun to do. It's a shame the maps are so dull, and the rogue-like elements bog it down slightly because it is actually fun to play overall. More people should check it out.

  • This is definitely better than Lords of the Fallen (the only other Souls like from a developer that isn't From Software that I can think of that isn't a 2d indie game). It comes the closest to feeling like Dark Souls, while still doing it's own thing, while also sometimes being frustrating as hell. Actually, I would probably argue this one in particular was more inspired by Demon's Souls. The tone, mechanics, and level design feel a lot more in tune with that one, but maybe that's splitting hairs.

    The weapons all feel pretty good to chop demons up with, and the atmosphere (which is a big part of Souls like games) is top notch. It's also interesting that they decided to go with a level design methodology (like Super Mario Brothers 3 world map) rather than an open world, but ultimately that doesn't detract from the gameplay which is top notch.

    If I had a problem I would have to say it is the bosses, which are brutal, but this complaint can also be levied against most "Souls games." Most advice would probably be along the lines of "get good." The thing is, I think some times they try too hard to make the bosses difficult and this in turn makes it very hard to get through most of the game.

    I did really enjoy this game, though. I especially admire the monster design, and them levying demons with Japanese mythology- which isn't unheard of (That is entirely the concept of an "Oni" as far as I know), but it's done to cool effect in the game. The stances system is also well thought out, and varies the combat in a satisfying way. When you add all the weapon types this makes for an incredible combat system that is vast and can be fun to master.

    If you like "Souls games" it's definitely worth checking this out if somehow you still have not.

  • While not being as good as Layers of Fear, which I think is a more interesting abstraction of the stuff that Frictional games is doing- more so than most (even "A machine for pigs" made by The Chinese Room: a direct pseudo sequel to Amnesia the Dark descent and also in terms of being a game very very bad- but don't get me started on how bad The Chinese Room was at making actual video games), it still manages to capture an atmosphere and world that I very much enjoyed seeing. The visuals are striking (being most obviously inspired by Blade Runner- because every single cyberpunk dystopian future is designed to look like Blade Runner now), and the story is mostly fascinating (although the end is... ugh).

    I think mostly what I enjoy about this game is the world, and the concepts it makes you think about, more than the actual gameplay. That's why I put it farther down on my list. I am still happy I played it and it's still one of the better games I experienced this year. It certainly helps it's case for me that it is on the shorter side.

  • You know, I really did not care for The Evil Within (the original) as much as I wanted to. It's such a dumb story, very heavily a rip off of Inception (which the creator- Shinji Mikami- admits), and the combat encounters were so so so bad.

    A lot of this should be no surprise, being made by the worst director of a Resident Evil game Shinji Mikami (who, interestingly, I like when he works with Suda51 but have weird dislikes for when he does his own stuff apparently). And yet... I still sometimes have this draw to play the first "The Evil Within" again. I don't know what it is, but it's such a bizarre game (that again, I thought was really really bad) that I get this compulsion to go back to it. I still have not done so.

    The Evil Within 2 is a very different game. It's actually a surprise at times it references the first game, because it goes so far out of it's way to be very little like the first game (really it only has referential uses of things done in the first game while mostly doing something completely different).

    This time it's- sort of- an open world game, you're in a dream state world that is multiple people intentionally, and it kind of sorta dabbles in survival games and mixes it in with its own poor attempts at Survival Horror (similar to the really awful and yet somehow revered Resident Evil 4). It's mostly stupid, and the writing is even worse in this one than it was in the first game, but I actually enjoyed the act of "playing" this game more than the first. I suspect this is because of the open world design there is much less chance of having fights around a small trash can like substitute while turning to shoot the dumb AI monster behind me over and over again like a scene from Naked Gun. That not being in this definitely raises the bar for this series, and may be why I actually enjoyed playing this one.

    It's still really bad, and the only reason I would say "check it out" is if you're one of those strange people that think RE4 is good or if you just like bad writing, bad dialogue, but very interesting visuals and "ok" combat mechanics- then check this out- maybe when it's on sale. The end isn't as dumb as the first games, but it's still up there. Maybe this time dumb in a way I enjoyed. Maybe. That's the very dumb reason I made it my #10 GOTY. At least I got some enjoyment out of it.

    Hopefully next year I can finally play a more significant amount of Breath of the Wild that maybe I can finally add it to my GOTY list so I don't have to have so many caveated games on the bottom (I doubt it).