Best of 2018

What a year!

List items

  • I hoped Spider-Man would be the homage to Spider-Man 2 everyone wanted it to be. And, in a lot of ways, it almost is too much of one. However, years after swinging through New York for hours on end I was just hours away from getting 100% in the new game. The story impressed me, the characters were well framed, and despite repeating mechanics over and over everything continued to feel fun. If GOTY is the best game no game is a better well-rounded and complete package than Spider-Man.

  • Oh nostalgia. What a powerful being you are. Pokemon Blue, Red, and Yellow were attached to me when I was younger. I duped items, I boosted every Pokemon, and I beat the League over and over again just cause I could. Let's Go is a remake with changes to every major system to make the game both more accessible and enjoyable for veterans. For the first time I chained Pokemon, a longstanding method to catch powerful or rare Pokemon. I'm seven monsters away from a full Pokedex, another first, and amazed at how much post-game content that game is packed with. What could've been a $40 game packed in a $60 package turned out very much not to be.

  • How can you be a complex, modern fighting game based on a major licence that has struggled mightily while still be exciting to watch and play for everyone? I have no earthly clue. Arc System Works somehow knew. FighterZ could be the next big fighting game franchise, barring the weird news lately they won't be at EVO Japan. Either way I hope to continue to see some Goku on Goku action for years to come while I, one day, finish the story mode.

  • A surprise out of nowhere, Slay The Spire was the right kind of game at the right kind of time for me. Not quite a full card game and not quite a rogue-like; STS is a great intro to both. I do wish the game was a bit more robust but that's coming from someone who sank over 100 hours into it before its official release.

  • Into the Breach managed to be challenging and rewarding. A game that begs its players to think their moves our carefully but isn't so harsh to lock out beginners or newcomers to the genre. If Subset Games want to release small, complex, yet delightful games every few years for the rest of time then so be it.

  • Dwarf Fortress nearly requires a text book to play, or at least understand. RimWorld tries to fill in those ASCII art gaps. Not as thick with systems, RimWorld still manages to be a DF-like without copying the game entirely. Yes the two games are very similar, but for what RimWorld accomplishes, and for finally getting released, it deserves a spot.

  • As someone who adored RDR1, the sequel should've been a slam dunk. And maybe the ending will provide me some relief of the hours of prairie wandering and gun fights, but for now RDR2 sits only in the top 10. I was hoping for more, but I absolutely enjoyed what I got.

  • I fell in love with Octopath's style the moment I saw it. I grew up watching, and eventually playing, my brother's copy of Final Fantasy 2 (aka 4) and Octopath Traveler was a wonderful iteration on that style of JRPG. I never found the time to finish the game but in the back of my mind I'm still waiting to play it.

  • I spotted Frostpunk at PAX South this year and knew it would be something I might enjoy. After trying, and horribly failing at, the demo I tossed it onto my Steam wishlist and hoped it would eventually make it into my hands. Sure enough, 2018 provided and this wonderful combination of harsh survival and management. Frostpunk takes a slightly different approach to all the worker management design. Nothing truly leaves the genre but everything is tweaked just enough to leave you wanting more.

  • Sure, yes, this was not released in 2018. You got me. However there is no game that comes close to the number of hours I put into Hearts of Iron this year. Be it the crazy mods that change every piece of the game or just subtle nudges that make everything a bit smooth, Hearts of Iron is an open ended simulator that practically invites players to never stop. Call it my time waster game, my podcast game, my Netflix game, anything and everything. That's because HOI is perfect for everything. A history nerd's wet, video game dream.