2018 Game of the Year

2018 was a great year to be playing video games. Partially that's because the rest of the world is a hellscape where everything is horrible, but also because a lot of really good video games came out. Here are my ten favorites!

10. Lumines Remastered

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Lumines is my favorite puzzle game, because it combines solving block puzzles with creating music in a really fun and stylish way. It was *the* reason to have a PSP and was essentially glued into the disc drive. So when they put out an HD remaster of the original on a system that I treat as a handheld for the majority of the time I use it, I was 100% on board. Fortunately this lived up to my memories of the game, and improved visuals and use of HD Rumble put it over the top. I'll be continuing to jump into this for a couple rounds and chasing scores for quite a while.

9. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

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I've never been the biggest Super Smash Bros. fan, but I still played and enjoyed all of the entries in the series thus far. So with this one having everyone/everything from the previous ones, it's clearly the best one. Not just because of that, but the World of Light mode is clever with recreating thousands of additional characters using the roster they have. Equipping spirits to add different effects to your fighter is neat too, though I usually just let the computer pick out the best ones for me since I don't want to go into my giant collection to find them. I also like playing the game online with friends despite the fact I'm terrible at it on a competitive level, but when I luck out with a Falcon Punch it's a great moment. I just hope they continue to improve the online lobbies and stability.

8. Astro Bot Rescue Mission

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I'll admit that I haven't had enough time to play a whole lot of this, but Astro Bot Rescue Mission is probably the best VR experience I've had so far. I am a huge fan of 3D platformers, so having one in VR where I have to look all around the environment to follow my little robot while I jump from platform to platform and fighting enemies is breath-taking. The gameplay and physics also feel fantastic with Mario levels of polish, and I'm really excited to play more of it and see just how wild it gets using the VR element.

7. Donut County

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This game has you playing as an asshole raccoon that has a phone app that dumps everything into a hole. If you're not sold already, it's got really goofy and fun writing in the cutscenes and the item descriptions in the Trashapedia, and gameplay that gives off Katamari Damacy vibes. It's nearly as complex and fleshed out as Katamari, and the "puzzles" are super easy, but that didn't detract from the fun I had. Plus it's available on iOS and gives you a iMessage sticker with the quack button. The quack button is the best.

6. Tetris Effect

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Remember when I said above that Lumines is my favorite puzzle game? What if they let the creator takes elements from that and make the best Tetris game ever? That's what Tetris Effect is. The music making element and wild looking skins from Lumines are here but cranked up to 11 with the play field floating in a 3D environment where all the craziness is going on. Plus it's playable in VR so you can be inside that environment too. Oh, and Tetris is rad as hell to play. Tetris has always been good.

5. Dead Cells

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The more I looked at the gameplay for Dead Cells, the more daunting it seemed to me. I really like Rogue Legacy because it was a simple and straight-forward rogue-like. But I finally took the plunge with this, and I'm glad I did. It was super difficult from the start as I had feared, with me dying almost instantly each time. But over the course of hundreds of runs it began to click and I got better at choosing my loadouts and learning to dodge attacks and get in critical hits. As I improved the feeling of satisfaction was just too good. The combat is complex and varied, but it feels great when you master it. And the designs of the levels and enemies are really neat, even if you're over the pixel style by now. I haven't beaten it yet, but I feel confident that with the right amount of luck on my pick-ups on a run I could totally do it.

4. Forza Horizon 4

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I had always had an appreciation for the Forza series, but from the outside as I had friends who were way into it. I am more of an arcade racer than a sim one, so that has been putting me off from jumping in. But I got to try out a bit of Forza Horizon 2 a couple years and it seemed like it was a neat blend of both play styles. Then Horizon 4 was part of Xbox Game Pass, and I had no excuse not to give it a shot. I'm so glad I did.

The big open world is fun to drive around and explore, and the races provide a wide variety of challenges and course styles. The seasons being on a set cycle is an awesome touch, as it completely changes the way you traverse the entire map and which cars you should use. But my favorite part of the game is being able to party up with friends and do everything in co-op. Hanging out with friends and driving fast cars is my favorite part of the game and I why I will be playing this one for quite a while. And it's why I ended up buying the DLC.

3. God of War

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As someone who loved the old God of War games, I was very wary of them changing up the entire formula. Going from running around whipping chain blades and ripping apart giant enemies to leading a young boy in a behind-the-back action game with a extremely complex crafting system and skill tree could have turned me completely off, but they really nailed it with this one. I'll admit I never fully got into all the gear and skill stuff, but the combat felt really good once I got the hang of it and the story was masterful.

I did have a period where I was a bit put off by things with Atreus, but fortunately I didn't last too long and by the end of it I fell in love with the Norse world they've built. It also makes sure not to forget its roots and plays proper respect to the previous games. I probably won't end up 100%ing the game, but the hours and hours I put into it were some of the best time spent in gaming this year.

2. Pokemon: Let's Go

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This is a casual remaster of Pokemon Yellow with elements from Pokemon Go added in, and it may be my new favorite game in the series. I have never been deep into Pokemon with building up competitive Pokemon and breeding them for perfect fighting stats, so having a game that makes everything super accessible and simplified is right up my alley.

They've made some amazing changes to the core mechanics of Pokemon for the better. Pokemon appear in the wild and you choose to engage them instead of running around in grass hoping for a random encounter. Moves like Cut and Surf are no longer tied to Pokemon knowing specific moves in your party. You can change up your party on the fly instead of having to travel to a Pokemon Center and access a PC. You play a minigame similar to Pokemon Go to capture Pokemon, varying up the gameplay so trainer battles are more important. I hope a lot of these changes are carried over to the next entry in the main series, because I feel it'd be a step backwards to just return to the way things were in Sun and Moon (and all the games previously).

It came out last month, and I've already put 100 hours into it and don't see it slowing down any time soon. I've completed my Pokedex, so now I'm doing the daily gym battles to earn money for items to aid me on shiny hunts. Shiny hunting with the ability to see the Pokemon in the wild adds a lot of appeal and removes a lot of frustrations of the past, making it a fun thing that I can do alongside friends. I can't wait to see what they'll do with a Pokemon Crystal remake next.

1. Marvel's Spider-Man

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Spider-Man is EASILY my favorite game of 2018. I love superheroes stories, and am always in the theaters opening night for Marvel and DC movies. The story in this game rivals all of them, and even surpasses a good portion of them. I love to mindlessly run around big open worlds with collectibles (which this game has plenty of), but the story kept pushing me to focus on the main missions due to how much I needed to know what happens next. All of the characters were brilliantly written and made me care about all of them and their relationships with Peter Parker. Even with Otto Octavius being one of the main characters and knowing his identity in the comics, they still made me care when things started going south with him and want to believe things would end up different.

Looking into the gameplay, the swinging feels extremely smooth and satisfying as you navigate around buildings while throwing in a few tricks for bonus XP. Until I was near the very end and cleaning up side missions, I didn't use the fast travel at all since the swinging was so fun. The combat is pretty much the Batman Arkham combat, and as someone who loves those games this was very much my jam. Whether going with stealth or an all-out attack, both strategies were viable ways to solve combat situations. I enjoyed redoing the enemy bases and trying different ways of taking out enemies.

I ended up cleaning up the entire map and getting the platinum trophy. I haven't even touched the DLC yet, as I want to take some time away from the game before jumping back in and falling in love all over again. Please make another one, because with the Batman Arkham games finished up, this is the new king of superhero games.

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