GOTY 2018

2018 felt really long. Is that just me? Even looking back to around E3 feels like remembering things that happened ages ago. Maybe it's just me getting old, graduating from the Giant Bomb fan posting this list in 2010 to the full-blown actual professional games critic before you now. I got that title in 2018, and I'm eternally grateful that I'm able to carve out a spot in games media to share my opinions with the world. I'm doing it full time now and it still doesn't feel real. Probably never will.

Anyway, despite being busier than ever, I had plenty of time to play great games in 2018. Here are the cream of the crop.

Runners-Up/11-15: Hitman 2, City of Brass, SNK 40th Anniversary, Kirby Star Allies, MTG Arena

List items

  • I started the year playing The Messenger at PAX South, and I ended the year finishing it. Every moment, every shift in genre, every line, they all made me smile. The Messenger is a perfect blend of nostalgia and gameplay evolution, and I can't wait to see what the developers at Sabotage have in store next.

  • 2018 might go down in history as the Year of Spider-Man. You had Pete officially joining the MCU Avengers, you had Miles star in a film that might trump anything in the MCU, and there was even a halfway decent Venom movie. For my money, the best of the bunch was Marvel's Spider-Man, Insomniac's brilliant riff on Activision's run of Spidey titles. It takes the best gameplay bits, mixes in a bit of Arkham, and layers on an authentic comics tale. For a longtime fan of the webhead, it was gaming bliss.

  • DUSK is another retro throwback that does everything right. It doesn't rely on nostalgia, it's authentic in its representation, and it iterates on classic gameplay to make it better. When you're making a game like this right, you'll never be able to tell what year it came out in. When you're doing all that and also besting the new DOOM game, you know you're doing something right.

  • Pinball games that aren't trying to be pinball are usually a mess. I always go back to the example of Mario Pinball Land, a horrible GBA title that exemplifies everything wrong with the pinball adventure. Yoku's Island Express is the first pinball adventure worth playing. It takes the strengths of pinball mechanics and the strengths of Metroidvanias and uses them both to cancel out their weaknesses. Plus, you can blow into a noisemaker at the push of a button.

  • Tetris Effect is Tetris with Styyyyyyle. It's an amazing experience whether you've played a thousand hours of the Russian puzzle game or you've never picked it up before. I'm proudly drug-free for life, and Tetris Effect is probably the closest I'm ever going to get to taking a huge trip.

  • Like FPS Campaigns, Roguelikes have taken a backseat in recent years, and that's for the best. The genre became overstuffed with entries recently, and the thrill of the new was gone. However, if you do something well enough, people will still pay attention. Dead Cells takes the gameplay of PS1 Castlevania and multiplies it effortlessly. It's got a great sense of humor, a huge arsenal of weapons, and the tightest control possible. Everything you could want from a procedural game.

  • Last year, Sonic Mania came out and fulfilled my dream of playing a good Sonic game. This year, Dragon Ball FighterZ fulfilled my dream of getting a new good DBZ game. A series stagnant since the Budokai games on PS2, FighterZ sends the bar into space with incredible production values, authentic presentation, and just plain fun fighting.

  • In an ideal world, Onrush would have been a smash success and created an entire new subgenre of racing games. I'm hopeful that it will at least be rightfully looked up as ahead of its time. Taking the fun parts of Burnout and removing the racing, Onrush is a thrill ride of a driving game. It's the first car-adjacent game I've cared about in close to a decade, and I fear it may be a decade more before I care again.

  • I've always loved the idea of being a shopkeeper. Maybe not enough to fully dive into Recettear, but it's still an interest I have. Moonlighter is the right mix of mechanics, letting me sell items while also giving me a serviceable dungeon crawler. It's a beautiful small game that fits into a busy lifestyle.

  • EVERYONE IS HERE. Everyone. Even that guy. Yes, he's in there, you just have to look at Spirits.

    I'm not the most competitive Smash player, but Ultimate's suite of Single Player content will keep me satisfied for months to come. Unlocking new characters and background music constantly feeds my collector's needs. All the Nintendo fan service is just icing on the cake.