Best New Old Games of 2018

Eligible list items are games that:

  • I enjoyed playing
  • I’ve never played to the end before
  • weren’t released within the current year
  • aren’t a remastered version of a game I’ve played to the end before
  • are completed or reach a satisfying state of completion within the current year

Note: In the case that multiple titles from one franchise are eligible, only one will be allowed to be on the main list.

2018 personal goals:

  1. Focus on JRPGs and PC games
  2. Be more open-minded to new and unfamiliar genres

2019 personal goals sneak peek:

  1. Focus on games that originally released before the current generation of consoles (Xbox One, PS4, etc.)
  2. Finish games I started playing long ago

Honorable mentions:

  • Beyond Good & Evil HD - X360 (2011)
  • Crysis 3 - PC (2013)
  • Dead or Alive 5 Last Round - XONE (2015)
  • Dishonored: Death of the Outsider - PC (2017)
  • Hidden my game by mom - ANDR (2016)
  • Hidden my game by mom 2 - ANDR (2017)
  • Mad Max - XONE (2015)
  • Metro: Last Light Redux - PC (2014)
  • My brother ate my pudding - ANDR (2017)
  • Prey - X360 (2006)
  • RiME - XONE (2017)
  • Roundabout - XONE (2015)
  • Shantae and the Pirate's Curse - XONE (2016)
  • Shantae: Half-Genie Hero - XONE (2016)
  • Sherlock Holmes: Crimes & Punishments - XONE (2014)
  • Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter - XONE (2016)
  • Soma - PC (2015)
  • Spec Ops: The Line - PC (2012)
  • Suikoden - PS (1996)
  • Suikoden III - PS2 (2002)
  • Super Lucky’s Tale - XONE (2017)
  • Uncharted: The Lost Legacy - PS4 (2017)

Dishonorable mentions:

  • Animal Crossing: New Leaf - Welcome amiibo - 3DS (2016)
  • Disneyland Adventures - XONE (2017)
  • Forza Horizon 2 - XONE (2014)
  • Game of Thrones - PS4 (2014)
  • Gears of War 4 - XONE (2016)
  • Gravity Rush 2 - PS4 (2017)
  • Homefront - PC (2011)
  • Homefront: The Revolution - XONE (2016)*
  • Layers of Fear - PC (2016)
  • Late Shift - XONE (2016)
  • Mafia III - PS4 (2016)*
  • Mass Effect: Andromeda - PC (2017)
  • RAGE - PC (2011)
  • Rogue Galaxy - PS2 (2007)*
  • ScreamRide - XONE (2015)
  • Snake Pass - XONE (2017)*
  • Thief - XONE (2014)
  • Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE - WIIU (2016)
  • Tron: Evolution - X360 (2010)*
  • Zero Time Dilemma - VITA (2016)

* denotes a game I didn’t bother finishing myself due to a game-breaking bug (Homefront: The Revolution) or by simply being that shitty of a game (Mafia III, Rogue Galaxy, Snake Pass, Tron: Evolution)

FINAL LIST

List items

  • As someone who grew up with Pokemon and Final Fantasy games, much of my JRPG expectations going into these mid- to late-90s games were delightfully trounced. Instead of relying on heavily treaded upon JRPG narratives like becoming the best or saving the world, the Suikoden franchise chose to focus on the effects of war brought about by national turmoil and the destruction left in its wake. Overall, it may not be especially outstanding in the grand scheme of war stories, but it’s rife with events that turn the situation for the worse in unexpected ways. Even upon victory, tragedy prevailed soon after.

    It’s obviously not unusual to have to fight in this type of story, but with the way they can be presented in these games amazed me. Managing my army in overworld map-scale battles through grouped units added a level of depth, however shallow, and served the narrative perfectly as they amounted to battles of wits. Considering how you’re in a constant state of building an army against an already established one, it meant underhanded tricks were needed to be victorious so seeing them unfold before me while teetering on defense was quite the roller coaster to ride.

    Some fights were conducted through one-on-one duels, another amazing system, while also shallow and easy to manipulate, they provided a deeper understanding into some characters and their motivations. They are so few and far between that their scarcity amplified whatever relationship between the participants have to a huge degree, especially when key players of the war sized each other up.

    I was surprised to become invested in so many characters, significant or not, thanks to small exchanges of words or by simply seeing them living their day-to-day. It’s all due to the ever-evolving base built for the war effort that everyone had their hangouts and were contributing in various ways, some of which were bizarrely endearing, they made the base feel alive and worth exploring the world to recruit more to the cause.

    5/5

  • (3DS version)

    As a newcomer to the main series, I didn’t expect to catch myself smiling so much from even the smallest writing quips present throughout mundane actions like searching bookshelves to probably the most expressive cast of characters I’ve ever witnessed. Leading up to the final hours of my playthrough, I realized my time in this world was coming to an end and couldn’t help but realize how much I was going to miss spending time with the likes of this unlikely merry band of do-gooders.

    With the help of very distinctive accents, and the great voice actors behind them, every character stuck out like a sore thumb. It’s a rarity for me to revel in the way lines are simply read, I’m almost certain that they were directed to be as hammy as possible and I absolutely loved it. In any other game, specific speech dialects could become overbearing or annoying even in small bouts but DQVIII created one lovable side oaf whom more likely than not says what’s on the player’s mind under certain circumstances.

    While I can’t say the overall story is anything special, I do appreciate how well-paced it is. I can count on one hand where I felt the game wanted to pad out its shelf life, but even then they were very short as it did a good job doling out relevant information and stringing me along to another part of a map I haven’t explored. The use of NPCs littered throughout cities subtly hinting at my next destination were a great help and made revisiting older cities worth it when some would even change dialog according to the state of the world.

    5/5

  • Soon after beginning my second playthrough of the newest entry of the ill-fated Deus Ex franchise Mankind Divided, I made the lateral move of playing the trial of this game. Not long after, I began uninstalling Mankind Divided while struck in awe of its enemy AI. Patrol guards noticed missing co-conspirators and began to investigate without missing a beat and, most impressive of all, noticed ajar doors that led them to the discovery of my crouching player character sifting through drawers out in the open. I’m surprised my F9 key didn’t end up being as worn out as my S key since experimenting, and mistakes, are integral to the design of great immersive sims like Dishonored 2.

    While traversing and rummaging through messy environments, I realized how believably lived-in the unkempt streets and dilapidated apartments were, so much so that I felt overwhelmed at the thought of searching for useful items that I had to abandon a playstyle that made me step away from the first game in the first place. Stopping every once in a while to read a page out of a book or a note next to a corpse declaring regrets of their foolish entrapment and impending death, I couldn’t do it anymore. Thankfully, the game does a good job of sorting out important information for easy viewing. I’m certain I’m missing out on world-building lore and, surely, a (corrupt) key detail near the end by doing this, but the minute-by-minute gameplay is what I sought after.

    I resorted to my tried-and-trusted stealthy approach, however, it was easy to see how viable other playstyles were in the meanwhile. With stacked crates, cracked vents, and tesla coils littering the world, it was easy to see myself revisiting the game with a different skillset or, potentially, without. Imagining myself playing without powers in certain situations seems almost impossible but doable when teleporting could be a basic means of movement, it wasn’t strange to miss hidden pathways or compartments within the vast playgrounds on offer. In any case, missions do a good job of mixing old and forcing new elements into play that even the most basic of skills have to be relied upon for survival.

    4/5

  • Even within a very short but very sweet campaign, Titanfall 2 managed to make me sympathize and believe in the essential link between a pilot and their titan. Throughout the campaign, this relationship is built through small everyday gestures and their necessary reliance on one another’s survival and, while that sounds to be expected, I couldn’t help but feel for the bipedal mech of destruction when things went wrong.

    Other than that, I didn’t expect much beyond the development team’s consistency in delivering tight gunplay along with fluid player movement. From beginning to end, I never felt like I was in the same scenario twice or that a section was too long to keep my undivided attention, which is likely thanks to the short time I spent with the game. I’ll admit there were some awkward moments when I found a new titan loadout, but once I got used to them each provided a drastically different and fun way of blowing up other enemy titans.

    5/5

  • Unlike the first, I knew what type of game I was getting into this time. With the first game, its anime adaptation and movie, knowing that there was still even more to tread in this world kept me from being completely engulfed by the usual sorrow that consumes me after an unforgettable journey. However, in this case, it may very well be the last (until the anime adaption of this game is done at least, of which is currently on its tenth episode as I’m typing this and as an aside I think it does a more coherent job at storytelling than the game, but that’s beside the point).

    It was only until late last year when I began the series. The slow start may have been off putting, but once it got going, it got going and hooked me. I couldn’t say the same for 0 in the beginning as it did an effective job of reminding me of why the main character is as traumatized as he is, with flashbacks reminding him of the futility of fate in different world lines. Despite the impending doom that would only be mentioned of in the original, we get to live it firsthand and the immediate events leading up to it. I couldn’t imagine another set of events fitting into this world, but I think they did so well enough.

    As I played through 0, I realized how much of a waifu game the first could be. Multiple endings were due to the main character’s refusal to reverse a dream he fulfilled for others and as a result lead that world to its eventual downfall. It made things simple and easier to follow, unlike with 0. Routes off the true path had unique scenes first time through, but would be, understandably, placed wholesale into the true path, the final path I chose to pursue. It’s not bad, but it did somehow confuse me more than the heavily time travel-specific theme of the first.

    While the game strikes a good balance between goofy antics and serious matters backed up by conspiracy theories and actual scientific jargon, they couldn’t have done it without the present and future established relationships between the characters. Inclusion of everyone from the first game could seem lazy but only furthers the convenient narrative of fate, and I couldn’t be happier for it. If they can somehow find another way to fit these characters into another parallel world line while staying within an acceptable range of believability, I wouldn’t be opposed to it. But they molded around the first with 0 so well (albeit confusingly), perhaps a little too well that it might be pushing it if they decided to.

    4/5

  • With how this game is structured, it was assured that I would be utterly consumed by the act of mining like there is no tomorrow. Much like with Minecraft, even the mundanity of mining appealed to me. It was easy and afforded me better equipment, slowly but surely. In this case, SteamWorld Dig 2 provided a greater purpose to my diligence in the form of calling back to the original game with the goal of finding out what has become of the previous player character.

    While my familiarity with the SteamWorld universe is mostly through the Dig games and a teensy bit of Heist, we got to know more about others beyond these robots whose goal is to mine for valuable resources and how dire the planet they’re on has become. The locales on display up to a point were challenging and fun to navigate but once you were outfitted with greater and greater traversal options it became a matter of how stylin’ I would look as I weaved through blocks and crashed into enemies to strengthen my gear.

    4/5

  • (Definitive Edition)

    For a large majority of the game, I unwittingly handicapped myself to a very low health pool that more than not made me appreciate its tough but fair attitude. Sometimes, it was infuriating but once everything was all said and done, I recognized the mistakes I made in an effort to overcome the game’s written rules. Aside from potentially fiddly wall jumps that require a precise landing atop a structure not even wider than the titular Ori, moving around and dodging enemies in the world became second nature.

    Thanks to this, I managed to collect all that can be collected in the process of uncovering the entirety of the map. Considering my relatively recent penchant for “Metroidvania” games, I should really spend more time with the actual games responsible for that portmanteau because most of my enjoyment is in wondering what kind of ability I’d need to get a collectible beyond my reach. That drip feed of progression begs the player to experiment with an ever-evolving skill set and Ori has that in spades.

    4/5

  • Instead of focusing on one of the two Zero Escape games I played this year, I thought it would be best to lump my thoughts on them into a single summary. Considering how Virtue’s Last Reward (VLR) ends on the downturn, with only the big picture being revealed before it’s thrust into another metanarrative bonanza riddled with puzzle rooms, of which most err on the side of insignificance in the grand scheme of things. Thankfully, in Zero Time Dilemma (ZTD), they were front-loaded and not evenly scattered throughout the timelines, meaning that the last few hours were very much cutscene-heavy and thus the focus was on the characters and their rather usual unusual situation.

    Much like the first Zero Escape game Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, my favorite parts are finding out why these seemingly random assortments of people are related when they’ve been forced into this game of death by this mysterious entity named “Zero.” VLR and ZTD are no different, but I think VLR did it better, especially without hugely misdirecting the player, when it came to revelations regarding the true nature of many of its respective participants. While misdirection is the whole point of ZTD, that didn’t alleviate my utter disgust with its big “reveal.”

    Not to say that VLR didn’t pull some stunt hoping others wouldn’t notice when it came to the player character, it was more believable and easier to throw under the rug. With how ZTD is structured, with collections of events separated by team presented without order, confusion is assured. I much preferred sticking to one strand of time as far as possible before moving onto the next as it made things easier to follow and settle in. Of course, I could have stuck to one team before moving onto the next myself but the thought of sticking with Eric for too long would’ve made me stop playing long ago.

    4/5

  • (Redux version)

    What impressed me most were how compact settlements were and with how sparse they were between the shootouts, I cherished the time I spent gawking at others living in such packed spaces just making do with what they had. The atmosphere these spaces created exuded a willful existence amongst the metro’s denizens and not the typical defeat or cruelty people are consumed by after the apocalypse happens. Perhaps not enough time has passed yet for that to happen but I appreciated that nationalism from before still applied to what remains of humanity despite the ongoing threat from feral mutants dwindling their already small numbers.

    Shooting isn’t the strength of these particular games. There are three types of combat scenarios I found: some with humans where stealth is an option so dispatching enemies was determined by my patience, some with mutants so you can expect them to run right at you regardless of the shotgun in hand, and few where required finesse meant kiting and abusing corners more so than usual. Nonetheless, what made these fights feel more dire than they really were was due to the small glass protecting my player character’s face from the leftovers of civilization’s self-destruction.

    Surviving these wastes meant traversing across harsh radiation-filled environments sprinkled with rubble and buildings long-abandoned. They were ugly yet beautiful in a way that I couldn’t help but stay still and admire the view from time to time since, much like with settlements, our time was limited out on the oppressive surface. Why I prefer 2033 to its sequel Last Light is because I felt it catered more to the original “survival” difficulty better, so perhaps it was a mistake I chose the same for Last Light, which is much more action-oriented and as a result faster-paced so it didn’t give me as many breathers as the first. In any case, I’m excited for what’s to come in Exodus.

    4/5

  • From beginning to end, characters whose motives are unclear or seen suspect at anytime come to light and are justifiably cleared up during murder trials. It may follow the same formula as its prequel but it proves to be a very effective method of allowing players to familiarize themselves with characters at their best and worst of times. While the minigames that constitute the trials at the end of each chapter are still the bane of my existence, the characters’ development and the mysteries surrounding them and the island they’re trapped on still amounted to a very satisfying conclusion.

    This entry certainly preys on the fact that it’s a sequel and slowly unravels the bigger picture only until the the final third of the game when the true nature of things are revealed. Not that that means that the other two thirds are a waste of time since most of my enjoyment was from seeing the growth of specific characters after witnessing their friends’ untimely demise. Two in particular stood out to me as they yearned for their lost one and dealt with it in as believable a fashion they could in spite of the omnipresent plush toy whom solely exists to terrorize these unwitting participants.

    Regardless, what follows should be promising but I'm very wary of how things come together in the sequel given the divisive reputation edging on the very negative. I'm uncertain of when I'll finally get to it.

    4/5