Best of 2018

Relevant platforms I have access to:

  • Android phone
  • Apple tablet
  • Nintendo 3DS XL
  • PC
  • PlayStation 4 Slim
  • PlayStation Vita
  • Xbox One

Notable pre-released games and add-ons of 2018 I played this year:

  • Besiege
  • Black Mesa

Games that didn’t make the cut:

  • N/A

Games I meant to get to but couldn’t:

  • Ashen - Lost interest after a few hours.
  • Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age - Purchased during the Steam Winter sale and, well, I couldn’t finish it before the end of the year.
  • Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice - After beating the first boss, I wondered if the “puzzles” were ever going to change and found out that they do not and thus my interest fell drastically.
  • State of Decay 2 - Lost interest after a few hours.

“Oversights”:

  • (Great Nintendo Switch game) - I don’t have a Nintendo Switch
  • A Way Out - No interest and no one to play it with.
  • Assassin’s Creed Odyssey - While my interest in the series is at an all time high since maybe Brotherhood, I can wait until I’ve played through Origins before getting to this one.
  • Detroit: Become Human - Since playing through Indigo Prophecy, I found that watching someone else play through Quantic Dream games is a much more tolerable experience, especially when things get too stupid. Which happened once again in the playthrough I watched.
  • Dragon Ball FighterZ - I’m certain I will enjoy it but not for long.
  • God of War - I will likely only allow myself to get this until I’ve finished playing the main trilogy.
  • Life is Strange 2 - I can wait until the season is done before picking it up.
  • Monster Hunter: World - For a little while I was interested but then I didn’t care anymore.
  • Persona 3/5: Dancing in Moonlight/Starlight - While I love the 3 soundtrack, I can wait until they’re relatively cheaper along with their DLC.
  • Red Dead Redemption 2 - I didn’t like the first one nor do I like cowboy shit, so no thanks.
  • Shadow of the Tomb Raider - Reviews have confirmed my suspicions that this is very much an iterative entry like the last one, which isn’t bad, but that means I don’t have the urgency to play it as soon as possible.
  • Soul Calibur VI - Like with any fighting game, it’s best I wait since all I usually do is play through the single player stuff.
  • Valkyria Chronicles 4 - I have every intention of playing previous entries besides the first, which I’ve already played, before getting to this one.
  • Yakuza 6: The Song of Life - I haven’t even finished my playthrough of Yakuza Kiwami yet.
  • Yakuza Kiwami 2 - I haven’t even finished my playthrough of Yakuza Kiwami yet.

FINAL LIST

List items

  • It’s hard not to reiterate the same points that made the last Hitman so great. From the user interface to the sprawling playgrounds built for a plethora of creative murders, mistaking this game as an expansion to the previously episodic entry wouldn’t be too far from reality. “More Hitman” isn’t necessarily a bad thing considering the formula is already sound and, from a player-viewpoint, difficult to imagine what could be done to improve upon it other than through more outlandish and cohesive schemes of convenient murder. The wholesale inclusion of the last game shows how little difference there is between the two, but what makes this round even better are the locations themselves.

    The guided situations I found through my first playthrough accentuated the strengths of each location very well. Much like last time, the collection of challenges and progression tracking makes repeated attempts of murder so much more satisfying and attainable. From a beachside hideaway to a suburban neighborhood to a cult’s island gathering, I felt no location was a weakness in an otherwise very iterative entry in the world of assassination. I expected more Hitman and got exactly what I wanted with the added surprise of an intriguing story, unlike the forgettable one last time around.

    4/5

  • Like many of my small positive reviews of games dedicated to driving cars, Forza Horizon 4 (FH4) maintains the perfect recipe necessary to feel just right. While there isn’t anything too different from the previous entry, ever-changing seasons and small quality of life improvements make FH4 seem like the pinnacle of the series, one that’s hard to imagine surpassing anytime soon.

    Given how open-ended progression is, the pacing is up to the player but when you want to settle down and see what the developer handcrafted aside from the plethora of simple races, what else is there feels like a love letter to other racing games across our young hobby’s history, albeit through their, what I assume, tongue-in-cheek influencer mouth pieces.

    In addition, for someone who doesn’t really care about more than two or three cars when given the choice, silly dances and clothing have been added to the mix and became my much desired prize winnings during wheelspins. Seeing my top hat-clad character moonwalk across many of the beautiful landscapes within this fictionalized UK land is a joy I didn’t know I wanted.

    5/5

  • My experience with other Spider-Man games is limited to some of the movie-licensed ones, of which seem to have set the standard for “good” Spider-Man games over a decade ago, and Ultimate Spider-Man, none of which garnered my ire when it came to traversing the city if memory serves me right. I never had any doubt that Insomniac wouldn’t make a competent Spider-Man game at the least and meet my expectations, so I wasn’t surprised with how fluid and realized their take on the webbed hero was. Movement around in the city felt just right and didn’t feel like a chore at all, unlike nearly everything else in between main missions.

    This game certainly sets up a great foundation but the world doesn’t really set itself apart from being able to control Spider-Man. The open world is ripe yet barren; most side and miscellaneous missions are plentiful and unimaginative, combat is Arkham-derivative and makes changes where it makes sense but limited like its enemy variety, stealth-based missions are nothing out of the ordinary and break the pace but they do allow for a greater understanding of just how helpless regular humans are in a world of superhumans.

    What surprised me most were how well the reworking of some character’s relationships and origins felt so natural, as if they were like that from the beginning. Creating a believable father-son relationship to build upon and getting out of the photojournalist business did the story wonders. While there is one rather huge caveat I have regarding what I thought to be a coy misunderstanding within this father-son dynamic, how they handled the rise and fall between the two made me excited for more of what’s to come for this imagination of Spider-Man.

    4/5

  • As is custom with every game I’ve played made by this developer, puzzling out the path to the main character’s object of affection is the goal, no matter how obscure the solution may be. While some fail states make a comeback from previous entries, they’re very welcome and sought after even, considering how obscure even failing can be as well.

    Aside from a few new gameplay mechanics within this now-christened trilogy, it’s the same old same old. Not a bad thing, of course, since they’ve still got new ways of hiding this kid’s handheld gaming device. The final level is a great indicator for what is to come, and that’s more hidden games by mom.

    4/5

  • Even though there have only been two series’ worth of the Life is Strange world, it’s managed to establish a very distinct and pleasing aesthetic in a genre rife with settings ranging from fantasy to sci-fi nowadays. Captain Spirit is not unlike its predecessors by sticking with a setting within the present-day and mature themes that aim to hit close to home like single parenting, alcoholism, and domestic violence. While this small inkling of the next series doesn’t do anything new in regards to these themes, the series has gone even further beyond with its presentation while maintaining its signature style.

    What enticed me to the original was the supernatural utility that came with “rewinding” one’s actions. Despite the almost obsessive insistence of choices having an impact in other games, Life is Strange played with failure and allowed players to learn from their mistakes at will. In the case of Captain Spirit, we’re only given a light hint of what’s to be expected while basking in the imagination of the child protagonist. Hopefully, this boy’s fantastical imagination continues into the season.

    4/5

  • For a large majority of the game, my time was spent exploring the beautiful world, defeating hulking enemies, and eating delicious pixels of food. However, when things got serious, I couldn't fully comprehend or care for what was going on, especially during a certain chapter, despite watching the related anime and movie over a year ago. I can't blame the game's penchant for dividing a player's attention when the choice to finally see things through becomes a walk in the park after shuffling through the massive, but rather barren, playground you're dropped into. It's a surprisingly sudden but welcome change as I felt I saw everything worth seeing before the game funnels into the ending.

    I didn’t expect much from the first truly open world Final Fantasy came up with because in a way it’s very similar to earlier entries’ reliance on the overworld for relatively quick travel between settlements. Instead of a giant avatar lunging in an overworld representing the player character running amok, a four-door sedan ferries the party across the land. It isn’t the first time a modern-looking vehicle has made an appearance in the series, though it doesn’t make it any less weirder with all the series-traditional magic and beasts roaming about but it did help foster the camaraderie between the boys.

    Driving along the highway, refueling at the nearest gas station, eating at the diner, setting up camp, deciding what food to prepare, reviewing your friend’s pictures throughout the day, rinse and repeat. It goes without saying how simple an approach could be used so effectively to display the powerful brotherhood between the four party members. Thanks to the repetitive nature of their travels, a moment I felt I only chanced upon felt the more greater considering how tragic and desperate their journey wrought upon them so to see it wrap up with a resounding bang... <strike>it’s not so hopeless after all</strike>.

    3/5

  • Injecting distinctive gameplay elements commonly seen in MOBAs and a progression system similar to a particular hero shooter into an arcade racer feels like a natural fit for a genre rarely visited beyond kart racers and the like these days. Crashing into others or hitting big ass ramps are the primary actions which provide the energy needed to generate a vehicle-specific “ultimate,” however, there can be additional ways to gain the needed energy depending on the vehicle like driving near allies, doing tricks in the air, focusing on taking out always-AI-controlled enemies called “fodder,” or doing barrel rolls and so on.

    Aside from the achingly slow respawn timers (especially due to bullshit deaths) and incredibly slow end-of-match results, there isn’t really much beyond the main game itself. After a few hours, I felt like I’d experienced all I could and want to experience. Preferred vehicles of mine specialized in toppling over fodder then triggering an ultimate to clear the way or completely avoiding everyone but damaging enemies after heavy landings. Due to the imprecision driving over bumpy terrain can be, losing control and somehow still winning went hand in hand.

    3/5

  • Choosing between this game or Stardew Valley felt like deciding how deep I wanted to dive into a pool. I can only speak in assumptions and second-hand information regarding Stardew Valley but I expect it to be even more vast and even deeper than Graveyard Keeper. A blessing in disguise considering how utterly consumed my priorities were by maintaining a graveyard, church, farm, and vineyard to finally come back home to a loved one.

    As far as story goes, it's that simple while it ties together most of the characters you meet in surprising ways. Most, if not all, quests are of the fetch variety, asking the player to delve into the multitude of mechanics the game offers. High-quality crops, wine, beer, meals, and, of course, tombstones and the like are needed to basically craft the credits sequence. Along the way, I realized that the graveyard’s related systems of the game felt undercooked, among other things.

    There are a few walls, some literally very costly, but the graveyard’s was the quickest to climb over. While there were systems in place to essentially make buried bodies “better,” reaching that point could only appeal to perfectionists who want to spend time in ironically the most annoying part of the game. Versus the farming and crafting, maintaining the graveyard required more minute attention and actions from choosing which organs to remove, digging and burying or cremating the body, placing the tombstone and fencing, and finally storing everything in the right chest. Most of which expends very sparse and valuable energy points.

    Before switching to the PC version, I played the Xbox One version for about fifteen hours. My greatest impression was that everything was way too slow. Moving around was painful even after unlocking shortcuts within the estate and village. I had hoped there would be gauge upgrades to energy or even health, but nope. When loading the game on Xbox One, an image of the player character riding on a donkey is shown but it never even happens in the game.

    To put it short, this game is extremely slow and demanding of your time and I can’t say that I loved it, but it did speak to my organizational tendencies, preyed upon them even. And worst of all, I don’t even feel like I finished the game despite getting the credits to roll. Many characters talk a big game about “The Town,” but the game kills you before setting foot in it, even after getting the required plot item to enter it, and explains that it would be a bad idea to try to get into it again. Thank goodness for Cheat Engine.

    3/5