GOTY 2018 - Gods, Cowboys and Mutants? An extensive blog featuring 40+ games and Soulja Boy

GOTY 2018 – Gods, Cowboys and Mutants?

It’s this time of the year again, so here comes another GOTY blog. And I have a feeling this is gonna be a long one. Why? Two reasons:

I was between jobs for a few months this year, so I had lots of time to get some good gaming time in and, more importantly, this year was simply a great one for games. A fact that I’m doubly pleased by since I was kinda disappointed with last year’s games, which become apparent when writing my GOTY 2017 list. Sure, there were some really good games, like Nier: Automata and Super Mario Odyssey, but overall nothing really blew me away.

"Wait a second...was I always dressed like this? Something seems wrong here."

This year though, this year it’s a very different thing writing this list, and as of right now (yes, I am actually just writing this whole thing in order) I’m still not 100% sure what will make the list and where. And that’s just a really good feeling isn’t it? Having so many options that you don’t even know what to pick. Makes you feel like a little kid in a toy store’s gaming section again.

“Feel” being the operative word in this year's blog in general as I think I can rank some of the games in this giant blog purely by how they felt to play and how I felt while playing them. Things really are just that close this time around.

"You said it would all be about "the feels", but that's not what I thought it would mean, damn it!"

Okay, that’s it for the introduction, now on to some general information: I don’t currently own a PC good enough to run any current games and I also don’t own an Xbox One (so no exclusives from either those platforms). I did all my gaming on my trusty PS4 Pro (with a recently bought PSVR set), my Switch and my 3DS.

Well enough preamble and let’s get this thing started for real, first with a few games I didn’t get to play this year, but who could/would have made the list.

Games that might have made the list had I played them

Let’s go: Pikachu/Evoli – A Pokemon game? And in first place of the “would have/could have/should have” section? Well, yeah. This would almost certainly have made the list on nostalgia alone, since the original Game Boy Pokemon games are among my favourites of the system (which, let’s be real, says a lot considering the Game Boy’s ginormous software line up) and the graphics in the new one just look oh so very charming.

So why have I not played it? Well, my girlfriend hinted early on, that she would gift me this game for Christmas. Will this happen? Guess we’ll find out tomorrow.

"Just take a loook at those great looking Pokemon. How happy they are. Let's stuff them in some ball or something!"

Soul Calibur VI – This one I currently have mixed feelings on, which mirrors my opinion on the entire series really. I loved Soul Edge, Soul Calibur I, II and IV, while I just hated III and V. Sadly from everything I’ve seen of VI so far, it looks a lot like V, especially pacing wise. A real shame, because I like my Soul Calibur games to feel deliberate rather than button mashy. Having not played the game yet, I of course could be wrong here. Let’s hope so and pick this one up in some kind of sale.

Dragon Ball FighterZ – I loved, no strike that, I still love everything Dragon Ball (except for GT) and this game seems like the perfect adaption: gorgeous graphics, loads of fan service (not of the “Puff Puff” kind you perverts!) and real smooth looking mechanics. I really wasn’t ever in the right mood to get into a fighting game this year, though, so I have not given this one a shot just yet. I’m very much looking forward to it, though.

"Okay, guys, the choreography is all there, but is your power level over 9000? No? Then get bent!"

Tetris Effect – It’s Tetris, what more do you want me to say? Why I haven’t played it yet? Well, the answer is pretty much the same: it’s “just” Tetris. Sure there’s the journey mode and the visuals are neat, but honestly I just can’t see myself spending 40 bucks on Tetris in 2018 (except maybe if I finally find a decently priced cartridge of Battle Tetris Gaiden out there, damn you Ebay).

Spyro: Reignited Trilogy – Back in the day I was never much of a fan of the Spryo games. They just looked way to simple for me to ever consider giving them a real go. 20 years later things have changed and something nice and simple to play without having to really think about it seems like quite a good thing.

"Shut up weird fly thing, I'm definitely cuter than those stupid Pokemon! Also is that Playstation logo supposed to be in this picture?"

Dragon Quest XI – Same deal as with the Soul Calibur series, really. I loved some of the games in the series (IV, VIII) and didn’t care for others (IX, X) at all. XI seems quite neat though, but I just couldn’t get myself to try it just yet. Also I really didn’t want to burn myself out on JRPGs again so shortly before Tales of Vesperia: Definite Edition’s release.

That’s it for games that probably would have made the list, now on to games, I have played only little bits of so far, meaning I don’t have a solid enough opinion yet and decided not to rank them.

Games I didn’t play enough of just yet

Life is Strange 2 – I just adored the first game and the first episode of the second season, while not immediately blowing me away, seems like a fine start to another strong game. I’m just always on the edge with putting episodic games on my list without having experienced the entire thing yet. So Life is Strange 2 is a no go for the Top 10.

"Please let us get in the car, we promise we wont just do Donnie Darko again!"

The Council – Same deal as above, since I’ve only finished the first two episodes just yet. I can already say that I really like the game’s setting and some of it’s interesting ideas, like the stand-off mechanic and the stat points. Finally a game trying to push the “Telltale adventure genre” a step forward once again.

Vampyr – I look a good Vampire story. This seems to be at least a decent one from what I’ve played so far, but oh my god, the combat is anything but decent. In fact it felt so bad, that I stopped playing after just a few hours and have not yet managed to motivate myself enough to go back to this one.

Return of the Obra Dinn – A game with a fresh new mechanic and a very unique visual style, this one certainly had the potential to get into the Top 10, sadly I just didn’t find the time to play it for more than a couple hours just yet. I’m also not quite sure if I like the setting and the supernatural nonsense elements. Guess I’ll have to finish it, before I’ll know.

"Oh, I got it now. It was the butler in the kitchen with the knife. Or maybe the captain with the spear, or that dude from Ireland with some tentacles?"

Okay, that’s that, now on to games I decided to skip, but want to comment on real quick.

Games that I decided to skip, but want to comment on real quick. (Yes, I just repeated the last sentence, I know. It’s for effect, ok?)

Monster Hunter World – I’ve never been a huge fan of the series, but this time I really wanted to give it a fair shot. After playing the demo though, I once again decided that this just wasn’t the right game for me. Just hacking away at a huge dinosaur is fun and all, but that there’s no real feedback for hitting him is a no go for me.

"Am I even hitting you?" "I don't know either, sorry, there's just no real feedback."

The Messenger – Got spoiled on “the twist” very early on and also just think that it looks like an okay game, but not a great one. There’s better “Metroidvania” games out there. Loads of them, so this one’s a skip for me.

…aaaand after this shortie we already move on to the next category, and it's an interesting one: games that turned out really disappointing.

Games that turned out to be rather disappointing

Fallout 76 – Really? Yes, really. I know it won’t be hot take, but oh my god this game looks so bad and just so god damn unnecessary. Why do this? (Money.) Why release an at best half done game? (Money.) Why get rid of NPCs, which are core to the Fallout experience? (Money?) Such a fucked up game, that they didn’t even manage to get the Collector’s edition right. I really don’t know what they were thinking. (Money!)

"We look awesome guys, what do you want to do now?" "Oh I don't know, let's look for an NPC to give as a quest. Oh right..."

Dead Cells – You all wanted a hot take? Well here it is. First let me make clear that I don’t think this game sucks or anything (it's fine), but I also don’t think it’s as great as everyone makes it out to be and it certainly turned out to be a disappointment for me.

Why? Well it’s quite short (yes, I know that’s often the case for this kind of game); I really don’t like the enemy variety (there’s just not enough enemies that are a real threat, except for the occasional elite and some of the enemies in the last stage); the bosses aren’t great or varied either (first of all there’s not enough and there’s no randomness here, something I always enjoyed in other Rogue likes); the balance seems all wrong (picking up too many vials fucks you over? Really? That seemed like a good idea? Note: I’ve not played the game after the recent patch) and, honestly, it’s just too easy?

Yes, I’m serious and no, I’m not bragging about my gaming prowess or some shit. I just really think this game is not hard at all if you are somewhat careful, good on the dodge and spec correctly. Not even repeated runs with boss souls seem all that hard if you just get a loadout that works out fine. And getting that is also just not that hard.

The fighting feels good and the weapon variety is nice, but that’s all the praise this game will get from me. Sadly, just not my thing.

Into the Breach – Another hot take? Well, not really. I like the game alright, but I just don’t think there’s enough to it. Sure, there’s different mechs and a harder difficulty mode, but the replayability is still very weak for me. Once you find a strategy that works you just have to adapt it a bit to thrive in every single scenario presented to you. There’s just no enough variety in this for me.

Octopath Traveler – I like this game’s visuals, I like it’s combat system (even though it gets rather stale towards the game’s end), I like it’s exploration elements, I like it’s music, but I hate it’s “story”. I get what they were going for, but this is just not what I want out of my JRPG. Vignette style story bits, with the characters never really interacting except for some very minor optional dialogue scenes is just a bummer. The different character stories also vary in quality extremely. Tressa and Primrose being the standouts for me, while H’aanit or Ophilia are just plain bad.

"Isn't our world just beautiful?" "It sure is...but, wait, are we interacting?" "Yeah?" "Oh god, I don't like it, stop it right now!"

Mario Tennis Aces – The core gameplay is fun enough, but once again, I just don’t think this game has any long lasting legs. The “story” mode is very disappointing if one knows what could have been (just look at the GBA’s amazing Mario Tennis: Power tour), the Swing mode is completely pointless in its simplicity and the online mode is, well’s a Nintendo game. So it’s very barebones, laggy and there just isn’t enough to it.

Far Cry 5 – It’s just more Far Cry. Once again. And yes, after so many games featuring the exact same formula that is a disappointment. Also, while the setting is unique, the story just never really goes anywhere in it’s very tame tale of a small town cult. A real shame, but hey, the next Far Cry game isn’t far off, so maybe they’ll finally introduce some fresh new ideas again there. Ah...who am I kidding?

"What do you mean you don't like this game? There's a god damn bear companion, named Cheeseburger. That should be enough for GOTY!"

Okay, enough with the disappointing stuff, on to the next category.

Games that didn’t come out this year, but that I played in 2018 and I think deserve a mention

Pokemon: Go – I started this again in preparation for getting every Pokemon in Let’s go Pikachu/Evoli. It’s still not much of a game, but it turned out to be a nice diversion at times nevertheless.

Night in the Woods – Last year I stated that I didn’t play much of the game since it didn’t really seem like my cup of tea. This year I’ll state that I was wrong about that. Night in the Woods isn’t perfect, the mini games are pointless and/or suck and the narrative fell apart a bit in the end, but it’s still a very good game. One that would have even deserved a spot in last year’s Top 10. So I’m sorry, Mae. I failed you, for seeing no more than shapes and objects in you the last time.

"You aren't may, it's my fault and I'm sorry. Please stop drinking beer!"

Last category before the actual Top 10:

Games that came close to a Top 10 Spot

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 – The Black Ops series was always my favourite when it came to the Call of Duty games. Black Ops 4 is no exception. The multiplayer is very solid (even though, I miss the mobility some of the earlier games in the series provided. Yes, I’m one of those guys.), the Blackout mode is fun and definitely a step up over PUBG and the Zombie mode still isn’t anything I’ll ever really enjoy.

The lack of a campaign doesn’t bother me either, since I hadn’t even touched the last game’s campaign, but oh my god, why did they think the Mercenary scenarios would be a good idea? The dialogue is groan inducing (for the love of all that is holy, let Frank Woods go already) and the “scenarios” are just glorified bot battles. It sucks.

Donut County – A fun little game with a somewhat “Katamari-esque” concept. Swallowing up the entire town and figuring out the very miniscule puzzles is cool, the story is fun enough for what it is and the encyclopaedia is good for a quick laugh or two. Only problem is that the game is over before you know it, so hopefully we’ll get a bigger and better Donut County 2 at some point.

"You know what we'll don next? We'll get a ball and collect things with it to make it bigger." "Been done already on The Simpons. Wait, that's not right."

The Fall 2 – This sequel didn’t quite have the impact its predecessor had on me, but it’s still a pretty damn good game and what’s most important, it has some new ideas of its own. Possessing different robots and having to utilize their very different skill sets for solving some neatly designed puzzles is never not fun. Sadly the story isn’t quite what I’d hoped it’d be and the combat is even worse than it was in the first game. Nevertheless I’m already looking forward to this trilogy’s eventual conclusion.

Detroit: Become Human – I’ve always liked these David Cage games, since they are quit fun to experience with a significant other. Detroit: Become Human isn’t any exception to that and thus I have some very warm memories from playing through this. Is it a perfect game or an amazingly told story? Not quite, but it’s also not as terrible as our dear friend, Alex Navarro, made it out to be.

"Why won't you love me, Alex? I'm totally a human man. Wait, do you see it like that?"

Onrush – Finally a good arcade style racer again. The different modes are fun (even though I just can’t get myself to like Countdown), the driving feels good and the visuals fit the whole thing perfectly. The campaign mode is okay too, even though it’s really just some bot races with added objectives. Sadly there’s just not that many people left playing anymore.

Super Mario Party – This one came as a bit of a surprise to me, since while I liked Mario Party 1-3 fine enough back in the day, I didn’t enjoy any of the newer entries in the series at all. Super Mario Party gets it right again despite the odds. The minigames are simple and there could definitely be more of them, but they are, for the most part, fun to play.

What really made me like this game though, are some of the other modes. The Partner Party mode is a fun twist on the core gameplay and actually calls for a little bit of strategy (not much, but some, and hey, that’s something at least), the River Survival mode is a neat and easy little Co-Op experience and the Sound Stage Mode made me realize just how much I’d love a good rhythm game on the Switch. Overall just a pretty good package.

"Nobody wins. Except me, I'm mother f-ing Mario!"

Moonlighter – A Rogue lite game with an added on shop management mechanic? Colour me intrigued. Moonlighter’s dungeon exploring gameplay isn’t great, since it’s very easy and there’s not quite enough variety there, but the shop management part balances out the core gameplay loot quite neatly. Is this a better game than Dead Cells then? I don’t know, probably not, but I personally enjoyed it a lot more.

Hitman 2 – Hitman 2 is just more Hitman 1, for better or for worse. Personally I ‘m fine with this fact, but it’s also the reason why it didn’t make it into this year’s Top 10. The new stages are fun, some of the new “mechanics” (people seeing you in a mirror is a mechanic? Really?) are well thought out and that you can play through the first game’s maps once again is cool and all, but still, it’s just more of the same.

"What? I'm not even in the Top 10? Then why did you make me dress up for the occasion?"

Kingdom Come: Deliverance – What an ambitious game. What a mess. Two statements that perfectly sum up my experience with Kingdom Come: Deliverance. The game’s “realistic” mechanics are cool and terrible at the same time, depending on the situation but they are always quite frustrating. Doing anything at all in this game just takes oh so very long and the combat is just a worse version of For Honor. The story is quite neat by the way, which came as a surprise, and overall I have to say it’s a game definitely worth experiencing. Maybe don’t try to do everything though, because the “grind” will get to you.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate – It’s Smash Bros., but just so very much of it. Oh my god is this game packed with stuff. I’ve never been big on Smash Bros. before and bought this just as a “Hey, let’s play 30 minutes of this nonsense” party game, but ended up playing a ton of it on my own.

The World of Light and Spirit Board modes are just plain fun to mess around with and are a real bane for a collector/completionist like myself. Some of the battles, with the 1000+ different spirit infused enemies are straight up insane because of the modifiers and it’s just cool to see Nintendo try to find a combination that fits whatever random and unknown character they are trying to induce. The classic mode is also well done and the core Smash mode is the same as always. I still don’t think the game plays particularly well, but it’s perfectly serviceable. The online mode, this being a Nintendo game, is what you’ except. Barebones and just not that great.

"Oh god, what''s happening? Please make it stop...also who the hell is Joe?"

Okay, now that’s it with all the random categories, and here we go with the main event, the Top 10 of 2018.

Top 10

10. Astro Bot Rescue Mission

One of the first games I played for my recently acquired PSVR (thank you, Black Friday) and it’s a really good one. Even without VR this would be a good game (but not quite Top 10 material), but with it, it’s a real neat experience.

The platforming is precise; the levels are fun to explore and feature some neatly hidden secrets; there’s just enough new mechanics being introduced all the time to keep things from getting stale; the art style is loveable and the challenge levels actually offer some much needed challenge (the core stages are a tad to easy).

Overall just a very fun game, featuring this year’s most loveable mascot character.

"Okay, I give up. I don't stand a chance at this years "Cutie of the year" price against Spyro and those stupid Pokemon."

9. Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey

Honestly this could just be a pallet swap with last year’s Assassin’s Creed: Origins, the changes to the gameplay are just that miniscule. If the next game doesn’t change a lot it will suffer Far Cry 5’s fate on my next list, but right now, this is still very much okay.

The setting is interesting once again, since Ancient Greek just has a ton of potential and for the most party the story nails it. I even think the story is stronger than in Origins. The dialogue trees add some nice player interaction too, even though nothing has any real consequence.

"This isn't Sparta, but then again, It kinda is...maybe? Who knows, it's fun anyway."

8. Ni no Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom

A vast improvement over the first game from a gameplay perspective, the real time fights are never hard, but always feel good. Sadly the story isn’t quite as charming. It’s still enjoyable, but it somehow seems even tamer than the first game’s. The strategic war minigame is a bit of a throwaway, but at least it changes things up a bit.

What really makes this game feel special is the town building aspect. It’s just plain fun to go around, completing sidequests and recruiting more than a 100 people for your town. The gameplay consequences are miniscule (new shops, new equipment, new spells – all of which you don’t need, because the game is so easy) but seeing the town grown and it’s people thrive is reward enough on it’s own.

“This is my town. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My town is my best friend. It is my...oh you get the idea.”
“This is my town. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My town is my best friend. It is my...oh you get the idea.”

7. Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden

What a great idea for a genre mix-up this game is. X-Com style tactical combat meets stealth gameplay that’s somewhat akin to what you’d find in a game like Commando. It might sound a bit weird, but trust me, it’s a great blend.

If you do everything correctly, stealthing around in areas you don’t yet belong, always stealing weapons and materials and picking of enemy stragglers you’ll never run into any problems even on the highest difficulty mode. And I guess that’s the whole point. It’s definitely a very satisfying gameplay loop anyway.

The post apocalyptic setting featuring anthropomorphic animals is well done, sadly there’s barely any story and the game overall is a tad on the short side.

"I don't give a duck if you don't like my ducking humour you dick."

6. Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon

Bloodstained is the best “Castlevania” game to come out in years. It’s pretty much just a modern and different version of Castlevania 3, featuring multiple characters and paths (only in the level itself though) and it gets everything that matters just right.

It simply feels great to play: the jumping physics actually work; the subweapons are varied and fun, the character specials are too; the enemies and bosses (a standout is the third stage’s boss, who’s gimmicky, but a thing to see) feel just varied enough and the stages are mostly cool too.

Maybe most importantly the difficulty is pretty much perfect too, especially since depending on if the main character, Zangetsu, saves, kills or ignores the other characters, he get’s powered up a lot, or, well, not. A pure Zangetsu only run is challenging on just the right the level and feels a lot like Castlevania 1.

I’m already really looking forward to Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, the upcoming Symphony of the Night like game.

"Oh cool, it's Castlevania III. Wait, no that's not Alucard, it's...Gebel? Who the hell is that?"

5. Marvel’s Spider-Man

The swinging feels amazing. Just amazing. And that’s pretty much the most important thing in a Spider-Man game, right? Right. Good thing, though, this game gets everything else right too.

The combat is really just a variant on the tried and true Batman: Arkham series formula, but the Spidey abilities make it feel just unique enough, nothing better than webbing up a bunch of dudes at once with a good old web bomb.

Exploring the giant version of New York is always fun (did I mention, that the swinging feels amazing?), especially in all the different neat suits you can collect (with some very cool throwbacks for fans). The side activities sadly get quite tedious quite fast. It’s mostly just a bunch of random crimes, over and over and over again, but there are some well done standouts like the Taskmaster challenges. Room for improvement for a potential sequel. The stealth sequences, featuring Mary Jane Watson and Miles Morales don’t feel great, but are few and far between and at least try to change the gameplay loop up a bit.

Also no doubt very important in a superhero game is the story. And that’s another strong point for Marvel’s Spider-Man. The story is set in some alternate universe (isn’t that always the case?) and features among others The Sinister Six, Miles Morales and Norman Osborn. Everyone you could want in a Spider-Man game’s there. Well mostly everyone, there’s no Venom for example. (Probably because of legal stuff concerning this year’s Venom movie). The “twist” at the end is telegraphed from a 1000 miles away, especially if you know your Spider-Man, but it’s at least handled well.

Finally there’s a new “best” Spider-Man game, after years and years of “Spider-Man 2” for PS2 on the throne. Keep on swinging!

"Could you please stop looking at me? I just had a real messy fight with Sandman and my costume got ripped up, it happens. Just be glad I'm not Deadpool and actually wear undies unter my suit."

4. Celeste

The best game of the year from a pure “it feels good” perspective. Celeste is a platformer that has everything a good plaformer needs: tight and precise controls, interesting and well laid out stages and a great core gimmick.

Celeste’s jumping mechanics are unique, in that it features, double and later on even triple jumps and dashes, that get refreshed every time the titular character hits the ground (or an enemy, or a flying crystal). It sound simple but gets very complicated fast, especially if one wants to go for optional collectibles too.

The game is tough and I died hundreds of times before seeing it through to the end. I even ended up cheating a bit in the optional epilogue stages, because god damn, are those hard. The game always feels fair tough and very fast, Super Meat boy style respawns, make this a great experience all the way.

"Stop chasing me, I already said I won't dye my hair another color. I need it this way for jumping, it's a thing."

3. Red Dead Redemption 2

Read Dead 2 only in third place? Well, yes. Because even though the game is extremely ambitious and features this year’s best story, it can just feel terrible to play at times. But let me get into more detail:

Let’s go with the positives first and start with the world and story. Read Dead 2’s world is ginormous, featuring the entirety of Read Dead 1’s world inside it too. The world feels lived in and realistic and everything looks just gorgeous. There’s tons of secrets to uncover (like catching a serial killer or happening upon a room full of body parts, because a house got struck by a god damn meteor) and things to do and see.

Read Dead 2’s story is amazing, and one of the best video game stories ever. It’s definitely even a step up on the first game’s story, which is also quite well regarded. Arthur Morgan especially is a great protagonist (this year’s best if you ask me) and featuring some amazing voice work. He’s a bit down on his luck, as is the rest of his group, and he’s starting to doubt his life style a bit, but remains loyal to his boss, Dutch, to a fault. He’s interesting, diverse and most importantly very likeable all throughout the game.

The general gameplay itself is also competent enough, but it just never truly feels great. Shooting and riding a horse is fine, but weird animation priorities tend to get in the way. These animations and the game’s generally deliberately low pace is what break an otherwise perfectly competent game for me.

Why do I need to see Arthur skin an animal or pluck a plant hundreds if not thousands of times? Please, just let me skip the animation. It’s fine at first, but after a while it wears you down. Also do animals really need to be of a different quality from the start? It just adds to the tedium of trying to get perfect pelts.

Why is there no real fast travel in a game this ridiculously huge? Riding a horse is cool and all, but come on.

Who thought weapon maintenance would be a good idea? It never is! Seeing Arthur clean a gun every five minutes is not fun and feels a bit like Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’s stupid ass system.

The camp management sadly seems completely pointless too, since I never found there to be any differenced in your gangs attitude when "morale" was low since I just couldn't be bothered to gift food and other shit to the camp constantly. No one else did either anyway, 2 dollars and a rabbit's pelt every two weeks don't count for shit, John.

Is it really necessary to have what feels like a hundred different systems in this game? There’s health, stamina and Dead Eye metres and cores (which are pointless and monotonous to replenish), then there’s the same for your horse (except for Dead Eye obviously). Also you can end up malnutritioned or overweight. As can your horse, because why wouldn't it?

It’s just too damn much. I get it’s supposed to be realistic, but it’s just not. The whole game is not realistic. It can’t ever truly be, just think about the Dead Eye thing as an example. Or the fact that Arthur alone ends up killing hundreds upon hundreds of enemies. That’s not realistic.

Oh and what about Red Dead Online? As of right now it's such a barren wasteland options wise that it's barely worth mentioning. Still better than Fallout 76 though.

This could very well have been the best game in years, but sadly it turns out not be. For me at least, since I just can’t deal with all those gameplay hurdles. It’s still an amazing achievement and a great game though. Hat’s off to Rockstar for trying to do the impossible.

"You are a gooood girl, you know that, but I explicitly told you not to try and run head's on into a train. It's not the same as with another horse!"

2. God of War

Oh boi, where to begin with this one. Well with the single most uttered word in the entire game (maybe the entire series, considering Kratos was never the wordiest of dudes) of course. And what power that single word has in this newest God of War game. It somehow manages to feel both comical (probably not on purpose) and tragic at the same time. Most importantly though it's one of the reasons why Kratos turned from a maniac that only 13 year olds think is cool into an actually sympathetic being, something that frankly should have been impossible.

When the game first got announced and it became clear that Kratos would run around in a new pantheon of gods (Nordic instead of Greek), I just thought to myself “Okay, that's kinda cool, but it's really just gonna be the same old shit, with him mindlessly killing even more gods.” Thankfully I was wrong about that, and even though it begs believe, there's next to no god killing going on in this game. Instead it features the story of a man (or god, or half god, or whatever the hell Kratos is now), that's not seeking forgiveness or redemption, but just to bond a bit with his son after losing his newfound wife to an undisclosed illness.

It's not what you would expect from a God of War game and that's what makes it so very strong. It also manages to avoid most common genre cliches, which is another huge surprise. So the story of Kratos and what's his name (“Boi!”) is one of God of War's biggest strengths and not a detriment as it somewhat was in some of the other games in the series and the set pieces and world building are still just as strong as they always where, but what of the gameplay? Luckily it's another huge step up.

Now I personally always thought the God of War games played okay, but by no means great. The combat was just too slow and deliberate for me (and the move set to limited), someone who vastly prefers the somewhat comparable madness that usually happens in a Devil May Cry game, and weirdly enough this new game feels even slower and even more deliberate than before but still manages to feel a lot better. It's hard to explain really, maybe it's just that it feels like you have more options in how to handle any given combat situation or maybe it's the addition of second character (I refuse to call him by his name) running interference for you. Might even be the new perspective from which Kratos is controlled, I really don't know, I just now it feels real good to play.

"Dave Lang? Who is that? I told you not to talk to strangers, boi!"

1. Divinity: Original Sin 2: Definite Edition

Now this shouldn't come as a surprise for anyone who might have read my GOTY 2014 list. Divinity: Original Sin blew me away back then and the sequel managed to do the same. Now I know this is basically just another release of a game that came out in 2017, but since it's a new edition and I couldn't play the game last year (don't own a gaming PC currently) so here we are.

Original Sin 2 managed to improve on the original game's already genius formula in pretty much every way. A fact that's truly an amazing achievement, so we'll go into a lot of detail here.

Let's start with the story and characters, since that's arguably Original Sin 2's biggest step up compared to the first game. The core story itself, while vastly better than the first game's, still isn't anything to write home about, but the characters is where OS2 really begins to shine.OS2 gives you the option of either creating a custom character (and his background story) from scrap or choose one of 6 pre-made ones with different and unique origin stories (very much akin to Dragon Age 1's system).

Who you pick at the beginning even has quite a lot of influence on how the entire story unfolds. Even though the selection pretty much just changes some dialogue here and there, it feels truly different with every different character, and it's a joy to play this huge ass game multiple times from varying perspectives. It's fun to hear the ridiculous nonsense the Red Prince spouts, since he's royalty and wants everyone else to know and respect that fact at all times; it's fun to listen to Sybille's plans about just how exactly she is going to murder her slavers (it's not pretty) and it's also fun to get all the added background and lore to the core story if you decide to go with, Fane, the reanimated skeleton (whose featured in some amazingly creative sex scenes. I mean come on, he's a skeleton, doesn't that get you at least a little curious about exact goings on?).

So while the main story is just okay, the characters are amazing and the tons and tons of side quests are too. You can really see how much fun Lariat's writing team must have had while writing some of those quest stories, always trying to one-up the first game's already amazing quest lines (who can forget the talking wishing wells or the were-sheep?) and actually succeeding quite a lot. This time around we get even more talking animals, chief among them a lovestruck turtle(for whom you have to play cupid so it can get with a rat - love is blind, right?) as well as loads of weird, not quite evil but certainly not good either, demons and necromancers. That one guy who's running around collecting body parts and faces (with his face ripper, that your skeleton man wants to use himself) definitely makes an impression.

Now what of the gameplay? Well, it's mostly the same as in the first game, featuring loads of fun exploration and hidden secrets and well thought out and tough combat scenarios (the highest difficulty mode is a real bitch, believe you me). Of course the system was tweaked a little here and there and there's new spells and talents, but the one thing that truly stands out here, is that the devs actually decided to give you even more options to forgo combat (as well as pretty much entire chapters of the game) completely.

The game is actually designed around the player finding exploits and using them (only if he wants to of course). It gives you the god damn teleporter gloves in the first few minutes of the game for gods sake! Suddenly you are teleporting around the entire map, straight up skipping quests and bosses left and right or just teleporting the odd boss into lava or into an area full of flowery traps. It's weird, it's nonesene and it's certainly a thing of beauty. All the variations the devs hat do consider when handing the player a tool like that are frankly insane and that they actually accounted for most of them (with dialogue or at least quest log entries) is an amazing feat.

Since I'm starting to run out of superlatives to throw around, I'll end the game's praises here and I really just want to say one last thing: Even if you are not into this kind of heavy RPG, give this one a shot. It's special and it's definitely not as traditional as it might look at a first glance.

"I might be a skeleton, but I can still bone them like the best. Get it? Oh, you get it."

Oh, and last but not least, here we are with a new category for our good friend Soulja Boy (to not make the title a lie and just clickbait). It's a very special one too:

Soulja Boy presents: Joke of the Year Award 2018

Wow. Just wow. I'd never thought we'd see a day when some celebrity just up and makes as well as sells his own console (and handheld). It just seemed impossible considering the price of production for something big like this, not to mention the serious competition in the field.

Turns out it was impossible too, since SouljaBoy seems to just have slapped his name on a cheap knock-off emulator console made (and sold considerably cheaper without his name on the box) by a company named Anbernic.

"Copyright? Trademarks? What the hell is that? Get out of here with your fance words you f***** jealous ass nerds!"

By now Nintendo seems to be checking their options for a potential lawsuit too, which comes as a surprise to no one but SoujaBoy himself. SouljaBoy of course thinks its not gonna be an issue and tweeted this well thought out statement: "I’m not scared of Nintendo or none of u f***ot nerds making YouTube videos eat a dick and thanks for the free promo".

He also claims to have achieved 5 million in sales already, so this must be a Christmas miracle and not the joke of the year then? Well...

Yeah, no, Nintendo will shut this down fast and hard in what might then just turn into the biggest joke of 2019 too.

"Donald Trump's got nothing on my tweets, dawg!"

Okay, now to a very quick outro: As I said in the beginning of this very long blog (my longest one yet), this year has turned out to be a simply great year for gaming again, maybe even one of the best in history, but enough of that and let’s take a very quick look into the future, with the first great game that will be released in 2019:

"Sadly (?) I'm only partially kidding with this. I'm actually kinda looking forward to how the hell ever they plan on wrapping this story up."

Thanks for reading and have a blessed holidays. ;-)

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