Game of the Year 2018 (sort of.....)

More of a 'Games I Played in 2018' than a pure 'top games of the year' list because I spent a good amount of time with games from last year that I simply couldn't leave off a list of what I enjoyed most in 2018.

List items

  • I loved 98% of my time with FTL. Each run felt unique and the mechanics were great fun..... until you hit the final boss. I put dozens of hours into it and was eventually able to beat it with reasonable consistency but ultimately it felt like you always had to be working towards one of a handful of viable builds for the final boss.

    Into the Breach learnt all of the right lessons from FTL to create what might be my favourite game of the last 5 years. The puzzle-like battles are perfectly balanced where from the first battle to the last one wrong move could cost you the run but the information you need to succeed is always available to you. Death is almost always your own fault and not of some unlucky dice roll or RNG which has turned me off many rogue-likes in recent years.

    Despite 'beating' the game on only my 5th run I've gone back for hundreds of hours of attempts without ever feeling like I've mastered the game.

  • Not much needs to be said about God of War. I was a bit bummed out when it was announced, wondering why an existing franchise needed to be rebooted rather than going with something all new (as was executed brilliantly last year with Horizon). I was proven wrong however as Sony Santa Monica delivered a near perfect game. The God of War setting works because there are interesting stories to be told there regardless of what you thought of the original run of games (I didn't like them). I'm interested to see where they go from here.

  • Pyre was a game I never got around to in 2017 despite knowing it would be right up my alley. It was the first games I played in 2018 and I was quickly proven right. The interesting storytelling method combined with a surprisingly deep invented 'sport' made for one of my favourite experiences of the year.

  • I don't love Fortnite as much as some of the other games on this list but I've definitely spent more hours with it this year than any other game. I've got a small crew of friends who don't play a lot of games but once or twice a week we catch up for a few hours of Fortnite and have a great time.

  • Dragon Quest XI is a throwback to classic RPG's with enough modern touches to make the grind of a 50+ hour RPG more enjoyable. With a toddler now running around the house I'd thought my days of sinking hundreds of hours into this type of game were over however it turns out that turn-based games are absolutely perfect as you can leave them sitting at any time without having to wait for an opportunity to pause. While the story is about as generic as you will get for a JRPG (chosen one on a quest to save the world) it moves at a decent pace and the combat and character progression are simple yet enjoyable.

  • Tetris Effect is the perfect execution of what it's trying to do. The music and visual effects are fantastic and varied enough to keep each play session interesting. It could probably be further up this list and I feel like boiling it down to 'it's good Tetris' is too simplistic but oh well....

  • I've been a VR doubter from the start. I'd messed with a Vive and PSVR at demo stations and while it was an interesting novelty none of the games I'd seen had me wanting to fork over hundreds of dollars to have it in my house. Then I, like many others was drawn in by the Black Friday PSVR deal. Astro Bot has been by far the standout VR title that I've played since then. It does an excellent job of focussing on the strengths of VR without pushing the technology to the limits of it's capabilities (which is where some other titles seem to fall apart). While I'm still not convinced VR is the future of games I hope we get more products like this rather than trying to force existing games into the headsets.

  • Burnout Paradise continues to be a brilliant game and the remaster this year was a lot of fun. Some aspects of the game haven't aged fantastically well like having only a handful of finish points for races and not having an easy way to fast travel isn't ideal when you only have a few events left to do. Overall though I enjoyed revisiting the game and I hope it sold well enough to tempt EA into trying another one while Need for Speed is on a hiatus.

  • For my first few hours I thought Dead Cells would be right at the top of my list this year. Ultimately however it fell into a pattern that leaves me bouncing off a lot of these style of games. General gameplay in Dead Cells feels fantastic and the range of loadouts are a lot of fun to use but the way the bosses develop resistances to your attacks throughout the fight made them not much fun to fight. It meant that some loadouts which were fund and interesting to use during the normal levels were completely unviable during boss fights. I get that the game would be a walk in the park if you could just lay down infinite bear traps and wail on the boss but I don't feel like the way they went was a great solution to this problem.