Favorite Games I've Played In 2018

List items

  • I originally purchased Hollow Knight simply for it's striking art style. I ignored everyone telling me that this was going to be a challenging game, and that it was heavily influenced by Dark Souls. And while I found that to be true, I was also surprised that Hollow Knight had managed to be a game that was challenging, yet never unfair. Every failure led to me getting better at the game, and I always felt that success was right around the corner.

    What truly kept me coming back, however, is the evocative world that Team Cherry had crafted. Exploring the world of Hallownest was a joyous experience, simply because I never knew what awaited me in the next room.

    Be it a story reveal that changed how I saw the game's world and characters, or another one of the game's many charming NPCs, Hollow Knight presented a world that I wanted to explore, struggle with and fight through.

  • In its last few hours, SOMA asks you to venture deeper along the ocean floor. The only light sources available to you are tiny posts placed sporadically along an abandoned path. With monsters surrounding you, you helplessly travel from light source to light source, holding your breath each time you willingly step into the darkness. There's wind--you don't know why--but its debris clouds your vision even further. You are alone.

    When I think of SOMA, I think of this moment. The game could have easily funneled the player into the final area of the game, its narrative soon to reach its climax. And yet, the game forces you to fumble through the darkness for what feels like an eternity.

    This moment doubles as a long build-up to the final area of the game, and a reflection of the player character's mental state as he clings desperately to his own sanity, barely summoning enough willpower to survive.

    This moment is why SOMA is my favorite horror game.

  • I loved Breath of the Wild for all the same reasons I loved Hollow Knight: It's world was evocative and beautiful, with the story of each location ranging from somber to frightening to playful.

    Even months after my initial run, I'm still discovering new and interesting things. It feels like a game designed to make the player want to slow down, to bask in the simple act of exploring the world around them. And I look forward to doing more of that in 2019.

  • Tacoma doesn't get enough credit for being a scary, yet realistic, portrayal of the future that awaits us in our current capitalist hellscape. And while it does have all of the things you expect from the developers of Gone Home -- likable and relatable characters, and even a sense of optimism -- I will always appreciate how honest its portrayal of the future feels, and how perfectly it captures the growing anxieties of our digital age.

  • I didn't finish Shadow of the Colossus until I played its PS4 remake, though it wasn't the graphics that I found myself marveling at. I found myself meditating on the nature of life and death with each Colossus, the process of slaying them becoming increasingly lengthy and painful as the game goes on.

    This game resonated with me in a similar way that Journey seemed to for a lot of people, and I'm grateful for that.

  • "Everyone is a mess when they're growing up. Some people are just better at hiding it than others. It's okay to be a flaming dumpster fire. It's okay if you're not what your parents wanted you to be. It's okay to change your mind."

    These are Butterfly Soup's final messages to the player, and these are messages that I found myself going back to during a dark period of this year. If you're in a mood for a good, (and free), visual novel, please play Butterfly Soup.

  • I'm glad Celeste was able to deliver on being a great platformer after I found last year's Super Mario Odyssey to be underwhelming. The game's story -- while heavy-handed at times -- succeeds at feeling incredibly earnest. And its fantastic soundtrack, complete with catchy melodies and sweeping synths (forgive me, I'm not a music critic), help make the game's various challenges a more memorable experience.

  • I love the vignettes that are presented in What Remains of Edith Finch. Although its all tied together in a way that I found very corny, the moment-to-moment of the game--exploring this weird house, learning the backstory of each of the family members--is fantastic. And although some stories were more evocative than others, I appreciated how varied each one of them were.

  • I haven't had this much fun with a driving game since Burnout Paradise. And while I find this game to be deeply flawed -- the online experience has been awful and the wheelspin system feels like an afterthought -- I had so much fun driving around this map, discovering new locations and finding new cars to test out.

  • Captain Toad is incredibly cute and charming. The level design really impressed me here, with every stage feeling like you're navigating Toad through a diorama rather than a small level. I wholeheartedly recommend it if you weren't able to play it on WiiU.