TFP's Top 10 Games of 2018

Well, if there's one thing no one can say about the year 2018, it's that nothing happened in it. Historians will look back on this from their desks, adorned with whatever alien technology and bio-slime food exists after mass extinctions and go "Yup. Things certainly did happen in 2018."

Even on a personal level, I got my first credits in video games, saw more of the total continental U.S. in one year than I had in the rest of my life combined, adopted an adorable kitten, and also played a whole bunch of games.

And that's just the positive stuff. If I had to list the negatives we'd be here for the next couple of hours. So instead, let's just get some preamble out of the way and then jump into the list proper, shall we?

With that out of the way, the list!

List items

  • Number 10

    Storytelling runs in the lifeblood of nearly everyone and everything in my home of the Appalachians. So much so my university offered a degree in it. The rich traditions and celebration of telling tales, both true and tall is seemingly ingrained in the air here. It's why, though I haven't, and may never finish Where the Water Tastes Like Wine, I can't help but think of it as something I'll be playing for years to come. It's legitimately my idea of paradise: Traveling the states, picking up and sharing tales across the land, meeting exciting people who want to hear god damn jokes for the umpteenth time while I have a single "funny" story to my name. Combine that with easily my favorite soundtrack of the year, plus the fact that your character is represented by a giant skeleton with a bindle, and you have successfully designed your game aimed at me.

    And only me, if that Medium post about the sales numbers was anything to go by. Yeesh. Buy this game, people.

  • Number 9

    I admit it. I prefer pre-Symphony of the Night Castlevanias to post-Symphony of the Night Castlevanias nine out of ten times. Give me a linear action-platformer any day of the week.

    Curse of the Moon, the retro-themed companion piece to the upcoming Kickstarter game from Koji Igarashi, is one of those classic action-platformers. Much like last year's excellent Sonic Mania, Curse of the Moon strikes the right balance of classic visual design and gameplay that feels like you remember it. I think the "feels like you remember it" is maybe the most important part, because it very clearly isn't quite as brutal as those games from the 80s, but it puts up enough of a challenge to still be enjoyable. It also carries over some of the more interesting features from later Castlevania games, including multiple alternate courses through the game that expand the gameplay options in really fun ways.

    Maybe the actual Kickstarter game will come out next year.

  • Number 8

    Spider-Man

    Spider-Man

    Insomniac's take on Spider-Man

    The base game

    is really good

    The DLC

    is pretty bad.

    Look out!

    Who thought Hammerhead was a good idea?

    It's a bit of a shame, really. Had I not picked up the additional content, Spider-Man would probably have ended up higher on the list. But the additional DLC, all focusing on Hammerhead of all people, a bit Spider-Man villain whose gimmick is "I have a very hard head and am a gangster" sort of brings down the very excellent base game. Not enough to stop making it one of the ten best games released this year, mind you, but enough to clock it in at number 8.

  • Number 7

    I've been a fan of Monster Hunter for a decently long time now. Not one of those crazy people who jumped in back in the PS2 era, but coming up on a decade of taking on wyverns of all shapes and sizes. Which, sidebar, wow, I suddenly feel weirdly old. Monster Hunter World is a beautiful reinvention of the franchise, modernizing it in a bunch of very important ways, while still maintaining the general combat flow and feel of the classic titles. The monsters themselves have made the jump to next generation consoles beautifully, and the hunting environments feel more alive than ever with no loading screens in between areas of the map, far more gathering points, and the addition of capturable endemic life to place in your character's room. Without doubt, Monster Hunter World is the new bar for other "monster hunting" franchises, like God Eater or Toukiden, to clear.

  • Number 6

    As the follow up to the excellent Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, A Way Out is almost the exact opposite in every way, shape, and form. Instead of being only a single player experience. A Way Out requires two people. Instead of being a folktale with a fantasy setting, A Way Out is a near-past, two-fisted tale of crime and revenge. The forced co-op allows for some very interesting and fun setpieces, utilizing your co-op partner extremely well. The small, character moments, brought about through both the main story and the various diversions and minigames make Vincent and Leo very compelling protagonists. Finally, with easily one of the best endings in a game in a long time, I'm very excited for whatever Josef Fares does next.

    As long as it isn't "have sexual intercourse with the Oscars."

  • Number 5

    More than just being "It's Smash Bros!", what I think makes Super Smash Bros. Ultimate so good is its long, enduring love letter to every single featured franchise's storied history. The imaginative ways each character gets represented in their spirit battle is incredibly impressive, especially given the nearly 1200 non-fighter spirits. The new additions mingle very well with the returning cast of everyone, and the trademark Masahiro Sakurai touch of "Hey, we can cram another 12 things in here. It'll be fine." shines brightly. I ended up going back to Super Smash Bros. for Wii U every couple of months since that game came out, it's hard to imagine I wouldn't occasionally pop in Ultimate for the foreseeable future.

  • Number 4

    While Syndicate still holds a deep place in my heart as probably my favorite Assassin's Creed game, I can't in good conscience deny that Assassin's Creed Odyssey is probably the best Assassin's Creed game. The ongoing refinements to the formula set forth in last year's Origins make the RPG elements shine brighter, and my time spent meandering through Greece never felt truly wasted. Kassandra is one of the best video game protagonists in years, and her attitude and reactions to events make even the most boring fetch quests a joy to experience.I may sound hyperbolic here, but it truly can't be overstated how good the writing for Kassandra is. So much so I can't even imagine playing the game as Alexios, the first impression Kassandra makes is so superb.

  • Number 3

    Unlike in the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate entry, I'm going to take this introduction to cop out and say "I mean it's Tetris, what do you want me to say here?"

    But it's also Tetris with the visuals and music of a Tetsuya Mizuguchi game. And not only that, but the way you play also creates the music, like the inverse of Lumines. The end result is a beautiful, easy to pick up new Tetris.

    And hey. It's Tetris.

  • Number 2

    I'm not an anime person, but I did really like the anime Kino's Journey (the one from 2003, not the one last year). The first episode ended with a dedication stating "The world is not beautiful; therefore it is." It's one of those things that has stuck with me ever since seeing it, and it's sort of the same theme provided by The Missing. Before I begin, though, I'm not going to mince words here: The Missing is brutal. It's a surreal, violent, nightmarish adventure. The puzzles are diabolical in places. The controls have just enough wonkiness to them to occasionally feel a bit frustrating. Most importantly: I loved every beautiful second of it.

    SWERY's particular brand of crazy appeals to me on some kind of deep, primal level. It's also incredibly impressive how he manages to continually improve with each outing as director, from Spy Fiction to Deadly Premonition to D4 to The Missing, his best outing yet. Mechanically, every action you take as J.J. feels intentional, which makes the self-inflicted wounds and dismemberments feel absolutely brutal. I played this game on Switch, where the HD Rumble kicks in violently each time you need to injure J.J. to advance, which really brings home the idea of how much pain you're subjecting her to.

    The story's juxtaposition of the brutality with the chase for acceptance and belonging is what elevates The Missing above most other games. In the hands of someone less willing to fully commit to both aspects, that of intense gruesome violence and that of finding beauty in the aspects of life, this game would fall apart. However, seeing as I'm not sure SWERY knows the meaning of the phrase "half-measure", the end result is stellar.

    Honestly, either this or the following game could've been #1. It's been the most difficult decision in the 7 years I've written top 10 lists.

  • Number 1

    Think about your favorite series of movies, games, books, television, what have you. Think about the time gap between the release of the first entry and the release of the last entry.

    For me, I have to think of the Yakuza series. These intricately plotted crime drama games with the most gonzo side content has easily become my favorite game series, due to its consistency in quality, the ongoing story arcs and character developments that span across the entire series, and incredible melee combat.

    Yakuza 6 is the culmination of 12 years of story-telling, and as Kazuma Kiryu's grand finale, I couldn't be more pleased. It smartly escalates the local gang war plots into something with a more regional geopolitical scale, anchored by the strongest performances from the cast and some downright beautiful performance capturing. Rare is the game that can derive tension from simple conversation, yet Yakuza 6 does it so effortlessly that it seems as simple as a walking.

    Rarer still is the game that feels like a true conclusion. Especially these days, where the idea of a franchise anchored by a core protagonist reigns as the way most single-player focused developers try to market. While it could change, I sincerely hope Kazuma Kiryu, Dragon of Dojima, Fourth Chairman of the Tojo Clan is allowed to enjoy his well-earned retirement. As a game that basically feels like one long, loving sayonara to the character, it succeeds beautifully. It uses the attachment to the characters gained over twelve years to great effect, ratcheting the stakes to a fever pitch before a beautiful conclusion to the story built up over the seven games starring Kiryu.

    Now sure, faults, like the fact that you only get about 3/4ths of the classic Kamurocho map due to "construction" are aplenty within Yakuza 6. It is, after all, the first game on a new engine, as well as the first PS4 exclusive Yakuza game (Ishin, 0, and Kiwami having Japan exclusive PS3 versions). But even with all that, I can't help but award the grand finale of the decade-plus long journey of Kiryu as my game of the year.

    Thanks for reading!

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Superharman

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Good list (I say noticing our tastes overlap in certain areas). Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon was real close on my list but unfortunately was bumped by some late additions.