Games of 2018

List items

  • This game feels amazing. That's really all that needs to be said. Spider-Man 2 cast a long shadow for what this game had to be to make all the fans of that old old game feel satisfied, and they absolutely crushed it.

    Too few games, and open world games in particular, make an effort to make it fun and interesting to move around and get from place to place in their world. I've spent so many hours in open world games holding down the sprint button and wishing I could check my phone while moving from place to place. With this game, though, I got practically all of the collectibles in the game without even thinking about it. It's such a joy to just move from place to place that it became the first open world game I've ever 100% completed.

    Despite the fact that the story is only 12 or 15 hours, I'll probably end up spending as much (or probably more) time playing this as I did games like Skyrim or The Witcher III, and it has nothing to do with the story or side missions. It'll be purely because it's a complete joy to turn your brain off and get lost for a bit, which has always been my favorite feeling in games.

  • This game gets what a single player game should deliver on every level. The story is incredibly well written, acted, and delievered, propelling you forward to see the characters grow and find out more about the world. The combat is interesting and keeps you engaged, does a great job encouraging you to use all your options, and rewards you for your expertise, all of which a lot of single player action focused games miss. Why get good at the combat in a game when I'm not required or encouraged to do it? I'm going to finish the story and move on. In God of War, it's because it feels natural to learn and use those skills, and you need them in later encounters.

    It delivers on the story polish that fellow Sony studio Naughty Dog has mastered, but also with the other part that they in some ways seem to miss: Making it an experience that's better as a game than a movie. And to be clear, I like Naughty Dog a lot.

  • Absolutely fucking beautiful game that makes me feel like I'm 12 again every time I see it. I only wish I had the hundreds of hours necessary to actually get good at it, but even barring that, watching pro tournaments this past year has been so much fun. Hearing Yipes shout basketball player names while Android 16 dunks fools will never get old.

    Fingers crossed for ArcSys to continue making anime fighters in this style so we can eventually get a full-on crossover anime tag team fighter to truly take MvC's spot in the fighting game community. Seriously, how good would an ArcSys vs. Shonen Jump be?

  • This game is just so solid. Fluid, fun, great, super polished art style. That's all I really have to say about it, honestly.

    I still haven't made it to the end, but I'm kinda waiting for them to patch the Switch version before I keep playing. The frame skips are pretty distracting and rough, especially for a game that's so demanding and smooth for the most part.

  • I've never enjoyed Smash before, but unlocking Ryu in this game made all the difference. Seeing how Smash translates the core moveset of the default character of all fighting games into their format made everything click, and now I'm really enjoying going through and unlocking the insane number of characters in this game.

    In fact, I'd say it's kind of crazy they've never had a default character in Smash with a moveset as straightforward as Ryu's. Guess that goes with their whole attitude towards people taking this series as a competitive game seriously, though.

    But who cares if it's the most competitively-balanced game in the world? Smash is fun!

  • They finally made a pretty Tetris! The way the art and music comes together creates something really special.

    Just because a game's design has been flawless since its inception doesn't mean it couldn't use a fresh coat of paint every few years, and Mizuguchi and crew absolutely killed it on that.

  • Short, funny, satisfying. Not enough games lately are happy with leaving you wanting more, and this game kills it on that. The style is great, the characters are incredibly well written and the levels expand just enough on the mechanics to keep it light and breezy without getting frustrating like so many puzzle-adventure games.

  • Another entry in the "leave you wanting more" category. Great art, with gameplay and "puzzles" that perfectly serve their purpose. They know how to make the gameplay really serve the story they're trying to tell, which I think, again, more indie games could really learn from. A lot of story-focused indie games end up making the actual gameplay feel like more of a roadblock to seeing the story play out than an actual part of it.

    That's absolutely not the case here. In Florence everything you do and the way you do it is in service of evoking an emotion from the player, and I loved seeing the creativity in the ways new mechanics were introduced and brought back for different effects in such a short time frame.

  • Really thought this was gonna be the year I got super into Monster Hunter, man. This game's enemies and areas are gorgeous, the combat feels great, and it really rewards you for getting better at your weapon of choice. My main issue was with progression. At some point you realize all you're building toward is slightly better equipment, and as the game goes on the amount of time required to get new stuff keeps getting higher.

    The grind can be fun, but only for so long, and without an interesting story or world to explore, I ended up burning out somewhere around two thirds of the way through the campaign.

  • This has been said before, but this game is maybe the most perfect mobile game ever made. It takes just enough brain power to plan out and line up your shots, but not too much that you feel like you're expending your actual brainpower on each game.

    The only flaw to me is the endgame. In infinite mode, games can stretch on for a full hour or more, which, the first time I realized I literally spent a full hour staring at my phone watching balls bounce around, became so disgusted with myself that I swore it off... but even then, I came back a few more times to see if I could get into the top 1,000 on the leaderboard (I did).

  • Really cool concept, feels great, and offers a good level of challenge that really keeps you on your toes. I only wish the difference in visuals between the two timelines was more dramatic. It doesn't really feel like you're swapping between 8 and 16-bit games as much as, like, early 16-bit and late 16-bit, I guess? That's probably hard to pull off when you're also expected to swap between them quickly for later puzzles, but still.

    My biggest gameplay issue is the boss fights. A lot of them feel like they last one or two patterns too long. I figured out what to do to beat this already, let's move on.

    UPDATE: Turns out my real issue with the gameplay is the fact that the "metroidvania" part of the game ends up being more of a fetch quest of platforming challenges than a proper game, and the number of collectibles you need to get to continue the story ended up being too much for me. The time switching mechanic is super neat, but the fact you're not unlocking any new abilities, getting new bits of story, or fighting any bosses in the process made me lose interest quickly.

    Maybe the standard of Metroidvanias in 2018 is just too high, because with the number of fantastic games in this genre I have yet to play, I just can't bring myself to spend any more time on this one.

  • This really just served to make me excited about the next mainline Pokemon game. This is super well made, and I appreciate the removal of random battles and the overall streamlining work they've done to this vs. the original Yellow version.

    That being said... guys. I played Pokemon when I was in 2nd grade, back when no one knew what it was. You don't need to make it easier. The removal of battles against Pokemon in the wild and overall impact of balancing more for type advantages really made me feel like I was just going through the motions, which left me not super excited to continue playing past the 3rd gym.

  • Sorry Soulcalibur, but a text adventure story mode isn't good enough for a fighting game in 2018. Especially for the fighting game franchise that many consider the first to offer valuable single-player content. Namco, you proved with Tekken 7 you're better than this.

    Outside that, this is certainly the best Soulcalibur has been since 2. Looks great, and feels as good as it ever has. Solid, but honestly I'd rather have just played more Tekken.

  • Man, I really don't get the hype on this game. I enjoyed the 5 or 6 hours I put in, but something about the movement never really clicked for me. And the story was serviceable enough, but it must really deliver at the end, I guess?

    Might have the best soundtrack of the year, though... except when I played it on PS4 at launch, there was a bug that broke the music after an hour or so of play, and then eventually hard crashed the game. So, uh, yeah, hopefully they've fixed that by now.

  • I've played this game for 10ish hours and I think, honestly, it's a very pretty, but ultimately very boring game. Gonna keep going a little longer... but man, what a slog.

    Riding my horse across the majestic countryside is only awe-inspiring so many times, guys. And I'm usually all for studios prioritizing animation, but it turns out I can only appreciate that you animated Arthur picking up and using every single item in the game so many times, too. This game feels like it should be a tight, 12 hour package. Skip the half hour I have to ride from mission to mission. There isn't that much out there to see, and what is out there feels so canned and pre-determined that I don't see much value in having to find it. Everyone I've talked to about this game mentions the exact same few scenarios with strangers. No variation, no room for putting your mark on it. It ends up feeling like I might as well just watch the cutscenes on YouTube, which is an insane thing to say about a Rockstar game.

    I've heard the story in this game goes to some really interesting places, and I'd really love to experience it. But considering all the games I could play instead of trudging my way through the 50-60 hours it'd take to finish this, I don't think I'll ever see it.

  • I played through the Dark Souls remaster this year and can confirm it is still perfect. With the framerate improvements it does feel like I played on easy mode or something, though (especially in Blighttown).

  • I'd only ever played the demo for Katamari waaaaay back in the day before blasting through the whole thing on Switch this year, and holy shit was I missing out. The cutscenes and later levels are so much fun, and I sincerely hope they end up putting the second game out at some point, because I've heard it gets even better.