Man, 2018 was a year. I got married, I had a serious psychological breakdown, I got to be in the second row of the biggest independent wrestling show in the US, I got taken off of work for a period of time, and all the while living in hell world. So, I guess I should make a top 10 list of the games I played.
Honorable Mentions –
WarioWare Gold – What a way to start playing the WarioWare series.
Donut County – A really solid Americanized Katamari Damacy with some really top notch writing.
GRIS – It’s probably one of the best looking games I’ve ever seen and that’s saying something.
Sea of Thieves – The 3 or 4 hours I played of this were really fun. It’s just a shame that there’s not much more here.
Subsurface/Quarantine Circular – These experimental games from Mike Bithell actually have the best dialog trees I’ve seen in a game and each tell their own really interesting story.
The “Hey These Probably Should Be On A List” Awards – Tied: God of War/Spider-Man: Look, these are both really good games. But in a year when so many other games captivated me, these games were more of a distraction from other games than anything. They’re great but not quite as good as the rest of these.
10. Forza Horizon 4
Forza Horizon has always been a fun time for me, but Horizon 4 took all of the lessons that Playground learned from the previous games, added in a seriously interesting season change system and threw the whole thing online in a way that made engaging with the community fun. I say it every time one of these games come out, but Forza Horizon 4 is the best racing game since Burnout Paradise.
9. Dark Souls Remastered
I love Dark Souls but aside from Dark Souls 3, I had never actually finished up a Soulsborne game. Dark Souls Remastered came at a perfect time when I needed to have something to concentrate on outside of my own stress. While it’s still got all of the flaws of Dark Souls, it’s just a damn good game that you can always come back to.
8. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
I’ve never gotten too into any Smash Bros. game outside of the original. Melee was on a system I didn’t own, Brawl was fine but the platforming in the Subspace Emissary mode was actually terrible and Smash 4, while fun, just never grabbed me. I’ve played well over 40 hours of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, primarily in the single player mode and I’ve enjoyed all of it. World of Light and Spirits mode just in general is incredibly well designed and fun. Even if you don’t engage with the single player portion, there is just so much Smash here that is so well built that you’ll likely find something to enjoy.
7. Monster Hunter World
Monster Hunter is the kind of system based, grind game that I never really got too into prior to World. There’s so much to keep track of, so much to know, so much just to engage with that all of the games in the franchise just have been off putting. However, World makes some smart design decisions to make the whole process of playing the game so much more enjoyable than in previous entries. The co-op can be clunky at times but it’s just swell to hunt down some monsters.
6. Yakuza 6: The Song of Life
I only started the Yakuza series last year, but I became really involved with Kiryu’s story. So, as the credits rolled on Yakuza 6, I was really bummed. Yes, we’re getting more Yakuza games but Kiryu isn’t going to the protagonist and his story became so involved that seeing him leave the series in the way he did was pretty emotional. That said, Yakuza 6 delivers a hell of a story and has some really fantastic moments throughout.
5. Tetris Effect
Tetris and Rez had a baby and this game is EXTREMELY my shit. Throw on the VR goggles and headphones and experience synesthesia like never before.
Holedown is probably my second most played game of this year but it turned out to be perfect for me at the perfect time in my life. One thing with anxiety is learning to remove yourself from stress. For a while, Dark Souls (oddly enough) did that, as did Solitaire. But Holedown is the game that STILL zens me. I’ve completed the static levels. I’ve played the infinite levels hundreds of times, and I still play it nearly daily. Aiming balls at blocks is a pretty big thing in mobile games, but Holedown is so well developed that it makes the fact that it’s a good paid mobile game really mean something. Tons of imitators but there’s only one Holedown.
Deltarune is the sort of game I still think about. Not a ton of games do that, even games that are higher on this list. But Toby Fox’s stealth release of a pseudo-sequel to Undertale is just so perfect. Playing as multiple characters works incredibly well and the new mechanics that accompany that are a ton of fun. While this is only the first chapter, there’s already enough with Deltarune that it’s worth paying for. As a side note, Fields of Hopes and Dreams may be my favorite piece of video game music ever.
2. Hitman 2
Hitman’s reboot got me into the series but Hitman 2 perfected it for me. It’s not incredibly different from the first release, all of the maps are so much different and offer so many different ways to play. I never replayed maps in the original Hitman but I actually found myself going back and trying as many of the different routes as I could with Hitman 2. That framework started with 2016’s Hitman was damn near perfected with Hitman 2 and I’m incredibly excited to see how they continue the franchise going forward.
This was literally the only choice for my top game. Look, I’ve invested over 500 hours to this game, across 3 different versions. I’ve done all of the missions, I’ve gotten almost all of the frames, I’ve got a ton of weapons, I’ve done a bunch of the major events and I’ve even played a huge amount of the open world stuff added recently. Warframe is my shut off my mind game. It’s what Destiny did for a lot of people but for me. I can listen to a podcast and just do some missions.
However, I was so surprised well over 100 hours in to discover how deep the lore and story of the game goes. It’s basically Dune and Enders Game but with Stands. It’s kinda perfect. When I needed to zone out while still making forward progress on projects. I can’t even begin to explain how perfect this game was at a really ugly time in my life and that’s why it’s my game of the year.