It’s been a long year. I finished my first full year of writing this past September and transitioned into a new job back in April. It wasn’t just a busy year for me, it was also a busy year for games. Over the past calendar year I’ve played a number of different games and the following is a list of my five favourites. The only criteria for being considered was that I played the game to completion for the first time this year. None of the games I replayed will be considered, otherwise the same few games would be on my list every year.
Finally, I’ll be copying an idea I got from fellow blogger Luke Carter by including a list of the eligible games at the bottom of this post. I’ve linked his twitter above, but you can also check out his blog (and top 5 games of 2018 post) here.
Monster Hunter: World
My first Monster Hunter game, World was an answer to a request I’ve had for a while: a Monster Hunter I could play with an adult sized controller. Being a franchise mostly relegated to handhelds meant my monster sized hands couldn’t comfortably play it until it was released to PC and consoles.
I’ve sunk three hundred hours into this game over the past several months because of the sheer volume of things there are to master in it. Learning monster attack patterns and mastering a handful of the fourteen available weapons proved to be a massively enjoyable time sink that I can’t seem to get enough of. It’s immensely rewarding to continually improve at the game, and World provides enough depth for me to really sink my teeth into it. I look forward to spending more time with it over the coming year, especially with the announced iceborne expansion coming.
Normally I prefer my ARPGs with a deep combat system that I can spend hours mastering. CrossCode’s simplistic skill tree and combat leave much to be desired in this respect, but in place of that is compelling characters. I was reminded of my MMO days as I played through CrossCode, but without all of the negatives that eventually led me to quit playing.
CrossCode is a game that resonated with me on a very personal level. There were times when I felt happy for the cast of characters, and other times where I felt sad. I rarely connect with a game’s story in this way, which is why CrossCode stands out from many of the games I’ve played this year. The fluid combat system, and excellent puzzle design also helped greatly with making the bits between the story just as enjoyable.
Ironically I’ve felt the story of Celeste connect with me more over time. While it didn’t leave much of an impact after I first played it, I’ve connected with it more thinking back upon it. However, the story in Celeste isn’t why it grabbed spot number three.
Celeste is an impeccable platformer. A simple set of mechanics are taken so far thanks to incredibly smart level and mechanics design. New ideas gradually evolve challenging the player’s skill and understanding, but never linger longer than need be. The result is a platforming game with excellent pacing that is thoroughly enjoyable to play. Celeste is my favourite platforming game of the year, and I look forward to replaying it sometime in the future.
Into The Breach
Whenever I describe Into The Breach to a friend, or colleague they say it sounds easy. It’s a strategy game where you can see the enemy’s moves before they make them, so countering them shouldn’t ever be a problem, right? Perhaps, but Into The Breach feels more like a puzzle game than a traditional strategy game thanks to this design.
Every action must have meaningful impact as players are limited to moving each unit once per turn. Thoughtfully considering how best to utilize each of the squad member’s abilities to maximize the impact they make is the key to victory. Positioning also plays a big role as you’re asked to manage both your own position and the enemy’s. What I liked best was the feeling when everything works out just so, and no damage is incurred while the enemy forces wipe each other out. I highly recommend checking this one out, especially if you’re not a big fan of randomness in strategy games.
Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc
I’d heard about Danganronpa in the past, but it wasn’t available on my home platform until recent years. After playing it earlier this year I regret not getting it sooner.
Danganrompa is one of the most twisted adventures I’ve ever been on. The game takes great delight in messing with the player through disturbing imagery and implications. It’s the kind of game I’d think about long after putting it down as my mind continued to dwell on it becoming more and more disturbed the deeper I went. This is the sort of horror I like in games, and it made Danganrompa my favourite game of 2018. If you haven’t played it before I highly recommend it.
There you have it. Five games played this year that I really enjoyed. There were a few others that didn’t quite make the list such as Divinity: Original Sin 2, Steamworld Dig 2, and Dead Cells, which are also excellent games. Also, I missed a few this year that I’m keen to go back to, so there might be reviews of those in the coming months. We’ll see.
Thank you for reading and as promised here is the list of games that were eligible for placement within this list:
- The Sexy Brutale
- SteamWorld Dig 2
- Doom (2016)
- Divinity: Original Sin 2
- Dungeons 3
- Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc
- NieR: Automata
- OliOli 2
- High Hell
- Into The Breach
- Monster Prom
- Super Mario Oddyssey
- Warhammer: Vermintide 2
- Crossing Souls
- Death Coming
- Dead Cells
- Hyperdimension Neptunia RE;Birth1
- Monster Hunter World
- Yoku’s Island Express
- Sonic Mania