You’re inundated with GOTY content right now. Between our wonderful website and every other reputable source on the internet, everyone is telling you which ten games you ought to play (if you somehow missed them) from this year. I’m going to do that, too. Hi.
The difference, my friends, is that I’ll be using stills from animated megaclassic Home Movies to illustrate my points. You’re welcome.
Though not technically a 2018 game by the letter of the law, Hollow Knight wasn’t really a thing in the collective consciousness until its console release this year. Yes, we get it, you played it on Steam way back in the day. You’re the coolest. As for the rest of us, we got to play a polished, grueling new classic with fresh eyes this year.
I haven’t done everything in this game yet because frankly it’s extremely difficult. But, I love the small bug. I’ll get there.
Monster Hunter World
I ultimately accepted our collective assessment that Monster Hunter: World is truly Game of the Year even if it’s not my personal GOTY. It wasn’t that hard, frankly. For a series that has interested me for years but never invited me in, I was delighted to find a much more accessible entry this year. It doesn’t really feel like they dumbed it down, either, but rather made welcome changes to systems that felt punitive to me in the past.
Let’s be real, it’s tough not to like a game that allows so many cat customization options.
Confession time. I hadn’t played a Pokemon game besides Go until all of you started posting adorable pics of your Pikachus and Eevees on my timeline and I had to shell out the cash. Granted, this is probably on the lower side of my list if I were ranking them, because I’m still not finding a lot of substance here. However, the sheer joy of running around with my Eevee and getting all matchy-matchy with her is unbelievable.
I’m tempted to go back and play some earlier entries since it sounds like there might be more textured gameplay I’d probably be into. Regardless, 2018 is the year I played a genuine single-player Pokemon game. Cool!
No racing game has captured my attention or imagination since Gran Turismo 3 than Forza Horizon 4. The action is great, sure, but more than that the game offers distinct seasons that change the vibe and put me in such a cozy blanket I think I might fire it up right after I publish this piece.
I appreciate that the game offers the kind of depth you’d see in their (now inferior don’t @ me) sister series, Forza Motorsport, while creating a much more accessible experience for the layperson. Also the seasons!
Into the Breach
I am very very bad at Into the Breach. I’m bad at any turn-based strategy game. The AI is playing chess and I’m playing in traffic. For these reasons, I typically bounce right off of games like Into the Breach. When I played Into the Breach, I was blown away at how simple the rule set is and how it opens up into layered systems that never became indecipherable.
Now that’s game design, baby. I’m still bad at strategy games, but Into the Breach is so good, I don’t care.
Fire Pro Wrestling World
If this award was for “Please Don’t Look At My Hours Played Game of the Year,” Fire Pro Wrestling World would be the walk-off winner. Between its early access PC release from last year and this year’s full 1.0 on PS4 and PC, I’ve sunk 700 hours into the latest grappler.
If you like wrestling games but need to be sold (or if you’re a WWE 2K fan), I got you.
- NJPW license means you get official versions of Kenny Omega, Tetsuya Naito, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kazuchika Okada, and radical Marxist string bean Zack Sabre Jr.
- The only limit on how many created or community wrestlers you can store is your hard drive, not some bonkers hard limit.
- Tweaking every aspect of the AI means true-to-life matches.
Fire Pro is rough around the edges. The menus are awful. It’s a difficult game to learn. Presentation leaves a lot to be desired. For me, though, Fire Pro Wrestling World is home and it’s on my list.
God of War
God of War is my favorite game of 2018. I don’t need to rehash what I’ve said, so instead of focusing on the father-son narrative that shockingly worked for me or the hypnotic, weighty rhythm of combat, I’ll mention something else.
The technical work on this game is extraordinary. Though the devs definitely used some fancy tricks to hide load times and scene changes, the observation at the time of release that it’s all one shot largely rings true. The consistency of the camera work made each discovery in each fantastical location feel alive. I loved it.
Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom
There’s magic in the first Ni No Kuni that didn’t quite make it to this year’s game, but Ni No Kuni II is the best JRPG I played in 2018. You play as a cat boy who is connected to the literal President of the United States. I don’t know, man.
The charm is there! Though the game is definitely easy, I still found it satisfying to collect Higgledies. I’m also a major sucker for homestead building, so Ni No Kuni II‘s kingdom upkeep options were lovely.
Okay this one is cheating just a little. Smash Ultimate was disqualified from our official 2018 GOTY proceedings because it’s so new. It will be up for nomination for 2019 and I’d be shocked if it didn’t win something. Since this is my list and I’ve had more time to play it, I can tell you the new Smash is my favorite Smash.
I used to buy Smash then play it for a few weeks and then never play it again, but Ultimate has me hopelessly hooked. I love the Spirit system. I love how difficult the game can get. I love the fully-featured mp3 player. Even online multiplayer is fun if you invest in the ethernet adapter.
I’ve never had this much fun with Smash and I’ll be playing it well into 2019 and beyond.
Celeste is a really special game. It reminds me, oddly enough, of God of War. It combines a perfect distillation of a game mechanic with introspection. Super Meat Boy might have perfect gameplay but it’s nothing I really think about after the fact.
Celeste nails the hyper-responsive platforming of Super Meat Boy while being something of its own. Climbing the summit takes you places you don’t expect and it’s a no-brainer to include it on this list.
The “I Just Haven’t Played It Yet” Award: Hitman 2
This is essentially just a reminder to myself that I need to purchase and play Hitman 2 (and Hitman for that matter). I love it when games go wrong and a game built entirely on that premise is wonderful.
Honorable Mention of a Game I Didn’t Love But Found a Good Screencap for: Red Dead Redemption 2