You know how sometimes a year comes to an end and you look forward to the following year and discover…there’s nothing shooting my socks off I have to play? Well, that was not the case going into 2018 as a number of games were must-plays for me. Even better, when they did release, they were as good as I had hoped. Even better than that? Games not on my radar being in my top five of the year, and man, what a fantastic feeling when that happens.
So below is my top five games from this year. However, I also played games from previous years. Los Harrow decided to give these games a chance to make our top list too, but I wouldn’t put any above what released in 2018. Instead, I’m going to make a smaller list of those games at the end.
Top 2018 Games:
You know how I remarked about games you weren’t expecting hitting near the top of your list? Celeste was where that started for me. Back in January, Celeste started making positive waves shortly before its release. Hearing it described, I knew it was a game for me.
Yes, it’s easy to praise the remarkable music, tight platforming, perfect influx of new mechanics, accessibility options and more; it was the story of Madeline and her struggle not only with the mountain but with herself as well that left a mark on me. As someone who has suffered from major bouts of depression for 20 some-odd years, I found myself connecting with Madeline in a way no other game this year did.
Roll all of that into one package, and it’s without a doubt one of the best experiences this year.
2. Red Dead Redemption 2
Say what you will about the pacing or outdated controls in Rockstar games, no other game inserted me into a world this year the way Red Dead Redemption 2 did. For all intents and purposes, I felt like a cowboy. Whether I was hunting animals to provide food for my camp, being ambushed by some backwater hillbillies, or even doing the menial task of chopping wood; I was engaged throughout the entire playthrough.
I know that sounds dumb. Games are meant to engage you and every game on here does that in different ways. What I find happens in open world games for me is an inability to care about the world at large. There may be characters and the plot could be cool, but the world oftentimes feels empty or mechanical. What Rockstar did with the random happenings around the world not to mention the breath of interactions involving NPCs brought life into what can usually be a drab atmosphere in an open world game.
Not every dev team will have the luxury of the publishing dollar or size that Rockstar has, but if it’s at all possible, hopefully they can inject into their games what Red Dead Redemption 2 is capable of in theirs.
3. Marvel’s Spider-Man
Of all the games I’ve played this year, I think I had the most fun with Marvel’s Spider-Man. Now I’m a sucker for some web-slinging to the point where I would defend the Beenox games, but Insomniac were given enough time to polish this game in a way this hero deserved.
What would normally be a cobbled together story in past games was excellently crafted and even more improved by fantastic voice work all round. Outside of comics, this is my favorite take and story for Spider-Man. Web slinging is still joyous and the combat (even with some overpowered abilities) make fights hectic but doable.
This is to Marvel and the Spider-Man franchise what the Arkham games were to DC and Batman. It is a love letter to that character and one of the best superhero games this medium has ever seen.
4. God of War
I had zero love for Kratos. His motivation in the franchise did absolutely nothing for me and was only made worse with the heavy hack-and-slash gameplay with puzzles mixed in.
Cory Barlog comes on board and did something I never expected – I gave a damn about Kratos. The action was spread out more and narrative came more to the forefront, and my god I can listen to Kratos say “Boy” all day. Cory revitalized this franchise in a major way, and in my opinion, for the better. From the action to the plot to the side characters; God of War nails it on so many fronts.
For the first time, I look forward to see what happens as God of War continues in its upcoming games. For anyone who had burnt out on Kratos and his rage or have a slight curiosity, this refresh is a great place to jump in.
I’m going to go on record and say this now: ONRUSH is the Split/Second of this generation. An absolute blast to play that deserves more attention than it received. In a genre that can feel incredibly derivitive, ONRUSH does something different that I found greatly appreciated.
I mean, think about it. ONRUSH is essentially the running with the bulls event, except that the bulls are cars and you attack other cars as if it were a demolition derby. It’s frantic and crazy and some of the most fun I’ve had all year and one of my favorite driving games I’ve ever played.
A good amount of people may have this game now. With it being free on PS+ and a title in Game Pass, more people should be playing ONRUSH. If you haven’t yet, rectify that soon. It’s worth it.
So there we have it. My personal top five list of 2018. Keep checking out Los Harrow for other top five lists from other writers here, and hopefully your favorites brought you as much joy this year as mine did for me.
For those who care about games prior to this year, here’s a few you may have missed. These are ones I’ve played this year and thoroughly enjoyed as well:
1. Overcooked – Fantastic little party game to get the blood pumping. My wife doesn’t normally play games, but she demanded we play this game for far longer some nights than we should have.
2. Trackmania Turbo – An easy jump-in-and-play kind of game. Some tracks are longer and crazier than others, but so much fun. I imagine this is what hot wheel tracks would be like in real life.
3. Pony Island – Hard to explain this game without any spoilers. Far more sinister and deep than the initial impression would have you think.
4. No Man’s Sky – I loved this game at launch, though it received major hate. Props to the team for putting out some chunky updates and continuing to support this game. Far more meaty now than at release.
5. The Stanley Parable – It’s re-releasing with some new content soon, so if you haven’t tried it yet, you should! Hilarious and creative with so many avenues to try to pursue leading to multiple endings. Jump in and admire its brilliance.