On top of 2018 being a good year for the channel/website, it was also a great year for video games, with plenty of awesome games having come out over the past 12 months. In fact, I reviewed over 70 games this year and gave out enough positive scores to bring up my average score to just below a 6/10, the highest it has been in a while. To celebrate that, I am going to list my top 10 games of 2018. In order to appear on this list, the game must have been released between December 2017 and November 2018.
Do keep in mind that this is my personal top 10 and I was not able to play everything released in 2018, so if your favorite game is missing, I probably just did not play it. Also, I am not really too much of a console gamer, so do not expect God of War, Red Dead 2, etc. on this list. The 10 games listed here are all PC games.
10. Shantae: Half-Genie Hero Ultimate Edition
As someone that had not played the original Half-Genie Hero when that came out in 2016, the Ultimate Edition released in 2018 presented me with the perfect opportunity to jump into it. Not only is the base game excellent, but the numerous additions for this release add plenty of fun content to play through. There is hardcore mode, hero mode, beach mode, ninja mode, and even an officer mode to spice up the experience. When combined with the game’s fun platforming, fantastic art style, and great soundtrack, the overall package provides for a really fun experience, deserving of the name “Ultimate Edition”.
9. BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle
I actually was not too impressed with Cross Tag Battle when it first came out. Sure, the gameplay was decent, but the story was boring and there were quite a few technical issues that marred the experience. However, I found myself returning to the game numerous times over the year and it slowly grew on me. I came to appreciate the streamlined skill and combo system, as it made it easier for fighting game casuals like myself to get into the game without having to put in countless hours of practice. As such, it was the perfect fighting game to pick up for an hour or so on a rainy day.
Even with the streamlined skills and combos though, the game still manages to maintain a certain degree of complexity, enough so to warrant a competitive scene. In fact, it even made an appearance at EVO 2018 just five months ago. The game manages to really strike a nice balance there between more competitive players and those playing casually, making it my favorite fighting game of the year.
8. Bridge Constructor Portal
With its brilliant combination of bridge constructing and Portal gameplay elements, Bridge Constructor Portal solidified itself as one of the best puzzle games to have come out in the past year. I spent many hours in the game trying out different bridge designs, perfecting older designs for a larger load, and just messing around with the different Portal mechanics. It was even fun to explore how some levels can be exploited, even if those exploits were unintended. Regardless of how you approach the game, it is an experience well-had and I hope to see more from this series in the future.
7. Newton and the Apple Tree
Before going into this one, I was intrigued by just how bizarre the premise was: what if two time travelers accidentally get in the way of Sir Isaac Newton just before the discovery of universal gravitation, causing Newton to not make that discovery? And what if Newton was actually a cute anime girl? Newton and the Apple Tree took this premise and rolled with it, making for one of the best visual novel experiences of the year.
In fact, the game’s common route was one of the best I have read in quite some time, picking up the pace right from the start and not slowing from there. It avoids the pitfall that most visual novels fall into: that of a boring common route, but good character routes. Instead, Newton and the Apple Tree provides both a good common route and good character routes, making for a really entertaining read.
6. Yoku’s Island Express
This game was one of the more unique ones from 2018. It basically takes all of the elements from a Metroidvania game and completely reshapes them to fit that of a pinball game. That is, the world is explored as one would expect from a Metroidvania, but there are pinball flippers everywhere and even actual pinball tables. The result is not only a unique experience, but a really fun one too.
I had a blast exploring the game world, jumping around in the various pinball areas, and taking in the fantastic aesthetic – both visually and aurally. Unfortunately, this game seems to have gone under the radar for most, so if you have not already checked it out, I encourage you to do so – It was one of the best indie games released this past year.
5. Attack on Titan 2
As a fan of the Attack on Titan anime and manga series, I felt right at home here with Attack on Titan 2. The game not only captures the fluid movement and intense combat of its source material, but also throws in numerous extras here and there to truly make it stand on its own. I was able to make my own character, fly around on custom gear, cut down titans using ridiculously oversized weapons, and just have fun experiencing the Attack on Titan storyline from another character’s perspective.
It is also worth noting just how good the optimization was with the PC port. Despite having numerous soldiers flying around and titans running about, the game never slowed down, maintaining a solid 60fps throughout. Koei Tecmo has managed to both capture the essence of Attack on Titan in a video game and produce a solid PC port at the same time, warranting a spot on my list.
4. Return of the Obra Dinn
At first glance, what appears to set Return of the Obra Dinn apart from others is the unique art style it goes for. However, underneath that veil is one of the greatest detective games ever made and easily the best indie game I played this year.
The player takes the role of an insurance investigator, tasked with determining the fates of the 60 souls aboard the Obra Dinn after the ship returned to port with no one on board. Throughout the investigation the player will come across small clues scattered across the game’s flashback sequences, make logical deductions based on these clues, and slowly piece together what exactly happened aboard the Obra Dinn. It is the perfect blend of deduction-based gameplay, storytelling, and aesthetic all into one small package, hooking me right from the very start.
3. Ys: Memories of Celceta
Although Memories of Celceta originally came out back in 2012 for the Vita, us PC players did not get to experience it until this past July. Fortunately, the wait was well worth it, as not only have we now been graced with an excellent JRPG, but also with a top-tier port courtesy of the team over at XSEED.
Some of the improvement made for the port include HD resolution support, uncapped framerates, fully customizable controls, and even full mouse support. With this release, XSEED has once again proven that they are one of the best when it comes to PC ports.
Of course, the game itself is fantastic as well. The gameplay is fast-paced and leaves little room for lulls, the combat is fun and makes great use of the game’s skill system, and the music does not disappoint. I was so into the game that I managed to beat it in just three sessions, something that rarely happens nowadays.
2. Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age
It took 32 years, but PC players in the West finally have an opportunity to play a mainline Dragon Quest game. Dragon Quest XI brings with it all that makes the series tick, including its fun combat, excellent character and enemy designs, and its massive amount of content to be played through.
Although the game does not do much to shake up the JRPG formula, it never really needed to. Many JRPGs these days feel overloaded with features, especially when it comes to combat. Dragon Quest XI shows that you do not need super complicated features to make a fun and long JRPG. In fact, for how long the game is, the grinding is kept to a bare minimum, something a lot of other JRPGs suffer from. The story is constantly moving, providing the player with new and fun areas, characters, and enemies to add onto the experience. It really goes to show just how good Square Enix is at crafting a traditional JRPG.
1. Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana
Lacrimosa of Dana really captures what I like about JRPGs: fun and satisfying combat, interesting stories, amazing music, vibrant game worlds, and engaging game mechanics just to name a few. Lacrimosa of Dana has all of this and more, cementing itself as my personal game of the year.
The Ys series is known for its fast-paced real-time combat, and that really shines here in its eighth iteration. Hits actually feel impactful, dodging and guard breaking are rewarding, and the overall controls are very intuitive. Not only is the combat incredibly satisfying, but its as customizable as its ever been with the game’s newly revamped skill and party system. Players are able to customize their combat experience to fit their own playstyle, whether that be up-close, ranged, slash, strike, etc.. There are plenty of combinations to try with the tools provided.
That is just the combat though, there is so much else to this game that I just do not have the room to talk about it here, so I encourage you to check out my review of the game if you are interested. Sure, the game had a rough initial release, but the patches that have since come out really cleaned it up, enough so that I had little issue playing through the game in full.
I only hope that the recently announced Ys IX is able to further improve upon the example set here by Ys VIII.
Thanks for reading! I am looking forward to a good 2019, not only for games, but hopefully for the channel/website too. I got a lot of interesting content planned, so do look forward to that!