This year was an amazing year for games and therefore I had a hard time choosing just five of them. I narrowed it down to the games that made a true impression on me and stuck with me over time. Some games just give you that feeling of wanting to come back again and again even after finishing it. These are my favorite games of 2018 with a couple of honorable mentions in the mix.
Celeste prides itself on being challenging but rewarding. Levels are in very bite-sized chunks with traversal mechanics being front and center. Getting from point a to b and doing so without dying is the objective but you will die, and I mean a lot, when trying to make your way through the game. It’s ok though because that is what Celeste is all about. Learn from your mistakes and do better next time.
I enjoyed every aspect of this game and it is definitely my favorite indie game this year. The story also motivates players to push forward through the sometimes overwhelmingly difficult tasks by creating a main character that I personally was rooting for more and more as the game went on. The aesthetic is also very pleasing. Colors pop and the soundtrack is sensational. Celeste is a game that has something for everyone and if hard games aren’t for you then there are plenty of assist options to help cater to your play style.
Spider-Man is a perfect example of how to do a superhero game. Insomniac put together the best open world NYC that I’ve ever played; the accuracy is almost scary. I found my real-life office in the game and snapped a screenshot and roamed the neighborhood in awe of how great this open world feels.
Spider-Man is not just a great open world game though, it tells an amazing story that feels very comic book Spider-Man rather than movie Spider-Man, and for me, that’s exactly what I wanted. I’ve never felt so motivated to 100% a video game. The collectibles and side missions were fun and engaging, and the different suits were stunning. I can’t wait for any sort of follow up that may come down the line, but in the meantime, I will be making my way through the DLC.
3. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Super Smash Bros. has always been the only fighting game I’ve personally been able to enjoy. I typically can’t grasp the deep mechanics of some of the more popular competitive fighting games like Street Fighter or Soul Calibur, but Super Smash Bros. Ultimate manages to be as deep as you want or need it to be on a mechanical level while maintaining a very pleasing casual experience for entry-level players.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate has literally everything I could’ve asked for in a Smash game. A lot of players are hating on the Spirits modes, but I absolutely adore them. Their dedication to relating the battle scenarios to each of the spirits gained through your victories is sensational. This is a great single player mode in my opinion, and I just absolutely love everything the game has to offer.
2. God of War
There’s something to be said about a purely single-player triple-A gaming experience in 2018. There aren’t nearly as many of them these days. So many developers push for these ever-evolving games as a service experience, Sony Santa Monica on the other hand, created one of the best purely single player and linear, story-centric experiences I’ve ever had the pleasure of playing. In God of War, Kratos takes on a new role and in doing so has gained a ton of character depth.
The callbacks to previous games were few and far between but were cleverly placed throughout this game. I felt as though each area and story beat was crucial to the overall game and therefore nothing felt like filler. I didn’t expect this game to look, feel, or play so well. The story has stuck with me all year and now that the year is done, I really want to return to it.
Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu!
It was nostalgia that pulled my attention to Pokemon: Let’s Go, but it was the overall quality of life improvements that kept me playing through the game. Seeing Pokemon roaming around, and doing away with random encounters caters to this specific game very well. If this was a new generation of Pokémon then I may have been disappointed but experiencing Kanto in Pokémon: Let’s Go was an absolute delight.
The battle system is largely unchanged and the way you capture Pokémon pulls heavily from mechanics we saw first in Pokémon GO. The catching of Pokémon can be quite inconsistent but fun nonetheless. I think that adding the Pokeball Plus to the mix adds to the whole experience and makes everything that much better. This is an extremely fun game and will do well in holding me over until the next generation of Pokémon comes in 2019.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is a spectacle. Every time I turn the game on, I am amazed at how gorgeous it is. Assassin’s Creed seems to be an RPG now and I very much enjoy this change to the series. The RPG mechanics made their first appearance in Origins last year but have been improved upon this time around. Odyssey is true to the genre RPG, and it does a great job of world building.
Combat is fluid and fun and the characters are very likable. The lip syncing annoyed me on occasion but didn’t take away from the overall game experience in any major way. I’ve played most of the Assassin’s Creed games and this one is by far my favorite. There is so much to see and do that I will be returning to it time and time again just to get lost in this open world.
1. Red Dead Redemption 2
Red Dead Redemption is one of my favorite games of all time so when I found out a sequel was coming, I was ecstatic. Red Dead Redemption 2 had some trailers and screenshots trickle out prior to the release but much of the game was still a mystery. I couldn’t have anticipated the joy that this game would bring me and I can’t think of a more immersive open world game this generation.
The game Rockstar has created is just realistic enough to avoid being daunting. The level of detail put into things you may never discover is what Red Dead Redemption 2 is all about. Being in the right or wrong place at a certain time can yield fantastic benefits or deadly consequences and this creates a sense of immersion that I’ve never experienced in games. Everything in Red Dead Redemption 2 is impressive. The story, the characters, the ever-evolving open world, and the seemingly endless list of things to do all combine to create a cohesive game experience that is purely one of the greatest games of not only this generation but possibly of all time.