Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Game of the Year 2018

Over the course of 2018, I played through over 35 games and awarded more 5-star review scores than I have in any year since I started this blog. I don't think that I've become any more generous with my reviews this year, it's just that I've had the pleasure of experiencing a cavalcade of excellent games!  As is tradition, any game that I beat this year is eligible for Game of the Year honors regardless of its release date. This year's selection of titles covers over two decades of video game history with release dates ranging from 1994 - 2018. Among this vast group of diverse titles, I present my Top 10 Games of 2018:

 #10: Octopath Traveler
I started out this year expecting Octopath Traveler to sit high on this list, but it instead just managed to snag the last spot. Octopath's strong presentation, battle system, and musical score were more than enough to make my journey through this game enjoyable despite some issues I had with its storytelling and structure. Given this game's commercial success, I'm hoping Square Enix delivers us a sequel the smooths out some of the rough edges in an otherwise great RPG. (review)

#9: Persona 4
While I may have had some misgivings about Persona 4's pacing and mechanics, this game's ability to develop a cast of characters that really felt like a community of family and friends really impressed me. I'm really happy that I was able to tackle this "gaming shame" this year! (review)

 #8: The Witcher 3 Blood and Wine
I thought that I had exhausted the Witcher formula by the time I had finished the main campaign of The Witcher 3, but I'm glad that I took a break and came back for Blood and Wine. Its vibrant new setting and engaging story and characters were a great reason to take a return trip to this Polish fantasy world. 

#7: Xenoblade Chronicles 2 (including Torna expansion) 
Xenoblade Chronicles 2 and its expansion continued to refine and innovate upon the mechanics I loved so much in the previous games while giving us an awesome new world to explore. For the next game in the series, I'm hoping they'll strike a little bit better of a balance between dramatic storytelling and anime tropes. (review)

 #6: Rise of the Tomb Raider
I'm sure it's no surprise that the sequel to my 2016 Game of Year ended up earning a spot on this list. Rise of the Tomb Raider certainly doesn't stray far from the format of its predecessor, but the improvements made to an already-excellent structure made this adventure enjoyable from start to finish. As I'm writing this, I'm feeling a very strong urge to pick up the next entry in the franchise, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, while it's still on holiday discount! (review)

#5: Battle Chef Brigade 
A fusion of puzzles, brawling, and cooking isn't something I ever thought I would need, but I sure am glad that I stumbled upon this unique hybrid indie game! In addition to its interesting combination of gameplay systems, it had charm and personality in spades. (review)

 #4: A Hat In Time 
A Hat in Time isn't just an excellent return to N64-style 3D platforming, it also succeeds, strangely enough, as an entertaining dark comedy. This is a game that I played with a smile on my face pretty much the entire time. (review)

#3: Bloodstained Curse of the Moon
Having played most of the Castlevania games, I can confidently say that Bloodstained Curse of the Moon comfortably sits among the best of them (even though it isn't an official part of the franchise). Bloodstained took the best of 8-bit Castlevania and enhanced it to make pixelated vampire-slaying fun and accessible for modern audiences. I'm very excited to see what the next Bloodstained game has in store! (review)

#2: Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle
This game may have been met with a lot of skepticism when it was originally announced, but the end result was a fantastic fusion of the Mario and Rabbids franchises. This game takes the light and goofy atmospheres of each of these franchises and applies them to a balanced and satisfying tactical RPG system. It sounds insane (because it is), but it works so incredibly well!

 #1: Celeste
The Game Awards and numerous media outlets heaped praise upon Celeste, and I was right there with them singing this game's praises. Its gameplay, story, and music harmonize together in a masterpiece of indie game design. Anyone with an appreciation for 2D platformers owes themselves to give Celeste a try. (review)

Honorable Mention
Considering how many games I played this year, it was inevitable that some great games would just barely miss taking a spot on my Top 10 list. Here are some other games that I played this year that deserve some praise:
  • Ys Origin - Diving into Falcom's action RPG series has been one of my highlights of the year. Origin has been the best entry that I've played so far. I'm really looking forward to continuing my Ys franchise playthrough in 2019! (review)
  • Adventure Pals - My wife and I had a blast playing through this quirky co-op 2D platformer! (review)
  • Blossom Tales - A really solid indie Zelda-like with a unique sense of humor. I'll be watching this developer to see what they come up with next! (review)
  • Stick Fight - This is a fun and chaotic fighting game that's great for parties, liked a pared-down Smash Bros. (review)
  • Final Fantasy 4 - The mobile remake of this 16-bit classic was a very enjoyable adventure in 2018. (review)
  • Momodora Reverie Under the Moonlight - A well-made indie Metroidvania game with a spooky atmosphere that was well-suited to my Halloween stream. (review)
I'm still in awe of how many incredible games I got to experience in 2018! Looking back at what I played, this year has really cemented that RPGs, platformers, and action-adventure are my genre specialties. That being said, I still plan on putting together a diverse queue of titles for 2019.

Thanks to much to all of my readers, stream viewers, and gaming pals for another fantastic year! I can't wait to do it all over again in 2019!

Happy New Year!


  1. Oh nice, I managed about 32 games this year. Finally got to finish trails SC and hoping I can finish 3rd this year.

    1. Thanks for checking out my list, or3con! At some point I'd like to get to the Trails games myself, but they seem like such a daunting undertaking! Are you gonna do a GotY or Top 10 of your own?

  2. Indie games seem pretty dominant in your top five and honorable mentions - there have been a load of good ones lately! Love seeing the mix of new and old in personal "best of the year" lists.

    1. Glad you enjoyed it! I've found that playing through a few short indies is a nice break in between longer games (and since I play a lot of long RPGs, I need a lot of breaks! lol).

  3. What a heap of fantastic recommendations! I gotta snag Celeste now, it had some major competition and was still able to come out on top.