Top 10 Video Games of 2018 & Everything Else I Played.

Well damn, now that I’m sitting here looking back on the year I spent playing video games it doesn’t appear that I had much fun at all. In fact I’ve have a very hard time finding video games that I truly enjoy anymore. I have not lost my love for interactive art but instead I feel that the selection of video games available on the PC and the Playstation 4 are largely fucking boring. Plus, I avoided some of my strategy game tendencies due to not having the time for long matches and sessions on the PC. Same as last year, most of this list is limited to single-player story-based games and again keep in mind I’m limited to a PS4 Pro and a moderately powerful PC. As strong as Nintendo games look, the Switch is still not yet worth it’s cost and even with a few impressive announcements: I’m not interested. When flipping through this short list at least keep in mind that I spent the early year finishing Elex, Assassin’s Creed: Origins, and from that point I had trouble finding any big budge games I wanted to play. I slogged through some of my backlog and fed into the weird, fucked up metroidvania craze of 2018. Remakes and ports are a vice I’ve got to move past next year. Also, if you’re wondering where Red Dead Redemption II is… I haven’t even bought it yet, waiting for it to go on sale. The one game I played that I didn’t want to list today was Death’s Gambit, you can CLICK/TAP here to read why it was a fucked up mess when I played it. It has probably been patched up by now.

 #, Title (Studio, Platform)  Notes:

10. Secret of Mana


(Q Studios, PS4)

Rating: 3.5/5.0

Secret of Mana was one of my first Super Nintendo games after Illusion of Gaia and Final Fantasy II. I loved it, I obsessed over it, I remember every second of it, and I have probably listened to its soundtrack for hundreds of hours since I was a kid. Does this fully 3D remake live up to the classic? No, but it was still a fun experience. Seeing how they reinterpreted the game slightly while still sticking to the maps of the original was interesting but at some point there just wasn’t enough game there to level up and discover everything. I can’t fault the bones of Secret of Mana, but I do regret sinking almost sixteen hours of my time into this bland remake. If they remake Seiken Densetsu 3 I’ll still be on board, but whatever!

[CLICK HERE to read the full REVIEW]

9. Dead Cells


(Motion Twin, PC)

Rating: 3.5/5.0

I had written several paragraphs explaining what this game was when the power went out here in Seattle. So, instead of rewriting that boring shite… It is a metroidvania in terms of look and combat, it is a rogue-like in terms of being a run-based game where you gain abilities through currency banked during runs. It is fun at first and then it gets old when you’ve unlocked a lot of shit and you start to get fucking tired of playing the early levels over and over. Other than that, this was a great diversion. I think of rogue-likes as old arcade games set to free-play, the challenge is what you make of it. I felt that ‘luck’ was too much of a factor in certain situations.

8. Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon


(Inti Creates, PS4)

Rating: 4.0/5.0

If the 2.5D metroidvania from Iga’s team ever does come out with Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night at this point I don’t honestly care. Consider this prequel an attempt to make a short and fun NES/Famicom game that heavily borrows from Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse. Now, I’ve bought and beaten Symphony of the Night and Rondo of blood since beating this and I can say that Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon is at least better than Castlevania: Rondo of Blood just in terms of gameplay and fun factor. The music isn’t particularly good and the game is incredibly brief. I wasn’t all that impressed until I put a bit more time into the game and replayed it. You’re still only getting like 4-5 hours out of the whole experience but I felt it was one of the best things I played this year..

[CLICK HERE to read the full REVIEW]

7. Dark Souls: Remastered



Rating: 4.75/5.0

Without a working Playstation 3 or the desire to play the game on PC, I did not have any way to play Dark Souls until this year. I am grateful that they’ve put out this very basic ‘remaster’ as it is undeniably the best version of the game. I was able to finally get the platinum trophy for this, and as such I have done so with all four of the main Souls series other than Demon’s Souls. I love this game and have now beaten it about five times with completion in mind. It depresses me that some of the most fun I had in 2018 was playing a janky last-generation game with juiced graphics.

[CLICK HERE to read the full REVIEW]

6. Timespinner


(Lunar Ray Games, PS4)

Rating: 3.5/5.0

One of the better metroidvania games I played in 2018 that was sadly underdeveloped in terms of plot and overall ‘stuff to do’ with your powers. Quests are very simple, interactions are awkward, and well… Everything else about the game is more or less immaculate. A solid soundtrack, fluid animation style, plenty of abilities and secret areas, and an easy to follow plot. The discussions of open sexuality and gender feel slightly out of place, but I didn’t really have any issue with the writer putting his progressive values into this labor of love. It is far too short but still a fun game nonetheless.

[CLICK HERE to read the full REVIEW]

 5. Owlboy


(D-pad Studio, PS4)

Rating: 3.5/5.0

Although it was originally released in 2016 on PC, Simon Stafsnes Andersen‘s vision for Owlboy finally hit Playstation 4 and Nintendo Switch in 2018 and I had purposely waited so that I play it the way I wanted to: On a console, on my TV. The controls are unique, the gameplay is a hybrid of platforming, shooting, and puzzles (usually a full combination of those things) and it was a joy to play. I read the main theme of the game as the disillusionment of the well-meaning outsider, that the meek and empathetic are too often overlooked despite possessing the most important traits of leadership. More importantly, the game itself is beautiful and offers a mild challenge.

[CLICK HERE to read the full REVIEW]

4. Hollow Knight: Voidheart Edition


(Team Cherry Games, PS4)

Rating: 4.0/5.0

According to a Polygon editor this game is uh… “Better than Symphony of the Night, better than Super Metroid, better than Bloodborne.” eh, I’ll give you a minute to chuckle at that nonsense. Now, it is -very- good. Hollow Knight came out on PC back in early 2017 and didn’t get console ports until mid-to-late 2018. This is essentially the uber-metroidvania at an average 30 hour playthrough with a gigantic map and clever design at every turn. I really invested myself into this game eventually setting aside Dragon Quest XI in favor of it. Why? All of the reasons I enjoyed Timespinner and Owlboy (besides narrative). Excellent ambient music, skillful platforming challenges, and above all else exploration. Exploration is everything in this type of game and that is where Hollow Knight excels above all other modern metroidvania games. This version of the game offers all of the free DLC that PC owners received in the game that first year.

[CLICK HERE to read the full REVIEW]

3. Vampyr


(Dontnod Entertainment, PS4)

Rating: 4.0/5.0

Although I was interested in what I saw of Vampyr back in 2017 the moment I saw dialogue options and Dontnod Entertainment‘s name attached to it I canceled my pre-order and waited for the con census and a sale. Why? I had to make sure I wasn’t buying a teenage vampire coming of age story. It turns out I hesitated far too much. Not only is it a fine third person action RPG but it is also a light adventure game when you are in a safe area. Basically… What if Mass Effect had an approximation of Bloodborne‘s combat. I tore through this game, hard. I was so interested to figure out what was going on in the first 5-6 hours that I set aside a bunch of extra time on the weekends so that I could dig back into it. Sure, the game doesn’t really thrill in the second half and the combat doesn’t necessarily improve… You just get very strong. If you are prone to like RPGs with some minor issues or quirks (see: Elex, The Surge) then I think this could be up your alley.

[CLICK HERE to read the full REVIEW]

2. Kingdom Come: Deliverance


(Warhorse Studios, PS4)

Rating: 4.0/5.0

When I first started playing Kingdom Come: Deliverance I was entirely frustrated by the cryptic and somewhat difficult nature of the game. Long cut-scenes, wobbly combat, and consequences for damn near anything you do make for a stifled beginning. I didn’t necessarily realize the wealth of systems and playstyles available to the player from the start of the game. It is all really just a matter of finding a routine you like, obeying whichever laws you like, and having a go at a life of caste and rules. Medieval Czech kingdoms and an incredibly beautiful countryside make the game a joy to look at but complex RPG systems surrounding everything from hygiene to the quality of your clothes bog down any sense of freedom. The true freedom you have in this game is when you are tasked to fight and explore. Combat is nuanced, skill-based (of course, you can cheese it) and generally a hell of a lot of fun. My score for this game has improved a full point in hindsight, and after going back and replaying some of the earlier moments of the game.

[CLICK HERE to read the full REVIEW]

1. God of War


(SIE Santa Monica Studio, PS4)

Rating: 4.5/5.0

I was not excited to play another God of War game and in fact I literally threw away my copy of God of War III on the Playstation 3 at some point (its remaster has since been free on Playstation Plus). Well, this isn’t one of those God of War games, it is a cross between the exploration and environmental puzzles of Tomb Raider‘s modern reboot with combat similar to Lords of the Fallen with some of the innovations of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow. Weighty and fun combat presents a decent challenge, areas are fun to explore, and progress typically entails some kind of environmental puzzle. There are rewards crammed into every bit of the the game and well, there just isn’t enough exploration for how beautiful the world is. There isn’t a more aesthetically beautiful game, period. Where I take issue with God of War is in the lack of ‘mastery’ content, I just did not want to stop playing the game.

[CLICK HERE to read the full REVIEW]

So, if I barely played ten new games in 2018 what was I doing with all of my time? I was playing games from my backlog mostly. A few games were abruptly stopped because they sucked (Far Cry 5, Monster Hunter World). Although a bigger focus on the music side of Grizzly Butts didn’t allow much free time to make the kind of progress in my backlog as last year, I still completed a handful of great games.

  1. Elex (2017) REVIEW
  2. Assassin’s Creed: Origins (2017) REVIEW
  3. Darksiders: Warmastered Edition (2016) REVIEW
  4. Apotheon (2015) REVIEW
  5. Strider (2014) [Mention in blog post]
  6. SteamWorld Dig 2 (2017) [Review in blog post]
  7. Darksiders: DeathInitive Edition (2015) [Review in blog post]
  8. South Park: The Stick of Truth (2014) REVIEW
  9. The Mummy: Demastered (2017) REVIEW
  10. Rime (2017) [Review in blog post]

And here are the new additions to my pile of shame. A short list of 2018 games I didn’t have time to finish before the end of the year:

  • Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age (PS4)
  • Shadow of the Tomb Raider (PS4)
  • Dragons Crown Pro (PS4)
  • Celeste (PC) [Deleted]
  • Into the Breach (PC)
  • Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom (PS4)
  • Monster Hunter World [Deleted]
  • Far Cry 5 [Sold]

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