2018 sure was a year for videogames! I’ve played plenty of Switch/3DS stuff and mostly plinked away at an impressively shrinking PC backlog. On consoles I’ve mostly played 80+ RPGs and adventure games at a very slow pace. It wasn’t hard to pick up a list of ten games for this year because I’ve only played twelve. Lack of free time, excessively long games, lack of motivation… It wasn’t because of poor quality, don’t worry! 2019 is going to be a bloodbath - I fear that I’ll have six games to play in the first three months - but for now, let’s look at 2018 and make a numbered list of games.
10 - Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon
I’m still waiting for the main Bloodstained entry (It has been how many years now?) but this little Castlevania 3 throwback was a pleasant surprise. If it’s indicative in any way of the quality of the final product, I think the game is in a good place. I had no nostalgia for the original material - I didn’t own an NES, after all - but I saw what they were doing and I feel like this game has enough content, good replay value and an interesting artstyle to carry it into this list.
9 - Radiant Historia Perfect Chronology
It’s a bit much that two games in my top ten are Atlus RPG remakes, but I had never played Radiant Historia so Perfect Chronology was the perfect occasion for me to pick this time travel story. This is a surprisingly neat RPG, one that made me wonder why I had never picked up the original for DS, and while there are some issues here and there - I feel like having to redo EVERYTHING when you time travel to try and change the past is a bit of a chore and the puzzles are kinda tough to do without FAQs - the core combat system is solid and the story was interesting enough for me to go through the whole thing and completely 100% it.
8 - Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux
I had this game when it first came out on DS but couldn’t finish it because I tried the Neutral Path and that kicked me pretty hard in the face. Strange Journey Redux adds a few welcome quality of life systems and an optional dungeon with enough tweaks to the story here and there to make it a worthwhile Shin Megami Tensei entry. The battle system is still super satisfying to learn and the almost Etrian Odyssey-like map system with tons of secrets to figure out kept me going until I also completed this game. I might go back to it to get the other endings as well!
7 - Earth Defense Force 5
The differences from previous EDF entries are minimal but appreciated; The fact that weapons now have upgrades is neat and you get some loot when you die, alongside getting upgrades for classes you’re not currently playing at a reduced rate. I’m still a bit bummed that you can’t play with more than two people in local co-op and that the loot isn’t really spread out around all classes equally, but the stuff that makes EDF great is in EDF5, the corny sci-fi movie aesthetic, the dumb dialogue, the mindless monster massacre, it’s all there, and it’s great.
6 - Assassin's Creed Odyssey
Although I’ve played about 90 hours of this game so far and completed all of the story, I’m not super happy with AC:O, there is just too much in there and it hurts the overall package of the game. Yes, it’s fun to sneak around a fort, stealthily stabbing your foes and hiding their bodies in tall grass, it’s fun to fight mercenaries, it’s fun to find loot and compare stats, it’s fun to hunt down cultists with well gathered clues and there is nothing wrong with the tried-and-true quest system of talking to someone, getting a few lines of funny dialogue, going somewhere to do a thing and then get some more funny dialogue. But this much? I’m sure I still have 80 hours of play into this game if I wanted to do everything, which I KINDA do. It’s so much. It’s too much.
5 - Warioware Gold
I’m a huge WarioWare fan and Gold could be the last one of these and I would be pretty happy about it (I’d still take a new good Switch one, thanks). It’s a collection of almost all microgames from other titles, and then some more. There are a bunch of side activities to unlock, like a silly card game, but the core 1-2 second microgame nonstop blast is just great to go through and I’m really happy that we had this game this year.
4 - Dead Cells
There are a few things that bother me in Dead Cells but I had a ton of fun going through the game, unlocking everything and finishing a few runs while trying all the breadth of weapons and skills you can find. I had a much better time before I had unlocked everything - especially the traversal abilities - but mastering different types of playstyles on the go and learning about different enemies and puzzles until I knew how to navigate them fairly well was a cool experience and I might go back to it if they add new content in the future.
3 - God of War
God of War came out pretty early this year and I wasn’t sure what to expect, since I haven’t played any other GoW game before this one. What I got was a very well realized focused action RPG with enough upgrades and systems to make combat super interesting and exploration feel really rewarding without getting lost in the sprawl of open world adventures with infinite content. The methodical battle system was a bit tough to learn but I still managed to go through most - if not all - of the game’s numerous optional activities like the Valkyrie fights, the weird poison tomb and the ice/fire arenas. I’m pretty excited to see what they’re going to do with the sequels, since this entry in the weathered franchise made me look forward to what’s next in the story and other systems.
2 - Octopath Traveler
A new turn-based RPG from the Bravely Default/Second team? I was on board immediately when this game got announced and it’s everything I want from a classic RPG. I love how you can mix and match abilities from different jobs to make your team exactly like you want it to be. I love the battle system so much and the complexity of building a good team to defeat a wide range of foes. I liked the different stories and how the characters interacted with each other during small vignettes, but it’s certain that I would’ve liked for all the stories to converge together into a grander plot. The music and artstyle also really resonated with me and I can’t wait to see what this team does next! Too bad for that last secret boss, tho.
1 - Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
I’m not a big competitive fighting game guy, but SSBU has everything you could ever want from a single player standpoint. The story mode is huge, interesting and filled with references to everything Nintendo, the roster is humongous and the core fun center of Smash Brothers is right there. The new Spirit mode allows for a lot of deep cuts and amusing situations where you can fight for hours without encountering exactly the same opponent twice. The new stages, the music, the little details and the promise of new fighters make this my favorite Smash Brothers entry and the fact that I just can’t wait to dig more into Smash puts it right there at the top of my list.