2018 is coming to a close and though I haven’t reviewed a ton of games this year, I’ve played quite a few. I feel a great way to close out the year is to tell you the best games I’ve experienced this year in hopes that you might find something worth playing. Unlike last year, I’m sticking to games released in the 2018 calendar year, so let’s get going. This is retro impressions Best games of 2018.
Any game that was considered for this list must be one I’ve played for a significant amount of time or beat this calendar year. I will be running through them in no particular order. Return to the Obra Dinn was is the second commercial game released by indie game developer Lucas Pope of Papers Please fame. You take on the role of an insurance adjuster tasked with discovering the fate of a ship called the Obra Dinn which went missing in 1802 later washing ashore in 1807 with its entire crew either missing or dead.
It’s one of the most artistically stunning games of the year as it replicates the early 1-bit look used in the first graphical computer games. You have nothing to go on but are given a group photo of everyone on board along with a watch that allows you to hear the last few seconds of a persons life and see their moment of death. The player must determine each person’s name along with their fate. Getting this right gives an incredible feeling of accomplishment because getting it right isn’t a straightforward task. Often times you will need to understand what different jobs on the ship entail and make an educated guess based on locations and circumstances in relation to other events you’ve already witnessed. It’s a carefully crafted experience that doesn’t take its players for fools and the reward of getting the details right along with the fascinating story that unfolds in an incredibly unique way make it a game I guarantee you’ll remember for years to come.
I remember playing God of War for the first time on PSP and really couldn’t get into it. About two hours in the game came out and never saw my system again. I had low expectations and high hopes watching the trailer for its PS4 debut but forgot I preordered it until it arrived at my door. Maybe the reason I like it so much is it’s so far removed design-wise from the original games. It’s not that it ads anything new but it’s now an action-adventure more similar in tone to Horizon Zero Dawn rather than a hack n slash the series was known for .
The gameplay is fantastic with nothing overstaying it’s welcome before the next new mechanic is introduced. The story is also the best of any game I played in 2018 if not the best of any this current console generation. It’s a must own must play experience that is about as close to perfection as I’ve ever seen. The Hex opens in a bar with a phone call answered by the bartender. There is going to be a murder and one of the bars patrons is the killer.
The Hex was developed by Daniel Mullins who also did also did the incredible Pony Island. Unfortunately for the Hex, it’s impossible to talk about and try to sell you on playing this game without potentially spoiling what makes is so incredible. Just trust me, it’s the most unique game on this list and I promise there’s no way you won’t enjoy it as long as you enjoy a fantastic narrative Drivin experience. It’s important to note that Tetris is one of my all-time favorite games with the GameBoy version being at the top. It’s a hard concept to mess up yet often I feel it’s packaged into something not too special that’s more of an effort to copy the board game method of releasing games for a new platform leaving little reason or desire to put down the Gameboy version I grew up with.
Tetris Effect for PS4 if the first game I feel transcends this issue. It combines the progressive music game genre as seen in Shapes and Sounds with Tetris. That’s is to say the music is directly linked to the action on screen. It’s masterfully done as it should be considering it was developed by the same team behind Rez and Lumines. If you like Tetris, there’s no reason not to buy this game.
I really love the Katamari series so when I heard about a new game called Donut Island that started as a what one might consider an inverse Katamari game I was curious. You play as a Raccoon named BK who’s running a Donut shop that ends up delivering holes rather than actual donuts that customers are ordering. The goal of the game is to move the hole around consuming everything on the map.
The story itself is so-so, but the gameplay is quite delightful and original making for a fun experience to sit down and relax to. A game worth playing through if you’re looking for something short to accomplish in a lazy afternoon. There’s been a lot said about Celeste so I won’t spend a ton of time here.
The story about a girls journey to the top of a mountain that gives subtle nods to those who struggle with mental health is excellent. It’s a hard as nails platformer that does something interesting by letting the player adjust every setting imaginable to make the game as difficult as one might desire. It’s a huge plus because a game like this will without a doubt alienate the vast majority of players who pick it up before they ever reach the end game. It’s very well designed from top to bottom helping it to stand out among a pile of retro platforms hitting the market and looking to occupy a portion of your time. Moss is best described as a trump in VR storytelling built around a solid but short action platformer.
It’s not that the story itself is worth writing home about, but the package as a whole is executed to absolute perfection. The story follows the adventures of a mouse named Quill and places you in the environment as a spiritual being who oversees the entire journey. You not only control Quill, but also can influence the environment. I found myself completely drawn into the experience giving my mouse companion complements and hi-fives from beneath the hood. The level design is fantastic as is the pacing.
As I get older, I have a particular appreciation for shorter games that get to the point rather than draw out the experience with monotonous task. It’s a game that convinces the player that they’re part of the experience and in my opinion the best full game VR experience to date. I’ve never been big on the rouge like experience but when FTL came out, I was hooked dumping countless hours into the game in an effort to see and unlock it all. In a year that should be considered a trump of the sophomore release, Subset Games has another winner with Into the Breach. This turn-based strategy is a mix of Live Die Repeat and Nintendo’s Advance Wars.
Aliens have destroyed the earth and you’re sent back in time to try and save it. Expect to lose… a lot. If you lose without dying, you can bring one person back with you to the present time then send them back with a new team to try again. It’s a very well designed, well thought out game with enough unlockables and content to keep you playing for some time.
As someone who’s talked at length about early Spider-man games, it should come as no shock that Spider-man on PS4 made the list. It is, I’m my opinion, and without question, the quintessential Spider-Man experience on any console across all gaming generations. It has everything I ever wanted including a solid storyline, great movement and a fluid action system giving you complete control over how you take down random thugs. Though I’ve never been to New York, it looks to be an extremely detailed recreation of the City and exploring that as Spider-man is about as good as it gets. It feels a little odd having two games build for VR on this list but with a game like Astro Bot Rescue, it would be criminal to not include it. It’s feels almost silly to explain a VR game because they have to be experienced to be appreciated.
Astro Bot Rescue is a very clever, fun, and charming platformer that couldn’t be made for any platform other than VR or in any other country but Japan. It’s similar to Moss as it’s a platforming experience where you are in the center of the action. However moss is more focused on puzzles whereas Astro Bot Rescue is a pure traditional platforming experience very similar to what you would expect picking up a Rayman game.
If you’re into that then you’re doing yourself a disservice by not playing though Astro Bot Rescue. Let me know in the comments what your favorite games of 2018 were along with anything you think you feel I should check out.