I woke up this morning with an idea to do a few different articles to end 2018, ranking my favourite games, TV shows and movies from the last year.
Seems like a good enough idea and one that can work as both a recommendation tool for readers and as a means of me looking back and remembering the things I enjoyed best in 2018.
But I was surprised at how few games I’ve bought over the last year considering how often I actually play them.
And then on top of that, looking at the ones I did buy and indeed invested a lot of time in, I was more surprised at how many games I dismissed out of hand as being candidates for this article.
I mean…I’m fairly sure I enjoyed God of War for the PS4 when I was playing it, but I certainly am not looking back at it and remembering it with a great sense of fondness.
Furthermore, the only game I have actually reviewed on this blog this year – Red Dead Redemption 2 – will also be omitted in spite of the amount of hours I invested in it. Basically, the flaws with it annoyed me so much that they massively outweighed the positives.
Anyway, before I get to the Top 5, there are a few ground-rules to establish…
- It has to be a game I played through in 2018. It doesn’t have to be a game that was released in 2018.
- Platforms judged are PS4, Switch and PC (although there isn’t a single PC game that made the cut).
- The usual suspects – games like FIFA, COD, Football Manager – that come out every single year aren’t included. If anything, I’ve got sick of FIFA and can now no longer play any more than 2 games before switching it off.
With that in mind, here’s my Top 5 Games of 2018.
That’s right folks, a 2017 remake of a game from 1989 has made my Top 5 Games of 2018.
But seeing as I only bought it in early December, I think that’s fair.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, what I enjoyed about Wonder Boy – The Dragon’s Trap was its old school charm.
A side scrolling, platforming, Metroidvania game with a beautiful animation style, some charming music and a suitable – if sometimes frustrating – level of difficulty.
What’s also good about it is that I was able to finish the game after a few days. I have to admit that I don’t often like it when games become a slog, and thankfully this wasn’t one.
There’s a sequel to it just released, but I’m skinflint enough to wait for the inevitable price reduction.
Though not as deep as Red Dead or as good looking as God of War, Far Cry 5 gets included on this list because it’s fun. Isn’t that what games are supposed to be?
It’s hardly what I would call a ‘fresh’ gaming experience, I didn’t like the ending, and I don’t understand why they always want to include an annoying stage where your character is off his face on drugs, but I definitely enjoyed playing it and look forward to yet another sequel next year.
If you’ve never tried a Far Cry game, it takes the open world environment that Rockstar Games seem to get all the plaudits for, and then makes it more like a game than an experience.
You blow things up, you kill people (and animals) and there’s a decent, non-linear story to keep things interesting along the way.
I never really got the hype for Smash Bros in the past, but I think that’s down to not really understanding the gameplay mechanics.
The thing is, previous iterations of the game were always bought by my brother, and as a result, he would play through the game on his own to unlock everything and then I would join him for some multiplayer after he’d done all that.
But unlocking everything is fun, and it helps you understand the depth of the game and which fighters suit your own playing style.
If you are a Nintendo fan, or even just a fan of games, you’ll love what Smash Bros has to offer, both in terms of the huge amount of characters and stages, but also the little additions like the 900 BGM tracks from just about anything Nintendo related, and more besides.
An incredible over-all package.
I got a few games for Xmas, but this is the only one I’ve played so far.
Out of all the AAA titles released in 2018, Spider-Man must be just about the only ‘new’ game.
I’m not suggesting it reinvents the wheel, and obviously it includes characters that we all know from Marvel anyway, but as a gaming experience it stood out as being fresh and interesting.
Initially I didn’t think I’d get to grips with the webslinging control style, but it turned out it was a smooth and efficient way of playing the game.
Like most open-world games it has a lot of side mission and collectables, but unlike most open-world games, they are actually worth completing and collecting.
An excellent game, but not the best one I played in 2018.
I actually bought Mario & Rabbids along with my Switch in 2017, but it remained unopened all through November and December as I played through Mario Odyssey and routinely went back to Mario Kart.
Then in January, with nothing fresh to play, I decided I may as well give it a go. I think my hesitance was down to it being a third party game rather than a Nintendo one, and apart from a brief attempt at playing X-Com on the Xbox 360 a few years earlier, I’d never played a turn-based tactical RPG before.
Turns out it was excellent.
Kingdom Battle is an engrossing, challenging game where you have to think about your approach to each level if you have any hope of completing it, and unlike most games I’ve played, it had the immediate replay value of wanting to go back and get full stars on each of those levels.
Furthermore, unlike any game since – I think – the original Red Dead Redemption, it had a story-mode DLC that I bought and played through the moment it was released.
I’m sure people will scoff at this and tell me that I should be playing X-Com 2 instead, but I think much of the appeal here is down to the colourful Nintendo style, and cutesy weapons like Mario’s hammer or throwing honey in someone’s face. If it was dark and grim, I don’t think I’d have enjoyed it nearly as much.
So there is a lot to be said for style as well as substance.
Mario Party (Switch) and Overcooked 2 (PS4) are two games that I haven’t been able to play much, as it’s difficult to round up the troops to play it enough, but what I have played I have enjoyed immensely.
Although not a game released in 2017, I did buy two highly rated games in PS Store sales this year and found them to be a total waste of money.
Sniper Elite 4 clearly requires the patience of an actual sniper to enjoy, but I couldn’t muster up the energy to get as far as the third level. Rubbish.
The Witcher III was described to me as an essential purchase by my brother. He felt it was one of the best games he’d ever played. But I got this right at the beginning of the year after playing through Mario Odyssey at the end of 2017 and I just couldn’t believe how awful the controls were in comparison.
An unresponsive, boring and overly complicated mess of a game with a dreary unoriginal story. I gave up after about 10 hours when I realised that I wasn’t under any obligation to finish it.
And lastly, on the subject of awful controls, I recently played Mafia III, which came free with my PS Plus subscription.
Now I’m by no means a fan of the way Red Dead 2 controlled, but it was streets ahead of this clunky pile of garbage.
Definitely not worth your time.