2018 was the most chaotic year of my life, professionally. This was the first full year in my role as Features Editor, where I handled managing our freelanced features (of which, our contributors are amazing!) and all the boring nitty gritty of planning and editing all the delectable long reads you folks (hopefully) love. It was a lot of hard work—and I'm glad 2018's over honestly—but I'm looking forward to what the future holds in 2019. And that includes all the new games we'll be playing!
But first, it's time to reflect on 2018's great games. It was surprising year for me, as some of the games I was really looking forward to ended up just being disappointing (shout out to Ni No Kuni 2, the sequel to one of my favorite JRPGs of all time that ended up being one of the worst games I played this year!), while others surprised me big time. For me, this was a year of my skepticism crumbling away and "damn, I didn't expect this to be so good" sorts of games. But it wasn't all complete shockers. So without further ado, here are my top 10 games of 2018.
- Return of the Obra Dinn
- Red Dead Redemption 2
- Hitman 2
- Dead Cells
- Yoku's Island Express
- Call of Duty: Black Ops 4
- Tetris Effect
- Forgotton Anne
- Forza Horizon 4
This year, I'm going to break down my list a little differently. Instead of doing long-winded love letters to each game on this list, I'm keeping things simple with tweet-length reasonings for each. I'm starting from the bottom, and working my way to the top.
- I revved up my tricked out Volvo Iron Knight, a semi-truck-racecar hellspawn of a vehicle, and drove it off the biggest cliff I could find. The only feeling I experience when I play Forza Horizon 4 is pure, unbridled joy.
- Forgotton Anne is a charming little adventure game with big ambition that I won't be forgotting anytime soon.
- Tetris Effect is like stuffing all of Tetsuya Mizuguchi's games in a blender, with the splendor of Area X in Rez Infinite, the nature fawning of Child of Eden, and the skins-like rotation of Lumines. But it's not directed by him—only produced—so who knows if this observation even holds. Regardless, Tetris has finally reached its potential as a stoner game. God bless.
- I play Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 every night because I love my attack dog that kills people.
- Yoku's Island Express is the platformer of the year that's not really a platformer because it has no jump. Instead, you launch a ball-pushing beetle around using pinball levers. It sounds stupid, but it's actually great.
- I played Dead Cells the most in my laundromat on my Switch, fending off imaginary clothes thieves with my expert dodge. To dodge in Dead Cells is to live.
- I once killed a target of mine when his bodyguard left the room. The rest of the level the now-purposeless bodyguard wandered aimlessly in the suburbs, wondering where his employer went out loud. He was sad and confused and it was all because of me, the ever-elusive Agent 47. From a bush, I threw a brick at the man's head, hoping to knock him out of his misery. Then I stole his clothes and became him. In Hitman 2, anything is possible.
- If you like to jump and dash in games, boy, have I got the perfect platformer for you! It's called Celeste.
- My Arthur had the biggest beard in all of America. He chugged hair tonics every morning and left it wiry and unkempt, save for some pomade for the hair on top of his head. He kept his hair slicked back and relatively short, and his beard gnarly and long. My Arthur looked disgusting, but it felt fitting for a man in persistent reflection—if life as he knew it was crumbling, why should he care about his appearance? In Red Dead Redemption 2, Arthur's story (and how I shaped it) is what tugged me along, and I loved the whole ride. (Side note: Sometimes I listened to Mitski's excellent Be the Cowboy while roaming around to double my sad-cowboy intake, which is coincidentally one of my favorite albums of the year too.)
- There's a scene in the movie A Serious Man where behind the main character is the largest chalkboard I've ever seen, with notes on the uncertainty principle etched across it from top to bottom. I like to think that's how my notes looked for Return of the Obra Dinn, but maybe with about a hundred or so times more arrows. That's because like no other game I've ever played, Return of the Obra Dinn let me be a detective (even if I was just a lowly insurance adjuster). It's a quietly harrowing game seemingly about monsters and greed, until it spirals into a biting critique of capitalism. In a year of few must-play games, Return of the Obra Dinn is the most essential of them all.
Other games I played a decent amount of and loved, but didn't finish: Dragon Quest XI (Sylvando is the GOAT), Yakuza 6, Exapunks.
Also a special shouts out to Love Nikki Dress Up Queen, the mobile game I play every day and will probably be playing on my deathbed. I will probably be buried in my coffin with my perfectly coordinated avatar emblazoned on the phone clutched in my cold dead hands. Anyways, happy holidays and happy new year! See you lot in 2019.