I think I wrote, or at least thought, something along the lines of “wow Japanese games can be pretty cool, who knew?” at some point in 2017. Well, turns out games made in Japan have continued to be pretty cool in 2018.
Look, I could pretend that I’ve played every game in existence that released in 2018. Or I could be honest, and admit that there were far too many games to keep track of in 2018, let alone play. I don’t think this year was quite up to par with the amazing 2017, but nonetheless, some damn fine games released in 2018, and my pick of the bunch are below.
- Monster Hunter: World
- God of War
- Into the Breach
- Yakuza Kiwami 2
- Red Dead Redemption 2
- Pokemon Let's Go
- Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight
- Yakuza 6: The Song of Life
Yes, there are two Yakuza games and one Persona Dancing game on that list, and yes, you’re welcome to fight me over their inclusion. Both Persona 3: Dancing in Moonlight and Yakuza Kiwami 2 were glorified excuses for me to revisit characters that I already loved, be they high school students that love to dance, or an ex-Yakuza who, erm, also loves to dance.
The games that took me by surprise this year were Into the Breach and God of War. The latter because I had never played a God of War game before and also have a lack of empathy towards children, and the former because I typically dislike strategy games. But hey, suit up a strategy game with customizable mechs, put it on a chess board, and mix in some time travel, and apparently I'll love it.
I used to be a big Marvel fanboy (I've spent more money on comics than I want to count), but I've fallen out of love with the larger MCU in recent years. Spider-Man did a lot to reinstate that love. It’s little more than a big, dumb spectacle with some loveable characters, but I love it for never attempting to be anything more than that. It knows when to have fun (phwoar, those boss fights at the end), and it knows how to create heartfelt moments too (looking at you, Doc Ock).
I struggled a lot with this list, mainly because I've forgotten what came out in 2018. But the top two entries have been rock solid since they released in January: Celeste and Monster Hunter: World. They're both at the opposite ends of the gameplay spectrum: one is a heart pounding tale of depression and social interaction, while the other is about grouping up with your pals and slaying monsters for wicked gear.
I could talk all day about Celeste, and I've basically spent the past 12 months talking about it non stop. But what I really want to say is this: Celeste is a game that speaks to me about illness and depression like nothing has before. The small team of people that made Celeste deserve to stand head and shoulders above the likes of God of War and Red Dead Redemption 2 as the best game of an exceptional year.