RF Generation.  The Classic and Modern Gaming Databases.RF Generation.  The Classic and Modern Gaming Databases.

Posted on Dec 30th 2018 at 08:00:00 AM by (Disposed Hero)
Posted under Gaming, 2018, GOTY, action, adventure, RPG, shooter, story


While I really didn't intend on playing so many new titles this year and instead wanted to focus more on my backlog, I ended up falling into the trap of acquiring and playing as many new releases as I could just like I did in 2017. However, many of these games were great, so I certainly don't regret spending my time with them. Now that the year is over, I wanted to share my overall thoughts on the games I played. Instead of just focusing on a top 10, I decided to rank all the games I played that were released this year. If any noteworthy titles are missing from this list, the reason is simple: I didn't get around to playing them!



17. Vampyr


Vampyr is a game that I was looking forward to from the moment that I first saw it. From Dontnod, the developers of Remember Me and Life is Strange, Vampyr places you in the shoes of Dr. Jonathan Reid who has just been turned into a vampire. The game boasts heavy decision making as you must balance Reid's professional duty to help the citizens versus his newfound bloodlust. Character progression is tied behind feeding on innocent civilians in order to earn experience to acquire upgrades and abilities, but killing too many people can lead to adverse reactions in the game world.

While it does have its merits, particularly the interesting conversation and district status mechanics as well as the whole dichotomy of helping vs. harvesting citizens, I felt like Vampyr has too many flaws (or at least one major flaw) for me to give it a recommendation. The most common criticism of the game is its combat, and I have to agree with the consensus that it is pretty lackluster compared to other third-person action games. It's not necessarily bad, but it is fairly clunky and rigid, forcing you to utilize a small handful of very specific and repetitive strategies and not allowing for much flexibility in how you approach it. This wouldn't be so bad if the game didn't constantly force you into combat at every turn, since there are enemies located all throughout the various districts and stealth mechanics are pretty much nonexistent. For most of the game, I couldn't help but get the impression that they wanted to make it more like Deus Ex, which typically gives you many more options for how to approach various situations, but they must have run out of time or budget to implement those mechanics somewhere along the way.

About halfway through the game, I found that I was desperately trying to avoid enemies as much as I could, but since the game forces you into combat so often, I just wasn't having very much fun with it and almost stopped playing it entirely. I eventually decided to just feed on literally every civilian in the game, plunge all the districts into chaos, and burn it all to the ground, allowing me to become as powerful as I possibly could and steamroll my way through the rest of the game. I got the bad ending.

16. Octopath Traveler


It pains me to put Octopath Traveler so low on this list. The JRPG has been my favorite videogame genre literally since I could read, and I cut my teeth on 16-bit classics such as Final Fantasy IV/VI and Chrono Trigger, all of which are still among my very favorite games to this day. So along comes Octopath Traveler, a new title that promises to harken back to the good old 16-bit era of JRPGs, so it should have been right up my alley, right? Well, in many ways it was.

The only real problem I had with the game lies with its narrative. Rather than have a central story arc to tie everything together, Octopath instead focuses on eight distinct characters, each with their own individual stories that are all completely disjointed from one another but play out simultaneously. While this isn't necessarily a bad thing, I could never really shake the feeling that I was playing through a series of eight glorified sidequests rather than an actual main storyline. The characters' stories themselves weren't bad (although a couple felt fairly throwaway), but the presentation of their storylines was extremely lacking. All 32 story chapters play out in the exact same formula with no deviation whatsoever, and it becomes very stale after several hours. Character interaction was also handled very poorly, and by that I mean that there was absolutely no interaction between party characters at all, aside from the tacked on optional 'Travel Banter' scenes you could trigger on occasion. During story segments, any non-relevant party members would simply disappear and cease to exist while the scene plays out. This is incredibly jarring and comes across as downright lazy by the developers, especially after playing through the Trails in the Sky series which handles party interaction among a large cast of characters so well. It only serves to emphasize the point that these characters have no real motivation or purpose to travel together, especially since some characters' objectives clash heavily with other characters' ideals. Anything relating to story presentation just felt underdeveloped and tacked on, and it made me completely uninterested and apathetic towards the game for most of the experience.

Honestly, I could go on, but I don't want to harp too much on the game's lackluster story elements since practically all other aspects of the game are extremely well done. Octopath is a beautiful game with probably the best soundtrack of any title released this year. It also throws some new twists on the traditional turn-based formula resulting in one of the best and most interesting combat systems ever in a turn-based RPG. There is also a nice class system that allows you to make some interesting character and party configurations, and, while it is a bit limited, it lends the game a decent amount of customizability. For these reasons, I would still recommend Octopath to classic JRPG fans as I think the combat mechanics and music are worth experiencing, and based on other discussions I've read about the game, the story elements apparently do not matter to some as much as others. Despite its many strong points, I had a hard time staying invested with Octopath Traveler, and I finished it feeling like it was more of a missed opportunity than anything else.

15. Deltarune


I finally played Undertale for the first time about a year ago, and although I was initially turned off by the game's minimalist presentation and quirky sense of humor, I ended up loving the game and even did two back-to-back playthroughs, which is something I rarely do. When the game's spiritual successor Deltarune recently received a surprise release (for free to boot!), I was immediately intrigued and didn't wait long to check it out.

At first glance, Deltarune may appear to be quite a bit different than its predecessor, with a different battle screen and multiple party members, but it is functionally very similar to Undertale, albeit with a few new bells and whistles for good measure. One of the things I really enjoy about these games is that they do a good job of mixing multiple genres so that they are not just the standard turn-based JRPG formula. While battles and general exploration are mostly how you would expect, combat can either be played as a traditional JRPG or by attempting to spare enemies by using a variety of different actions to influence them in different ways. Defending from attacks also works more like a bullet-hell shooter or a platformer where you will have to guide an icon through a gauntlet of obstacles and projectiles in order to avoid damage. I also really love the humor, which is a subjective matter and will depend on your personal tastes, and the dialog is very well written and suits the style they are going for.

While I did enjoy Deltarune, it didn't really grab me the same way that Undertale did, although I can't think of a specific reason why. Since this was only the first chapter of what should be a multi-part series, it was very short at only about 2-3 hours, although I didn't have a problem with that. This was still a solid game regardless, and anybody who enjoyed Undertale should definitely check out Deltarune, especially since it's free!

14. Iconoclasts


This game caught my attention when it was released earlier in the year, but I did not get around to playing it until it was offered as a free PlayStation Plus game for December. Iconoclasts is a side-scrolling action-platformer with some minor Metroidvania elements thrown in. The gameplay features a mixture of long-range and melee combat, as well as a healthy dose of platforming elements for good measure. Boss fights are interesting and fun, and the puzzle elements are well done also and help bring some diversity to the gameplay. My biggest complaint about the game would be its story, and by that I mean just the fact that it had a story. It wasn't necessarily bad (although it wasn't particularly great either), I just felt that stopping the flow of gameplay so often for the sake of unwanted exposition worked to the game's detriment and is unnecessary for a game of this style. This is still a nice little game however, and everyone with a PS Plus subscription should check it out!

13. Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom


The original Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch was a unique JRPG released during a time when there were not many JRPGs being released. It featured a combat system that I feel could best be described as Pokemon meets Parasite Eve wherein you command captured monsters with your commands governed by an ATB-style timer. It was a unique game, and a breath of fresh air at the time of its release.

Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom throws all of that out the window, for better or worse. Ditching the monster capturing mechanics and ATB timers, it instead opts for a more fast-paced action-RPG style that is not unlike a Tales game. I couldn't help but feel like the developers sacrificed the unique mechanics of the original game in order to appeal to a broader audience, but the new (albeit more familiar) gameplay style was still enjoyable in its own right. Other gameplay mechanics were hit and miss and mostly felt tacked on. While the town building aspects were fun and addicting, I felt like other mechanics such as skirmish battles felt tacked on and underdeveloped. The story was fairly lackluster as well.

Not a bad game and I enjoyed my time with it, but it's probably not something I would ever revisit. It's another game that I would cautiously recommend since I think the gameplay elements will resonant more with some than others depending on preference.

12. Detroit: Become Human


I have always been a big fan of Quantic Dream's games ever since Indigo Prophecy/Fahrenheit was first released, but this may be my least favorite of their games yet. My reasons for placing Detroit so low on this list are mostly subjective, as I don't think there is anything really wrong with the game at all. Firstly, the whole sentient AI concept is starting to become fairly trite, as I have played a few games prior to Detroit that have already tackled this subject. I am also usually very laidback when it comes to these types of games and am able to just easily make choices, go with the flow, and accept the consequences. I have never second-guessed myself more than I have with Detroit, and constantly questioning my decisions (and even replaying a few chapters) really dragged the overall experience down for me. While this is mostly my own fault, I really feel that the inclusion of the flowcharts after every chapter showing how many different possibilities there are contributed to this as well.

This is still a solid title regardless, and I would recommend it to those who enjoy these types of games. I'll probably replay it sometime in the future with a more easygoing mindset and see if I enjoy it more.

11. Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon


Serving as an appetizer for Koji Igarashi's runaway Kickstarter success Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, Curse of the Moon is a fantastic 8-bit style action-platformer that is similar to the NES Castlevania titles. Tight gameplay, fun level design with branching paths, and a diverse cast of characters helps propel this game to the upper echelon of indie retro throwback titles. Although I personally felt like Curse of the Moon borrows a bit too heavily from Castlevania III, which holds it back from securing its own identity, it's still a great game and one that is a must-play for any fan of classic Castlevania and classic NES games in general.

If you'd like to hear more about Bloodstained, check out my review here.

10. Dead Cells


If you had asked me a year ago if I would like to play an indie title that is a blend of Dark Souls and roguelike elements, I would have said "No thanks!" Fortunately, a friend of mine introduced me to this game, and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. The gameplay, while very challenging and at times punishingly difficult, is tight, fluid, and, most importantly, fun. I still don't love the roguelike elements present in the game, as losing most of my items, equipment, and upgrades every time I die never ceases to be frustrating. However, the enjoyable gameplay always keeps me coming back for more, and it is addicting trying to get further and further with each attempt. Dead Cells is a nice surprise and a hidden gem.

9. Yakuza 6: The Song of Life


I feel like I've mentioned the Yakuza series around here a lot lately, but for good reason. Sega's cult crime drama franchise has quickly become one of my all time favorite video game series over the last several years, and is one of the very few series where I will pre-order every entry no questions asked.

Yakuza 6 promises to be the final chapter for longtime series protagonist Kazuma Kiryu, and it is a satisfying conclusion to his story. This was the first entry in the series to utilize a brand new gameplay engine, and while it does bring a much needed upgrade to a series whose presentation was beginning to feel dated by modern standards, it also shows by feeling a bit rushed and lacking in content and fighting mechanics compared to other titles in the series. While I highly doubt that I will ever play a Yakuza game I don't like, Yakuza 6 may very well be my least favorite entry in the series. I wasn't a big fan of the Onomichi location where much of the game's story takes place, and many fan favorite recurring characters were written out of the story within the opening minutes, which felt like a cheap cop out. Yakuza 6 is still a good game and retains many elements of what makes this series so great, it just feels a bit lacking compared to other games in the series. However, as the conclusion of this series, it is absolutely worth playing.

8. Shadow of the Colossus (Remake)


Shadow of the Colossus needs no introduction, as its reputation precedes it and is often considered one of the greatest games of all time. While I never quite saw it in the same light as many others due to some frustrations I have with the game's mechanics, I have always enjoyed it and understand why people hold it in such high esteem. This new PS4 remake wasn't my first time playing through the game, but it was my most enjoyable playthrough of the game yet, and it was nice to revisit this classic. While the frustrations I have with this game may keep it out of legendary status for me personally, when it all comes together, there is an undeniably incredible feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment that few games can match.

7. A Way Out


A Way Out is a co-op action/adventure title that must be played with two players since there is no single-player option or AI for the second character. My friend and I loved the concept of this game from the beginning: Two convicts work together to escape from prison, and although the game turned out to be much more than that, it was effective in tapping into our shared love of cheesy action movies. Speaking from a purely technical standpoint, A Way Out has many problems. The graphics are noticeably dated and many of the gameplay mechanics are mediocre at best. However, the game features a myriad of cooperative interactions, some required for progression and others just as optional diversions, and these interactions coupled with the tone of the game kept us entertained the whole time with many laugh-out-loud moments throughout. Sure, it's kind of a goofy game and has some technical problems, but we loved every second of it! If you have a good buddy to play this game with, I can't recommend it enough.

If you'd like to hear more about A Way Out, check out my review here.

6. Shadow of the Tomb Raider


While I never really played through the original Tomb Raider games back on the PS1 and PS2, I have greatly enjoyed the new titles since the 2013 reboot. Shadow of the Tomb Raider is mostly more of the same modern Tomb Raider action, which is good if you're already a fan of the series. I got really into the game for a while and spent way too much time hunting down collectibles and completing challenges. While I didn't enjoy it quite as much as the original 2013 Tomb Raider, I enjoyed it more than Rise of the Tomb Raider, if for no other reason than the setting. Shadow takes place in a South American jungle environment, and I greatly preferred this over the snowy mountainous setting of Rise. I also don't care for the fact that the series keeps progressively adding more and more open-world elements and diluting the overall experience with towns, NPCs, and sidequests. However, as much as I enjoyed it, I can't help but feel like this new Tomb Raider formula is beginning to feel a little stale, since the series has seen little innovation over the last five years. Since Shadow of the Tomb Raider is supposedly the last chapter in Lara Croft's origin story, I hope they can shake things up a bit for Lara's next adventure.

5. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate


I've been a big fan of Smash Bros. since the original N64 game. I love the fast and frantic action that the series is known for, as well as all of the fun and quirky items and abilities that get continually added with each new entry. Ultimate is mostly more of the same Smash we all know and love, and I have been having a ton of fun with it since it released just earlier this month. I've even been putting the online mode through its paces, which is noteworthy for being the first time in over 10 years that I have gotten invested in a game's online competitive multiplayer. There is also a wealth of content in single-player mode, with unique Classic Mode ladders for each fighter (all 70 of them!), the 'World of Light' story mode, and a ton of unlockables. Between the single-player modes, online multiplayer, and always being a favorite when friends visit (and thankfully hasn't ended any friendships yet!), I believe Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is a game that I will still be playing well into the new year.

4. Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age


Having only played the fifth and eighth entries, my experience with the Dragon Quest series is admittedly limited, but I was ready to dive back in with the latest entry Dragon Quest XI. This is very much a modern day take on the tried and true classic JRPG formula, and it excels in this regard. Despite some new features and minor progressions of the formula, I think I was initially put off at first by just how closely it resembles Dragon Quest VIII which originally came out nearly 15 years ago. However, as I continued playing it, I began to appreciate that it sticks more to its roots and is a more traditional JRPG experience compared to many other titles that have been released recently. Dragon Quest XI is a great traditional JRPG experience and is an easy recommendation for fans of the genre.

3. Red Dead Redemption 2


It has been five years since Rockstar released their last original title Grand Theft Auto V, a game which I greatly enjoyed, and with Red Dead Redemption 2 being their first new title on eighth generation hardware, I was anxious to see what they could pull off. As a big fan of Rockstar games and of the original Red Dead Redemption, this was easily one of my (and the rest of the world's) most anticipated releases of 2018, and it certainly did not disappoint.

Red Dead Redemption 2 has, simply put, one of the best stories that I have ever experienced, not only in a video game, but in any medium. Arthur Morgan is one of the best characters I have had the privilege of playing as in a video game, and his story arc was a beautiful thing to watch unfold. The game also takes place several years before the first Red Dead Redemption, serving as a prequel of sorts, and Rockstar managed to tie the two games together so well that one might think that it was all planned from the beginning. There is so much to see and do in the game's world that you could easily get lost in it for hours, and everything is so highly detailed and fleshed out that practically every bit of content in the game is worth experiencing.

My only real criticisms are the somewhat clunky and cumbersome systems and mechanics present in the game, and the tedium of having to do so much traveling manually since there are very few means of fast travel in the game. While these aspects do not ruin the game by any means, they do drag the experience down enough to keep it from claiming the top spot in my GOTY list. If the gameplay was a bit tighter, RDR 2 would likely be my GOTY 2018. Either way, it was a great experience and one that has stuck with me long after watching the credits roll.

2. Yakuza Kiwami 2


This remake of Yakuza 2 was the second game in the series to be released this year and also the second to use the new Dragon Engine introduced in the aforementioned Yakuza 6, and it's clear that Sega had the time to finally flesh out the features and mechanics of the new engine that they really needed with Yakuza 6. Many of the elements that were sorely lacking in Yakuza 6 were restored for Kiwami 2, such as more minigames and a more fleshed out moveset for combat. An excellent story and a wealth of content help make this one of the best entries in this great series!

If you'd like to hear more about Yakuza Kiwami 2, check out my review here.

1. God of War


When the E3 trailers showing a new God of War game with a new Kratos in a new world with a new combat style surfaced, I was skeptical. I was confident that it would at least be a good game, but I had my doubts that it would be something great. As the game's release was upon us and practically unanimous perfect review scores started pouring in, I was still skeptical. Despite my skepticism however, I still pre-ordered the game fully prepared to enjoy it but simultaneously be disappointed that it didn't live up to the enormous hype that had been built around it.

God of War not only lives up to its gargantuan hype, it may even surpass it if that is even possible. The combat mechanics are deep and satisfying, and it continues to build upon itself and evolve as you progress through the game, so it never becomes stale. The world is beautiful, detailed, and filled to the brim with worthwhile content to explore, and I loved that it just flirted with the prospect of being an open-world game without actually being one in a market that is oversaturated with them. Taking a turn into Norse mythology, the story is excellent and at times very relatable. It takes a character like Kratos, the personification of angst and rebellion, and matures him in a way that feels organic while still remaining true to his original character.

This was one of those rare games where I spent practically every possible moment that I could playing it. It consumed my life so much that I finished the game and earned the platinum trophy in only about a week's time, which is no small feat for a game whose story alone is at least 20 hours on its own without factoring in all of the extra content. It was a great experience, and I loved every minute of it. God of War is not only the best game in the series, nor is it merely the best game I have played this year. It is easily one of the best games I have ever played.

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I'll admit, earlier in the year I had my doubts that 2018 would be a particularly good year for games, but now that it is over, there have definitely been some spectacularly great titles released this year. Probably not quite as good overall as 2017 in my opinion, but still a strong showing nonetheless. Now that 2018 is over and I'm completely burnt out from trying to keep up with as many new games as I can, I look forward to spending most of my gaming time in 2019 playing through my backlog and only playing the handful of new releases that particularly interest me. Expect to see reviews of some classic titles in the coming months!

See you next year, guys!


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Comments
 
Thanks for the list, Disposed.  I like reading these to glean new perspectives on games that I might already know about.  With that in mind:

Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age - The naive part of me was holding off for an English 3DS port (due to the retro look and the extra features), but it appears that is will not happen.  Whatever, c'est la vie.  I think I will pick this up PS4 later next year when I get eventually get a PS4, and after reading your bit on it I have been watching some gameplay videos.  I will miss the retro, but since it is unlikely the Switch (eventual, maybe) localization will see the extra features of the Japanese originals, I won't hold out for that (or the Switch, I think).  Man, I have too much to say on this...

Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon - I've had my sights on this for a while now, but haven't pulled the trigger yet (too many long games for Christmas).  I intend on playing it on my Vita.  Which port did you play?

Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom - If I can manage to finish the first Ni No this year on my PS3 (and the other games I have) I will pick this up in 2019.  I know it doesn't really have anything to do with the original, but I really dig the art.  It just looks great.

Octopath Traveler - I would have to say your complaints about this game are pretty common, but also the reason I find it interesting.  It really does seem an old "SaGa," so I am on board.  The only issue is despite a few awesome exclusives, I've kind of deep-sixed my plans for getting a Switch in 2019.  I might get this to (maybe) plan on my son's Switch, but with Dragon Quest Builders 2 landing in 2019 I just don't know.  We'll see, and thanks for the recommendation anyway.


 
@bombatomba: Hmmm...I didn't know that there were features missing from the NA release of DQXI. I'll have to look into that. Depending on how my January goes, I may do a full review of DQXI for my January article.

I originally played the Steam release of Bloodstained, but I've played a few levels of the PS4 version as well. I think the Vita would be a good match for it too.

You could certainly do a lot worse than Ni No Kuni II, and I look forward to hearing your thoughts on it.

I've never considered myself to be a Nintendo fanboy, but I think the Switch is a great console. It sounds like you already have one in your household though, but I suppose it couldn't hurt to have another if the kids are hogging it! Smiley

Thanks for reading!
 
The only game I played of the bunch this past year was Curse of the Moon...and I'm okay with that. I had plenty of gaming fun last year, and only feel like I missed out on a couple things. I'll eventually get to Octopath and God of War, and the other stuff may or may not ever grace my consoles, but there are tons of games to play regardless. I do appreciate the write-up, though, and your perspective on these games.

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