Full Title: Games I Liked in 2018 and also in 2017 because I didn’t do a list last year but it’s okay; time is an illusion and it’s not like you can’t also still buy 2017 games in 2018
This is a big list of games that I played that had an impact on me. Most aren’t really listed in terms of objective quality. Consider this a list of my top two Games of the Year in indies, followed by a lot of other stuff I felt like talking about as a sort of two-years-in-review. Doing this exercise, I realize what a full year it’s been, but I only notice this now upon taking time to reflect. I also make a lot of comments about other game writing in this article. Even though I don’t get around to writing so much myself these days, I see a lot of what other people are saying about games and I have feelings about the things they say.
Lots of games and some snark below the jump.
Indie Adventure GOTY
Return of the Obra Dinn
Believe the hype on this one – a solidly told mystery story with an arresting style and excellent soundtrack. Played just recently but very much enjoyed.
My cat, Josie, loves the minimalist indie aesthetic, but she didn’t seem too interested in this one until I got a “Fate Solved” message. At that point her ears perked up, she sat straight up, and took notice. From there on she seemed riveted for quite a while. Either something about the high contrast white on black really does it for her kitty eyes, or she’s secretly a Mystery Solving Cat who is only engaged when she gets results.
I tweeted that the other name for this game should be “Boatmurdered” but that tweet didn’t do big numbers so I guess that joke is only funny to me.
Honorable Mention here goes to Wandersong, a game that does the most interesting thing with Achievements I’ve seen in a super long time. I feel like nobody talked about this. I also feel like I can’t figure out how to without explaining a lot of context and ruining the joke. Anyway, I see you Wandersong, and it’s genius.
Indie Platformer GOTY
The MISSING: J.J. Macfield and the Island of Memories
I feel like I have to put Swery65 games on my lists forever because I like him so much. It’s been a nice surprise to see other reviewers put this one on their lists this year as well. I’m tempted to say The Missing was so critically acclaimed because it’s got a queer love story. However, I also feel that Swery (as always) does an excellent job with the use of the unreliable narrator and weaving in visual symbolism and action metaphor to tell a story about divided identity. Don’t Miss The Missing. Ha ha, game puns.
Why Not Celeste?
I saw Celeste played and TASed at the GDQ events, but I didn’t really play it until it started showing up on tons of other GOTY year lists. I don’t personally think I spent enough time with it yet. It does seem so far like a super solid well-tuned cleverly done game of the type of game that it is! I have been a little weirded out by how some of the press coverage of Celeste seems to treat it as if it is the first masocore video game ever. It is only now, at this late hour, that you come to me Wanting to Be The Guy? Some of us have Wanted to Be The Guy since before you first lifted a controller, you Polygon whelps.
GOTY Award for I Didn’t Buy a Switch Until 2018
Xenoblade Chronicles 2
I didn’t buy a Nintendo Switch until 2018. Now I don’t know what life was like before I had a Nintendo Switch. This year I got to experience both Mario Odyssey and Breath of the Wild, and I sunk a good deal of time into both of them. Both come highly recommended, if you missed them somehow.
But nothing hits my aesthetic square in the jaw as much as Xenoblade Chronicles 2, a game where you collect hot anime wives and train them to kill. The gang is all here: a sassy Welsh cat-girl, a doll-woman who feels like an accidental extended Jonathan Coulton joke, the 2018-obligatory sexy fishman (who dreams of starting a bakery), and That One Bunny Woman That Makes Everyone Mad. You know the one.
It’s to the point now where if everyone is super mad on the internet about the boobies or panty shots in a game, I buy the game. Then I love it. Don’t even be surprised. Just follow my Instagram where I regularly make and post the desserts from Xenoblade Chronicles 2.
Why Not Octopath?
Still haven’t played it. I can only do one massive JRPG at a time. I just got Fire Emblem Warriors so I’m good for a while.
GOTY Award for Extremely My Shit But I Didn’t Play it Until 2018 Even Though It’s a 2017 Game
Heyyyy speaking of panty shots did you hear about NieR: Automata? It’s great. And I haven’t played the C-side story yet where it supposedly gets even better. It’s been a busy year.
Shout-out to the game journalists that never understand when you’re supposed to play a video game more than once to see the real ending, which required Square-Enix PR to put a super heavy-handed signed note at the end of the first go-round that said this game is not over: play it again you idiots.
GOTY Award for I Just Bought This Because of My Friends But The Teaming System Is Pretty Bad Therefore I Didn’t Play It As Much As I Had Hoped To
Monster Hunter: World
I like the game a lot just why is teaming so difficult somehow in 2018? City of Heroes had this fixed a decade ago!
Sadly, despite the presence of cute cat friends, my real cat didn’t care at all about this one. It’s not hipster enough for her!
Runner up same award goes to Fallout 76 which I bought for the same reason but had the same problems, except I also didn’t really click with the game in general. Whereas I’d play Monster Hunter again if people asked.
I don’t know where this person came from. She seemed to appear out of nowhere with an amazingly polished game channel on YouTube. However, I feel like she’s the YouTube reviewer I deeply identify with in 2018.
I probably should mention at this point I did some light IT work at Zenimax this year as part of my day job. That technically puts me closer than most to the development of Fallout 76. I don’t know if that comes across as an important and critical disclosure or a weird humblebrag. I didn’t actually work on the game. The bugs are not my fault.
GOTY Award for Yeah, That Did Come Out This Year
Far Cry 5
I know this didn’t make a lot of people’s lists but I kinda enjoyed it: so there. I still haven’t finished it! But I did spend a lot of time laughing my ass off while I got killed by bears and turkeys in the Montana wilderness. That seemed worth it to me.
I would like to note that I tried to take a fresh screencap of it for the article, but it crashed, so that’s a bit of a bad sign.
A lot of reviews seemed confused by this game’s politics, so maybe I’m just the only person that understands Far Cry 5. I will eventually write a full review of Far Cry 5.
Meanwhile on the other side of Ubisoft land, this is the year that I officially have to admit I can’t tell the Assassin’s Creed games apart. I don’t play them, but my husband does, so I pick one up for him every year. This year the release was Odyssey, but I accidentally bought Origins at Best Buy before getting him Odyssey. They both start with O, and I admit I just didn’t remember which one was the new one. That’s right: I, a video game expert, made the mistake non-gamer aunts typically make, while trying to purchase a game for my beloved spouse.
Imagine me on Christmas morning, logging into the Steam sale to correct this error with a digital download code. Then imagine me also buying like five more games while I was there because there was other stuff I meant to check out and figured I might as well. Curse/bless the Steam Sale.
Now, the list that I had written down for 2017 but never posted, with very brief and all-new commentary:
GOTY Awards 2017 for Platformers that made me curse a lot
Cuphead and Samus Returns
I know I work for Microsoft and therefore it probably comes across as shilling when I post Cuphead stuff. But I love classic animation. Cuphead is real and he is my friend.
It’s strange, but I feel as if I’m already seeing Cuphead already inspire elements in other games. I played Megaman 11 this year, and though the faux-retro 9 and 10 Megaman games had a masocore bend, 11 has some seriously Cuphead-ass-shit in it, in the 3-stage mid-boss kind of way.
Samus Returns is more Metroid which is great, though the endgame pacing is sort of weird.
GOTY Awards 2017 for Too Much Text for Streaming
Torment: Tides of Numinera and Little Red Lie
Streaming games a lot these last few years has somewhat changed my approach to how I play games. This isn’t necessarily for the better, but it is what it is. Now I sometimes feel guilty if I play a game without streaming it. My leisure is also for the enjoyment of others! Some games which I personally enjoy don’t play well in a live stream, but I enjoyed them anyway. This is particularly true if the game is text heavy, and I don’t feel like reading everything aloud.
Torment was made by Tap-Repeatedly friends. It has so much text and dialog in it that it’s definitely more a game that you read more than anything else. The combat was not always fun and sometimes the game would get itself locked up and at one point I thought I’d entirely destroyed a run due to a bug. Overall, though, super interesting game set in a fantastic world.
Little Red Lie is a story-based game where the primary characters are very unlikable. That may not be entirely your jam and at times it made the game hard to play, even for me, a video game asshole. I respect that. My husband absolutely could not stand this and that made streaming the game very funny to me. Thanks for watching my stream, honey.
GOTY Awards 2017 for Traditional RPG
Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition and Cosmic Star Heroine
Your mileage on the word “traditional” varies with both of these selections. I’m putting in a shout-out here to Dungeons & Dragons for both 2107 and 2018. Though not a video game, it’s one of the games I’ve played the most these last two years in general. It’s amazing to see the community that has been built up around 5th ed bringing us old D&D faithfuls and younger gamers together in a positive way.
Cosmic Star Heroine, which I confess I backed on Kickstarter, is just a nice solid JRPG from people who make nice solid JRPGs. Tight pacing, good spin on the combat system.
GOTY Awards 2017 for Weird RPG
Pyre and West of Loathing
Pyre is an RPG based on a fictional sports league. It’s a bit like if Final Fantasy X were only focused on the Blitzball parts, but with heavy character drama. I played it last year near the end as part of my annual “checking out what got acclaim elsewhere” lineup. Even looking back from a year later, I think this is worth a visit if you didn’t catch it the first time. It’s interesting and strange.
As for West of Loathing, Holy Crap I keep putting off writing about this game! It’s great though, I promise.
GOTY Award for Game I Just Replayed This Year Because It Was Re-released Recently and I Love It
999: 9 Hours 9 Persons 9 Doors
I love the entire Zero Escape series, including the first. Since it takes place on a boat and also involves murder, I could describe it as Obra Dinn But Extremely Anime. Except I might also describe Ghost Trick that way, but that’s an aside. I originally made a joke here about the Titanic theme song, but I think it’s another one of those jokes that’s only funny to me. It requires the context that 999 is supposed to take place on the Titanic and also is about opening doors. Anywho, this game is now on Steam and still great, though I do miss what the 3DS did to the format of the final puzzle segment in particular.
GOTY Awards for Games I Apparently Am Still Putting Off from 2017?
Wow: I still didn’t play Divinity 2 yet. Like, I didn’t even remember to buy it, until I saw a note I left for myself last year that I should remember to try Divinity 2. Also I still have The Witcher 3 from years ago! It’s even installed! But the problem with either/both of these games is that they both are huge and seem like a big commitment and I can only handle one game like that at a time. The nice thing about the Switch is if I have time for a meaty RPG, I just might be on an airplane, and therefore the Switch is convenient. PC RPGs (or big open world high-fidelity games like RDR2), even though I love them, just seem like a commitment I’m not ready for now, forever.
I Don’t Have a PS4 Yet
So that’s why no Spider-Man, no Dad of Boy, etc. Maybe next year, since I always seem to be short at least one must-have console!
Another Brief Comment About Doing Frequent Twitch Streaming
I’m still trying to get a feel for what sorts of games are the most fun to stream.
Sometimes with a puzzle game I don’t stream the whole game because I feel like my audience doesn’t want to see spoilers, even though I generally click with those sorts of games otherwise. This is also because I worry that it’s got to be boring to an audience to see me struggle with something. However, since then I’ve realized that sometimes people who have finished a game do like to watch other people’s blind playthroughs because they enjoy watching you figure things out the way that they did. It might have been worth it to have recorded the look on my face when, during Obra Dinn, it finally clicked to me what a “Topman” is. But I wasn’t recording at the time.
No, not that.
OK, that was a pretty roundabout way to make a Megaman/Smash Bros. joke. Thank you for reading.
Smash Ultimate: GOTY 2018 Award for Game I Bought Just to Listen to the Soundtrack but Suck at Playing.
If you want to watch me struggle at video games, I still plan to stream on Twitch next year. We’ll figure out what’s fun together.
Email the author of this post at aj@Tap-Repeatedly.com.