I played a lot of video games last year. Similarly to the ranking of books I read, I would like to write some short impressions of every title I played in 2018 to give people an idea of what kinds of games I love and hate. This list will be in five parts and start with my least favorite games, working all the way up to my favorite titles of the year. Keep in mind that I will only be discussing the games that I played either until the credits rolled or I felt like I had seen enough to form an opinion in the case of experiences that don’t have a traditional ending. I will be including a link to purchase each game on the platform I played them on, so definitely check these titles out if you find them interesting!
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70. Quiet City
A frequent debate amongst gamers is where we should be drawing the line as to what should and should not be considered a game. While my personal definition is lax because I tend to enjoy the “walking simulators” that some like to complain about, calling Quiet City a game is really stretching it. Walking around and pressing a button to make something happen is barely even interactive, much less a game. I got this as a bonus Humble Original title, meaning that it isn’t available for purchase or download without access to the Humble Trove. The developer behind this made Stephen’s Sausage Roll, which is something I’m quite interested in playing, so I will probably get another chance to be impressed in the future.
69. Sorry, James
I rarely finish a game where I can’t find anything good to say about it, but Sorry, James is one of those rarities. The plot seems like it was trying to be interesting, but it ran alongside numerous science-fiction tropes that have been done far better in other games, including ones I played this year. Sometimes a bad plot can be redeemed with good gameplay, but the sodoku-inspired puzzles weren’t interesting or rewarding to solve at any point.
68. Numba Deluxe
After Sorry, James, things can only go up from here! I am a sucker for a casual puzzle title because I love having something to do while idly watching my TV. While there’s nothing functionally wrong with Numba Deluxe, it just failed to hold my attention because it was too simplistic in nature. There are plenty of better puzzle games out there that are worth your time, so go play those and skip this one.
Oh, Peggle, I wanted to love you so much. As I said before, I’m huge fan of casual puzzle games, and that’s Popcap’s specialty. The problem here is that Peggle relies so heavily on luck that it forgets it’s a puzzle game. There are strategies that can be employed in order to maximize the chances that a shot is successful, but whether I cleared a board successfully or not often relied on where the randomly located power-up shots were on the board and whether my ball decided to go on the right or left side of a peg. This isn’t a bad game, but it wasn’t what I wanted out of the genre.
66. Galactic Missile Defense
What I played of Galactic Missile Defense was actually entertaining. The mechanics were solid and there was a reasonably addicting gameplay loop built in here. Unfortunately, there’s very little actual game to play. This feels like something that was made by someone who was learning to code and wanted to make a title that was small in scope. I like to support smaller indie developers and would be thrilled to see if Black Sheep Games does anything new in the future, but this one isn’t impressive.
Generally, I like walking simulators and games that feel more akin to an interactive movie. Unfortunately, Virginia was a miss for me. I appreciate what the title was trying to do through telling a story without any dialogue, but I felt like it wasn’t done all that well. A better example of the same concept executed better is A Bird Story, and I’d recommend picking this up over Virginia.
64. Rusty Lake: Roots
Rusty Lake: Roots is a game I thought I would like. I was told it was a dark point-and-click adventure game, and that’s not inaccurate. What I didn’t expect, however, was that this game is actually a bit gross at times. It has blood, guts, and dismemberment, which is something that I can generally handle in my video games, but this one freaked me out a little. This is actually a great title and one I’d recommend to people who can stomach it, but I am not one of those people.
63. Burly Men at Sea
When I saw that Burly Men at Sea was free via PlayStation Plus, I was really excited. The art style and music is gorgeous, and the plot was engaging in its simplicity. Ultimately, regardless of how good the other elements are, it just wasn’t fun to play. The characters walked slowly from place to place and the control scheme on the PS4 was weird and a chore to use. While there is some replayability encouraged, playing through the game one time will only take about twenty minutes. Therefore, I wouldn’t pick it up unless you’re either really sold on the concept or it’s nearly free.
A genre I’ve discovered recently through Torchlight is the top-down Action-RPG. I’ve now played several titles of this variety, and by far, DeathSpank is the worst one that I have encountered. For a while, I found it to be enjoyable because I loved the tongue-in-cheek sense of humor that the game employs. After five hours or so, however, I realized that I was only a third of the way through the game and the gameplay wasn’t going to evolve beyond what I had already done. Not only that, but it was also overly heavy on the grinding, requiring me to spend long periods of time killing the same enemies with boring combat in order to reach a high enough level to continue with the story. If its sense of humor wasn’t so strong, I would never have finished this game.
61. The Norwood Suite
The Norwood Suite was just too weird for me. I got it via a Humble Monthly at some point and gave it a try because I knew it was a short game. Based on the screenshots, I really wasn’t sure what to expect, and six months later, I’m still at a loss as to how I would adequately describe what this game is like. It’s a walking simulator through the strangest environment that I have ever seen. A lot of this title felt like putting objects that don’t belong together in the same place just for the sake of being random, and while this was enough to keep me interested in finishing the game, it did nothing to get me engaged in the actual narrative.
60. Dear Esther: Landmark Edition
I played Dear Esther years ago and couldn’t stand it. Its narrative was pretentious and the character walked far too slowly for his own good. This year, I decided to give its remaster a shot to see if I would enjoy the game more now that I’ve become comfortable with the walking simulation genre. Well, I didn’t like it less, given that I’m not sure that’s possible, but I still couldn’t find much to enjoy about it beyond that the island I was wandering around was beautiful. This is a shame for me, as I love Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, which is by the same development team.
59. Night in the Woods
Night in the Woods is probably my biggest disappointment of the year. Everyone was raving about this game when it first came out, and the slice-of-life story that it promised to tell sounded like my perfect game. A lot of my issues with it boil down to its length. This title was twice as long as it needed to be, and at half the length, I would have enjoyed it significantly more. There really is a lot going for it, with relatable and adorable characters, music that still gets stuck in my head, and a story that, while bloated, is emotional in nature. It’s not a bad game and I’d still recommend trying it out on a sale.
I went through a phase in 2018 where I dabbled in visual novels to mixed success. This was one of the less enjoyable ones. The good news is that it’s free and only takes approximately fifteen minutes of your time. Unfortunately, it is also not a memorable story. Honestly, I have nothing bad or good to say about this game because I barely remember playing it, even though it’s only been a few months. Given that it’s free, I would recommend trying it and forming your own opinion.
57. Halo: Reach
I’ve played every entry in the Halo franchise so far, and while I am by no means a huge fan of the series, Halo: Reach is undoubtedly my least favorite. I had high hopes because the franchise’s other side story, Halo: ODST, is my favorite of the bunch due to its unique take on storytelling. There’s nothing special to this game, with the soundtrack being one of the weakest I have heard in a AAA title and the levels being lazily crafted. The story is the high point here, but given that everyone who plays the series knows how the game ends before it even starts, the whole plot felt anticlimactic in nature. It’s worth playing for anyone who wants to complete the whole series, but for more casual fans, this one can be skipped.
With that, part one is done! I still have lots of games to cover, so look forward to that! What are the most disappointing games you played this year? Let me know in the comments below!