All right, we are officially at the best of the best games that I played in 2018. Each of these titles blew me away in every possible way, with the top two both becoming new all-time favorites. There’s a decent mix of different genres here, which shows how varied my gaming tastes can be depending on my mood and interests. As always, I’ll include a link to purchase each game on the platform I initially played it on, and since these are my favorite titles of the year, I would obviously recommend them all. I’m excited to discuss my experience with each of these games, so let’s get started!
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14. Tomb Raider
When I first started up the Tomb Raider reboot, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I remember playing around in Lara Croft’s mansion during her PS1 days, but the games themselves were too difficult for me as a child and I never played them extensively. Still, with the gritty reboot’s trilogy finally completed in 2018, I decided to give the first entry a try and I was absolutely blown away. Normally, I’m a huge coward and the survival horror undertones here should have, by all rights, forced me to stop playing almost immediately. Instead, I was captivated and couldn’t stop playing until the credits rolled. Everything about this game feels like a love story to a classic franchise, from the fantastic gunplay to the horrific and horror-tinged story. I’m hoping to get to the rest of the trilogy in 2019, and if they’re half as good as this title, I’m in for a wild ride.
13. Assassin’s Creed II
Assassin’s Creed II took me five years to finish. This isn’t an exaggeration, either. I played it one mission at a time over a period of five years, sometimes taking long breaks from the game in order to play something else. The funny thing is, in spite of the weird manner in which I approached this title, I absolutely adored every minute that I spent exploring as Ezio Auditore. Before playing this, I was convinced that I would never enjoy any stealth-focused adventure, but now, I’m thinking I should probably give franchises like Far Cry and Hitman another chance because I may have misjudged them previously. Convincing me to enjoy an entire genre and gameplay style that I previously disliked is definitely worthy of being one of the best games I finally finished this year.
12. Life is Strange: Before the Storm
After I finished Life is Strange, I just needed more. I wanted to know more about the characters, the school, and the strange powers that Max possesses. Thankfully, Life is Strange: Before the Storm gave me a chance to revisit the town of Arcadia Bay and the residents that live there. There’s not a lot I can say here without spoiling the events of the first title, but stepping into Chloe’s shoes was a clever idea on the writer’s part because it allowed me to experience a number of events referenced in the original game from a different perspective. I’m not sure that everyone will enjoy this title as much as I did, especially since I think it raises more questions than it answered in the long run, but it’s still another look into a world that I’ve come to adore and I love it for this.
11. Mass Effect
I don’t replay games all that often, but I do make an effort to revisit a few of my favorites every year in order to see how they hold up. My run of Mass Effect is the start of a full playthrough of the trilogy as a renegade Shepard. For those that aren’t familiar with this series, there’s a binary morality system between paragon and renegade, where paragon options are team-focused and generally kinder, whereas renegade options tend to favor getting the job done quickly, no matter what the cost. Usually, I play as a paragon, but I actually found that the tough Shepard that just wants to complete the mission and save the world was a lot of fun to experience and I think I enjoyed it more than my paragon run. I’ll try and play the rest of the trilogy this year in order to see how the renegade options hold up over the other games.
10. What Remains of Edith Finch
What Remains of Edith Finch is my other replay of this year. I actually thought about not including replays since they will often rank up near the top, but I actually think it’s interesting to see how they rank up against the newer titles that I played in a given year. Honestly, the more I play through this narrative adventure, the more I fall in love with it. Edith Finch’s story, as a teenage girl that has lost everyone in her family, is heart-wrenching, especially since the game forces us to play through every death as it happens. So many times, I would be playing as a character and I could tell where the scene was going, but there was absolutely nothing that I could do to stop the inevitable. There’s a question at the center of the game about whether there’s really a family death curse or not, but I was far more interested in the feeling of powerlessness that comes from knowing a character’s fate and being unable to stop it. If anyone reading this hasn’t played this game before, of everything on this list, this is probably the one that I most strongly believe everyone should play.
9. Slime Rancher
I love farming games, and Slime Rancher definitely deserves a place among the greats. The central gimmick of this game is, as the title may suggest, ranching slimes. Go out into a vast overworld, grab some adorable slimes, and throw them in pens. After that, the trick is simply keeping the slimes fed and happy so they don’t try and revolt. This may sound like a simplistic game, but this is one of the most addicting gameplay loops that I have ever come across. Even after I rolled the credits on this one, I found myself coming back to continue making more money because I wanted to buy more farm upgrades and unlock hidden secrets. It also still gets updates every few months so there may be more content for me to dive into in the future. I’ll definitely continue to play this throughout 2019.
8. Torchlight II
I played the original Torchlight years ago and fell in love. It was my first action-RPG of this nature and I got hopelessly addicted to the endless grind for better equipment. Finally, I got around to Torchlight II, and while I will admit that it grew on me more slowly than its predecessor, I still ultimately found myself as in love as ever. The use of an open world instead of a series of seemingly never-ending dungeon floors is definitely a gameplay improvement, as it gave me more of a sense of progression. I also love the variety in character classes, as I can definitely see myself replaying the game again simply to try a totally different gameplay style.
7. Disgaea 1 PC
My history with the Disgaea series is extensive. I actually initially owned the first game on my PSP and almost finished it. Unfortunately, I wasn’t great at the strategy aspect of this title and messed up my character leveling so badly that it would have taken ages to fix it. Ultimately, this led to me putting it down and never finishing it until my husband bought me a copy of Disgaea 1 PC and I finally got a chance to correct my childhood mistakes. At the moment, I’m eighty-five hours and counting into this title and, while I have beaten the fantastic main story, I haven’t even scratched the surface on the meaty post-game content, which is where a lot of the real challenge lies. Getting up to level 9999, maxing out my equipment using the randomized dungeons inside of every item, and fighting my way through the hardest dungeons in the game are just a few of the items left on my to-do list before I can finally say that I have completed this strategy RPG.
6. Life is Strange
A few years ago, I tried Life is Strange and couldn’t make it past the first hour. I just figured it wasn’t for me and moved on with my life. One day, however, my husband and I were bored and needed to find something to do together. Since he loves games that include time manipulation, I decided that I would give Life is Strange one more chance to make a good impression by playing it with him. Little did I know that this would become one of my favorite games of the year. Over the course of twenty hours, this game’s story took me on an emotional rollercoaster that made me laugh and broke my heart numerous times. Playing through the experience with my husband made it even better because we were theorizing what would happen together the whole time. To this day, there are still unsolved mysteries with this game’s lore that we are trying to puzzle out together, and we have a wonderful time working on it.
5. Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc
Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc is the game that started a year-long obsession. I’ve actually been considering playing this game since it first became localized, but was always afraid that I wouldn’t like playing through a visual novel. Well, I was horribly wrong and I wish I had played this game sooner. This is a dark, twisting, and incredibly addicting title about trying to solve murders in high-stakes trials. The highlight here is the character roster. The creators of the game put a lot of effort into making every person the protagonist, Makoto, interacts with interesting and engaging enough that it’s heart-wrenching when one of them dies and a class trial ensues to figure out which classmate is the murderer. It’s rare that I play a title that I think is so unique that I will legitimately never play another series quite like it, but Danganronpa manages to create an atmosphere that will never be matched.
4. Stardew Valley
I grew up on Harvest Moon, so it’s a no-brainer that I would love Stardew Valley. This is a love letter to farming titles, taking everything people love about the genre and improving upon it. Pelican Town is packed with adorable characters to interact with and a vast multitude of activities to do. The best part of this game, by far, is how relaxing it is. There is an overarching plot here, but there’s no time pressure. It is liberating to be able to do whatever I want in my own time, and I still find myself back at my farm occasionally to interact with my neighbors and farm for a while.
3. Ratchet and Clank (2016)
Ratchet and Clank is the biggest surprise of the year, without a doubt. I never played this series much as a kid and I’m not great at and typically don’t enjoy shooters, but I found myself glued to the screen, trying to destroy everything in sight. If I had to guess, my love for this game stems primarily from the leveling system. I am the type of person who loves nothing more than to sit back with Netflix and grind out some levels. Since this title has an individual skill tree for every weapon, there’s plenty of leveling to be done here. There’s also a new game plus mode that doubles the level cap of the weapons, so I’m certain I’ll be back for more in the near future.
2. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
I don’t often play more than a small handful of games when they release in a given year because I would rather wait and buy them on sale. My original plan was to actually buy Spider-Man on release, but when I saw a trailer for Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, I knew that this was the game for me. With most open-world games, I will play a mission here and there over a longer period of time, but once I started Kassandra’s story, I knew I wouldn’t be able to stop playing until I had seen it through. Everything about the title’s execution combines to one of the best gaming experiences that I have ever had. The ancient Greece setting is beautiful, characters are interesting, and the world was full of a wide variety of activities to participate in. I also appreciated that the game didn’t force the stealth down my through constantly. While I did plenty of stealthy takedowns, I also found that direct combat and archery are both completely viable playstyles. Even as I write this, all I want to do is go and play some more side quests because there’s still so much left to do in this world, even after over one-hundred hours.
1. Super Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Paradise
Picking my favorite game of 2018 was an exceptionally difficult job this year, as Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and this game are both new favorites of mine. Still, I can’t help but place Super Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair at the top of the list. Danganronpa just caught me completely off-guard and I can’t believe how much I enjoy it. Each of the three entries has its merits. The first game has the creepiest atmosphere, as the abandoned school actually gave off a bit of a survival horror vibe, whereas the third game had the greatest number of characters I had an emotional attachment to, therefore making it all the more devastating when the majority of them meet their inevitable doom. Overall, however, the best experience is still the second entry, and it follows something of a Goldilocks principle. Murder trials weren’t as predictable as in the first game, yet not as formulaic as the third. The story had better pacing than in the first entry, but also wasn’t as convoluted as the third entry. Above all else, my favorite character in the franchise, Chiaki, debuts in this game and she elevates the title to greatness by herself. Overall, I think about this title regularly and it has set a new standard for narratives, which is why Super Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair is the best game I played in 2018.
Well, we have officially come to the end of my list! I hope that you all enjoyed reading my thoughts on these games. 2018 is going to be a year to beat, as I played a number of titles and franchises that I would consider to be new favorites. I can’t wait to see what awesome experiences 2019 brings to me!
What were your favorite games of the year? Let me know in the comments below!