2018 Community Game of the Year

garion333 wrote:
Dominic Knight wrote:

1. Shadow of the Tomb Raider: The best game in the trilogy by far. The story was tight, and I loved every moment of this game. I played the whole thing in four days, shirking my grad school assignments for how intense some of the cinematics were. I'm definitely going to play this again.

Interesting, I kept hearing how it was more of the same and a step back.

I've installed Board Kings now. Looks a tad like Itadaki Street but not as hardcore crazy.

X2 interesting. I had written off Shadow based on the buzz even though I liked the Tomb reboot. Hmm.

FWIW Shadow of the Tomb Raider is my favorite of the recent trilogy, too. I didn't encounter any torture porn, there were more tombs, and the tombs were more interesting, and I enjoyed the story more than the other two games, because Shadow focused on fewer characters.

Some didn't like the combat in tombs, but it didn't bother me. There was very little of it, it was toward the very end of the game, and it was for the most part heavily telegraphed. I thought the tomb denizens were used very cleverly in a couple places to provide traversal puzzles.

I'm glad I held off posting until later in the month; it gave me time to think more about Smash Ultimate, and actually resulted in a game being put on the list that had been on the outside looking in. And I love seeing everyone else's lists, especially those who play a bunch of stuff that are several years old. It's one of the best ways I find new games to play, especially on the cheap!

Just the list:

Spoiler:

1. Metal Gear Solid V
2. Smash Bros Ultimate
3. Mass Effect 3
4. Far Cry 4
5. Vanquish
6. Okami
7. Shadowrun: Hong Kong
8. Pyre
9. Golf Story
10. Fire Emblem Conquest

10. Fire Emblem Fates: Conquest – My opinion of this game seems to be in line with the general consensus; the gameplay is great, the music was good, the characters are meh, and the story is actively bad. The characters being uninteresting is odd, since that is usually something the Fire Emblem games does well. The story actually had a lot of promise (the marketing suggested that you would play the good guys, reforming an evil empire from within), but the actual story executed on little of that promise. Instead, most missions went something like this. Sort of spoiler warning:

-Bad guy – Main Character, go kill those innocent people.
-Main Character – I don’t want to, that would be bad.
-Bad guy – Do it anyway, or I’ll kill you for treason. And I’ll also eat this kitten.
-Main Character – Okay, I’ll do it. (kills innocent people)
-Bad guy – Oh. They weren’t supposed to survive the mission. Oh well, I’ll eat this kitten as a consolation.
-Main character – This was bad. I hope they will stop doing bad things eventually.

The fact that this is still on my top ten should say how great the actual missions and level design were. The combat mechanics were also tweaked from FE Awakening, and making pair up less broken, and made a lot of tactical considerations much more important and interesting. And it was a hard game; I’m a veteran to the series, but I played on Normal mode and was still given a run for my money on a lot of missions. Honestly, if the story had been merely mediocre, this game probably would have been top 5 for this year.

9. Golf Story – This one snuck up on me, and wasn’t on my radar until I saw some GWJers talk about it awhile back. The golfing mechanics are solid (and chip ins are way too easy), and the writing and story is way more charming than it had any right to be.

8. Pyre – I played this at the beginning of the year, so I may miss some of the specifics, but I remember that it did the normal Supergiant games, where the music and presentation is fantastic, the story is good, and the gameplay was interesting. I also enjoyed the individual stories of each character, and thinking about the way the story can play out depending of how the rites go is actually pretty interesting.

7. Shadowrun: Hong Kong – This is my second Shadowrun game (I played Dragonfall last year), and I had no exposure to the IP before that, so I’m largely just going off of what I have seen in game. I liked this game for many of the same reasons I liked Dragonfall, since the setting and mechanics are great, and the combat is XCOM-styled, with a turn based cover shooter with more abilities and more forgiveness. And while I preferred the epic story from Dragonfall to Hong Kong’s more personal story, I can still highly recommend to anyone to give this a try, especially those who don’t like how fiddly CRPGs can be.

6. Okami HD – As a longtime Zelda fan, I always wanted to play Okami, but never had a PS2 so never could. Then suddenly they released an HD version on Steam! I enjoyed the exploration in this game, and I was surprised how much bigger the game kept getting. I also found that the combat worked surprisingly well for how simple it was, and the aesthetic was striking. I had to go back and look up what a bunch of the references in the game were, and apparently it was just packed to the gills with Japanese methodology. It did drag on at the end, though, and was shockingly hand-holdy, even deep into the game.

5. Vanquish - I’m going to cheat and just repost what I put in the finished games thread:

There’s a lot of things I don’t know about Vanquish. I don’t know much about the plot, since 98% of it is shooting Russian robots in space. I don’t know if there are any actual characters in the game or attempts at development. I don’t even know if there is music in the game, because it was drowned out by the constant rattle of gunfire. What I do know is that Vanquish is the best robot shooting simulator that I have ever played, and it knows the right time when to ramp up the action (read: always). I do know that hiding behind cover is the wrong way to play Vanquish, and that you should never stop boosting. And I know that the game is the perfect length for what it wants to be.

4. Far Cry 4 - Far Cry 4 is peak Ubisoft, and that’s okay. There was a time when Ubisoft's model of climb tower/get objectives on a map/repeat didn't appeal to me, or felt like too much filler. For comparison, I adored Breath of the Wild's style of 'go figure it out' instead. But sometimes life gets busy or crazy, and all you want from a video game is to let you sit down and do video game things with the video game skills you’ve picked up over the years and not have to think about it too much, with waypoints and map markers showing you the way to where the next tiny hit of dopamine is. For those times, Far Cry 4 is perfect, and is a lot of fun.

3. Mass Effect 3 - This was my year of the Mass Effect trilogy, where I went back and replayed ME 1 and 2 with all the DLC, before jumping into 3 (with all the DLC, since I bought it after they started allowing people to pay actual money for it, and not just with EA Points or whatever nonsense they had been running for years). And I went in long having been spoiled on the ending, but knowing nothing about the journey there. ME1 wasn’t quite as good as I remembered from my first playthrough, but I still enjoyed the sense of openness. I actually liked ME2 better the second time around than the first, since playing it right after the first game let me appreciate how smartly it tightened up the mechanics to remove a bunch of boring decisions and inventory management.

I enjoyed ME 3 way more than I thought it would, knowing about the ending. I was impressed how the game really did try to tie up a lot of loose ends in the story, and although they awkwardly shoehorned in every old character they could think of and reduced your interactions to a war score, it still sort of worked out. I was also impressed by how effective the return to earth was, the fight to the reaper, and the final confrontation managed to make everything land…..right up until the actual ending, of course. Even with the extended ending edition, it still felt like it was missing about 20 minutes of cutscenes. Still, I was prepared, and everything up to that was fantastic.

And the Citadel DLC was one of the most joyfully and fantastically fanservicey things I have ever seen. It only really works in games where you come to know and care about the characters, but other games with recurring characters really should be taking notes and doing something like that more often.

2. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate – I’ve played the Smash Bros games since the N64, and while I really only spent a lot time with Melee and Brawl, I was really looking forward to this one. Having sat down with the game now, I’m impressed both by the massive roster, and all the tiny details they have crammed into this game. Not only in the character movesets and level design, but the unusually clever themed Classic mode, and the massive single-player World of Light, which makes call backs to a staggering number of first and third party offerings that have graced the Nintendo platforms over the years. The volume of sheer inspiration it took to create all of the unique fights that are designed to represent old characters and their games is mind boggling.

But as impressive as the single player offering is here, the meat and potatoes is still in the multiplayer, and the game is still great at that, arguably better than it’s ever been. The large and diverse cast gives you many playstyles to choose from, the game modes are very flexible in letting you choose your preferred style of controlled chaos. And mechanically, it feels better than it ever has, a good middle ground between the unforgiving precision of Melee and the floatiness of Brawl. Now, it has to be said that the online modes have had some issues; most of the games I’ve played were fine, a few had temporary lag spikes, and about 10 percent of my matches were unplayable slideshows. But at the end of the day, SSBU gives the hardcore players something deep to master, new players something to laugh along with as they button mash and explode randomly, and a tight and satisfying platform fighter for everyone in between. Best played with friends.

1. Metal Gear Solid V - I had never played a MGS game before this one, but I had watched Drew and Dan from Giant Bomb play through all of them a few years ago, so I was familiar with the lore and the anime nonsense that the series is known for. And I’m not at all a stealth gamer, so I enjoyed that the game gave me lots of tools to support my fledgling stealth game, as well as they toys to use when that failed and it was time to go loud. I also like how much of an action-sandbox it was. I sunk 60 hours into the game, and the first 55 hours flew by like it was nothing. That doesn’t happen with me very often. Fultoning everything was fun, and even if I didn't go crazy with some of the wackier tools like the decoys or rocket punches, just having them there was great. The story, on the other hand, wasn't to my taste. Not in a Kojima vs. MGS continuity sort of way, but more in the way the cutscenes just seemed to revel in their own grimness too much for my liking. Still, I loved my time with the game. And since I got it on sale for $7.50, it was easily worth the price. This was my GOTY.

Brief thoughts on other games I played this year:

Spoiler:

11. Stellaris - I only did half a playthrough of a game, and but I loved the exploration portion of the game. Once I got to the midgame I lost momentum and wandered off to play something else. I actually tried to replay it in December with the 2.2 patch to solidify it's place on the list, but I bounced off twice, which is why it was the one to drop off my top ten for FE Conquest.
12. Pokemon UltraSun - It's a better version of Sun and Moon, and the postgame is actually hard, but that's probably not enough for most people to justify a second dip unless you play competitively. As for me, Pokemon games are a sort of nostalgic comfort food, so finding it half off on eBay was excuse enough to revisit Alola.
13. Animal Crossing: New Leaf - Fun little filler game during commutes.
14. Civilization VI - I actually liked my time in Civ 6, and the mechanics that encouraged you to try different things to boost research time was inspired. But my 1.5 playthroughs were enough to remind me that I don't like clicking the Next Turn button and waiting for things to happen in 4x games, which is why I think I now like the Paradox style better.
15. BoxBoy - I don't really like 2-D platformers or puzzle games, and it's both, but the simplicity and charm let me enjoy my time with it.
16. Fortnite - Played some with friends, but it's not a good time for long multiplayer games, so I didn't really stick with it
17. Pokemon Omega Ruby - Meh
18. Bioshock Remastered - Technically not new to me since I played the original years ago, but this isn't being counted so whatever. Remember from the MGSV review where I said I don't like overly grim games? Yeah, I finished it, but I really didn't enjoy revisiting Rapture at all.

That is a spot-on summary of the story of Fates Conquest.

And yet FE Warriors is littered with Fates characters. Whee!

THE LIST!

1. Monster Hunter World
2. Return of the Obra Dinn
3. Hollow Knight
4. Yakuza Kiwami
5. Dragon Ball FighterZ
6. What Remains of Edith Finch
7. Night In The Woods
8. Assassin's Creed: Origins
9. Tetris Effect
10. Dead By Daylight

THE BLURBS!

(spoilered to keep the length short)

Spoiler:

1. Monster Hunter World
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IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/qe7T3pL.png)

I have always been a fan of the Monster Hunter franchise since 3 Ultimate on the WiiU. However, I typically would stall out within 30ish hours just because I found myself spending more time gathering materials than actually fighting monsters. With Monster Hunter World, not only did the game get a much needed (and amazing) graphic update, but there were plenty of general quality of life upgrades that helped get you into the action a lot faster.

Also, the fact that I was able to unlock armor that turns my hunter into Ryu from Street Fighter was pretty great.

2. Return of the Obra Dinn
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Every time I try to write a little bit about this game it just makes it sound monotonous. "Take a look at these still action shots and try and deduce not only what is happening but identify the people are that are involved." However, the presentation and the way the mystery unfolds just did a great job of drawing me in and kept me intrigued during every play session. It was a game that I knew I needed to play either after the family went to bed or I had a good hour or two of completely uninterrupted time otherwise I would just get lost in trying to figure out what the heck happened on this ship.

3. Hollow Knight
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Hollow Knight remains one of my favorite Metroidvania games to date. I'm typically not a huge fan, but something about this one just really clicked with me. The soundtrack is amazing, the overall art design is fantasic, and the gameplay is simple while demanding a lot of skill to pull off some of the harder fights/platforming in the game. While I did struggle sometimes to find out exactly where I needed to go, the presentation of the game was enjoyable enough that I had no problem backtracking to find what I had missed.

4. Yakuza Kiwami
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Since Yakuza 0 was my #1 pick of 2017, I had some high expectations for any of the other remade Yakuza games. Yakuza Kiwami, a remake of the original PS2 game, did not disappoint. It was certainly more of the same this time around, which is just fine by me. Again the game has plenty of off the wall side quests and humor that hit all the right notes while at the same time having a pretty serious main storyline to balance it all out.

5. Dragon Ball FighterZ
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Dragon Ball FighterZ is very nearly a perfect fighting game. It takes a popular franchise, gives the player some easy to understand tools, and then you're immediately able start pulling off basic combos just by pushing a button. This is a very good fighting game to just play with some friends over a weekend without having to worry about knowing frame data or hitting specific timings for moves. That's not to say the option is not there if you want to dig deeper, but it's pretty easy to get everyone up to speed and throwing world-destroying fireballs as fast as possible.

6. What Remains of Edith Finch
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Clocky hits the nail on the head about my feelings on this game. I was so amazed by the design choices done in this game to give the player the feeling of being inside of another character's head as they process the world around them. Truly a masterpiece in video game storytelling.

7. Night In The Woods
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IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/f8sgKCk.gif)

8. Assassin's Creed: Origins
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Assassin's Creed: Origins was my comfort game this year. The game world itself was huge, even if the main story did not take place in every area. There was always plenty to do--I think a good majority of my play sessions I would just pick a few far off places on the map to explore, maybe do a side quest or two, then stop playing. There's not much more I can say about the game other than that--it was the game that I ultimately went to if I had some time to kill and didn't need to get into anything too involved.

9. Tetris Effect
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It is so weird for me to put this game on a GOTY list, but here we are. At it's core it is just Tetris--the game we've all been playing over the years, but this has been tweaked to near-perfection. This is a game that goes above and beyond with its presentation. Everything you do seems to have an effect on the playing field. The background and music evolves and changes based on how far you've progress and then the player has an effect as they rotate and move pieces as well. And then when you put on a VR headset and become completely immersed in the world it just makes the game incredible.

And it's doing all of this while the base game is just lining up pieces to make lines. It's great.

10. Dead By Daylight
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Dead By Daylight is just an amazing version of a co-op slasher survival game. It perfectly captures that feeling of being in an old-school slasher flick where everyone is doing their best to survive but not tip the main bad guy off where they're at. There was one particular session that really stuck out for me where a random player, while we were trying to fix the last generator, missed their repair action and blew the generator up, causing the repair gauge to drop a bit. There was a moment where we both just stopped what we were doing, the person's avatar faced me and then immediately took off toward the monster.

What I realized that had happened was whoever it was decided that they were going to distract the monster so that I could finish fixing a generator and possibly escape. Essentially the sacrificial choice at the end of the movie so that someone has a chance to escape. The best part? I found out later on in another game that you actually get experience for doing this so it's built into the game to have these kinds of decisions of "Well, I won't get to escape, but I'll still get something out of it if we win against this monster".

It was one of my highlights in gaming for this year for sure.

There were so many other games that could make this list, which is why it's taking me until almost the end of the year to get it done. I know just about every year I say it's been hard to come up with just 10, and this year has certainly been no exception. Looking forward to having this some difficulty in 2019

Also thank you to Eleima for keeping this thing going and tallying all the votes. This is always a fun read every year and I have great appreciation for the work that is involved in keeping up with all of this.

BadKen wrote:

FWIW Shadow of the Tomb Raider is my favorite of the recent trilogy, too. I didn't encounter any torture porn, there were more tombs, and the tombs were more interesting, and I enjoyed the story more than the other two games, because Shadow focused on fewer characters.

Some didn't like the combat in tombs, but it didn't bother me. There was very little of it, it was toward the very end of the game, and it was for the most part heavily telegraphed. I thought the tomb denizens were used very cleverly in a couple places to provide traversal puzzles.

QFT.

The puzzles were a lot of fun too. They used a lot of clever mechanics that took me a bit to put the pieces together, but I loved how they worked.

chooka1 wrote:
garion333 wrote:
Dominic Knight wrote:

1. Shadow of the Tomb Raider: The best game in the trilogy by far. The story was tight, and I loved every moment of this game. I played the whole thing in four days, shirking my grad school assignments for how intense some of the cinematics were. I'm definitely going to play this again.

Interesting, I kept hearing how it was more of the same and a step back.

I've installed Board Kings now. Looks a tad like Itadaki Street but not as hardcore crazy.

X2 interesting. I had written off Shadow based on the buzz even though I liked the Tomb reboot. Hmm.

A small iota of my love for this game was one particular scene that reminded me how gay I am for Lara, and the larger enjoyment of this game is that she's a loyal badass that will obliterate anyone in her way to protect those close to her. Damn I need to replay this after Uncharted Lost Legacy.

My list:

1. Horizon Zero Dawn: I remember seeing the trailers for this game a couple years ago and thinking that this type of open world game was not for me. Well, I was way wrong. This was some of the most fun that I have had playing a video game in awhile. I loved the combat, the various wild "animals", the beautifully drawn world and the little callbacks to how things were like "before." Aloy was a great character and I enjoyed her conversations with people in the world. Between the base game and the DLC Frozen Wilds, I easily sunk 120 hours into this game.

2. Ni No Kuni 2: The first game was fun but flawed. This game corrects a lot of the issues and adds a kingdom building Dark Cloud-like element to the game which was a nice touch. I found some of the sections to be a little uneven with level requirements (most of the time, the game was too easy) but it was a really pretty game, fun mechanics and interesting story. My 8 year old son also enjoyed this game so it gets extra points for that.

3. Gravity Rush 2: The first Gravity Rush was a lot of fun on Vita and I was a little nervous about how it would play on the PS4. Again, no reason to worry. I found the game to be more approachable this time with a story that was easier to follow, quests that were more fun and the right amount of challenge. The extra DLC Raven's Story was also well done.

4. Rainbow Skies: Rainbow Moon was a huge time sink for me a couple years ago and the sequel is finally out. This installment adds the extra element of training monsters to be in your party and the story is a little more silly but otherwise it is similar to the first game, a strategy RPG heavy on the grinding. It's like comfort food.

5. Knack II: What can I say? I enjoyed being a giant creature that smashes up everything in its path, solves puzzles and walks down corridors...lots of corridors. Tighter controls this time around and fun gameplay. It isn't the best platformer out there but I enjoyed it.

6. Life is Strange: Before the Storm: I didn't really like Chloe all that much but it was fun learning more about her back story. Still, the best scene has to be with the nerds before school that one day.

7. Tembo the Badass Elephant: See #5; this time, you play as a giant elephant smashing things.

8. Mercenary Kings: Great Vita game; shoot some dudes/robots/flying things, collect some materials, make your guns bigger, repeat.

9. Saturday Morning RPG: This RPG got a little repetitive but a funny play on the old Saturday morning cartoons

10. Lego Marvel Super Heroes: This game makes my list because I was able to play it with my children. It's a well done Lego game.

Honorable Mention:
Burnout Paradise Remastered: I still love DJ Atomica, Crash FM and smashing those billboards and gates around town. Sure, some of the luster has worn off because of the 100s of hours that I poured into the original but it would be an announcement day pre-order for me if Burnout Paradise 2 was announced.

Disappointments:
Abzu: I just didn't get it. I think this was a PS+ game so I didn't "buy" it but I just didn't find this interesting.
Shiness: The Lightning Kingdom: The controls never clicked with me--this is an action RPG and I guess I never understood how the buttons worked.

1. Fallout 4
2. Slay the Spire
3. Drawful 2 - Great party game for young kids through older parents.
4. Super Mario Odyssey - Great game that finished with a negative due to my completionist tendencies and some downright impossible power moons.
5. Zelda BotW
6. Bloodborne
7. Overcooked 2 - Great local co-op game with the wife.
8. Offworld Trading Company

Stele wrote:
Bfgp wrote:

3. KOTOR 2: 54 hours. Yes, I'm late to this particular party! Purchased on 31/12/2017 and last played on 4/01/2018 according to Steam. You can see this got its hooks into me to the point I was obsessively playing it with reckless abandon at the start of the year during the festive season. Go and get it, it's still worth playing in 2018/2019.

As someone who bought the game on release back in 04, loved the gameplay, but ended up disappointed at the missing story bits near the end, I have to know...

Did you install the Restored Content mod?

IIRC that is now patched into the game on steam as a regular patch.

My list:
1) Star Traders:Frontiers
2) BATTLETECH
3) Megacorp Stellaris (it is a substantially updated game, very different from launch)
4) Surviving Mars
5) Warhammer 40k:Inquisitor - Martyr

walterqchocobo wrote:

5. Knack II: What can I say? I enjoyed being a giant creature that smashes up everything in its path, solves puzzles and walks down corridors...lots of corridors. Tighter controls this time around and fun gameplay. It isn't the best platformer out there but I enjoyed it.

Hooray! This would have made my list if I'd played it this year - a fun goofy platformer, unfairly scorned IMO.

Oh god I have so few games but so many words. Gonna spoiler tag sections so I don't blow up the page length here:

The List:
1. Assassin's Creed Origins
2. Assassin's Creed Odyssey
3. Picross S2
4. Hitman 2
5. Return of the Obra Dinn

Last year, I played through more than 20 games, but my game of the year list wound up being just three games long. Those three hit me so much harder than anything else, I couldn't justify putting anything else on my list. I spent last year in denial about the fact that I was sliding back into another depression cycle, and the three games on my list all dealt with themes of depression, isolation, and loss.

This year, I sought help, discovered that I've probably been dealing with undiagnosed ADD for my whole life, started in with medication for both those brain issues, and had a second kid. Because of the combination of the depression and ADD, I've been unable to focus on anything involving lots of reading, long term trial and error stuff, and high difficulty. I've kind of known that, but this year, I stopped trying to force myself to play that kind of game, and decided to embrace what my brain apparently wanted.

It started with taking another run at Assassin's Creed Syndicate early in the year. AC Origins was getting positive word of mouth, and I wanted to play it, but was trying to resist. I decided that I already owned and hadn't really played Syndicate, so I should just play that, thinking that by the end I'd have had my fill of AC for a year, like happened with every other AC game. Except it didn't. I loved the bite-size nature of the things to do in the game. I could pick an icon, go do it in a few minutes, get that dopamine hit of success, and go do another one. Plus, I've always enjoyed and been good at stealth games, so it was a great combination. By the end, I just wanted more. Thus began the Year of Assassins, and the list.

The List, Explained:

Spoiler:

1. Assassin's Creed Origins This isn't an Assassin's Creed game. It's a Witcher game. This is a good thing. The Egypt setting is fascinating because it pushes back against my stereotype view of Egypt as just Pyramids and Pharaohs. Instead, it's surprisingly multicultural, and has some fascinating politics. The environments are more varied than I was expecting too, ranging from desert to lush wetlands. Getting to slide down a pyramid was super cool too. Then there's the main character. Bayek is possibly my favorite of the AC protagonists, though it's a close call. What makes him endearing is that even though he's happy to stab all kinds of dudes, he mostly just wants to help. He's friendly with everyone he meets (that he doesn't have a vendetta against). He has time to play hide and seek with kids. While most quest-fest games make you suspend your disbelief that the hero would take time out of their world saving to find some lost goats, with Bayek, it'd be weird if he didn't help with everything he could. At the same time, he's on a quest for revenge. The developing story between Bayek and his wife, Aya, is incredibly nuanced, and the different ways they process and deal with the murder of their son, and what it ultimately does to their relationship, is amazing and heartbreaking. Aya and Bayek's story is what puts this game the teeny-tiniest bit above Odyssey on this list. Final note that I forgot and can't figure out how to work in smoothly: the second DLC for this is stunning. I'd play an entire 80 hour game done like that.

Above and beyond all that, this game was a warm blanket I wrapped myself in. It never pushed back too hard. It was happy to accommodate my ADD by giving me a ton of small things that I could do before my brain decided to lose focus on them. It was a game that I turned to when the stress of dealing with depression, parenting, husbanding a pregnant wife, and working made me need something that was simple and clear. It was the game I spent the afternoon playing after my cat died in the spring. It was several months and 100 hours of near-exclusive gaming focus. It was exactly what I needed, and nothing I was expecting.

2. Assassin's Creed Odyssey After spending a combined 130 hours in AC games this year, I was shocked that I still wanted more. I was nervous about Odyssey before release, worried that it couldn't possibly be as good as the game that'd come out the year before. Reviews started coming out, saying that it was as good except it was too big, which was super not a concern for me. Once I picked it up, I found that it was mostly the same formula as Origins, but more. It also pushed back slightly harder. The new skill system forces the player to focus on sneaking, shooting, or fighting to really excel at one. While I was a little sad that I could no longer snipe half the enemies in an area, then stab the rest like I did in Origins, if I'm honest, that's probably okay. It forced me to focus almost exclusively on sneaking and stabbing, which I like anyway, so it was a little more friction, but not enough to frustrate me.

I played as Kassandra, and I'm thrilled I did. She's basically Xena. She's large, with biceps, cocky, and wears practical armor. I'm sure that's entirely so that she can share assets and animations with her male counterpart, but it means we get a female character that looks unlike almost any other female game character. Her writing, voice acting, and facial animations are also generally top notch. The only knock I have against it is that the overarching story, and Kassandra's arc, are less nuanced than the ones from Origins, which is why I'm (under duress) dropping this to number 2.

3. Picross S2 Picross is my comfort food. I have a really long bus commute for work. Picross is the perfect thing to play while listening to podcasts for me, because the puzzles take just enough thinking to be engaging, but not enough that I can't also listen to a podcast while playing. I've played a ton of hours of Picross games over the years, and usually they don't put up much of a fight, but this one actually did challenge me in the back half, which was nice. I'd rather have had a second Picross 3D (come on, gimmie!), but if not, then this is still great.

4. Hitman 2 It's more Hitman. It's giant locations. It's ridiculous disguises. It's the designers embracing the absurdity of a bald white dude with a barcode on his neck being able to impersonate anyone by putting on their pants (which obviously fit perfectly). It's the joy of picking up a sack of flour, thinking "I wonder if this makes a poof if I throw it at someone," then clocking some mope upside the head with it and of course it makes a poof. It's finding a battle axe in a gym, picking it up, then thinking "Nah, not this time." It's killing a man by hitting him in the back of the head with a fish as he stands on a dock, knocking him into the ocean to drown, and then escaping in a speed boat. It's that they let you import the levels from the first game into this one, so you have all these marvelous toys to play with in one place. It's finding out that "more of the same" is sometimes exactly what you wanted.

5. Return of the Obra Dinn My wife and I are playing this together. Finding a game that my wife will play with me that's not a Lego game is fantastic. That it's an indie deduction game is even better. That it's an incredibly stylish, time-hopping, 19th century mystery box from Lucas Pope is a minor miracle. I haven't finished it, and it's possible it doesn't stick the landing, but even based on what we've gotten to play so far, it's got a place here.

Honorable Mentions:

Spoiler:

Assassin's Creed Syndicate Gets points for being the gateway to Origins and Odyssey, and the setting and Evie were great. But it had a reasonable amount of jank, and it kept making me play as not-Evie, so boo on that.

Destiny 2 Forsaken got me back into this for a month or so, and I had a good time. But once I hit the end of the more "campaign" content, I kind of dropped off. That also coincided with starting on Odyssey, so that might have contributed. Destiny 2 is still a real good shooty game, but it probably doesn't have super long legs if you're not motivated by loot grind, PvP, or playing with other people.

Mario Kart 8 We had this on the Wii U and never played much, so I passed on the Switch version. But semi-regularly, my wife mentioned wanting to play, but getting the Wii U out and hooked up was too big a pain, so we didn't. Finally, she mentioned it again, and it happened to be fifteen bucks off, so I grabbed it. Immediately, my son latched onto watching us play. Now, he regularly demands "race car game" and insists we play it. It's super cute. To keep my wife from getting frustrated by me beating her all the time, I make myself play with tilt controls, one handed, and no drifting. She's gotten good enough that I actually don't need to do that now, but it's an interesting challenge. I'm looking forward to when I need to pick up a third Switch controller so my oldest can play. Honorable mention for family gaming!

Night in the Woods This is definitely my kind of narrative-heavy thing. It's got great writing and characters, and I enjoyed playing it. Yet I never really connected with the characters on an emotional level, so it doesn't get a numbered place.

God of War Technically amazing. I liked the zelda-like feel of it. The story had me very interested by the end. I wound up having to knock it down to easy to avoid frustration, which isn't uncommon for me. The combat had a lot of options, but it was so many that I couldn't remember them all (possibly a symptom of the ADD), so I think I missed a lot of the depth. Also I suck at aiming the axe quickly, so all the precision throw stuff was lost on me.

PSVR Specifically the dive cage segment in VR Worlds, because watching my brotner-in-law and his wife jump around and shriek at the shark in the game was absolutely hilarious.

Dishonorable Mentions:

Spoiler:

Hollow Knight Another game that I enjoyed playing and exploring the world of, but that I eventually stopped because it insisted on being really difficult and with no options to tweak that. I hit my personal skill ceiling after around 15 hours. Could I have kept playing and eventually gotten good enough to continue? Probably. Would I have enjoyed any of that? No, I would've spent every session frustrated, because pattern recognition only works if you can remember the pattern (yay ADD), and backtracking to use a new ability somewhere you've been before is really frustrating when you can't remember where it was. Also frustrating that the game essentially forces you to increase the difficulty if you rely on the map to get around. I wanted to like this game as much as everyone else seems to, and I did, right up until it became obvious I wasn't good enough, skill wise or brain function wise, to play more.

Shadow of the Colossus I've been waiting over a decade to finally play this. I finally did, and hoo boy did I hate it. See the Disapointments thread for too many words about this.

Chaz wrote:

Bayek is possibly my favorite of the AC protagonists, though it's a close call. What makes him endearing is that even though he's happy to stab all kinds of dudes, he mostly just wants to help. He's friendly with everyone he meets (that he doesn't have a vendetta against). He has time to play hide and seek with kids. While most quest-fest games make you suspend your disbelief that the hero would take time out of their world saving to find some lost goats, with Bayek, it'd be weird if he didn't help with everything he could.

Yes! That's exactly what makes him work. He's more like Andy Griffith than the usual Rambo evolution of most AC protags.

STAND BY ladies and germs, it is time for an opinionated member of the AAA superfan contingent to weigh in.

First off - just the facts, ma'am:

Spoiler:

10. iUBES:2
9. Kingdoms and Castles
8. The Crew 2
7. Steep
6. No Man's Sky
5. Ghost Recon Wildlands
4. Civilization VI: Rise and Fall
3. Shadow of the Tomb Raider
2. Forza Horizon 4
1. Assassin's Creed Odyssey


10. iUBES:2

IMAGE(https://i.postimg.cc/V64Dpkkk/iubes-360p.jpg)

I know, I know. "Hey, what are you trying to pull here, BadKen? This is no AAA game!"

Well, you're right. I don't know what iUBES:1 was like, but iUBES:2 is the most fun I've had in a god-game style RTS in ages. It is possible to play against other humans, but I never did. "iUBES" stands for "intelligent cUBES." And yes, those little white cubes are sheep cubes.

It's a unique little setting, in which you navigate the inside of a cylinder, lay down building plans, little cubes come along and help you. They gather resources and build things. Eventually you can build buildings that allow your cubes to defend themselves, arm themselves, and attack the AI controlled cube kingdoms.

The coolest thing about it is that the cubes are self-directed, so you only have to concern yourself with the strategy of building placement (near resources so they can go up faster), where you need defensive buildings, and when you should start planning offensive buildings to wipe out all iUBES of the wrong hue.

The interface is fantastic, easy to grasp, and gives just the right amount of information when you need it, without overloading you. It takes a few matches to get the hang of it, but the game has a wide range of difficulty settings, and the easiest is basically a sandbox mode to let you learn the ropes.

Currently $6 (60% off) on Steam.


9. Kingdoms and Castles

IMAGE(https://i.postimg.cc/9MQwsc2M/kingdoms-castles-360p.jpg)

What's this? Another non-AAA game? What's going on here?

Well, much like iUBES:2, Kingdoms and Castles is a hell of a lot of fun packed into 15-20 minute bite-sized chunks. It's a bit more relaxing than iUBES:2, because you control the flow of time. It's a building game, sort of like Banished, but your settlers don't all die off in a matter of minutes for no reason you can fathom. The graphics are a charming voxel design, but with detailed textures for some things. You can choose to play it in a peaceful sandbox mode or opt for a challenge with invaders periodically invading.

Highly recommended, and currently only $7 (normally $10) on Steam. Runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux.

And... it was the first Fig funded game to be released!


8. The Crew 2

IMAGE(https://i.postimg.cc/BQfgqzj0/the-crew-2-360p.jpg)

The Crew. It took Ivory Tower years to whip the first Crew game into shape after it was released with a thud and a whimper. Given that, I probably shouldn't have been surprised that the initial release of The Crew 2 might be a bit dodgy. Still, I was hoping for greatness. The Crew was my #1 GOTY for 2016!

I put over 160 hours into The Crew 2. It was fun despite itself. Eventually, though, all the little problems got under my skin. I couldn't find the fun in the boat and air races. Because of the humongous map and the fact that you can fly over it, geometry and textures had to be simplified so much that you really don't want to look out the window if you're standing still.

The modeling of the cities is so much worse than the first game. In The Crew, the Las Vegas strip looks a lot more like the strip. Times Square in The Crew 2 looks like... I have no idea what it looks like, but it sure as hell isn't Times Square. Washington DC is a total WTF. Natural and man-made landmarks are pathetic, which probably explains why they took out the sightseeing feature from the first game.

Still, the car and motorcycle races are fun, and cruising around the USA is some relaxing virtual sightseeing. They got rid of the ridiculous racing club story (now it's just a series of competitions in various disciplines).Technically, The Crew 2 is solid. It never crashed on me, once I dealt with some personal driver issues. I had fun racing and collecting cars. Then I was done. Maybe I'll come back to it in a few years.


7. Steep

IMAGE(https://i.postimg.cc/Nf01fwQZ/steep-ncsa-og-360p.jpg)

I didn't play Steep a lot, less than 20 hours between PC and PS4, but what I did play was super fun. I was hoping to rekindle the excitement I felt playing SSX Tricky on my Gamecube years ago. Alas, Steep isn't quite as arcadey as all that, but it is still super fun to swoosh, spin, and fly around. The physics are astounding, and the vistas and downhill runs are breathtaking.


6. No Man's Sky

IMAGE(https://i.postimg.cc/zfvBKdH2/NMS-360p.jpg)

I passed on the initial release of No Man's Sky. I was super hyped based on pre-release interviews, but the post-release screenshots and videos I saw were ... well, they were pathetic.

Not long ago, a massive update was released for No Man's Sky that in the words of many players finally delivered on the promise of the game. I was reading this everywhere, so I had to have a look for myself. I was a little leery, having just come off an Elite Dangerous binge that burned me out a bit. Still, I always loved the pitch for No Man's Sky, and the look, and the promise of infinitely auto-generated worlds.

Well, it delivers. And it has only gotten better over the course of the year. I haven't really stuck with it, because there are other things keeping my interest better. To me, it seems No Man's Sky requires a kind of dedication that I don't really want to commit. As fun as it is, there really isn't a lot of variety in the gameplay, and the few narratives that it does have are thin. It's a build-your-own-narrative game, and I'd rather play within a stronger narrative framework.

Still, well worth the price, and a great diversion for dozens of hours, with an astounding variety of geography, flora, and fauna, just waiting for you to discover them.


5. Ghost Recon Wildlands

IMAGE(https://i.postimg.cc/25rdp6wZ/GRW-WALLPAPER-Buggy-360p.jpg)

This is one of those games that might be higher on my list in another year. When I played the open beta of Wildlands, I hated it. Somehow, in a few months, it was transformed into a beautiful, smooth single or multiplayer experience. Maybe it's a little more rpg-ish than I like my shooters, and it suffers from Ubisoft's open-world-icon-mania. Still, the moment-to-moment gameplay is solid, and the missions are varied and exciting because of the huge variety of terrain, town, and base locales.

Plus it's fun to play spec ops dress-up with your squad.


4. Civilization VI: Rise and Fall

IMAGE(https://i.postimg.cc/SR708bX6/Civilization-VI-RF-hero360p.jpg)

This major expansion transforms Civ VI into a new experience with improved gameplay. Golden and Dark ages, era score and dedications, loyalty and governors and the effective elimination of forward settling, improved diplomacy and emergencies, new civs, wonders and units both unique and otherwise... all add up to a smoother experience with new ways to tailor your experience to the way you like to play. In addition, recent major updates have improved religion so much that I don't even utterly hate it now!


3. Shadow of the Tomb Raider

IMAGE(https://i.postimg.cc/L6J1F880/SOTTR-360p.jpg)

Any other year this would be my #1 pick. My actual #2 and #1 picks are just so awesome, that the awesomeness of this game was outshone.

To quote myself from a message uptopic:

Shadow of the Tomb Raider is my favorite of the recent trilogy. I didn't encounter any torture porn, there were more tombs, and the tombs were more interesting, and I enjoyed the story more than the other two games, because Shadow focused on fewer characters.

Some didn't like the combat in tombs, but it didn't bother me. There was very little of it, it was toward the very end of the game, and it was for the most part heavily telegraphed. I thought the tomb denizens were used very cleverly in a couple places to provide traversal puzzles.

And... it is goooooorgeous.


2. Forza Horizon 4

IMAGE(https://i.postimg.cc/cJR3kkLx/FH4-360p.jpg)

In last year's list I wrote about Forza Horizon 3: "330+ hours, probably more than I've spent in any racing game."

Forza Horizon 4 released in October, and so far I have played it for 471 hours. I have collected pretty much all the cars. I have completed all the disciplines except drifting, which I despise. The first big DLC just released, and I gobbled it up in a week.

The most telling thing, I think, is that pretty much the whole time I was playing The Crew 2 earlier this year, I was thinking about Forza Horizon 4.

The Big Feature this time around is seasons, which to be honest, I wasn't particularly thrilled about. When I'm driving, I don't like slipping and sliding. As it turns out, winter is not as bad as I thought it would be, because snow tires are pretty effective. However, it's the UK, and rain in the Spring and Autumn is frequent and annoying. Seasons rotate for everyone, one per week, so there's really no way to avoid them apart from creating customized races. That's annoying to have to do for dozens and dozens of races. So half the weeks I'm mostly just doing offroad.

Forza Horizon 4 has everything going for it that Forza Horizon 3 had. Gorgeous environments, outstanding performance even with graphics settings cranked up, miles and miles of road and offroad to drive around on. They even toned down the hyperactive dudebro gearhead chatter. The radio stations are back with all new music, and it is quite good. I ponied up for the Ultimate Edition based on how much time I spent in FH3. I got my money's worth.


1. Assassin's Creed Odyssey

IMAGE(https://i.postimg.cc/yN49PCBp/ACOD-360p.jpg)

When I started the Assassin's Creed Odyssey RPG-all topic here on GWJ, I wrote: "Frankly, I don't know what to say. It looks to me like a straight up RPG-themed third person brawler. No stealth, no other signature series gameplay features. Calling this game Assassin's Creed is an odd choice."

Well, I was wrong.

Last year I called Assassin's Creed Origins the "best AC game by far." Well, Ubisoft Quebec beat Ubisoft Montreal by a country stadion. Odyssey is better by pretty much every measure I care about in a video game: characters, story, dialogue both comical and tragic, action on land and sea, breathtaking environments... you name it. For starters, the game goes all-in on its RPGness.

You can't create a custom face or body for your character, but you can change pretty much everything else that matters. You can play as Kassandra or Alexios, and both performance capture actors are outstanding. Each gives a unique flavor to their character despite delivering pretty much the same lines. Thanks to a variety of dialogue options, you can play a cold, calculating purely mercenary murder machine, or a compassionate helper of Grecians from all walks of life. You even get multiple opportunities to play out whatever gender identity suits you, with secondary characters of every stripe you can pursue or ignore.

Odyssey has multiple outcomes based on key decisions and how you play. You cross paths with several recurring secondary characters, so your choice of words can help or hinder you as the game progresses. Multiple endings are possible based on key decisions and how you play.

Back on the character customization thing for a sec: Odyssey has one of my favorite features in any RPG - the statistics of your gear is independent from its appearance. You can build whatever look you want for your misthios without sacrificing cool bonuses tailored to your playstyle. Sorry pervs, there is no boobplate. Most of the armor features classic Grecian styles.

The game world is H U G E. Not just in size, but every region has multiple citizens to help or hinder, historical locations to visit, forts to plunder, bandit camps to eradicate, warlike cultists to expunge, wildlife to hunt, abandoned treasure, resources to gather, and beautiful, beautiful scenery. And just offshore are ships belonging to pirates, mercenaries, merchants, and the Athenian and Spartan (oddly ahistorical, but whatever) navies. It's so big several reviewers called it too big. In fact if you aren't prepared to spend a good chunk of time in ancient Greece, this may not be the game for you. Fortunately you can tackle it in bite-size chunks if you like.

And the story... I should say stories. There are multiple interwoven main narratives that you can pursue in pretty much any order. When they intersect, you will need to catch up with any you may have held back on. There are multiple kinds of side quests too. Narrative side quests have extended stories that can take hours to complete. Some are hilarious, some are pseudo-historical, some are tragic. All are very well written. Other side quests are automatically generated, and they offer a simple specific goal for a simple reward. Those are your typical "collect ten bear asses" type quests. Some can be very time consuming, though, like, completely ransack 15 forts. Depending on your difficulty setting and play style, a single fort can take quite a while to clear out.

I haven't even got to the list of ranked rival mercenaries you need to beat to get bonuses based on your rank, or the big conspiratorial cult that fills in for the Templars in this game. There's just too much to cover in a few paragraphs.

BONUS: all editions are currently 50% off (only $30 for the standard edition!) on Steam AND on the Ubisoft Store. Odyssey also has extras you can buy for real money, but they are totally unnecessary to enjoy the game. They are the icing on the frosting of the supremely tasty cake.


HONORABLE MENTIONS:

Elite Dangerous - I got into it for a while, and had quite a bit of fun, but eventually it became drudgery.

Vampyr - I started out very enthusiastic for this game. The early bits are fantastic, and the idea of choosing whether to give in and eat everyone in sight is great. Eventually, there just wasn't enough variety in the gameplay for me, so I gave up before I finished.

WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH ME...

Destiny 2 Forsaken - I voraciously consumed Destiny 2, played each class through, then shelved it. So why did this expansion leave me so cold? No idea, really, just didn't grab me. Unfortunate waste of money.

Surviving Mars - The feature list for this game ticks all my boxes, and it has a magnificent heritage, but I just couldn't find the fun.

Wolfenstein 2 - I loved The New Order, but the start of this game turned me off immediately. I tried to push past it in the hope things would get more fun, but the glee of mowing down alternate reality Nazis never returned. Maybe I just lost my taste for this kind of "fun" because of current events. I didn't get very far into it - about an hour. Maybe I'll try it again someday, but probably not.


Previous years: 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 (2011-2010: played WoW all year?) 2009 2008

Chaz wrote:

1. Assassin's Creed Origins This isn't an Assassin's Creed game. It's a Witcher game. This is a good thing.

2. Assassin's Creed Odyssey Once I picked it up, I found that it was mostly the same formula as Origins, but more. It also pushed back slightly harder. The new skill system forces the player to focus on sneaking, shooting, or fighting to really excel at one.

Shut your mouth! I played through AC 1, 2, & 3, and really didn't care for the franchise.

Now you're telling me that completely upended the franchise and made it more RPG-like? That they actually have reworked the system to accommodate specific play-styles? And they dropped one in a Classical Greece setting?

I don't want to hear it!

Mantid wrote:
Chaz wrote:

1. Assassin's Creed Origins This isn't an Assassin's Creed game. It's a Witcher game. This is a good thing.

2. Assassin's Creed Odyssey Once I picked it up, I found that it was mostly the same formula as Origins, but more. It also pushed back slightly harder. The new skill system forces the player to focus on sneaking, shooting, or fighting to really excel at one.

Shut your mouth! I played through AC 1, 2, & 3, and really didn't care for the franchise.

Now you're telling me that completely upended the franchise and made it more RPG-like? That they actually have reworked the system to accommodate specific play-styles? And they dropped one in a Classical Greece setting?

I don't want to hear it!

I thought most AC games got boring pretty quickly. Syndicate started changing my mind, then Origins topped it. It still gets a bit repetitive because the game is so long, but it was worth making it to the end.

Mantid wrote:
Chaz wrote:

1. Assassin's Creed Origins This isn't an Assassin's Creed game. It's a Witcher game. This is a good thing.

2. Assassin's Creed Odyssey Once I picked it up, I found that it was mostly the same formula as Origins, but more. It also pushed back slightly harder. The new skill system forces the player to focus on sneaking, shooting, or fighting to really excel at one.

Shut your mouth! I played through AC 1, 2, & 3, and really didn't care for the franchise.

Now you're telling me that completely upended the franchise and made it more RPG-like? That they actually have reworked the system to accommodate specific play-styles? And they dropped one in a Classical Greece setting?

I don't want to hear it!

In the name of full disclosure, when I say "forces", it's a soft forcing. In every other AC game, a stealth attack is a one hit kill basically always. A thrown blade or arrow to the head is a one hit kill basically always. In Odyssey, those attacks do damage, and are NOT guaranteed to be one hit kills. You have separate damage numbers for weapons, bows, and your spear (hidden blade). Your gear can have a bunch of different perks, and one perk will usually increase the damage for one of those types. Then the skills you unlock will usually give you an additional multiplier. So you can always stab a dude from the bushes or shoot them in the head, but to get one hit kills doing that, you usually need to have your gear and skills giving you an extra boost to that damage type. However, by mid-late game, I had enough stat points and gear that I could main stealth damage, and give enough of a boost to bow damage that I could one shot a lot of dudes from a distance. However, even then, you're still limited in your skill use by the amount of adrenaline you have, which powers skills, so you still have to plan what you're doing. It adds a little friction, but doesn't force you down one path exclusively. Also, respecs are free/cheap!

To me, the coolest late-game Assassin upgrade is the one that increases Assassination and out of combat damage at night. Only downside is that I don't think you can see the difference in your detailed stats page, because those types of damage are not specifically listed.

Did Odyssey change the combat? That's always been what I disliked about AC games (except the MP in Brotherhood, which I adored).

garion333 wrote:

Did Odyssey change the combat? That's always been what I disliked about AC games (except the MP in Brotherhood, which I adored).

Origins was a pretty thorough overhaul of the combat. Enemies have hit boxes, and you aren’t locked in animations while performing counters or the like as in previous games, and the default control scheme is more Dark Souls-like. Odyssey evolves this new system but is fundamentally the same.

Combat in Origins and Odyssey is drastically different than earlier games. The whole feel of the game is different. Kind of a mix between Witcher combat and Breath of the Wild traversal?

Slightly late to the party, and I know I haven't been posting much of late. But the community thread is always engaging and I felt I couldn't let this one past:

10. Slay the Spire
Deckbuilding rogue-like. A mash-up done right. Right balance of having every single choice you make be important, while leaving some up to chance, that you can literally stack the deck for and against. Personally my only problem is that I am compelled to do an entire run in a single sitting, which I don't always have the time to do so.

9. Yakuza Kiwami
Unique, stylish, brutal and packed to the gills with cool. The combat can be unforgiving and the grind tough. But there is a certain charm to it, even if it feels thinly spread.

8. Dead Cells
Unique, stylish, brutal and packed to the gills with cool. The combat can be unforgiving and the grind tough. But there is a certain charm to it. And what it does well, it does it in a laser focus of polished gameplay.

7. Detroit: Become Human
Outstanding voice acting and motion capture. The branching storyline carries the experience that choices matter. And yet, overall it feels somewhat cold, even though there are sparks of warmth and heart in certain areas. Hammers it's theme alittle too much on the nose.

6. Life is Strange 2
Despite it's supernatural plot-device, a far more relatable story told with alot more heart and warmth. I will admit to being more bias in this area since I'm the eldest brother to my only brother and we have gone through a slightly similar, far far less tragic, situation.

5. The Red Strings Club
Almost a (pardon the pun) distilled version of Detroit:Become Human, shaken and served from a human perspective on what it takes to find and hang on to that humanity. If anything I would have liked to have spend more time exploring the characters rather than the thin mechanics, but it knew it had to keep it short and deliver it's impact.

4. Life Is Strange: Before the Storm
Amazing soundtrack and key scenes that builds on the framework set by Life is Strange: Season1. The characters are messed-up and in over their hearts and acting out but somehow comes across for more flawed and human than in the titles before it in this list.

3. Red Dead Redemption 2
Almost absurdly detailed in it's environment, open-world and wild west experience. Alot has to be said for the gang members and Arthur himself, carrying the main storyline, which come together to be greater as a whole than the parts that make it, which basically sums up the whole game itself. Mired by unwieldy controls and a deliberate pace that lead to some tonal whiplash when things escalate.

2. Return of the Obra Dinn
Minimalist, again another game that is laser focused on it's strong points and delivers them like no other medium can. Beyond the first quarter or so, the victories of deduction become almost fully yours and the fates revealed become more tangled with your imagination, automatically filling in the gaps as you fill in the names. Many games before make the story unique and therefore more memorable, due to player choice, or input. But the story of Obra Dinn, while fixed, becomes uniquely yours, because it's built in your head, as much as it is in the book.

1. Marvel's Spider-Man
The whole complete package. Voice acting, graphics, web-slinging, combat and even the mini-puzzles trying to simply get across the idea of what it feels to BE Spider-Man. And Spider-Man is also his supporting cast and villains; Given new twist while still showing a respect and genuine fondness for the history and background, old and new characters alike.

It's a funny kind of full circle for gaming that "knifing a guy in the head isn't a one-hit kill" is held up as a positive. I remember when that was a common negative complaint about games.

Wow, phew! It's getting to be that time of the year, when the thread starts moving fast (which is a GOOD thing), and I have to keep up.

Vector wrote:

Eleima, remind me to have my write-up done by Boxing Day night, please. Otherwise it won’t be completed before New Years. The actual list is done. Going to Japan for three weeks on Thursday.

Thank you for being proactive and PM'ing it to me. Vote has been tallied.

Brainsmith wrote:

First of all, thank you, Eleima, for taking over this year. It’s certainly not an easy task.
But taking a look at my top five, I realised that all of them have actually one theme in common:
You can’t run away from the ghosts of your past — you simply have to face them at some point.

Well, technically, I took over last year. Serious talk: I love that realization. It feels so meaningful and poignant, and just contributes to my belief that games just mean so much more to us than what you see on the surface.

Thank you Robc and your boy for the wishes, and I hope you and your family also had a joyeux Noël!

First off a huge THANK YOU to each and everyone of you. Thank you to those thanking me for handling the thread, to those posting your lists. There's very little cat herding this year (well, now I've done it ), and things are moving along quite smoothly. This is so exciting!

Thank you to Vector, fangblackbone, Dominic Knight, Cronox, Brainsmith, Sundown, CptDomano, walterqchocobo, markcov, Garrcia, Chaz, BadKen and Falchion for your lists. Special thank you to Sundown for putting ME3 on your list.
Things certainly got interesting, there are some dark horses this year, fascinating. As of now there have been 79 goodjers who voted for 313 games! Amazing!
We still have room, though. Last year, we had 158 people voting for 473 games, so keep them coming, folks.

ClockworkHouse wrote:

It's a funny kind of full circle for gaming that "knifing a guy in the head isn't a one-hit kill" is held up as a positive. I remember when that was a common negative complaint about games.

I'm not sure it's a positive. For people who want to be good at everything like you used to be in AC games. You can definitely make knifing a one-hit kill most times, you just have to specialize more and have enough ability juice.

It is really just that Kassandra is quite drunk, and that knife to the head only manages to cut an ear off.

Bought the game today - literally not possible to finish it before new year. Origins was quite good imo, after I turned off from these games after AC Brotherhood. Sadly less climbing around beautiful cities (which was fun), much more actual decent gameplay though (but it is still an Ubisoft Open-World Map Hell-game).

Nice to see Life Is Strange: Before the Storm showing up on more lists. That one sits very high on my own list. Such a pleasant surprise that another studio, with absolutely no track-record I believe, could make a good follow-up.

1. The Legend of Zelda, Breath of the Wild - I picked up the Switch last year, when Super Mario Odyssey came out. On New Years Eve, a friend lent me their copy of Zelda, and I was happily exploring every nook and cranny of the world all year.

2. Magic the Gathering: Arena - I've played the old Magic the Gathering: Online off and on over the years, and have always struggled against the decrepit interface and high cost. Redesigning the interface, and focusing only on the last year of cards, and making it free to play has made this my go to game for a little while every night.

3. Assassin's Creed Odyssey - I've not played an AC game since Black Flag, but thought this was really great. I love playing as Cassandra, and I love the how beautiful the game is to walk or sail around in.

4. Marvel's Spider-man - Spider-man has had a pretty good year in pop culture, having both Into the Spider-verse and featuring in Avengers: Infinity War. Insomniac really did an amazing job with the recreation of New York city, great feeling combat, and wonderfully acted cutscenes.

5. Into the Breach - It's a shame this came out before Battletech, because it's so easy to play compared to the lumbering behemoth of Battletech's rules and universe. But I loved the tactical puzzles and ended up playing it for way more hours.

6. Terraforming Mars - the computer version is missing a few features, but I love the convenience of always being able to play my current favorite board game.

7. Slay the Spire
8. Yoku's Island Adventure
9. Battletech
10. Moss

Older games I'm still playing this year:
Hearthstone
Dead Cells
Overwatch
Elder Scrolls Legends
No Man's Sky Next
Pinball Fx 3

WARNING WARNING DANGER, MS. ELEIMA, DANGER: EDITS INCOMING
Here's my new list. Hollow Knight goes in at #5, everything below it gets bumped down a notch, and Destiny 2 goes to Honorable Mentions.

1) Quern - Undying Thoughts (PC)
2) Xenoblade Chronicles 2 (Switch)
3) A Hat in Time(PC)
4) Hitman 2 (PC)
5) Hollow Knight (PC)
6) Marvel’s Spider-Man (PS4)
7) God of War (PS4)
8) RiME (PC)
9) Shadow of the Tomb Raider (PC)
10) The Room: Old Sins (Android)

5) Hollow Knight (PC)
Wow. A late entry for me in the year, and a game I, frankly, had been avoiding for a long while. I mean... bugs. I didn’t want the game Oogie Boogie plays to relax. But now that I’ve caved and plowed 23+ hours into it in 5 days (thanks again for the nudge, benign1!), I wonder why I’ve waited so long. It’s got a lot of elements from the Blood/Souls series that I love (sprawling, interconnected levels; dark lore pieces dropped in subtle bits here and there; technical combat; rewarding boss fights; etc).
It’s not perfect, at least not for what I was looking for (another Blood/Souls game I don’t know inside and out)... the platforming gets on my nerves sometimes, there’s way too much back and forth across mostly similar looking areas, I CANNOT get the map straight in my head, the special moves are pretty much useless, few other things... but it’s close enough to a Blood/Souls game that I’m really digging it. 23 Hours in, and I have no idea if I’m even halfway, but I haven’t even started the DLCs, so I would guess I have a great many more hours to go!
Oh, and the music is fantastic, which is always a plus for me.

quick and dirty list here we go..

here we go...

10. Donut County (Iphone): Best Racoon ever
9. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (Switch): My first Smash
8. Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom: Legit "Wonder Boy" sequel
7. Dragon Quest Builders (Switch): Going to build me a dirty tower
6. Vampyr (PC): I'm an undead monster but am I human?
5. Celeste (Switch): Jump Jump around
4. Enter the Gungeon (Switch and PC): Shoot all the things
3. Into the Breach (Switch and PC): Tactics or die
2. God of war (PS4): Kill all of the things on the mountain tops.
1. Red Dead Redemption 2 (PS4): Arthur ... Morgan.

Garrcia wrote:
Stele wrote:
Bfgp wrote:

3. KOTOR 2: 54 hours. Yes, I'm late to this particular party! Purchased on 31/12/2017 and last played on 4/01/2018 according to Steam. You can see this got its hooks into me to the point I was obsessively playing it with reckless abandon at the start of the year during the festive season. Go and get it, it's still worth playing in 2018/2019.

As someone who bought the game on release back in 04, loved the gameplay, but ended up disappointed at the missing story bits near the end, I have to know...

Did you install the Restored Content mod?

IIRC that is now patched into the game on steam as a regular patch.

I remember researching it and definitely had it installed, whether it was manual or automatic I cannot recall. It's a workshop item I think?