2018 Community Game of the Year

Yeah, just considering games from this year. I would have a few extra to add if I considered everything! Total War Warhammer would have definitely been on the list, I really love that game! I haven't had a chance to play it or TWWH2 much at all since study has me really busy. Looking forward to digging into it in my break.

WolverineJon wrote:

I noticed you have a link to the 2017 GOTY thread in your signature. Is it time to update it?

You're absolutely right, I'd forgotten about that!! Fixed.

Thanks to Clocky and A_Unicycle for your lists! Uni, the community GOTY rules are that you can rank all games that were new to you this year, so be sure to tell me if you decide to tweak your list.

pyxistyx: Subnautica is AMAZING in VR.

Taharka wrote:

pyxistyx: Subnautica is AMAZING in VR. :-D

If I could afford a headset and the computer that'd run it, i'd definitely like to give it a shot! At least in the opening safe area where there's minimal toothy menaces!

You mean "horrifying", right.

I was able to beat Resident Evil 7 in VR with a few frights, but I genuinely don't know if I could manage with Subnautica. It's way too unsettling. Eep!

Lol. I realize my tastes are... different, in that I actively seek out horror games, but I found Subnautica to be genuinely relaxing and calming to play in VR. Even when I got in range of the Reapers

I could definitely see booting it up and spending a little while just floating around in the coral reefs to destress.

I went back and re-read my 2017 list and planning while preparing for this year’s list, and I’m shocked at how few standout games I played in 2018. In 2017, I had to really debate about what games to cut from my “best of the year” list. In 2018, I’m debating what games were good enough to include on a “best of the year” list. Oh well! Here’s my top 10, lead by 3 games that didn’t release in 2018.

Top 10
1) Quern - Undying Thoughts (PC)
I cannot recommend Quern enough if you like the Myst series, specifically Riven and Exile. It captures the world feeling of Riven with more of the puzzles like what Exile had. It’s well thought out, only one puzzle was so strange I couldn’t wrap my mind around it, and in general, it was like playing another Myst game. I marathoned through it, and would gladly erase my memory of playing it so I could go through and figure everything out again. Love it.

2) Xenoblade Chronicles 2 (Switch)
Ok, I’m cheating a little here. If you want to get technical, I started Xenoblade Chronicles 2 in very late (post Christmas) 2017. It even made my list for “Overlooked Games of 2017”... so I’m just going to copy what I wrote there.
There's something boobs magical about it ... it feels like a return to a classic JRPG form, with just enough quality-of-life enhancements – like real-time combat that surprisingly works well – to still feel fresh and scratch an itch I wasn't even conscious I was feeling. Yes, as the earlier joke hints, there are some issues – particularly in the male-gaze-fan-service-design of the main female character(s). Those issues aren't deal-breakers for me and don't occur with enough frequency to detract from my overall enjoyment of the game. This is definitely a game to pick up if you like longform JRPGs and own a Switch, and I expect it to make a lot more top-10 lists in 2018. (note: And does it?!? We shall see, Mr. Bond.... or Ms. Eleima...)

3) A Hat in Time(PC)
I’m sad I hadn’t played A Hat in Time last year when it came out, so I could have voted for it when more people were playing it. It’s a cute, fluffy, fun platformer. A little flawed here and there, and could have done with a tighter, overall level design focus, but you know what? This was the first game by a group of people who had never made a game before, and it’s amazing for that. Stand out levels, interesting character designs, and well done mechanics. I’m totally going to double dip on this when the Switch version comes out.

4) Hitman 2 (PC)
You’re a bald man with a prominent barcode tattooed on the back of his head that, somehow, no one can remember after the murders have stopped, so you get to go around killing people with a dead fish while dressed as a flamingo mascot, then escape the level riding a dolphin. What’s not to like?
Hitman 2 is just more Hitman (2016), and I couldn’t be more thrilled. Giving me access to the classic (i.e. 2016) levels for free was a great bonus, and I replayed them all.
So if you want goofy, yet dark, fun, pick this up.

5) Marvel’s Spider-Man (PS4)
You’re Spider-Man, web slinging around New York, fighting crime, and saving the city, what more can I say? Insomniac knocked it out of the Central Park (mostly), and Spider-Man is a blast to play. My only complaints are that combat is a little stilted, and the game is a little bloated with side activities (thank you, Ubisoft influence!), but I don’t feel those flaws are serious enough to not enjoy the game.

6) God of War (PS4)
The transition from angry-at-everything to stoic-ly-killing-everything dad Kratos was handled pretty well. Maybe the game is a little more action game generic in its presentation than the original God of War was, but you know what? It does what it set out to do extremely well. A well polished game that kept me interested enough to platinum the whole thing.

7) RiME (PC)
This is my sit back and relax game. A gorgeous, stylistic puzzler, I throw on some headphones, dim the lights, sip an alcoholic beverage, and just enjoy the game. Maybe it lacks directional clues, and it’s a bit too easy to proceed past a point of no return without realizing it, but I’m playing this game to relax and mellow, and that’s exactly what I’m getting. Think Journey, but with more puzzles. And now that I’ve opened that can of worms, it’s time for...

8) Shadow of the Tomb Raider (PC)
And here starts my list of “ehh” games. Games that aren’t bad, but don’t do anything new or unique, so they’re just kinda there.
Starting with the third and hopefully final installation in the reboot Tomb-Raider series. Lara has been abused so much over this trilogy, I really hope she gets a nice break in her massive mansion after this. Probably won’t happen, though, for That is not dead which can eternal money make.
Oh, but the gameplay. If you played Tomb Raider (2013) and Rise of the Tomb Raider, you’ve played Shadow of the Tomb Raider. It’s more of the same and you either like it, or you don’t. I like it, but am getting kinda tired of it.

9) The Room: Old Sins (Android)
I love The Room series. Love it. It rivals the Myst series for favorite puzzle games. Spooky, occult, story based, point and click, puzzle games with beautiful graphics and well thought out puzzles? Yes please, give me all of that.
Old Sins is a prequel to 1, 2, and 3, and isn’t the best entry in the series, but neither is it the worst. All I know is that you should totally play the series (1, 2, and 3 are on iOS and Steam as well as Android!), and encourage the developers to keep developing these games.

10) Destiny 2 (PC)
It’s an FPS. The only reason my least favorite genre of game even made the top 10 is because there was that little else I played new this year that didn’t frustrate me or violate the thread rules. What do you want me to say? It’s fine. It has an interesting, if bizarre, lore; the gameplay is serviceable; and the grind is grindtastic. But really, I’m not going to convert anyone with my 10th pick. You’ve either drunk that kool-aid or you don’t want to.

Honorable Mention
Spyro Reignighted Trilogy (PS4)
This would have been low-to-mid on my top 10 list, only the thread rules say I can’t put it on there as “the spirit of this thread is to vote for things that were new to you this year, and replaying a game you love with spiffier graphics runs somewhat contrary to that”. If I’m honest with myself, as welcome as the spiffier graphics and being able to play Spyro without dusting my ancient console off and finding a TV with the correct inputs is... Spyro Reignighted is basically just Spyro 1 - 3 with spiffier graphics. Still, if you want a huge chunk of nostalgia, pick it up.

DanMachi - Memoria Freese (Android)
What would my GOTY list be without a mobile, F2P, Gatcha game? I’ll be honest, I hate the anime this game is based off of, but as a time waster at work, this game probably has more of my hours than Xenoblade Chronicles 2 does. No one reading these blurbs is going to pick it up, and that’s just fine by me, because you probably shouldn’t.

Assassin’s Creed: Origins (PC)
I went back and forth for a long time whether this or Destiny 2 was my #10 pick. In the end, though I like the parts that I like about Assassin’s Creed: Origins more than I like the parts that I like about Destiny 2, I also seriously dislike certain choices in Assassin’s Creed: Origins (like the leveling system and what that does to combat) far more than I dislike the parts that I dislike about Destiny 2... does that make sense?
Basically, Destiny 2 is inoffensive and bland (sorry, all y’all that love it), while Assassin’s Creed: Origins actively annoys me in places. And somehow, playing Destiny 2 on election night was cathartic.

Disappointments
Little Witch Academia: Chamber of Time (PS4)
To use a phrase you’ll hear a lot in this section, I really wanted to like Little Witch Academia: Chamber of Time. The multiple anime series are some of my favorite animes. They’re cute and fluffy, with interesting, likeable characters. And I really wanted to like the game.
Chamber of Time has a very Majora’s Mask like setup, where you’re repeating a set period of time over and over. In that time, you split between running around the school, talking to people, getting and fulfilling quests, and generally living in the world; and going through the dungeon to unlock... actually, I’m not sure why you go through the dungeon, other than to become more powerful so you can go through the dungeon some more. Ostensibly, it’s so you can somehow fix the repeating time mess that Akko, the main character, made, but I have a tenuous understanding at best for how, exactly, that’s going to happen.
Still, a “slice of life/dungeon crawler” game could be perfectly fine... I mean, that’s what the Persona series is, and I like those. Where Chamber of Time falls down is in execution. The school is massive, and there’s no faster way to get around other than to run there, which can easily take up an entire “period” of the day. The Dungeon is this Golden Axe-esque 3d side scroller where it’s hard to tell if your attacks will hit, or if you’re two pixels too high and will miss. Neither is awful, just frustrating, so it’s collecting digital dust.

Vampyr (PS4)
Man... I really wanted to like this game. Made by the same people that did Life is Strange, I thought it’d be a similar style of interactive fiction (almost choose your own adventure), but set in Victorian London and involving vampires. What we got was a game that couldn’t quite decide what it wanted to be, so combat is clunky (not unlike their other game, Remember Me) and dialogue/interactions aren’t much better. There’s a good game buried in here, but what we got wasn’t it.

Where the Water Tastes Like Wine (PC)
You know, I really wanted... yeah yeah, broken records.
To be honest, I don’t really know why I’m underwhelmed by Where the Water Tastes Like Wine. It does more or less what it promised to do, the music is killer, and everything that it does seems to be executed well. Maybe it’s my expectations that are at fault here, IDK, but a game that promised to be about roaming around a stylized, depression-era USA, collecting and spreading stories, which ended up being basically that just leaves me feeling sorta meh, despite how much I wanted it, based on the trailers.
Music is awesome, though. Buy the soundtrack.

Best of the Worst
ECHO (PC)
To understand just how bad ECHO is to my mind, you have to understand that I am a game hoarder. I do not return or sell games. I can count on one hand the number of games that I’ve returned or sold in my 20-odd years as a gamer. A game could be literally defective and not play on anything I own, and I will still keep it.
So imagine how bad ECHO has to be that I returned it. Imagine how boring the environments, frustrating the combat, and idiotic the plot would have to be for a self-avowed game hoarder to say, “I want my money back”.

I'll probably check in with my list later in the month, once I can spend some time with Smash Ultimate, and maybe spend more time with Stellaris after the upcoming patch. I tracked (and ranked!) what new games I have played this year throughout the year just for the GOTY awards, so I have a pretty good idea what my list will look like at this point.

OMG I had no idea there was a Little Witch Academia game!
I see your concerns and seen a review on Steam and I'm trying to care, real hard.
Going to buy it now.

RolandofGilead wrote:

OMG I had no idea there was a Little Witch Academia game!
I see your concerns and seen a review on Steam and I'm trying to care, real hard.
Going to buy it now.

Please don't! The terrible gameplay of the game overshadows all of the charm and appeal that the characters and franchise radiates.

It was probably my biggest disappointment of the year as well.

10) Rise of the Tomb Raider - Fun enough. Didn't like that I couldn't stealth as much as I would like to (as the list goes on, it will become quite clear how much I like to stealth kill things).
9) Dishonored: Death of the Outsider - Currently playing. I think I'm about two thirds of the way through it. Feels more like an expansion than a full game which is why is this low on the list. Really like the new powers and environments but just wish there was more here.
8) Assassin's Creed Odyssey - Put over 130 hours in over a couple weeks and still didn't finish all of the stuff. So, I think I liked it. Kassandra is great but I feel like everything is not as good as Origins. On that note...
7) Assassin's Creed Origins - The environments alone would be enough to get this on my list. The combat revamp was well done even though I would still prefer to never be in combat. I'm amazed that a company I kind of hate managed to completely turn around a series that I had completely given up on years before.
6) Dead Cells - I was really hoping that this could be my next Spelunky/Binding of Isaac. I combat feels incredible. The problem is, I suck something terrible. Still a great game though.
5) Magic the Gathering: Arena - I stopped playing Magic in high school because I didn't have anybody to play with. 20+ years later I got to start playing again because I don't have to worry about finding people to play anymore. Hurray. But, I don't know how much more I'll play because of...
4) Artifact - I love everything about this game. The strategy, the gameplay, the animations, the voice lines, the card art, the lore (every card as voice acted lore, it's insane). It feels incredible balanced despite the amount of rng built in.
3) Life is Strange: Before the Storm - I think I liked the story in this one more than in Life is Strange. Considering you know how things are going to end, the storytelling is pretty manipulative but, damnit, it worked.
2) Celeste - This game was just incredible. I never got around to finishing everything just because I kind of forget that I own a Switch a lot. But, still, this game was incredible.
1) Dishonored 2 - Turns out, I really like Dishonored games. Blinking around an choking dudes out is just super satisfying and the level design is just really well done. I immediately did a second play through after finishing.

Taharka wrote:

Best of the Worst
ECHO (PC)
To understand just how bad ECHO is to my mind, you have to understand that I am a game hoarder. I do not return or sell games. I can count on one hand the number of games that I’ve returned or sold in my 20-odd years as a gamer. A game could be literally defective and not play on anything I own, and I will still keep it.
So imagine how bad ECHO has to be that I returned it. Imagine how boring the environments, frustrating the combat, and idiotic the plot would have to be for a self-avowed game hoarder to say, “I want my money back”.

Oh that's a shame. I always liked the look of that because of the weird premise and pretty great voice acting in the trailer.

pyxistyx wrote:
Taharka wrote:

Best of the Worst
ECHO (PC)
To understand just how bad ECHO is to my mind, you have to understand that I am a game hoarder. I do not return or sell games. I can count on one hand the number of games that I’ve returned or sold in my 20-odd years as a gamer. A game could be literally defective and not play on anything I own, and I will still keep it.
So imagine how bad ECHO has to be that I returned it. Imagine how boring the environments, frustrating the combat, and idiotic the plot would have to be for a self-avowed game hoarder to say, “I want my money back”.

Oh that's a shame. I always liked the look of that because of the weird premise and pretty great voice acting in the trailer.

I know, right? The voice acting is good, absolutely. It's just not enough to save the game from all the other problems.

Mantid wrote:
RolandofGilead wrote:

OMG I had no idea there was a Little Witch Academia game!
I see your concerns and seen a review on Steam and I'm trying to care, real hard.
Going to buy it now.

Please don't! The terrible gameplay of the game overshadows all of the charm and appeal that the characters and franchise radiates.

It was probably my biggest disappointment of the year as well.

Probably making my disappointments list as well. I didn't find it awful but it was bland and meh enough that I keep forgetting I even played it.

1. Breath of the Wild (Wii U)

Undoubtedly the finest creation I laid hands on in 2018. My father died unexpectedly on 6 February. Three days later, and within an hour of lowering his coffin into the ground with my bare hands, I walked into CeX in a black suit and tie and purchased a Wii U and Breath of the Wild. I knew the long road that lay ahead (I also lost my step-dad and sister-in-law in the previous two years) and that gaming would be a major part of the grieving process. This was a very important game for me. It transcended the medium. The purity of its world and its underlying moral certainty satisfied an existential need during those three months of playtime.

2. Gorogoa (Android)
3. Florence (Android)
4. Donut County (Steam)
5. Holedown (Android)
6. Birdland (itch.io)
7. Super Mario 3D Land (3DS)
8. Mini Metro (Android)
9. A Museum of Dubious Splendors (Steam)
10. c ya laterrr & The Loss Levels (itch.io)

1. Return of the Obra Dinn
This is the first game I've played where I've felt like I'm solving a mystery. Actually solving, not just triggering story dumps, searching for highlighted objects. Wonderfully designed, with excellent attention to detail.

2. Hollow Knight
Perhaps the best Metroidvania I've ever played, certainly much better than either of the genre namesakes have been for years. This is one of those games where instead of going a for a new idea, they take an old idea and perfect it.

3. Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age
If Dragon Quest isn't your thing, this certainly won't change your mind.. It doesn't do too much of anything that Dragon Quest hasn't done before. However, I'd argue that it does them better than ever before. At no point did I ever tire of this game, from start to finish. I struggle to think of a JRPG I've played where it hasn't felt like work at some point. Golden Sun maybe? That's how far back I'm going to, so you get the idea.

4. Titanfall 2
Given that I'm not normally a huge fan of FPS games, I was surprised at how much I liked this one. Really interesting levels, each introducing new concepts, exploring the possibilities of those concepts, then moving on just before they get too old. Funnily enough, the parts of the game I liked the least were the titular Titan sections. Compared to the main gameplay, they were just slow, clumsy and a little mindless.

5. Night In The Woods
I didn't really like Mae, the main character, all that much at first. Thinking back, I identified much more with her friend, Bea. Which I guess makes it quite interesting to see her from Mae's perspective. Anyway, aside from this it was a quite charming, very unique little piece of storytelling.

6. Detention
Set in Taiwan, made by a Taiwanese team, incorporating both Taiwanese culture and history. This alone provides an interesting and unique spin on this horror adventure. A little rough around the edges in parts, but the good more than compensates for the bad.

7. RiME
A perfectly charming little platformer similar to ICO or Brothers - A Tale of Two Sons with WindWaker-esque visuals.

8. Metroid: Samus Returns
It's a little sad for a Metroid game to be this far down my list. But while this was not a bad game whatsoever, it didn't come close to the highs the series normally reaches. Certainly still worth playing for fans, just don't expect Metroid quality from this one.

9. Orwell
The plot requires a lot of suspension of disbelief in order to fully buy into the concept and your role in the game world, but if you can do that, it's a fairly enjoyable story.

10. Fez
A nice little puzzle platformer that everyone seems to have already played before. Relied way too heavily on ciphers and obscure puzzles for my taste.

Ganondork wrote:

1. Breath of the Wild (Wii U)

Undoubtedly the finest creation I laid hands on in 2018. My father died unexpectedly on 6 February. Three days later, and within an hour of lowering his coffin into the ground with my bare hands, I walked into CeX in a black suit and tie and purchased a Wii U and Breath of the Wild. I knew the long road that lay ahead (I also lost my step-dad and sister-in-law in the previous two years) and that gaming would be a major part of the grieving process. This was a very important game for me. It transcended the medium. The purity of its world and its underlying moral certainty satisfied an existential need during those three months of playtime.

Sorry for your loss Ganondork. I'm glad gaming could provide that outlet for you, and I can add that this is a great supportive forum for helping people through difficult times too. That's some recommendation for BotW, shame I have nothing I can play it on!

1. Dragon Ball FighterZ
It is like I'm playing in the anime. Turn into to candy. chomp chomp. Solar Flare, my eyes I'm blind. This game has moves I never would have thought would be in a fighting game but they work.

2. Into The Breach
Put a lot of time into this game. Very simple game. Nice time waster while watching dumb tv shows.

3. Vampyr
Been itching to play a vampire game and this fit the bill. The story is the best part. Combat is a little weak. I have no idea why they went with vampyr instead of vampire. The never use vampyr in the game.

4. Dragon Quest VIII DS
Been playing this all year. Then why aren't you done with it Baron. Because none of your business Baron. Maybe I spent to much time in the puff puff room. Maybe saving the world from evil takes times.

5. The Evil Within 2
Hate the combat but like the story . Oh man you should have seen all the people I triggered when I suggested they add more female characters and people of color to the next game. Holy balls it was like I suggested the kiss my butt. Anyway, I suggest you watch a lets play or a game overview of the first game and this game if you plan to skip it.

6. Qvadriga
Ben Hur the video game. This game surprised me a number of times. It is a turn based racing game. Also good game to play while watching dumb shows.

7. Golden Krone Hotel
A rouge like vampire game. This isn't very good. There are a number of free games that are a lot better.

8. Bloodborne
Yeah I don't like this game. I like dark souls and it is a lot like dark souls but bad. Character design is great. The look of the game is pretty good. The combat is crappy. Dying because of bad camera angle is the rule of the day. In dark souls you can play a number of ways. In this game you can only play one way and that one way I don't like.

1. Return of the Obra Dinn
This game is baller and I love it. It has a boat and a mystery.
2. Red Dead Redemption 2
I don't think most open world games should be this deliberate, but as an outlier I dig it. Plus Rockstar demonstrated the capacity for meaningful themes, wat?
3. Superflight
A late 2017 gem that snuck in there. You a blocky dude what flying squirrels forever.
4. Into the Breach
Less is more.
5. Celeste
A great platformer with too much talking.
6. Spiderman
Web swinging with too much being not spiderman.
7. Warframe
The only forever game.
8. Far Cry 5
Prettiest Far Cry with too much talking. Play Primal instead.
9. Hitman 2
I killed some people fake people while dressed like other fake people. The episodic nature of the preceding game seemed superior for this type of game.
10. Assassin's Creed Odyssey
The inclusion of leveling and quest design is garbage. But the kicking, climbing, and FemShep is pretty good.

As I assembled this list, I’m struck by what a bumper year it’s been for me (hence the wall-o-text honorable mentions section). This was the year I “invested” in VR, so there’s plenty of exciting nerd-helmet action to be found in my list, but there’s still plenty of 2D screen goodness to be found.

THE LIST: (all platforms are PC unless otherwise stated)

1. Beat Saber
IMAGE( https://c.slashgear.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/beatsaber.jpg)
Quite simply the best rhythm game I’ve ever played. And I’ve played a loooot of rhythm games over the years. Like, expert pro drums lots.
I’m as surprised as anyone to be putting an Early Access game in my #1 spot, but even with the limited tracklist, I keep coming back to it, trying to eke out a few more points. It’s the killer-app for popping friends’ VR cherries to boot.
I’m excited to see what else the devs have up their sleeves as the game crawls towards full release.

2. The Red Strings Club
IMAGE( https://i2.wp.com/www.geekculturepodcast.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Red-Strings-Club-4.png?resize=840%2C560&ssl=1)
This was my surprise hit of the year. It came to me courtesy of the Twitch Prime monthly freebies, and I wouldn’t have given it a second glance had it not. I’d have sworn blind at the start of the year that adventure games were my kryptonite. Historically, I bounce off even the best of them (c.f. Night In The Woods).
But this hooked me from the get-go and I devoured it over the course of a week. It might be the most cyberpunk game I’ve ever played (CD Projekt take note!), and provides a more nuanced and considered look at a cyberpunk world than most cyberpunk novels ever have.

3. Into The Breach
IMAGE( https://i.kinja-img.com/gawker-media/image/upload/s--w2PNLnvb--/c_scale,f_auto,fl_progressive,q_80,w_800/l1vsfwsp3pt3lavo2olh.jpg)
I liked FTL fine, though perhaps not to the same degree that most everyone else did. Into The Breach is a far superior game, IME. It forces you to own your own failure in a way that FTL didn’t, where you could write off a bad run as “just a bad run”. While there’s still an element of RNG to which weapon drops are available in Into The Breach, it’s far less pronounced than FTL, where success often hinged upon the right sequence of equipment drops. Instead, ITB, with the “perfect prescience” of its UI telling you exactly what the consequences of your actions are, you’ve got no-one to blame but yourself when it all goes tits up. A true indie gem.

4. Skyrim VR
IMAGE( https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSuCksioNI-NfDeXUjCX4Elqw4TAUwhE3s8Jib0AvDIcJPjM0RZ)
Might be being a little flexible with the rules here, but my defense is that Skyrim VR is a different game to Skyrim (look, they’ve got different Steam pages and different pricetags, see?).
And to be blunt, playing it in VR *is* a different game. You’re right there in the gloomy dungeon. Sadly, you’re also right there in the inventory menus, which have gotten worse to navigate with Vive controllers. But that’s what infinite carrying capacity mods are for! Steal as much cheese as you want!
It’s definitely a flawed experience, from the grotty menus to the stupidity of melee with motion controls, but all that does is drive you down the correct path of stealth-archer-mage anyway, so that’s a blessing in disguise.
But even with those flaws, just being in that world is majestic. And, Fallout 4 VR aside, there’s very little else in the VR space that can claim the same moniker of “epic” like Skyrim.

5. Ultrawings
IMAGE( https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4567/24198938257_50d3c1b01d.jpg)
VR is particularly well suited to “in the cockpit games”, and while I’ve got a proper flight sim in my Steam library, and a proper spaceship sim 3 spots down in this list, Ultrawings provided the low-friction way to get me flying in VR that doesn’t require spending the first hour of the game remapping controls to your flight stick and programming voice macros.
It’s bright, colorful, very much a spiritual successor to the venerable Pilotwings and more than a bit pukey, though on that last point, I genuinely used Ultrawings as a tool to “get my VR legs”. There’s only so much aerobatics you can do in a rocket-powered glider before your stomach decides it’s not worth getting in a tizzy. Oh, did I mention there’s a rocket powered glider?
The flight model is reasonably legit and the motion controls work surprisingly well, with one of the best implementations of tactile feedback to give you the impression you’re actually moving a stick in the cockpit you’re allegedly sitting in.
It’s not going to get your hardcore flight-simmers on board, but for the rest of us, it’s well worth a look.

6. Carly and the Reaperman
IMAGE(https://assets.rockpapershotgun.com/images//2018/06/ss_97e88a615e77c140b4baed244e94570d3913db41-620x300.jpg/RPSS/resize/760x-1/format/jpg/quality/70)
I have a bee in my bonnet about local co-op VR games. There’s about 4 of them, and they’re brilliant. Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes and Black Hat Co-Operative are both great, albeit that they didn’t make this list, but they’re worth honorable mentions.
Carly and the Reaperman, though, is something unique – and it turns a bog-standard platformer into a lovely and genuinely co-operative experience. Take a look at the image – one of you is controlling that little girl, Carly, old-skool style, looking at the screen and holding the controller. The other person is The Reaperman, Death personified, and using motion controls, they can literally pick up platforms and bricks and build structure for the platforming player to get where they need to in the level. There’s an element of physics-based puzzle game to it, some 3D platforming precision, and a lot of collaboration.
Figuring out how to approach a level from your very disparate viewpoints is a genuinely novel experience. There’s some great touches – like Carly’s ability to switch her camera to the Reaperman’s viewpoint, which makes explaining what you’re talking about all the easier (“no, not that one, the block to your left, you numpty”).
There’s some minor niggles – the platforming is a little floaty and imprecise, and the camera controls are as imperfect as you’d expect from a mid-tier 3D platformer, and while there’s frequent checkpointing, re-doing parts of levels numerous times gets old, but a little jank is worth it for the novelty and charm of the experience as a whole.

7. Battletech
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I’m a sucker for a good turn-based strategy game.
Battletech is a very good turn-based strategy game.
I am a sucker for Battletech.

8. Elite Dangerous
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I played the hell out of Elite. I spent most of the summer with the curtains drawn to keep reflections off the screen while I played Elite.
I am, of course, talking about the summer of 1988.
The 30-freaking-years later sequel is very impressive. The absurd stack of technology I use to play it reaches almost as far out into space it does, between the VR headset, HOTAS and voice-macro software. That’s both a blessing and a curse, because yelling “POWER TO SHIELDS! FRAME SHIFT!” as I yank the flight stick around to drive my space-bus like a blind drunkard with two TVs strapped to his head, while awesome, is kind of an imposition to set up. I have to have a good hour free to bother setting all that nonsense up, and that doesn’t happen all too often.
But when it does, it’s transcendent. To be honest, I’m not sure quite how deep I’ll get into it, just purely as a function of how many opportunities to dive in like that I’ll have, but it’s earned it’s place on this list anyway.

9. Oxenfree
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This is the other game that’s making me rethink my alleged aversion to adventure games. Once again, courtesy of Twitch Prime, but also courtesy of the GWJ Adventure Game Club, which made me actually install and play the free game that Amazon decided I should have.
It’s a particularly odd choice for me, as horror games is one of my other “nuh-uh” genres. I suppose Oxenfree is a lot more spooky than scary, but still, the hairs on my arms got tired from standing up so much, yet that somehow didn’t drive me away from the charming and tragic story that played out.

10. Raceroom Racing Experience
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No GOTY list would be complete without the platform that I spent the last year tooling around on with Gamers With Jobs’ premier secondary tertiary sim racing league, The Racing Dorks. Seriously, come race with us – we don’t bite! Except for Nickson, but we’re going to have a whip-round to get him a muzzle for next season.
Raceroom Racing Experience, or RRRRREEEEE, as it’s colloquially known, is great, and unusual in the space in that it’s free-to-play, albeit that you’ll only have a handful of mostly underwhelming cars to drive on a small selection of tracks without dropping some coin. But the driving model is legit, and I haven’t even dipped my toes into the gnarly world of driving with pubbies, though there are regular events and race series put on by the developer.

Honorable mentions (in no particular order)

FORM – Imagine if the acid trip from 2001 had a baby with The Room (the game, not the terrible movie), then squirted that baby directly into your eyes from inside your VR helmet. It’s only an hour long, but it’s the best VR experience I’ve had that invokes a truly alien, otherworldly experience. The puzzles are mostly things I’ve seen before, but the presentation is to die for.

House of the Dying Sun – The shooty-pew-pew fun parts of Elite with all the tedious space trucker nonsense stripped out. Bonus points for dayglo palette. It’s quite the thing in VR, but also a solid space shooter on a screen.

Nex Machina – best twin stick shooter ever made, and yes I’ve played Geometry Warses.

Wreckfest – a.k.a. Debris In The Mud Simulator 2018. The antithesis to po-faced sim racers. Race a school bus against two dozen three-wheelers, because why the f*ck not?

Dead Cells – this very nearly made my top 10, but got edged out. It’s incredibly fine-tuned.

RiME – simply gorgeous 3D explore-em-up. Perfectly suited for playing this alongside my kid.

Chucel – Genuinely funny point-and-click puzzler that absolutely oozes personality. Made me chuckle out loud every few minutes, and my nearly-5-year-old laugh like she was dying.

Rez Infinite – VR is such a natural home for the theme of Rez, and I was delighted to buy the game for the third time. Either I’ve gotten old, or the VR controls provide a less intuitive input scheme than the noble old controller, but even so, it’s still a standout, landmark game that has aged incredibly well.

Superhot VR – Superhot non-VR never quite clicked for me, but the immediacy and presence of VR makes it a much more compelling experience. Actually dodging bullets is waaaaay more fun than moving a thumbstick to dodge bullets, it turns out.

Alphabear 2 (iOS) – It’s grindy as all get out, but I’ll play a weird take on Boggle until the cows come home.

Superflight – Watch me soar, fly, speed through tiny gaps SPLAT. Repeat.

Runner3 (Switch): the only Switch game on the list – nothing on Switch has blown me away this year, but Runner3 is charming, and while it asks a lot for success, it also provides very granular difficulty settings, if you can get over yourself to use them. I couldn’t, so many many restarts ensued.

Earth Defense Force 4.1: The Shadow of New Despair – worst title, best game about shooting thousands of giant bugs and giant robots and giant robot bugs with a series of increasingly infeasible weapons while being a lady in underwear armor with a jetpack. EDF! EDF!

GNOG – more VR puzzle box than game, it’s unique, odd and glorious. Charmed the pants off me.

Farts in a space suit (in no particular order)

Sacralith – I’m still on the lookout for the perfect FPA (First Person Archer) game in VR, and this isn’t it. It’s fine, I guess, but it feels a touch unfinished, has some difficulty spike issues, and is just odd that my in-game avatar seems to be an invisible teleporting ghost (it’s unclear) that the enemies can’t see, despite me peppering them with literally thousands of arrows in a vain attempt to protect two of my buddies/summoners (it’s unclear).

Radial-G: Racing Revolved – why is it so goddamn hard to rip off Wipeout and not make it soulless and tedious?

Opus Magnum – I think I might finally be over my love-affair with Zach-likes. This game is really good, and I’m just not interested in it.

Logistical – I’ve played the tutorial twice, and I’ve still got no idea what I’m supposed to be doing in this game.

Hollow Knight – First few hours were great. Hours 5 through 7 were spent traversing the same areas over and over again with no idea of where to go next. Eventually gave up. I’m all for a game that doesn’t hold your hand, but this one pushed me into traffic and walked away.

Prey – I get the love for it, I just don’t share it. Found it boring and listless, and occasionally overly punishing for no good reason.

Lookahead to the 2019 GOTY List:

Dirt Rally 2 – this is looking mighty probably for my #1 spot.
Fallout 4 VR – Once Skyrim VR is squared away, this might be my next big epic RPG.
Mutant Year Zero – see what I wrote for Battletech.
Assetto Corsa Competizione – an Inception of niches.

Some good VR games for me to check out there Jonman. Beat Saber will be very high on my list. I tried Elite but got pukey and refunded it. Now I'm starting to get my VR legs I'm tempted to give it another shot. Don't have a HOTAS though sadly, and God knows I've spent enough on hardware this year.

kergguz wrote:

Some good VR games for me to check out there Jonman. Beat Saber will be very high on my list. I tried Elite but got pukey and refunded it. Now I'm starting to get my VR legs I'm tempted to give it another shot. Don't have a HOTAS though sadly, and God knows I've spent enough on hardware this year.

There's definitely a masochistic aspect to getting your VR legs. I still bump up against the occasional game that makes me want to barf (Adr1ft feels like it's been designed by someone with a puke fetish, for instance), but my tolerance is way up, and there's a for-real "training" aspect of pushing yourself up that boundary in order to move that boundary further out.

That Ultrawings game looks like the game I have been wanting basically since the N64 generation ended. Looks like they have a non-VR version coming out in February with PC/Switch/PS4 as the targets... sadly no mention of Xbox One. So close and yet so far

My top ten:

1. Divinity Original Sin 2 (PC) – One of those games that you get so immersed in that you forget to save, and then end up making an unexpectedly big decision. Oodles of secrets to discover everywhere, and an absolute playground when it comes to the options available both in battles and in completing quests in general. I’m about 50 hours in, but it’s one that I know I’ll finish, and will happily plow many more hours into. The evolution of Larian’s games has been terrific.

2. Torment: Tides of Numenera (PC) - This was exactly what I was looking for in Torment's spiritual successor. A wonderfully weird world, with tons of secrets to find, interesting characters, and a complex, meaningful story. Outstanding. Dropped about 100 hours into it, something I haven’t done with any game since TW3.

3. Quantum Break (XB1) - Taking the "cinematic" approach even further with the episodic shows, evidence that the idea behind all those old FMV games was solid, but the technology at the time made it just made them too clunky. Good length.

4. Risen 3 - Titan Lords (PC) - Goofy fun, like the other Risen / Gothic games. Despite this being in my top 5 for the year, I can’t really recommend it to anyone. Terrible voice acting, worse-than-stereotypical characters, and formulaic structure….but I played it compulsively start to finish, as my default turn-off-your-brain game for a good month. I've always liked the power curve and number of secrets in the Gothic/Risen games, but it could have been so much more than it is.

5. Kingdom Come: Deliverance (PC) – Geat game, but mods are really necessary. I just don’t have time for the regular save game mechanic. I need to be able to walk away from any game at a moment’s notice, and not potentially face hours of re-playing content. Other mods also make it look great. Very immersive. Excellent atmosphere.

6. Uncharted: The Lost Legacy (PS4) – Beautiful and fun, a great coda to Nathan Drake’s saga.

7. Red Dead Redemption II (PS4) – This one might have been higher on my list with some more time to settle into it. It’s beautiful, and the setting is great, although at this point I’ve forgotten most of the original RDR characters that I’m surely seeing again. I really dislike the controller scheme! It’s like a serious of quicktime events at random intervals. I’m sure I’ll still finish it, and may end up loving it.

8. Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus (PC) – Such a bonkers game. It picks up right where the last one left off, and just pumps up the ridiculous carnage from there. Too fun.

9. Mafia 3 (XB1) - Laudable for the direct depiction of racism and the tumultuous time period, but not as engaging as the previous games. I’m probably about half way through and it’s getting grindy. It may be the first Mafia game that I don’t finish.

10. Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice (PC) – Outstanding graphics and atmosphere, and some fun puzzles. Some of the longer fights are a bit much---I’d prefer more puzzles and fewer fights.

Honorable Mentions:

Spider-Man (PS4) – I didn’t actually play this one, but I watched my son play it plenty. Amazing graphics, and swinging through the city never gets old. My hands ache just watching him put so many hours into a beat-em-up, though.

Sword Coast Legends (PC) - Fun, but seemed like another wasted chance to do an official D&D license game. Forgettable story. The short length worked well – like a little RPG snack.

So, this year, Paradox has revamped Stellaris with a huge amount of DLC and rewriting the game systems to the point it's no longer recognisable from launch...but I already voted in the year of launch...I'll also need to go back and check my votes last year more closely as there were other holiday season purchases.

For those of us who have poor memories, if you mainly use Steam for your games, go to the top-down menu with your username, go to account details, then you can review purchases and activation of codes to work out what you got this year; a bit more snooping about in your activity log may be required where you installed a game in an earlier year and just played it.

On my part, I didn't quite get to 10 games, but I'll work on the list over the coming days; just bought Jagged Alliance: Rage! and haven't had the opportunity to play to see where it falls in the list. BUT there will be at least one Android/iOS game which will be quite high on the list.

Two games this year (I *think* I might have played Catherine this year, but if I did I quit pretty fast--it had nothing to say to me) so the winner is:

1) Persona 5 This game got delayed, and by the time it came out, I really wasn't interested in single player games anymore. That said, I'm almost glad it got delayed and I'm playing it now instead, when it can almost entirely stand on its own. It also means I'm not expecting this to have to be everything Persona 4 was. It can be its own thing. I'm looking forward to it based on the little I've seen so far.

2) Mass Effect: Andromeda, therefore, is the runner-up. Finally got past the intro stuff, and wow--was the tutorial a bad version of an Anthem knockoff or what? What hot garbage. First time getting onto the New Citadel (or whatever it's called) though, and yeah...this is starting to come together for me. There are some notes there of the same sense of wonder that the other ME's had. I'm now optimistic about this one.

I didn't get into gaming as an adult until relatively late, so these are two of the franchises that define gaming for me. It seems it's the right time to finally experience these.

Really looking forward to pulling my list together and really enjoying reading everyone else's. I'm holding off for now. Partly so I can give Smash more time, but also cause I might pick up some Indie games over the holidays and they deserve a fair shot too.

First place is pretty safe though...can't see anything topping it.

kergguz wrote:
Ganondork wrote:

1. Breath of the Wild (Wii U)

Undoubtedly the finest creation I laid hands on in 2018. My father died unexpectedly on 6 February. Three days later, and within an hour of lowering his coffin into the ground with my bare hands, I walked into CeX in a black suit and tie and purchased a Wii U and Breath of the Wild. I knew the long road that lay ahead (I also lost my step-dad and sister-in-law in the previous two years) and that gaming would be a major part of the grieving process. This was a very important game for me. It transcended the medium. The purity of its world and its underlying moral certainty satisfied an existential need during those three months of playtime.

Sorry for your loss Ganondork. I'm glad gaming could provide that outlet for you, and I can add that this is a great supportive forum for helping people through difficult times too. That's some recommendation for BotW, shame I have nothing I can play it on!

Many thanks, kergguz! And thanks also for the warm welcome. I've been listening to the show for the past couple of years and thought it about time that I joined the community. So happy I did. It's a lovely little corner of the internet.

Ganondork wrote:

1. Breath of the Wild (Wii U)

Undoubtedly the finest creation I laid hands on in 2018. My father died unexpectedly on 6 February. Three days later, and within an hour of lowering his coffin into the ground with my bare hands, I walked into CeX in a black suit and tie and purchased a Wii U and Breath of the Wild. I knew the long road that lay ahead (I also lost my step-dad and sister-in-law in the previous two years) and that gaming would be a major part of the grieving process. This was a very important game for me. It transcended the medium. The purity of its world and its underlying moral certainty satisfied an existential need during those three months of playtime.

2. Gorogoa (Android)
3. Florence (Android)
4. Donut County (Steam)
5. Holedown (Android)
6. Birdland (itch.io)
7. Super Mario 3D Land (3DS)
8. Mini Metro (Android)
9. A Museum of Dubious Splendors (Steam)
10. c ya laterrr & The Loss Levels (itch.io)

I thought I may as well revisit my earlier post and jot down a few remarks about the remaining games. I should note at the outset that my second, third and fourth listed games of the year were all published by Annapurna Interactive (as was my favourite game of last year, What Remains of Edith Finch). That happened purely by chance! I think I'm on the verge of becoming a publisher's fanboy.

2. Gorogoa (Android)

This has received a lot of attention on here already so there's not much more I can add, except to say that you should probably play it on PC, Switch or tablet. It's a stunning looking game and deserved a larger screen than the Samsung 6S I played it on.

3. Florence (Android)

A simple, relatable tale of love and loss designed for mobile and executed brilliantly. Despite being the world's foremost gaming platform, mobile is underused as a vehicle for original videogame ideas. This is a small game that relishes being a mobile release and I think that's wonderful for the platform.

4. Donut County (Steam)

It's not every day your protagonist is a hole in the ground, so for that alone I tip my hat. However what won me over was the charming, kiddish, item-descriptions of the various things you swallow up. The creator, Ben Esposito, clearly has an odd sense of humour and I'm so happy he found an outlet for it. I believe there's a subtext about gentrification but I approached it as a much more simpler story and it worked on those terms too.

5. Holedown (Android)

A frenetic looking arcade-style puzzle game. Its premium presentation, superb UI and wonderful aural and haptic feedback ought to be a shot in the arm for like-minded mobile developers.

6. Birdland (itch.io)

A surreal piece of interactive fiction that made it onto PC Gamer's 'top 50 free games' list earlier in the year. By day, you're a teenage girl attending a summer camp. By night, you're transported into a surreal dreamworld where you encounter anthropomorphic birds who ask you unusual questions in stilted, robotic dialogue. These two realms eventually converge in a part fantasy, part science-fiction denouement. Weird.

7. Super Mario 3D Land (3DS)

I took temporary possession of my nephew's 3DS and that was just enough time to finally complete a Mario game (I was a Sega kid). What a delight! Silly, whimsical and rock-solid in its design. Yeah, it's Nintendo. Also, at last a game that actually justifies, indeed necessitates, use of the 3D screen.

8. Mini Metro (Android)

Instead of counting sheep to fall asleep at night, the members of Kraftwerk play Mini Metro inside their primary-coloured minds. A game that can be as therapeutic or as demanding as you want. For me this was videogame as therapy. Creating an efficient daily-commute in the palm of my hand while in the real word I was travelling bumper-to-bumper en route to Dublin.

9. A Museum of Dubious Splendors (Steam)

The two-person Indian developer behind this, Studio Oleomingus, was credited by Rock Paper Shotgun as creating some of the best-looking games available right now. And yet it's not really a game, even by the loose parameters I use to define the medium. It's an experimental art space and part of a larger narrative project known as Somewhere. It's wonderfully surreal and has me hyped for its in-development big brother, Under a Porcelain Sun.

10. c ya laterrr & The Loss Levels (itch.io)

I'm going to have to cheat and list these two short pieces together. Both were created by indie-developer Dan Hett following the killing of his brother in the Manchester Arena terrorist attack. Hett is exploring his grief and the vulgarity of the tabloid press via a trilogy of interactive experiences. These are small, lo-fi creations that are on the fringe of what we can describe as 'videogames', but they're made with real heart. I love how people like Hett can take the language of videogames to tell their own deeply personal stories.