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Top 10 Games of 2018 – What’s the Story, Wishbone

 

There’s nothing I love more than a good story with compelling characters, and 2018 delivered on an unprecedented level. Almost every single entry on this list is worth a replay just for the narrative. I don’t want to know the time it took to develop stories as impressive as emotional as GRIS, complex as Red Dead Redemption 2, thrilling as Detroit: Become Human, and relatable as Life Is Strange 2. No matter the answer, I’m sure the writers were well underpaid for their brilliance. Individually, these are fantastic games; together, 2018 is an outstanding year.

 

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10. Life Is Strange 2

 

Life Is Strange 2 doesn’t really cross over with the original too much, but I think that’s what needed to happen. It needed to separate itself from the first game; Life Is Strange 2 successfully maintains its high-quality storytelling and stands on its own. There’s a really relevant, engaging story tackling subjects not many games are courageous enough to touch.” – Nathanael Hueso

 

“Dontnod is one of few studios that can successfully cover topics like race, religion, sex, sexuality, and politics in a way that is consistently wholesome, entertaining, tasteful, and impactful. Life Is Strange 2 is their most recent triumph in this regard. It takes tremendous talent to do this balancing act when writing, and what’s more amazing is their ability to still give every character the attention they deserve. Need more proof? How about this: have you ever noticed how the main character doesn’t have any special abilities? How does he work as a main character? It’s called character development. Maybe some of these other studios should try it sometime.” – Brandon Pero

 

Detroit: Become Human

 

9. Detroit: Become Human

 

Detroit: Become Human has some cheesy moments but overall is the best choice-driven game I’ve played. There are so many choices and outcomes for the story that you can’t possibly go through them all, not even after a few playthroughs. The story is another classic robots vs. humans, but it explores more meaningful subjects than I thought it would. There are some nuances that few other stories in this genre tackle. Not all characters are as complex as Connor, but they still do a good job at getting you invested.” – Nathanael Hueso

 

“The idea that machines could become as intelligent as humans first became a popular point of discussion during the 1940s and ‘50s thanks to Alan Turing, and ever since, storytellers have tried to imagine the emotional uprising of machines. Detroit: Become Human serves as the gaming industry’s definitive addition to these stories. Much like a brilliant ‘90s sitcom, Detroit tells three different tales of struggle, freedom, and emotional significance that all rally around one overarching story. This game’s true shining point, however, is found in the stakes of the game. Unlike too many story-based games before it, Detroit truly takes your decisions and method of playing and gives you a vast number of endings that all have equal weight. There’s no catch-all ending, and it makes your connection to the characters and plot stronger than those of most other games.” – Brandon Pero

 

Image taken from Return of the Obra Dinn developed by Lucas Pope. Depicts a monochromatic artstyle with a man being shot in the head

 

8. Return of the Obra Dinn

 

Return of the Obra Dinn is a triumph of stark aesthetics as well as mind-bending investigation puzzles. The task of piecing together the fates of sixty dead sailors is by equal turns horrifying and mentally stimulating. Reconstructed inference forms your progression through the game. Not every answer is concrete, forcing players to gamble with their decisions. There’s a constantly hanging sense of indecision reigning over players reflecting a conglomerate lost to history and a nervous historian furiously documenting it from a distance. Harrowing realizations are made tangible by the player making the game’s dour atmospherics infectious. The tandem visual aesthetic is dour, but eye-catching, greyscale stills that players alone move around as if they have found themselves a part of a sketchbook. The seas may be sorrowful, but Obra Dinn rewards you for taking the plunge with an experience that defies comparison.” – Zack Kauz

 

Monster Hunter: World

 

7. Monster Hunter: World

 

“It is testament enough to Monster Hunter: World‘s deceptive complexity that its titular premise sustains hundreds of hours of high investment. Few titles reward dedication to such a degree, given the extents that Monster Hunter: World‘s crafting, combat, and social systems enrapture the player. Monster Hunter: World is the sort of game that taps into a mechanic central to a small subset of games and perfects it to such a detailed degree that players will find their needs satisfied eternally. Its ability to entertain and challenge operates on a continuum offering new experiences for years of commitment. The depths of its weaponry and land to explore remains unparalleled. Monster Hunter: World treads dangerously close to becoming a lifestyle, as supported by continued expansions. It’s not too late to join the craze, but it’s nigh impossible to put down.” – Zach Kauz

 

GRIS screenshot

 

6. GRIS

 

“This game made me feel something in such a meaningful way. That’s not something I can say for more than half a dozen games. There are several games out there without any dialogue, but GRIS takes full advantage of its visual storytelling. The music and art bring the narrative together in an experience that I’ll never forget. I think any gamer (even non-gamer) needs to play this game. You can get through it in one sitting, but the impact will stay with you.” – Nathanael Hueso

 

Red Dead Redemption 2

 

5. Red Dead Redemption 2

 

Red Dead Redemption 2 is the sequel I felt would never arrive, ‘til it did. The original is one of my top games, so I had high expectations. Although I haven’t played through the whole game yet, it’s obvious it’s a passion project. There’s so much attention to detail in Red Dead 2. It’s sometimes too realistic for its own good, but so, so engrossing. It’s easy to get lost in the world and its characters. But I swear, if I crash into another boulder while riding my horse, I’m going to lose it.” – Nathanael Hueso

 

“Holy hell! There are two settings that get me every time: space (hence my love of the Mass Effect trilogy) and the old west. Red Dead Redemption 2 is a victory cry for the western genre… and the action-adventure genre… and the RPG, story-rich, open-world, and third-person-shooter genres. What doesn’t Red Dead 2 have? Furthermore, of what it does have, how much hasn’t been combed over seemingly a thousand times, each time introducing a new layer of polish? The PC release had its problems, and (as would be expected) the first couple weeks of console releases had a few bugs, but even on a bad day, this 0.001% is negligible.

“The world and the characters can range from calm and serene to bombastic and chaotic, but no state of either of these is misplaced. Unlike its predecessors, each character here leaves a lasting impression that makes you look in on yourself and wonder about your own self. Would I be able to be as courageous as Arthur Morgan? Can I be as selfish as Dutch van der Linde? Am I as two-faced as Micah Bell? How can I be as remorseful as John Marston? Each character represents a different part of us, and Red Dead 2 lets us evaluate these parts and determine what deserves to stay and what deserves to go.” – Brandon Pero

 

Celeste

 

4. Celeste

 

“I don’t typically expect a good story in my platformers outside of my princess getting kidnapped. The story in Celeste helps make it one of my favorite platformers in years. This game seriously has it out for the player; damn is it difficult. Celeste keeps track of how many times you die, which will be plenty. Maybe it’s because it keeps track, but I don’t I’ve died this many times in any other game. But that just makes succeeding that much more satisfying. Did I mention the game is gorgeous? Because it is.” – Nathanael Hueso

 

Marvel's Spider-Man Wide Shot

 

3. Marvel’s Spider-Man

 

“This is the first Spider-Man game that I really felt was worthy of the character. Marvel’s Spider-Man is everything I could have hoped for, except for a playable Aunt May, but that’s a conversation for another time. It’s the only game I’ve platinumed on PlayStation 4 up to this point, and I still haven’t got enough of it. Everything is just so intuitive and fun. The story blew me away too. Make sure you get the DLC as well, ‘cause there’s a great story to be told there as well. Must-play game for any superhero fan.” – Nathanael Hueso

 

“When I think of a game that is just plain fun, this one is the first to come to mind. Has anyone ever used the fast travel in Marvel’s Spider-Man? I know where my money’s at. Swinging through Manhattan has never felt more fluid, and no Spider-Man story in a video game has ever been this emotional. I could compare this experience to that of a see-saw, but this isn’t a traditional see-saw comparison. Rather than going from good to bad, Spider-Man rocks you between your brain and your heart; at any given moment, you’re methodically tearing into bad guys or clenching your chest as you watch the relationships between the characters evolve. I’m not one to play games all the way through multiple times, but this one earned it.” – Brandon Pero

 

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Review

 

2. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

 

“I’ve been playing Super Smash Bros. since the one for Nintendo 64, so you could say I’m a bit of a veteran. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate takes basically everything from previous entries and puts it all in one, complete package. There’s so much in this game I don’t even know what to do with it all. And it’s not just quantity, it’s quality. This is the best Smash game yet. They have freaking Banjo-Kazooie. Banjo-Kazooie. Let that sink in. I can’t wait to see them continue to update it and treat it with care.” – Nathanael Hueso

 

“‘Everyone is here’ for the Smash Bros game that fans have been dreaming about since the series’s inception. Truth be told, it’s a bit of a miracle that despite the dizzying roster of fighters, everyone feels unique and fun to play. It’s the only game you’ll see Solid Snake, Mario, Cloud and Sonic duking it out in a fighting free-for-all, and that’s indicative of the game’s real power: Smash Ultimate has become bigger than itself. By drawing in so many characters, worlds, and music tracks from so many franchises, it’s no longer just a cutesy fighting game, it’s a wonderful museum and a bombastic celebration to honour our beloved hobby” – Theo Durrant

 

God of War

 

1. God of War (2018)

 

God of War is the pinnacle of action games. It’s fun, brutal, and dynamic. What I didn’t expect was the meaningful story we got. God of War nails the dynamic between Kratos and his son, mirroring real-life, father-and-son relationships. It’s a believable relationship in an over-the-top, fantasy world. Previous God of War entries were superficial, violent romps. This game is a mature, vibrant trek. The reinvention of the franchise is the best thing ever to happen to Kratos. Masterpiece.” – Nathanael Hueso

 

“To just call God of War cinematic would undersell how essential its gameplay is to the narrative. The growth of Kratos and Atreus is felt through the player in a game that isn’t relentlessly an epic. God of War sets its stakes, gradually giving additional weight to monolithic boss battles by positioning a thoughtful character dynamic at center stage. It also helps that God of War boasts not only a rebooted aesthetic but vastly more nuanced combat. You work your way towards the blades of chaos only through patient strategy, an immediate contrast to earlier entries where the blades are inseparable from the character. The game functions as more of an Action-RPG in its scope than its predecessors that only saw fit to volley players from one set piece to the next. God of War bypasses indulging players with pandering power fantasy yet continues to compel on its own terms.” – Zach Kauz

 

 Honorable Mentions:

 

Overcooked 2
Tetris Effect

 


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