Steven T. Wright reached out to a number of freelancers to discuss their favorite games from 2018. These lists are being hosted in Into The Spine, and all credit belongs to the authors. Make sure to follow Cian Maher’s work on Twitter.
1. Pokémon Let’s Go
A controversial pick, I know. I’ve played Pokémon regularly since I was four years old—that’s 19 years. This was the first time, however, that I actually completed a Pokedex since Generation 2—Pokémon Gold, Silver, and Crystal.
The sheer amount of time I put into this game would make shunning it incredibly dishonest. The returns I got for that time were nothing to scoff at, though, and went on to prove that this has to be my Game of the Year. Although the likes of Red Dead Redemption 2 impressed me on so many levels, this is what I truly loved and enjoyed most. Also, Let’s Go paves the way for some big changes to mainline Pokémon games—changes that I actually dig. I loved Let’s Go, but it’s the fact I’m still thinking about it, still excited about it, that makes it my pick for #1.
2. God of War
When God of War launched in April, it instantly became my Game of the Year. It remained that for months on end. Then Let’s Go came along.
I’ve got a confession to make: I’ve never played the original God of War games. They were PlayStation-exclusive and I had an Xbox back then. This was my first dose of Kratos; I’ve been told that’s not a bad thing. With exceptional storytelling and a remarkably ambitious use of camerawork, the eponymous God of War’s most recent tale gripped me from the get-go. As a Gaiman fan, Cory Barlog and Santa Monica Studio’s confidence in playing around with Norse mythology really won me over, too.
You know, there’s a real possibility that Paratopic could be number one if I hadn’t played it so recently. It’s still sitting with me and I’m still in the “that was incredible” phase, so I don’t want to rank it properly until I’ve had time to take it in and be unbiased. Truly, though, this was the most engaged I’ve felt with a game in a long time.
Paratopic takes everything you think you’re comfortable with in games and says “not today, friendo.” It’s a work of genius that everybody should play at least once, if not several times. Again, I played this very recently, so I don’t feel comfortable ranking it higher. If not, it could have aged like a fine wine into first place.
4. Donut County
Donut County is a genuinely charming game. It’s confident, funny, and intriguing in a way that makes me still think about it now. I think the reason I was so fond of this game was that it didn’t ever really feel an urge to conform to anything. Also, it has a killer soundtrack.
With tasteful visuals, wacky mechanics, and character to burn, Donut County is a game I’ll take with me into 2019. It’s a game that got me excited about the possibility of similar games following suit, so that’s pretty indicative of how much of an impact it had on me.
5. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Ultimate was my first Smash game since Brawl on the Wii. I’m not very good at fighting games, as I’ve never really taken the time to get used to their mechanics. Smash, though; Smash gripped me.
I don’t expect this game to make many end of year lists, despite being a AAA Nintendo monster. I put a lot of time into Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, though, and it was time well spent. I think it would be disingenuous of me to leave it off, so here it is, rounding off the list at #5.