2017 was such a momentous year for gaming that I was already primed to believe 2018 couldn’t outdo it. Well, it ended up being true. 2018 wasn’t as strong, but it actually came pretty close. Although there weren’t as many big, new titles for me, my top five games of 2018 have made me unbelievably happy. Whenever I look back to this year, I will certainly remember the strong emotions these games have given me. Of course, there are some big hits that I never got to, like Marvel’s Spider-Man, Monster Hunter World, and Celeste. Perhaps they will show up in a future list for the Favorite Game Released Before 20XX category.
Favorite Game Released Before 2018, Played in 2018: Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle
I’ll be honest. I don’t like the Rabbids. However, I somehow enjoyed Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle despite them. This crossover combines the iconic characters of the Mushroom Kingdom and Ubisoft’s cartoonish, rascally Rabbids. I never expected these two franchises to ever meet, let alone be in a turn-based strategy game with guns together. Nor did I think I would enjoy it, but Mario + Rabbids is incredibly charming. It hooked me in with its solid tactics gameplay and hilarious cutscenes. This year’s Donkey Kong Adventure DLC was icing on the banana cake. Bonus points go to this game’s emotional reveal at E3 2017.
2018 Honorable Mentions
Pokemon: Let’s Go, Pikachu!, Far Cry 5
Top 5 Games of 2018
5. Detroit: Become Human
I’m a big fan of narrative-based adventure games like Life is Strange and the Telltales Games series (RIP). I now consider Detroit: Become Human the new standard for the genre. Detroit tells a compelling story about deviant androids in the year 2038. But what really captivated me was the ability to see these permutations of possibilities. I’m used to seeing “This person will remember this” and “This action will have consequences” in these games, but Detroit takes it to another level by showing you what outcomes your decisions lead you to through a massive flow chart. Even after beating the 30+ chapter game, I still find myself going back, replaying every chapter multiple times, just to discover every cutscene and ending. The relatable characters are also very endearing, despite supposedly being robotic. Detroit is an ambitious game, and I’m happy to have experienced it.
4. Dissidia Final Fantasy Opera Omnia
I’m not a huge fan of playing free-to-play mobile games. And yet Dissidia Final Fantasy Opera Omnia has somehow encroached on my top five list by being the only title that I played every day since its release back in January. That’s nearly 12 months of the same phone game. DFFOO may have microtransactions and require you to pull on random “gacha” banners, but it’s so generous in many other ways. First, you can play the entire story (so far) without having to wait for a stamina meter to refill. Second, the game gives you all the playable characters for free, so you only have to pull for their weapons using gems that are handed out generously as gifts. Third, I always found reasons to log in everyday, from its weekly events to full bonus chapters. Last and most importantly, DFFOO is a crossover featuring everyone I love from one of my most favorite series, Final Fantasy. This year, my wife and I replayed a bunch of old-school Final Fantasy games together, and I got to remember why these characters meant so much to me. Seeing them all in one place having a joint adventure is what sold me to this game. I consistently enjoyed leveling up my favorite heroes and witnessing cutscenes that are full of in-jokes and references spanning nearly three decades of a classic franchise.
3. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to have memorable experiences with Assassin’s Creed Odyssey that I will never forget. The game itself exceeded every expectation I had for an Assassin’s Creed game in 2018. It’s a gorgeous game, and I was addicted to running around the vast open-world of Greece with my favorite misthios Kassandra. As a fan of narrative adventures, I enjoyed making important choices throughout my playthrough, all leading up to some amazing fights and intense moments. There’s no better word I can use to describe Assassin’s Creed Odyssey than EPIC.
2. Octopath Traveler
If you couldn’t tell by my excitement over a Final Fantasy phone game, I love RPGs, specifically JRPGs. Square Enix’s Octopath Traveler is one of the best love letters to the old genre. The unique HD-2D sprite graphics effectively capture what these old Super Nintendo games looked like in my mind, but now with a beautiful, modernized touch. Octopath Traveler tells eight different stories, all of which filled me with a wave of feelings. The gameplay expands upon typical turn-based combat, delivering a battle system that is both clever and exciting. Everything from the stunning music to the open map captured my heart and immersed me in its retro-stylized world.
1. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
If there was ever a game that would become my Game of the Year, it just had to be Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. What can I say? I love Nintendo, and the Super Smash Bros. series is THE crossover that celebrates all of my favorite franchises. Over the last four games, the series has removed characters and stages. I had always hoped that the next Smash game would bring everyone back for a gigantic showdown. With the Nintendo Switch version, my wishes came true, and then some. Not only is everyone in the entire series included, but almost every stage and music tracks are all together in one ultimate collection. I haven’t even talked about the fighting gameplay, which is quicker than ever and sports the best mechanics since the immortal Super Smash Bros. Melee. And the new World of Light adventure mode is the greatest single-player experience I’ve had yet with the series, with hundreds of themed fights referencing a massive library of games from the company’s history. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate encompasses why I love Nintendo: its charming characters, attention to detail, and absolute reverence for the classic franchises that have defined my childhood.
I am a lifelong gamer, having grown up with Nintendo since I was young. My passion for gaming led to one of the greatest moments of my life, my video game themed wedding!