It is crazy that 2018 has already come and gone. I feel like I haven’t had time to soak it all in but wow, what a year. I feel like I say that on all of these lists. Yep, I just checked and I pretty much say that each year. You’d think every year is amazing and life is always getting better by my GOTY lists and that’s not necessarily true. But video games are kind of magical like that, they help heal wounds, inspire joy from darkness, and kindle determination to overcome challenges. Weirdly enough, I think a lot these games convey that exact message. If nothing else, these are the game I would wholeheartedly recommend to anyone and everyone.
Favorite Game Released Before 2018, Played in 2018: Sly 2: Band of Thieves
So, I know I just said that 2018 has flown by, but here I am nearly forgetting a game I played in January. I almost, ALMOST, gave this spot to the wrong game (which would have been Silent Hill: Shattered Memories and you should play it because it’s great). January already feels like several years ago, funny how that happens. Anyway, Sly 2: Band of Thieves: it's amazing. Its visuals hold up impressively well, the music and sound effects are phenomenal, and it 's better than both Sly 1 and 3. One of my favorite things while playing the game was seeing the roots of so many modern open world games (especially future Sucker Punch games but also early Assassin’s Creed games). Finally, the Sly Cooper games hold up better than any other PS2-era mascot game series. Please, I beg you, if you haven’t played the Sly 2, do so now.
2018 Honorable Mentions
Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, God of War, Q.U.B.E. 2, Spyro Reignited Trilogy, and Vampyr
Top 5 Games of 2018
5. Batman: The Enemy Within
With Batman: The Enemy Within, Telltale Games (RIP) had the monumental task of following up the first season’s stupendous story and improving on its particularly awful performance. And boy did they. The Enemy Within is not only a great successor to the previous season, but it is also an impressive game on its own, providing the best Joker origin story I have read, seen, or heard to date. Anthony Ingruber makes this season what it is, joining the ranks of Joker-greats such as Mark Hamill and Heath Ledger.
4. Red Dead Redemption 2
I’ll be frank, I still haven’t finished Red Dead Redemption 2 but I have no qualms with putting on this list. It’s weighty, it’s clunky, and it’s not what I would call fun. Everything takes time, everything requires you to be deliberate about it, and there are mechanics and controls that seem to be intentionally more complex than necessary. But there is something about it’s slowly paced world and quirky characters that is superb. It is, in a word, compelling and in a way no other game has been this year or recent memory.
3. The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit
I love Life is Strange. It’s a game I’ve tried multiple times to play for a second time but have never managed to do so. The first season packs some much emotional weight, just knowing how it ends has stopped me from beginning it again. Thankfully, Captain Spirit, the free prequel to Life is Strange 2, is here to save the day and manages to fit the same proportional amount of joy and sadness into its 1-2 story. It is as wonderful as it is brief. And since it’s free, no one has an excuse not to play it.
2. Shadow of the Colossus
I always wanted to play the original Shadow of the Colossus but never did, nor its HD remake on the PS3. I did, thankfully, finally get around to it with this year’s full-on remake and I am both grateful that this is the version I experienced first and regretful that I never got to experience it before. I can’t speak to how it updates, improves, or carries the spirit, mechanics, and gameplay of the original, but on its own, the 2018 version of Shadow the Colossus is a phenomenal adventure. You owe it to yourself to see this world remade, whether or not you’ve wandered through it before.
1. Marvel’s Spider-Man
I was only a few hours into Spider-Man when I knew it would be my game of the year. It’s just fantastic. From the excellent music to the sensational web-swinging to Yuri Lowenthal’s pitch-perfect performance as Peter Parker to the inspiring and heart-wrenching story to the engaging combat to the gorgeous graphics… it really is just amazing. I played it. I Platinumed it. Then I played it again. I had high expectations for Insomniac’s first superhero game and they did not disappoint. You can look back on all the games they’ve made over the last 10+ years and it feels like they all lead to this point. Insomniac has leveraged all of their strengths and made something wonderful. I honestly don’t know how they are going to make the inevitable sequel superior to this one but I cannot wait. If you only play one game this year, it needs to be Marvel’s Spider-Man.
Jonathan is the host of the DarkCast, DarkCast Interviews, and Gamers Read. He loves books, video games, and superheroes. If he had to pick favorites, they would be Welcome to the Monkey House, Mass Effect, and Superman respectively.