Is it really that time again?
You bet your sweet eyeballs it is, friend. Another year has passed and there’s very little else we can say about 2018 in terms of gaming that hasn’t already been said. An absolutely stellar year across the board has made us genuinely scratch our heads with what we would be considering for our Ultimate Game of the Year.
We skimped out on doing it last year because there were just too many great games to choose from. In 2018? It’s damn near impossible so we’re doing the same again this year! As we’re four individual gamers who have a variety of tastes we had each chosen our three favourite games of the year (along with honourable mentions), ensuring they don’t clash to save any confusion from last year (no, Odyssey wasn’t the GOTY).
It’s been a magnificent year for video games and 2019 is shaping up just as strong, so no doubt this time next year we’ll be doing the same thing all over again.
So without further ado and in no particular order, here are the Finger Guns Games of the Year 2018.
There’s not much else to add to what Sean already added in his review, from a personal point of view though I remember sitting down with the game in its preview stage and fell in love immediately with the ragtag protagonists, a group of kids (not unlike The Goonies or the gang from Stranger Things) off on an adventure that would have them battling ghosts, gangs, crooks and thieves. The story surprises you at every opportunity and intersperses the best of a variety of genres, wrapped up in pixel-art visuals brought bang up to date with crisp colours and some glorious effects that look gorgeous.
Sean and I couldn’t stop talking about it upon release and we continue to sing its praises to this day. Hence it being on this list. It’s just wondrous, and I desire a sequel immediately.
A little while after Where the Water Tastes Like Wine was released, a developer shared on Twitter how the game had completely bombed, and didn’t resonate with audiences like they were expecting, effectively seeing very little return for their monumental efforts.
To me, this was heartbreaking to hear because Where the Water Tastes Like Wine is one of the most astonishingly moving experiences I’ve ever had in gaming. You might be surprised to see a PC only game on my list as here at FG we’re almost exclusively console based, but we had a code sent over and thought I’d give it a shot despite my PC coughing up a lung to get it running smoothly. I’m so glad I gave it a shot. From the beautiful soundtrack to the stories told by those you meet across the breadth of a broken Americana.
The narrative thread throughout pulls you in and doesn’t ever let you go, discovering a vast array of reasons as to why the people you meet are where they are and what they dream of. The voice performances in this game are perhaps some of the best of year from the likes of Dave Fennoy, Cissy Jones and even Sting. Yeah, that one. Each one is more powerful than the next and I was a broken mess by the end.
If the gaming world turned its back on this game then fine, that’s their choice. They’re missing out though, I haven’t loved a game in this genre as much as Wine since Edith Finch. It might even be better.
‘But wait! Monster Boy only came out last week?!’ I hear you cry. Yes, yes it did. ‘Surely, Rossko you’ve played better games this year?’. I haven’t played many, perhaps two in fact, the two above this particular paragraph you would expect?
That’s not the point though, the sheer fact is Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom is tremendous and deserves to be on this list. From the utterly stunning 2D visuals that look deliriously good on a flatscreen to the levels designed and tweaked to an inch of their life, the immediate replayability to discover the secrets each location is hiding, the characters that bring everything to life and the music (oh man, the music). I’m completely in love with Cursed Kingdom and I’ll recommend it to anyone. There aren’t many games this year that have blown the roof off their genres like Monster Boy has, and the more I play it the more I love it.
Where to begin with Strange Brigade? The whole team have had a blast tearing through in from beginning to end over on our Twitch channel, and we’ve enjoyed the DLC even more. All of us have thoroughly enjoyed the humour, the terrific gunplay, the endless enemies and the tough bosses that had us scratching our heads for a long while. Perhaps too long. Thank goodness Greg is around to help us through the puzzles.
It’s a cracking online co-op experience that’s had me howling with laughter, keeping me thoroughly entertained. It deserves a bigger audience and I hope there is more content incoming, I’m not ready to leave the game just yet. Guess I’ll jump on the Horde modes?
Well, what year it has been for gamers. Spoiled for choice really. Out of the vast waves of games that have released this year, who would have thought that Sony’s VR headset would be the home of two, that’s right TWO of my favourite games of the year? A small mouse of all characters and some kind of block slotting puzzle game you may have heard of. Oh and there is a game that features Light Sabers. So without further ado and no pointless ramblings, here are my games of the year for 2018.
It’s been a long time coming. Not since the original Spider-Man came out on PS2 has there been a chance to really enjoy playing everyone’s favourite wall-crawler. But along cam Insomniac and delivered exactly what every Spidey fan had been asking for. Now although there is nothing particularly new about this game. After all you’re swinging around an open-world New York duffing up bad guys. But with Insomniac’s Spider-Man they have literally perfected every aspect of gameplay. The swinging mechanics ware just sublime. The combat is perfect, better than the Arkham games, the story is spot on, the re-imagined villains are menacing and the script and wise cracks are straight out of the comic books. It’s just a near perfect example of how to make a superhero game. If you’ve not played it, then I suggest you do.
Tetris has been around for a long long time for good reason. It’s the most simple of premises that really appeals to that one more go gamer. It’s also kind of therapeutic, slotting different shaped blocks into perfect formation, really appeals to the OCD in you. Anyway fast forward from the original Game Boy versions which made the game famous, we have a super modern update that now syncs every rotation, drop and Tetris to a thumping soundtrack and decorated with some of the finest particles you’ll ever see. Now, put all that into VR and you have without doubt the greater puzzle game that’s ever graced a console. It would be stupid not to include this absolute beast of a game in the Finger Guns games of the year.
Shock horror here is another VR game that’s made it to the Game of the Year list. What can I say about Moss, the most unlikely of heroes, yet arguably one of the most loveable. He’s just a small mouse with a sword but in VR he has more character than any of the wham bam thank you mam shooter and blaster we’re inundated with. Something quite magical happens when the game starts. You are instantly sucked into a world where you’re looking down at a real story unfolding, the animation of Moss really makes you believe you’re watching your pet gerbil embark on a fantasy adventure. Nifty platform action, simple combat and crafty puzzles all make Moss a definite contender for game of the year. Magical.
We can’t have a Game of the Year without mentioning Red Dead Redemption 2. It didn’t quite make the cut because, well it’s Rockstar and I’m a getting a little tired of their micro-games, sluggish controls and general seriousness that they seem to have adopted since the amazing spectacle that was San Andreas. But no doubt about it Rockstar have created one of the finest looking games to date, one of the largest game worlds we’ve ever travelled across and a bunch of loveable roguish characters that you can really pour your time into. For that, Red Dead Redemption 2 gets an honourable mention.
Being the newest of the group, starting in July, the world of reviewing was a minefield to me. It’s really made me appreciate all kinds of titles, instead of sticking to the games I like and not branching out.
So whilst one of mine may be old (of sorts), my other picks have really been something special to get me out of my comfort zone.
As was apparent in my review, I have an absolute love for pixel art games. It harkens back to a simpler time in my youth when games were more than style over substance.
Dead Cells not only has buckets of charm, it also has that incessant “must improve or die” formula that makes it so equally addictive and frustrating. Borne of classics like Metroid and Castlevania, combined with modern day randomised levels, it never gets stale.
Utilising both permanent and temporary health and status boosts, alongside customisable weaponry, it encourages players to mix it up each playthrough and carve their own route.
It’s difficult, but it’s oh so worth it if you stick with it.
Conversely, David Cage’s latest does put a lot of effort into looking outstanding in today’s current market. Combining the standard Quantic Dream tropes of real life actor face mapping, alongside the fantastical use of near-future robotics and sentience, it draws you in to a world not unlike our current one.
Playing on modern fears set out in fiction like I, Robot and The Matrix, D:BH asks the “what ifs?” that are presented in these scenarios: what if robots (or AI’s) decide they don’t need us, that we’re obsolete, that they can defy their makers and become independent.
Without wanting to spoil, it’s definitely a strong look into that possibility. Cage has reigned in the wackiness from earlier titles (like Fahrenheit’s bizarre story or Beyond: Two Souls spiritual powers) to make a more grounded, compelling story experience.
Yes, I am aware this was originally out in 2006. But this is not a simple spit and polish remaster, this is a remake from the ground up, and I consider it a “new game”.
What can I say that hasn’t already been said many times over? It’s not just a game, but an experience. It’s something we haven’t seen the likes again, and even Last Guardian didn’t quite capture the magic of SotC.
It’s also a visually beautiful game. Everything is faithfully restored and given the modern treatment. It took me twice as long to finish, because I’d be stopping to take in the scenery, or pause and try and capture each colossi in photo mode.
I never said I wasn’t a hypocrite, considering I said graphics weren’t everything in my Dead Cells caviat above. But if there were an exception, it’d be Shadow of the Colossus. The look, the score, the sheer scope of one of the most ambitious games of the last two decades. If you haven’t tried it, you must.
This beautiful game misses out on a GotY place purely because I stopped playing it.
Which is a shame, because it’s a staggeringly deep and massive game. The scale and breadth of the monsters you hunt (surprisingly) are vast and varied, and all part of the necessary grind to progress and craft better equipment. It encapsulates extravagant combat and many “hey, check this out” moments with friends.
Sadly, I was playing this between moving house and my co-op buddy decided he’d crack on without me and finish it. That killed the momentum for me, and I haven’t returned since. But there’s been a heap of updates since launch, so here’s to getting back to it…one day.
I’ll admit, I was worried when Sony first announced that Kratos was making a comeback. Despite enjoying all of his adventures on the PS2 and PS3, the crass, angst fuelled trips the Ghost of Sparta had been on were products of their time. I couldn’t see a way for Kratos to be anything more than an embarrassing relic of the past – but Cory Barlog and the teams at Sony Santa Monica did. What they delivered with God of War is a pitch perfect maturity for the series, acknowledging Krato’s past while embracing the need for change and delivering that in spades. The plot, packed full of symbolism and self-awareness, nuance and reflection will be talked about for years and will likely be the subject of a number of dissertations this coming year. The combat, a combination of gratifying oomph and fluid visceral action is some of the most satisfying on the PS4 too. To put it bluntly, God of War raised the bar for third person adventure games in almost every regard, easily making this one of the best games of 2018.
Minit is a beautiful marriage between concept, game design and charisma that’s a real rarity. A life lived 60 seconds at a time, with everything in this game coordinated around that limitation, it’s a quirky adventure an a real curio. In my review, I wrote “Minit is a sublime concoction of old school RPG’s, innovative thinking, smart game design, a tonne of replayability and oodles of personality. Minit is the personification of a brilliant idea and the product of people who really do know how to make a bloody good game.” and for me, it’s one of the best things to come out of 2018.
Almost 90 hours into Ubisoft’s latest open world epic and I’m still finding new things to do – Not just new environments or locations either, but new ways to play around with the systems too (like shooting a fire arrow into a poison cloud to cause explosions). As open worlds go, Odyssey is one of the most well designed I’ve ever come across. Rather than just following waypoints around, there’s a natural flow to the environment which draws your eye around it. As an overall product, Odyssey is the “best of” collection for Assassin’s Creed elements, combining everything we’ve loved over the years about Assassin’s Creed into one package. What’s more it solve a lot of the age old problems the series has had – like murdering civilians, which in past incarnations would eventually trigger a “desyncronisation” where as here, any murders attract the attention of Bounty hunters which hound your every move. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is my personal favourite game of the year and rightfully deserves its space on this list.
P.S. Kassandra for lyfe.
Much like Blur and Split/Second, ONRUSH will likely go under appreciated during its own time – but in a few years time, it’ll be a cult classic. When Codemasters Evolution managed to create with ONRUSH was something totally unique – a team based wreckathon racer with no finishing line – that for me, totally changed the way I appreciate other racing games. Visually stunning with a system that keeps you in the action at all times, ONRUSH has been one of the purest, most enjoyable experiences I’ve had in 2018 (something Rossko agreed with in his review) and I sure hope that there’s life in the game through 2019 too.
First person narrative games that include puzzles normally manage to get one of those 2 elements correct. It’s rare that a game manages to break ground with its puzzle design and narrative at the same time (Portal being the most obvious) but it something The Spectrum Retreat managed to make seem effortless. With head scratching environmental puzzles, an iconic setting, nightmare fuelling automatons and a narrative that plays with the concept of player motivation and being “the bad guy”, it’s a truly special game that’s lodged itself in my mind since I played it all the way back in July when I awarded in 9/10. A must play from 2018.
So there you go, the Finger Guns Games of the Year 2018. It’s been a hell of a twelve months for our favourite medium and we can’t wait to see what 2019 holds. Disagree? Of course you do, let us know in the comments what we’ve criminally ignored.
Thank you for coming to Finger Guns, we really appreciate it. See you next year?