There are already so many potential game of the year contenders and we’ve only struck the midpoint of 2018. As we rapidly approach the season marked by the end of E3 in June, the fall releases will begin to quickly arrive in late August
and won’t stop rolling out until the year is over, and I am sitting here making another list in the dark of January, wondering what I’m doing with my life.
Video games can be great! They can entertain us, drive our imaginations wild, allow us to tinker with larger than life puzzles, and even with some titles contemplate humanity, humility and worldliness. This is a very diverse list of mega popular hits to darling indie gems, and I refuse to assemble them into a ranking order because, frankly to do that with these games isn’t quite fair to the necessity to play more than the singular “best one.” These games are all rich with content and style, and are deserving of your time. I’ll let our writer’s staff elaborate below.
Fortnite is not on this list because it technically entered its early access period last summer, but good on you for asking.
Celeste by Matt Makes Games (PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC, Mac, Linux)
Visually exquisite, emotionally affecting, an exercise in the profundity of simplicity and an everclear point of purity in a market that’s otherwise saturated with cookie-cutter, I-beat-you-to-it copies of copies, Celeste stands out as a top title of the year for as many reasons as rounds of gameplay one will endure when attempting to complete its gorgeous, god-awfully difficult levels. The brainchild of Matt Thorson and Noel Berry, birthed in a game jam before getting jelled out to a full sweet release, the platformer feels both grander than the sum of its parts — a story about an anxious young woman named Madeline who ventures to scale the eponymous Celeste Mountain, the promise that answers to pain and a resolution to turmoil await at the landform’s summit, increasingly tough obstacles to overcome, an impeccably timed score — and as close to the heart as the pieces that make it whole. Yes, Celeste is hard (wanna-rip-your-hair-out so, at times) but that’s where it finds its strength — and how it teaches players its core message, one vital to the human experience: Accepting failure and choosing time and again to grow from pain isn’t just as hard as climbing a mountain, it is climbing a mountain. But it’s also beautiful and warming, often winsome and other times eyewideningly dark, and begs the question, “If overcoming challenges is half the fun in Celeste, who’s to say it can’t be the same in life?”
God of War by Santa Monica Studios (PS4)
God of War is a truly nostalgic trip down memory lane for anyone who played the previous installments in the series back on the PS2. It’s the story of a deadly warrior with a troubled past who just wants to start a new life. Every time he tries to escape, his past pulls him back in. This game takes the gameplay mechanics and story from the original games and adds a new environment, a different mythology, and the addition of a secondary character to help you on your journey. The addition of the Leviathan Axe as a primary weapon is a rewarding and amazing experience for new players and veterans to the series. Kratos may be older this time around, but he sure hasn’t changed a bit!
Read Tyler’s full review of God of War here.
Monster Hunter World by Capcom (PS4, Xbox One)
“Seeeeeeeeeee myyy vest! See my vest? Made from REAL gorilla chest!”
Monster Hunter World is the bloodiest fashion design game since the legendary Team Fortress 2, the infamous cold war themed hat simulator. Now, those are some big shoes to fill, but MHW pulls it off with style. The series revolves around the capture and murder of wild exotic animals in order to make improved stylish clothes and weapons, allowing you to murder harder monsters, rinse repeat. In a unique spin, your character has no experience, doesn’t gain levels or learn new tricks, it’s all about what (or quite literally WHO) you wear. There are 14 weapon types, all surprisingly different from each other, and all require different play styles; blades are good for close up melee scraps, hammers are the powerhouses that can destroy monster parts, bowguns are the ranged weapons and great at elemental damage, and the bagpipe is for buffs and debuffs and just plain looking rad. Now, while all Monster Hunter games are single player capable, everything works better with friends, and World is the series best take on multiplayer yet. The network play, while initially pretty confusing, is remarkably stable, and even after playing hundreds of matches, I never had a game drop. Long story short, absolutely pick up Monster Hunter World, and if you haven’t yet, the PC version is coming out eventually but Capcom assures it’s going to be worth the wait.
Also, pick up Generations Ultimate on Nintendo Switch. It’s the culmination of the old style of Monster Hunter, and portable, like all good Monster Hunters!
Read Alex Suffolk’s full review of Monster Hunter World here.
Iconoclasts by Joakim Sandberg (PS4, PS Vita, PC, Linux, Mac)
Since my review of Iconoclasts back in February, I’ve found it difficult to not compare the game to various releases that followed it. By doing so, I’ve only found more fondness for this little passion project. As expected, the big AAA release that also tried to tell the story of religion gone awry fell flat, making it all the more impressive that Iconoclasts manages such a feat with much less on hand to do so with. Additionally, Iconoclasts still stands out as incredibly well polished platformer, with performance wound like a Swiss watch. Missing a platform is still possible, but you definitely can’t blame the game. Of course, it’s also no secret that maybe this game more than any other this year feels particularly timely, even given the game’s fairly long development time. There’s something extremely 2018 about everything going on in Iconoclasts, from the theocratic nature of its governments to rebellious nature of its resident queer woman of color-pushing back against the perceived normal by simply existing. I have no regrets naming Iconoclasts my indie stan of 2018; and if you’ve slept on this one, you best not be telling people you’ve played everything that has mattered this year.
Read Travis’ full review of Iconoclasts here.
Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire (PC)
I can’t lie, Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire is a massive open world RPG experience that demands hours of gameplay to finish and it uses a top down camera akin to Diablo 3 that may turn off a lot of gamers from taking a peak. But make no mistake, this is a must play experience from Obsidian Entertainment. Not only is PoE 2: Deadfire a game of the year contender, it is one of the greatest games I have had the pleasure of playing. Featuring a real time pause and play strategy combat system and one of, if not the, most immersive narrative experience in an RPG ever. Anyone who loves story in games owes it to themselves to try out PoE 2: Deadfire, it deserves your love.
Read Grant’s full review of Pillars of Eternity II here.
What did you think of this shortlist of top game titles so far this year? Have you played any of them, or are they at least on your list? Share your favorites with us on social media with Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @TYFOfficial, or join our Discord server community!