Gaming had one of its greatest years possibly of all time last year,  with the big Nintendo titles dropping, Sonic finally getting a good  game, some pretty sizable exclusives for Sony like Persona 5,  and even plenty of amazing niche titles for those looking for something  different. After all of that, 2018 had a lot of hype to live up to, and  it certainly did deliver on many fronts. Some games were just terrible, of course, but this year had more winners than losers.  Sony in particular had a fantastic year of exclusives that,  unfortunately, we did not have the opportunity to do reviews on at the  time. So, just pretend God of War and Marvel’s Spider-Man are on this list. They’re there in spirit.

The games on this list are the top five highest reviewed games on our  site, as decided purely by the scores assigned to the review. The  cut-off for this year’s games was early December, so there might be some  noticeable Ultimate absences.  Some of these will seem like strange choices, but all of them are  deserving contenders of best of the year in one way or another. Whether  it be through platforming excellence or creating a sequel that far  surpases its predecessor, these games deserve to be recognized.

Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon

Image from IGN

by Tanner Kinney

In one of the biggest surprises of 2018, Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon appeared  seemingly out of nowhere and surprised my summer by being one of the  most solid and entertaining retro platformers I had ever played. It’s  classic Castlevania platforming, without the classic Castlevania quirks.  The great level design paired with the four unique characters makes the  game a blast to playthrough, even on multiple runs of the game. Even  now, after other great platformers have released in just this year, I  still can’t recommend this game enough. Plus, its price point is pretty  much perfect for the amount of content you can get out of the game. And  considering this is only an appetizer for the upcoming Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, hopes are high that a Kickstarter project from an acclaimed creator of an NES franchise will finally succeed.

Click here to read our original review of Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon.

The Messenger

Image from Nintendo Everything

by Tanner Kinney

The Messenger is, on the surface, a beautifully designed Ninja Gaiden spiritual  successor that balances challenge and fairness with ease, and is a  blast to play through. Once the game opens up during the second half of  the game, however, The Messenger really shines as something  truly unique. Breaking out of the cocoon of NES-inspired platformers  comes a Metroidvania with time-warping mechanics and mind-bending  platforming challenges. Although its strengths are more in the direct,  point-A to point-B levels, the things available to the player in this  game are all pretty fantastic. Although it does admittedly get a little  stale towards the end of the experience, the final levels in the game  are intense and showcase of the genius designers behind this project.  This game is a must-have for any platforming fan.

Click here to read our original review of The Messenger.

Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom

Image from YouTube

by Tanner Kinney

As a big fan of JRPG’s, I’ve played all different kinds of weird ones. From the classics like Final Fantasy V, to the PlayStation 2 JRPG boom with titles like Persona 3, to wide variety of strange modern JRPG’s like the great offerings from Idea Factory, I’ve seen the best and worst of the genre. The best is, of course, Xenoblade Chronicles 2, but that was last year. This year had a game that got close to that success, but fell just short: Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom.

Ni No Kuni II takes the fantastic soundtrack and aesthetic  of its predecessor while refining that game’s fatal flaw into the new  best feature: the gameplay. This now fully-fledged action RPG is fun and  exciting to blow through, even if it’s a bit on the easy side. The  characters are all fun and memorable, and the story itself is a  well-done version of the standard JRPG narrative. It may be missing some  of the charm of its predecessor, but all of the improvements to how the  game plays make up for it. It’s great fun, has hours upon hours of  content, and even has a neat town building minigame that eventually  became the driving force for my completion of it as a whole. If you love  JRPG’s and skipped this one, I highly recommend getting it now that the  difficulty curve has been made a bit meatier. It’s not a game to miss.

Click here to read our original review of Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom

Red Dead Redemption 2

Image from PlayStation

by Daniel O’Connell

Red Dead Redemption 2 is a worthy successor to the original game. It  is incredibly detailed, from aspects ranging from hunting, horses, and  guns. Rockstar provides us with a story in the twilight of the Old West,  following the Van Der Linde gang as their on the run from the law. The  main characters are interesting and compelling to follow, with Arthur  Morgan being an interesting contrast to John Marston. Rockstar has  outdone themselves again with Red Dead Redemption 2.

Click here to read our original review of Red Dead Redemption 2.

Mega Man 11

Image from Nintendo

by Tanner Kinney

In hindsight, there were objectively better games this year, and it’s probably strange to see Mega Man 11 on this list. However, Mega Man 11,  at least to me, is more than just a game: it’s a redemption arc. After  getting nearly killed by Capcom to getting humiliated by his own father  Keiji Inafune, it was thought that Mega Man couldn’t thrive in  the current gaming scene. It would forever stay 8-bit nostalgia bait.  Yet, Capcom did something amazing and actually revived the dying man,  and it was well worth the wait.

Mega Man 11 may not be as great as the best of the classic series, like 2 or 3, but that’s tough competition, and Mega Man 11 still  lives up to its legacy. Great level design is paired with tight,  near-perfect gameplay and a new mechanic that makes the experience fresh  and modern. The sleek coat of modern paint given to the series is also a  much needed and much approved change, and with time it can only get  better looking from here. It has got the teeth of challenge that classic  Mega Man has, but with actual ways to make things easier to  manage. The only real disappointment came from sound design, but that’s a  small price to pay for seeing the beloved Blue Bomber back and looking  this good. If something as good as Mega Man 11 is just the starting point for the new revival, the future is looking bright for this once-dead franchise.

Click here to read our original review of Mega Man 11.

Images: IGN, Nintendo Everything, YouTube, PlayStation, Nintendo

Featured Image: Tt Shinkan

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