by Tanner Kinney and Daniel O’Connell
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
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.
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.
Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom
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.
Red Dead Redemption 2
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.
Mega Man 11
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.
Images: IGN, Nintendo Everything, YouTube, PlayStation, Nintendo
Featured Image: Tt Shinkan