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LONG BLOG

TheLimoMaker's Games of the Year - 2018

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Better Late Than Never 

It's... Damn it's July and I am only now getting to my game of the year list.
Blame school, I certainly do. I've had my final list completed for about three months now but am only now getting around to writing it.

2018 was certainly a good year for games.
Not a great year mind you but certainly a good one, with fantastic Triple-A experiences and quality indie games that all helped one another to create a fairly memorable year in gaming. 

On top of all the games that arrived in 2018 I also had to catch up on the Switch exclusives that I missed out on 2017, so you can only imagine the undertaking I had this year trying to both beat a year long backlog and tackle multiple new games at once. 
But, I'm nothing if not stubborn, so I pressed on and beat as many games as humanly possible whilst also trying to balance university, swimming, gym and a new job.
Yes I am aware I'm crazy.
No I may never seek help. 

Before we get into the list proper, here are some 'Honourable Mentions' for you to scan and judge me for not including in the list proper. 

Honourable Mentions

Into the Breach - A solid game that I did not hate 

Pillars of Eternity 2 - Not as good as the first but I still stole my brothers PC for a whole three weeks to play it

Dragon Quest XI - Still haven't beaten it, I'm only 30 hours in so the tutorial should be done soon

A Way Out - Playing this with GM was one of my favourite experiences in co-operative gaming

Hollow Knight - A solid 7/10 game, making it as good as Breath of the Wild 

 

Number 15

Beat Saber

Developers: Beat Games

TheLimoMaker's Rating: 7/10

VR has never necessarily done much for me. 
It was nothing more to me than a gimmick, something that had great promise but few games would ever really run with the technology and make something truly great. 

Resident Evil 7 exists, sure, and is a fantastic experience in VR, but the amount of quality titles was sorely lacking; I never really found a game that had that "one-more-round" type experience that virtual reality sorely needed.

Beat Saber came out, I put the headset on and before I knew it, twenty eight hours had passed, my vision was blurred and my girlfriend had already declared me legally dead. 

The game isn't groundbreaking, nor is it going to change your life.
But it's a rhythm game and a damn fine one at that. It's addictive, it's a visual feast and it has the ability to grip you for multiple hours on end, especially now that it has multiple DLC's out for you to download and experience. 

Also, it's blindingly difficult. Trying to remember which saber swings hit which blocks is one of those things I don't think I'll ever truly understand, like how people can genuinely enjoy Halo 2

 

Number 14. 

Hitman 2

Developers: IO Interactive

TheLimoMaker's Rating: 7.5/10

Killing people has never felt so good.
Wait let me rephrase that. 
Virtually killing people has never felt so good. 
Perfect. 

Expanding upon the excellent first title in this reboot series, Hitman 2 has larger more detailed locales and has just as large a variety of ways to murder someone. 
Fancy murdering someone with a tattoo needle? Go ahead. 
Sabotage a racecar? Do it.
Murder a man with a prototype Terminator? The best way to 'off' someone that's for sure. 

Learning information and gathering clues about your target is half the fun, as you don various disguises and wander back and forth through the levels, to the point where you gain an intimate knowledge of the layout and design of each map.
Knowledge of your escape routes become second nature and this knowledge in turn allows you to intimately plan out your route to and from the target, dropping off disguises and stashing weapons as you go, only to be spotted and chased in circles until the dodgy enemy AI forgets you exist. 

Good stuff, check it out.
It's not an especially deep time or an incredibly memorable time but its fun as all hell and can be beaten in a weekend.

 

Number 13

Tetris Effect

Developers: Monstars and Resonair 

TheLimoMaker's Rating: 7.5/10

Tetris is just one of those franchises I never quite understood the appeal of. 
Much like Mario, Zelda, Pong and Halo I just couldn't quite click with any of the entries in the series, I would simply become bored and quit, uninstall the game and never think about it again. 

I was graced with Tetris Effect the same day as Beat Saber. Obviously I chose the rhythm game with lightsabers over the game that belonged to a franchise I despised. 
More fool me right, as you can plainly see I ended up considering Tetris Effect one of the best games of its year. 

Playing it in virtual reality is truly a sight to behold especially when coupled with a good set of headphones, as it allows you to truly immerse yourself within the blocky world crafted by its developers. 
Also, this immerison allows you to fully appreciate the music which is best described as euphoric; no other soundtrack this year has put me into a 'zen' state like the tracks found on Tetris Effect

Some people see the world as a glass half-full or half-empty.
I see it as a bunch of blocks stacked together. Thanks Tetris. 

 

Number 12

Celeste

Developers: Matt Makes Games

TheLimoMaker's Rating: 7.5/10

Celeste is remarkable in its level design and ability to combine storytelling with gameplay. 
Marrying themes with moment-to-moment gameplay is a difficult thing to do for any developer to do and yet, with their debut games, Matt Makes Games have knocked it out of the park and created a platformer for the ages.

Celeste doesn't feel like a game that belongs in the year 2018 because it kind of feels timeless.
As a love letter to old school platformers it does a splendid job, but with the tight controls and more intimate character moments it also feels like the culmination of a genre. 

To a fan of the platforming genre, this could very well be your game of the year. 
As someone who doesn't really enjoy these types of games, I can safely put it in this spot with confidence that nobody will attempt to argue with me.

Good?
Good. 

 

Number 11

Florence

Developers: Mountains

TheLimoMaker's Rating: 8/10

Sometimes a mobile game come along that reminds you that not all mobile games are hopeless, hapless cashgrabs. 
Sometimes a mobile game comes along that shows you that creative independent studios are still working within a bubble that you have long written off as creatively bankrupt. 
Sometimes, a mobile game like Florence comes along. 

A love story told over an hour, the game doesn't overstay its welcome, doesn't set up a sequel and doesn't try to be anything more than it is. 
It's a short, story driven game with no dialogue relying solely on the touchscreen to tell its story of love between two characters. 

It came out towards the start of 2018, and I couldn't shake it from my memory towards the end. 

 

Number 10

Gris

Developers: Nomada Studio

TheLimoMaker's Rating: 8/10

This game didn't exactly grab me the first time I played it.
I found it to be a dull slog that never really tried to do anything with its themes other than say that they exist. 

I mean, I still feel that way, but I have had time to ruminate on Gris and the more I think about it the more I find myself warming to it. 
The art style definitely helps make me view it in a more positive light. 

Beautifully crafted, all of the backdrops in Gris could be used as a wallpaper, poster, canvas... Choose a way to immortalise it in printed/digital form that you can gawk at daily and the art in Gris would be right at home. 
Gradually unlocking new colours allows for the pallette to be ever changing, allowing for the player to always have form of visual stimulation. 

It's not a perfect game and could be a lot deeper than it currently is, but it's a game that deserves its place on this list for trying in the first place. 

 

Number 9

Astro Bot: Rescue Mission

Developers: SIE Japan Studio

TheLimoMaker's Rating: 8/10

Virtual reality once again crashing the "only real games allowed" party.

This is probably my favourite virtual reality game on the market right now, not just because it's a joy to play but because you can feel the effort put into the game. 
Every inch of the game drips with charm and the vibrant colours are a feast for the eyes. 

While the two previously mentioned VR games are the video game equivalent of the starters, Astro Bot is the main course, offering a beautiful experience that will woo those who enjoy VR and those who typically don't. 
I found this to be the game that has set the bar for me; VR games have to be this well crafted and optimised for me to consider them good VR games.

It's an absolute a treat and a definite recommend. 

 

Number 8

Iconoclasts

Developers: Konjak

TheLimoMaker's Rating: 8/10

I went in blind.
Boy was I happy I did. 

With satisfying exploration and a plot that isn't too shabby (it's actually bloody brilliant, but seriously the less you know the better), I found myself unable to put the game down until I saw the credits. 
Iconoclasts knocked me on my ass because I was not expecting it to be as gripping as it was; from the gameplay and visuals, down to the subtle character moments laced throughout the plot. 

It is such a good game and definitely one of the more underrated titles of 2018. 

 

Number 7

Super Mario Odyssey

Developers: Nintendo EPD

TheLimoMaker's Rating: 8.5/10

Why do people love Mario games? 
I wondered this allowed as I saw the intial screenshots of Suer Mario Odyssey, with the titular character sprinting through environments and beating up enemies, his new companion Cappy possessing unwilling hosts left and right. 

Every Mario game I had tried had fallen flat, my interest falling off halfway through as I discard it to the waste pile. This time though, everything fell into place and I spent the better parts of my time off work trying to collect Moons and explore new worlds; it is the only game since I received my Switch, that has actually had me using the handheld mode just because I wanted to play it every moment I could. 

It is simply wonderful, unabashedly fun and tightly designed to keep you wanting to explore every nook and cranny in every single world you unlock. 
The boss fights leave something to be desired and the motion controls are bollocks, but those minor nitpicks do not diminish the fact that Super Mario Odyssey is the best exclusive available for the Nintendo Switch right now. 

 

Number 6

Subnautica

Developers: Unknown Worlds Entertainment

TheLimoMaker's Rating: 8.5/10

Subnautica is bets described as Anxiety: The Game. Do you have a fear of drowning? A fear of the unknown? A fear of the ocean? A fear of being isolated? A fear of being unable to hear a threat approaching you form behind? 
Good news, you experience all of that within this game's runtime.

Survival games are a bit old-hat now, where the errands you run have no real meat to their bones, instead making the gaming experience feel like a chore as you try to "make your own fun."
With Subnautica though, I will say the experience was different.
It isn't procedurally generated. The map is design by hand and allows for you to gain an in-depth knowledge of all the little hideaways and escape routes and farming points. 
The game has a a narrative, a bloody good one too, with intrigue and plot twists and even has an ending for you to enjoy. 

Subnautica is what you get when you look at a video game developer looks at their competitors and says: "What are they doing wrong that we can do better?" 
It is now the gold standard survival game and I found that it is also the game that turned doubters of the genre into believers. 

It's truly the best in its genre. 

 

Number 5

The Missing: J.J Macfield and the Island of Memories

Developers: White Owls

TheLimoMaker's Rating: 9/10

This game was hard to play, probably the hardest to play all year actually. 
It was the sound design that messed me up; the detailed ripping of flesh as J.J throws herself at barbed wire again and again, her wails of pain flickering in my ear hours after I've heard them. 

I never once thought that Swery, developer of Deadly Premonition, could make a game so thoughtful, harrowing and emotionally resonant as The Missing
His understanding of thematic exploration through gameplay is almost unrivalled within this game, as he delves into some rather gruesome and difficult subjects. 

This game isn't about me or people, so the fact that the story affected me as much as it did shows just how damn good The Missing is.
There have been some wonderful pieces on it on other websites from people who are far more qualified and learned than I, so go play the game and read their experiences. 

I wish I could experience it for the first time again. 

 

Number 4

Red Dead Redemption 2

Developers: Rockstar Games

TheLimoMaker's Rating: 9/10

This was originally much higher on the list, competing for the top spot, neck and neck with two other games on this list. 
Then I let the experience stew for a while and upon reflection, I just can't say that it is the masterpiece its Metacritic score would have you believe because it is just a bore to play at times. 

The mission design is absolutely atrocious, feeling like it belongs in a game made a decade ago. Every mission plays out as such: "Cutscene. Objective is here. Go there. No not there. Kill these people. Travel here. Cutscene." 
It grows old very fast and then you have the stiff controls that feel like you are actively fighting the game itself. Multiple times I had my character move out of cover or walk to one side when I wasn't een holding the button down, it just had that much input delay.

These things aren't something you ever enjoy but simply something you endure.
The reason you endure them though, is everything else the game offers. 

The world is gorgeous, a sumptuous feast for players to enjoy. Greens and browns and blues and whites and greys craft a cacophony of colours that make up the Wild West, a world for I cme to explore that I could never have dreamed of myself. 
On a technical level visually, the game is stunning and has few that equal it in terms of its splendor. 

Allow me to gush quickly about the characters.
All of them are great. They are consistently written and never break the logic the game presents; every single one of them is superbly acted, the standouts of which are Benjamin Byron Davis as Dutch and Roger Clarke as Arthur Morgan. 

Davis has an unhinged tone in his voice and a lilt in his speeches that just makes you question his motivations, yet at the same time every line drips with confidence and bravado, so much so that, in the beginning, you find yourself blindly following him the same way Arthur Morgan does.

And what a character Morgan is. 
He is easily one of the best original characters ever created in a video game and might be one of my favourite characters in any medium period. 
His growth is substantial and his story wraps beautiully around that of the original Red Dead Redemption (do the good ending, it makes far more sense). 

So yeah. Great game but not because of the htings that make it a "game." 

 

Number 3

Spider-Man

Developers: Insomniac 

TheLimoMaker's Rating: 9/10

The game that 5 year old Limo dreamed about as a kid, where I could truly live out my dream of web-slinging through New York. 
This game is great. 

It has a lethargic 2nd Act but when the 3rd Act rolls around, the pacing is top notch and leaves you breathless. 
If it weren't for that lethargic pace of the second part f the story and the relentless open-world busy work that takes up much of your time, this would probably have been my Game of the Year because everything else is so wonderful. 

Doom 2016 and Titanfall 2 were the last two games that just made me want to play them for the feeling they give when you use the controller.
Spider-Man, like those two games, feels right when you play it. It feels fluid, slick and just all round fun. 

But this isn't at the expense of the narrative, because here we have, in my opinion, the definitive Spider-Man story, with twists and turns and, once again, excellent character writing and voice acting all round; Yuri Lowenthal absolutely killed it as Peter Parker. 
Honestly, the voice acting on display from Yuri was astounding, so much so that I want him to voice Peter Parker indefinitely in every video game adaptaion moving forward. 

It's probably one of my favourite super hero games ever, tied with Arkham Asylum, because it never loses its fun factor for the sake of story nor does it sacrifice a compelling narrative to make things feel more "gamey." 
It struck a perfect balance. 

It is an almost perfect Spider-Man game. 

 

Number 2

God of War

Developers: Sony Santa Monica

TheLimoMaker's Rating: 9/10

The game clicked with me in almost every way. It is the update the franchise sorely needed. It is the mature progression of the series and it has swiftly become one of my favourite games of all time. 

As a lover of film, the game is catnip to me, with the 'one-take' camera technique being deployed to create a sense of intimacy and a sense of place, putting you, the player, closer to Kratos than ever before.
This particular cinematic technique is then connected to the game's exploration of Kratos himself, meaning that this more intimate approach to camerawork is mirrored by a more intimate approach to the charcter. 

The gameplay is addictive, visceral and weighty. like Hellblade but difficult and deeper. 
The use of a recall button for your Leviathan Axe is just wonderful, allowing for the player to make spur of the moment decsions that halt the enemy's advances and keep the crowd under control. 

It's not a 10/10 game only because of its persistent reuse of enemies (especially trolls as boss battles) and the rather trite use of Niflheim and Muspelheim; two realms that I was really looking forward to exploring being turned into challenge areas was incredibly disappointing. 

But don't let those niggles put you off. Play God of War for the moment to moment action, the incredible performances, the stellar story, the bretahtaking visuals, the untouchable direction and cinematography.
Come and experience one of the best games this generation. 

 

Number 1

Return of the Obra Dinn

Developers: Lucas Pope

TheLimoMaker's Rating: 9.5/10

A game that makes me feel intelligent deserves the top spot. 
No other developer working today seems to make games like lucas Pope; he's two for two now in this little niche genre he has going for himself, where he takes the dull or seemingly insipid settings/occupations and turns them into compelling games.

Paper's Please begets Return of the Obra Dinn.
In the first you play as a passport control officer letting people into the country.
In the second you play as an insurance adjuster trying to solve a mystery onboard the titular Obra Dinn.

The games should be boring but aren't and Lucas Pope seems to know how to craft something intelligent and mechanically rewarding out of something so tedious.
It's a genre I am lovingly calling "Bored-Games" because really its a misnomer but also what most people would mock them for if you were to try and explain what they were about using only words. 

In Return of the Obra Dinn you use a pcket watch to rewind time and piece together how each individual crew member disappeared from the ship. 
Not all of the crew members are found in order and that, in itself, is one of the things oyu have to work out for yourself. Occasionally the game throws roadblocks at you and I was left banging my head in frustration as the answer to the puzzle seemed too obtuse; eventually though, the path forward became clear to me and I could continue down the rabbit hole. 

Ultimately the game is cathartic. 
You feel accomplished for having beaten it. You feel rewarded constantly as the game and developer pat you on the back for being a clever little bastard. 
This isn't a game revelling in how clever it is or how clever its developer is (like The Witness) instead it wants you to experience everything it has to offer without the use of guides. The game wants you to play and to feel accomplished and smart while doing so.

Few games capture that feeling. So many try but they come across as pretentious or end up being too pandering or too difficult. 
Obra Dinn is the perfect balance between the two.

Return of the Obra Dinn is like a fine, one-of-a-kind wine, to be savoured and sipped, not binged in once because once it's gone it's gone. 
I wish I could experience it form start to finish without knowledge of the ending or the various mysteries strewn throughout.

In years to come, it will probably gain a cult following.
But it doesn't deserve relative obscurity and a cult status.
It deserves all the sales Lucas Pope could handle and then some and to be placed among the best games of its year.

Which is why it's my Game of the Year. 

- Make Tea. Eat Crumpets. Play Games.


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About TheLimoMakerone of us since 6:59 AM on 03.25.2015

Hello there. I'm insane. From England.
I love what you've done to your carpets.

The horror genre means a great deal to me (mainly as they give me excellent ideas on how best to dispose of my ex-girlfriend) and I have expressed my love for the genre in countless blogs which must be especially grating for the other members of Destructoid to read but, eh, f*** it.

I mainly game on the Playstation 4 and you are more than welcome to connect with me on there if you want but, if you're new here, interact with me a bit first because, believe me, I'm an acquired taste.
Well, acquired taste... Wanker.
Tomato, tomato.

As for some of my favourite games, they range from Silent Hill 2, Okami, Deadly Premonition, To the Moon, Undertale, Bloodborne, Bioshock... I will play anything as I find joy in the strangest of places.

Anyhow, if you actually read this (which nobody does anymore), don't ever feel afraid to start a conversation with me in the comments or on discord. I will give anyone the time of day.
So long as you aren't French of course.

Also decided to add my Games of the Year from years past, just because I can't really place my thoughts elsewhere:


2005 - Shadow of the Colossus

2006 - Okami

2007 - BioShock

2008 - Call of Duty: World at War

2009 - Batman Arkham Asylum

2010 - Nier

2011 - Portal 2

2012 - Spec-Ops: The Line

2013 - The Last of Us

2014 - Valiant Hearts

2015 - Undertale

2016 - Oxenfree

2017 - Persona 5