We’re trying something a little different from our annual countdown of the best games. For the best games of 2018, we’re going to keep updating this list whenever we come across something that tickles our pickle, whether that’s a tiny indie or a gigantic AAA. There are so many amazing games releasing each week that it’s almost impossible to have a definitive list, but we’re going to try our best here.
With the Xbox One and PS4 moving into the latter stages of their lives, we’re beginning to see just how far they can be pushed before the industry moves on. It’s nothing new, either: the latter parts of console generations have produced instant classics like The Last of Us and San Andreas. There’s a whole bunch of games on the horizon that look like carrying on that tradition.
The only games that we’re excluding are Early Access titles, just because they are the most liable to dramatically change and even worsen, which might jeopardise their spot on this list. Without further ado, here are the best games of 2018.
Update: list finalised.
The Best Games of 2018
1. A Way Out
Developer: Hazelight Publisher: EA Originals Buy A Way Out:PS4 | Xbox One | PC
If we were including games based entirely on their principles, A Way Out would still be a shoo-in. As pro-consumer as they come, A Way Out allows you to play with a friend who doesn’t even own a copy of the game. That’s just how dedicated Hazelight and Josef Fares were to get their game in front of as many people as possible, that they would sacrifice further sales.
It’s good, then, that the game itself is pretty special. It’s nowhere near perfect –the writing is often a little too basic– but its core is irresistible and one of the best examples of modern couch co-op. The split-screen isn’t treated as a gimmick, but rather something that enhances the whole experience. Don’t sleep on A Way Out.
“Even with some sloppy writing and a hackneyed story, A Way Out’s gameplay is so infectious and its heart so since that it’s almost impossible to resist. Long live couch co-op.”
2. Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom
Developer: Level 5 Publisher: Bandai Namco Buy Ni No Kuni II:PS4 | PC
As magical as the first Ni no Kuni game was, it’s hard to deny that it wasn’t without its faults. A cumbersome combat system was as much as a deterrent as its story and style was an attraction, so it looked like Revenant Kingdom had a straightforward job to do. It certainly did just that.
Absolutely packed to the gills with content, Ni no Kuni II is yet another JRPG that will consume your life, helped by just how upbeat it tries to remain. While many RPG games tend to go down darker paths, Revenant Kingdom is always looking on the bright side of life, and teaching valuable lessons about life in the process. Who needs Ghibli?
“Though it’s not a perfect game, Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom will find its way into your heart with its endless charm and uplifting story. A fantastic JRPG with bags of positivity to boot, this game is an uplifting experience that the world could do with more of right now.”
3. Surviving Mars
Developer: Haemimont Games Publisher: Paradox Interactive Buy Surviving Mars:PS4 | Xbox One | PC
Another game that threatens to make you forget what your family looks like, Surviving Mars is the latest in a long line of games released by Paradox that will totally consume you. It’s true that there is perhaps a bit too much micro-management to stay on top of, but if you’re the kind of gamer who loves looking after every little detail, Surviving Mars might just be perfect.
The main gist of Surviving Mars is to create a populace, one that can co-exist and thrive in a hostile environment. This means ensuring that all of your engineers are engineering and your scientists are science-ing while also maintaining their happiness at, you know, trying to eke out a life on a planet that doesn’t want them. It’s a game where you create your own stories, so pick it up if you want to re-enact The Martian.
“A soft-science city-building game set on the red planet, Surviving Mars takes Elon Musk’s dreams and makes them a reality. Occasionally clunky controls on the PS4 don’t mar a game that adds the storyline of ‘mysteries’ to the usual resource gathering and settlement managing simulation, with a few twists.”
4. Where The Water Tastes Like Wine
Developer: Dim Bulb Games, Serenity Forge Publisher: Good Shepherd Entertainment Buy WTWTLW:PC
Straight off the bat, it’s important to mention that Where The Water Tastes Like Wine isn’t going to be for everyone. You may actually hate it; it’s the definition of a niche indie. It’s going for a very specific kind of audience, one that doesn’t mind sitting back and enjoying a leisurely-paced game, maybe with a glass of whiskey in hand.
For our money, though, WTWTLW is a narratively fascinating rambling simulator with some of the best writing in any game, which is lucky because it’s the driving force of the game. Travelling across America and collecting stories is a largely hands-off experience, so kick back, appreciate its fantastic soundtrack, and just simply let your mind wander.
“Despite some gripes, Where The Water Tastes Like Wine is still easy to recommend to any budding writer or those who want to get lost in the bazaar of an unconventional narrative. It seems destined to go down as a cult favourite, to be as vaunted as the stories it presents.”
5. Way Of The Passive Fist
Developer: Household Games Publisher: Household Games Buy WOTPF:PS4 | Xbox One | PC
Beat ’em-ups are built on one very simple concept: beating all of them up. For some strange reason, it’s quite the alluring prospect to lay the smackdown on some digital characters and has been for decades. But what about a defend ’em-up, a game where your best plan of attack is to defend? Welcome to Way Of The Passive Fist.
A side-scrolling “fighter”, the main aim of the game is to keep defending enemy blows until they are gassed, at which point you can dispatch of them with a simple prod. It’s a daft idea that really shouldn’t work, but it does. It’s challenging but fun and a very welcome twist on a well-worn formula, bolstered by a gorgeous art style. Check it out if you want to see the fighting rulebook get flipped.
As polarising as the mere idea of VR seems to be for many, we can all come together and agree that Quill, Moss’ protagonist, is just about the most precious video game character. It’s up to you to keep her safe in a fairytale world filled with plenty of clever puzzles and obstacles for our mouse heroine to overcome.
The spirit of Moss is what makes it so refreshing. Thanks to its wonderful narration, simple but engaging artstyle, and a heroine that Disney wished they had the license for, Moss is the perfect example of what VR games are capable of when they think outside the box. If you’re looking for some respite from this increasingly cynical world we live in, Moss is the perfect antidote.
“Brief as it may be, it’s hard to deny that Moss might be the new standard for VR platformers. It’s a fantastic and fantastical adventure that will bring out your inner child. Short but irresistibly sweet, Moss may just be one of the best reasons for you to pick up a VR headset.”
7. Kingdom Come: Deliverance
Developer: Warhorse Studios Publisher: Deep Silver Buy Kingdom Come:PS4 | Xbox One | PC
We all know the score with Kingdom Come: Deliverance, one of 2018’s most notorious games already. It’s as polarising as it is deep, offering a counterpoint to any negative you could throw at it. If you’re a fan of old-school RPG games, you’re bound to fall in love with something about it. If you’re impatient, however, it may outstay its welcome rather quickly.
Stick with it and you will fall madly in addiction with the strife of Henry: the least conventional hero in gaming history. He kind of sums up Kingdom Come as whole: rough around the edges, flawed, but absolutely impossible not to like. Featuring a unique combat system, mechanics that reward exploration, and a sprawling, often beautiful world, Kingdom Come: Deliverance is only likely to getter better with patches over time.
“Its problems may deter many players and arguably should until it’s in a better state, but it’s hard to deny that with some more polish and a couple of tweaked systems, Kingdom Come: Deliverance could be one the year’s best.”
8. Shadow of the Colossus
Developer: Bluehole, Team ICO (original) Publisher: Sony Buy Shadow of the Colossus:PS4
The game you know and love but with a modern polish, Shadow of the Colossus kickstarted the PS4’s impressive catalog of new exclusives in style. By maintaining the spirit of the original game while also rather mercifully updating the antiquated controls, Bluehole have recreated one of the PS2’s brightest stars in glorious fashion.
While some of the original’s bugbears remain, Shadow of the Colossus on PS4 still tells a beautifully simple story with an incredible sense of scale and spectacle to boot. It’s never been quite this jaw-dropping or heartbreaking to dispatch of colossi, so if you’re yet to see what all the fuss is about, stop waiting. The last colossi is still an incredibly cheap arsehole, though.
Likely the least popular entry on this list of the best games of 2018, Dandara isn’t a game that’s going to appeal to everyone thanks to its sometimes inconsistent difficulty and style. For anyone with even the slightest interest in anything retro, however, Dandara could scratch a very particular itch.
The success of any Metroidvania is ultimately determined by which unique hook they bring to the table. While its gravity-shifting mechanic may not be as innovative as something like Rogue Legacy’s lineal gameplay, it doesn’t mean it isn’t fun. Dandara is light on story but high on action and difficulty — try to refrain from fisting your TV in anger and you could enjoy a real gem.
“Punishingly challenging at times, yet perfectly encapsulating the Metroidvania style of gameplay while expanding on it. This revolutionary injection of speed and urgency makes this a must play for Metroidvania fans and those looking for a challenge.”
10. Monster Hunter: World
Developer: Capcom Publisher: Capcom Buy MHW:PS4 | Xbox One
Who could have predicted just how wildly successful Monster Hunter: World would become? It’s one of Capcom’s most popular games of all-time, which is high praise considering just how glittering their catalogue is. World deserves all the praise it’s been getting — it reaches the perfect middle-ground between pleasing old fans and enthusing new ones.
If you have the time to spare, fights with monsters can feel just as grandiose as those in the aforementioned Shadow of the Colossus, made even better by the ability to pair up with friends. Admittedly, the main loop of the game is somewhat basic –grind monsters to get the better loot to grind monsters better– but there’s something inherently enjoyable to it compared to the mindless monotony of something like Destiny 2. Better yet, just imagine how far this game will be pushed on PC when it eventually launches?
“Monster Hunter: World isn’t for everyone. The focus on loot and grinding ensures that, but everything it does is superlative, making it an essential purchase for any RPG fans looking for something new. As for the established fans, it’s everything you loved about the old games, but prettier. A win/win, all round.”
11. Dragon Ball FighterZ
Developer: Arc System Works Publisher: Bandai Namco Buy FighterZ:PS4 | Xbox One | PC
We had many Dragon Ball games before FighterZ (pronounced “fighters”, just in case you’re wondering) with some very mixed results. The franchise has been guilty of overdoing it in the past when it should just focus on one simple idea: making the combat feel as close to the anime as possible. FighterZ certainly succeeds in doing just that.
Set on a 2D plane and developed by the widely beloved Arc System Works, FighterZ is a fighting game that’s easy to learn but brutal to master. Its approach to easy combos mean that even your nan could pull off a kamehameha without thinking, but it’s a game of chess when you’re up against anyone competent online. It lacks in the single-player department somewhat, though FighterZ is the kind of game where your longevity will be determined by how much you enjoy blasting energy balls out of your hands. Your answer should be a lot.
“Despite some single player shortcomings, Dragon Ball FighterZ really comes into its element once you take the game online and start battering your friends. Or just some random lobby dwellers. For Dragon Ball fans, this is a love letter to the franchise. For fighting game fans, this is the definitive Tag fighter that Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite should have been.”
12. Far Cry 5
Developer: Ubisoft Publisher: Ubisoft Buy Far Cry 5:PS4 | Xbox One | PC
One of the most talked about games of 2018 (for some of the wrong reasons) also turned out to be one of its most fun. With a few quality of life improvements, Ubisoft retained that distinctive Far Cry 5 feel with the same straightforward principle intact: carnage.
While its story may veer into the uncanny valley at points, it’s impossible to resist the charms of its antagonist, Joseph Seed. He’s arguably the best Far Cry villain to date and is the centerpiece for what is one of the craziest and most ambitious games in the series to date. Sure, it has its problems, but as the first truly “big” game of 2018, it laid down a gauntlet for those following it to pick up.
“It isn’t without its faults -some glaring, some admissible- but when you compile everything Far Cry 5 is and could become in the future with its Arcade, it’s a scintillating package.”
Developer(s): JW, Kitty, Jukio, and Dom Publisher: Devolver Digital Buy Minit:PS4 | XB1 | PC
It’s hard to make a game that really stands out anymore, to have a game with a mechanic so original that you wonder why it hasn’t already been done before. Minit, a puzzle game where your move resets every sixty seconds, manages to stand out above the crowd.
Distinctly lo-fi in its presentation, Minit is intended to reward and even promote failure. If you die in one run, you will then be able to find the same items in the next, which means you can plant items in a particular location to use for your next life. It’s not the longest game in the world and somewhat lacking replayability, but Minit deserves more than a minute of your time.
The original Vermintide went down as a good but massively flawed multiplayer game set in the Warhammer universe. While some flaws remain, Vermintide 2 takes what the original did so well, boils it down, and refines it into something far deeper and more rewarding than it may look. It still is about bashing rats’ heads in with a giant hammer, though.
Labelled by many as the Left 4 Dead 3 we will never see, Vermintide 2 is a difficult game (so difficult that they had to recently balance things out) that holds no prisoners. You have to work with your friends as a complete unit and accept death when it comes to dust yourself off and go again. The loot grind is very real, but once you finally finish your first map, it all seems worth it.
Writing pretty much anything to do with Marie’s Room is kind of just going to give it away — it’s an entirely narrative-based game. If that doesn’t sound like your kind of thing, i.e. Gone Home made you want to go home and never play a walking simulator again, then Marie’s Room may not do much to change your outlook.
If you give it a chance, however, and appreciate Marie’s Room for what it is then you will walk away from its one hour of playtime feeling like you’ve completely invested your heart into it. While it might be light on gameplay, Marie’s Room is high on storytelling and making the most of what it’s got. Isn’t that the most important thing? To deliver the best game you can with what you’ve got? Oh, it’s also totally free.
16. God of War
Developer: SIE Santa Monica Studio Publisher: SIE Platform:PS4
Sometimes change can be a good thing, as God of War’s phenomenal PS4 debut proves. It doesn’t play that similarly to the six games before it, instead feeling like the evolution beyond its linear roots to become an uncompromising and brutal semi-open-world adventure. The blueprint is set for the future of the franchise, and what a promising blueprint it is.
Kratos isn’t the same, haunted by his past with only his son, Atreus, to keep him within reach of humanity. Over dozens of hours of satisfying combat, an insane depth of content, and plenty of twists and turns, the bond between the pair is the driving force of the game and one of the simplest but most effectively told stories in gaming. Oh, and you can also fight dragons.
“Gone are the combo meters and the landscapes of ancient Greece, replaced by more grounded combat and the beauty of the Norse wilds. These changes may be too jarring for some, but God of War stands as the jewel in the series and arguably the best game released on PS4 to date.”
17. Yakuza 6: The Song of Life
Developer: SEGA Publisher: SEGA Platform: PS4
What may very well be the last outing of Yakuza as we know it is also one of the best goodbyes you could imagine for the series. By combining all of the mad, wonderful elements the franchise is known for while adding new ingredients to the insane mix, Yakuza 6 is one of the best PS4 exclusives around.
Looking simply stunning and packed with more content than one player could probably get through, Yakuza 6 is a sprawling, engaging game that will make you want to be a childminder. Outside of the context of Yakuza, that makes no sense, but trust us — you just need to play it.
“Whether we see Kazuma Kiryu again as a side character is an interesting debate, but SEGA have continued to prove that a game with some tender love and care is going to have fans flock to the franchise and lavish praise upon it. If you are looking to get into the franchise, perhaps seek out Yakuza 0 and Kiwami first, but older fans should rest well in the knowledge that while the Dragon of Dojima is indeed riding out, the franchise future is as bright as the fire he possesses.”
Developer: 11 bit studios Publisher: 11 bit studios Platform:PC
Frostpunk wants you to realise that you’re a monster. It forces you into the kind of difficult decisions that nobody should ask you to make while also readying you for the next sucker punch. It’s a challenging game full of stresses and tribulations, but they’re worth suffering through.
A narrative-based city-builder, Frostpunk asks you to shelter the remnants of humanity from the end times. It’s up to you to make sure this small society prospers and doesn’t tear itself by providing warmth and food. Be warned: it’s never as simple as it looks. Frostpunk is completely entrancing and yet another gem from the minds behind This War of Mine.
“Frostpunk is a beautiful game that doesn’t shy away from the ugliness of our species, nor does it pull any punches with its difficulty. It’s an uncompromising, completely captivating affair that shouldn’t be overlooked as one of April’s best new games.”
19. Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire
Developer: Obsidian Entertainment Publisher: Versus Evil Platform:PC
The original Pillars of Eternity was a throwback that charmed the pants off of anyone who remembered the RPG titles of old, including the likes of Baldur’s Gate. After it was crowdfunded in possibly record time, its sequel, Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire, builds on the foundations laid by Obsidian to create something even better.
Switching out its previous setting for something more nautical, Deadfire embraces the pirate life and tasks you with confronting a god while sailing the seven seas. It positively swells with content and deep gameplay, but Deadfire excels most in its excellent characters, writing, and setting. This is an RPG for hardcore RPG fans and it holds no punches.
“Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire is an enormous, amazing game. It has breadth and depth for countless hours of enjoyment and the new ship mechanics are fun and add a great deal of variety. After countless hours with the game though, it is its story, the presentation and above all the characters that have made the biggest impact on me, as they should in any role-playing game.”
20. Monster Prom
Developer: Beautiful Glitch Publisher: Those Awesome Guys Platform: PC
A relatively similar game to Dream Daddy, Monster Prom takes the conventions of the dating sim and flips them on their head to create an enchanting game. Better yet, as it’s multiplayer, you can team up with friends and get rejected together.
There’s a lot more depth to Monster Prom than meets the eye with it taking place over the course of six weeks at school with the ultimate goal of getting a monstrous date to prom. It’s not as simple as flowers and chocolates, however: you have to really put the work in to sway the subject of your affection. Monster Prom is decent enough as a single-player experience, but its multiplayer is where it really shines.
“Monster Prom is fun alone, but even more so in a group, with quirky characters that couldn’t be more different from each other to fight over, and it’s monstrously hilarious to boot.”
Developer: Spearhead Games Publisher: Spearhead Games Platform(s): PS4, PC
What would you do if you could change the fate of the world? That’s the premise of Omensight: an indie with big ambition where you’re tasked with stopping Armageddon by living through the same day. It’s Edge of Tomorrow meets Majora’s Mask with a beautiful art style and one game that shouldn’t let pass you by from the first half of 2018.
It has a few problems with its camera regularly taking walks on the wild side, but it’s not so much a deterrent that you can’t enjoy its tight gameplay, deep lore, and inviting characters. You will become familiar with Omensight and its sometimes repeating levels, though the variety in the loot and rewards means the experience maintains its freshness and originality.
“Cumbersome camera aside, there’s a lot to love about Omensight. The story is engaging and keeps you interested until the credits start rolling, and the gameplay is entertaining, rewarding creativity over repetitive button bashing. The combat might not be as deep as other action games on the market, but it’s the narrative that’ll have you coming back for more.”
Developer: Appnormals Team Publisher: PQube Platform(s): PC
Life can be a lonely experience sometimes, especially if step back from society and start to exist only in your own little world. That’s one of many themes found in STAY: a lo-fi game about human connections that digs under your skin the more you play it.
Your job is to help Quinn, who finds himself locked in a room with only you, the player behind a computer screen, for help. Over time, the pair of you bond or drift apart based on how closely you stay by his side — wandering off and playing or doing something else will see Quinn grow bitter and jaded towards you. It’s one of the most inventive games we’ve seen in a while, especially when it comes to the puzzles — they’re almost impenetrable without some kind of guidance.
“Despite some frustrating and obtuse puzzles that hinder rather than enrich the narrative, STAY is a simple tale told with style and delivers an important lesson that we could all learn from.”
23. FAR: Lone Sails
Developer: Okomotive Publisher: Mixtvision Platform(s): PC, Mac
If you’re looking for action, drama, and twists, FAR: Lone Sails isn’t going to provide that. What it is instead is a serene adventure game that tasks you with taking to the skies with nothing but scrap from a post-apocalyptic. For a simple touchstone, imagine Wall-E meets Journey and you aren’t a million miles away from the mood of FAR: Lone Sails.
As well being fairly hands-off with its gameplay — there’s no combat, for instance — FAR is also light on the storyline, asking the player to stitch together what they find in the world and come to their own conclusions. FAR also isn’t the longest of games as it clocks in at around three hours of playtime, but when you consider its gorgeous aesthetics, rewarding vehicle progression, and cathartic simplicity, it’s worth sailing towards (sorry).
“FAR: Lone Sails manages to be memorable in a way that a lot of indie games fail to be. What it lacks in length and varied gameplay, it makes up for with its spellbinding presentation.”
Developer: Digital Sun Publisher: 11 bit studios Platform(s): PC, PS4, XB1
We have all seen games where the obvious hero, the ones who have “destiny” pretty much scrawled on their forehead, is at the forefront of the action, but what happens when a supporting character gets a chance to be in the limelight? Enter Moonlighter: a game in which you play as a shopkeeper with a mind for battle.
Featuring tight combat, an innovative trading system, and an art style that is utterly beautiful, Moonlighter is an indie with big aspirations. It’s a labour of love and one we cannot espouse enough, especially if you’re a lover of old-school games with modern twists.
“Between exploring, fighting monsters, finding treasure, improving Rynoka, and operating the shop, Moonlighter has the potential to take as much of your time as you are willing to give it. I, for one, am perfectly to happy to live in this lovely world for as long as it’ll have me.”
25. Detroit: Become Human
Developer: Quantic Dream Publisher: SIE Platform: PS4
This PS4 exclusive from Quantic Dream doesn’t pull any punches by confronting some controversial themes, which include classism and racism. If you’ve ever played Heavy Rain, you know what to expect; “heavy” is pretty apt to describe most of David Cage’s output, in truth.
While it may not have the most engaging gameplay as a narrative-based game, Detroit weaves several threads at once of affable androids that are more human than the humans themselves. Detroit: Become Human may not do enough to dissuade Quantic’s biggest dissenters, but it will certainly leave an impact on those willing to sit and be the author of their own stories.
“This is the first release from Quantic Dream that I’ve become fully immersed in, and I cannot wait to return to the gritty streets of 2038 Detroit to make alternate decisions.”
26. Marvel’s Spider-Man
Developer: Insomniac Publisher: SIE Platform: PS4
Spidey has certainly had a rough ride of it in recent video games. From being convoluted beyond comprehension to being milked by Activision with too many so-so entries, the license falling to Sony is the best thing that could have happened with Marvel’s Spider-Man being the ultimate throwback with a modern sheen.
Already labelled as one of the best superhero games ever made, Marvel’s Spider-Man doesn’t necessarily reinvent the wheel. In fact, it actually has a lot in common with Spider-Man 2, so much that you could call it a remake. That’s a good thing: Marvel’s Spider-Man is packed with content as a result as well as the web-swinging feeling more satisfying than it has in years.
“With all the freedom it gives you to web-sling through New York City and stick goons to walls, Spider-Man for PS4 is the best Spider-Story I’ve had the pleasure to experience, and even on its own is a brilliant game.”
27. Shadow of the Tomb Raider
Developer: Eidos Montreal Publisher: Square Enix Platform(s): PC, PS4, XB1
While it may be hard to recommend Shadow to any lapsed Tomb Raider fans who weren’t convinced by the two games that preceded it, Shadow of the Tomb Raider will still appeal to those who want to kick some ass and raid some tombs.
Compared to recent Tomb Raider games, however, there is more emphasis on the dangerous archaeology this time around. Shadow tries to blend the titular activity into the gameplay more than recent titles have, so older fans of the franchise will find something to love here. It’s not revolutionary by any means, but it sure is fun — that is, if you don’t mind playing as a mass murderer with a bit of an ego.
28. Yakuza Kiwami 2
Developer: SEGA Publisher: SEGA Platform:PS4
Really, we could just copy and paste our thoughts on Yakuza 6 for Yakuza Kiwami 2. The franchise has never been one to panic and reinvent itself and that’s because it doesn’t have to. Yakuza knows exactly what it is, weird warts and all.
A remake of the second game, Yakuza Kiwami 2 again pits you as non-lethal-but-probably-haemmorhage-inducing Kazuma Kiryu as he mops up the streets with increasingly wilder moves. That’s not really the main allure here, though: it’s the sheer scope of mini-games. Yakuza is the perfect rainy day game and Kiwami 2 continues that legacy.
“Despite its lack of combat options when compared to previous titles, SEGA continues to prove why Yakuza should be up there with other franchise heavyweights with another packed installment.“
29. Two Point Hospital
Developer: Two Point Studios Publisher: SEGA Platform:PC
If you leave a gap in the market, someone will fill it. A few games in the past have tried to cash in on the nostalgia for Theme Hospital to poor effect, so leave it to some of the people who actually helped develop the original game to craft a worthwhile spiritual successor.
Two Point Hospital, even if a little flawed, is the perfect modern update for Theme Hospital, so much so that anyone who remembers deflating heads on your Windows 98 will probably grasp what to do immediately in Two Point. It still has a few kinks to iron out post-launch, but Two Point Hospital is still a great time nonetheless.
“Two Point Hospital is also very accessible for anyone trying this kind of game, or even genre, for the first time. Two Point’s levels get bigger, more complex and more expansive and they go on, but its difficulty curve is such that you won’t notice even yourself gittin’-gud.”
30. Firewall Zero Hour
Developer: First Contact Entertainment Publisher: SIE Platform:PS4
The PSVR has been calling out for a killer app for a long time. With wonderful immersion, gunplay, and making your avatar’s hands do weird things in the lobby, Firewall Zero Hour certainly fits the bill. It’s not just a great VR FPS, it’s a great shooter overall.
The easiest touchstone for Firewall is Rainbow Six Siege. Both are squad-based shooters with an emphasis on teamwork and comms, which go hand in hand. With a thriving and friendly community as well as that irresistible “just-one-more-go” appeal, Firewall Zero Hour really should make a virtual reality convert of you.
You know, there really aren’t even squad-based shooters set during the dandy early 20th century in which you take on mummies and zombies as a sardonic narrator oversees your every move. Strange Brigade is a game that very much scratches that itch and gives you a jolly tally ho for good measure.
Developed by Rebellion, Strange Brigade is a long in the offing shooter with an emphasis on plundering loots with friends. Along the way, you’ll encounter monsters and ghoulies, as well as more love for your friends when you’re all drunk as hell and just having a good time. Strange Brigade is one of those games you can dip in and out for some guilt-free entertainment.
The original Guacamlee! was a cult classic Metroidvania that people loved just as much for its inviting but challenging gameplay as much as they did its irreverent humour. Guacamelee 2 continues that tradition as well as amping up the scale to make it one of the best new games of 2018.
You once again play as Juan, who’s become something of a slob since the last game and has the dad bod to prove it. Featuring new gameplay mechanics — such as timeline jumping — and a drop dead bloody gorgeous art style, Guacamelee! 2 is a game many will sleep on in 2018 with so many big hitters hitting store shelves, but they really shouldn’t.
“Guacamelee! 2 is one of the best Metroidvanias on the market. The art style is fantastic. The writing is hilarious and will leave you in stitches on a whim. The world is diverse and chock-full of culture, life, and collectibles. And the game’s unique focus on combat and precision platforming sets it apart from the pack. It’s the kind of game you lose track of time while playing, and when it’s over you’ll just want more.”
A game that we couldn’t shut Jimmy up about long before it even had its full release, Dead Cells is the epitome of an Early Access success story. Billed as a “roguevania”, Dead Cells takes what could have been a very simple concept and twisted it into something complex and incessantly inviting, whether it’s the tenth hour of gameplay or the hundredth.
With different ways to play and approach the endgame, players can either take the most direct path or venture off into more challenging areas with the risk and reward elements always being something to weigh up. It’s a hard game that has more underneath its surface than may first appear, so whether you’re playing it on the go on the Switch or hunched over your PC and swearing your way through Clock Tower, it’s bound to keep you invested.
“An utterly compelling and challenging ride, Dead Cells is a dense and consistently evolving game that is what every budding Early Access game should aspire to become.”
34. Octopath Traveler
Developer: Square Enix Publisher: Nintendo Platform:Switch
While some may argue until they’re blue in the face about the price of the game versus its sprite-based visuals, there’s no denying that Octopath Traveler is a wonderful ride for old school RPG fans, who seem to be exactly the target demographic.
Anyone left jaded by JRPGs taking the 3D route and progressively losing sight of what made them so beloved (hello, Final Fantasy XV) will no doubt fall in love with Octopath Traveler. With many different stories to tell and boss battles that go on for longer than most one-man plays, Octopath Traveler is a lo-fi delight.
“A throwback with a modern twist, Octopath Traveler is an exciting new addition to the Switch’s library. JRPG fans (both new and old) will find plenty to love here.”
35. Unravel Two
Developer: ColdWood Interactive Publisher: EA Originals Platform(s):PC, PS4, XB1
Unravel Two is, quite simply, a bloody lovely game. While the original was largely a melancholy affair, Unravel Two is a far more optimistic affair, presumably because it’s much harder to be a Grumpy Gary when you have a mate in two.
While it can still be played on your lonesome, Unravel Two comes into its own with the introduction of a co-op partner to also take up the Yarny mantle. Its puzzles strike the balance between being hard and not too hard, meaning that it could be the ideal (and cutest) game to play with a non-gamer. Plus, it looks beautiful.
“Even if there are a couple of minor quibbles to be had with Unravel Two, it’s still everything you’d ever want from a follow-up. It’s a genuine step-up from its predecessor with smoother controls and more gameplay styles while also retaining the irrefutable charm that won the first game so many fans. With any luck, Unravel Two will win many more.”
Developer: DONTNOD Publisher: Focus Home Interactive Platform(s): PC, PS4, XB1
Released in the purgatory period known as E3 season, Vampyr didn’t really receive the love it deserved at launch. It’s a shame, because while Vampyr may falter in a few areas (not always amazing combat being one), it more than makeS amends in others.
The main lure of Vampyr is being able to govern the prosperity (or lack thereof) of the society around you. Feed on too many people and it may all collapse around. Feed on too few and you may struggle to have enough power to hold your own against those who want your kind dead. Vampyr is a game of constant dilemmas, but there should be no dilemma about whether or not you play it.
“Filled with moral dilemmas and an unexpected strategic depth to its city system, Vampyr is a vampire RPG that isn’t afraid to bite back. Although some characters are quite stiff in dialogue, it’s still a great game overall with intense confrontations, fast-paced combat and a thrilling story.”
Something about fast-paced games with plenty of action married with synthwave music almost always creates something beautiful. Rifter continues that tradition with its blend of platforming and enemies to avoid, all set to the thudding beats of synth-y delights.
As you would expect from a game of its ilk (RUINER, Hotline Miami), Rifter is as hard on its players as the cocaine comedown for businessmen in the eighties. It’s always changing itself up and offering some new challenge to overcome, meaning that Rifter is far more than what its simple but effective visuals may lead you to believe.
“Despite, or maybe even because the game is so relentless, Rifter is such a rewarding experience, making each level a cause for celebration while simultaneously hitting you with your next eulogy.”
Developer: Nyamakop Publisher: Good Shepherd Entertainment Platform(s):PC, Switch
2018 has been a ruddy good year for platformers with Semblance being one of the brightest examples of just that. Hailing from the LocoRoco school of unconventional goodness, Semblance tasks you with more or less slamming your way through its levels.
It’s difficult to detail what exactly makes Semblance so much fun to play. Whether it’s through sheerly powering your way through the environment to discover how to solve a puzzle or just its gorgeous aesthetic, Semblance boasts a lot of out of the box thinking, whether that’s from a design perspective of what it asks of the player.
Faithful to what it means to be a JRPG (almost to its own detriment in regards to finding a wider audience), Dragon Quest XI has already been hailed as the best entry in the franchise to date by many. We’re going to wait a little while longer before making that call, but it’s certainly great.
Visually, Dragon Quest XI delivers the goods once again, as well as having arguably the biggest sense of scale of any entry in the series to date. Adding to that, it’s also an engaging time as you feel truly connected to your party, their backstories and their wellbeing, which is all you can ask of any JRPG.
40. Astro Bot Rescue Mission
Developer: SIE JAPAN Studio Publisher: SIE Platform: PS4 (PSVR)
Even those who had play this game’s origins as a neat distraction in The Playroom VR couldn’t have thought Astro Bot Rescue Mission would shape up to be such a joyous and incredible ride. Studies show that if you’re feeling a little bit sad, just fifteen minutes with this wonderfully upbeat VR platform will ease your woes.
One of the best looking VR games there is, stepping into the world of Astro Bot feels like walking into a Pixar movie. It’s so vibrant and alive that it’s hard not to get wrapped up in it, meaning that its five different worlds of dilligent collecting and cooing over all the cuteness will whip by in no time. It may just make a VR convert of you.
“In a sea of dark and gritty games that take themselves far too seriously, it’s nice to have the respite provided by kicking little robots up the backside and then flossing in celebration at the end of the level. Astro Bot Rescue Mission is silly and eccentric, and sometimes that’s all you need from a video game.”
41. Forza Horizon 4
Developer: Playground Games Publisher: Microsoft Studios Platform: PC, XB1
Forza Horizon 4 doesn’t drastically alter the formula from previous Horizon games, but did it ever really need to? Just driving around an expansive open world is a big enough lure for most players and with some QOL improvements and a couple of refinements here and there, Horizon 4 is arguably the best the series has to offer — including Motorsport.
Ol’ Blighty is the venue for the driving this time and it should be immediately obvious that this is a wonderful hybrid of arcade and sim racing: you can actually get around Britain’s roads. Featuring some absolutely absurd visuals that may warrant making the jump up to 4K all on their own, Horizon 4 is pure escapism that you can pick up and play thanks to Game Pass.
“Though Forza Horizon 4 lack the proper framework or goal to keep players coming back, you’re certainly not pressed for content, and when the gameplay is this good, it’s hard to complain. Forza Horizon is still taking pole position, regardless of the slight hiccup.”
42. Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise
Developer: Sega Publisher: Sega Platform: PS4
Omae Wa Mou Shindeiru, or to give it its rough English translation: “play this game if you love Yakuza but wish there was significantly more head-exploding”. Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise is the same blend of silly and serious that the Yakuza has built its spine on, just with the ability to actually kill your foes — and how gruesomely you will.
Hyper-violent in a way that’s bordering on parody, Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise offers fun and evolving combat as well as a storyline worth investing your time into, but try not to get hoovered up by the wide variety of mini-games. You will be the best digital bartender this side of Eden.
“Under this luchador mask lies a familiar game with a lot of the same old issues, but somehow there is even more fun to be had, with a new impressive look, a good bit of polish, and some features reminiscent of its younger self.”
44. Sinner: Sacrifice For Redemption
Developer: DARK STAR Publisher: Another Indie Platform: PC, PS4, XB1, Switch
“Gripes with Tira notwithstanding, Soulcalibur VI exists in its own special pantheon when it comes to current generation 3D fighters. Even if you’re not usually a SC fan, consider this your jumping on point.”
“It’s been an intense time with plenty of stresses for me personally lately, though the game wasted no time in helping to soothe some of them. Wandersong is an emotional and seriously affable experience that is bound to put a smile on the face of even the most jaded of gamers.”
47. Red Dead Redemption 2
Developer: Rockstar Games Publisher: Take-Two Interactive Platform(s): PS4, XB1
“An absolute delight, Tetris Effect twists and bends the mind of the player like few other games are capable of. While not quite a revolution of the classic premise, Effect provides players of all experiences the chance to discover what has made the franchise so iconic while also pointing towards the future.”
Developer: Lo-Fi Games Publisher: Lo-Fi Games Platform(s): PC
“Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden is a fantastic game that anyone who likes tough as nails tactics should really check out. Everything from the combat to the stealth to the world itself is masterfully implemented and works together to create a truly great experience.”
“Subnautica was one survival game that I didn’t just want to survive in — I flourished and revelled in creating my own life under the sea. It feels unlike anything else in its (rather crowded) genre with its own identity shining through. Quite simply one of the most best and most rewarding survival games you will find on a console — or anywhere.”
Developer: Nomada Studio Publisher: Devolver Digital Platform(s): PC, Switch
“Gris is just about the best way I could finish off my year. I’ve played a lot of games this year, some bad, some good, but nothing quite like Gris. I have no doubt that I will remember it long into 2019 and almost definitely even beyond that.”
55. Insurgency: Sandstorm
Developer: New World Interactive Publisher: Focus Home Interactive Platform(s): PC
“Insurgency: Sandstorm blends a fast pace and simple objective-based gameplay with a low time-to-kill, authentically modeled weapons and gear and an immersive, brutal and visceral style of combat to create the perfect intersection of competitive and tactical online shooters. Some graphical hiccups and at-times poor character models only slightly mar an otherwise fantastic experience.”
56. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Developer: Nintendo Publisher: Nintendo Platform(s): Switch
“I know Smash has become sort of the modern day Monopoly as the game you play to lose friends to and it has a serious culture around it as perhaps the greatest fighting game of a generation, but above all, it is supposed to be a living gaming museum and Nintendo toy box that can do anything your imagination desires as long as it wants to have fun. Ultimate does all of that and more, providing one of the best gaming experiences I’ve ever had and almost certainly setting the bar for Game of the Year 2019.”
57. Pokémon: Let’s Go
Developer: Game Freak Publisher: Nintendo Platform(s): Switch
“For veteran players, just experiencing the original games one more time in a brand new way is enough to put a smile on your face and reawakening that inner child. Playing along with a newcomer or first-timer makes it even more inviting and enjoyable, reminding you why you fell with love with Pocket Monsters in the first place.”