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.
The Best Games of 2018
1. A Way Out
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.
From our A Way Out review:
“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
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?
From our Ni No Kuni II review:
“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
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.
From our Surviving Mars review:
“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.
From our Where The Water Tastes Like Wine review:
“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
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.
From our WOTPF review:
“All things considered, Way of the Passive Fist is an impressive debut effort from Household Games, and it’ll be interesting to see what they come up with in the future.”
Buy Moss: PS4
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.
From our Moss review:
“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
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.
From our Kingdom Come review:
“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)
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.
From our Shadow of the Colossus review:
“Shadow of the Colossus comes roaring back to life on PS4 with contemporary renovations that successfully maintain the masterpiece at the core of the game.”
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.
From our Dandara review:
“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
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?
From our Monster Hunter: World review:
“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
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.
From our FighterZ review:
“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
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.
From our Far Cry 5 review:
“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.”
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.
From our Minit review:
“Minit fully embraces its unique mechanics and quirky style to present a game that’s both refreshing, and yet comfortably familiar.”
14. Warhammer: Vermintide 2
Buy Vermintide 2: PC
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.
15. Marie’s Room
Developer: Kenny Guillaume, Dagmar Blommaert
Publisher: Kenny Guillaume
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
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.
From our God of War PS4 review:
“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
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.
From our Yakuza 6 review:
“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
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.
From our Frostpunk review:
“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
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.
From our Pillars of Eternity II review:
“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
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.
From our Monster Prom review:
“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.
From our Omensight review:
“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
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.
From our STAY review:
“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
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).
From our FAR: Lone Sails review:
“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.
From our Moonlighter review:
“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
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.
From our Detroit: Become Human review:
“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.”
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