2018 was a bit of a crazy year for me. I spent 3 months exploring Canada during winter. I went back to Australia twice to help solidify GenerOZity as a not-for-profit. I moved to Denver, Colorado, where I started distilling full-time for an established distillery as I build my own with a close friend from high school. As the newly appointed editor-in-chief I still made time to play some of those video games all the kids have been twittering about.
10. Pokemon Let’s Go
When Pokemon Let’s Go was first announced it looked as if it was going to be another Pokemon Go style cash grab, and despite some of the GO catching mechanics, this is first time in a long time that I have been excited to play a Pokemon game, with its impressive visual redesign and capitalizing on the Red, Blue & Green nostalgia, it is a great addition to the Switch’s library and a good first attempt at a core Pokemon game on a home console.
9. The Messenger
At its surface, The Messenger plays homage to the NES era, difficult platformers and makes no attempt to hide it’s clear inspiration to the Ninja Gaiden series. Where it really shines is through the clever writing, and creativity in some massive gameplay and visual changes after a pivotal point in its story.
8. WarioWare Gold
I thought I was done with my 3DS and after WarioWare Gold forced me to remember the pain that is holding the 3DSXL for extended periods of time. Luckily the joy of a ‘greatest hits’ style WarioWare game lets me forget about playing on the clunky low-res hardware, and be blissfully smiling.
I had forgotten that Below was still being worked on, multiple times over its six year development period. Getting to finally sit down with the final product, with little expectations and I am still enjoying my time with Below. Its cryptic, obtrusive design is intriguing, rewarding and present in every aspect. It took me a few hours of making little to know progress, but once things clicked I now go hours without dying, finding new interesting things the deeper I go.
6. State of Decay 2
Almost more of a management strategy game than a zombie game, State of Decay 2 is a vast improvement over the first game in several ways. The interesting traits that the different characters can have, and the risk of losing them at any moment.
5. Red Dead Redemption 2
Strong story, attention to detail, and the romance of the wild west; these are what make Red Dead Redemption 2 one of the best games on this year. The pacing and intentional focus on cinematography over gameplay and mechanics took me a while to get into, but once it pulled me in I was hooked. Finally I can get back in the saddle and be the gunslinging cowboy gangster I have always dreamed of being.
4. Tetris Effect
Wow. Just Wow. I never knew that a new game from one of the oldest franchise, known by the world could make my list in 2019. But the Mizuguchi spin on things brings a completely sensory experience to the world of Tetris only made better by playing in VR. I know it sounds strange, that a game done-to-death could somehow have a standout release, but it is incredible.
3. Guacamelee 2
LUCHA!!! I am so genuinely charmed by every part of the Guacamelee universe that it was no surprise the sequel made it so high up my list. Improved combat with an amplified ridiculous story kept me enthralled with the exploration adventure.
2. God of War
The God of War games of last generation don’t stand up to Santa Monica Studio’s entry in the franchise. The highly detailed visuals delivered technical prowess of the team is unparalleled. The combat is approachable and balanced with a rollout of the upgrades keeps things interesting. God of War really shines when things open up a bit more, and the world changes around the player.
1. Dead Cells
While out for a long time in early access, I somehow avoided Dead Cells until it was in its 1.0 state. It takes a combination of all of the genres I love and blends them into a fast-paced, slashing, roguelike-lite, metroidvania. That probably sounds like a lot of nonsense, because it is. Dead Cells is its own thing that puts players in run-based scenarios across different environments, using an arsenal of discoverable weapons. After death, the level of persistence and unlocks is rewarding and kept encouraging me to get right back into the fight with another attempt.