DualShockers’ Game of the Year 2018 Staff Lists — Max's Top 10
2018 gave me plenty to play, but it was the games I took my time with or checked out per recommendation that swept my favorite games of the year.
As 2018 comes to a close, DualShockers and our staff are reflecting on this year’s batch of games and what were their personal highlights within the last year. Unlike the official Game of the Year 2018 awards for DualShockers, there are little-to-no-rules on our individual Top 10 posts. For instance, any game — not just 2018 releases — can be considered.
The year that was 2018 was a super interesting one for me. I got married at the tail end of 2017 and moved in with my new and lovely wife, Abby. Moving in with another human also meant my video game playing habits would change. With one TV, all the video games were in the living room for the first time in my life. That also meant I couldn’t just have a mega long gaming sesh when I felt like it: college was behind me, and adulthood was here.
Through the power of balance, compromise, and working different hours than Abby, I managed to play 37 different games and “completed” 15 of them. Not too shabby! I was fortunate enough to help create content for most of the year’s heavy hitters like God of War, Red Dead Redemption II, and Celeste. I also played some duds like Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Metal Gear Survive.
So I combed through the list of 37 games I played this year and picked my top ten favorite ones. These had the biggest impact on me throughout 2018, whether it was the incredible adventure they sent me one, their impeccable game design, or just the pure fun they gave me. Here are my ten favorite games I played in 2018.
Mobile games are a big part of my gaming experience throughout the year; I feel like people don’t talk about it outside of Candy Crush and Clash Royale though. My wife calls me an app snob because I am willing to pay for apps and games. She, like many others, prefer the alternate free route cluttered with ads and artificial time obstacles.
Holedown is the evolution of games like Brick Breaker. In the game, you go deeper into the core of various space objects like moons and planets, breaking shapes along the way. If you fail to break a shape when it crosses the line at the top, your run is over. Collect the gems along the way or smash the core for a buttload to buy upgrades that allow for more total shots, starting balls, and levels.
Holedown is utterly addictive with clever mechanics and clearly defined rules: I have played it constantly this year. Even Abby has gotten sucked into it. Maybe she’ll become a snob too.
9. Rainbow Six Siege
This addition is all Mike’s fault. My friend and fellow DualShockers writer Michael Ruiz got hooked on Siege this year. He kept talking about it in our Discord and kept asking our group of friends to play with him. I caved. After redeeming a coupon from Gamestop, I bought a used copy for Xbox One and became a fellow “Siegeman” with Mike.
This game is my kind of PvP: tight, goal-oriented tasks with teamwork (when you chat with friends). I have a hoot with it, even when I suck. I even get a kick out of the randos that take it waaaaay too serious and try to ban me for not accepting their party invite to chat. What a rush Siege is. Once a Siegemen, always a Siegemen.
8. Astro Bot Rescue Mission
I had a sort of reunion with my PSVR this year. It hasn’t gotten a ton of love since launch, mostly because I settled into the mindset that it is cumbersome to set up. This year though, my mindset changed. I finally picked up Job Simulator after Abby kept begging for it, and I got myself SUPERHOT. I reviewed Tetris Effect and found its VR mode to be the game’s “most stunning accomplishment.” Astro Bot trumps them all.
Astro Bot is PSVR’s must-have title, as it’s this wild fusion of virtual reality and a 3D platformer. You control the tiny Astro Bot with a regular DualShock 4, but the implementation of VR is incredible. Looking and peeking around corners for secrets is delightful. The actions possible with VR are immersive, surprising, and engaging; the game is a pure delight and I love it every time I don the headset.
7. Tetris Effect
Buckle up for the puzzle portion of this GOTY programming. Like I said above, I was fortunate enough to review Tetris Effect for the site. It was an incredible version of the puzzle titan, and it meant more to me this year, because of my history with the series.
My grandmother was a key figure in getting me into video games. From playing her Game Boy to mooching her boyfriend’s PS2 and renting Sly Cooper at Blockbuster, she helped shape my interest in video games. She loooooved Tetris. She wasn’t a hardcore gamer: she enjoyed the simple games and Tetris was one of them. Tetris Effect reminded me that Tetris is a game anyone can see, understand, and play, just like my grandmother did all those years ago.
6. Into the Breach
Moving on: do you like time travel? Check. Do you like strategy? Check. Do you like mechs? Check. Well then, Into the Breach is the game for you and me. Sometimes a game gets enough buzz from the right people in my Twitter feed to get me to check it out, regardless of platform. That’s a big deal when you clue in on the fact that I own a MacBook Pro.
Into the Breach reminds me a lot of chess. Not by happenstance either, thanks to Kotaku’s review planting that analogy in my head. I love a game with clearly-defined rules and that allows the player to master them in creative, engaging ways. Two-man developer Subset Games nailed this with Into the Breach, making a strategy game with seemingly infinite replay value—just like chess.
5. Return of the Obra Dinn
Puzzle game round 3! Remember me saying if a game gets the right buzz, I’ll check it out? This is another primo example. Holy cow, Return of the Obra Dinn is one heck of a puzzle game.
You are sent to evaluate the titular merchant ship, the Obra Dinn, after it returns from years lost at sea. The crew is MIA and the insurance company need to settle a claim. Using a magic pocket watch, you can be transported to the moment of the victim’s death and try to figure out their identity. It is a game unlike any other: Obra Dinn makes you use your thinking cap in this delicious detective game that hopefully comes to Switch. Please, come to Switch.
4. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
I almost feel obligated to include Smash on my Top #10 list. Just recently, I flew up to Indiana for the launch and to participate in the silly tournament that DualShockers reviews editor Logan Moore put on. I came in fourth. I couldn’t close the deal. Grrrrr.
Smash 64 is the first game I ever remember playing. The series has been near and dear to me across every entry, and Ultimate is no different, despite me only playing the multiplayer so far. The insane roster, the Persona 5/Joker DLC reveal, the hype of a 1v1, Fox only, FD match: it all lends itself to make Smash the dream mash-up it is today, and I couldn’t love it more. Okay, maybe I could love it three more slots higher…but you get the idea.
Celeste was the first new game I played in 2018. It is so rare for me to remember a game from the beginning of the year when GOTY rolls around. Celeste just stuck with me throughout the year, all thanks to its many elements that come together to make a masterful platformer.
The tight controls made every missed jump or failure my fault. The soundtrack is *chef kisses fingers* and the art is a treat. The game’s difficulty lies in optional collectibles and exploring the massive levels. It’s friendly to new players and has a touching story you would never think could be told in a platforming game.
Check out the DualShockers review of Celeste.
2. God of War
God of War as a franchise is something really near and dear to me. I bought the PS2 God of War off a buddy with a bag full of quarters I had in high school. On my 17th birthday, I bought God of War II, Chains of Olympus, and Ghost of Sparta cause I was finally old enough to buy M-rated games on my own. I remember seeing God of War III for the first time in a Best Buy and the bloodbath that ensued during the demo. I love the series, and even Kratos, for all his yelling and revenge-fueled tendencies.
I was very fortunate to help write the IGN wiki guide for God of War earlier this year when it released (before joining DualShockers), and managed to get a copy early and enjoy the whole Nordic adventure weeks before the rest of the world. I’m not saying this to brag, but more to share my experience with the game (*humble brag*). It was just me, Kratos, and Atreus. We explored Midgard, met the World Serpent, and explored the bond between father and son in a way that only Kratos could. Sony Santa Monica Studio should be proud of their accomplishments to keep Kratos’ history intact, while making an out-dated franchise with a mediocre character be one of this generation’s finest releases.
Check out the DualShockers review of God of War.
1. Marvel’s Spider-Man
There was no game I had more fun playing this year than Marvel’s Spider-Man from Insomniac Games. I woke up early on a daily basis to get in an hour of play each day, as swinging around New York City and chasing bad guys brought me pure gaming joy.
Its story was a wonderful foundation for this incarnation of the Web Head with an inescapable tagline that you’d “feel like Spider-Man” while playing. Insomniac nailed the sensation of swinging, albeit it lacked some depth that I hoped for. It’s a game I didn’t want to end because I was having a hoot playing it at my own pace. Thankfully, the DLC has given me an excuse to keep coming back. It also made me cry like a baby right before Abby woke up to get ready for work.
Marvel’s Spider-Man sticks the landing to become my favorite game of the year.
Check out the other DualShockers’ staff Top 10 lists and our official Game of the Year Awards:
December 17: DualShockers Game of the Year Awards 2018
December 18: Lou Contaldi, Editor in Chief // Logan Moore, Reviews Editor
December 19: Ryan Meitzler, Features Editor // Tomas Franzese, News Editor
December 20: Reinhold Hoffmann, Community Manager
December 21: Scott Meaney, Community Director // Ben Bayliss, Staff Writer
December 22: Ben Walker, Staff Writer // Chris Compendio, Staff Writer
December 23: Grant Huff, Staff Writer
December 26: Jordan Boyd, Staff Writer
December 27: Max Roberts, Staff Writer // Michael Ruiz, Staff Writer
December 28: Rachael Fiddis, Staff Writer
December 29: Steven Santana, Staff Writer // Tanner Pierce, Staff Writer
December 30: Iyane Agossah, Staff Writer // Travis Verbil, Staff Writer // Zack Potter, Staff Writer