DualShockers’ Game of the Year 2018 Staff Lists — Rachael's Top 10
Yet another year passes by and I'm still loving the gaming world as much as the year before. With much deliberation, I've finally rounded it down to my Top 10.
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.
Each and every year I’ll always find games to get excited about – whether that is a huge AAA title or a small indie release. I don’t think I have had a “bad gaming year” in rather a long time because there’s so much talent out there and something for everyone in every nook and cranny if you spend the time to look. With every year that rolls in and out again, I’m still amazed at the amount of progress that video games have taken not only graphically, but narratively too, and how developers are evolving with each tick of the clock.
I’ve played a lot of games this year (my bank balance is still really upset with me) with some unfortunately not making the list – not because they are bad, but more because the ones I have chosen appealed to something within me more than others have – they’ve built a stronger connection. So, let’s begin with my Top 10 games of 2018, shall we?
10. Red Dead Redemption 2
When I heard Rockstar were bringing out another Red Dead Redemption, I was beside myself with anticipation. Having put so many hours into Red Dead Redemption on my trusty Xbox 360, this really was a treat for me and you better believe I bought it on its release day. I loved the immersion of this title and the choices it gave you for who you wanted to be. I spent many hours riding around with my beautiful horse named Biscuit, hunting some wildlife for the best pelts or relaxing in one of the hundreds of baths I took, for some reason…and sometimes not alone, either.
The downside to Red Dead Redemption 2 was the length of the story for me, as I just didn’t get a lot of time to sit down and play it. We complain when the story is too short and complain when it’s too long, right? One of the other negatives was the shooting: the gunplay just hasn’t seemed to improve much from the original title at all and this could really be hard work at times. With aim assist off, I don’t think I could’ve shot fish in a small barrel if I’m honest. I do hope these creases iron out with updates.
9. Marvel’s Spider-Man
I’ve never really been a huge Marvel fan. I’ve always enjoyed DC way more, but something special caught my eye when I witnessed the trailers for Marvel’s Spider-Man and I knew that I had to play this title, if nothing else. The freedom I felt while swinging through the crowded streets of New York was amazing and I enjoyed the fighting elements a lot; I’d sought out gangs just to use all the moves I had learned on them. The negative here would be that I wanted more story, and by the story I mean I wanted Spider-Man to pull me deeper into the narrative, instead of little bits of it and then pushing me out to do missions and whatnot.
Even so, I enjoyed Marvel’s Spider-Man a lot and I look forward to catching up over the holidays on some of the DLC that I’ve missed out on lately.
8. Axiom Verge
Sometimes, there’s nothing better than getting on the Nintendo Switch to play a nostalgia-fueled Metroidvania, 8-bit endeavor, and Axiom Verge was the very title to delve into that scratched that itch for me. Axiom Verge is fun, simply put, and one of the best 12 hours you can spend your time partaking in. It’s dripping with that “Oh so good nostalgia” that many gamers, not just the older ones, ache for. Thankfully, it never feels like a revival and stands on its own feet very well.
7. Far Cry 5
I’ve been a fan of the Far Cry franchise for quite some time and for me, this was the best one I’ve played – although debatable by others, and that’s perfectly fine. The open-world element was everything I needed or could ever want in a title with a fully-immersive world – I could fly, fish, drive, and enjoy so many others aspects of it.
The one section of the game that I was most compelled by was Faith Seed. I loved this character and thought she was so well done; from the trippy dream-like visions she would appear into, I thought that the manipulation tactics she used to side others with her and her beliefs was unbelievably well thought-out and written.
I will say one thing though; many a folk came to a grizzly end when they hit or killed my dog Boomer, which called for many moments of rage while I shouted out “Oh, you’re dead now, buddy!”
Check out the DualShockers review of Far Cry 5.
I’m not sure how much I can express using words to tell you how much I enjoyed Fe. It was probably one of the greatest pleasures I’ve had in an indie game. The sheer beauty of this little creature facing a harsh world alone and that it was crumbling around it, was incredibly emotional but heart-warming.
Although Fe is unbearably cute and adorable, it highlights a more serious matter in the world regarding the threats facing forests and nature. This is clearly apparent throughout the title without making it overwhelming, and it doesn’t drown out the positivity and joy from the story.
Developers Zoink deserves every single piece of praise they get for Fe and definitely have firmly set themselves among the greats in the indie gaming world.
Check out the DualShockers review of Fe.
5. Where the Water Tastes like Wine
This gritty and dark American folklore tale by Dim Bulb Games is a dreamlike and strange journey that took me through American legend and fantasy with the introduction of drifters, fortune tellers, and magical creatures. Having spent time in Louisiana and listening to the many stories told while there, this title appealed to me so much with its American noir narrative.
Where The Water Tastes Like Wine takes you on a vast adventure across an expansive map of America where you can stop for a while at various cities to look for work, eat, explore, or hop a train and get the chance to meet some very unusual characters, all with their own stories to tell along the way. This title may have slipped off the radar for a lot of people, but I can highly recommend that you pick it up. The soundtrack is amazing, too.
Oh, and Sting is in it – yes, the singer Sting.
4. Life is Strange 2: Episode 1
Life is Strange 2‘s first episode drew me into the diversity and the mirroring of what life is really like on the politically-charged side of America for some people like the Diaz brothers. However, what also drew me in was how unafraid that developers Dontnod where to tackle these hard-hitting issues. Although this is only the first episode, it hit me hard enough to rank it high on my list due to it being a world inside a video game that I immediately recognized, which isn’t something you usually see.
The clever writing, beautiful score, and the cliffhanger at the end of Life is Strange 2: Episode 1 has made me really look forward to the next episode due out on January 23, 2019.
3. Detroit: Become Human
I adore games where you can push and explore the morality of the characters within it, and maybe your own as well, but Detroit: Become Human appealed to me even more since it was dealing with AI. I wondered how deep this questioning could go because, I mean, they’re robots after all. But Quantic Dream took this notion and flipped it on its head.
Each story had a pull that kept me completely engaged and invested in, which is hard enough to do with one plot, no mind three. My favorite story was Kara’s and the twist that lay within it that I never saw coming. It takes at least two or more playthroughs to obtain the desired outcome in Detroit: Become Human, and each time I found something new with my choices. It’s not surprising that I enjoyed this title so much really due to it being written by David Cage, who also wrote/directed two of my other favorites games – Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls.
Gris is an art lover’s wet dream, quite frankly, but that’s only a small part of this fantastic 2D platforming journey. When I reviewed this title, I couldn’t stop gushing about it because of how it made me feel and how important I believed it was for others to play and experience it.
To develop a game without any words or narrative whatsoever, in the hopes that you get it right with visuals and music alone, is no easy feat as seen in other amazing games like Journey and Fe. But Gris had nothing to worry about, as it hit all the right notes and much, much more.
Check out the DualShockers review of Gris.
1. A Way Out
This took some deliberation when making a game you’re number one out of a whole year of fantastic gaming experiences. But for me, A Way Out topped the charts due to it not only being a really fun and compelling game with an excellent story (and also a plot twist I didn’t see coming ) that you could play through a number of times easily without the dreaded boredom factor, but because I could play it with another person in the same room as me.
This was hugely important for me due to the demise of developers not implementing this feature into their games anymore – other than Nintendo, in which Hazelight Studios have stated why their title would never release on the Switch. I had spent a really fun and memorable night completing this game with another where we laughed, shouted, and ate fast food together all in true couch co-op gaming style. You can read more about the importance of couch games and why we still need them, here.
Hazelight Studios combined an emotional and intriguing story with beautiful cinematic moments, while showcasing the importance of teamwork and human interaction.
Check out the DualShockers review of A Way Out.
Also, Josef Fares needs to run for president, please! F**k the Oscars.
I’m sure some are wondering where God of War is? Surely I can’t call myself a gamer without playing it, right? Well, yes, you’re partly right there. Unfortunately, the truth is I haven’t had a full hands-on experience with God of War yet, but I did watch an entire playthrough with my best friend who bought it, and I sat on the couch enthralled the whole time.
I also managed to play some sequences myself, but of course, this doesn’t count in playing it, thus that’s why God of War did not make it to my Top 10 – that just wouldn’t be fair. From the little I was allowed to play and from watching it from start to finish, I can say it was captivating, graphically amazing, and the story had me constantly wanting more at every turn. Cory Barlog and Sony Santa Monica created something very special here, and I can’t wait until I experience it for myself very soon!
Check out the DualShockers review of God of War.
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