Merry Christmas everyone! So I have my Top 10 of the year ready for you and out to the world. Check them out down below!
But what about the games that didn’t quite meet the cut? What about the games that I haven’t played much of? Well, you will get that and more. You’ll get those games I really wasn’t impressed by another time.
This was very nearly the worst game of the year, at least until the developers finally broke free of their censorship and was able to release the intended version, and just in time as well. It could have been my worst game of 2018, or at least the most disappointing.
I was hyped for the game at launch. It looked fun and hellish pre-release…only for the launch version to be terrible. It looked more like a land made of fucking strawberry jam then Hell. It’s clear though it was the heavily cut version they did not want to release, and Steam’s censorship relaxing rules managed to save this game just in time…I do not know I can applaud them, as the practice of “release shit game and fix it later and expect praise” is overdone and over lauded in present-day gaming trends, but I give them some credit for pushing through those constraints. They gave the Unrated version to all previous Agony owners as well which was nice, although probably expected of them.
The true version is better. It’s much better than I expected to be honest. It’s a bit of a walking simulator but it has horrible imagery and some really fucked up moments. It really feels like I’m wading through Hell…with some sprinkled vaginas and baby death in. It’s an experience. I couldn’t give this game too high a rating, but it’s an interesting game and for a horror thing, it wasn’t too bad. It deserves a mention at least. At least it survived its appalling launch, but at least it was better then Fallout 76’s launch. And no, you won’t hear anything about that game from me. I haven’t played it. Nor do I plan to anytime soon.
Overall, it’s alright. It’s not particularly amazing, but it caught my eye and it’s memorable. It would never make my Top 10, but it was interesting enough for me.
Divinity Original Sin 2: Definitive Edition
I couldn’t put this game in my Top 10 because it was in it last year. Hell, it won last year without any real competition, but it still deserves a mention. Larian Studios continues to impress in my eyes by releasing this massive enhanced version of the game (and free to all previous owners). You can still play Classic mode or play this version, which fixes a ton of stuff, adds more fights and helps prop up the only weak point of the game: the messy final two Acts.
It’s still a wonderful experience.
It offers a massive campaign with memorable characters, interesting role-playing options, and excellent systemic combat. There are countless options to tweak your combat style to. Want an undead lizard that can summon and turn people into chickens? Fucking sold! Want a warrior tank that can conjure fire? Yes. Loads of options and the game is huge. Act 1, which is the tutorial island, took me 25 hours to finish. And there were still several quests I did not do. And because you can do the quests in different ways, there is lots of replay ability in this game I feel. I’m now 110 hours into my first play-through, and finally in the last Act of the game. It’s still giving me thrills in the combat, and it’s just so fresh to play.
People talk a lot about gameplay loops when discussing good games. Divinity Original Sin has such satisfying combat that it is a loop that keeps me going for hours. I cannot get bored of the combat system, and the many ways you can exploit it with its dozens of mechanics. Cheesing difficult fights is not just doable, but urged. The combat involves a magic/physical armor system that was seen with some controversy from the original DOS, forcing you to make decisions in your team building, but I quite like it as it builds more strategy. It can lead to some very unfair fights, but even the ones where I got pasted felt fun. I just returned another time when I had a better idea of how to deal with it. There is little hand holding, they just give you this sandbox of tools, and you’re left to scrabble in the dirt.
The environments are beautiful and the soundtrack is solid. That alone would put it at the top of the heap, but then Larian added offline and online co-op, a PVP arena mode, and Game Master mode, the greatest throwback to the Dungeons & Dragons pen-and-paper games that underpin the entire genre. I haven’t played online much yet, but once I’ve finished the game again, I plan on doing so. Because of the vast modding community, there is quite a lot to do. I will be making a good go into a new play-through with higher difficulties. The story while good, isn’t really the point of the game. For me it is that stunning game-play loop. The freedom in this game is almost unparalleled, but at the same time, it can be overwhelming. Doing this game blind is quite difficult and frustrating, as a word of warning.
True the story isn’t anything to truly write home about. The worldbuilding is beaten by other games. The game is punishingly difficult at times, it has its bugs and glitches, but I cannot recommend it more. A worthy coat of paint to an already brilliant game, it deserves a mention as well. If I never played it before and got it on console, it would have easily made my Top 10 again. It might have even won it again. It’s that good a game for me.
Star Traders: Frontiers
Another game that is increasingly catching my attention. I like games like this, an easy to get into, casual space romp. I like space RPGs though I would like to see more first or third person ones. Star Traders is 2D but don’t take that away. It’s a pretty cool game so far and I am enjoying it a lot.
There’s a ton of customisation and depth mixed in this. Want to be a trader? You can. Pirate? Hell yes. You can customize your ships in loads of different ways, and it’s a very flexible game. It’s a sandbox but it has an extensive story too. You can do anything you want in it.
The combat is simple, just turn based stuff and it can be tricky at times, but I’m having a blast, to be honest. It’s a seriously cool title and one of 2018’s most promising indie games. I really recommend giving it a shot and I’m excited to give the game another go. It is tricky at times.
I am seriously fond of this company. Behind the incredible experience that is This War of Mine (My 2014 game of the year I might add!), 11 bit studios has made some fascinating games. This year they launched the brutal survival management game Frostpunk.
When it first launched, I was a little surprised by the lack of content. There was nothing wrong with it but I felt lacking replay-ability was a major drawback of the game. This is a feature any management game needs in order to survive, and it’s something certain other management games lacked in 2018. You need options and ways to show off your creativity. In fairness Frostpunk is more of a survival sim than anything else, making you make shitty decisions for the greater good. Like This War of Mine it made me think about the morality of my actions, which takes a lot to do for a video game.
I did not need to worry, because 11 bit studios is one of the best devs I’ve seen for any game. They always listen to their players and Frostpunk has been well supported with excellent new content addons (free as well) including an Endless Mode which handles all of the initial problems I had with the game.
This is truly an excellent game, and one of my favourites of the year. I feel almost guilty it did not make my Top 10 this year.
Another Early Access game that launched this year! I know. I really wish I could put this on my Top 10, but I already have four games of the same mould that made the list. I feel it almost unfair on the others to put it on there.
This is a true theme park game, and in some cases it’s better than Planet Coaster. It has some excellent management quirks in a shoutout to Rollercoaster Tycoon 2, and focuses heavily on the management side over its main rival. Planet Coaster still rules the pack in customisation and “build your own sandpark”, but it still lags behind on management and optimization.
This might be the pivotal theme park game in the future, even above the olden goldies. Rollercoaster Tycoon 2 still leads in that regard, especially with the amazing OpenRCT2 mod that enables it to run on modern software and adds a ton more options. Parkitect oozes charm and runs quite well. It has great sandbox options and a new extensive campaign. I’ve been quite enjoying it so far and it gives you different challenges throughout. Once you complete each campaign mission, you can play the map again in sandbox mode.
I’m really impressed by Parkitect. It feels like a lovechild to the old era and holds up well in 2018. With Steam Workshop support and continued TLC, it is only going to get stronger.
This article went up late because of Christmas shenanigans. Next time, I’ll bring up my Dishonorable Mentions. . .there are a few of them!