Once again this year we are incredibly lucky to have a collection of Game of the Year picks from our friends. Men and women from across the gaming industry who have been kind enough to share with us with their thoughts on their favorite games of 2018. It was an amazing year for games and choosing one to sit atop the rest is never easy, so thank you so much to our friends for taking the time to share their picks with us and we hope you enjoy reading them!
RED DEAD REDEMPTION 2 – (we recommend using a cowboy voice when reading) “Saddle Up Partners, we’re about to take a ride to 1899. If you played the first Red Dead, you’d remember Jon Marston. You meet him early on in this game, but as a man needing a rescue. Arthur Morgan’s the man to do it. Been part of the Van Der Linde gang going on 20 years he reckons. Yeah, this game gives you the real feels. These outlaws just want to be free, so they’ve got to do what they’ve always done to attain that freedom: Take bounties, rob trains, gather intel and destroy those lousy O’Driscolls.
As for gameplay.. Well, Rockstar is doin’ what Rockstar do. You’re a cowboy out to make the old west yer bitch, but you know it ain’t gonna be easy. Feed yerself and yer gang by hunting and fishing, take bounties from the sheriff’s office to make some extra coin, get out there and ride them fences with the best and worst of ‘em. I’m only getting started, and come to think of it, the way I play.. I’ve got at least 100 more delicious hours of camp stew and blackjack ahead of me.”
CELESTE – “It’s rare to find a game you fall in love with in January that manages to stay at the top of your list for the remainder of the year… but this was exactly the case for me in 2018. Celeste represents everything great about retro-inspired platforming titles. Its mechanics are both simple and complex. Its levels are both effortless and punishing. Its music is both catchy and moving. The game is absolutely stunning to behold in all its pixelated glory.
Celeste isn’t just my favorite game of it the year, it currently stands as one of my favorite games of all time. The little platformer that could squashed Spider-Man, God of War, and every other AAA, multi-million dollar, offering this year in terms of lasting entertainment and heart (at least in my book). If you don’t mind a challenge and you thrive on the thrill of landing that prefect last jump, you owe it to yourself to give Celeste a climb.”
The Adventure Pals/The Return of the Obra Dinn – “My kiddo-friendly GOTY is the most precocious platformer I’ve played since Banjo Kazooie: The Adventure Pals. Massive Monster has done what very few games have done for my kids — it’s made them want to stop and read the story. We’ve spent many hours laughing and enjoying the hilarious dialogue, in addition to feeling like the Best Gamers Ever™ when we made it through a challenging level without dying. There’s something about the absurdity of Cupcake King (a very fat cat who is the king of cupcakes), a bad guy who rides a giant bee, and saving the world from being turned into hot dogs… it just speaks to me. (And my kids.)
The Return of the Obra Dinn is my non-kiddo friendly GOTY — the art style, the mystery, the problem-solving all worked in concert to create the most unique gaming experience I’ve ever had. Obra Dinn’s atmosphere left me curious and a little horrified. The monsters, of course, weren’t just below the sea. They were all aboard the ghostly ship and murder was as rampant as scurvy. Obra Dinn is a magnificent game with a wonderful story. It’s certainly not one to be missed.”
CELESTE – “2018 was a year packed with amazing Blockbuster games and each and every one of them deserve recognition of some kind. However, when we are talking about GAME OF THE YEAR, there can be only one. Highlander style. While it might sound like a tall order to rank these 2018 GIANTS, it was actually pretty easy for me as there is only one 2018 title that I cannot stop thinking about and it gets better every time I do.
Celeste swung into my GOTY list pretty early this year, but it packed a punch that even Kratos couldn’t match. After my playthrough I knew I had just experienced something special and could comfortable rest the GOTY crown on Madeline’s head and even the most ruthless Tomb Raider would be unable to snag it from her.
Celeste is a game that deserves all of my praise, but I want to talk about it as little as possible, because this game will get to you in a way that is best experienced when you go in blind. Just know this: You will play a perfect platformer that will make you feel all kinds of stuff. That is all you need to know. Go play it. It’s the best game of the year.”
Starlink: Battle for Atlas/Red Dead Redemption 2 – “As one of the most incredible years in gaming comes to a close, it’s difficult to narrow down a top pick. As a gaming parent I’ve got two titles in mind for Game of the Year (sorry, I might be breaking the rules) but these titles really stole the show in my household; I’ve picked one family friendly game and a mature “after hours” title for top honours.
My first pick for family game of the year is the toys-to-life epic Starlink: Battle for Atlas. Dapper Jr. and I had a lot of fun playing the game both on and off screen, building our own ships, flying around the universe (and our living room). We’ve been playing the Nintendo Switch version with Fox McCloud and his Arwing, which has easily emerged as our favorite spacecraft. (I mean, c’mon it’s Star Fox!)
Assembling the ships and then beaming them into the game to explore the digital universe is an amazing experience. Seeing the look on Dapper Jr.’s face as he swapped out parts that would instantly change in-game was priceless. We created some pretty gnarly builds, ships so heavy we couldn’t get them off the ground, but the creativity was off the charts! The gameplay is great, intuitive enough to let Dapper Jr. complete many of the missions on his own, with little help. The fun in-game experience and building in real life, makes Starlink our favourite family gaming adventure of the year!
Once bedtime has rolled around for Dapper Jr. more mature titles get their time in the limelight. My favourite “after hours” title for 2018 is Rockstar’s outlaw opus Red Dead Redemption 2.
Gaming parents tend to have finite playtime and the commitment with RDR2 is big, but it’s a game you need to experience. The characters, storytelling and environment are so incredibly crafted, it’s a world that is always worth getting lost in. Stepping into Arthur Morgan’s boots is an experience I won’t soon forget, even if you can play in shorter sessions it’s still worth the trek back to the wild West.”
RED DEAD REDEMPTION 2 – “Red Dead Redemption 2 managed to meld a sweeping, emotional story built around an ensemble cast with the requirements of player agency in a truly vast and impossibly detailed open world, and it did so by its own rules. Quiet, thoughtful, and deeply naturalistic, Red Dead Redemption to is in many ways the antithesis of the archetypal video game, a bloody drama that ultimately abhors violence and a deliberately-unfolding tale of love and loss that embraces subtlety as often as it does savagery.
It’s powerful blend of historical fidelity, cinematic romanticism, and brilliant game design is tied together with the most beautiful gaming world I’ve ever encountered, an awe-inspiring recreation of America’s past cities and natural wonders bound together by smart level design, a brilliant score, and incredibly thoughtful sound engineering.”
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey – “I don’t really do game of the year awards anymore. There are so many games every year that deserve recognition for one reason or another. Some of them have fantastic stories or well-directed cut scenes. Others have fantastic gameplay or amazing soundtracks. There’s almost always a reason to love a game– you just have to find the reason. For me, it’s been a bit of a slump this year. I did my normal game nights, which primarily consist of Rocket League with the occasional Fortnite, but overall I wasn’t feeling gaming as much as I have in prior years. We haven’t had a quality MMO released in years and while it’s fun to do Battle Royale mode in every single game ever invented… I do get tired of them eventually.
Yet, one game stood out to me not because everybody was playing it, but because it was the only game I found myself playing off-stream, on my own time, for my enjoyment.
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is a beautiful introduction to a franchise I have always ignored. Even though every single person on the planet has presumably played AC– I managed to miss the boat somehow. A game set in the Roman Empire will always catch my attention. I love that period. Mercenaries. Arenas. A deep-seated love for the color purple. Rampant dysentery. What’s not to love about the Greek-Roman era?
This game brought touching romances, thrilling chases, heart-pounding battles, and a true open world feeling (unless you ventured out into the middle of the sea where you can’t sail all the way around the world for some reason). The accessibility of the game leaves a few things the desire, but overall it’s a stellar example of how just about anybody can play a game. The wall climbing allows you to navigate easily. Combat can be turned down so that your beloved cat Fluffy could randomly hit the basic attack button until everything dies. And the gameplay itself a mixture of Shadows of Mordor and Skyrim that delivered a fantastic experience, unlike anything I’ve gotten to play before. The bounty system alone made the game extremely interesting for hours.
Between my job, social engagements, streaming and a healthy obsession with Reese’s peanut butter cups, I only get a few hours to game for fun every week. I’m 100 hours into the game, and I don’t regret any of it. In fact, the DLC is bringing me back for more. If you’re looking for a super fun game that you can play when you have the time to do so or on a weekend where you just don’t want to sleep*, I highly suggest you pick up a copy of Assassins Creed Odyssey and lose yourself in the world of champions.”
*Steve does not recommend gaming for three days straight without sleeping. Doing so would be dangerous. Consult your doctor if you become addicted to Assassin’s Creed thanks to this article. If you haven’t eaten any pizza within four hours of playing Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, call your local pizzeria for assistance.
Mascot Redemption of the Year: Astro Bot
Who is Astro Bot? What is Astro Bot? Why is Astro Bot? We don’t know exactly what the origin story is of the tiny star of Astro Bot: Rescue Mission, but we do know that he went from being a fairly generic character in a pretty mediocre collection of mini games for the PlayStation Camera to being the charming star of one of the best games of the year and the showcase title for the PSVR. It’s the feel good story of 2018 and hopefully we see a lot more of him in the future.
Comeback Kid of the Year: Xbox
Xbox has secretly had a really phenomenal year. No… I’m not kidding. The Xbox One has seen a huge surge in hardware sales (uncommon this late in a generation), due in large part to the release of the Xbox One X. They’ve also made some big moves that have been popular with gamers. Game Pass, backwards compatibility, promoting cross play, the adaptive controller, expanding Microsoft Studios, adding 4K/HDR to older games, and other policy initiatives have been praised for turning around a console that started this generation in about the worst way possible. They’re obviously not in any position to overtake the PlayStation 4 as the sales leader, but by making these moves they’re doing something that could be even more important, building a community of happy and loyal gamers.
Do-Over of the Year: Shadow of the Colossus
2018 brought us truly great remastered renditions of gaming classics like Shenmue, Spyro and Diablo 3. But none of these touch the majestic brilliance of Shadow of the Colossus on PlayStation 4. Bluepoint Games was able to take one of the most iconic PlayStation games ever and preserve everything that made it great while bringing the visuals up to the standards of today’s graphical powerhouses. Finally we have a definitive experience with visuals that stun as much as the heartbreaking tale of death, rebirth and love.
Dumbass Quote of the Year: Ninja
Good news nerds! It turns out that the pastime that you know and love isn’t just for losers and rejects. According to a recent interview with Variety, mega-popular (so I’m told) Twitch streamer Ninja said that his recent Fortnite stream with super popular (so I’m told) rapper Drake made this multi-billion dollar industry cool! And I quote… “Drake, that is what pushed gaming into the mainstream and made it cool.” So put down your Hot Pockets and come out of your parent’s basement, video games are now cool enough that you can wear your N7 hoodies and Mario t-shirts in public without the fear of receiving atomic wedgies or having your lunch money stolen.