Don’t forget to visit the awards hub for more information on each award, the winners, and the schedule of what’s next.
Ladies and gentlemen, it’s finally here. The final award this year. The big one. What better way to end the 2018 year then by detailing my game of the year. So before we jump into the promise of 2019, let’s take a look back at what was awesome.
This past year gave us a ton of great content to play. The list below features games that had the biggest impact on me, regardless of if it was something I was anticipating or ultimately came out of nowhere. As I always say, picking a winner out of this list was ridiculous and massively difficult.
Alright, let’s get to it then.
and the nominees are…
I thought I knew what I was getting into with this game when it launched but it kept revealing more and more as I played. It was a wonderful surprise and is still a game I think about on occasion, or at the very least hum some of the excellent music.
At its core, Celeste is a difficult platformer. You’re going to die a lot. Thankfully, it has a generous checkpoint system and respawns you very quickly so dying doesn’t feel like a penalty. The real draw here is the visuals, characters, and the surprisingly excellent story. You’re Madeline, a young woman dedicated to climbing Celeste Mountain, though the journey is a lot more difficult than she anticipated. Dealing with themes of anxiety, depression, and living up to expectations gives the game tons of heart as well. Whether playing for the challenging platforming or the story, Celeste offers something for everyone.
God of War
They did it, they actually did it. Sony Santa Monica, led by Cory Barlog, managed to take a relative one note (but very good) franchise and craft it into something greater. God of War, the latest entry in this violent series, has taken the formula and really evolve it in ways that didn’t seem possible. As a result, the experience is more well rounded and deeper than anything before it.
The game features an older and somewhat wiser Kratos, who has moved to the frigid northlands of the Vikings. Not only that, Kratos has been busy since we last saw him, settling down with a wife and having a son. The story involves Kratos and his son, fulfilling the dying wish of his wife, though the two quickly find that the journey isn’t as easy as first thought. The gameplay is rock solid, combat feels better than it has ever felt, the inclusion of minor RPG elements really adds a new layer to the action and combat, and the game is as gorgeous as you’d expect. It’s easily a must play for any PS4 owner.
Super Smash Bros Ultimate
I’ve written a lot about this game in the past few months, but all of it remains true: Super Smash Bros Ultimate may be the best deal in gaming. Nintendo has absolutely loaded the disk with an unbelievable amount of content, something unheard of these days with all the season passes, microtransactions, and everything else that costs money post-launch.
Not only does this game feature every single fighter from the previous games, but it also has a bunch of new fighters including fan-requested ones like King K. Rool and Ridley. An expansive World of Light campaign, endless hours of replayability and customizable settings, a ridiculous soundtrack, and tons of other playable modes easily make this game one of the best titles of 2018.
The new gold standard for superhero games? Insomniac certainly makes a strong case for it because Marvel’s Spider-Man is an absolute gem in every sense of the word. The biggest thing for this character is web swinging and Insomniac has nailed it. Swinging around a virtual New York City feels absolutely wonderful with speed and momentum making a big impact on movement.
Voice acting, led by Yuri Lowenthal as Peter Parker/Spider-Man, is spot on and really brings these characters to life. With such a wide array of personalities in the game like J. Jonah Jameson doing his best on-air personality, it’s incredibly easy to get sucked into the world and feel engaged with all these characters. Combat is another area where this game succeeds as it really taps into Spider-Man’s acrobatic nature and witty quips. You have access to plenty of gadgets, new suits, abilities, and an upgrade system to make you even deadlier. Honestly, it’s like you’re playing a living, breathing comic book.
Finally out of access and launching in full this year, Dead Cells is not only a great roguelike experience, but it nails the fast action combat while adding a tactical layer on top of it. Needless to say, it’s a game that is easy to pick up and suddenly lose an hour to in the blink of an eye.
Even though the story is a bit minimalistic, you’re essentially a prisoner stuck on a mysterious island. Honestly, story isn’t that important because it’s the gameplay and combat that will get its hooks in you. Combat is fast and upgradable in the fact that you’ll constantly find new abilities and weapons during your runs. You won’t be able to take everything with you though so it’s up to you to decide which ones are the best to bring with you and when you die, you’ll lose everything. Thankfully, you can buy permanent upgrades and unlock passive abilities that carry between playthroughs, so not all is lost when you die. Besides, you’ll likely want to say “one more run” after dying anyways that you’ll quickly be back on your feet anyway.
Destiny 2: Forsaken
A game I’ve put countless hours into since it launched in September, Forsaken is the expansion that the core game of Destiny 2 desperately needed. Bungie shook the franchise by killing off not only one of its main characters, but arguably it’s most popular. Taking that chance ultimately helped kick off a very cool tale of revenge and introduced two new destinations which continued to evolve over the months since the expansion launched.
And that’s partly why Forsaken has helped to revive Destiny 2. Bungie has been able to add tweaks and smaller content to the game post-launch. New exotics, new enemies, and new modes like Gambit has freshened up the game and managed to keep people coming back day after day.
and the winner is…
I knew this game was going to be good, I just don’t think I was prepared for how good Insomniac could make things. It’s a love letter to comic book and superhero fans everywhere.
At the end of the day, this isn’t just the best Spider-Man game ever created, it’s also one of the best open world games available on the current generation of consoles. I hate to admit it, but it has basically ruined most open world superhero games for me. I attempted to go back and play some of the Batman Arkham games, and while they’re still good, moving around Gotham City just feels slow and clunky considering I can’t web swing, run up walls, or parkour over everything.