It’s that time of year again…the time where us Gaming Respawners get together and share our own personal games of the year and reveal why it was we chose these particular games over others. The year of 2018 had some big hits, as well as a number of lesser known but still great games that took our breaths away, so let’s see which of those games have made it into the pantheon of Gaming Respawn favorites. Some may even surprise you……while others certainly won’t. Enjoy Gaming Respawn’s Game of the Year 2018 Part 1.
Red Dead Redemption II
My game of the year for 2018 comes as no surprise. Rockstar Games’ long awaited Western epic serves as a prequel and gap filler that became the most highly anticipated title of this year, and boy did it deliver. Red Dead Redemption II took us back before the events of John Marston’s adventures in the first game and puts us in the hands of one of his associates and eventual close friends, Arthur Morgan. After the phenomenon that was Rockstar Games’ last outing, namely Grand Theft Auto V, expectations were extremely high for this sequel, but Rockstar had always kept their standards at an inhumanly high level. Red Dead II was everything I wanted and so much more. The ridiculous amount of detail, the eye-wateringly gorgeous setting that covers all bases in terms of terrain types, excellent character building and stellar acting are but a few of the many reasons why I chose this as my GOTY. I never thought caring for a virtual horse would be part of my daily routine until now, and robbing a train has never been so much fun. The extensive map is rife with secrets and sights that are begging to be explored, and some even trigger missions. I once stumbled upon a remote hut that had a grim murder scene inside, and a note I found stuffed into the corpse’s mouth put me on the trail of a serial killer; unexpected and seriously cool.
Something else that took my breath away was the seemingly endless number of stranger encounters and dynamic events that occur at random intervals. You could be riding along when a hunter caught in a bear trap desperately pleads for your help, or escaped convicts will plead for your help to be able to safely enter a nearby town by asking you to remove wanted posters. Hunting plays a massive part in RDRII with its impressive number of animals that can be either cooked or skinned and sold to the nearest trapper, which in turn rewards you with some handy new gear. We’ve only just had a glimpse into the upcoming online element of Red Dead II, but when that is released to the world, the game is only just going to get better. Red Dead Redemption II reset the bar in video game production quality, and it is a perfect example of why we don’t really need a next generation just yet.
God of War
2018 has been a good year for video games. A lot of new releases have graced our gaming devices over this past year, and with 2019 just around the corner, it’s that time to nominate our game of the year choices. To be clear, I have not played all the big games released this year as there have been so many released, and there aren’t enough man-hours in the day to play them all. But what I did manage to play and was completely captivated by was (drum roll) God of War on the PS4. Some might argue that there are better choices, and I do have a list of games to play that might have been in the running for my game of the year, such as Spider-Man, but for me God of War has by far been my favourite game to play this year.
Now, the reason why God of War is my game of the year has a lot to do with the story between a father and his son. The complexities of how Kratos and his son, Atreus, interact with each other as they progress through their adventure together, the hardships they endure and what they need to do to overcome them. Nothing is cut and dry. For every genuine moment they share, Kratos’ past comes back to haunt them. In wanting to overcome these boundaries, Kratos is trying to reach out to Atreus to help him, nurture him and to teach him how to survive. The developers, Santa Monica Studios, have created a masterpiece, in my opinion. Pacing is something that plays a huge part in telling a story. You can’t rush everything out in one go. Relationships need time to mature, to evolve, and to be able to grow. As such, the player becomes more emotionally involved with the subject matter.
Plus, the combat is thrilling, enjoyable and has that spark. It doesn’t feel cheap by making you able to mercilessly slaughter everything in sight. There are tactics involved to taking down your foes. Run in with no plan, and that decision will be sure to backfire when you’re cornered. Leveling your characters is something that I took the time to learn. To use the best combinations of attacks, the best armour and skills in many situations was something that I memorised. Every bad guy faced was thrilling, and even though some proved challenging, that fueled me to get better at the game; to be able to pinpoint my next window in which to unleash Kratos’ fury upon thine foes.
But, lest we forget the environments in this Norse mythological world. Every area is brimming with references, and the stories, lore and characters you meet along the way are straight from the tales steeped in these realms. Never have I played a game where the environment is just as interesting as the characters you meet. And the cutscenes. It’s something to behold when you see Kratos lay down the law in his various encounters. So, long story short, God of War is my game of the year for everything that comes in this one package: Story, gameplay, environments and brutal combat all come together in a well-paced action/adventure that will have you rooting for the main protagonists from start to finish. If you haven’t played this gem yet, this will make for a nice present to open on Christmas morning.
My game of the year choice: The Messenger
I know what you might be thinking: “The Messenger?! In a year with great games like God of War, Red Dead Redemption II, and Spider-Man, you choose The Messenger?” Absolutely. Don’t get me wrong, there are many games like the ones mentioned above that I really enjoyed this year. However, few games have pulled me in faster and kept me addicted longer than The Messenger. People will take one look at The Messenger and think they have the game completely figured out. “It’s just like all those 8-bit games out there,” some will say. However, spending just a couple minutes with The Messenger will show you just how different the game is. Its brilliant design, gameplay, and amazing soundtrack don’t just make for one of the best indie games released this year. The Messenger is one of the best games of the year period.
The Messenger absolutely nails gameplay down perfectly. In the game you have to make it through a series of locations filled with obstacles and monsters to reach the end. What The Messenger does especially well is nail its platforming; the game feels fast and fluid. Yet another thing the game does so well is teach you different moves that in themselves seem simple (like a double jump or gliding), but if you take the time to master them, then it makes the game even faster and more fluid. That platform in the distance that at first seemed impossible to get to now becomes completely doable because you learned to glide, double jump, grapple, and jump again to make it over there.
Months after its release, I still find myself going back to The Messenger trying to find all the secrets the game has. Currently I’m sitting at about 65 hours of play time with the game. With news coming out that DLC is being added to the game in early 2019, it looks like The Messenger will keep me hooked for even more time. Seriously, it can’t be stated enough how great of a game The Messenger is. It’s absolutely a game you must play and an easy pick for me for game of the year.”
Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey
My game of the year: Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey
It was a tough choice for me to pick my game of the year. I have not played Red Dead Redemption II, and this left me stuck between Shadow of the Tomb Raider and AC: Odyssey. The latest Assassin’s Creed game built on the great previous release of Assassin’s Creed: Origins and moved the story into Greece in the time after the Battle of Thermopylae. The story is absolutely amazing, and the detail of the graphics has improved drastically. Interestingly enough, the lack of the Hidden Blade, the weapon that has been featured in every game in the series until now, wasn’t a negative thing since it was replaced with King Leonidas’ Spear, which was very well implemented. The progression system, while familiar for exploring, has changed significantly for skills. The poison darts and such of AC: Origins have been replaced with abilities that are tied to weapon use and can be combined and modified with other abilities. My favorite of these is combining Rain of Destruction and Overpowered Bow Strike. These two abilities let you rain infinite arrows on your enemy. Of course, “This is Sparta!” The Spartan Kick is a must! The audio of the game is great enough to make you want the soundtrack, and the voice acting of the two main characters is great. Likewise, the addition of two playable characters also provides another unique improvement to this game. While both characters play the same, it does alter (in my opinion) the story slightly, although only through the view of which character you play as. This game has taken up a lot of my gameplay time and has filled the void left by the dismal failure that is Fallout 76.
Despite the number of great games released this year, several of which I’ve been able to play (except for Red Dead Redemption II, unfortunately, my gaming schedule requires I wait to play that game next year), choosing my game of the year of 2018 was surprisingly easy. I took chances on Monster Hunter: World and Vampyr, and while both those games were good, they had their issues (specifically, extreme repetition for MHW, and for Vampyr it was dragged out gameplay and some glitches). Darksiders III was different from the games that came before it, but it proved to be a breath of fresh air for the series. Then there was God of War, which was fantastic. Despite how fun these games were, all of them, even God of War, lacked one very specific quality that I really like to have in my games: that addictive quality that hooks me and prevents me from ever wanting to shut off my PS4. The one game I played this year that I found possessed this quality in spades was Marvel’s Spider-Man.
I was already expecting great things from Spider-Man, but my expectations were exceeded, and then some. I didn’t think Insomniac would have been able to create yet another Spidey game that would so greatly manage to breathe new life into such a long-running IP that was starting to grow rather stale, but this new Spidey game managed to do it. And this is coming from someone who has played damn near every Spider-Man game under the sun since the PS1, and there have been a lot of them. From the revamped and fluid combat system, fun traversal, engaging missions, very well written story, and enjoyable collectibles that aren’t a pain in the ass to track down, this is hands down the best Spider-Man game currently on the market and also just one of the best superhero games to boot. Whenever I was away from my PS4, I was thinking about Spider-Man. When I wasn’t doing something that I simply had to do out of necessity, like working, exercising, or eating, I was playing Spider-Man. I just couldn’t put the game down, and that is the mark of an exceptional game. And that is why it was so easy for me to choose Marvel’s Spider-Man as my game of the year of 2018.
That completes part 1 of Gaming Respawn’s Game of the Year 2018 feature. Join us tomorrow for part 2 to see the rest of the games we considered to be standouts.