It is time to crown Home Button’s Top 10 of 2018.
I spent a good deal of time debating how to go about this. Do I have categories? Should I look at critical reception? My favorites?
I’ve settled on my Top Ten games of 2018 in order of preference of how much I enjoyed them. Every voice on the internet is different, and while I could attempt to make a more objective list, I feel this list by its very nature is subjective and so these are the games that impacted me the most in 2018.
There are two that were not technically released in 2018, but since this is my list and this year was the first I played them, they both make the cut.
10. Super Mario Party
I’ve actually never bought a Mario Party game before this one, as I’ve always just waited for my brother to bring his copy over. For the debut on the Switch though I knew I had to have this game, especially with the Joy-Con making it so easy to get a 4 player party going. It has been my family’s go-to game every time since release, as everyone from my wife to my six year old daughter can enjoy it. Perhaps it has been the cause of a child meltdown or two, but the quality on show here makes it deserve this top spot. Also, it brought us a HD version of Bowser breaking it down on the dance floor. What more can you ask for?
Monster Hunter and me have something of a rocky past. I’ve played a good deal of the games, but never sunk the hundreds of hours into them one really needs to in order to have said they got good at them. Often times I found many of the design decisions crippling to the games reach, and its inscrutable menus insurmountable to the common gamer. It was a shame, because that monster hunting at the core of the game was a magnificent thing, it was just buried under layers of niche nonsense. Enter Monster Hunter World, a game that makes so many quality of life improvements that it finally brought Monster Hunter to the masses here in North America. Outside of Sea of Thieves, this is probably the game I sunk the most hours into this year as I hunted monsters with my brother and made them into awesome sets of armor. The way the world felt alive, with colossal matches between these big beasts, it was just a spectacular move for Capcom. I can’t wait to play the expansion this year, and that is something I never thought I’d say for Monster Hunter.
8. The Last Guardian
I skipped this on its initial release, though I had previously connected with both Ico and Shadow of Colossus—the latter being one of the best games I’d played in the entire fantastic library of PS2. Finding this game on sale on the PSN after Christmas I decided to finally give it a go, and I’m so incredibly glad I did. I’ve never cared so much about an AI driven character in a game before, the team did an amazing job at instilling the beast with a lifelike portrayal. There were moments where Trico suffered that didn’t always affect gameplay, but I always wanted to rush to his rescue, because I just felt that strongly about my new companion. For the first time in a very long time a game made me cry, and to provide that much connection to the world and its characters is the reason it belongs on this list–regardless of what year it was released in.
There has never been a game that I’ve had higher highs or lower lows with than Sea of Thieves. I’ve been involved with this game in some form or other for a long time now, participating in the alpha far before others ever got their hands on it. In that time I’ve seen it grow tremendously, and even in the past year the progress that this game has made has been astonishing. For every incredibly boring moment sailing into the wind to a far-away location, I have also had some of the most incredible moments I’ve ever had in multiplayer gaming–experiences that my brothers and have laughed and told the story of at a holiday dinner like it was something real that happened to us. The only thing that keeps it from going higher on my list are the questionable decisions surrounding many of the expansions, and Rare making it necessary to team up with other crews to achieve time limited events in a game where just about every other team is out to troll you.
This friendly neighborhood arachnid fellow is my favorite superhero, and so it would stand to reason that I would be excited to play the game. There must have been a mind blowing amount of pressure on the developers to get this experience right, and a million ways they could have failed when bringing Spider Man to this generation of gaming. It must have been a huge relief then to nail it so spectacularly in the fashion they did. Swinging around New York is a sheer joy to control, and this is a game that I find myself going back to after completion just to sling some more webs. Even knowing Spider Man the way I do the story surprised me at several turns, and the game managed to craft a new version of Spider Man that I can’t wait to play a sequel to as soon as possible.
5. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
I have no tattoos, but there are only three video game series that ever came close to becoming permanently etched on my skin—Zelda, Final Fantasy, and Assassin’s Creed. This should let you know how serious I am about the franchise, and as much as I love Ezio, I have to declare Odyssey as the best the series has ever been. I was extremely skeptical seeing that there would be no Assassin’s order in this title, and even more so when I realized they were leaning even harder into the RPG elements of the previous title. Luckily, I had nothing to worry about as the developers pulled off an amazing breadth of action-RPG experiences within this gorgeous ancient Greek world. The game might have even landed higher on my list if I had been able to put enough time into it in order to finish it completely, but I don’t need to have seen every nook and cranny to tell you this is one amazing game.
4. Super Smash Brothers Ultimate
There wasn’t a version of this reality in which I didn’t love the newest iteration of Smash, but even I could not have predicted how much I would dig seeing “everybody here”. The fact that every character has returned to the game along with a handful of new faces would have been enough, but the staggering breadth of content on display within the stages, modes, spirits, music, and fighter selection is nothing short of breath taking. Smash is the best it has ever been in this newest entry, and I can’t imagine them ever topping it.
Yes, I know that Hollow Knight technically released in 2017 on PC, but I didn’t get to play it until it hit my Switch this year. I had of course heard the buzz about the game prior to buying it, and so I knew I was getting a quality experience, but WOW, did I have no idea what I was getting into. The world that the developers of Hollow Knight managed to create is one of my favorite ever in the world of gaming, and as atmospheric as any game I’d ever played. Combat, traversal, story-telling—everything in this game is just absolutely top notch. A lot of other years this would have easily been my Game of the Year, so there was no way I couldn’t talk about it this year—release dates be damned.
Without hyperbole, Celeste is one of the best platformers I have ever laid hands on. From the developer of Towerfall, one of the best multiplayer experiences this side of Smash, I knew the game was going to be rock solid, but even I couldn’t have imagined it was going to be this good. What we got with Celeste is a rock hard pixel perfect platformer with extremely good controls, that also happens to be incredibly accessible thanks to a bevy of options to perfectly balance the difficulty to an individual’s preference. On top of that it managed to do something few 2D platformers have ever done, which is tell a deeply emotional and impactful story that echoed some of my life experiences so closely that it moved me.
Was there every any doubt? For there to be a game that beat not only Hollow Knight, but Celeste as well, it had better be a masterpiece of a game. That is exactly what God of War is. It is my second favorite game of all time, right behind Breath of the Wild, and it does this by taking a franchise I love and completely revitalizing it. An amazing story about the bond between a father and son, the price of rage and vengeance, and a backdrop against the fantastical scenes of Norse mythology are just the icing on a delicious cake filled with deep and intuitive combat that features the best weapon I’ve ever controlled in gaming. This game encapsulates everything I love about gaming.