Every year on the Rage Quitters podcast we do a massive get together and have a group of people discuss what we believe to be our top 10 games of the year. Now, we don’t always agree on this list so I wanted to provide my own personal top 10 list. Keep in mind I wrote all of this on January 6th, 2018. Please enjoy!
Cuphead is one of the few games that came out this year that I’m just plain PROUD of myself for beating. I don’t normally like to play games that are incredibly difficult and that require you to play the same thing over and over again. But Cuphead has enough charm and enough solid gameplay to keep me interested all the way to the very end.
Cuphead is punishingly difficult, but the feeling of finally beating that boss that you have fought 30 or more times and haven’t beaten is one of the most satisfying feelings in games I’ve played this year. The art style in the game is also fantastic and is something I hope that we see more of with time, but at the same time it’s so unique that that’s what makes Cuphead so special.
My only real complaint with Cuphead is that the game is a little bit too short. There’s not really that many bosses, and the real length of the game just comes from replaying things over and over again. I believe the main game, provided you’re speedrunning/attempting to beat as quickly as possible you could probably beat the game in under and hour or two. Regardless, I’m excited to see where this franchise goes as I believe that we will very likely see a sequel to Cuphead coming eventually.
9. Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle
If you had told me that a crossover between Mario and Rayman Raving Rabbids would be making my top 10 list a year ago, I would’ve laughed my ass off. But Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle is one of the few exceptions where Ubisoft has actually made something truly fantastic.
When Mario + Rabbids first leaked everyone was on the hate train for it, but when the game was finally revealed the reception changed so drastically and with seeing the passion that the creators have put in the game, as well as the respect that they have for Nintendo for letting them use their IP for something like this, was astounding. The XCOM type combat is not something I’m incredibly familiar with but after playing Mario + Rabbids it’s actually astounding that something like this hasn’t been done before. The game is also perfect for the Switch, with the individual battles/levels extremely easy to play on-the-go. Most of my play through of this game actually took place while a few friends of mine and I were at PAX West waiting in lines, and it was actually perfect for that.
Mario + Rabbids is a game that I never expected to enjoy as much as I did, and maybe that’s why It’s ranked in my top 10, but I can’t deny much fun I actually had playing the game, as well as all of my expectations being blown out of the water.
Pyre is a game that I was personally very hyped for, despite knowing almost nothing about it. This is due to the reputation that SuperGiant Games has built from their first 2 games, Bastion & Transistor. Because of this maybe it was almost predestined that Pyre would make my top 10 list, but at the same time it’s undeniable the quality of game that SuperGiant puts out as they’re 3/3 for great games.
That being said, Pyre didn’t hook me in the same way that Bastion, or on a greater level, Transistor did. The gameplay is one of the most unique things I’ve ever seen as it’s basically an interactive storybook for the majority of the game, with the main gameplay loop being basically a top-down sports game that is way more fun that it has any right to be.
The story is great, as you are a band of outcasts that have to compete in these matches to slowly pick which characters you want to let return to civilization and be a part of the resistance. Provided you actually win the matches that let you choose, of course, which is another thing that is really unique about the game. If i’m not mistaken you can lose almost every single match in the game and still progress the story forward, and depending on how well you do the ending differs.
The last point about Pyre I want to make is the soundtrack is absolutely fantastic. I’m a HUGE fan of Darren Korb’s work on the first 2 games and I can honestly say that as a cohesive soundtrack I believe that Pyre is the best one yet. That being said, there are less “standout” tracks than his previous entries, but as I said the full collection of music is better than any of the of the other collections.
7. A Hat in Time
A Hat in Time shouldn’t have been as good as it was. Announced before Yooka-Laylee, and releasing well after Yooka Laylee, this game was sort of overshadowed by the giant hype-bomb that was Playtonic Games. However, due to Yooka-Laylee receiving a mixed reception due to it not exactly being the game that people wanted, A Hat in Time was given a new chance to shine provided it was good, and by god was it great.
Comparing A Hat in Time to Yooka-Laylee is slightly unfair however, as Yooka-Laylee is supposed to be more of a tribute to Banjo Kazooie, with A Hat in Time being more of a tribute to Super Mario Sunshine/Mario 64. The levels are designed in a way that is more similar to the classic Mario games as opposed to being big open sprawling worlds that you have to search (although it does have one level that is similar to Banjo Kazooie, and weirdly enough it’s better than every level in Yooka-Laylee).
The game offers a wide variety of characters and levels that is rare in 3D platformers nowadays, and the movement is extremely fluid and make the game just plain fun to jump around. With Mario Odyssey releasing shortly after this game, it’s a surprise that this game was able to live up to the hype, but it’s a fantastic addition to anyone’s catalogue that enjoys 3D platformers.
6. Divinity: Original Sin II
Divinity: Original Sin 2 is not the type of game I would normally play. To be honest I picked this game up because Chase was out-of-town and we were in the middle of playing Destiny 2 and Matt and I needed another game to play. But as soon as we started playing Divinity it was clear how special the game was. In the first 3 days alone I believe we sunk over 20 hours into the game because of how addicting and fun it was.
Early this year I played Pillars of Eternity and loved it, and I had seen people talking about Divinity: Original Sin and how good it was. Then Original Sin 2 came out and we decided what the hell, let’s try it out. And now I can definitively say that DOS:2 is a better suited game for me than Pillars of Eternity was. It’s almost what I wish Pillars had been. The turn based and strategic combat is simple, yet full of depth at the same time. The ability to play co-op on the fly with people is also a fantastic addition that I never expected to be as fun as it actually is. The game is just plain fun, and the story is fantastic so far.
My only regret with this game is that I have yet to finish it. I believe we are close to 40 hours into the game now, and we’re only probably about ⅓ done with it. So if you are looking for a fantastic game to fill a large portion of your time, then this is the game for you.
I have a slightly love-hate relationship with PUBG. It’s easily my most played game of the year, with over 400 hours into the game JUST this year. It was my go to game with all of my friends for quite a while, and still is in some ways. PUBG has managed to crack the code to get me into a competitive online shooter in a way that no other game has managed to do since Titanfall 1 came out. Even then, I only put about 100 hours into Titanfall. Not that hours should measure a game’s quality, but it’s impossible to deny the cultural phenomenon that has occurred due to PUBG’s release. I rarely play the game alone but it was the perfect opportunity to sit in Discord and chat with people while we work together to try to get Chicken Dinners. I discussed things ranging from work with former coworkers, to television shows, to just plain life and it’s hardships with my friends while playing this.
I know a lot of this barely speaks to the game itself, but the social experience of the game is what kept me coming back so much and is why it’s on my list. The game itself is also exhilarating in a way that no other game this year has been, from the extremely intense moments when your entire squad is dead and you’re the last person alive, to praying that your teammates can save you when you get downed, the game shifts from a social experience to high-octane gameplay VERY quickly, due to the slight rarity of finding people on the gigantic map, and moving closer to the center of the circle as the game pushes you forward. Being in those top 10 situations has never been more intense to me, and frankly I’m not even very good at the game, but when you get there and you succeed, nothing in any game this year has made me feel better than winning a match in PUBG, especially my first couple.
There is a lot of controversy surrounding PUBG as the game, for a majority of the year, has been VERY unfinished. To performance issues to bugs, the game fell off for a lot of people very quickly. But despite all this, the fact that we keep coming back and playing more of it speaks to the highly addictive and just plain fun nature of the game. Some nights we do extremely well and are even able to pull in multiple wins, other nights we can’t seem to break top 50. Regardless, I keep coming back to the game and if they continue to update it, I will likely continue to play it. I expect to see competitors coming in to try to dethrone PUBG as the new Battle Royale game in the next several years, and PUBG isn’t even the first of it’s kind, but the cultural impact that PUBG has had on gaming will last for many years to come, which not a lot of games that released this year can claim.
4. Horizon Zero Dawn
I have a unique relationship with Horizon Zero Dawn. I actually thought this game looked fantastic when they first showed it off, and so obviously I was very excited to play it. The only problem I had with Horizon was that it came out at the exact same time as Zelda: Breath of the Wild. At first I felt this would make Horizon almost unplayable for me, but even with all of that working against it, Horizon still managed to be one of my favorite gaming experiences of the year.
On one hand, the only real problem with Horizon is that it doesn’t really do that much “new” for the genre. However, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It has a very deep and well-told story that I wasn’t expecting from a game like this. The combat is extremely satisfying, and the game is all around extremely well built.
I also played through the DLC for Horizon “The Frozen Wilds” and the addition of more content from this fantastic game is extremely welcome, and the DLC has a wonderful setting with its own cast of characters that tell their own unique and great story.
Sony has a massive new IP on their hands with Horizon and I honestly can’t wait to see where they go with it in the inevitable sequel.
3. The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Zelda: Breath of the Wild was easily my most hyped game for the year. This game was announced back in 2013 exclusively for the Wii U. When the day finally came that both Zelda & the Switch released I picked the console & game up at midnight and I came home and sat down and played the game. Entering the world for the first time, and experiencing Breath of the Wild first hand was an experience that I don’t think I would trade for the world.
I’ve never been the biggest Zelda fan, as I’ve played at least some of every Zelda game that has released, however the only mainline 3D Zelda games I’ve actually completed have been Windwaker and Twilight Princess. I can say with superior confidence that Breath of the Wild is easily the best 3D Zelda game that has been created to date. That doesn’t mean I don’t have some mild complains about the game, however.
There’s one thing that’s truly missing from Zelda that separates it from normal Zelda games and that’s the normal implementation of Dungeons. I completely understand why they’re mostly omitted from this game, as they wanted to truly show off the freedom that Breath of the Wild gives you to play the game any way that you want, and in any order that you want, but it was definitely sad realizing there were only 4 main dungeons in the game, that play nothing like the regular dungeons from the original 3D Zelda games.
Breath of the Wild, however, makes up for this though, and transforms the Zelda formula into something COMPLETELY different from anything Nintendo has ever done before. With the addition of different weapons, crafting, shrines, side missions, collectibles, as well as a billion other things that the game just has lying around in it’s world for you to discover, Breath of the Wild is the most full and lovingly crafted open world game that I’ve ever played, with the exception of The Witcher 3. I haven’t felt excitement and giddiness from any other game like Zelda this year, except for Mario Odyssey, and it feels great to see Nintendo at the top of their game once again.
2. Nier: Automata
Nier is a game I never expected to enjoy as much as I did. Personally I’ve never really been into Platinum games before, with my only experience being a little bit of the first Bayonetta, and playing Vanquish on the PS3 back when it was a PS+ title.
My experience with Nier was actually probably similar to a lot of people’s experience. I picked the game up on a whim after people were talking to passionately about it, and played through the base game pretty quickly, early in the year when it first came out. I beat playthrough A in about 8 hours, initially doing some of the side stuff, but eventually stopping and focusing more on just beating the main story (since I was pretty sucked in). After beating playthrough A, I kind of lost motivation to continue the game. And I set it aside for several months. It wasn’t until I read a lot more about the game and why people talk so passionately about it that I decided to jump back into the game and play through the remaining endings, all the way to the very end.
It’s really hard to go into detail about what makes Nier so good unless you play it yourself, because the main draw of the game is the story that it tells. It’s combat is fun enough and easy enough that progress in the game is easy even without focusing too much on the RPG elements in the game. But if you so choose there is a ton of in-game side quests that you can complete. I will admit that the combat itself definitely is not where the game shines, however, and in my opinion the side quests are almost unnecessary for the full enjoyment of the game.
What is worth experiencing however, is the last couple hours of the game which has one of the most intense action scenes that I’ve ever played in a game, switching back and forth every couple of minutes between two characters who are racing to the same location both battling gigantic robot bosses, with the EXCELLENT soundtrack setting the tone, moving closer and closer to the extremely satisfying conclusion that is the final fight of the game. (And trust me, you want to play through the final fight scene 3 times to get all endings)
I believe everyone should at least experience what Nier has to offer at least once. It might look like a cliché Japanese RPG but it is one of the most unique experiences I’ve ever played in a video game.
And now, for some honorable mentions:
HM #1: Finding Paradise
Finding Paradise is the sequel to To the Moon. This game goes on my honorable mentions more-so because I personally believe more people should play To the Moon AND this game. The story involves a company that is able to reconfigure a person’s memories shortly before they die to make them believe that they achieved whatever “goal” they paid this company for when signing up for the service. In doing this, the characters (2 employees from the company) enter the person’s memories using a machine and watch their life play out in order to try to determine not only what this person wants (in the case of both games, the “what you want” part has been extremely vague thus causing more work to be done by these employees), but to establish where they should start implanting the memories that they desired.
Both Finding Paradise and To the Moon are extremely emotional games that have personally caused me to shed several tears, which is why they resonated with me so well, and Finding Paradise having made me feel an emotional connection after already having that deep connection with To the Moon speaks to the quality of the writing in it.
HM #2: Gravity Rush 2
Gravity Rush 2 is a game that was heavily overshadowed by a lot of the major releases that this year had to offer. It came out VERY early in the year, before the Zeldas and Horizons and Mario’s of the year came out, and it’s the sequel to a game that released on the Vita (but was later remastered for PS4), which is also a little bit of a setback for it. I played both Gravity Rush Remastered and Gravity Rush 2 this year, and the fact that I actually wanted more Gravity Rush at the end of it speaks to how much fun these games actually are to play.
The main gameplay loop of Gravity Rush is that you can shift gravity in any way that you desire (as long as you don’t go over your gravity bar, which runs out if you shift gravity for too long, however refills very quickly once you return to normal gravity). The cast of characters in the game are wonderful, with several returning from the first game. The reason that Gravity Rush 2 falls short of my list however, is that there are a couple of issues with the game.
One issue is that the game is slightly too long. The ending sequence in my opinion was perfect, however there was a ton of middle-content that was very unnecessary, especially the side missions. I put about 25 hours into the game doing all main story & side story content, which is about twice the size of the original game. My other main issue is that the combat feels slightly janky. The movement feels really good to fly around, however when attacking enemies with the spin dash attack and you fly at them, you find yourself constantly moving past them accidentally (especially on the faster enemies) and having to spin the camera around and trying to locate the enemies once again. You could say that maybe you should be using statis more and throwing things at the enemies, but the other problem is that there’s not always things around that you can actually throw at the enemies.
Regardless, the game is a lot of fun and I’d recommend people at least give Gravity Rush Remastered a shot, and if they dig it get the 2nd as it’s definitely a great expansion on the first game.
HM #3: Assassin’s Creed Origins
I’ve always enjoyed the Assassin’s Creed games. There’s been times where I have gotten slightly worn down by them, but I always have kind of looked forward to my annual play of Assassin’s Creed. That being said, I was very glad that they decided to take a year off last year to focus on improving the Assassin’s Creed franchise, because it has paid of tremendously. Assassin’s Creed: Origins is the freshest take on the AssCreed formula yet, with several changes/additions to the combat, quest system, character progression & leveling, as well as in-game Gear.
The main character in the game, Bayek, is probably the most well-established and likeable character they’ve made in an Assassin’s Creed game since the franchise’s beginnings. The tale is one of revenge and so it’s told very well, as Bayek and his wife look to seek revenge on the people who murdered their son many years ago.
All that being said, it is still an Assassin’s Creed game. While the main gameplay loop is fun, it still DEFINITELY feels very Assassin’s Creed as you’re playing. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but there’s always that slightly Ubisoft level of unpolished-ness to most of the Assassin’s Creed games that kind of de-immersify you from the actual story of the game and makes it very apparently that you’re just playing in a game world made by programmers. I’ve come across several bugs in the game at this point, none gamebreaking to be fair, but bugs nonetheless that have really shown some of the cracks in the foundation of the game.
For these reasons, I have decided to put Assassin’s Creed: Origins in my Honorable Mentions.
And finally, my overall game of the year is…
1. Super Mario Odyssey
Super Mario Odyssey after it was announced, was probably my most anticipated game ever in the last 10 years. Super Mario 64 is my favorite game of all time, with Mario Sunshine not far behind, so when it was announced that Odyssey was on the same side of the fence as those games my expectations were extremely high. That being said, the game delivers on almost every front and the fact it’s even able to make my list after those expectations says how good the game is.
The movement in Mario Odyssey is where the game really shines. Whether you’re just wandering around aimlessly looking for moons, or going for that crazy jump you KNOW you can make but you have to do one more wall jump after your hat throw + bounce so that you can throw your hat again…the game is just plain fun no matter what you’re doing in that game.
Every mainline 3D Mario game has added something new to the table and the addition of the Cappy mechanic might very well be the best addition to any Mario game. From the additions to movement that cappy adds, to the captures themselves, I’ve never been more floored by a game mechanic working so seamlessly in an already established universe than I have with Cappy.
The ONLY flaw I would give Odyssey is that there’s a few too many moons. I personally believe that half the moons in the game could likely be cut, and the game would be just as much fun. BUT it’s hard to complain about more content, the argument really just comes down to whether having more of something that’s mediocre quality and arbitrarily adds several hours of gametime is better than having a more tight set of moons that would shorten the game, but increase the overall quality of the hours you’re sinking into the game.
That’s it for my list! Hope you enjoyed and I look forward to writing something similar for 2018’s games!