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The List you’re Programmed to Expect: Reggie Reviews’ Top 5 of 2018

"Compiling a list like this is as much fun as it is excruciating."

2018 has been a massive year for gaming, with Sony’s first party studios pumping out some stunning AAA efforts and a confident Nintendo dropping a couple of their own big hitters in the mix. Xbox has had another relatively quiet year, seemingly gearing up for their new hardware, with new studio-takeover announcements, whereas the Switch has become the de facto hardware for indie mega-hits and everything in between. Lots of strong multi-platform titles to round it off and you’ve got a really solid gaming year!

So, to be thoroughly predictable, I’m gathering the Reggie Reviews crew to give a quick run-down of our favourite games of 2018.

The Ground Rules

The list can include:

  • Games you haven’t reviewed
  • Remakes (e.g. Shadow of the Colossus, Spyro: Reignited Trilogy)
  • Games released in 2018 for a particular platform, providing you’ve not played it on another platform (e.g. Undertale released in 2015, but the Switch port was 2018)

The list cannot include:

  • Enhanced re-releases (e.g. Street Fighter V: Arcade Edition, Radiant Historia 3DS)
  • Nintendo first party ports
  • Remasters (e.g. Switch release of Darks Souls, Monster Hunter Generations)
  • Games you’ve only played a small amount of
  • Collections (e.g. Capcom Beat ‘em Up Collection, Mega Man X Collection)

With that done, let’s see what you’re all made of.

Mike’s Top 5

Compiling a list like this is as much fun as it is excruciating. Honestly, this has taken far longer than any short piece ever should, but I have had such a blast playing and reviewing games this year. And I’ve played a lot. Here’s my top 5! By the way; I didn’t put Smash in because that’s too easy. Fight me…

 

 

5. Celeste (Switch version)
This was always going to make it. I suspect nearly every person who played this game found a personal connection to its perfect narrative and themes. There’s no world ending plot, simply a small tale of growth, tackling self-loathing and anxiety among similar themes eloquently woven together with a sublime soundtrack that adapts to both the gameplay and narrative. That and the insanely tight, Super Meat Boy style platforming action means Celeste will likely stick with me for years.

4. Night in the Woods (Switch version)
Night in the Woods has had plenty of 2017 awards and plaudits but it was something I’d completely missed until the Switch got a turn. I curse the day I slept on this as Night in the Woods is just as amazing as people say. The focus here is character-driven narrative. The relatable tale of meeting life and all its worries, from the menial to major, head-on. Being forced to ‘grow up’ kicking and screaming in a small town brings a level of perspective that’s as creative in presentation as it is in . Plus. Bit weird but the closest comparison I can draw, in turning the menial into something special, is Shenmue. Night in the Woods puts you in a daily cycle in which you can’t wait to get out of bed and explore, what is effectively, a very small area consisting of simple streets. But in Night in the Woods you get to play bangin’ basslines. These woods are deep and occasionally dark, but most of all they offer an experience no one should skip. And, you know, ‘good fit for Switch’, blah, blah, blah…

3. Marvel’s Spider-Man (PS4)
The ultimate in making you actually feel like the web-slinger. Where do I start? The depiction of Peter Parker as a seasoned, more mature Spider-Man, the quality of the acting across the board, the fantastic respect for the source material while managing to spin a web of its own making (due to amazing writing) and the beautifully delivered entrance for Miles Morales; surely setting up an interesting sequel. Sure, some of the side missions were a tad uninspired but when movement and animation looks and feels as good as it does here, there’s no time to care. Just swinging through the New York streets admiring the view, enjoying the fluidity of the parkour and web-slinging mechanics. It’s everything I’ve ever wanted from a Spidey game and dethroned the previous king of swing, Spider-Man 2. Even more impressive was the fact that so much care, attention and technical wizardry was applied to the base PS4 version. An absolute visual tour de force with solid performance to boot. Strong combat, well implemented suit unlocks (with use beyond cosmetics), a fun skill tree. And good gravy, those boss battles. A shout out to Insomniac’s Sunset Overdrive, which was recently ported to PC; a somewhat overlooked gem, which was clearly used to set the groundwork for my number 3 of 2018.

2. Dead Cells (PC version)
My very first review! Dead Cells has perhaps the most playtime of any game I’ve played this year (beside Hatsune Miku: Project DIVA Future Tone, but that’s a talk for a different day). And with good reason. The fluidity of movement, the variety in complimentary weaponry options; the tactical planning or, conversely, the speed demon, blind, kick-the-door-down-and-slap-stuff style of play; the ability to create actual builds in a rogue-lite; the mix of clever level design, incorporating 50% procedural generation; the unique art style; the killer music and effects; the… my fingers need a rest. This has now toppled Rogue Legacy as my favourite in the genre. And I love Rogue Legacy.

428 Shibuya Scramble_20180923213445

1. 428: Shibuya Scramble (PS4 version)
Now, before anyone says it, yes, this is remaster of an old game and yes, it is technically breaking my own rules, but it wasn’t released in the West back in 2008, so do one.

Shibuya Scramble ticked every single box for what I love in a visual novel, and then some. My thoughts are gathered in my review but honestly, head-spinning story, fantastic characters you can’t help but root for, surprises, peak Japanese comedy, amazing visual direction with the use of real actors, a soundtrack that compliments everything perfectly and choice driven unlocks to bring about several special endings. All tied up with an additional unlockable episode that blew my mind. This game is an absolute masterpiece and I can hazard a guess as to why many, many, people will disagree, none of those reasons will wash with me. This is the best game of 2018. You won’t change my mind.

Honourable mentions:
Horizon Chase Turbo, Full Metal Furies (multi-format release; truth is, I played it on Xbox One in ‘17), Dragon Ball FighterZ, Valkyria Chronicles 4, The Silver Case: The 25th Ward, Spyro: Reignited Trilogy, Octopath Traveler (barely started it), 
Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom (loved it but, ended too abruptly), Pokémon: Let’s Go, Eevee! (another that I’ve barely started; Pikawho?), Hollow Knight, Forza Horizon 4, The Missing: J.J. Macfield and the Island of Memories, 20XX, Fire Pro Wrestling World, Kirby: Star Allies, Mario Tennis Aces

Reggie’s Top 5

Next up, the Reginator.

 

5. Octopath Traveler (Switch)
Just when you thought the 2D turn Based RPG genre had been spun out and ripped off to the point of developing further titles from mere charred remains, Squeenix and Nintendo gave the world Octopath Traveler.

Octopath features, you guessed it, eight playable characters and storylines that can converge into one narrative, if players decided to do so. Each character features a useful skill that can be used in and out of battle, fighting is engaging with a deep turn-based system and it’s bloody stunning.

4. God of War (PS4 Pro)
Too obvious a choice? GoW going all Nordic originally worried a few fans of the franchise. But let’s face it readers, God of War was withering into a mound of over recycled ideas and mythos. The new fighting system screams immersion and Kratos is no longer a 2D skinhead with anger issues. Once again, Sony played the waiting game wisely which paid off tremendously.

3. Marvel’s Spider-Man (PS4 Pro)
We have all been longing for lightning to strike twice since Spider-Man 2 on the PS2, and have been subsequently let down numerous times. Then, all of a sudden, Insomniac Games summoned Thor Odinson and rained bolts of mighty electricity onto our PlayStation 4’s.

Marvel’s Spider-Man is just a joy to play, from nailing Web Slinging, to fun quick time events to a brilliant (although lifted) fighting system. Sorry, Arkham. The love that Insomniac have poured into this project is a lesson best served blatant to other pushy publishers. Insomniac were given a great budget and bags of development time and this is the result. Amazing work!

2. Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! / Let’s Go Eevee! (Switch)
Game Freak officially made venomous fanboys eat their own hats this year with the release of Let’s Go! Not only that but this the first home console Pokémon core game (Yes, a core game, would you like to file a butt-hurt report? See Mikein2D, if so!)

PokéFans saw a full HD re-imagining of the much loved Kanto region with new mechanics to boot. Whilst some players aren’t a fan of motion controls, Game Freak and Nintendo made Let’s Go! playable in the handheld mode without too much dependency on the Switch’s gyroscope. Most of all, it made the community remember why they fell in love with Pokémon in the first place, catching and training Pokémon!

Nov_SSB_scrn115 - Copy

1. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate  (Switch)
Is this one too obvious? Seeing a balanced and jam-packed Smash outing on Nintendo’s portable flagship is a dream come true for me and other fans of the series. What I loved the most about Ultimate was it experimented with various modes, ideas and challengers without losing its core identity. And the soundtrack mode is now my reviewing and editing soundtrack, done and done!

Honourable mentions:
Darksiders III, Mario Tennis Aces, Sushi Striker: Way of the Sushido, Skyrim (Switch), OwlBoy, Unravel Two, Diablo III (Switch), MonsterBoy

Jason’s Top 5

Sound off, Jason, you’re up.

 

5. Shadow of the Tomb Raider (Xbox One)
The perfect end to a trilogy of games (and hopefully more to follow), though I swear these games are getting easier, it was still great fun. Lots of tombs and puzzles.

4. Vampyr (Xbox One)
A blend of dark Gothic horror, where you play as a newly-sired vampire. It feels like the Blood Omen 3 we never got.

3. Spyro Reignited Trilogy (PS4)
Spyro has been a game I’ve loved since childhood, getting to play it all over again in the Reignited Trilogy evoked a great nostalgic feeling, though the game felt the same, it delivered that ‘shiny new game’ feel and was tremendous fun.

2. Marvel’s Spider-Man (PS4)
It’s defiantly superior to all previous Spidey games. Insomniac don’t make bad games period!

GoW

1. God of War (PS4)
Probably one of the best games out this year, on par with Spider-Man! Fantastic world and gameplay was phenomenal. The new action RPG genre is better than the old hack and slash style of play for me, personally.

Honourable mentions:
Forza Horizon 4, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (would likely be top pick hardly played yet), Pokemon Go: Let’s Go, Pikachu!/Let’s Go, Eevee!

John’s Top 5

Round it off, Ludacr0us.

 

5. Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu!/Let’s Go, Eevee! (Switch)
Great throw back to Pokémon Red/Blue/Yellow on the Gameboy including optional connectivity with mobile mega-hit, Pokémon Go. Trading and battling just like back in the day.

4. Rimworld (PC)
Great construction and management simulation with a huge opportunity to expand on gameplay with decent mod support. Close between this and Pokémon for the fourth slot but Rimworld edges it because mods.

3. Two Point Hospital (PC)
Basking in the nostalgia of Theme Hospital; everything I wanted to play in an updated, reworked classic.

2. Frostpunk (PC)
Best iteration of of a city-building/survival sim since the glory days of Sim City 2000.

Spidey1

1. Marvel’s Spider-Man (PS4)
In my honest opinion this is the best comic book adaptation to become a vudya game. Shame about the lack of fall damage: 9.5/10.

Jennifer’s Top 5

5. Octopath Traveler
4. Octopath Traveler
3. Octopath Traveler
2. Octopath Traveler
1. Fallout ’76 (not really)

And that’s your lot! We hope you enjoyed our merry jaunt through our picks of the year! Happy New Year from Reggie Reviews.

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