5. God of War
SIE Santa Monica Studio / Sony Interactive Entertainment
The new God of War took me by complete surprise. From its announcement to its release, I had been incredibly skeptical. I wasn’t very fond of the previous games and I figured that even trying to do something new, the new one would still fall flat.
Boy was I wrong.
God of War was an incredible journey, constructed with expert design and writing that captivated me with ease. The genius use of the Leviathan Axe as a central mechanic for everything: combat, traversal, and puzzles was amazing and the story told around all the incredible gameplay was just as great! God of War is a game anyone with an interest in action games should definitely check out. I’ve never been so happy to have been proven wrong.
4. Yakuza 6: The Song of Life
It’s no secret that I’m a longtime fan of the Yakuza series, and 6 didn’t disappoint. The new Dragon Engine really elevates the time-tested beat ‘em up gameplay the series is known for, making the brawls look and feel amazing, and the new story is a great entry into Kiryu’s story.
Exploring Kamorucho and Onomichi was an amazing experience with plenty of sights to see and activities to complete. My personal favorite is the karaoke activity which has the toughest yakuza in the entirety of Japan singing, dancing and cheering along, bringing a cheery change of pace to the dark and serious narrative the game delivers upon.
I find the ending fell a little flat, but the buildup, the mystery and the gameplay will make up for it. All in all, Yakuza 6 was an excellent game that’s worth checking out (although I recommend playing the rest of the games first).
3. A Way Out
Hazelight Studios / Electronic Arts
A Way Out is a very unique game. It may be a little rough around the edges, but it was still one of the most enjoyable experiences I had in 2018.
To play A Way Out, you need to have a person on the couch next to you. For me, this was my partner Del, and there’s nobody I’d rather have played this with. It’s a story game, similar to the adventure game formula Telltale created, combined with other mechanics like small minigames and action segments.
At its core, it’s a co-op experience. Each player takes control of one of the main characters and they work together to get through the story. The game plays with co-op mechanics like nothing I’ve ever played before. You have the moments where you need to work together to complete a single objective or the moments where you need to split up through asymmetrical segments to help each other through. There’s also minigames in the game, some cooperative and other competitive that make for an excellent break from the narrative gameplay.
There’s also an amazing mechanical twist at the end that I won’t go into details about to avoid spoilers, but it was one of the best twists I’ve ever seen in a co-op game.
Grab a friend, find a couch and give this gem a try.
2. Monster Hunter: World
Monster Hunter is a very special series to me. I grew up playing the older games and had just recently found friends that also play them. Monster Hunter World took everything good about Monster Hunter and made it even better.
The new combat moves, the new monsters, the new environments and the quality of life improvements made for the most enjoyable Monster Hunter experience I’ve ever had. Not to mention having a large group of friends to team up with and hunt together really improves the play of the game.
I’ve poured too many hours into Monster Hunter World and I’m not even ashamed of it. Also, someone come hunt Behemoth with me I still haven’t done that. (Editor’s note: I will!)
Wandersong is a brilliant musical puzzle platformer. It’s super cute and really funny but also serious or sad at times. It is by far the most enjoyable experience I had playing a game in 2018.
I love a good musical mechanic and Wandersong delivers this with amazing success. The singing (tied to the right stick) is super fun to play and is used in brilliant ways for puzzle solving, combat, traversal and more. Everything in Wandersong seems to be affected by your singing.
The writing is also so good. It has a lot of heart and character throughout the whole adventure. The characters are lovable and relatable, the story is interesting (if a little predictable at times) and it has a whole chapter dedicated to pirates. Singing pirates. Sea shanties. I’m living. When you move your boat, the vocal track kicks in and everyone sings. It’s the most amazing thing.
Wandersong is a super cute, super fun adventure that I’d recommend to anyone. Definitely check it out!