I always feel like it’s cliché for me to throw one of these lists together since it’s something EVERYONE does. But the more I think of it as a window into what I love, the less bad I feel about it.
After all, looking at my 2017 list pretty much just reminded me that I had to cop-out with mobile games and Jackbox because I played so few games. Pretty wild.
This year I don’t have that problem luckily! Just remember the most important rule of all with a list like this:
- This is all my opinion, so don’t get your panties in a twist if I don’t talk about your favorite game (there are plenty of experiences unfortunately still sitting on my wishlist).
Don’t Starve and the number 9 game on this list may have been higher, but they’re both technically re-releases of games that I played years ago. So to be fair to newer games, I decided to keep them on the lower end.
Don’t let the low score deceive you, however. I love Don’t Starve as much as anything else on the list, if not more for nostalgia’s sake!
Alongside The Binding of Isaac, Terraria and FTL (and no I haven’t had the chance to play Into the Breach yet… Sorry Kyle), this Tim Burton-styled survival game was one of the most played titles in my Steam library years ago.
I can still vividly recount stories of playing the game in my 10th grade Journalism room, which would later become my 11th grade AP Language classroom.
It was a strange transition.
The important thing to know is that this game meant a lot to me, so when it got a re-released on the Switch I knew I had to jump back on the train.
It’s a really solid port, even if the Switch controls take a little time to adjust to.
I also officially “beat” the game for the first time this year! So the port gets some brownie points for that.
Add the portability of playing a game with such a unique world and art style on the go, and I’ll absolutely recommend Don’t Starve any day.
Ah yes, Minecraft.
Just what is there to say about Minecraft that hasn’t already been said?
It’s the survival/building blocky simulator that took the world by storm, inspired a trillion clones and now serves as a permanent cash cow for Microsoft. I absolutely adored Minecraft for years on both my desktop computer and Xbox 360. I even downloaded the Technic Modpack back in the day after watching the Yogscast.
While the game disappeared from my radar, the Switch brought it back to life for my friends and I.
As soon as this port dropped we all jumped on and had a ball playing over the summer. Now that I can capture pictures off my Switch I should go back and show you all some of the amazing stuff we built together.
Unfortunately, once the game shifted to be the all-encompassing Microsoft edition (and once the semester started) we all dropped off.
But if nothing else, Minecraft remains a great cooperative option for us to play together going forward.
Wizard of Legend is the first of what I would consider a Renaissance of indie games on the Switch that kept me gaming more than I usually would this year.
I love Wizard of Legend. Especially considering the dev team (Contingent99) is made up of two people, the fact that such a beautiful and fun title exists in the marketplace is a true testament to gaming culture in 2018.
It’s a fast-paced roguelike dungeon crawler that lets you blast out massive elemental attacks as though you’re the Avatar. AND it’s couch co-op.
Unfortunately, the game’s content is admittedly a bit shallow. As an experience Wizard of Legend rules, but once you’ve collected all the spells, you’ve kind of seen everything.
It’s a game I’ll happily return to and play again, and I by no means regret spending my money. But there just happen to be some better, similar games on this list.
I might have put this higher if I had gotten around to it sooner.
Pokémon Let’s Go is the amalgamated child of a Generation 1 remake and the capturing style of the mobile title Pokémon GO that took the world by storm a few summers back.
It’s about as casual a Pokémon experience as you can get, and for long-time fans such as myself there are very strange choices made (like who decided to only make PC access from the bag?).
But that being said, it’s an absolutely gorgeous Switch game, and every time I interact with Eevee my calloused heart melts.
The biggest selling point of Let’s Go for me is that it’s a couch co-op game I can play with my sister. If we weren’t only about five hours and three badges into the game, it might easily top this list because of the fun we’ve had yelling at the screen so far.
If you have a younger sibling (or romantic partner?), this is the game that perfectly bridges the gap between forced co-op and pretending to let them help in a single player title.
Like I used to do a lot, admittedly.
I have mixed emotions about Kirby Star Allies.
As a long-time fan of the Kirby series, I was really looking forward to the pink puffball’s next generation console game. That said, I wasn’t disappointed by how much of a fun Kirby game it was.
I even got a nice Daily Titan article out with my initial reactions, and that somehow has nearly 5,000 views?
Wow, how did that happen?
Anyway though, as fun as the game is, it’s seriously lacking in terms of difficulty and narrative — even for Kirby, who isn’t usually known for those elements.
Because of that I don’t feel like I can pick up the game as often as Squeak Squad or Super Star Ultra. But that being said… A ton of DLC came out for the game after I put it down, and I admittedly haven’t tried most of the new Dream Characters.
So hey, maybe it’s a lot better than where I left it the first time! Just based on my experiences now however, it seems like a solid fit for number 6.
I wrote a whole blog post about Deltarune weeks ago when I finally got around to playing it, so you can see my in-depth thoughts there.
What I will say is that much like its predecessor Undertale, Deltarune has a ton of mental staying power. It’s arguably the game I played for the least amount of time this year, but I hold it in high regard because I keep humming that glorious battle theme and thinking about all the possibilities of future installments.
It’s a game you just need to experience to understand. If you’re a fan of Toby Fox I’m sure you already have, but even if you haven’t played Undertale it might still be worth a look for fans of wacky fourth-wall comedy and Final Fantasy-esque gameplay.
Enter the Gungeon is kind of the game I wish Wizard of Legend was.
It’s a remarkably similar, being a roguelike dungeon crawler, but something about the way Gungeon’s five randomized levels are utilized makes them feel so much more fresh over a long period of time than Wizard of Legend’s three two-act levels.
Perhaps it has to do with the art style? Both are gorgeous examples of sprite work, but Gungeon’s aesthetic of gun puns galore seems more entrancing and unique.
Perhaps it has to do with the weapon variety? All of the spells in Wizard are great, but their numbers pale in comparison to just how many guns and combination effects are in Gungeon.
Perhaps it has to do with the supplementary content? Wizard boils down to collecting the spells and costumes, but Gungeon has a series of underlying story “quests” and NPCs who give you extra tasks to complete while you unlock more weapons and power-ups.
Both of these games are wonderful, but Enter the Gungeon stands much taller in terms of its content and replayability. A testament to the breadth of skill from a studio like Dodge Roll under Devolver Digital.
Much like Minecraft, what is there to say about Super Smash Bros. that hasn’t already been said?
I wrote a long post the other day about how much I love the single-player stuff in Ultimate, which has given me dozens of hours of enjoyment.
But that alone shouldn’t have skyrocketed the game to number 3 on my list, right?
I’ll admit, I’m giving Smash Ultimate some proactive credit. Simply because it’s Smash Bros., I know for a fact it’s going to be relevant for years in professional, competitive settings and among during casual friend hangouts.
Plus there are DLC characters already in the works, and I’m dying to play as Piranha Plant!
So yeah, Smash Bros. is a super fun game that I’m really glad is going to live on for years. As a result, it garners top billing.
… But really, what else did you expect from a Nintendo fanboy like me?
Hollow Knight is easily the best game I’ve played this year.
It has a darker art style, sense of humor and scale that create one of the richest worlds I’ve played with in years. Even the horrid Deepnest, a place I still shutter thinking about months later.
The gameplay is tight, offering a metroidvania experience which truly gets more fun as you advance through it by empowering the player’s exploration and combat abilities.
It’s also remarkably open-world in spite of needing certain abilities to advance in different areas, as my friends Jonathan and Juan each went through the game in completely different ways than I did.
The story is somber and open to interpretation. There are hints of different things going on that can only be discovered through a player’s curiosity.
Hollow Knight is also full of great characters who at times embody well-known tropes, but at other times subvert them in heartbreaking ways. One of my favorite characters is a bug girl who simply dies unceremoniously.
My love came from simply imagining the larger role that she could have had which was tragically cut short. That’s good implicit storytelling.
The game is seriously unique and I would say anyone should experience it.
There’s also a whole host of DLC available that makes the game even more impressive! When it dropped on the Switch this year, I knew it was something I had to play based on the recommendations of a ton of my friends, and boy did it not disappoint.
Hollow Knight seriously would have been my favorite game this year… If something else hadn’t stolen my heart in a different way.
So. Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate came out on Switch this year.
I’ve been a Monster Hunter junkie since my first experience playing 4U on the 3DS. The series scratches all of my gaming itches: Impressively designed beasts to admire, fitting battle music for every situation, luck-based schedules of reinforcement with item collection and (of course) lots of armor and skills to facilitate hours of pre-planning and designing.
I wrote a whole blog post about that earlier this year, because it’s honestly one of those things that drives my fervor for a game.
However, what made Gen Ultimate surpass every other game I’ve played this year was how the Nintendo Switch made it perfect bait for my friends and I to spend hours hunting.
Yeah, I no-lifed this game super hard as my stress relief.
The crazy thing is, even with all those hours put in I still have a dozen different armor sets in mind that I want to build. Even for weapons I’m trying outside of my favorite Hunting Horn style!
It may not be the deepest game from a narrative perspective, or the most novel game from a mechanical perspective…
But with nearly 100 large monsters and infinite possibilities to dick around with friends, Monster Hunter succeeds at being the game I’ve had the most fun with this year. As well as being the game I know I’ll continue to love in 2019!
In case the pattern wasn’t clear, 2018 was a great year for my Nintendo Switch. That console has really come into its own far more than the Wii U ever did (particularly with indie games), and I’m so glad to see it.
That said, let me know what some of your favorite games of the year were! I obviously don’t own a PS4 or an Xbox One and couldn’t put any games from those libraries on the list, but I know there were some phenomenal showings all across the board.
Here’s to 2019 being as great a year for gaming as 2018 was!