With over half of the year behind us, we decided to take a look at our personal favourite games of the year so far. Some of these may be controversial choices, some of them less so, but these very much are personal opinions, so bear that in mind before you verbally rip us to bits in the comments. From RPG’s to remasters of classics, there’s a bit of something for everyone. Enjoy.
The nostalgia has finally been brought to the Nintendo Switch with the 2018 release of Crash Bandicoot! The remaster captures everything we loved about the original titles, except now Crash is even more portable. The gameplay is super fun and easy to grasp and the game looks just as beautifully rendered as the previous PS4 and Xbox One editions. If you enjoyed the earlier remasters of Crash Bandicoot than I can guarantee the Switch version will be a great addition to your collection.
The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit captures the feeling of being a kid again, with all of the wonder and innocence that entails. Chris is a fantastic protagonist and his optimism and imagination allows you to immerse yourself in his world. The story was lovingly crafted with many opportunities to learn more about the characters without forced exposition. If you loved the other games in the series, you will not be disappointed, and if you never played Life is Strange, this is an ideal starting point.
Subnautica is a beautiful game that takes queues from many different genres. Survival is the most obvious, but the game also borrows heavily from horror experiences and atmospheric exploration games. Diving underwater for the first time is a memorable experience; the world is expertly crafted, giving players a sense of wonder, possibility, and even a little bit of fear. You haven’t known terror until you’ve seen a Leviathan emerge from the murky gloom and grab your submersible with its powerful mandibles. A small smattering of technical issues detracted from the experience, but overall the game is phenomenal.
I know this is probably an unpopular opinion but my game of 2018 so far is Kingdom Come: Deliverance. I’ve been waiting for it a long time and as both a medieval and RPG fanatic, it ticks a lot of my boxes. It has many… weird and wonderful bugs/glitches. But that aside, it’s such an intricately detailed and immersive RPG. The scenery can be downright stunning and the soundtrack is beautiful. It does enough to make you want to live in the 1400’s (I wouldn’t last a week but still…)
Detroit: Become Human expertly crafts an absorbing narrative that explores what might happen should machines gain sentience. The fact that the game takes significant inspiration from civil rights struggles throughout history ensures that this world feels grounded in reality. Arguably most impressive though is the sheer level of diversity in outcome that players can experience; only after you have finished a scene, and the screen pans out to show you all the different ways in which you could have completed it, do you realise the true accomplishment of Quantic Dream’s latest game. However, the real significance of the game comes from the questions it forces the player to ask themselves, such as the extent to which humans hold agency over what they create. It is these thought-provoking questions which make Detroit an experience to be remembered.
It’s hard to think of a better case for the game industry’s rapid maturity than the recently released God Of War. Santa Monica Studio transformed the one-note, perpetually enraged Kratos into something more akin to an actual life and blood person; tormented by the regrets of his past, engulfed by grief over the loss of his wife, and constantly concerned over the well-being of his son Atreus. The entire plot is framed around the simple act of this father and son bringing the cremated ashes of Faye, Kratos’ wife and Atreus’ mother, to the highest peak in all the realms to fulfill her dying wish. Despite this simple conceit, the story tackles concepts of cursed lineage, grappling with god-like power, and the lengths parents will go for their children, all the while mixing the bombastic set pieces the series is known for with quieter moments of father-son bonding. The gameplay has also undergone a dramatic transition, shifting from the isometric character-action combat of the previous titles, to an over-the-shoulder third-person perspective. Kratos’ new main weapon the Leviathan Axe is a robust tool, allowing the player to perform combo strings and utilize ranged attacks, resulting in a fluid exchange of blows that has a satisfying cadence. God of War is one of those rare games that raises the bar across the board, supporting an emotionally affecting journey, a gratifying combat system with RPG mechanics that hold together for most of the game, and is a technical marvel that seemingly squeezes every drop of processing power out of modern hardware. If you own a PS4 and don’t mind the abundant violence, God of War is an easy recommendation.
What sorts of words pop into your head when you hear that most reviled of gaming terms, ‘Remaster’?: Dated. Frustrating. Cash-in. Lazy? We’ve played so many “remastered” titles that fit these kinds of descriptions that they are now the words we directly associate with the term itself. And as a result we end up projecting that stigma onto the developers themselves; berating them for effectively ‘making’ us buy the same game twice by exploiting our delicate sense of nostalgia. Well some developers have decidedly more noble intentions than we realise when they set out to make a remaster. Some do it, quite simply, because they absolutely love the original game, and nowhere is this more evident than in Bluepoint’s Shadow of the Colossus remaster. With remarkably gorgeous graphics, a thoughtfully overhauled control-scheme and a host of brand new content (including some rather brilliant Easter Eggs), Bluepoint’s faithful homage to one of the greatest video games of all time not only provided us with the definitive version of Team ICO and Japan Studios’ masterpiece, but also ensured an entirely new generation could participate in this downright inimitable fantasy adventure experience.
My choice for GOTY so far only gets through on a technicality, as it released on Xbox One in April of this year, and that’s the console I played it on. There are some amongst the games above that I absolutely would have considered, but variety is the spice of life so here goes. Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice really pushed the boundaries of what a supposedly “indie” studio could achieve on a limited budget. The game looked as though it had been backed by some behemoth like Microsoft throughout a huge development cycle, as they now will be, so what Ninja Theory managed to achieve in around three years is nothing short of miraculous. The game deals with complex aspects of the human experience brilliantly, all whilst set in a stunning world full of detail and frightening charm. Senua is a fantastic protagonist and the story propels her into one of the best characters I’ve seen in a video game in some time. I’m sure most of you will have experienced this game by now but, if you haven’t, you absolutely should.
Well there you have it. Our personal favourites for GOTY so far. Feel free to sound off in the comments below about what your choices would be, and make sure to stay tuned to GameRVW for the best, unbiased video game content on the web.