Instead of creating a giant list of the best games of the year, resulting in fighting and tears, SideQuesting opts instead to let our esteemed Editors share their favorite 5 or so of the year. These are generally new games, but remakes (and heck, even old games if they get updates) are viable to be included.
It’s Tom’s turn to show us what kept him engrossed in 2018!
That said, keep in mind that there may be spoilers. This is a year-end round up, after all.
Tetris Effect is a hard game to explain and an even harder game to sell people on. The elevator pitch of “Tetris but from the dude that made Rez” kind of gets the point across but also leads to a lot of people just looking at you weird and going “huh?” or asking if it’s just Tetris with cool backgrounds, which it sure isn’t.
It really is a game that has to be experienced to be understood. I say “experienced” because all of the game’s elements really do work in tandem to create something truly special. At it’s core it’s an incredibly competent Tetris game, but wrapped in the sensory barrage of lights and sounds that only someone like Tetsuya Mizuguchi really could, and everything from you moving pieces to clearing lines to progressing through the levels impacts the visuals and sounds not completely dissimilar from old Winamp skins and visualizers.
I get so flustered trying to explain why this game is so good and the only thing I can really say is go out there and play it yourself, that will do a way better job than I ever could, and I know that to a lot of people $40 is a lot to ask for a Tetris game but man, is it ever worth it.
Last year I got back into the Yakuza franchise in a big, big way with the release of Yakuza 0. This year Sega kept that train a rollin’ by dropping both Yakuza Kiwami 2 and Yakuza 6: The Song of Life in the western markets.
Yakuza 6 has it’s stumbles at points, but it tells an interesting and compelling crime story with a very effective central mystery that kept pushing me through as I stayed up night after night chipping away at it. That said as a title that is supposed to be the grand send off for the Kazuma Kiryu character, they could have stuck the landing better, but the journey along the way, joined by some of the weirdest and most entertaining side quests the series has ever seen, made the game stand out in a year of heavy hitters.
On the flip side Yakuza Kiwami 2 finally dropped stateside and man, if Yakuza 6 is looking to the future then Kiwami 2 is a very good look at the Yakuza weirdness of the past. A remake that improves on the original in almost every way, adding the engine and systems from Yakuza 6 while still keeping the balls to the wall momentum and melodrama that you’ve come to expect at this point.
Also you fight a fuckin’ tiger in it so I don’t know what else to tell you.
Destiny 2: Forsaken
My 4 year love of Destiny is still going strong and I’ll be damned if this year’s Forsaken update isn’t the best piece of content they’ve dropped for that series yet.
Vanilla Destiny 2 rolled so far in the wrong direction to simplify the many (at times) obtuse and random elements from the original Destiny. That said, Forsaken works to fix many of those issues and make things like material drops, item randomization, gear perks and stats, bounties and a slew of other things more rewarding and in line with what you would expect from a game you’d want to be playing for years on end.
Changes aside Forsaken is probably the largest content drop Bungie has done for the series, setting you on a lengthy revenge quest that was some of the better written and executed story content in the series to date, and while the grind to get to the max light levels is still a slog at times, it remains the best-playing FPS I’ve played this generation and I don’t see that changing any time soon. It’s so good that I started over from scratch on PC and bought all the content over again.
That said, Bungie, come on, just let me transfer my stuff between platforms. Even if it’s like, a one-time thing. Be cool.
Dragon Ball FighterZ
Well, they’ve done it. They’ve finally made another good Dragon Ball fighting game, and my god is it good.
Dragon Ball FighterZ is exactly what all fighting games should strive to be. It’s deeply technical, but on the surface it’s accessible and easy for new players who are attracted to the Dragon Ball aspect of it to just jump in and have a good time with auto combos and whatnot.
It’s not very often that we can see a brand new fighting game enter the market and not only have the Fighting Game Community immediately jump on board, but have it be the most anticipated main stage event at Evo only months after release.
Dragon Ball FighterZ is a goddamn anomaly, and it makes no sense to me how it can possibly exist, but I’m happy it does. The game got me back into fighting games in a competitive way that I haven’t experienced since the Street Fighter 4 days. Hell, I made it my year-long mission to get good enough at it to play on a competitive level and I’m damn near there. I may have actually put more hours into Dragon Ball FighterZ than any other game on this list, and that’s really saying something.
On top of that it just looks phenomenal. Arc System Works managed to bend the Unreal Engine into something that looks so vibrant and crisp and even better than the actual anime itself in a lot of ways.
The game is a monumental accomplishment on so many levels and almost a full year post-release I’m still astonished by it.
Red Dead Redemption 2
I hated Red Dead Redemption 2 when I started playing it. It didn’t look all that good on my PS4 slim, the controls felt dated as hell, and the characters were all just awful, awful people and I couldn’t get into it. In the time since those first impressions I’ve put in over 80 hours, bought an Xbox One X specifically because of the game, and it’s shot up to be one of my favorite games in recent memory.
There’s a lot to dislike about it, I know, even putting the studio’s heinous labor practices aside, but I ultimately kept pushing on because once that story kicks it into high gear it becomes the best thing Rockstar has ever made, and probably the only Rockstar game with characters I loved by the end. The set piece moments really are second to none and while many of them are just homages to famous westerns, they’re incredibly well done and I found myself saying “Fuck, that’s cool” over, and over again.
For a studio who can never really nail nuance in pretty much any regard, the arc of Arthur Morgan’s journey from rough and tumble outlaw to a sad, lonely, terrified man, racked by guilt from the life he’s lived and brought crashing to his knees by something as boring and earth-shatteringly human as being diagnosed with a terminal illness, and thus figuring out how to best spend the time he has left really cut me deep in a way that I don’t think any other game really has.
Couple that with creating a story so rich with character nuance that it actually strengthens the source material that came before it, giving more, clearer context to John Marston’s interactions with his former compatriots from the Dutch van der Linde gang in the original Red Dead Redemption, and you’ve really got something special.
Now I know this is most likely a one-off, and Rockstar will go back to making problematic and paper thin attempts at satire and social commentary in their projects to come, but I can acknowledge that solemnly knowing I’ll always have the hours and hours I spent on the frontier with my good, good sad cowboy dad Arthur Morgan.