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The 30 Best Games of 2018

2018 has been a phenomenal year for games. No matter your preference in genre, format or experience, there’s been a stand-out game to suit you. Here are the 30 games that have stood out most to us this year.

Nintendo Labo

Labo

“Nintendo Labo is, in a word, unconventional. Merging the worlds of crafting and gaming together, this a labour of love. The team at Nintendo has given us something so novel and purely imaginative. Time and again, Nintendo reminds us that the heart of gaming is built from passion, creativity, and imagination. It has continuously doubled down on its base of providing fun for kids, families, and kids at heart. Nintendo has never chased after others, or even followed the road; since the beginning, it has blazed their own trial. My gaming heart, no matter where it takes me, will always come home to Nintendo. Because it understands that at the bottom of all this, we’re all just trying to have fun.”

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Onrush

Onrush Header

“If MotorStorm and Burnout were to somehow get together and do the deed, Onrushwould be the result. It’s the coming together of two action-packed racing franchises, given additional flair by a rebellious streak and an online bent. Not that that’s a bad thing; it’s a good one, actually. It has been too long since we’ve been treated to a high-octane, balls-to-the-wall arcade racer, especially one as polished as Onrush.”

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The Inpatient

The Inpatient is simultaneously a familiar yet new experience. Playing off the wonderful formula of Until Dawn, but polishing whatever rust was there, it succeeds in nearly every task it sets out to do. It is chilling without being cheesy. Horrifying without being overt. Disturbing without being grotesque. I absolutely cannot wait to return to the Blackwood Sanatorium and make all the (right? wrong?) decisions this time around. The Inpatient is easily the most rewarding horror adventure to be had on the PSVR to date, and a fun puzzle that I still might not have solved quite yet. Just make sure you stick around after the credits roll, especially if you enjoyed Until Dawn.”

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11-11: Memories Retold

11-11 takes things to the next level, with more realistic characters, brought to life in a way that makes us feel almost like we know them. It’s a tall order for a game to make us care so deeply about its protagonists – especially when it only has a few hours to do so – but 11-11: Memories Retold does so admirably. It’s compassionate, believable, beautiful and touching; it weaves a narrative that’s so carefully strung together. And even though it might not be exactly a true story, it doesn’t matter; it paints an important picture. One that can help a whole generation of people understand what soldiers went through during the First World War. What could be more impressive than that?”

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Yakuza 6

Yakuza 6 is a worthy send-off to the series’ charming star though, and with the new engine in play I really am looking forward to where the series goes next with its new protagonist. Offering closure on a long-running saga while also entertaining on so many fronts, Yakuza 6 may feel smaller in scale at times, but that still doesn’t stop it from being a mighty fine game.”

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Moss

Moss is one of those games that is, in the purest and simplest way, golden. PSVR has found its champion, its poster child. Quill is so happy to have you join her on this journey, and the camaraderie you two create is unforgettable. I highly suggest tagging along, you won’t regret it. So when she squeaks and holds up her adorable little arm, make sure you don’t leave her hanging. This is an adventure you want to experience every part of.”

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Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum ‘n’ Fun

Taiko no Tatsujin Drum n Fun 1-min

“At first, I thought I’d have a hard time wholeheartedly recommending Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum ‘n’ Fun! due to its high price and simple gameplay. Playing Party Mode for hours on end changed that though. As a package, Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum ‘n’ Fun! is a formidable one; on your own, you can spend ages playing though all the songs on offer while also unlocking new ones, and with others by your side you can play some of the funniest minigames I’ve had the pleasure of encountering in recent years. If you have a Switch and like enjoying yourself – and let’s face it, who doesn’t? – then you need Taiko no Tatsujin: Drum ‘n’ Fun! It’s not cheap, but then what’s the price of laughter and happiness?”

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Far Cry 5

Far Cry 5

Far Cry 5 isn’t perfect, but it doesn’t matter. While you’re not likely to remember its story in a few months’ time, and the erratic driving of friendly civilians may frequently alarm you, its gameplay shines and that’s what’s important. Setting you free in a stunningly realised open world, Far Cry 5 gives you all the tools you need for tens of hours of outrageous fun. Factor in online co-op and the user-generated content of Far Cry 5 Arcade, and you have one hell of a compelling package.”

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Dragon Ball FighterZ

Dragon Ball FighterZ 5

Dragon Ball FighterZ might just be my new favourite fighting game. From its stunningly sharp and wonderfully animated visuals to its frenzied gameplay, there’s just something utterly charming about it. It’s a fighting game that remembers that not everyone is a pro and not everyone plays online, and I like that. But there’s still a level of complexity and depth that will have fighting game fans battling it out until the early hours of the morning, honing their skills for competition.

Whether you’re a Dragon Ball fan or not, Dragon Ball FighterZ is a fighting game that you need to add to your collection.”

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Vampyr

Vampyr 4

“For some, Vampyr‘s disappointing narrative will come as a real letdown. Thankfully, however, other elements are so wonderfully crafted that it still remains a compelling experience. Exploring London and uncovering secrets is always an engaging affair, and the combat never fails to get the adrenaline pumping. But trumping it all is the freedom that Vampyr grants you to be a devious agent of the undead or a doting doctor. Often the choices you make won’t be so clear cut, but that’s what makes Vampyr so interesting. It doesn’t simply deal in absolutes, but many shades of grey.”

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Guacamelee 2

Guacamelee! 2 Unikitty

“If you enjoyed the original Guacamelee!, this sequel is an absolute must. It’s not going to particularly surprise you in any way, but it’s certainly going to have you grinning from ear to ear as you play. Also, if you liked the original Guacamelee! but found its platforming and bosses a little too hard in the latter stages, you’ll find Guacamelee! 2 to be much more enjoyable. Those who didn’t like Guacamelee!, however, won’t really find anything here to change their minds. Guacamelee! 2 doesn’t reinvent the wheel, it just makes sure it looks prettier while flattening out any bumps.”

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State of Decay 2

State of Decay 2 is the best State of Decay has ever been. The addition of a co-op multiplayer mode will appeal to anyone looking for a little shared zombie-survival; and you’ll find yourself getting surprisingly attached to your characters, despite the fact they have relatively little backstory. The amount of freedom is genuinely impressive, as is the sheer mayhem that the game can devolve into.  True, its surfeit of busywork does it no favours, but if you can immerse yourself enough in the game to overlook that, you’ll find that State of Decay 2 offers more than enough to quench your shambler-smashing, apocalypse-braving thirst.”

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Hitman 2

Hitman 2 is a delight. It might not propel the series forward by leaps and bounds, but it takes small meaningful steps that improve the formula nonetheless. And when coupled with strong level design, it makes for a compelling purchase. Hitman 2 is an absolute treat for fans of Agent 47, but its enhanced features and difficulty options make it accessible for all. Mission stories once again act as great training wheels to get players up to speed with the game’s mechanics and environments, and from there, Hitman 2 has a wealth of possibilities just waiting to be explored, enjoyed and revelled in. And they should be.”

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Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate beautifully tows the line of accessibility for casual players and depth for the hardcore fans. One thing I have always loved about Nintendo is its dedication to the art, and to creativity as a whole. Good or bad, I’m always excited to see what comes next from them. As Super Smash Bros. Ultimate grows and the new characters arrive, I’ll be back on the battlefield for another round. When you have something that people want, it’s hard to balance pushing the envelope with maintaining the foundation. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is a prime example of how you push forward into greater territory without losing what made you great in the first place.”

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Darksiders III

Darksiders III 2

“It’s not as polished as the likes of God of War, but I don’t care. When Darksiders III works well, it’s just as entertaining. I love its character and enemy designs; its world draws you in and surprises you with the way all of its environments are linked together; and it really does have some epic boss fights. Throw in some light puzzling and an engaging story, and you have a no-frills adventure game that somehow feels fresh. Games like this, that sit comfortably between indie hits and AAA giants, just aren’t that commonplace anymore, and that saddens me. Can we have some more, please?”

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Unravel Two

Unravel Two 4-min

Unravel Two has quickly become one of my favourite titles of 2018 so far. When it’s not challenging your reflexes it’s challenging your brain. And when it’s doing neither of those, it’s tugging on your heart. It’s a game that’s masterfully created, building on the gameplay offered in its predecessor but making it more punchy and enjoyable. But more importantly, it doesn’t compromise the single-player experience by adding in Yarny’s new friend; it simply enriches it. If you have any love for the original title, or puzzle-platformers in general, Unravel Two is absolutely essential.”

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Yoku’s Island Express

“It’s rare a game is as endlessly joyous as Yoku’s Island Express. It’s a game without stressors; without any grinding annoyances that get in the way of your enjoyment. Devoid of any real combat, it’s a laid-back experience that lets you approach it at your own pace. Once I picked it up I found it very hard to put down, and for good reason. Yoku’s Island Express oozes charm and love from every pixel; it’s plain to see how much care Villa Gorilla, the game’s developer, has put into this. It’s a very simple idea, yet a very clever one. Two very distinct gameplay styles have come together perfectly to create something that anyone can enjoy. I challenge you to play Yoku’s Island Express without a smile on your face. Go on. I bet you can’t.”

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Dead Cells

Dead Cells
Dead Cells

Dead Cells is such an easy game to recommend. It’s a game that oozes charm out of every pore. A game that is challenging but does a good job of easing you in. And a game that is simply a joy to play because of its fluidity and the range of combat options available. Some might find it a bit repetitive if they die too often, but after a short break they’ll be back for more. Smashing multiple genres together with expertise, developer Motion Twin has created something rather special with Dead Cells. It only falls short of being truly great because of its awkward difficulty spikes.”

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Strange Brigade

Strange Brigade 1-min

“However you decide to play Strange Brigade, one thing is for certain: you’re going to have a hell of a lot of fun. The storytelling and humour balanced against an excellent mixture of gunplay, adventuring and puzzle solving works incredibly well. And the world created by Rebellion is an absolute joy to explore. Being too excited for a new release always leaves you with the uneasy feeling of “what if it doesn’t live up to expectations?”, but in this case, Strange Brigade has exceeded them in practically every area. It takes the formula set by Zombie Army Trilogy, but expands on it in pretty much every way: it’s funnier, better looking, more varied, and bigger in all senses. As far as third-person shooters go, Strange Brigade is up there with the best of them.”

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Tetris Effect

Tetris Effect keeps you on your toes throughout, and it’s all the better for it. The constant change in pace – and the changing colours and themes of how the game looks – are tied perfectly to the music, making this very much an audio-led experience. You’ll want to crank up your speakers (or don a decent pair of headphones) if you really want to get the most out of it.”

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Crossing Souls

Crossing Souls

Crossing Souls has everything you could possibly want from an adventure game. Well-polished controls, a stunning art style, fun and varied gameplay, and an emotional yet intriguing narrative all come together to make Crossing Souls one of the best gaming experiences I’ve had in a long while. It’s simply perfect.”

Marvel’s Spider-Man

Spider-Man

Marvel’s Spider-Man has clearly been a labour of love for Insomniac, and each time you play you’ll pick up on the sheer attention to detail they’ve paid to the game. Like the way that if you web a villain to an object you can still then throw that object, with the miscreant still attached. Or that that there’s two sets of dialogue, one for when Spider-Man’s resting and one for when he’s exerting himself.

It’s not perfect, but Marvel’s Spider-Man is the best that a Spider-Man game has ever been, knocking even the long-lauded Spider-Man 2 off its perch. Fast, fluid and webtastically fun, Spider-Man will appeal to Spider-fans and newcomers alike.”

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A Way Out

A Way Out

“At its budget price, its running time of around six hours doesn’t need any justification, especially when there is reason to go back and replay scenes. And, given that its story is better than what sits at the heart of a lot of Hollywood movies these days, consider it like buying a film. A Way Out is pretty much the best interactive movie you’ll ever play – just make sure you’ve got a friend to bring along for the ride.”

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Shadow of the Tomb Raider

“When the credits roll, you feel like you’ve been on a real journey with Shadow of the Tomb Raider. You’ve experienced ups and downs, made new friends and enemies, and had the pleasure of seeing some phenomenal sights along the way. And as the dust settles, Lara has become who she was meant to be. But it is you who has got her there. It is you who has traversed dangerous environments and raided temples for their treasures, all the while defending yourself from those who seek to put a stop to your adventure. And just like any good adventure, you’ll be left wanting more.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider ends the reboot trilogy on a high note. It gives the fans what they want, as well as hope for what comes next. And I really hope there will be a next, because when it’s this good, it’d be criminal to have Lara sat twiddling her thumbs.”

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Yakuza Kiwami 2

Yakuza Kiwami 2

Yakuza Kiwami 2 is the best Yakuza game to date. Its story is gripping and has a brilliant pace, its combat is tighter and more engaging, and there’s such a varied range of sub-stories and side activities to absorb yourself in that it offers great longevity. Yakuza Kiwami 2 has the Yakuza formula perfected, making it an absolute must for fans of the series, and a jolly good ride for those who haven’t even tangoed with the charming Kazuma Kiryu before. If this truly is the last Yakuza game starring Kiryu to be on the receiving end of the remake treatment, at least he’s going out with a mighty bang.”

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Kingdom Come: Deliverance

“In Kingdom Come: Deliverance you’re just a small cog in a reasonably big world, but your actions feel like they have worth and impact. You’ll prove yourself to be helpful many a time, but often you’ll have to rely on others for assistance, or to even do the job for you. It goes a long way to make the land of Bohemia a living, breathing place rather than just your personal playground, and I admire that. It’s by no means free of frustration, but Kingdom Come: Deliverance is a special game. It’s a game that isn’t afraid of being different – of not holding the player’s hand every step of their adventure – and for that, it’s an experience to be treasured.”

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Diablo III: Eternal Collection

Diablo III Switch 1

Diablo III on Switch is simply spectacular. It’s a phenomenal port that really shows what the Switch is capable of, and honestly, I think it might just be my favourite version of the game yet. Sure, it doesn’t quite look or perform its best on Nintendo’s hybrid console, but being able to dip into the game anytime, anywhere more than makes up for it. Whether you’ve got a few hours or a few minutes to spare, booting up Diablo III will always provide an entertaining way to fill them.”

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Forza Horizon 4

Forza Horizon 4 7

Forza Horizon 4 feels like a labour of love; a game for car lovers by car lovers. But also, it’s an engrossing experience that’s rewarding every step of the way. Exploring the map feels just as worthwhile as completing events. And its seamless multiplayer features, Forzathon challenges and seasonal events mean that you’re not likely to grow tired of it for years. It is, without a doubt, the best racing game available right now. In fact, it might be the best racing game of all time. If you own an Xbox One, you need Forza Horizon 4. It’s as simple as that.”

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God of War

God of War 3-min

“It has been a long time since a game has gripped me like God of War. It’s the type of game that when you sit down to play it, hours pass by in the blink of an eye. It’s the type of game that you can’t put down; you always want to do just one last task. And it’s the type of game that when you aren’t playing it, you’re thinking about playing it. Addictive, engrossing and compelling; it’s epic, that’s what it is. The previous God of War titles were solid action games played out on a grand scale, but this is more. It somehow humanises Kratos and develops his character. It makes you care.”

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Read Dead Redemption 2

“The years spent shaping Red Dead Redemption 2 into what it is has been worth it. Rockstar hasn’t just created a video game; it has created as close to a living, breathing digital world as can be. It’s not so much something that you play, it’s something that you visit and experience. Something you willingly get lost in. Red Dead Redemption 2 is the result of years of blood, sweat and tears. And it shows, making getting yourself absorbed in it feel all the more special. This is the new benchmark by which open world games will be measured, but none will be meeting its heady heights anytime soon.”

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