Top 50 Best Rates Games in 2018

This was another great year for gaming, and while it didn’t see as many great JRPGs as last year, with Dragon Quest XI being nice but nothing particularly special, and Valkyria Chronicles 4 and Octopath Traveler kind of continuing the already paved path, there were a lot of notable indie games, especially platformers.

My favorite of the year was Celeste that combined fantastic game-play with a pretty good story, but then we also had The Messenger that brought back the classic Ninja Gaiden of all things to life, Iconoclasts that really caught me off guard with its fascinating setting and characters, Yoku’s Island Express that combined pinball with platforming, The Missing:JJ coming from the crazy guy responsible for Deadly Premonition, Guacamelee! 2 which carries the already established legacy, Dead Cells which is equal amounts frustrating and fascinating, Just Shapes & Beats which is a rad if very short experience, and though I didn’t like it that much, the audiovisual spectacle that’s GRIS.

The other indie games include my second favorite game this year, the underwater survival and exploration simulator, Subnautica, that’s though rough around the edges is a beyond incredible experience in VR. Then there was a detective-like game Obra Dinn which is probably like nothing you’ve played before, and Unavowed that does a worthy homage to the 90s adventure games.  And I nearly forgot my new favorite turn-based game, Into the Breach, which though short is mind-blowing addicting.

It really makes me think that indie games might be the way of the future, though we had some pretty cool triple AAA titles as well this year, like Red Dead Redemption 2, God of War (2018), Marvel’s Spider-Man, and Monster Hunter: World. …All of which I have yet to play, but I’m sure at least one or two of those would end up in my personal top ten of the year.

There was also a resurgence of the city builder genre with a worthwhile successor to Theme Hospital and an ice-age themed survival builder Frostpunk, which turned out to have a much more involving narrative than I’d expected.

[Game] Guacamelee! 2

Guacamelee 2.jpg

Game

For better or worse, Guacamelee! 2 is just like its prequel. It offers the same kind of pleasant experience, but it feels a lot less fresh the second time around.

Positive:
Negative:
Attractive, colorful 2D visuals
The story’s pretty generic
Pleasant, unique music
Combat mechanics are a bit repetitive and can get dull
Cool Mexican setting
Some of the levels drag on for too long
Well-written, genuinely funny dialogue
Plays a lot like the previous game, making for a less memorable experience
Good boss fights
Good platforming with lots of gimmicks to keep things fresh

[Novel] Money (Martin Amis)

Money

Book

Money feels a bit all over the place and is a bit hard to follow, but it’s thoroughly entertaining sarcastic protagonist makes every line in this story simply a pleasure to read.

It kind of reminded me of The Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

Positive:
Negative:
Satyrical, thoroughly entertaining prose
Feels a bit all over the place at times
Interesting, likable, profound characters, especially the protagonist
So many characters it’s easy to lose track of who is who
Relatively enthralling plot
Solid, poignant story
Thought-provoking on capitalistic values and human nature

[Game] Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep

Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep

Game

I was never a huge fan of Disney, so I’ve got to admit, when I first heard of Kingdom Hearts it sounded like a pretty stupid idea to me, but the first and especially the second game of the series ended up growing on me as they had just enough of the Final Fantasy flavor to keep me interested… and the Disney worlds were surprisingly fun to explore as they still were something I experienced and enjoyed as a kid.

Birth by Sleep, though a prequel and not as grand as the two flagship titles, still offers a pretty genuine Kingdom Hearts experience and is definitely worth checking out if you’re a fan of the series.

It’s just too bad that the convoluted naming and ever-changing platforms of Kingdom Heart game releases have made it so aggravating to even figure out what order they are supposed to be played in.

Positive:
Negative:
Fascinating setting that combines Final Fantasy with Disney
The story has a lot of parts that are hard to take seriously
Interesting, likable characters
The convoluted nature of the overarching story will turn many people off
An interesting story with lots and lots of lore
An odd delay before blocking makes the gameplay feel clunky on higher difficulties
Surprisingly interesting plot that you explore from multiple angles
It’s nostalgic and nice to visit the worlds from your childhood movies
Challenging, fun action game-play

[Novel] The Snow Queen (Joan D. Vinge)

The Snow Queen

Book

Joan D. Vinge tells an interesting story in a fairly fascinating setting that mixes science fiction and fantasy, but while well-written, it never really rises to something particularly mind-blowing or memorable.

Positive:
Negative:
Fascinating, imaginative, and well thought-out setting
Doesn’t offer anything particularly mind-blowing
Interesting, likable characters
Some of the parts can feel a bit slow
Relatively engaging plot

[Game] Soul Calibur VI

Soul Calibur VI

Game

Soul Calibur VI offers the same awesome and flashy fighter game-play as its many prequels, but it barely feels like a new game at this point. It being a reboot not only takes you backward in the story, it means you have a smaller roster of characters to select from (as it takes place before they’re introduced).

It feels more like a step backward than forward, and I don’t think I’d be able to tell the difference between it and V or even IV if I was looking at the screen from a distance.

Positive:
Negative:
Beautiful visuals
Underwhelming story that alternates between dull and cringeworthy
A large cast of interesting and memorable characters
Barely feels like a different game from the previous installments in the series
An actual story mode (though it’s not very good)
Actually offers a smaller roster of characters than the prequels
Top-notch 3D fighting mechanics
Subpar localization

[Novel] Hawaii (James. A. Michener)

Hawaii

Book

So far my favorite Michener’s book, Hawaii is a fantastic recounting of Hawaii’s history that spans generations of interesting and likable characters, almost every one of whom have a poignant and dramatic story to tell.

Positive:
Negative:
Simple but pleasant and easily-digestible prose
Might feel a bit slow at times
Profound, interesting, likable characters
Enthralling plot
Epic story that spans generations
Multiple genuinely dramatic and touching moments
Enlightening on Hawaii’s history
Thought-provoking on life

[Game] King’s Bounty – The Legend

King's Bounty

Game

An interesting strategy and computer role-playing hybrid that plays like an RPG version of Heroes of Might & Magic. It’s just too bad that its story reads like bad fanfiction.

Positive:
Negative:
Satisfying strategy game-play
The story reads like bad fanfiction
A well-designed world that’s fun to explore
Long battles start getting tedious towards the end

[Novel] The House of the Spirits (Isabel Allende)

The House of the Spirits

Book

A poignant record of four generations of a very memorable family in post-colonial Chile.

Positive:
Negative:
Profound, interesting, likable characters
A few parts of the story might feel a bit slow
Interesting story inspired by historical facts
Relatively engrossing plot with a couple of cool twists here and there
Enlightening on Chilean culture and history

 

Dishonored: Death of the Outsider

Dishonored - Death of the Outsider

Game

Due to its short length, Death of the Outsider feels more like a dlc or a spin-off to otherwise fantastic series. I definitely enjoyed the direction of the story, but the new array of sneaking powers didn’t feel as intuitive to me as in the prequels.

Positive:
Negative:
Beautiful visuals, impressive both from artistic and technical side
Very little memorable music
Interesting, rich, and imaginative fantasy setting
The story, despite all the embellishments, is quite predictable and straightforward
Good, immersing atmosphere
Feels either too easy or frustrating, with hardly anything inbetween
Interesting characters
Short, and feels like more of the same game-play wise
Good level design encourages exploration

[TV] Jewel in the Palace

Jewel in the Palace.png

tv

A historical Korean TV series focusing on the first female physician in middle age Korea.

Positive:
Negative:
Interesting, likable characters
Extremely slow pace
Relatively engaging plot with lots of twists and political machinations
Some of the episodes around the middle feel redundant
Enlightening on Korean history and culture
Jang-Geum is represented as so perfect it makes her kind of boring
Enlightening on traditional Korean food and medicine

[Game] Iconoclasts

iconoclasts

game

A riveting adventure of a mechanic in a fascinating dystopian world on a very peculiar planet.

Positive:
Negative:
Good, invigorating soundtrack
Outdated visuals
A thoroughly fascinating sci-fi mystery setting
Some of the plot is obfuscated by poorly written dialogue
Interesting, likable, relatively profound characters
Well thought-out, heavy-hitting story
Thought-provoking ending
Simple, but satisfying action-platformer game-play
Good boss fights

[Novel] The Old Wives’ Tale (Arnold Bennett)

the old wives' tale

book

A novel that narrates the entire lives of two very different sisters in late 19th century England and France.

Positive:
Negative:
Sarcastic, thoroughly evocative prose that’s just a joy to read
Not the most original concept in the world
Interesting, likable, profound characters
Relatively engaging plot
Enlightening on late 19th century England and France
Thought-provoking on life

[Game] Minit

 

minit

game

Once you take the gimmick that allows you to advance your adventure only in one minute intervals, you’re left with a NES days Legend of Zelda clone that is both short and mostly unremarkable.

Positive:
Negative:
An interesting premise where you have to complete objectives in one minute intervals
Painfully simple and unremarkable once you take the one minute gimmick away
Simple, but satisfying game-play

[Novel] Rite of Passage (Alexei Panshin)

rite of passage

book

The novel starts interesting by introducing a world of people living in spaceships and only descending to planets for a rite of passage to prove their survival skills, but the rest of the plot turns out to be a pretty generic coming of age story with more or a fantasy vibe than science-fiction.

Positive:
Negative:
Interesting sci-fi setting
Predictable and dull plot
Likable, relatively profound characters
The story is nothing special
Thought-provoking about how deeply cultural differences can separate societies

[Novel] The Sheltering Sky (Paul Bowles)

the sheltering sky

book

A novel about a couple that bit a bit more than it could chew by figuring money was all they needed to survive in the alien culture of Morocco.

Positive:
Negative:
Exotic setting
Predictable narrative
Interesting, profound characters
Never gets particularly exciting
A relatively engaging plot
Enlightening on Morocco culture in early 20th century
Thought-provoking on cultural disconnect

[Game] Breath of Fire IV

breath of fire 4

game

Breah of Fire IV has a relatively interesting narrative and satisfying combat that allows you to utilize the whole party for a change, but its lack of difficulty and the predictable plot ultimately make it into a pretty underwhelming experience.

Positive:
Negative:
An adequate story with a few cool, creepy twists
Outdated visuals
Fine JRPG game-play that allows you to utilize the whole party
Abysmal movement controls
No challenge
Doesn’t stand out from the other JRPGs that much