Co-founder and lead writer of We Bleed Pixels. Loves fantasy, RPGs and talking about games. Hates horror, multiplayer and not talking about games.
2018 is coming to a rapid end. And that means GOTY and top X-lists are being made left, right and center. So I did the same for New Era Gaming. These are my 5 favorite games I played in 2018.
Note that not all of these released this year. I made a list of ALL games I played for the first time in 2018, and picked the 5 I enjoyed the most for this feature.
5. Sherlock Holmes: The Devil’s Daughter
Warning! Case spoiler at the end!
The first game on the list is also the most niche one, and I would not be surprised if you haven’t even heard of it. Yet this game is the 8th installment in a series that has been around since 2002. I played the latest two: Crimes and Punishments in 2016, and The Devil’s Daughter this year. And I loved it.
Now I’ll say right off the bat: this is a type of game you have to like. If you don’t like detectives or a bit of puzzling, this game isn’t for you. It’s not exciting in terms of gameplay; you spend most your time slowly walking around crime scenes, investigating clues and interrogating suspects. And the few action-filled sequences are occasionally held back by somewhat clunky controls or QTEs. But if you can look past that, you’ll see that developer Frogwares has crafted an excellent gaming formula for the famous detective over the years.
The main plot revolves around Holmes confronting a dark personal secret, whilst a new neighbor begins to interfere with his personal life, especially with his adopted daughter. During the story, the player is presented with five separate cases. Each case is written well enough to keep your attention until the end, and to make you truly feel like Sherlock Holmes. In addition, there’s an enjoyable variety of locations to visit, and each case feels unique and refreshing.
But what I really love about Frogwares’ formula, is the way conclusions are set up. As you collect evidence in a case, clues are added to a ‘deduction board’. Here you can link the various pieces of information together, ultimately reaching a conclusion. Based on your own interpretation of these clues (for example, whether you believe a suspect’s statement or not), you can reach several different conclusions within each case, each of which make sense in some way. Meaning you may actually end up accusing the wrong culprit of the crime.
In addition to the above, I find the Condemn/Absolve choice equally great. At the end of each case, you can choose to either Condemn or Absolve whoever you accuse of the crime. Condemning them means a harsher fate, for example calling someone a cold blooded killer rather than mentioning mental issues they may have. My most memorable one however, is when I absolved a man who robbed a bank, with his plan killing several people in the process, as he needed the money for medical treatments for his dying daughter.
4. Spyro: Reignited Trilogy
I gave this game 4.5 out of 5 stars in my review, yet Spyro: Reignited Trilogy is ‘only’ my fourth favorite game this year. And I must admit that my enthusiasm for the purple dragon’s remake has faded a bit since then. Still, the wave of nostalgia that hit me whilst playing makes this one of my favorite games of the year.
There’s not much I can say that I haven’t already said in my review, so I’ll keep it short here for now: Spyro was so much fun to play, and Toys for Bob did such an amazing job at recapturing the magic of the originals. I got the Platinum-trophy for Spyro the Dragon in three days, and playing Spyro 2: Ripto’s Rage and Spyro 3: Year of the Dragon was a feast of recognition. Especially finding the skate park in the latter.
3. Assassin’s Creed Syndicate
I remember consciously skipping this game when it released in 2015. I didn’t like the three AC’s before it (AC III, Black Flag and Unity), so why waste my money on this one? In the end, I’m very grateful this game was part of Xbox Game Pass when I got 3 months for a tenner.
Now apart from different weaponry and the rope launcher, Syndicate doesn’t really do anything new to the AC series. Yet despite this it’s probably my third favorite Assassin’s Creed game, behind Revelations and Brotherhood.
The game’s setting was pretty much perfect for me: Victorian London. Because the thing is (and don’t ask me why); I love British accents and British humor. So a game set in Britain, with British protagonists, characters and jokes? Sign me up. Also, Evie Frye is one of the best female’s I’ve ever controlled in a videogame. Truth be told, I only played as her twin Jacob when the game forced me to, as I liked Evie so much better as a character.
Besides that, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate simply gave me exactly what I want from AC: an historical city as a playground to parkour through, whilst assassinating enemies left, right and center. 19th century London was a joy to traverse, and the wide array of historical figures made it even better. But it was especially refreshing to finally play an AC title that I truly enjoyed again.
2. Titanfall 2
At the very moment of writing this sentence, there are strong rumors that a new Titanfall game is being developed by Respawn. I truly hope that it is, because Titanfall 2 is hands down one of the most fun shooters I’ve ever played. It also has one of the best single-player stories in shooters in years.
Titanfall 2 features super slick movement gameplay, where you can theoretically continuously jump, slide and wallrun. Provided your timing is on point. Respawn has also done an excellent job on the level design, which complements the fast-paced movement just right. It was truly a joy to traverse the various locations the game has you visit. Especially on my second playthrough hunting collectibles, as I still remembered most of each mission. I’ve rarely had so much fun playing a shooter.
You’re not always free to run and slide around though. Every now and then, the game has you enter your own personal Titan: a large mech-style robot with a personality (yes, I’m serious). When you enter your Titan, called BT-7274 or simply BT, you gain access to his array of weapons. These weapons differ based on whatever loadout you have active. Each of them is a joy to use, and really makes you feel like you’re raining down death and destruction on your enemies. And beside that, Respawn did an equally great job at the interaction between Pilot (you) and Titan. As the game progresses, you truly feel a growing connection between yourself and your giant robot.
1. Shadow of the Tomb Raider
And here we are. My #1 game of 2018 is Shadow of the Tomb Raider. To quote my own tweet when I finished the game, Eidos Montreal and Crystal Dynamics have made a more than worthy conclusion to their Tomb Raider reboot trilogy.
I played the first game, 2013’s Tomb Raider, back on the Xbox 360. In July this year, I played Rise of the Tomb Raider through Game Pass, and loved it so much that Shadow instantly became one of my most anticipated titles. While in all honesty, Shadow of the Tomb Raider doesn’t do that much Rise didn’t already do. But honestly, I’m glad it didn’t. Because after playing Rise, I simply wanted more of the same with Shadow. And Eidos/Crystal Dynamics gave me just that.
The absolute star of Shadow of the Tomb Raider is, in my humble opinion, not even Lara herself. It’s the many incredible beautiful vistas and tombs that it serves you. The game looked so good on the Xbox One, that I ended up pausing to take a screenshot with the game’s Photo Mode very frequently. I ended up taking 101 screenshots during the roughly 33 hours it took me to finish the game. Every screenshot I included in this article is one I personally made.
Whilst I’m on the topic of my screenshots anyway: the one below is one of my favorites by far. Especially since it captures one of the most awesome and badass moments in the entire game so damn well (seriously guys, go play this game).
What Shadow of the Tomb Raider does do quite different (and much better) than its predecessors however, is Lara’s personal progression. Everyone’s favorite tomb raider (okay, except from maybe Nathan Drake) starts out as a fairly selfish young woman (and arguably slightly psychopathic) who cares for little more than her own goals. But in the end, Lara becomes much more self aware about her own actions, and the consequences they have. Her personal growth is done so well in Shadow, that I genuinely hope Eidos and Crystal Dynamics won’t leave it at a trilogy, but make a fourth Tomb Raider as well. I truly believe they can do even more amazing things with Lara Croft.