Sorry it’s late. We wanted to be really sure.
That’s right, we’ve taken almost two weeks of 2019 just to be sure nobody made the best game of the year in the last week! Don’t say we don’t treat you right. And sure, not every game here is from 2018, but we’re all about enjoying games your way, which is exactly what our crew did. Here are the games that made our year:
Reuben: Monster Hunter World
There’s nothing quite like Monster Hunter. No game manages to blend such mechanical complexity with as simple a premise. There are monsters, you must hunt them!
What that entails is a deeply tactical process of studying and tracking the given creature, learning its attack patterns from body language and audio cues and perfecting your preferred weapon (of which there are a dozen varieties) to exploit its weak points.
There’s also always the chance that something from higher up the food chain will stumble by and decide that you and your prey both look like lunch!
But with each successful hunt you learn a little more, you harvest parts to improve your gear and weapons and the next attempt becomes a little easier. In the process of earning enough parts to get the armour you really want you’ll come to know the creatures inside and out, and there’s little more satisfying than executing a plan with panache and style.
Plus a bunch of talking cats will sing you a song as they cook you dinner. 10/10 Game of the Year.
2018 has been the Year of the Mech for me. Narrowly beating out Into The Breach for my top pick is BATTLETECH. This game was a painless onramp to a decades old lore rich franchise. Adapted from the tabletop game of the same name, BATTLETECH is an isometric turn based tactics game (think XCOM) on the surface, and a deep mechanics heavy mercenary sim under the hood. With a wonderfully written campaign and effortless inclusivity, it is a joy to spend time in this universe. You could sink tens of hours (and I have) deviating from the main story to chase contracts through the stars, collecting the broken war machines of your foes, and putting together an unstoppable MechWarrior lance. Highly recommended for fans of science fiction, strategy games, and storytelling.
Kelso: Octopath Traveler
Someday, I’m going to find time to put together all of the emotions I felt playing through Octopath Traveler in a proper article, but for now, I’m just going to settle for giving it my GOTY.
The JRPG-lite style structure was just complex enough to be interesting without having so many pieces I felt overwhelmed as I so often have playing JRPGs in the past. The ability to dual equip classes allowed me a lot more flexibility in covering “weak spots” in team comp as I went along, and as someone who often likes to pick favorites in characters and classes, it removed a lot of the frustration associated with “oops, I didn’t level the right character up for this encounter”. The graphics are beautiful and even now, I still can’t get enough of the combination of shaders and pixel art creating a strange 2.5D world.
Beyond how it plays, this game was released the same week my father was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer, and it provided me with not only distraction and escapism the way I hope a good game can, but also reflections on grief and what it means to grieve via (minor spoiler?) Ophilia’s storyline. I couldn’t have stumbled into a better game to get me through the most difficult period of my 31 years to date, and the best part is, I still have so much more of it left to play.
Chase: Return of the Obra Dinn
The best thing about Lucas Pope’s maritime whodunnit is not the old Macintosh-inspired 1-bit graphics, nor is it the supernatural plot that draws on sailor’s tales, folklore and myth alike. It’s not the incredible musical score, full of haunting chimes, keening woodwinds and cellos that sound like waves bashing the side of a ship. It isn’t event the incredible voice acting and award winning sound design that helps sell the game’s completely auditory vignettes.
No, the best thing about Return of the Obra Dinn is the masterful flow of the game, slowly leading players deeper into the mysteries aboard a seemingly cursed vessel while simultaneously add new dimensions to the game’s systems. One clue leads to another; each body telling a bit more of a story more twisted than ill-kept rigging.
Like any good puzzle game, the solutions are both clearly obvious and cleverly hidden. Pope keeps you from brute forcing your way to the end, and doing so would only deny you one of the year’s best experiences, game or otherwise.
Jack: Super Smash Bros Ultimate
To anyone who knows me, this being my game of the year is the opposite of a surprise. I’ve been waiting for Smash on the Switch since the Switch has been a thing, and not only have Nintendo granted my wish but they’ve done it with exceptional panache. Super Smash Bros Ultimate is, as the name suggests, the most complete entry to the series yet, boasting a character count in the 70s, a stage count of over 100 (over 300 counting variations), and a “Spirits” single-player mode boasting nearly 2,000 classic gaming characters to collect. It’s a Smash fan’s dream, and the Fighter Pass brings the promise of even more fascinating characters to be had down the line.
Honourable mention: Destiny 2: Forsaken. I have poured a huge amount of my life into this over the last couple of months, and the fact it’s an expansion to a base game released last year is the only reason why it isn’t in the running for my top spot.
Joseph: Xenoblade Chronicles 2 (the best game I played this year)
When it comes to the most beloved development studios on the planet, Monolith Soft doesn’t get as much praise as they deserve. If any other studio had the stellar five game run (Xenoblade Chronicles, Project X Zone, Xenoblade Chronicles X, Project X Zone 2, and Xenoblade Chronicles 2) that Monolith Soft has had since late 2010, they would be omnipresent in the realm of gaming; with legions of stans at the ready to berate anyone that says a negative word about their creations and an entire industry making every attempt to recreate the magic of one of their most vaunted titles.
That is where I have absolutely nothing but effuse acclaim for 2017’s action-JRPG Xenoblade Chronicles 2 for Nintendo Switch. Two years after the criminally underrated Wii U title Xenoblade Chronicles X blew high expectations clean out of the water, Monolith Soft proved that you can indeed capture lightning in a bottle while making it even more potent than before. Chronicles 2 is, without question, a glorious, compelling, and drop-dead gorgeous game that any RPG fan would fall in love with. The epic story of Rex and Pyra is one that must be seen to be believed.
Charles: Octopath Traveler
Checking out the free trial of Octopath Traveler based on Chase’s recommendation was
one of the better decisions I made in any aspect of my life this year. Square Enix’s gorgeous
“2D-HD” JRPG absorbed more of my gaming time than anything else in 2018, seeing me
pour hours into its exceptional combat and stunning scenery. The boss battles in particular
were something else entirely – combat is normally the aspect of RPGs I struggle with most,
but I found myself relishing taking upwards of half an hour to tactically pick apart bosses.
The game was, for me, a beautiful journey between incredibly satisfying fights, with the
lovely added touch of travel banter to start the process of bringing the eight stories
Despite that, I still haven’t finished it. Particularly spoilery spoilers ahead!
I’m at the final boss battle, which is hidden via a myriad of seemingly innocuous sidequests,
and which I probably would never have found or even thought to look for if I hadn’t learned
about it accidentally beforehand. I got absolutely obliterated on the first attempt. And you
know what? I absolutely cannot wait to get obliterated twenty more times before I figure this
fight-puzzle out, especially as the bits I did manage to get past revealed exactly how the
characters’ stories link together to form the endgame proper. Octopath Traveler is not easy,
but figuring it out has been an absolute joy.
And with that, we wrap up 2018! Thanks for being part of Autosave’s first year. We’re super excited for what 2019 will bring!