FALCON'S 2018 GAME OF THE YEAR!
The Banner Saga 3
If you've played any of the games in this series or remember me mentioning them before, you'll recall that this is a game about just trying to do your best against an oppressive overwhelming force. The finale of this series digs further into the interpersonal issues that arise when all that is left of all the races from an entire continent try to seek refuge in the one city that has thus far escaped the impending doom.
Death is a big part of this game series, and it is cutscenes and typically your decisions which govern who lives and who dies. It stung me when Nid, one of my best archers told me that she was taking her children and risking a sea of acid because between doom here and doom there, at least that way she may outrun the darkness.
The story in this chapter is split between those trying to survive, and those trying to fix the world. It makes sense that all of the new characters and challenges are on the fix side, and it really helps reinforce how little the survivors can do that you don't get anything new to play with. You just have to do the best with what you have. But hey, the fixers give you some playable dredge characters, that is really neat.
Assassin's Creed: Odyssey
I haven't enjoyed any Assassin's Creed a whole lot. I played a bit of AC2 (widely proclaimed as the series' best) and bounced off it hard... but Odyssey got me. Perhaps it was the fact that this has turned into far more of an RPG than a stealth game, but something here really clicked and I've spend a whole lot of hours playing. A big part of it probably is Kassandra, she's a sassy demigod with arms for days and a true true love for drachmae.
A lot of the characters here are a lot of fun, and you can bone your way around Greece almost as readily as you murder. It has an attempt at the Nemesis system with the named mercenaries, but it's a shame they didn't record entrances for them all. I know that you and they can't come back from the dead (which made a lot of that nemesis system personal
), but even if they just showed up and shouted some insult or one liner at you it really would have helped because they did get the part of the nemesis system right where they love to show up at the worst times and throw spanners in your plans.
This years hot new mobile game, it uses the diamond hero formation coined by Valkyrie Profile and now common in other mobile gachas like FF:BE and that's an instant turn on for me. The VP part, not the FF part. Add to that well designed characters with FMV woven into their special moves and a FEH style hero recruitment system where I can happily build a wide stable of effective characters, and I'm in love. It may be that I'm still in the honeymoon period with this game, especially after leaving KOF'98 UM OL... but I can quite happily play this game till my iPad runs dry and then lament that I don't have a charger cable and socket on me at all times. Also Iseria is an elf who summons six swords, that's just cool.
The Awesome Adventures of Captain Spirit
Life is Strange 2 is not on my list this year because we've only had one chapter, and unless they royally fuck up they're going to be in this list somewhere next year. The game that did start and finish this year however was Captain Spirit. Man this game brought back those LiS feels. On the one hand I was really into Chris' make-believe world and Sailor Moon transformations, but then DONTNOD come in and punch me in the gut with the abusive Dad who really is trying to do his best but is also a terrible parent. The sequence near the end where you try to cover for your father when that neighbour comes knocking was powerful stuff, and though I have never experienced anything like Chris had to deal with I really related to him and just want the best for the kid. I can't wait to see how this ties into Life is Strange 2.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider
I love Lara, and I love exploration adventure games, but damn you make it hard Tomb Raider. I found myself trying to defend this game more than promote it this year and I've realised that I too am tired of the new super-serious Lara. More on that later, I have some thoughts
. The tomb raiding and exploration remain strong in this game, and the combat remains serviceable, Lara still fights scrappy but that's how she should fight. At least new!Lara. They introduced a new stealth mechanic this time, where you can cover yourself in mud to hide better against walls of foliage, but didn't really spread that around enough for me to have a lot of fun with it. Probably the lowest I've rated any Tomb Raider.
State of Decay 2
Similar to the first game, you really need to make your own stories up to enjoy this. After encountering someone in a sick rabbit hoodie in my first game I immediately rerolled until I had a rabbit hoodie. It then just so happened that the other two characters I rolled were wearing pink, so I created the Pink Crew
and set out to survive the apocalypse. This time around you can't cheese the system by not fully looting houses (which would make the loot respawn in a day or so), but to counter that you have all sorts of ways of making resources yourselves. I've had fun with this game, and having the ability to roll your initial survivors is really cool. With some months since I played this game I have forgotten the intricacies of my Pink Crew
, but the three ladies in my screenshot were the OG team, now happily set up in a bistro. They dropped the resource decay happening in real-life days, so I may go back to my crew at some point.
Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon
It's a throwback prequel to the Igavania due out next year. While I never really played any of the Castlevanias that were as old as the aesthetic this one goes for, I had fun with this game and it goes to show that Iga can still create fun mechanics and cool boss fights. If you're way more hardcore than me, this game offers multiple playthroughs where it switches up the team and mechanics, but I had a hard enough time on the first go so I'm now just waiting for the SOTN-like Ritual of the Night!
The Shadows that Run Alongside Our Car
This is kind of cheating because this game came out in 2016, but I didn't hear about it till Halloween this year, so here it is. This is a free, short (15 min) game about two people car pooling in a zombie apocalypse. You choose to play from either character's perspective, and it is basically just a conversation that takes place between these two strangers as they drive across the US with basically no direction or destination. The car runs out of gas in the middle of the night, miles from anything, and the strangers decide to just try to get some sleep. And that is the end of the game. It is designed for multiple playthroughs, as different levels of honesty between the two characters lead to different revelations. SPOILERS: Turns out one was already infected, and likely to turn during the night... but hey, there's nothing out there to look forward to anyway.
Very Gone Home, with a dollop of Life is Strange. You are a friend of Marie from high school, and you're invited to go and snoop around in her room. As you do it uncovers more about your friendship, and other relationships that happened back in those days. In a very Gone Home fashion you never see any people, and just interact with the room and objects to get your character's perspective on things from which you try to uncover what happened. Interesting in this case that your player character pretty much knows what happened, but you the player are learning as you go. The storyline is very Life is Strange, and I don't mean hella gay.
I'm not huge into mechs, if I'm honest. I enjoyed what I played of this game, but I never got Austin Walker levels of into this game. I feel like maybe I miss the human element of XCOM here, you still have the pilots and personalities, but the abstraction of the giant tanks you roll around in makes it less personal for me. I opened this game up again today to have a quick look, and they've apparently done some balance changes to the pilot skills, resetting all the pilots so you can re-spec them... and that was enough for me to just go "eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeh" and I'm probably not going to play any more.
MISSED THE CUT
Far Cry 5