This week Yahtzee reviews the most notable games of 2018.
- 1 Transcript
- 2 Addenda
- 3 The games that almost made it
- 4 Screenshots
Another year of gaming spreads out behind us like a particularly explosive trouser accident, and so it once again falls to me to nominate the games that were best, the games that were worst, and the games that fell asleep after one thrust and left me to wander an unfamiliar neighborhood without even money for an Uber. And oh, what an embarrassing oversight! I seem to have run out of weeks in the year before I could get around to Smash Bros Ultimate. Oh well. If it makes you feel better, I wouldn't have put it in any of my Top 5s. Unless I came up with another new one, like Top 5 Games for Simultaneously Giving Yourself Epilepsy and Carpel Tunnel Syndrome.
Perch my perineum on a pole if it wasn't a struggle to pick a whole 5 good games from this year. In the end, weighing up several possibilities for fifth best, I had to conclude I had most enjoyed Unavowed, the well-realized paranormal adventure that hopes you've never read a Jim Butcher novel. But before the AGS community starts getting smug, this is more an indictment of the year. I had no trouble filling in my other candidate lists; they both rolled on like fucking Ubisoft credit sequences.
"Oh, that Yahtzee Croshaw!" I hear them say. "He's that old fogey who just alternates between pissing on every new triple-A game and sucking indie dick!" Not so, detractors! I'll have you know there's piss enough in my balls for every class of game, hence my fifth blandest game being indie Kickstarter excretion Moonlighter, just for being a painfully generic pixel art dungeon crawler whose one unique gameplay idea had all the depth of a Netflix true crime documentary.
(Sounds of excretions)
Well, let's get the obvious one out of the way quickly, and if ever a year passes that a new David Cage game doesn't get onto my shit list, then load the family dog with drinking water and canned goods, 'cuz civilization is officially over. Detroit Cum Stain: a hack writer who has convinced themselves and others that they're some kind of bold game narrative auteur is bad enough; but when they think they're being profound, it's a McChicken Badwich with a cockolate milkshake.
It's gonna have to be Star Control: Origins, however buggy the interface or dogshit the subtitle, and whatever drama might have been going on behind the scenes, the game is well-written, fun, and not afraid to be silly. Remember when science-fiction could be fun and silly when something occupied the middle ground between dry, realistic simulators and overly dramatic struggles for the fate of humanity with constant laser explosions until it looks like a rave in an anger management clinic?
Now, as any parent of young children will tell you, it's nice when they play together, but forcing them to do so is a highway to screams, resentment, and Sky Dancers in the eye socket. It's a particularly bad idea to force us to play together to experience your mediocre string of sub-David Cage slow time events and movie cliches: A Way Out! Oh, Christ, sub-David Cage. That's a new low, isn't it? That's a limbo dancing contest at the geothermal power plant low. But I digress. Blimey, that dude had a big nose!
The main benefit of crowdfunding is simultaneously its main problem; it's a marketplace of ideas, but sometimes, only putting an idea into practice can reveal it to be sputtering jizz on a hot skillet, and then you can't just ditch the project because it's already paid for. What must have gone through the minds of the We Happy Few developers as their great idea for procedural immersive RPG with social stealth elements gradually shaped up to be tosh? Better give it an Early Access another year while we finish writing the apology letters.
While I refute the accusation of being an indie knob-gobbler, it is true that I try to limit triple-A presence in my Top 5, because they can get perfectly good hand jobs from literally anywhere else. But lest I be accused of pretentiousness, yeah, Marvel's Spider-Man was a good game with a stimulating core gameplay loop, and in contrast with the other really big releases, like Red Dead Redemption 2, exhibited a considerably more restrained use of horses' buttholes.
Ubisoft sandboxes most definitely have a permanent booking at the Blandford Heights Hotel, but I think Assassin's Creed Odyssey deserves particular mention for being the Assassin's Creed game that finally made me bored of the whole sordid business. Assassin's Creed 3 didn't do that with its pulse-pounding document signing action, but Odyssey did it by forcing me to spend an hour chipping away at a minotaur with a sword that I wasn't convinced hadn't been replaced with a sword-shaped novelty bath sponge.
It may interest you to know that all three of my lists this year feature a survival game, and furthermore, the worst game list's entry isn't Fallout 76! For all its greedy corporate buggery, misuse of beloved established IP, and being just plain boring and shitty to play after all that, there was another game that beat it on all three of those fronts. Look no further than Metal Gear Survive! You can't look any further anyway, 'cuz you'll be too busy wincing and tearing up.
So, we go straight from worst survival game to best. Pay attention, every other survival game! Because here's how Subnautica (title drop) stands out from the crowd: not using a focus on exploration and crafting as an excuse to skimp on good story, a beautiful exotic world so utterly hostile that you want to keep surviving largely out of spite, and most importantly, NO OTHER COCKING HUMAN PLAYERS! Human contact is like Joss Whedon's Firefly; I tried it once or twice, but it's not really my thing.
Rise of the Tomb Raider was my third most mediocre game of 2015, and now Shadow of the Tomb Raider has made it proud by hitting the number two spot. Now that the reboot trilogy has finished sandblasting the personality off Lara Croft, any chance we can go back to the old one? She might have been constantly pouting like she was trying to conceal an entire Portuguese man o' war in her mouth, but at least that was a facial expression of some kind!
There are some bad games that are bad because they fail in what they set out to do, and then there are those that are bad because they succeed, because what they set out to do was gross and dumb. Agony would've been bad enough with its terrible design and confusing story, but did they really have to construct the entire gameworld out of moist vaginas? I mean, I normally like vaginas, but now I'll never be able to look at a pulled pork sandwich the same way.
Game of the Year
Well, my 2018 game of the year should come as no surprise since I've recommended it to every person, dog, and houseplant I've conversed with since it came out. Lucas Pope's Return of the Obra Dinn is the kind of thing that restores a man's faith in artistic game design by using an original and engaging core mechanic to tell a story in an utterly unique way. Also, if for whatever reason you need samples of death rattles from brawny European sailors, you won't find a better source, you weirdo.
But for the year's blandest, we return to the world of survival games as well as the world of full frontal nudity. And it doesn't get much blander than the game that would have me grind up 200 rocks to build a fucking rabbit hutch: Conan Exiles. Not even titties could liven this one up, mainly because playing Cone On Textiles for the nudity would've been like tying a bungee cord to yourself and trying to use a fleshlight at the far end of a very long corridor.
The worst game of 2018 was, like the Devil and weird sex practices, known by many names. The Seven Hour Snore, Hunt Down the Refund, Shit Down the Piss-shit, call it whatever you like! Just never forget what Hunt Down the Freeman was and what it represented: a cringe-fest that unstitched its thoughtless patchwork of stolen assets to whip out its diseased knob and dispense blood-flecked urine all over a once top-rate franchise, with the tacit approval of its creator!
Fuck, man! What else is there to say? I suppose I could say "fuck" again. No, that's the wrong attitude; it's a new year, after all! Let's move on from the past and focus on what the future will bring!
(Super Smash Bros. Ultimate waiting for review)
- At the end of all things: Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw
- Opinions are, as always, Yahtzee Croshaw's alone and should not be used as evidence against the human race
- Happy new drinking!
The games that almost made it
- + Good for a Ubisoft sandbox
- - A Ubisoft sandbox
- - No redeeming qualities
- + At least mercifully brief
- - Lazy cash-in sequel
- + Still fun to stick jet thrusters to goats
- - Britain at its most boring
- + ... if it weren't for We Happy Few
- + Engaging and funny
- - Preferred it when Lucas Pope did it
- + Ehhhhhhhhhhhh
- - Ehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh