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Looking back on 2018, I wouldn’t say it was chock full of amazing games. In fact, there was only a handful that really stood out. The interesting thing, though, is that those few were some of the best I had played in years. Basically, you could say it was a year of quality over quantity. Two of my top five I started the year knowing I would love, but the other three were complete surprises. If you haven’t tried any of the titles in my list, I suggest you check them out at some point, even if only to argue with me.


#5 Publisher: Matt Makes Games Inc.
Developer: Matt Makes Games Inc.
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC
Celeste

I love a good challenge, especially from a platformer. It wasn’t until the release of Celeste that I had really felt myself being pushed, and while it might not have been on too many players’ radars, it stuck with me as one of my favorites of the year. Celeste has the type of level design that makes you shudder each time you start a new stage. What seems nearly impossible at first slowly gets easier as you practice, reminding you that this game is about skill and not just collecting the right powerup. Sure, I died hundreds of times on many levels and screamed out loud often, but I’ll never forget the euphoria I felt when getting past a particularly difficult stage.


#4 Publisher: Motion Twin
Developer: Motion Twin
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC
Dead Cells

Similar to my number five pick, Dead Cells didn’t disappoint in the challenge department. Even though I’m newer to the roguelike experience, I was fairly hyped for Motion Twin’s take on the subgenre because of its use of the “live, die, repeat” formula in a platforming setting. I thought I would have to suffer through the roguelike element, but it turned out to be one of my favorite aspects. I loved seeing how far I could go across the various maps, knowing that my success wasn’t tied to having a certain weapon or power but rather came down to my skill as a player. The dark and grimy art direction offered an interesting contrast to the beautiful score, making for a rather unique experience all around. In the end, Dead Cells is one that I won’t be forgetting for a while.


#3 Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC
Mega Man 11

Mega Man is one of my top five favorite franchises of all time, which is why Mega Man 11 was always destined to be on this list. Of course, if it had ended up being a stain on the series I wouldn’t have included it, but it was as amazing as I had hoped. I’ve been a fan of the new 2.5D art style ever since it was first revealed, and when experiencing it in action, it felt like the right step forward for the series. More importantly, Mega Man 11‘s updates to the series’ gameplay were what won me over, from the easy-to-access Robot Master ability Rolodex to the fun Double Gear system to the fantastic Robot Master designs. The game reaffirmed why Mega Man has worked for as long as it has and that there are still more adventures to be made.


#2 Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Developer: SIE Santa Monica Studio
Platforms: PS4
God of War

God of War was perhaps the most surprising game of 2018 for me. I’ve been a casual fan of the series for a few years, and while this game looked like it would likely be great, I had low expectations. Admittedly, I thought Atreus was going to be an annoying sidekick that would make the entire game feel like one horrible assist mission, but once I realized he was a huge asset, the other strengths of the game fell into place. God of War offered the most heartfelt and engaging story in the series so far, and the switch to an over-the-shoulder camera made it all the more intimate. Plus, I never got tired of chucking Kratos’ ax around and calling it back. Games need more of that.


#1 Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Bandai Namco Studios, Sora Ltd.
Platforms: Switch
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

If you would’ve told me at the start of the year that I was going to love Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, I wouldn’t have been shocked. If you went on to say that the game’s single-player content was going to be my favorite aspect, though, I would’ve shoved you back into your time machine. While I unsurprisingly had a blast with the huge roster of fighters and playing Smash battles with friends again, it was World of Light and the Spirits that hooked me into Ultimate. I’m a sucker for RPGs and I never expected a Super Smash Bros. game to offer a simple but perfect version of one. The strategy of mixing and matching Spirits for the quirky but ingenious World of Light battles satisfied me for hours. Plus, as a collector, I loved seeing there are over 1,200 of them to find. I just love this game so much.


The Shiny Hunter’s Dream Award
Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Let’s Go, Eevee

Shiny hunting in the Pokémon series has been around since the release of Pokémon Gold and Silver, but it wasn’t until this year that the hobby went from good to great. Pokémon: Let’s Go took a different approach to wild Pokémon encounters by letting players see the ‘mons in the overworld, which streamlined the standard tedious practice of running through wild grass and waiting for a random encounter. It also meant that players could run through an area and see if any shiny Pokémon were roaming about within seconds. For shiny fans, this has revolutionized the experience and, more importantly, has made shiny hunting more common across the entire Pokémon community.


The Remaster Appreciation Award
Castlevania Requiem

This year was full of amazing remasters, from Spyro Reignited Trilogy to Dark Souls, but one in particular had me giddy. Konami finally heard the cries of Castlevania fans and brought two of its best to PlayStation 4 with Castlevania Requiem: Symphony of the Night & Rondo of Blood. I’ll admit that the collection itself wasn’t anything too special, and the menu to reach the games was downright offensive, but having two of my all-time favorite platformers on a modern console was more than good enough. As a more recent trophy hunter, I was also ecstatic to be able to hunt down Platinum for both games, making my love for the series more apparent than ever.


The Reason I Got Through 2018 Award
Kingdom Hearts III

Anyone who knows me is keenly aware of my adoration for Kingdom Hearts. Ever since the first entry in the series launched in 2002, I was hooked, which has made Kingdom Hearts III‘s long development slightly unbearable. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve actually loved the spin-off entries, but my hunger for lore won’t be quenched until I know how the Keyblade War ends. That’s why the news that the game wouldn’t be coming until January 2019 made me officially hate 2018 and want it to end. However, the many trailers and teases this year have turned me around. So, thank you, Kingdom Hearts, for making this year better for me.

EGM’s Best of 2018 Coverage
We’re taking a look at the best games of 2018 all week, from December 24th through January 1st. Check back every day for our Top 25 Games of 2018, as well as our personal lists for the games we loved most this year. Check here for everything that’s been posted so far.

Read More

About Evan Slead

view all posts

Evan has been loving games since he could hold a controller. When not replaying Megaman X or Castlevania: Symphony of the Night for the 100th time, he also has been writing about entertainment, from horror movie reviews for Bloody Good Horror to TV recaps and general news for Entertainment Weekly, and now all things gaming. Say hello on Twitter at @EvanSlead.

EGM’s Best of 2018: Evan Slead’s Editor Awards

For today's personal list, Evan gives his thoughts on the year in gaming that was 2018.

By Evan Slead | 12/25/2018 09:00 AM PT | Updated 01/22/2019 04:10 PM PT

Features

Looking back on 2018, I wouldn’t say it was chock full of amazing games. In fact, there was only a handful that really stood out. The interesting thing, though, is that those few were some of the best I had played in years. Basically, you could say it was a year of quality over quantity. Two of my top five I started the year knowing I would love, but the other three were complete surprises. If you haven’t tried any of the titles in my list, I suggest you check them out at some point, even if only to argue with me.


#5 Publisher: Matt Makes Games Inc.
Developer: Matt Makes Games Inc.
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC
Celeste

I love a good challenge, especially from a platformer. It wasn’t until the release of Celeste that I had really felt myself being pushed, and while it might not have been on too many players’ radars, it stuck with me as one of my favorites of the year. Celeste has the type of level design that makes you shudder each time you start a new stage. What seems nearly impossible at first slowly gets easier as you practice, reminding you that this game is about skill and not just collecting the right powerup. Sure, I died hundreds of times on many levels and screamed out loud often, but I’ll never forget the euphoria I felt when getting past a particularly difficult stage.


#4 Publisher: Motion Twin
Developer: Motion Twin
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC
Dead Cells

Similar to my number five pick, Dead Cells didn’t disappoint in the challenge department. Even though I’m newer to the roguelike experience, I was fairly hyped for Motion Twin’s take on the subgenre because of its use of the “live, die, repeat” formula in a platforming setting. I thought I would have to suffer through the roguelike element, but it turned out to be one of my favorite aspects. I loved seeing how far I could go across the various maps, knowing that my success wasn’t tied to having a certain weapon or power but rather came down to my skill as a player. The dark and grimy art direction offered an interesting contrast to the beautiful score, making for a rather unique experience all around. In the end, Dead Cells is one that I won’t be forgetting for a while.


#3 Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, Switch, PC
Mega Man 11

Mega Man is one of my top five favorite franchises of all time, which is why Mega Man 11 was always destined to be on this list. Of course, if it had ended up being a stain on the series I wouldn’t have included it, but it was as amazing as I had hoped. I’ve been a fan of the new 2.5D art style ever since it was first revealed, and when experiencing it in action, it felt like the right step forward for the series. More importantly, Mega Man 11‘s updates to the series’ gameplay were what won me over, from the easy-to-access Robot Master ability Rolodex to the fun Double Gear system to the fantastic Robot Master designs. The game reaffirmed why Mega Man has worked for as long as it has and that there are still more adventures to be made.


#2 Publisher: Sony Interactive Entertainment
Developer: SIE Santa Monica Studio
Platforms: PS4
God of War

God of War was perhaps the most surprising game of 2018 for me. I’ve been a casual fan of the series for a few years, and while this game looked like it would likely be great, I had low expectations. Admittedly, I thought Atreus was going to be an annoying sidekick that would make the entire game feel like one horrible assist mission, but once I realized he was a huge asset, the other strengths of the game fell into place. God of War offered the most heartfelt and engaging story in the series so far, and the switch to an over-the-shoulder camera made it all the more intimate. Plus, I never got tired of chucking Kratos’ ax around and calling it back. Games need more of that.


#1 Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Bandai Namco Studios, Sora Ltd.
Platforms: Switch
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

If you would’ve told me at the start of the year that I was going to love Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, I wouldn’t have been shocked. If you went on to say that the game’s single-player content was going to be my favorite aspect, though, I would’ve shoved you back into your time machine. While I unsurprisingly had a blast with the huge roster of fighters and playing Smash battles with friends again, it was World of Light and the Spirits that hooked me into Ultimate. I’m a sucker for RPGs and I never expected a Super Smash Bros. game to offer a simple but perfect version of one. The strategy of mixing and matching Spirits for the quirky but ingenious World of Light battles satisfied me for hours. Plus, as a collector, I loved seeing there are over 1,200 of them to find. I just love this game so much.


The Shiny Hunter’s Dream Award
Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! and Let’s Go, Eevee

Shiny hunting in the Pokémon series has been around since the release of Pokémon Gold and Silver, but it wasn’t until this year that the hobby went from good to great. Pokémon: Let’s Go took a different approach to wild Pokémon encounters by letting players see the ‘mons in the overworld, which streamlined the standard tedious practice of running through wild grass and waiting for a random encounter. It also meant that players could run through an area and see if any shiny Pokémon were roaming about within seconds. For shiny fans, this has revolutionized the experience and, more importantly, has made shiny hunting more common across the entire Pokémon community.


The Remaster Appreciation Award
Castlevania Requiem

This year was full of amazing remasters, from Spyro Reignited Trilogy to Dark Souls, but one in particular had me giddy. Konami finally heard the cries of Castlevania fans and brought two of its best to PlayStation 4 with Castlevania Requiem: Symphony of the Night & Rondo of Blood. I’ll admit that the collection itself wasn’t anything too special, and the menu to reach the games was downright offensive, but having two of my all-time favorite platformers on a modern console was more than good enough. As a more recent trophy hunter, I was also ecstatic to be able to hunt down Platinum for both games, making my love for the series more apparent than ever.


The Reason I Got Through 2018 Award
Kingdom Hearts III

Anyone who knows me is keenly aware of my adoration for Kingdom Hearts. Ever since the first entry in the series launched in 2002, I was hooked, which has made Kingdom Hearts III‘s long development slightly unbearable. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve actually loved the spin-off entries, but my hunger for lore won’t be quenched until I know how the Keyblade War ends. That’s why the news that the game wouldn’t be coming until January 2019 made me officially hate 2018 and want it to end. However, the many trailers and teases this year have turned me around. So, thank you, Kingdom Hearts, for making this year better for me.

EGM’s Best of 2018 Coverage
We’re taking a look at the best games of 2018 all week, from December 24th through January 1st. Check back every day for our Top 25 Games of 2018, as well as our personal lists for the games we loved most this year. Check here for everything that’s been posted so far.

Read More


About Evan Slead

view all posts

Evan has been loving games since he could hold a controller. When not replaying Megaman X or Castlevania: Symphony of the Night for the 100th time, he also has been writing about entertainment, from horror movie reviews for Bloody Good Horror to TV recaps and general news for Entertainment Weekly, and now all things gaming. Say hello on Twitter at @EvanSlead.