The Year in Review: The Games Blake Played in 2018



For me, 2018 was an exceptional year for video games. Some disappointed, but I played some really great stuff that I will keep returning to for years to come. In no particular order, these are the games I played in 2018.

God of War

God of War (2018) is one of those rare games that is so good it manages to lift up the rest of the franchise. When I finished it, I had a strong desire to immediately go back and play through the first three (main) games—something I never actually had time for. From the combat system to the storytelling, the game defied my expectations on so many levels and was not only one of my favorite games of the year, but one of my favorites of all time. It also helps that the structure in many ways reminded me of my absolute favorite game, The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.

Dead Cells

I have a complicated relationship with Rogue-Likes and Rogue-Lites—I don’t think I’ve ever beaten one. Maybe Spelunky. I don’t remember. Anyway, Dead Cells is a Rogue-Lite Action Platformer that invokes Castlevania without feeling too derivative. Dead Cells is fresh and full of great ideas. I still haven’t beaten it, but I got many rewarding hours out of the game.

Donut County

Donut County was a joy from beginning to end. The writing made me smile and the Katamari-like mechanics were simple but fun. It wound up being the perfect game to play on my phone while I was unwinding from the day.

Call of Duty: Black Ops IIII [sic]

I hadn’t played a Call of Duty game since Black Ops II, but Black Ops IIII [sic], with its new Battle Royale-inspired Blackout mode,  seemed like a good place to check back in. It was a shame they removed single player from Black Ops IIII [sic], but between Zombies, Blackout, and the regular multiplayer, it is a complete package. I like Black Ops IIII [sic] quite a bit.

Dragon Quest XI

Dragon Quest XI makes me wish I was back in college again and able to have marathon sessions in front of the TV playing video games. It threads a needle I didn’t think was possible in 2018 by being unapologetically a classic JRPG in structure and mechanics while still bringing the genre into modern gaming. While the Final Fantasy franchise reinvents itself with each numbered sequel, Dragon Quest XI celebrates not just its own history, but the genre’s as well.

Smash Bros. Ultimate

I don’t think Smash Bros. Ultimate quite earns the “Ultimate” in its title, but it comes damn close. The roster is amazing and it is a blast to play with friends. I just wish it had a dedicated “Run” button and that they hadn’t gotten rid of trophies.

Monster Hunter World

Monster Hunter World finally made the impenetrable Monster Hunter franchise work for me. I could always tell that the series had something going for it and tried time and time again to get into the past games. MHW ironed out a lot of the past games’ problems and then added a verticality to the world that made it something very special. I can’t wait to see if a Monster Hunter World 2 can fix the odd online structure and bring the franchise to true greatness.

Red Dead Redemption 2

Red Dead Redemption 2 is a fascinating product and a VERY expensive art piece. For better or worse, the game has a tone and pace that it will not let you stray from. I loved the tone and pace at first, but after setting it down for the holidays, it seems impossible to return to.

Forza Horizon 4

Forza Horizon 4 is a damn good racing game and the seasons are a neat twist on the genre. I just wish the NPCs weren’t so annoying and that the character selections weren’t so… douchey.

Super Mario Party Deluxe

I like Super Mario Party Deluxe. It is a return to form for the series after 9 and 10 went some bad directions. If only Nintendo could speed up the damn pace of these games. Get me to the mini-games!

Castlevania (NES)

I played a lot of the original Castlevania in 2018. I still can’t beat it without save state scumming, but I’m getting better! Castlevania is a fantastic game that still holds up and I can’t help but see the roots of the Souls games in it and its sequel, Simon’s Quest.

Hollow Knight

Speaking of the Souls series, Hollow Knight is almost a perfect 2D translation of the formula. The developers seemed to understand most of what makes a Souls game so good—the tone, the storytelling, the pace—but parts of the game were a bit too padded and tedious, keeping Hollow Knight from being great.


Chasm‘s heart is in the right place, but the procedurally generated metroidvania’s combat and platforming failed to grab me.

Hitman 2

Hitman 2 is more of what made me love the last game. It adds a few new mechanics like making reflections matter, blending into crowds, and hiding in tall grass, but the core of the game remains the same as its 2016 episodic counterpart. One really cool thing about the last game is that the developer never stopped working on it. They updated UI and mechanics over the life of the game and took every bit of that knowledge into Hitman 2. I’m thrilled IO Interactive could make things work after Square Enix dropped them.


Prey is a great game for anybody looking for something a little mechanically deeper than the BioShock games, but it still falls into the “Shock” genre’s traps. Prey is a game about completing what should be a simple task and then throwing countless obstacles in the player’s path. The obstacles soon start to feel overly manufactured.

Dishonored 2

While Hitman 2 is a positive example of “more of the same with a few new bells and whistles,” Dishonored 2 was a slog through familiar mechanics broken up by bad new ideas. The new set piece ideas in Dishonored 2 only served to restrict the player in uninteresting ways and made the game downright tedious. Dishonored 2 was probably the most disappointing game I played in 2018. The ending was even a retread of the first game’s DLC…

RetroPie Tinkering

Like 2017, I spent a lot of time in 2018 tinkering with my Raspberry Pi, trying to build the perfect emulation box. I got close! But I’ve recently started from scratch once again. It can always be better and I doubt I’ll ever be fully finished with my pursuit of the perfect build. And if I ever am satisfied, I’m sure the Raspberry Pi 4 will get me going all over again.

A Link to the Past Randomizer

A Link to the Past Randomizer is the game I wish I had had more time to play in 2018. For those that don’t know, it is a rom hack of the The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past that randomizes all chests and item drops in the game. It has a ton of customizable options and put some new life into a game that I can practically play with my eyes closed.

A Night in the Woods

Once A Night in the Woods was out on Switch, I had no choice but to cave to Sean’s insistence that I play it. I’m glad I did! It defied my expectations in so many ways and I can’t recommend it enough. The dream platforming sections are bad, though…. You’ll have to suffer through those to get to the good stuff.

Metal Gear Survive

To enjoy Metal Gear Survive, you need to throw out all expectations. If you come to it expecting a meaningful continuation of Kojima’s classic series, you’ll walk away disappointed. The story ends up feeling like a “Twilight Zone” episode that exists within the Metal Gear universe and it is dumb in the best possible ways. Overall, I liked it and I’m glad I played it. It won’t be for everybody, but it isn’t without merit.

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