Mike’s 2018 Games of the Year

Hoo boy. Alright yeah I’ll do one of these. 2018 was my first year having a steady job, which meant I was able to buy video games and roughly keep up with the year’s releases! That said, this was also the year I bought a Switch and I’m in love with it, so this list will probably skew heavily in that direction.
Gonna try to keep the list to ten, in the interest of making myself make hard choices. Without further ado, and in no particular order, here’s…

My Favorite Games of 2018

Celeste was one of the first indies I grabbed on Switch, and apart from the feeling of the controls rocketing me back to those college nights playing TowerFall at my friend Dave’s house, I was immediately struck by the beauty and robustness of the pixel art and animation, but even moreso by that INCREDIBLE music. Celeste’s soundtrack is easily the best video game music of the year, if not all time. This game feels so goddamn incredible to play, and I know it’s earned a spot in my overall Top Ten Games, not just 2018. It’s perfect.
I played Into the Breach A TON on PC with my friend Zac in Chicago for our (usually) weekly video game nights. It was an absolute blast. Then, when it was announced that the game was out on Switch, I was in a hotel room in Los Angeles while traveling for work, and I jumped up and yelled as soon as I heard. Then I immediately started installing the game. I love Into the Breach, and I can’t wait to pump more time into it on the train forever.
Hollow Knight came out on PC last year, and like everyone else, I ignored it. But once I got my hands on a Switch, and with a hearty recommendation from my pal Olly, I finally grabbed it. It’s such a beautiful masterpiece, tonally and mechanically. Exploration is exciting and enticing, and the game leads you along nicely without any handholding. The art style is adorable, the tone is frightening, and I can’t get enough.
Hey, I wrote like 1,400 words on how great Moonlighter is, so I’m just gonna say: Yeah. It’s wonderful.
I didn’t get around to playing Mario’s latest adventure until I got a Switch this year, and as you may have heard, it’s such a delight! The music, the art, the pacing, the controls, the game feel, it all just comes together beautifully. Games like this are where the term “Nintendo Polish” comes from. There’s nothing better than dressing Mario up in a spacesuit and flinging him off towards the next moon.
This one comes in just in time! I grabbed the new Smash the weekend it was released, and played 20 hours basically non-stop from that point. There are some neat new features like the Spirit Board this time around, the conceit of which is pretty wonderful. But honestly, the prospect of EVERY character ever in a Smash Bros. game being playable, and the thought of how much work must have gone into this title, is a little too impressive and exciting to pass up. It’s Smash on the Switch. C’mon.
A lot of people hate No Man’s Sky. And that’s fine. I don’t get it, but it’s fine. But with this massive update, dubbed “Next,” the game’s options have been expanded, and the quality of life updates have smoothed over most of the corners I had minor issues with. When I went back to NMS for the Next update, I found myself streaming the game to my MacBook to play in bed for hours on end. I say, well done, Hello Games. They deserve it.
Dead Cells finally launched out of Early Access this year, and came to Switch! The two are a wonderful pair (something I will probably say about every game on the platform). The game’s pace and loop have such momentum to them, that any failure only propels you forward into the next run. All this, and of course I told myself that any game for which I purchased a physical special edition had to make the list 😬💖
Hey! Hey you! Go play this game! A cute little game about a rascally raccoon siccing his donut shop’s holes on people, Donut County is not only great, relaxing fun, it’s also impeccably written, from the dialogue to the little item descriptions you can read at the end of each level. The art is fantastic, the little musical cues are delightful, and it’s all over in just about 10 hours! It’s available on a ton of platforms, too! Even if you don’t like video games all that much, I can honestly promise you that you’ll love Donut County. Go forth and devour a town!
I bought this game on Switch when I already owned it on PC (of course, this is not the only game on this list for which this is true), played through both campaigns (the original and the Plus version addition), and played dozens of hours of its Blue Spheres bonus stage to make a video ridiculing myself. and furthermore I LOVE SONIC THE HEDGEHOG OF COURSE IT MADE THE LIST I LOVE YOU SONIC DID YOU HEAR ME HAVE YOU BEEN RECEIVING MY LETTERS CAN’T YOU SEE I’M IN LO—
SUCCESS! That’s my big ol’ games list of 2018! Let me know what you’re looking forward to playing in the new year, and how different your list looked this year!
Happy gaming!

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