Ian Preschel’s Top Eight Games of 2018
Hi! I’m Ian Preschel, Editor-at-Large here at OK Beast. I host the A+ Anime Podcast, appear frequently on our Patreon-exclusive show Stir Fry, and co-host the OK Beast Podcast. This year has been an interesting and refreshing year for video games. Older games have been revived and newer games have released with fresh, interesting takes that have revitalized the gaming industry for me. This year might’ve brought forth difficulties and challenges for all of us but at least we had some fun gaming experiences along the way. So here are some of my favorite games of 2018!
8. Into the Breach
The appeal of Into the Breach, for me at least, is hard to describe. Into the Breach is a sci-fi game where you need to protect resources and eliminate aliens to protect the world from devastation, but that is merely a facade to cover up this intense, mechanically dense, strategy game. Admittedly, I am usually more enthralled by fast paced action games but something about Into the Breach’s gameplay grabbed me and sparked an itch I’d try to scratch day after day following it’s launch. Each team of mechs and pilots you unlock create an endless combination of possibilities that made me want to play for hours on end. Very few games can make me feel like a tactical genius and make my triumphs feel as intense as my failures and that is why it’s one of my favorite games of the year.
7. Tetris Effect
Tetris is a game that most people have experience with. Whether it is in an arcade, on your phone, or your gaming handheld its a property that is well known throughout pop culture. Very rarely can something so well known and honed can change in such a drastic way and still feel the same way it has in the past. Tetris Effect is able to capture that feeling of the original Tetris while simultaneously creating an audio visual experience that is something completely new for me. Everything you do in Tetris Effect creates a new sound, tone, or musical note which corresponds to the music being played in the current level you are playing. Some levels I didn’t want to finish just so I could keep creating these small musical strings. It’s something that I have never experienced before and I am going to be playing this game for months to come.
6. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
There are few games in existence that can create the experiences that Super Smash Brothers creates. A fun, yet competitive environment that nearly everyone can participate in and have fun.
Your 7 year old brothers? Yep.
Your Grandma? Yep.
Your spouse who doesn’t play video games? Yep!
Everyone. As someone who has never been competitive in fighting games due to personal frustration and difficulty this game has been able to breath new life into my fighting spirit. Not only does it create a positive environment for both the most competitive player and for the most casual it also has a bevy of modes for different types of players to enjoy. Spirits mode is a healthy dose of nostalgia while Classic Mode provides a solid challenge with some awesome references to your favorite game characters. Overall, it’s one of my favorite multiplayer experiences this year and I have a feeling that I will be playing this game for years to come.
5. Marvel’s Spider-Man
Spiderman is, and always will be, one of my favorite superheroes. He’s a hero who is able to bridge the gap between average person and high flying savior of New York. More importantly his stories always featured down to earth, real characters that felt like you actually knew them and I am happy to report that Spiderman did not disappoint. Spiderman took the tone and stories that we all know and love and was able to change minor details to make the story surprising, engaging and enjoyable. Spiderman was able to bring great narrative and engaging gameplay. Most open world games lose their luster after a few hours but Spiderman was organized in an approachable and well thought out way. I always felt like I was completing tasks and being challenged without feeling like my experience was bogged down with bloat or throw away content. Spiderman’s amazing story coupled with its engaging gameplay loop made for one of my favorite experiences all year and I think you should go and check it out (let’s be real you already bought it).
Toby Fox is a creator who is able to breath life and spirit into every game that he creates. From his worldwide hit Undertale to his Earthbound Halloween ROM hacks it’s apparent that his writing and game design talent are truly what make his games feel like they are a cut above the rest. Deltarune is no exception.
Deltarune is able to take the style, gameplay, and music of Undertale and improve upon it in minor ways that make this game a fresh and fun experience. Even though Deltarune is *technically* a demo for a game that may never be finished it feels like this labor of love that has been painstakingly produced with the express purpose of creating smile inducing journey. It’s hard to capture in words why Deltarune and by extension Undertale have gained such massive popularity but Toby’s heart and soul feel as though they are on display when you play his games and that’s why it’s one of my favorite games this year.
3. Octopath Traveler
I have to be honest. I have a love-hate relationship with Octopath Traveler.
This game more than any other has brought me hours and hours of joy and intrigue through both it’s gameplay and its narratives. Its world has these various locations that have a distinct and lived in feel that makes it feel different from other RPGs and its pixel art is some of the most intricate and detailed sprite work that I have ever seen. It’s a game that is stunning in many ways and had me playing it for hours on end.
When I finally reached the final secret boss encounter I was amazed at house each characters story was able to weave into another. Minor characters from one traveler would be main players in another characters journey. This final stretch reveal was something that was able to surprise me even after 80 hours of gameplay and for that Octopath deserves high praise. However, this is not a game without flaws or imperfections. At times the journey of Octopath felt disjointed and disconnected. Each characters narrative journey felt like this individual journey that was only meant for them to experience but then during the gameplay your team would still fight by your side assisting you in any encounter. This was something that bothered me throughout my time playing the game and I wish that the game was able to have characters interact both story-wise and throughout the interactive parts of the game. That and the final secret boss encounter were my only points of real frustration throughout an overall rewarding and interesting experience. Cheers to a new IP with tons of potential that was able to capture my heart with it’s amazing adventure.
2. Pokémon Let’s Go
We have all played a Pokemon Game before. Most of us know the intricacies associated with starting up a new Pokemon adventure. We meet with Professor Oak. We meet our first pokemon partner. We fight our rival.
Slowly over time these touchstones became ingrained into our brains from a very young age and we have been going on these journeys year after year since our adolescence. With the newest Pokemon game releasing I was hesitant that it wasn’t going to meet my lofty expectations. I have been a Pokemon an for years but I have been craving a new experience when it came to catching those pocket monsters that I know and love and I am happy to say that Pokemon: Let’s Go met all of my expectations.
Pokemon Lets Go was able to meet the needs of both new and old fans alike. Creating a world that feels both new and familiar is a task that I thought was impossible but is managed here perfectly with the world of Kanto. The game looks great visually but also is able to surprise mechanically. Initially I was scared and tepid of the new catching mechanic but now after playing through the game I think that it’s a welcome change to the normal formula. In fact, I think that it would be interesting to see if the new catching mechanics is brought back for the new Pokemon releasing next year. Overall Pokemon is able to entice new fans and entertain old fans simultaneously and I think with having over 10 games in the series that is something that should not go unnoticed.
1. Monster Hunter: World
It should be no surprise to anyone that this game is my game of the year. Monster Hunter is a series that I have always loved and have been very passionate about and with the addition of Monster Hunter world I think that this series is finally getting the love and recognition that it deserves.
Previous monster hunter games have always felt lacking when it came to graphical fidelity and the world building. Unfortunately due to the limitations of previous consoles it felt like Monster hunter was always hamstrung by the system it was housed on. Now with its conversion to the PlayStation ecosystem it feels like Monster Hunter is finally free to grow into the game that I always wanted it to be.
Monster Hunter World has an beautiful lived in world. Tiny creatures are always moving throughout the brush as you chase after your targets and various vegetation is scattered throughout the world that you can use to heal your hunter or pester your prey. Now more than ever it feels like you are hunting monsters in their habitat and you need to adapt and be aware before you become a master hunter.
Not only has the game improved graphically it has also improved mechanically. Without being saddled to the 3DS and PSP you can now comfortably hunt without any muscular strain which was a staggering problem in previous versions. With the addition of a training room hunters can now practice combos and new hunting builds without wasting their time. Many mechanics that were obfuscated or annoying in previous version are now streamlined and more approachable for both new and veteran hunters.
Monster Hunter World managed to deepen older mechanics while being accessible enough for new players to join in and have fun. It’s one of my favorite games of all time and I still find myself playing it whenever new updates are available and that’s why it was an easy choice for my personal game of the year.