Blessing Adeoye’s Top Ten Games of 2018

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2018 was an interesting year for me. I started a Patreon with my friends and it received an overwhelming amount of support. I won Kinda Funny Prom King after dropping a rap diss on Twitter that reached over 20,000 streams. I appeared on two PAX Panels; one of them being hosted by Spawn On Me and the other by Greg Miller. My friends and I raised over $2,000 in under 24 hours for Extra Life. I even got to appear in the Kinda Funny Games Showcase alongside names like Ed Boon, Funhaus, and Sisqo. It was a crazy year and if you told me that all of these things would happen for me a few years ago, I wouldn’t have believed you because all of it sounds way too nonsensical to be true. This year was wild and despite all of these wonderful highlights, I’m writing this list at sort of a weird time.

As of the time I’m writing this piece, this week sucked. It was bad. VERY bad. In fact, 2018 as a whole was truly a tough year for me. Many reasons I won’t mention here (sorry, I’m a private dude what can I say), but it ranges. I’ve felt more stress this year than I have ever felt before. I’ve gotten more angry more often this year due to not only the circumstances around me but because of what I see the world going through. Since high school I’ve dealt with depression and anxiety and those came for me in a big way even within the last couple of months. Issues of self-identity that I thought I had left behind YEARS ago have even come back to haunt me. It’s the worst, and I hate talking about it. I really do. But, it’s all been as relevant to my 2018 as everything I mentioned in the previous paragraph.

I mention all of this to say that I am beyond blessed to have a community of people that support me despite both my obvious and non-obvious flaws that I deal with. Alex, Ian, Brandon, and even Moises (sometimes) are an incredible support system and without them, of course this site wouldn’t be what it is but also I wouldn’t be able to do the crazy things that I’ve been able to do this year. Same goes for Nato as a part of A+ Anime, Roger as a part of Super Throne Watch, and Fiona as a part of Nuke This. It even goes the same for people in the OK Beast community that support us despite us being a trash fire most of the time. Johnny, Chris, other Chris, Chase, Karl, Paul, Ed, Riana, Nu, Clyclone, Caitlin, and literally everyone who supports us on Patreon (who I can’t list here because it would take all day), thank you. Because without you none of this happens.

In a year that has had its ups and downs for my personal life, video games have been a different story. This year for video games was pretty great! It’s been weird to see a lot of games that seemingly have a specific appeal to me release in 2018. Shadow of the Colossus, Spider-Man 2, and the Dragon Ball Z fighting games on PlayStation 2 were and are some of my favorite games of all time. Same goes for Pokemon and Super Smash Bros. To see a new iteration of all of these franchises release this year has been a dream come true for me. I even got a new Quantic Dream game to quench that Heavy Rain thirst that Beyond: Two Souls couldn’t quite help with. It’s been a pretty good year and so to commemorate, here are some pretty good games:

Honorable Mentions:

Forza Horizon 4

It’s Forza Horizon 3 with more seasons.

Shadow of The Colossus

It’s Shadow of The Colossus with more textures.

Tetris Effect

It’s Tetris with more drugs.

Top Ten:

10. Dead Cells

Dead Cells was an addiction for me in August. Ever since I played Rogue Legacy, I’ve been a fan of Roguelites for their strategic gameplay and addictive nature. So I was ecstatic when Dead Cells released because I haven’t had a good one of these in a while; and oh boy did it deliver. Not only is the game addictive, but it’s challenging in all of the right ways. Figuring out what weapons and abilities worked best for me and using those abilities to decimate enemies, bosses, and anything in my way felt especially gratifying when a few runs before those same enemies were punishing me. Combat is especially fun because of the options available. Bow and arrows, freeze blasts, various types of swords, and a large assortment of equipment are diversified through procedural generation of stats and attributes. As someone who really likes systems-driven gameplay, this really spoke to me. Finding the best loadout possible and sharing my weapons of choice with my friends through screenshots on Twitter make up some of my favorite memories with Dead Cells.

9. Celeste

During one of the first loading screens that I encountered while playing Celeste, a message from the developer popped up that encouraged losing. This message stated that I should be proud of my death-count because every death meant that I was becoming better. That philosophy was my driving force while playing Celeste. The strive to become better and conquer the game’s literal and metaphorical mountains is core to what the game is about. Celeste’s message of perseverance and overcoming is one that I originally found to be simple but over the course of the game really took hold of me. This message coupled with its straightforward control scheme and complex platforming obstacles is what propelled the game to being one of my favorite experiences this year. I love 2D platformers and Celeste’s challenging, yet clever design encompasses everything I love about them.

The crowning jewel of Celeste is of course its platform level design. I can’t overstate it enough, it’s remarkably good. The different stages introduce varying mechanics and the way the obstacles progress and play with these mechanics is masterful. Every obstacle feels cleverly made and each stage tries to push every mechanic to its limit. What’s even more impressive is that Celeste’s challenge fits within the themes and narrative of the game. The more I struggled as a player, the more the struggles of the main character resonated with me. It’s a beautiful way of telling the story through the game itself, and the challenge of the game is carried through with wonderful design. Celeste is not afraid to push the limit of what it asks the player to accomplish. Even with this being the case, every platforming puzzle felt fair. The ones that appear gruelingly difficult can be conquered with enough effort. This goes double for the B-Sides stages.

The 2D platforming genre has seen its classics. Series of games such as Super Mario Bros, Donkey Kong Country, and Super Meat Boy have cemented themselves as benchmarks for the genre. Celeste takes a look at those games, learns the correct lessons and innovates in its own ways. I adored my time with Celeste. Its mixture of a charming story and well-executed platforming challenges have made this game one that is going to last for a long time in the heart of gaming culture.

8. Dragon Ball FighterZ

Dragon Ball FighterZ is easily the best Dragon Ball fighting game of all time. That’s really saying something in a world where Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3 exists. But the thing that Dragon Ball FighterZ does is take everything about being in the fight and make it better. Mechanically this game makes more sense and is more intuitive than any other 2D fighter I’ve played. I’ve always had trouble jumping into Street Fighter or Marvel Vs. Capcom due to the technical skill that’s required of both, but Dragon Ball FighterZ implements mechanics such as dashing, auto combos, and easily executed special abilities in order to induct new players in.

Even with this catering to new players, mastering the game is still difficult. I’ve found myself trying to wrap my mind around air combos, follow ups, and more techniques that require just a bit more practice and getting these down is satisfying. Although I would have loved a better single player mode, better matchmaking systems, certain characters in the roster, and some other quality of life additions, Dragon Ball FighterZ’s best quality is how it’s authentically Dragon Ball; more so than any game before. The animations are beautiful, the character abilities are great, the finishes are awesome and it encompasses everything fun about the Dragon Ball universe.

7. Beat Saber

I could be hours in with sweat rolling down my face and no breath left in my lungs but will still opt for one more round of Beat Saber. That’s how much fun I had playing this game. Feeling like the coolest person ever as I slice through directional boxes to pounding electronic music is just as fun as it looks, if not more. That, coupled with seeing my friends’ high scores and feeling the motivation to overtake them is what kept me going constantly in Beat Saber and because of that, it was one of the most enjoyable experiences I had this year.

6. Detroit: Become Human

I know.

Quantic Dream often gets a lot of hate for their games because the writing can be a bit much at times. They can be preachy, not self aware, etc. Despite the inability for a lot of people to connect with these games, I absolutely adore them. I enjoy the overly dramatic stories, the cinematic presentation, the impressive technology behind graphics, and most of all the illusion of choice that Detroit: Become Human knocked out of the park better than any Quantic Dream game has attempted before.

After playing Until Dawn a few years ago, I remember having the thought that Quantic Dream is going to really need to step up how they approach the concept of choice and consequence if they want to remain relevant in this space. I’m glad to say that they delivered. Replaying scenes in this game and discussing with other people the different routes that their stories took was a surreal experience. The game almost feels like magic at times because of some of the drastic departures that storylines can take from others. Additionally, the story being told and the characters in this game both result in some of Quantic Dreams’ best work as the characters are extremely likable and the story itself tugs at the heart strings quite a few times throughout.

5. Pokemon: Let’s Go, Eevee!

It’s Pokemon Yellow again, but somehow Let’s Go Eevee found ways to invest me into the experience in new and refreshing ways. 30 hours over a one week period is how long it took me to reach from the beginning of Pallet Town to the end of the Elite Four and by the end of that time, this game had reminded me why the original Pokemon games are masterpieces. The party customization, gratifying leveling up process, and fun battle system are all to this day still just as entertaining. However the new additions such as the Pokemon GO system of catching Pokemon elevated an already classic game into a somehow better game and I’m truly thankful for it.

4. Astro Bot Rescue Mission

Astro Bot’s game design demands of the player at every moment to participate in a way that games haven’t really asked of players prior. By doing this, I found myself constantly in a state of awe while playing. Each decision regarding level design supports the idea of existing in virtual reality. You, as a player, are a part of the world; playing the role of an unnamed robot helping guide the main character, Captain Astro.

This gives the game the ability to treat you as a character as much as it treats the little guy as at times it goes out of the way to acknowledge your existence. Moments like heading a soccer ball back in forth with an enemy felt surreal but it was nowhere near as crazy as when the game placed a dandelion in front of me, and I had to blow it away, physically; a gag that I still have no idea how it worked. Crazy moments like this happen over and over again in Astro Bot Rescue Mission. It’s a game that blew my mind at every chance available.

3. Marvel’s Spider-Man

Marvel’s Spider-Man on the PlayStation 4 really makes you FEEL like moving to New York City. Really. New York feels like its own character in this game and the setting breathes life into the experience because of it.

There’s so much I can say about this game and why I love it. Spider-Man has always been my favorite superhero, not because of his abilities or because he’s stronger than other heroes but because of the character. Peter Parker is corny, but in the mid to late afternoon he becomes the best version of himself; someone that people admire and look up to. Marvel’s Spider-Man captures everything I love about Spider-Man and more. It’s of course fun to play and swing around but even more than that, it highlights Peter’s relationships, the struggles of balancing life, the humor that’s important to have in stressful situations and everything about Spider-Man that makes him human.

2. God of War

There is something special about completing the final hours of God of War’s main story. By the time I had reached the end of the game, I felt like a journey was complete. I didn’t feel like I had beaten a video game or defeated a final boss; I felt like I had reached the end of an epic tale. I think the thing I loved most about God of War is how singular and focused everything felt. Kratos and Atreus’ tenuous relationship was the focal point and their personal journey to the top of the mountain was the driving force in which everything revolved around. God of War tells a tale of epic scale by utilizing the father-son relationship of Kratos and Atreus as a powerful and emotional vehicle. By the time I finished my 20 hour journey, I couldn’t help but to reflect on the twists and turns on the way and how at almost every moment, I felt fully invested in the world and the characters.

God of War comes together in a wonderfully crafted package. Its cinematic approach to cutscenes coupled with its brilliantly written and performed dialogue compliments an impactful and personal narrative. Its combat is largely scaled and diverse and it provides a wonderful duality to engaging with God of War’s spirited, highly explorable world. The game has a lot to say about the nature of family and relationship. It also subtly has a lot to say about game design as the game doesn’t necessarily succeed in bringing something brand new to the table, it instead succeeds in taking elements that have worked elsewhere and figuring out how to innovate certain ideas and bring them together in ways that work phenomenally. God of War is a game that I’m actually surprised hasn’t been made already in some sort of capacity. It feels like the natural progression of where the medium is headed. It’s an incredible game that I would urge anyone to play.

1. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is the only game I played this year that truly feels like magic. The fighting feels like magic, the characters feel like magic, the sheer amount of content feels like magic, even the lead up to the game felt like magic. The inkling girl having that fiery Smash symbol light up in her eye, Mario and Link standing in flames, the phrase “Everyone is Here”, it all sends chills down my body. Super Smash Bros. on the N64 is a game that I couldn’t tear myself away from as a kid. If you had told me then about the most minor of details regarding Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, I wouldn’t have been able to comprehend it. It’s a dream product made for me.

Making my way through World of Light was a delight despite my pre-release concerns. The incredible amount of references to games I’m in love with, familiar with, or never even heard of provided a wonderfully catered peek into the world of video games and their history. References to Wave Race, Metal Gear Solid, The Last Story, and the various Nintendo properties represented in Smash filled my heart with joy and piqued my interest for games like Kid Icarus or Fire Emblem which I have almost no knowledge of. Even the world map of World of light is a delight as it’s filled with puzzles and obstacles to solve as your progress forward along with dungeons themed after specific games that really gives the world life.

My time with Super Smash Bros. Ultimate has been an incredible experience because the content feels endless which is something rarely said about fighting games. Not only is it endless, it’s lovingly put together. The music, options, polish, and purely Nintendo philosophy of game design shines through every crevice of this game and it’s by far the most enjoyable experience I’ve had playing a game this year.

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