Monday, December 31, 2018

Top Five 2018

I bounced off quite a few games this year, but I have a solid five that were terrifically fun to play. The prices I list are the regular price, not the sale price (they're all on sale on Steam right now).

5. Moonlighter (Steam page) $20
A little shopkeeper dungeon romp where you tend your shop by day and go into the dungeons at night. Incredibly charming and lasts long enough (36 hours, for me) to soak in that charm. A Switch version is now available, and it should be a perfect fit.

4. Battle Brothers (Steam page) $30
I've played this for 146 hours, which is astonishing, because I was hate-playing it for at least 40 of those hours. Also wins the Most Uninstalled/Reinstalled Game award for 2018.

Basically, it's super crunchy in terms of depth. You manage a band of mercenaries, and there are missions and a terrific map and did I mention it can be damned hard? Unfairly hard, sometimes, in terms of starting locations in battle, where you are sometimes at a massive height disadvantage, which isn't visible from the overland map.

And yet, it's so good. Incredibly satisfying combat, lots of complexities in character builds and strategies, very good writing. It's just really, really terrific when it's not sucking.

If you want something with plenty of depth, difficulty, and sometimes frustration, play this.

3. Lone Sails (Steam page) $15
If I could have you buy just one game out of this top five, it would be Lone Sails. It's beautiful and joyous and melancholy, and it's one of the most meditative games I've ever played. You're a girl, trying to get a land ship (with sail) to go from the left of the screen to the right of the screen. That's it, really, but that's all it needs, because it's designed absolutely brilliantly. Play it in the dark, with headphones, and you will be in an incredibly focused state within the first fifteen minutes. So beautiful and carefully done. It takes about five hours to play, and they are wonderfully spent.

2. Slay the Spire (Steam page) $16
After all the years I've been on Steam (since Half Life 2 launched), I have only one game--one--that I've played for more than 200 hours.

This game. 212 hours.

It's a deck builder and a roguelike, and it's damn near perfect. You think you understand it after a few hours, then you're sure you understand it after 20, then by god you damn sure totally understand it after 50, then at some point you realize you're still playing and it doesn't matter what you understand.

Build a deck. Fight monsters. Fight the biggest monster. Doesn't leap off the page, but the gameplay is just incredibly strong, and it manages to feel different a remarkable amount of the time, even when you've played it for 200+ hours.

This is technically an Early Access title, but ignore that designation. It's incredibly polished and has a ton of content.

A few weeks ago, I beat the final boss (who was just recently added) with The Defect character and it was one of the most satisfying things I've done in gaming in a long time.

1. The Banner Saga Trilogy (Steam page)
Right now, one of the most moving RPGs I've ever played is on sale at Steam for $23. That's the entire trilogy, with a combined 50+ hours of gameplay.

I wrote about this game earlier in the year, but it is successful in every conceivable way: story, interface, mechanics, graphics, animations, sound. It's just superior. It's so beautifully crafted, with characters you become genuinely attached to (and may lose), and a compelling, brilliantly written story.

I'm trying to think of an RPG where I felt more involved as the story was reaching its conclusion, and I can't think of one. That covers hundreds of RPG's over about 40 years of gaming, and includes every major RPG series that has ever been released.

Go play.

Site Meter