By Sam Coles:
2018 has been a hell of year when it comes to video games with some excellent releases; we had long awaited sequels to the more surprising. I just want to cover my top games of this year, now remember this is my opinion if there is a game that is not on here it is either because I didn’t play it or I didn’t enjoy it so don’t get your panties in a twist. These are in no particular order I just want to talk about my favourite games of this year and I don’t want to put them in a numeric order.
Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice
Now you are probably going to say “Sam you do realise that this game came out in 2017”. Which I would say yes, on PS4 but I’m judging this by its 2018 release on the Xbox One as this is the first time that I’d played the game.
It’s not often that a game really gets to me on an emotional level, but Hellblade is a very disturbing game with its depiction of Psychosis. It’s not often that mental health is shown in video games, but Hellblade utilises the Norse mythology setting to their advantage, where we see Senua being taunted by the voices that constantly whisper in her head. It’s a prime example of narrative design in video games, with the fantastic performance Melina Juergens, she really nails the twitches and genuinely creep me out as she starred longingly into the camera. If you haven’t pick this game up I can’t recommend it enough, plus it got a physical release.
Yakuza 6: The Song of Life
In 2017 I got the chance to review Yakuza 0 and Kiwami a month before their public release, and I was instantly in love with the series. To say I was excited for Yakuza 6 would be an understatement as I was anticipating Kazma Kiryu’s last adventure.
What I like about the story in Yakuza 6 is that we’re seeing an aging Kiryu who is trying to live a normal life with his adopted daughter. However it’s not easy for Haruka, as the public have found out that her Father Kiryu is a former Yakuza thug and it tarnishes her reputation and she runs off from the orphanage she runs. Kiryu comes back to Okinawa after serving three years in prision and finds out she has disappeared where he ends up back on the seedy streets of Kamurocho, and he finds out she has been involved in a hit and run which links back to the Chinese mafia. So he does what he does best by asking questions with the heel of shoes, as he explodes nose cartilage.
Gameplay was changed and simplified in this game, but that is not necessarily a bad thing as combat has weight to it and I really feel it when I cave in a thug’s skull in with a bicycle. The only down side of the gameplay we went from a smooth 60 frames per second to 30 fps, but it’s understandable given the amount of detail and this was the first game in the series to be exclusively released on the PS4 as 0 and Kiwami were also on the PS3.
Forza Horizon 4
Now I can hear your monocles pop off with shock as you say “A racing game being a favourite game of Sam’s”? Well to tell you the truth reader, it was nice to play a game where I wasn’t making someone’s jaw bone fly off in eight directions with a 12 gauge where I can flaw it and speed through the countryside at 200 mph.
Forza Horizon 4 was a real surprise for me because to be honest on the surface it looked to be yet another open world racer, but this game with its setting, visuals and tight controls was a joy to play. The setting of my homeland of the UK was a unique setting, because to be honest it’s not often to see a video game set in Britain unless it’s within a historically setting.
Controls and visuals are top notch, it feels great to take a super car and flaw it through the beautifully rendered countryside of a condensed version of the north of England. It is always a joy to drift around corners, coupled with the excellent audio design as you hear your tyres screaming as the engine under the hood roars like a lion.
Spyro Reignited Trilogy
My stance on remasters is generally pretty bleak, but this game was more of a remake and I think publishers and gamers in general need to know the difference. What we got here is a beautiful reimagining of the first three games that were released 20 years ago.
Booting up the first game made feel five years old again, with its stunning graphics that look like a Pixar film where Spyro is expressive and animated beautifully. Controls are a big improvement where Spyro no longer controls like a tank, he has been tweaked in the speed department too he is much faster in these remakes especially when he charges. This is a wonderful remake of the first three games and gave me a childlike wonder again something I have not had in years, If you haven’t pick it up for your Xbox One or PS4.
Red Dead Redemption II
It has been a long time waiting for this game as I adore the original Red Dead Redemption; the original game is very emotional to me as it got me through a rough patch when I was studying my A-levels. When I was low during the summer of 2010 I would boot up Red Dead Redemption, where I would experience John Marston’s endeavours.
Red Dead Redemption II lives up to my expectations, and surpasses the original with a superbly written narrative with excellent performances from everyone in the cast. The open world is absolutely wonderful with varied landscapes, with frost covered mountains to the damp and humid swamps. Arthur Morgan is one of the best video game protagonist, he is a level headed individual he knows what he is doing is wrong but he doesn’t know any other way of life, where does end up doubting if it is worth it anymore.
The environments are so beautiful that I have had a blast taking screenshots for my Instagram; it is the definition of video games as an art form. This is easily the best game of the year and dare I say it one of the best games of all times, I can’t believe that this game is real and it makes me happy to be alive as a gamer.