Best Video Games of 2018

We played a lot of games in 2018, but here are the best of the best according to library staff!

Hands down, Red Dead Redemption 2!
I love any game where I can just walk around exploring an entirely new and different world, gathering herbs and having random conversations with NPCs (non-player characters). I don’t really care for anything-Western themed, but I appreciated the change in scenery after Fallout 76 bombed miserably.
As a prequel to Red Dead Redemption, you get a bit of backstory regarding outlaw John Marston while also getting a chance to play former Van der Linde gang member Arthur Morgan, who is a symbol of the old, deteriorating Wild West.
If you like action, riding horses, and going on missions (i.e. robberies and heists) with your “gang,” then I’d definitely recommend this one. You can also hunt, shoot guns, and make decisions that shape the trajectory of the game.
By now, I would expect Rockstar Studios to start using diverse protagonists, other than white men questioning life choices. It would’ve been awesome to play as Sadie Adler, a female character with more courage than the rest of the gang, but I’m hoping her story continues and shapes future games.

Gris (Switch – Digital Download)
A short, atmospheric, and emotional game.  It’s plain to see that the game is gorgeous – pretty much every scene while I was playing could be put in a picture frame and hung on a wall.  You play as a character who’s world is leeched of color.  She can barely move at the start of the game.  Along the journey, she rediscovers colors one by one and gains more abilities to help her traverse the world.  The story is a subtle tale about grief, sadness, and depression.  This is a pretty straightforward platformer, where you run, jump, swim, and more to navigate different areas and solve puzzles.  The puzzles are fun and make you think, but aren’t impossibly difficult.  Best played in one sitting to really absorb the mood and emotion the narrative weaves. 
Detroit: Become Human (PS4)
I played Heavy Rain a few years ago and really enjoyed it, so when I heard that the same studio was coming out with a game about androids, I was really excited because I’m obsessed with robots.  Fast forward to this year & I really enjoyed my playthrough of Detroit: Become Human, despite a few flaws here & there.  The game follows 3 different android characters in a not-so-distant future where using extremely lifelike androids for all manner of jobs & chores has become ubiquitous.  These androids begin to gain sentience and seek their freedom in different ways.  There are some overly obvious comparisons drawn between the android’s quest for freedom and other civil rights movements in human history that feel a bit ham-fisted and inelegant, especially considering that for many groups the quest for equality is far from over.   Overall though, the narrative and characters are well written and emotionally touching.  The real focus of the game is the narrative and gameplay mostly consists of moving your character from place to place and inputting button commands to complete tasks.  I enjoyed the fact that there were many story branches to explore, with vastly different endings based on the choices you make throughout the game ranging from hopeful and optimistic to downright devastating.  Definitely worth a playthrough if you’re a fan of games that tell a good story!
A very nostalgic game that calls back to the RPGs of yesteryear while modernizing gameplay to keep things fresh.  You select one of eight characters to act as your “main” character, but end up playing through each of the character’s stories throughout the game.  Characters each have a unique special ability to use on the town maps that are necessary to complete main & side quests, so you’ll be swapping characters in and out constantly.  Each tale has elements that will seem familiar to long time players of RPGs, but most have an unexpected twist to the familiar plot points as the story progresses.  Gameplay involves random battles, which aren’t my favorite, but you eventually get an ability that reduces the encounter rate dramatically for those moments you just want to get from point A to point B without fighting a ton of weak monsters. The battle system is turn based, but adds some interesting mechanics, such as hitting enemy weakness to “break” them, and Battle Points, which let you expend points to unleash charged up attacks all at once.  It requires a surprising amount of strategy – deciding when to break your enemy based on how many BP you have accumulated, which buffs and debuffs you have up, etc.  A must play for old school RPG fans!
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey (PS4 & Xbox One)
I’d played the first 2 Assassin’s Creed games a long time ago, and had decided that the games were fine but not exactly my cup of tea.  I tend to prefer games that have more meat to the story and Assassin’s Creed just didn’t do it for me.  I was intrigued about some of the later games, like Syndicate and Origins, but didn’t feel compelled enough to pick them up.  The hype around Odyssey was just too much for me to pass up, and I’m really glad I didn’t.  The world really feels lived in and the NPCs all seem to have a personality.  I love how the game is serious, but doesn’t take itself too seriously and doesn’t shy away from humor.  You play as one of two siblings, Kassandra or Alexios, as a mysthios (mercenary) who travels across the ancient Greek world during a war between Sparta and Athens. (Please do yourself a favor and play as Kassandra, she makes for a much better character to see the world through than Alexios.)  You get to meet important historical figures like Hippocrates & Socrates and woo NPCs across the Greek world.  There are naval battles, which weren’t my favorite, but they made complete sense given the island based setting.  The story is compelling, and tells the tale of just before the Assassins as an organization were formed. The gameplay is fun and fluid, and you have such a diverse choice of weapons and abilities to pick from that there’s going to be something to suit any playstyle.  I took mostly the assassin route and thoroughly enjoy infiltrating enemy camps and wiping them out before anyone even knows what happened.  This game was definitely worth all the excitement, I’m so glad I picked it up! 
Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu & EeveeVersions (Switch)
I’m a big Pokemon fan, so I obviously enjoyed this.  There’s not much to say in terms of the story – it’s the same Gen 1 story I’ve played a zillion times, but with better graphics and the fun inclusion of Jesie and James from Team Rocket throughout.  I used the Pokeball controller and found that to actually be the easiest way to play the game, despite not having the full menu of options available in other play methods.  (Also, it was just super fun throwing the Pokeball to catch Pokemon.)  There are no more wild Pokemon battles – instead you catch Pokemon the same way you do in Pokemon Go.  Simply throw a Pokeball (maybe a berry to make it easier) and hope for the best!  You get experience bonuses for hitting inside the ring as it gets smaller.  Trainer battles actually felt tougher than I remembered –  I was often 10+ levels higher than my opponents and still taking huge chunks of damage from attacks that weren’t even super effective!  You can import Pokemon from your Pokemon Go account about 3/4 of the way through the game, including the new Pokemon Meltan and Melmetal.  All in all, a fun & beautiful look at a world that’s well trodden at this point.  I kinda wish they’d chosen a different region to explore, because I’m kinda done with all the Kanto remakes, but now I’m even more excited about the new generation of Pokemon that’s set to come out on the Switch next year!

What did you think was 2018’s best video game?  Let us know in the comments below!
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