Game of the Year Awards 2018

2018 has been pretty damn busy year. Games piled on top of piles of games as the days dropped off the calendar. It was another great year for games, to say the least.

So, instead of a big ol’ list of all of our favourites, we’ve picked the best of the best in our traditionally late Game of the Year awards.

Best Art Direction – Gris – Crashscreen

Pretty doesn’t do GRIS justice. What starts off as a gorgeous looking, watercolour illustration brought to life in an interactive medium becomes so much more. As an abstract tale about depression, GRIS uses something as simple as colour to expand our world while playing. While looking great initially, nothing prepares you for the impact the increased palette has. The visuals are immersive and positively atmospheric, playing a vital role in our experience as the titular protagonist. Honestly, even putting aside its importance as a narrative device and the wonderful animation, screenshots of the title already express how absolutely stylish the it will be. Winning our Art Direction award shouldn’t have been a surprise to anyone. 

Best Console Exclusive — God of War – Stoogie OB

2018 was a year of heavy hitters. Spider-man made his long awaited return, Nintendo released their love letter to the company with Smash Ultimate, and Rockstar followed up Red Dead Redemption with an astonishing sequel. RDR2 has been a roaring success, and with a number of RDR2 mods expected to follow the release of the PC version of this iconic game in late 2019, the RDR series is expected to go from strength to strength as more and more mods to boost gameplay are made available.

If there is one game you need to play in 2018, it’s God of War. Kratos has moved from Ancient Greece to the Norse lands, looking to forget his past and move on with his life. He has a son, a chance to redeem himself and raise his child to be better than he could ever be.

Kratos is a character who has grown up and so has the series. What you get is a touching story about a father and son trying to bond after the death of their wife/mother, a game filled with immense detail, stunning set pieces, and the best console exclusive of 2018. 

Best OST – Dragon Ball FighterZ – Neilo

Composers: Takanori Arima, Toshiyuki Kishi, Hiromi Mizutani and others.

Making a great fighting game soundtrack becomes a more difficult task with each passing generation of games; creating original character themes with an ever-increasing roster size, with themes for stages and menus included. Yet Dragoball FighterZ pulls this off with flying colours, having arguably the best soundtrack of it’s generation of fighting games and amongst a load of other titles that came out this year alone (Soul Calibur VI, Fighting EX Layer and Super Smash Bros Ultimate to name a few).

The main lobby theme has an upbeat, sunny vibe to it that’s sounds like it came from the summer of the late 1990s. Some of the stage themes are strong enough to be superior over the character themes whether it’s the speedy, energetic rock of the Planet Namek theme or the focused and intense mix of an orchestra and D’N’B music heard in the West City theme.

The character themes themselves mix in a plethora of instrumentations; successfully illustrating the DBZ rosters’ individual traits and personalities. Hit’s theme is an oddly fitting toe-tapping jazz shuffle, Gotenks has a hyper-active mile-a-minute dance number, Tien’s theme incorporates various traditional Chinese instruments, Yamcha has a 1960s style surf rock theme, etc. Whatever DBZ character you main or just like from the show itself, chances are they’ll have a great theme to accompany theme. Truth be told, when Cooler was revealed at EVO this year, I was more hype to hear his theme in full than play the character himself; it’s that good.

Best Remaster – Spyro Reignited Trilogy – Stoogie OB

Well, we all knew it was coming.

After the success of Crash Bandicoot: N.Sane Trilogy, the masses were crying out for Sony’s other mascot to come gliding back into our lives. In March 2018, Toys for Bob confirmed that Spyro was coming back, remade from the ground up.

Spyro is not just the best remaster of 2018, but one of the best games of the year. The love and care which has went into three games is evident from the design of the worlds, the characters, and the changes Toys for Bob have implemented.

Each dragon in Spyro is unique with their own looks and personality. Spyro himself controls amazingly, like an agile cat as opposed to a burgeoning dragon. The different worlds are joy to explore, feeling both fresh and familiar at the same time. This is as close as you’ll get to playing a Saturday morning cartoon on your console.

Biggest Disappointment – The Quiet Man – Esler

Imagine you seen something really cool. Bursting with promise, even. Pseudo-edgy main character, check. Big publisher behind it, check. Reasonable price, check. Room for an important message, CHECK. FM-fuckin-Vs, double check.

The Quiet Man had so much to offer, in theory. It could have been The Artist of games. It could have been a game to remember. Instead it’s a game that I am desperately trying to forget.

Biggest Surprise – Strange Brigade – Scotch Rat

Strange Brigade was poised for a troubled outing if you were to look into it closely enough. Created by Rebellion Developments, Strange Brigade looked like the spiritual successor to their less than successful Zombie Army Trilogy. Both games showcasing players controlling a group of diverse individuals who face undead enemies, and other abominations, with a strong emphasis on cooperative multiplayer. While Rebellion aren’t the worst developers out there, it’s difficult to really cherry pick a game from their library that had something more than a lukewarm reception (Sniper Elite 4 being an exception), but to my surprise Strange Brigade was one of my highlights from 2018 and one of Rebellions greatest games yet.

The similarities between both Zombie Army Trilogy and Strange Brigade stand true as stated above. However, Strange Brigade has a remarkable amount of polish to it that makes it a breeze to play. It’s vociferous announcer, reminiscent of 1930’s cinema, was almost inspirational at times pushing the story and the players forward through its tight-knit campaign with some comedic beats. Everything about Strange Brigade felt right. It felt refined. Strange Brigade could easily have been something much worse. This was one instance where I judged the book by its cover and hopefully it will be the last.

Game Of The Year – The Banner Saga 3 – Esler

OK, so this was 100% going to be Destiny 2: Forsaken, but given my previous grumps on DLC/expansions being awarded GOTY titles the year after they were actually released it was decided that Destiny should sit this one out – you should still play it though.

Instead we’ve gone with The Banner Saga 3. It might not have made an appearance on this site for review, but yours truly got to review over on Trusted Reviews and you should totally check it out.

There’s just something about The Banner Saga that grips you tight and takes you for a wild and heartfelt ride. Every choice is full of agency and when you decisions don’t go down well you’ll feel it in your chest. The artstyle is rugged, cold, and full of brilliant character design. The Banner Saga has made the end of the world a replayable joy, which is an odd concept. As soon as the sunset at the end of The Banner Saga 3 I was fully geared up to wipe away the tears and start it all over again and make the choices I couldn’t the first time around. It’s magic and it’s our game of the year.

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