I spent the whole time editing this podcast on a yoga ball. So Gabe, I get you.
2018 has been a really interesting year in terms of games. Not being able to get many games in combination with more caution of newer AAA-games led me to (unfortunately) be very careful in what I played. Thankfully, a number of hidden gems came out this year, impressing me in various ways. Only a few really stood out beyond everything else to leave lasting impressions on me, however, but they’re games I’ll gladly carry with me into the coming years.
5. Katamari Damacy REROLL
Despite being just a high-definition remaster of the original, Katamari Damacy REROLL still manages to feel just as fresh and exciting as it did when it first came out. Colorful, fun, and full of bangers, the game has such a unique charm to it that it feels impossible not to love. Even the bizarre controls help give it character and wonder, somewhat dated and frustrating as they are in 2018. It’s a bold move to not update the controls or change some of the levels for the remaster, but even so, my enjoyment of the game hasn’t diminished. Katamari Damacy still feels like a game that could have been made today, and is always welcome to charm me far into the future.
4. Girls’ Frontline
Gacha games are a special type of genre, usually one as overwhelming and flashy as possible to give you some semblance of actual gameplay and (hopefully) .pngs of characters you like in exchange for luck and/or money. And yet, the more time I spend with Girls’ Frontline, the more I can’t help but be charmed by it. It’s precisely because it doesn’t feel as overwhelming or flashy (even if it still is, by nature of being a mobage) that I learned to appreciate it a whole lot. For a game where you collect android gun girls to fight evil robots and other androids, Girls’ Frontline moves at a nice, steady pace. Whether strategizing how to move across a level’s map or engaging in real-time battles, there wasn’t much stress or pressure felt throughout, nor did I even feel remotely pressured to spend money to get better gun girls. I never would have expected to actively look forward to playing more of a gacha game in the coming years, but if there was going to be any of those games to do it, it’d be Girls’ Frontline.
3. The Missing
SWERY has always been a master of creating odd, yet charming games that always defied both expectation and common sense to create unique experiences. The Missing manages to be something else altogether in those areas. Controlling J.J. Macfield and experiencing the surreal traumatizing hell that her camping trip turns into is an emotional rollercoaster in of itself, with even game mechanics doing an incredible job of reinforcing the game’s themes and narrative. The writing is particularly well-crafted and shines as SWERY’s strongest writing yet. The Missing blunders in some key areas at times, but the genuine sincerity and care put into it shows and transforms it into one of the most memorable games I’ve ever played.
The spiritual successor to Undertale, Deltarune follows up on much of that game’s unique style and flavor with a lot of its own. Despite being a fraction of the length, it still feels as warm and friendly as ever, with wonderfully-written characters, inspiring music, and a fun take on the combat system of old. For being only the opening chapter of a much larger story, it manages to do a hell of a lot right, finding its footing just as quickly as Undertale did and not letting up until the end. Whatever Deltarune has in store for the future, I’m excited to see how it all plays out.
1. Groove Coaster for Steam
Groove Coaster feels like a sugar rush as a music game. The soundtrack is varied and heart-pounding, which is very fitting for a high-paced game like Groove Coaster tends to be. The visual aspect of playing through each song, as busy and overwhelming as it can be, is very well-crafted and enhances the flavor of the game to truly make it shine. Every track feels like a world of its own, and even the less-interesting or less-fun-to-play songs offer unique experiences that still draw me back to them time and time again. As a strong selection of DLC continues to be offered, I keep digging into Groove Coaster and happily lose my time trying to climb in the leaderboards and learn how to master ridiculous charts. No other game this year caught my attention and held it as much or as strongly as Groove Coaster has.