GOTYLY 2019 - Game of the Year Last Year (2018)

Ah, 2019 is closing up. Another year, another deluge of hot takes and terrible opinions. Pat yourself on the back. We’re almost through! As we near the end of this year, maybe we should look back. No, even further back!

Let’s look back to 2018, the sequel to 2017. Sure, as far as gaming goes, it had a lot to live up to, but it was chock full of great moments! If your memory needs jogging, here’s a huge list of things that came out!

What is your favorite game of 2018? What was it at the time, and what is it now? If it’s changed, what caused you to change your opinion?

Did you grow to appreciate any games of that year? Alternatively, did you sour on any games? Did more time with, distance from, or new perspectives on a given game change how you enjoyed it?

What games did you or others sleep on that were worth the return back? It’s always hard to keep up with all the releases, so a lot of us ended up playing last year’s best in 2019. What about you?

What games were the underdogs of 2018? With so many incredible titles, there’s no doubt that some of them are getting overlooked. What games just don’t get the love they deserve?

If you could summarize 2018’s year of games, how would you? Was it good? Bad? An antidote? Were there trends or themes you saw crop up in the games of 2018?

How does 2019 look in comparison to 2018? Does it look better or worse in juxtaposition? Or does it look slightly different? Or entirely the same?


Honestly, I can hardly remember what I had for dinner, but I do have one thought about Assassin’s Creed Odyssey: I think I’m done with the “infinite” game.

Finishing The Outer Worlds earlier today really brought this into focus: I like games I can finish. I’d much rather have a really tight 30 hour experience (or tight 12-15, shout-out to Insomniac’s Spider-Man) than a sprawling 150 hour extravaganza. It’s just nice to be able to get my brain completely around something.

EDIT: I think 2018 had a few serious heavy hitters in a way that 2019 really hasn’t so far. 2019 has been a great year for good games, but not a good year for great games, if that makes any sense.


Celeste was my favorite game of last year. I played it fairly early enough that I never had any doubt it would be my favorite and nothing has changed that makes it any less my favorite. I played Chapter 9 back in August and it was an even more intense experience than ever. The game reached another level for me.

As for a 2018 game I played in 2019, I’ve been playing Dragon Quest XI on the Switch and it’s a damn amazing game, easily the best Dragon Quest.

I also only played the PS4 port of 428 Shibuya Scramble which came out in 2018 this spring. That’s an amazing visual novel that’s something of a mixture of like a dozen different genres into one weird story set in Japan. I recommend it, even if there’s some awful fat-shaming for no good reason.

As for how 2019 looks, I feel like the year has been weak so far. Other than Control and Three Houses, I dunno if there’s been anything I’d count as a classic-classic. But I can’t play everything, and have so much catching up to do before the end of the year, who knows how the year will look soon enough.

It isn’t like I’ve really put that much thought into games that made my Top 10 last year either. I still look fondly back on Iconoclasts (which is a game more people need to play), but I never think much of Florence or God of War, honestly. Celeste was the one true masterpiece of last year.


My Goty last year was Return of the Obra Dinn, and I don’t think enough time has passed for me to replay it since it’s very memorable and not knowing the solutions is what that game is. I did listen to the soundtrack yesterday though and it continues to be great.

The 2018 game that I’ve played the most this year was my number 2 game last year, Hitman 2. It continues to be good. I tried the ghost mode for the first time tonight and it’s more fun than I expected. I’m still mad my Hitman 1 progress didn’t carry over like they had promised when season 1 was announced.

The 2018 games that I didn’t play in 2018 but played a bunch this year were Tetris Effect and Two Point Hospital. I was a big fan of the original Theme Hospital so when I had to replace my computer this spring and was finally able to run Two Point I bought it right away and thoroughly enjoyed it. I didn’t finish it though and will likely pick it back up over the winter.

Tetris Effect is a very good Tetris game.

I expect my 2020 GotYLY will be Persona Q2. I didn’t start it this year since I hadn’t finished Persona 5 yet. I restarted persona 5 in May and am up to the point where I stopped playing the fist time (the fourth dungeon).

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In 2018 my favorite game was one a lot of people had already played in 2017, Hollow Knight.
The trend is probably going to continue because this year I absolutely love Slay the Spire and Return of the Obra Dinn.

Overlooked games in 2018 were Dillons Dead Heat Breakers, Labyrinth of Refrain, and Prey Mooncrash.


There was quite a group of indie games that I can remember debating between–Dead Cells, Celeste, Obra Dinn, Donut County, Tetris Effect, and Into the Breach, off the top of my head. The one that was my favorite at the time was Dead Cells, and I’d feel comfortable saying that’s still the case. It was already winning for me and has had some decent updates over time, which hasn’t hurt it.

The 2018 game that I’ve probably spent the most time playing has been the one whose title I have to Google search if I want to talk about it without just using an acronym (brb)… Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[st]–and the arrows on that graph have gone up, so I guess that’s the game I grew to appreciate by default. Otherwise I’m still pretty much where I was in a lot of cases. I still like the games that I liked. I enjoyed seeing Valkyria Chronicles make a return. I played God of War and thought it was “okay”; I wouldn’t say I regretted my time spent by the time I was done, but I also had no interest in touching it again. I still do not like Red Dead Redemption 2. I still have not played Spider-man.

Maybe a couple of cases where the arrows pointed down: I got a bit down on Monster Hunter World, primarily as a result of a technical issue. A few months into playing the game, their servers–apropos of nothing as far as I can tell–decided that they didn’t like me anymore, and the result was a few months of obtuse error codes with no Google-able solution that prevented me from being able to play the game with friends (and most other people, as well.) The other game I soured a bit on would be Dragon Ball FighterZ. While I wasn’t super high on it to begin with, the meta of the game evolved in a way that I both expected/was afraid of and I quickly reached a point of not really wanting anything to do with it outside of watching GO1 and SonicFox play each other.

Something that comes to mind for “overlooked” would be the Torna expansion? prequel? for Xenoblade Chronicles 2. Bit of a strange thing; was part of Xenoblade’s season pass but ended up kinda just being a full video game, which I believe also got a stand alone physical release? At any rate, it’s a good standalone thing and I’ve rarely ever seen anybody talking about it.

The biggest underdog was definitely the aforementioned Under Night. A small anime fighter that released in the west a matter of days/weeks after both Dragon Ball FigherZ and an update to Street Fighter V. The game’s community has grown since then nonetheless, but it definitely had an up hill climb at release. The upcoming sequel checks Google Under Night In-Birth Exe:Late[cl-r] won’t have it as bad, but will still be releasing right on the heels of Granblue Fantasy Versus, and will likely be followed by a new Guilty Gear in the months following.

Almost a year removed from 2018, I personally think the year was good, just not on the higher end? The more expensive end? The bulk of my time spent and my enjoyment derived was from small to medium budget games, and was supplemented a bit by my still having a number of games from 2017 to play (Xenoblade Chronicles 2, Blue Reflection, Tales of Berseria, and Yakuza 0 were all carryovers for me.)

Conversely, 2019 feels like things got flipped a bit, where the bulk of my time has been with big budget stuff, and the indie scene has been a bit of a blip? Or at least, while I haven’t played a ton of games, the games that I’ve played I’ve played a ton of, and they’ve primarily been bigger budget releases? I finished Sekiro and Resident Evil 2 like four times each, played through multiple routes of Fire Emblem: Three Houses, played a whole bunch of Apex Legends, and who knows what percentage of the last month of my life I’ve spent playing Shadowkeep. The mid-range stuff is still there, as usual largely via Japan (I’m currently enjoying Code Vein, and did you know they released three Atelier games this year?), but the only indie games that immediately come to mind are Untitled Goose Game and Baba is You–both of which I thought were okay but weren’t things I really invested time into like the indie stuff last year. So I feel like if I laid out my top 10 list for 2018 and 2019 I’d appear to have been equally entertained–the difference would just be that the majority of the games on either list would have come from very different development situations.


Red Dead 2 still owns all my shit. There’s a part of me that wishes I had a more notable answer, but no, the cowboy game got its hooks in me real good.


After failing to click with Origins I bought Odyssey a week after opting for Red Dead 2 and was instantly won over. A combination of enjoying the setting, having a return of the sailing (maybe the best innovation in an Assassin’s Creed title?) and a combat system I could click with meant it was the only game I played from November to the end of January. Fell right off with their bundling of that DLC and what it meant for your character’s sexuality but I recently restarted the game as, who else, Kassandra and am having a ball again. It feels to me like it nails the sweet spot between being deeply silly and also strangely affecting. It also helps that as every Assassin’s Creed shamelessly cribs from the in vogue titles of the time that it takes the formula of The Witcher and expands upon it into a universe that I’m deeply shamefully into despite knowing all of its major drawbacks. What other universe would have attempted to canonically bring Lenin and George W. Bush into its ludicrous tale of a centuries old shadow war?


Still 2018’s GOTY Crosscode. If I were flexible with my GOTY list it would probably be #1 again this year since I did replay it when they added in NG+ options. The game is just so amazing. Fun to play, well written, engaging storyline, fantastic characters. I haven’t put any real thought into it but it’s probably at or at least near the top of my all-time favorites list as well.

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Dead Cells was my GOTY last year, and I’m still quite fond of it. I had enjoyed Into the Breach last year, but definitely grew to love it this year. On the other side of things, I’ve dropped off Battletech since the start of 2019 (though perhaps I’ll come back for DLC) and Heaven Will Be Mine has barely stuck with me at all.

But my new, in-retrospect GOTY 2018? I had it on my list last year, but this year solidified it’s place as an all-time favourite: Vampyr.


It’s still Wandersong and it’s probably going to be Wandersong next year, and the year after that and so on.

By the way, you should all play Wandersong.

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That would have been in my previous post but as far as I know the Switch version still hasn’t happened.

For me, Fire Emblem: Three Houses is probably going to end up being my GOTY because of how well written it is, even if it stumbles with things like LGBTQ+ life and some presentational quirks(what is up with those two dimensional backgrounds during dialogue?). But I love how Intelligeny Systems managed to make Fodlan feel like a real place outside of the game and at least managed to take a cursory look at how the socioeconomic situation of Fodlan and its conflicts affected every one of the students at Garreg Mach. I only finished two playthroughs of the game(Golden Deer and Black Eagles) but it’s still stuck with me and I still want to come back once the story DLC comes out for it.

In terms of indie games, I had a grand old time with Void Bastards thanks to Game Pass for PC. It’s a really funny shooter that also manages to be really atmospheric. It’s a dry humor criticism of captialism that manages to still exercise restraint and the enemies are basically just British/Scottish ghosts, which is very amusing. It’s alsp just fun to play in its need for improvisation when things go wrong, which I usually don’t enjoy too much in games.

A very specific honorable mention goes to Borderlands 3, which has been my comfort game this year since it feels like BL2 with better moment-to-moment gameplay, and I’d put BL2 in my top five games of all time, even with its very dated humor. The writing isn’t all great in BL3, but it’s so much more fun than other looter shooters to me becauss you can become hilariously overpowered really fast and it’s really generous with loot compared to games like Destiny. Even with all the Randy Pitchford bullshit surrounding it, BL3 was a really good time and I think it’s worth playing if you look past its flaws.

It turns out I can’t read prompts so here goes:

My GOTY for 2018 is Super Smash Bros Ultimate, by a long mile. I love Smash as a series and Ultimate is a fantastic game in general that I still somewhat play to this day. Unlocking every single character was honestly great fun, but I’m really impressed by how the game holds up in 1v1 fights and more chaotic fights, even up to eight players. It’s accessible for newer players unlike Melee but it still feels pretty fast and there’s still a high skill ceiling. Maybe it’s just that Smash was one of the main ways I remember spending time with friends, but SSBU really sticks out for me. I have some friends who aren’t as into gaming as I am, but even then we’d always get together to play when possible(we live in different cities now).

Also, shoutout to Monster Hunter World, a game I’ve basically waited for 10 years to release. All the monsters look incredible in HD, most of the jank is gone, but it’s still a rewarding and fun ARPG. I credit MH Tri for starting my affinity for any loot-based game, and World is a fantastic game in general.

Dead Cells stands out because it’s one of the few roguelikes that actually has mrchanics good enough to support repeated playthroughs for me. Rolling through doors and freezing enemies doesn’t really get old for me. I really enjoyed my time with Celeste and Into the Breach, two indies I bought on Switch and really enjoyed on Switch.

Overall, I played more games in 2019 than in 2018, thanks to Game Pass for PC in part, and in part because I generally stick to one game for a long while, and I ended up playing a lot of older games that had substantial updates last year compared to new releases. I don’t have an Xbox One or PS4, so I ended up missing out on games like Red Dead Redemption 2 or God of War(2018).


What is your favorite game of 2018? What was it at the time , and what is it now ? If it’s changed, what caused you to change your opinion?

Return of the Obra Dinn and it still is the best game of 2018.

Did you grow to appreciate any games of that year? Alternatively, did you sour on any games? Did more time with, distance from, or new perspectives on a given game change how you enjoyed it?

I played more of Hitman 2, getting Level 20 Mastery on all the maps and doing all the escalations for the first two months of the year. Miami and Mumbai are incredible feats of level design, and the Isle of Sgail is just a great final level.

Someday I will get the Season Pass or whatever to play the additional levels.

What games did you or others sleep on that were worth the return back? It’s always hard to keep up with all the releases, so a lot of us ended up playing last year’s best in 2019. What about you?

I’ve only played two 2018 releases this year: Darksiders III and Prey: Mooncrash.

The former is a fine action adventure, but maybe getting it for “free” on PS+ made me appreciate it more than people who got it for full price and expected more.

The latter is a superb addition to an already amazing game. Arkane was clearly just flexing, somehow incorporating immersive sim elements into a rogue-lite model that also manages to tell interesting stories and captures a bit of the survival horror elements of the main game’s beginning. Oh and they’ve zero experience making a rogue-lite too!

What games were the underdogs of 2018? With so many incredible titles, there’s no doubt that some of them are getting overlooked. What games just don’t get the love they deserve?

Vampyr and Iconoclasts.

Yeah, I know Waypoint’s own Chicago Bears faithful put Vampyr on their GOTY lists, but it didn’t get much attention outside the site.

Iconoclasts also got some love on Danielle’s top 10, but IIRC during her dedicated GOTY podcast episode, she said she didn’t even finish it! Which OBVIOUSLY speaks to the quality of the game that she put it on her list without even having seen how wild the game gets.

If you could summarize 2018’s year of games, how would you? Was it good? Bad? An antidote? Were there trends or themes you saw crop up in the games of 2018?

I played way fewer games than I did in 2017, but 2017 is one of the strongest years in the medium’s history, so that’s no surprise. My top 10:

10 - Donut County
9 - Iconoclasts
8 - Red Dead Redemption II
7 - Vampyr
6 - Into the Breach
5 - Hitman 2
4 - Dead Cells
3 - Monster Hunter: World
2 - God of War
1 - Return of the Obra Dinn

Had a good mix of AAA and small games. All of these except my GOTY are cool iterations/refinements/remixes of stuff I’ve enjoyed before, so it’s a testament to Obra Dinn’s uniqueness and execution of that concept that I rank it above all else.

How does 2019 look in comparison to 2018? Does it look better or worse in juxtaposition? Or does it look slightly different? Or entirely the same?

I’ve only played four of the biggest releases of the game (RE2, Apex, Tetris 99, and Sekiro), and it’s mostly because of financial constraints, so I can’t comment on the overall quality of the year just yet.

Having stabilized my finances, I’m gonna start my 2019 catch-up and just dig in for the next three months. Because I’m not in the games journalism industry, I also have most of January to finish stuff and work on a GOTY list!

Still need to play the most talked about games like Control, Outer Wilds, The Outer Worlds, and Disco Elysium as well as the smaller but still well-regarded titles like Eliza, Sayonara Wild Hearts, Observation, Life is Strange 2, and Indivisble.

Oh and uh yeah I’m day 1 on Death Stranding.


My 2018 GOTY list included a mod, a game I didn’t finish, and, uh, Giraffe Town…? It took me months after 2018 ended to finish my list, and I still feel like I turned my homework in with half the answers left blank. Celeste is still the best platformer of the 2010s, so I feel good about one of those placements, at least.

2018 was also the year I realized that the state of Western AAA game production is somewhere between a beehive and single-celled organisms asexually reproducing. As someone who’s never liked Diablo, I gotta say: cut that shit out. I don’t think I need to say it out loud, but I’m not a huge fan of the AAA output of last year. God of War can take its one-shot and rigorously document me walking away from it.

Underrated can’t be oversaid when talking about SRB2Kart, however. It’s a standalone mod of a Sonic fangame made in the DOOM engine, and it’s lowkey the best kart-racer out there? Even vanilla SRB2Kart is great, but if you get mods in the mix, well. To quote myself:

“What was once a Sonic fangame is now the game where I race as Bubblun on a rainbow track called Gay Energy Zone. And you know what? It feels like fucking home, y’all.”

In summary: 2018 was weird. I already have more enthusiasm for 2019, and I don’t even have a full Top 10 yet. Play Outer Wilds. Peace.

I just realised that there were only two games in the Wiki list that were released in 2018 and which I acquired and played in the same year. Those were Far Cry 5 and Battlefield V - neither of them anywhere near GOTY material for me.

I also played a fair bit of Train Sim World, which, despite its issues at the time, I enjoyed, and am still putting the odd hour into when I need something easy and undemanding.

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Smash Ultimate for having the most novel implementation of a single-player mode in the series. Some of the missions were really frustrating, and it’s not quite as ambitious as what Brawl did, but there was an unprecedented amount of creativity that went into the fun mechanical gags of each Spirit fight.

Spyro Reignited, specifically the first game which demonstrated how much of a dark horse developer Toys for Bob are. The art team got to really go all-out with making dozens of cute dragon designs, and the animators delivered on that with some really expressive animation. There was a real craft that went into that remake.

I only set up a couple of the builds at a friend’s house and watched streamers do the rest, but I can’t overstate what an ingenious thing Nintendo Labo was. The games were all ho-hum tech demos, the real core of the experience was how they channeled the childlike delight of putting together a big construction project.

I don’t think anything in 2019 will top what an emotional shot to the chest FFXIV: Shadowbringers was. It’s a statement of what the FF series could be if they stopped tripping over themselves to visually impress everyone, and just committed themselves to telling an engaging story.

e: The last year was so busy that I thought Deltarune Chapter 1 released two years ago. Undertale remains in my all-time top 3 favorite games, Deltarune continued to click with me in the same deeply profound way. I’m going to flip out the moment we get a release date for the next part of the story.


Holy shit, Labo WAS last year. I can’t believe this stream is that old. Time is weird.


What is your favorite game of 2018? - Into The Breach topped my list last year easily and I think it still remains there. I’m still playing it here and there on Switch, in 2018 I felt I had just about mastered the starter mech group but 2019, I’ve been diving into the other types. It’s amazing how much the game and your strategies change in that game. It’s like you have to relearn the game again. I can think of plenty of games that I would love to experience for the first time again, Into The Breach actually gives you that!

Did you grow to appreciate any games of that year? Alternatively, did you sour on any games? I haven’t gone back to it, but I keep revisiting God of War in my mind. The relationship between me and Kratos juxtaposed with the relationship with his son was really powerful. I loved the way in which that game brought Norse Mythology to life as well. Just a mighty game.

A friend recently started playing RDR2 and his experiences make me think fondly of that game despite some of it’s problems. I completed the main story but haven’t had the heart to go back and finish the epilogue. It’s testament to the character of Arthur Morgan I feel. Fuck Micah though.

In terms of games that I soured on. I remember liking Shadow of the Tomb Raider and thinking how down people were on it. The more I think about it, the more I’m angry about how they managed to redefine Lara for a new generation but do nothing with it.

What games did you or others sleep on that were worth the return back? I just got round to playing Return of the Obra Dinn and well… I’m an idiot for sleeping on it. Such a unique game that captivated me from start to finish. I loved Papers Please, but Obra Dinn was something else. That would easily make number 2 of my 2018 list.

I also just got round to playing The Messenger on Switch. Though it isn’t a masterpiece, and certainly not as good as Celeste (one of my other faves from 2018) do think it’s a really cool retro platformer with alot of tricks up it’s sleeve. I really appreciate the humour, the shopkeeper is so good. It presses the same buttons that Shovel Knight did.

I also purchased PlayStation VR this time last year, mainly to play Astro Bot and Tetris Effect. But I started playing Beat Saber this year and now I play it every day. I’ve lost about two stone in weight as a result. I am able to track my improvement over playing the game, rising in the global rankings but also playing on harder difficulties. They have been good at updating it with free content as well as licensed music packs. As a VR experience and game, it’s the best and most one to one experience you can have. It makes you feel like an EDM Jedi. I believe they are going to be unleashing 360 mode this year. Makes me want to upgrade to an Oculus Quest so I can be completely wireless.

What games were the underdogs of 2018?
Again, Astro Bot, Superhot and Tetris Effect got a lot of exposure on PS VR last year. But Beat Saber is the best time you can have with a VR helmet.

If you could summarize 2018’s year of games, how would you?
Strong first party games - particularly from Sony - on one hand, but a collection of indies that came out of nowhere (usually onto Switch) do prove once and for all that there is no better time to be playing video games.

How does 2019 look in comparison to 2018?
I’d say 2018 is up there with some of the best years in gaming. Along with 2017 which was also very strong. 2019 by comparison does feel like a bit of a come down. The first party lineup from Sony hasn’t been amazing, Xbox by comparison has been fairly average. There’s still been a lot of great games - Outer Wilds came out of nowhere and will probably be number one for me and it’s about as rich an experience as Obra Dinn or Into The Breach. I really enjoyed Void Bastards, Untitled Goose Game and I’m loving what Bungie are doing with Destiny 2. With exception to Sekiro and maybe Control, most of the triple As have largely been treading water. If anything, I’m most grateful to Xbox Games Pass for delivering a consistently decent pack of games to be playing every month. It’s meant I’ve spent less on actually buying games. I have been satisfied in 2019 but I think 2020 will probably be better. Still excited for Fallen Order as I love Respawn and I’m holding out hope that Death Stranding will be a transformative experience. Even if I think Wilmot’s Warehouse will probably be the 2019 encumbrance simulator of choice.


The further I get away from The Missing JJ Macfield and the Island of Memories, the more I appreciate that entire game. At the time, I thought of it as a sister piece to Celeste and I think I like that comparison more as time has gone on. It’s rougher and more gruesome for sure, but it’s also doing the same platforming as metaphor for mental health struggles.