The last time I’ve done such a list was in 2016. I started this blog post with the title as “top X”, because I have no idea how many games this list will have in the end.
When trying to figure out which games should be on the list, my first stop was my Steam profile, looking at the games I’ve played the most. I had first planned to make two separate lists again for games released in 2018 and games released before that, but some games released at the end of 2017 and I didn’t even hear about them until 2018, so this seemed a bit weird to me. I decided to instead separate the MMOs from the other games as they are noteably older.
Number 7: Stars in Shadow (Release Date: January 2017)
This game is representative of several turn-based strategy games that I bought (it’s a weakness of mine, I admit it!), but never played that much because I feel as if I’m not “getting” everything the game has to offer and I’m missing important mechanisms because of that. And yet, I really enjoyed my time playing Stars in Shadow and it’s a game I will definitely play again sooner rather than later!
Number 6: Surviving Mars (Release Date: March 2018)
Not a turn-based, but a (slow) real-time city-building game. Another weakness of mine when it comes to games. And yet, I could not place the game any higher than number 6. Whenever I start the game up again, I feel as if I should play the tutorial again, because I have forgotten which vehicle can do what and which buildings should be placed first when colonizing Mars. I don’t know what it is and why I feel that way, but here it is. Other games succeed in making me feel right at home with the gameplay and the controls even if I’ve not played the game in a long time and when a game like this comes around and it doesn’t work that way for me, it’s a bit disappointing. Still, Surviving Mars is a fun game and I enjoy building biomes and watching my first Martians go to work etc.
Number 5: Grim Dawn (Release Date: February 2016)
I love this ARPG, because they developers implemented a control scheme for the Steam controller which means that I can play the game even with my hand aching. But of course, this isn’t the only reason. I enjoy running through the open maps and I like that you can choose two classes for your character to mix. The latest DLC is from October 2017 and the next DLC will come early 2019, so the developers are still working actively on the game. The latest DLC also added the necromancer class which is – together with the shaman – what I’m playing. I get lost in the world quite frequently (not playing regularly), but I prefer that over smallish linear maps like Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor – Marytr often has.
Number 4: Orwell: Ignorance is Strength (Release Date: Feburary 2018)
I had played the first game, Orwell, and got really excited when I received the first marketing emails about the second game. It’s not gotten as many good reviews as the first one, but I enjoyed both! They are basically “walking simulators”, only that you are clicking around, gathering information in newspapers, blogs, people’s private email accounts and mobile phones (you work for the government and get access to tools that allow you to spy on your citizens). The story unfolds as you go along and you get to make a couple of choices that lead to different endings. I’ve only played through the game once, so I can’t say much about any differences – and I wouldn’t, because I don’t want to put any spoilers here.
If I had made the list two days ago, Jurassic World Evolution would not have been on there! I bought the game before we went to visit my family and I decided to start it up again after we returned. I knew that I would like it once I get the feeling that I “get” it (as in: know my way around in the controls and the UI and basically know what I need to do without going broke or killing all guests). But I didn’t think I would love it this much! The graphics are amazing and it’s just fun watching your dinosaurs roam their exhibits. But that price tag… just no. I get that it’s a licenced product and probably wasn’t cheap to make at all, but I still would not have paid that much for it. The price now, while it’s on sale, is a steal, though. For close to 14 €, I already got a lot of enjoyment!
Parkasaurus does not get a spot in front of Jurassic World Evolution – but the reason is not that it’s the worse game. It is in Early Access and as such, it’s difficult to properly judge it. Hence, it gets placed together with Jurassic World Evolution (dinosaurs are dinosaurs!). It’s a lot more light-hearted with its comic graphics, of course, but it also shares a lot of similarities like hatching/incubating the dinosaurs, placing exhibits, research, sending your team to excavation sites to get fossils and so on. It’s currently very easy, though, and doesn’t give you any challenge (something the two developers are working on). But the price is much nicer than JWE and it certainly does have a lot of potential!
Number 2: Two Point Hospital (Release Date: August 2018)
From all games on this list, this game is easily the one that got most of my gaming time! So why still only number 2 and not the first spot? Well, it is a hospital-building game and it does its job perfectly. It’s fun, quirky, with a reasonable amount of challenge. It’s the perfect game to play in the evening when I want to relax. It is a game belonging to a genre that I love playing, so it’s not too hard to catch my attention. And since it’s very well-made and offers lots of content with its different hospitals, it’s easy for me to spend so many hours in there. So don’t get me wrong, it deserves this spot on my list and if you like games like this, you definitely need to check it out! But in a way, other than the quirky setting, it doesn’t do anything better than other games in this genre that I’ve been playing before (and am still playing). It’s a great game and one where I gladly bought the DLC, but compared to other building games it’s nothing extraordinary either.
Number 1: The Painscreek Killings (Release Date: September 2017)
While I spent lots of evenings playing Two Point Hospital, the game that made me not want to turn off the PC and that made me want to continue playing even when I was too tired already and it was past my usual bedtime, was The Painscreek Killings. I had to find out who killed Vivian Roberts (not a spoiler, don’t worry, it’s in the title of their website)! Apart from the very end where the tone of the game changes for a bit and it gets stressful, it was an amazing game that let me openly, without handholding, explore and look at everything and put together all the pieces of information that were left behind until I knew what had happened. The game doesn’t give you any directions and you’re free to explore the surroundings. It does suggest you write down your own notes and that’s what I did. I had a very extensive mindmap on my PC listing all the details I had found out (and they did come in handy, e. g., when I wanted to get to somebody’s house as I had written down their addresses). I also remember that apart from not wanting to go to bed, I did start the game first thing in the mornings (on the weekend, of course!). I just wish there were more games like this one, especially games that do such a great job in letting you explore everything in a non-linear way.
Honorable mentions: MMOs
The MMO category is just a list of honorable mentions as nothing great or new was released in 2018 that caught my attention.
Number 3: Rift Prime
If you’ve played any of Trion’s games recently, you can’t have missed the surprise sale of the company to gamigo. With this, the future of Rift is quite uncertain. Gamigo did announce that they are not planning to close Rift, but when and to what extent we are going to see new content is definitely unknown as is the future of their legacy server, Rift Prime. Still, it was fun while it lasted? I liked playing my rogue on that server and getting to play through the low level content without any decked out characters killing everything on sight. It was great to be playing with so many other low level characters together.
Number 2: Elder Scrolls Online
I finally got into Elder Scrolls Online, but I still haven’t made up my mind of which character will be my main. The choice is between a templar and a dragonknight. ESO got their second expansion this year, Summerset. Apparently, new characters now all start in that new region which confused me quite a bit. Other than that, I like that it is an MMO and you can play with others, but the quests feel like a single player game when you choose to play on our own. That is, I notice I’m listening to the characters and reading up on the stories behind the quests more often than I do in other MMOs. I just wish it had a conventional easy to access auction house.
Number 1: Lord of the Rings Online
This was quite a surprise for me. I was certain that my time in LotRO was over. I had even uninstalled the game. But then I decided to check it out again and when they announced their legacy server, I knew I would return to the game! Given the fact that I have a lifetime subscription, this wasn’t a difficult decision to make. It didn’t cost me anything, after all. Apart from me, bookahnerk and two friends decided to return to the game as well, so I am not only and it feels like the good old times that we used to have (and are having again now).
Honorable mention: Game of 2019
Tropico 6 can’t officially be on my list of games 2018. It’s not in an Early Access state like Parkasaurus, but in closed beta (well, kind of closed, as you can play if you pre-purchase the game) and will only be officially released in January 2019. But looking at Tropico 4 and the hours I spent with that game as well as Tropico 5 and the hours I spent in that game despite not even liking it as much as Tropico 4, it’s a safe bet that I will be playing Tropico 6 a lot once it releases! In fact, I have been playing it quite a bit already in beta and I can’t wait for the release, so everything will be permanent. The developers also seem to be listening to feedback and implementing things that the community asks for when it comes to UI choices etc., so that’s always a bonus! The soundtrack is also great again and it’s one of the few games where I regularly turn up the volume of the music.
So this is my list of my top games in 2018 with five being released in 2018 and one coming in January. I guess this means that overall, it was a good gaming year for me! At least, when it comes to single player games.