Game of the Year 2018

Oh boy look at me splitting up my work into two separate posts like some kind of blogger. Kotaku's going to snatch me up any day now, you guys. You're going to be seeing me in the big time, making one post every 7 months as my usual schedule pertains. But enough of the bullshit. My week free trial of HBO Go has HBO Gone and season 2 of Westworld sucked a lot of ass. In fact it reminded me a lot of that TV show about viruses and time skips and that brother from Wings was there, but we'll talk about that later. It's time for Words That Kill's annual "who the fuck even knows about this website" Game of the Year Awards, in which case I played all of the wrong games and make a choice that makes everyone mad. So let's get into it. Oh and this time there are pictures because I know how to treat my babies.

5 - Shadow of the Colossus

It's just... so gorgeous.

This game was kind of frustrating and honestly not as good as it probably was back in the day, but, well, honestly it was fascinating taking a look into one of gaming's "legacies" for the first time, and in a super beautiful graphical overhaul. I played Shadow of the Colossus when it was HDified back on the PS3 along with Ico, but I never got very far into the game. I just couldn't get used to it. Quite honestly I didn't like it so I never played it, and because of this I never gave Ico a chance either. So here comes the actual, from the ground up remake which is so, actually beautiful that it's hard to describe.

I mean the game is interesting enough, right? You fight these giant, or, well, colossal creatures and you really feel their weight as they slam around the world, but the world itself is so beautiful I spent hours just walking around and exploring it with photo mode. I am so glad this game had a photo mode. I'm a bit of a sad sap sometimes, but looking around the world of SOTC I was just depressed that I couldn't go there. Like, man, this place is fucking beautiful. I'd love to just get away from all this crazy bullshit of the real world and hang out in these gorgeous hillsides and whatever remains of these ruins. But the internet doesn't exist so I'd probably just lose my fucking mind and get killed by a snake or something so that's probably not a great idea.

4 - Red Dead Redemption 2

Arthur Morgan

"But Ryan, didn't you shit on this game in your last post?"

First of, who are you and how did you get into my house? Secondly, yes.

I think this game is a MESS. Technically, directionally. I think this is what happens when you develop a game across several years without perhaps having a strong vision of what you want out of the actual playing it to look like, as opposed to putting a lot of effort into the narrative and making sure your actors are real fucking good at their jobs. Because while I think actually getting your hands on this game and playing it can be a nightmare, a lot of what is in this package is good. Namely the story and the music. Also I think some of it is interesting, like having to manually cock your weapons before you can fire them. I'll be honest I actually like THAT aspect, but having to balance a diet, brush my horse, take a fucking bath, and do any number of various other management aspects just got to be too tedious.

The first two Red Dead games are to this day some of my favorites. Revolver goes all the way back to my childhood on the original Xbox, and Redemption those 8 years ago on PS3. And none of them had this fucking core management bullshit because they weren't SIMULATORS. They were games in which you picked up guns and shot motherfuckers and did cool shit. You do cool shit in RDR2 as well, and there's a lot of cool shit to do, and that's why I'm denoting the game with this post here. Just like I often talked about MGSV being both my most disappointing game of the year it came out as well as my favorite game of the year, RDR2 shares a similar fate as being a fucking mess to play in so many ways while also having some interesting tidbits in there to experience... although I can't help but notice that those tidbits, the music and the story, could be something someone could just watch through on the youtubes and not have to worry about eating a goddamn can of beans or cleaning your weapons or smoking a cigar or... well, you get the picture.

3 - Yakuza Kiwami 2

As you can see, Yakuza Kiwami 2 is still a Yakuza game.

I'm just going to come out and say it, as much as I love these games, I think they are getting worse with each new release. Yakuza 0 was the fucking best so far and honestly still one of the best games I've played of the last few years, but it had the curse of being a prequel that had been developed years after most other entries, so it had a chance to really delve deep into the characters and what makes them tick and distill them into their purest forms before we get to actually know them in the very first entry and beyond. But, not just in terms of story, but in terms of gameplay as well. Being able to switch between different fighting styles in 0 was a thing of beauty. But in Kiwami 2 you just have the one and can be quite repetitive. Which is an ironic criticism for a beat'em up like Yakuza. But 0 had 3 fighting styles to choose from and an unlockable 4th to really shake things up and so it was NEVER boring.

But aside from the gameplay, or at least, fighting style gameplay, Kiwami 2 uses the Dragon Engine for the first time in the Remastered series. Which means it's the engine used in Yakuza 6. It's streamlined and very robust and opens up the game to a modern sensibility. For example, in old Yakuza games, when entering a store you had to go through a loading screen. But now? Oh baby, all stores are just open and available in the open world. You just walk on in and they are ready for you. Which also means you can get into fights there and destroy the place.

Returning from Yakuza 0 is the Cabaret Club Management game which now places Kiryu (and not Majima as it was previously) in the position of running a Cabaret club in Sotenbori. It was fun to hop back in and see some familiar faces but it was basically the same old minigame with no real differences aside from an oil baron button mashing prompt which can allow you to edge out the competition by gaining the bonus that the oil baron provides. In fact that's how I ended up winning the hardest tournament in the Cabaret subquest storyline that I had previously failed once before. This time I managed to just get enough money to win thanks to the money provided by the baron.

Anyway this is turning into a review, and since I didn't review it properly, I'll say: It's unfortunate that Kiryu is still kind of a boring white bread character because Majima has so much depth and intrigue to him that I'd still just rather play as him. It's so tragic to see a guy who puts on his "crazy guy" persona because that's how he has to deal with the bullshit world around him, when deep down inside he's still just like you or me. You do get to see a resolution of his storyline from Yakuza 0 which I thought was nice... and again a reminder that, damnit, I'd honestly just rather play as this guy.

The charm is still here. The substories still go all the way to crazy town and back and are filled with so many hilarious characters and messages of love and forgiveness and hope and friendship in the most incredible and hilarious ways. Kiwami 2 actually features a substory quest that references the poor reviews of Yakuza 3 and that ended up being a goddamn amazing experience to behold for myself. I still love these games but I'd give this game a 3 "Goro Majima may only have one eye but even he can see why kids love the taste of Kiryu Toast Crunch" out of 5. The story on this one got a little... fucking crazy. Even for me. Even for me. Suspension of disbelief is powerful and I can suspend it quite far, but some of the shit that happens in this story is just a little much outside the realm of "oh come the fuck on what the fuck".

2 - Valkyria Chronicles 4

Valkyria Chronicles 4 wastes time calling itself out... unfortunately though it falls back on itself afterwards.

Valkyria Chronicles oh boy how glad I am to be back here once again. After rekindling my love for the first game after playing the remastered version on PS4 and discovering how I loved mechanical racism in video games. This game is no different, although it is more refined and... maybe a little easier?

This game is so fucking good I wasn't sure if this would be my game of the year or not. I guess my rule of thumb for these kinds of things is that, if I have to think about it, the answer is probably no. After all I can't really remember thinking too hard about the other games, for example I knew immediately that The Evil Within and Dragon Quest Builders would both be my personal game of the year in their respective years of release. But this game is really good.

So the thing about Valkyria Chronicles is that VC1 came out and... kinda nobody bought it. It didn't do super great, so they took the series to PSP afterwards. VC2 came out on PSP and would be the last Valkyria Chronicles game to be localized in the west for a bit. I bought it and played it and remembered enjoying it for a time but don't recall beating it. After the poor sales in the west, the third Valkyria Chronicles game was released in Japan only. After that, they released some fucking awful Final Fantasy looking shit that almost killed the franchise and I can only seem to recall everyone hating. Then, by some miracle(Also known as "them releasing Valkyria Chronicles 1 on PC and it selling like fucking hotcakes, thus revitalizing the franchise as a whole") Valkyria Chronicles 4 was born. And am I glad it was.

Set during the time period of the first Valkyria Chronicles, you play as Squad E, a ragtag squad animes just trying to survive a crazy war that only gets crazier as time goes on. It's pure Valkyria Chronicles and I can't get enough of it. I really felt so impressed with myself when playing this game because when I played the first VC I had to save scum a lot because I was really bad at it, but I would play these really crazy missions with dynamic goals in VC4 and be able to complete them without anyone dying, or losing any serious progress, etc. It felt awesome to take control of the battlefield and play the game and not be a scared bitch like I used to be.

Still really grindy though. They unfortunately did not learn a goddamn thing in all of their VC games and so it has made literally no progress in terms of it no longer being a grindy mess, because it's still a grindy mess. So that sucks, and it really kinda held the game back to me. It also takes a weird stance on war as a whole which is kind of weird because the analogues to WWII are as obvious as a slap to the face and, I don't know how to describe it. You kill a lot of people in that game and then all of the sudden it gets really grand-standy about how war is bad and killing is bad and don't be bad and it's like... the fuck?

Anyway this is a shitty review I have no idea why I didn't plan this out better.

1- God of War

oh BOY

Oh boy look at me I'm so original God of War is my game of the year. Honestly I had a really bad year and kinda forgot this even came out this year, as I forgot just about any game came out this year. But quite honestly God of War was such a fucking masterpiece of a game that it's embarrassing that I could forget about it in the first place. Cory Barlog and his team did such an incredible job with this game, I never thought I would be so blown away by a fucking GOD OF WAR game. Like, what the hell.

The Leviathan Axe, the way the story unfolds, the way it's all so lowkey and unlike a typical God of War game, but slowly builds up and you can clearly see where all of the seeds are being planted for the future, it was masterful. And quite frankly I've never felt something so satisfying as being able to just throw that fucking axe as far away into the face of whatever creature I'm fighting and then recalling it and smacking it into the back of the head of another creature on the way back to me. It was satisfying in every conceivable way. It had puzzles, it had a gripping story. The, uh.. the bosses left a lot to be desired. I'm not even going to trip here the bosses straight up were just like the same fucking troll over and over again. I really have to dock points there.

On that topic actually I find it strange that God of War's original schtick was that each boss was basically a god and that the fights were these big overly dramatic things and that each fight was gory and visceral and just, well, fucked, but in the new God of War you just fight like the same troll a lot. Except sometimes it's got fire on it. Anyway, playing Old Man Kratos was a fucking joy, and Christopher Judge really killed it as Kratos. I absolutely loved every second of this awkward old demigod trying and failing to be a good father to his son and I could not imagine any other actor trying to pull that off convincingly. The stories he would tell while riding the boat, the way he would try to connect with his son before realizing he just isn't that kind of person(at least in the beginning anyway) and watching them bond as the journey progressed was just magical.

I really didn't expect some of the stuff that happened in the story, and I was truly blown away by what happened when it did. I really can't wait for the future of God of War because I know it's going to be fucking TIGHT.

Honorable Mentions

If you're on this list, it means you lost, but with style. Which doesn't actually mean anything but I try to keep my website alive and people excited and the more words you read the longer you're going to be here I guess.

Detroit Two Souls Become Human

Personally I think people are fucking crazy wrong about this game. For all of the shit David Cage gets, some rightfully, some not-so-rightfully, I feel like Detroit was the one where he actually figured it all out. I remember playing Beyond: Two Souls and Heavy Rain. I actually liked Heavy Rain but there were times where I fucking hit the buttons and did what what asked of me and it bonked me like I made a mistake. Some of that shit could get complicated and I resented it for that. But with Detroit the controls are actually quite simple and easy to do and I never felt like I missed something or messed up because the game was stupid. If I fucked up, I fucked up.

And sure, while the story can absolutely be cheesy, I thought it was really fun. I liked all of the characters, thought the actors did a fantastic job at their roles and fucking CLANCY BROWN IS IN THIS GAME ARE YOU KIDDING ME HOW IS THIS NOT THE GAME OF THE YEAR?


This game... was unfortunate, I think. It's a fantastic game as well, a real top shelf experience. It brought back Spider-Man(respect the hyphen) and made web slinging something I no longer had to salivate at the mouth while daydreaming about. I could just hop in and get going around New York City once again. But as a story it was pretty obvious, and the gameplay wasn't very complex. It didn't leave me wanting more. I see this game more of a popcorn movie kinda deal. You watch it, eat your popcorn, and when its done you go on with your life.

Aside from some minor nitpicks about the webslinging(Spoiler alert I don't think it's as good as Spider-Man 2 by a long shot), the story had been spoiled by the E3 trailer. I'm not sure who at Insomniac thought it would be a good idea to put the mid-game escalation as a part of the E3 demo but there it was, so full of splendor. I thought FOR SURE that this was a fakeout and there'd be something else in the game, but no, they just straight up revealed that, yo, you already fucking know that the Sinister Six form and fuck you up so get excited for that as you play through most of the game.

Oh yeah and before I move on, how the fuck did they get through an entire Arkham styled game without learning from Batman? Or even the old Spider-Man games? All of the side content is mostly the same. You just go beat people up over and over and over again or chase cars, or defuse bombs and it's just the same shit. There's very litle verity and it became quite frustrating. I was longing for the days when I had to catch people midair and deliver them to hospitals or some shit, or do anything else than the stuff the game asks you to do. Because as it is the side content in the game is not very good, and unfortunately there's a lot of it. Or at least it seems like there is due to how repetitive it can get. So that's unfortunate.

And last but not least,

Hitman 2

I loved the first Hitman, or, at least, the one released in 2016. It was highly replayable and addictive. It gave you so many tools and options to assassinating your targets and it made you feel like you could do anything. The episodic model hurt the game severely and it didn't end up selling very well and so the future of the series was put in jeopardy. Strangely, I was addicted to not just the gameplay, but the story as well.

See, Hitman was stylish. Too stylish for its own good. It gave me goosebumps to play through the first mission and see the intro video and the intimidating monologue from the Shadow Client and the kinda "previously on Hitman" montage video of Agent 47 assassinating various individuals to fucking kickass music. I was hooked instantly.

Cut to Hitman 2 and the budget is lowered. It's a new publisher now. Square Enix let IO Interactive keep the Hitman IP which is almost unheard of in this day and age, but IOI managed to secure a publisher in Warner Brothers and so Hitman 2 exists now. But with a lower budget of some kind as the cutscenes lack facial animations so they aren't, like, animated but rather... frame by frame storyboards? I'm not sure how to describe it but it's just a single frame of animation of someone standing there, then it cuts to them aiming a gun, then it shows them standing side by side, like a slideshow I guess.

The style is gone. The thing I wanted most, is gone. And worse yet, the story took a dive too. Suddenly the intimidating Shadow Client is like Agent 47's fucking Cousin 47 or some shit and it's like ehhhhhhhhhhh. Due to how this game also sold very poorly I don't think we're going to get a Hitman 3, but alas. People say that this game is a masterpiece. That it's incredible. I have put a lot of time into Hitman 2 but it's mostly been into the older maps, since if you've purchased the original Hitman 2016 you can play the original maps but in the new remastered mechanics of Hitman 2(Which is fucking genius and has injected new life into something I've already poured countless hours into).

I'm not sure if Hitman 2 is the masterpiece everyone says it is, but I've played so much of the original maps in Hitman 2 by now that it must be doing something right, right? I can't speak much to the Hitman 2 maps other than I like them, they just don't stand out to me as much. Maybe I haven't given them as much of a chance yet, who knows. But when it came to the first Hitman game I was gripped instantly, but Hitman 2's original maps haven't really grabbed me much in the same way. I'll keep playing and maybe I'll report back if everything goes well and we all survive new years.

That's it for Words That Kill for 2018. I can't believe it's been another year. Certainly not as good as 2017 let me tell you, but let's hope 2019 can stand and deliver... Come on Death Stranding. Gonna need some of that Norman Fetus real soon.

Peace and love everyone, happy new years.

My name is Ryan. I like to play video games and Dungeons and Dragons and all kinds of other cool stuff. I also like to write. This is my website, it's nothing special, but I write about topics from time to time that probably make no sense. But if you think they do make sense, then hang around and check out some other articles. My friends call them "blogs" but goddamnit I've got a URL and everything, so they're "articles".

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