I play a lot of video games from year to year, so making a top ten list in January summing up the past twelve months doesn’t feel quite appropriate. Therefore, I have decided to do a wrap-up of the first half of the year! Here are a few rules for the list:
- This is not a list of games released in 2018. Since I feed off of Steam sales, I don’t play a lot of games in the year that they’re released unless I’m really excited for them.
- Only one game per franchise. Otherwise, one franchise would be taking up a good portion of this list.
- No replays of games. I obviously only replay my favorite games, so it’s kind of cheating to put them on this list!
With the rules aside, let’s take a look at my favorite gaming experiences for the first half of 2018!
10. Killing Time at Lightspeed
Killing Time at Lightspeed is a great visual novel of sorts. There is a spaceship that can take someone to another planet in half an hour, instead of the twenty-nine earth years that it should take. What does one do while taking an interplanetary taxi ride? Scroll through Facebook, of course! The game’s central premise is scrolling through the news feed while on a ride across space, keeping up with friends and acquaintances. Every time the news feed is refreshed, a few years goes by due to the high travel speeds.
When I played this game, I was blown away by the story. Watching friends meet up, begin to date, and get married in a short span of time, while also watching the world evolve politically was a really clever game mechanic. The game is short, clocking in at around two hours for me, but it was a wild ride.
9. Loot Box Quest
A guilty pleasure of mine is that of the clicker game genre. There is just something about watching that number constantly going higher that is incredibly addicting. Loot Box Quest combines all of the best elements of a clicker game, while also being a biting satire of the video game industry in the modern era. Grinding to make the money to open the loot boxes is amusing, and the addictive nature of a clicker game is the perfect backdrop for this topic.
I rarely play mobile titles, but the lovely ladies of What’s Good Games talked about it on their podcast, which led me to pick it up almost immediately afterwards. It’s only half an hour or so in length, but it so beautifully encapsulates the stages of a relationship. I have played this game multiple times since my first experience, and it never ceases to amaze me with its charming artwork.
7. Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning
I played the demo for this game when it first game out years ago and fell in love. Ultimately, I never bought the actual game until recently, and I really wish I had played it so much earlier than I did. The gameplay is some of the best I’ve experienced in an open-world setting, employing an MMO-style combat system and flexible classes that don’t restrict the player to the usual fighter, mage, or rogue dynamic. The story was written by R.A. Salvatore, which allowed for a deep fantasy world that is rich with lore. It’s a shame that this game didn’t get more attention at launch, because a sequel would have been phenomenal.
6. Mass Effect Andromeda
I put off playing this game because of the horribly negative reviews it got at launch. Of all of the Bioware titles I have played, I would agree that this is the worst one. Even after all of the patches for the game, the animations are still cringe-worthy, the plot feels thin and under-developed, and I still encountered a myriad of graphical and gameplay glitches.
After that less-than-glowing endorsement of the game, why is it on this list? Well, even the worst Bioware title is still a Bioware title, and Mass Effect Andromeda still manages to succeed where it counts. There are some characters, like Jaal, that are just as interesting as their original trilogy counterparts, the open worlds were fun to explore, there’s finally a vehicle players can drive that doesn’t control like its on a skating rink with no gravity, and I genuinely had a lot of fun playing this game. Objectively, this isn’t a great game and I would put it nowhere near a list of “best games of all time”, but for my subjective list, this game is a ton of fun and I don’t regret a second I spent playing it.
5. Last Day of June
This is my biggest surprise of the year so far. I got this game in a Humble Monthly bundle and decided to play it on a whim. Similarly to Florence, this game captures human relationships in a beautiful way, while adding a supernatural Groundhog’s Day-style twist. The player controls a widower as he tries to relive the day his wife died repeatedly in order to save her. The entire game is emotional, watching bits and pieces of the couple’s lives, and it all leads up to a touching finale that left me teary-eyed.
4. Finding Paradise
To the Moon is one of my favorite indie games of all time, so the first true sequel was a long time coming for me. Part of the reason I appreciated this game so much is because I played it sitting next to my boyfriend as we tried to figure out what the major plot twists and turns meant for the overall story arc of this series. The game didn’t emotionally resonate with me quite as well as the last one did, but I still can’t wait to see what the next entry has in store for my two favorite Sigmund Corp. doctors.
3. Assassin’s Creed II
This game took me five years to finish, but I’m glad I finally got through it. I’m not great at stealth games, so I would get frustrated with a mission and put the game down for six months before starting it up again. In spite of how painful it sometimes was to see this game through to the end, I absolutely loved running along Italian rooftops, and clearing an entire room of guards without getting detected felt exhilarating. I intend to play the rest of the Ezio trilogy this year, instead of over the next ten years, because I want to know how his story ends.
2. Disgaea PC
Speaking of games it took me a long time to beat, I first played Disgaea on my PSP as a kid. It was my first tactical RPG, and I was…not great at it, which led me to create a party so bad that I got stuck around chapter ten and never went back to it. My boyfriend bought me this game as a gift on Steam, remembering that I had talked about it before, so I gave it another shot. Thankfully, I am much better at Disgaea now and managed to see the end of Laharl’s quest through the netherworld. I haven’t done any of the crazy post-game content yet, like getting to level 9999 and fighting the crazy secret bosses, but I know that I will be going back to this game repeatedly over the coming years.
1. Danganronpa (Series)
How do I even sum up this series coherently? I will probably do a larger retrospective review of the series at another time, so I’ll keep this brief for the moment. I had the pleasure of playing through all three of the main Danganronpa games this year, and they are some of the best games I’ve ever played. In particular, the second game is probably in my top ten games of all time.
The premise of the game is reasonably simple: A bunch of high school kids are trapped in a high school and told that they must kill each other to make it out of the school alive. When a murder occurs, the remaining living students must hold a class trial to determine who the murderer is. If the murderer is found, that person is executed. If the murderer is not found, everyone but the murderer is executed and the murderer is free to leave the school grounds. Also, the mastermind behind these killing games is a robot teddy bear. The game has so many plot twists and turns that even the most keen-eyed player will get caught off-guard at some point, and the class trials play out in a really fun mix of minigames and fast debates.
What really makes Danganronpa shine, however, are the amazing cast of characters. Every game has a new cast of sixteen students to get to know and become attached to, which makes the class trials even better. On more than one occasion, a character I loved was the victim or the culprit, which led to a lot of emotional turmoil as I worked through the class trial. Overall, I seriously cannot recommend these games enough, so please go play them all.
Well, that’s my list! What are your favorite games this year so far? Let me know in the comments! I’ll see you all at the end of the year for my favorite games of the second half of the year.