End of Year 2018: Favorite Game

Favorite Game

2018, like 2017, was a year of surprises. Though those surprises were different. The
Battle Royale genre shifted and stratified, some indie games hit (real) big and December became a major time for new releases.

Despite these surprises and changes, the essence of what makes a game a favorite remains as unknowable as ever. It is up to you to determine why a game is your favorite of 2018. Did it change your perception of a genre? Did it tap into a theme that deeply resonated with you? Or did it simply blow you away with innovation or polish?

While we can come observe themes and currents by what people choose, this is your favorite game of 2018. Surprise everyone or stick to a stalwart, show everyone why this game is your favorite of 2018.

Nomination Submissions

[click here for access to the submission form]

You will have until 5th January to nominate your games – this is our cut-off ahead of polling going live.

Remember: you can nominate up to three games, so be creative with your choices!

Be sure to check the Q&A section below if you have questions, otherwise feel free to reach out to one of us! We hope you enjoy this event and we’re excited to see what sorts of discussion each category inspires!


Q: End of Year? What's that?

A: I’m glad you asked! Just head over to our pinned topic if you need a catch up! You can also find details on the process for the event here.

Q: How do I nominate a game?

A: To nominate a game, head on over to our google form and write down your submissions in the appropriate field. You may nominate up to three games and you will be able to edit this submission at any time by returning to the google form (before the nomination date closes).

As the nominations will be done externally, this thread will instead be the place to discuss what your favorites were and to make the case for them if you feel strongly. We welcome thoughtful posts about how you made your decision, as long as we keep it positive and respectful.

Q: When does the nomination process end?

A: The period of time to make your nominations will end January 5th, 2019.

Q: What games can I nominate?

A: For this category, we’re specifically looking for games that were released between 10th December 2017 - 15th December 2018.

Games that either entered Early Access or hit 1.0 during this period are eligible.

Ports, remakes, and remasters are not eligible.

Standalone games/expansions are eligible, however Downloadable Content (DLC) is not.

Mobile and browser games are eligible as long as they meet all other relevant criteria.

The moderation team reserves the right to remove any game from nomination if necessary.

  • Thank you to @Emily for the banner!
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Can I be the first person to say Celeste? Since it was one of the first things I played this year, I kept expecting something to top it. Into the Breach was also an incredible game, and Forza Horizon 4 really surprised me as someone not usually into driving games. But I picked up Celeste again a few days ago to see if it really was everything I remembered it being and it was just instant bliss. Everything about that game’s design and feel is fantastic, its soundtrack and art design are moving and perfect for the experience, and the writing incorporates this incredibly moving and powerful story about mental health and self-care and ahhhhh that game is sublime.

And on top of all that, it’s just a brilliant platformer. Having stuck through the B and C sides, there are so many reasons to come back to it, whether you’re into the tough-as-nails gameplay or just want to the really moving story. I haven’t even mentioned Assist Mode yet for its pretty unparalleled take on modifying difficulty. Gah. Please. Game of the year.


Right there with you on Celeste, that game is incredible. Halfway through the year I wondered if it was just an in the moment kind of thing, so I decided to replay it and it was honestly just as good as I remembered. Just a masterclass in thoughtful game design and narrative, everything fits so well together and it is just brimming with charm.

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Red Dead Redemption 2

This game is not perfect, but it is pretty fucking amazing.

After GTA V, I was absolutely ready for another Rockstar game that wallowed in tiresome nihilism and ignorant, offensive, bullshit masquerading as “social commentary.” Imagine my surprise then when, instead of that, I got this beautiful, shockingly earnest, messy as hell, life-affirming epic about believing love and kindness exist and that redemption can be found in choosing to follow that path.

Look, there’s a lot to talk about with this game and I’ll probably add to this post when I get time, but for now, this is what I got. I love all of you.



I’ve given my spiel about it many times. It’s easily one of the best games I have ever played. If you held up Chrono Trigger and Crosscode and asked me to pick which one I liked more…

… well, i’d pick Chrono Trigger, let’s not be crazy here. But it would be a lot harder of a choice than most any other game that i’ve ever played. It is just absolutely brilliant. Literally everyone should either play it or watch it being played to see its story. I cannot say enough good things about it.

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Gotta rep my boy Monster Hunter World. I still vividly remember seeing its announcement last year at Sony’s E3 press conference and absolutely losing it. I’ve been a fan of this franchise since Monster Hunter Freedom 2 back on PSP and have easily sunk more than a thousand hours into this series. I knew this newest entry wouldn’t disappoint, but I was legitimately taken aback by how widely acclaimed it was across gaming critics and press, and just how many new fans it brought on board.

What’s this? You mean to mean to tell me Capcom just announced a new expansion for World slated to release next fall??? If this is anything like the ‘expansions’ of previous Monster Hunter titles…

heavy breathing


I’m planning on squeezing in some more games before the end of the year, but currently? Celeste takes the cake (pun intended). It’s a masocore game with a heart of gold, warm aesthetics, and a narrative that is touching and relevant to the game itself.

There’s so much to say, and maybe I’ll say more, but that’s it right now. Celeste is lovely.


I’m not the first to say it and I won’t be the last but yeah Celeste is a masterpiece. Pure mechanical perfection and endlessly clever level design, all wrapped up in lush visuals and packing one of the best game soundtracks I’ve ever heard. 100+ hours later and I still love it just as much as ever.


I played Papers, Please last year and thought it was pretty great, but it didn’t absorb me completely like Return of the Obra Dinn did this year. I somehow had no idea this game was coming and after this I think I’ll have to closely follow Lucas Pope’s stuff, as this is probably one of my favorites of all time, not just this year. It’s such an intricately crafted puzzle that I’m shocked it works so perfectly, as I am by how every crewman is recognizable in this beautiful monochrome style. On top of that, it’s onboard an 19th century sailing ship, which is 100% my aesthetic.

I accounted for everyone on the ship over the course of a preliminary 30 minute session followed by a marathon seven hours that went deep into the night. There is no other game that has me eagerly looking forward to the time five years from now when I’ll have forgotten everything and can experience it a second time. Please don’t sleep on this one.


Slay The Spire is the perfect digital card game.

The team at MegaCrit synthesizes the fun of a great physical deck building game like Dominion with the systems of successful rogue-likes such as Spelunky. It includes an incredible amount of modifiers without making playing it feel like a spreadsheet. The randomization which could feel arbitrary or punishing is implemented in a way that gives the player choice. In Slay The Spire your decisions cascade and stack in ways that can be challenging to anticipate but once the run is over it is easy to pin point why things went down the way they did. Failure is instructive and experimentation is encouraged. This makes early runs of the game feel rewarding instead of discouraging. Even at 80 + hours into the game I feel like I’m still learning about different combinations and strategies.

Each time I embark to slay the spire I encounter something unnerving, surprising or even beautiful. There are strange cults, dangerous pits, twisting hallways, and old libraries. It feels like a living place of ancient knowledge brought to life by illustrations from a cursed storybook. While the monsters and beasts that lurk in its rooms become familiar the spire itself remains forbidden and unknowable. All of this makes Slay The Spire my game of the year for 2018.


I’m not sure what to nominate with Hollow Knight ineligible…
I could make a case for Mooncrash, the stand alone DLC for prey that came out this year.
I was a little worried when it was described as Roguelike, but it’s actually a very clever game within a game with a fully fleshed out story.


Ok, I get it. What I’m about to propose as the Favorite Game this year is not the sexiest choice. It’s a paint-by-numbers open world with glossy Sony graphics that uses a license from the biggest media company in the world. It has weird politics about modern day policing and the role of crime in cities. It’s about whitebread Peter Parker for godssakes, even with Miles Morales right there! But hear me out, because Marvel’s Spider-Man is my favorite game to come out in 2018.

Ever since the release of Spider-Man 2, we as a society have known one thing to be true. There is no method of transport in video games that is nearly as enjoyable as webslinging. With a perfect combination of travel speed, player involvement, and visually interesting animation, it’s poetry in motion. And it never has been better than it is in Marvel’s Spider-Man. It’s the glue that holds everything together, making even the most mundane actions a joy to complete. From the first leap out of Peter Parker’s apartment to me finding the final secret landmark, I simply never grew tired of webslinging through the city. Alone that would make Spider-Man one of the great games of 2018, but it does so much more, particularly in the world it creates.

I’m not saying the entirety of Spider-Man’s story holds up. Truth be told, I kind of stopped caring about the Negative Man’s motives like a quarter of the way into the story. But the game has such incredible moments. There were few realer scenes this year than Peter and MJ texting and trying to repair what’s left of their relationship. And remember the impact of the scene when Aunt May reveals she knew who Spider-Man was? Or how about the glee of Miles and Peter hanging on the ceiling together at the end?

I get that Spider-Man is a fanboy pick for me, but I do genuinely think it deserves Favorite Game consideration. Did it change the perception of a genre? Definitely not. Did it blow me away with innovation and polish? No and yes. But it did tap into a theme that deeply resonated with me. That anyone can wear the mask, and do good, however much they can, to make things better.


Since @Navster already covered Spider-man, I’ll put up my #2 nomination: Assassin’s Creed Odyssey.

You ever have those moments where someone has an idea, and it’s so instantly, blindingly obvious that you can’t believe it hadn’t been done already? I have a feeling that someone at Ubisoft had one of those moments.

You know how, in previous AC games, you would be hunting for a Piece of Eden, find it at the end, have superpowers for two minutes, then the game would be over? Well what if you started the game with it.

The developers at Ubisoft finally fully embraced all the Piece of Eden, Precursor Race, Animus bullshit and just went crazy. The result: turning your character into a full-on superhero. Jump 150 meters straight off a cliff and land on your feet? Go for it. Silently warp around a camp, leaving every bandit dead in about five seconds? Knock yourself out. Have 10-minute long battles against various mythological creatures? Sure, what the hell. Single-handedly win the freaking Olympics? Damn right. (I guess they didn’t test for performance enhancing artifacts back then.)

Just watch out for boars. Those things are dang kryptonite.


God of War is the only game from this year I played and finished, so God of War. It had its problems and was massively over-hyped, then suffered a bunch of hype backlash, but I can appreciate what they’re trying to do with this new direction, and I hope it pans out for the next two games.


I’ve had not a lot of time (or energy) to engage with games this year, or so it feels.
So, I’m going to go with the two games I actually spent time with this year (even though one of them is a beta currently):

Into The Breach


Magic The Gathering: Arena

It’s probably notable that both games allow you to play them in relatively short chunks (around 5 to 10 minutes), and have either no realtime pressure or very little (MTG:A’s “turn timer” is pretty generous). [I’ve also had to spend no money at all in MTG:A, and am still enjoying it with the free cards and pack drops, so I think they tuned “freemium” okay here.]


Hitman 2

Didn’t plan on playing it for 65 hours and I did over the last month. First to kill the targets in each map. Then to finish Silent Assassin challenge on each map. After that, finish all Mission Stories. Finally, for this year at least, maximum Mastery of maps. 65 hours mostly well spent.


Subnautica nabbed my top spot early and never left it. The best trick it pulls off is making a relatively small, hand-crafted world seem as vast and unknowable as anything I’ve ever encountered in games. The second-best trick is making you think you’re blazing your own unique path through that world, even when you’re not. There’s a lot I love about Subnautica, whether it’s the non-intrusive storytelling, the animations that give the wildlife so much personality, how it posits a world where humans aren’t the aren’t the apex predator, or the way it color-codes its environments to convey wonder and dread; thing I always come back to, though, is the progression. My favorite moments (boarding the Aurora, the alien ruins, building the Cyclops) all come down to giving the player just enough breadcrumbs and the right set of tools to make every discovery feel like a monumental achievement.


I think the only three games I’ve played so far this year that came out this year were Battletech, Into the Breach, and Dead Cells. Of those, Into the Breach takes the cake, I think, but they’re all very very close.

If I can throw in a game I played for the first time this year, it would probably go to Pyre, even though it came out in 2017.


Celeste has already been brought up several times in this thread, but it not only did it blow me away in January - I’ve been thinking about it the whole rest of the year. Masocore platformers are not a genre I normally go for (I bounced off Super Meat Boy pretty hard), but Celeste’s welcoming style (and assist options), gorgeous art & sound direction, and moving story all pulled me in. On a personal note, I have had to grapple with anxiety this year in a way I haven’t before and there are several moments in Celeste’s story and its gameplay that I have come back to repeatedly as a source of consolation and strength. I can’t think of higher praise than that.

Into the Breach also deserves a nomination from me for being my go-to bus game, and having an incredible (yet effortless seeming) combo of accessible and deep strategy.

Lastly, let’s not forget about Minit! In a year of maximalism - ok every year in gaming is one but still - the tightly designed minimalism of Minit was like a cleansing summer afternoon rain. Pair that with quirky characters, a great sense of humor, and themes (smash capitalism!) that are dear to my heart and you have a truly memorable game. It gave me those good, good Link’s Awakening vibes and you know I always am down for that.


I came here to promote Subnautica as well. It’s a superbly made game, that looks like a survival- open world game, but is actually also a really wonderful sci-fi adventure that makes some pretty bold choices about what you as a human protagonist can and cannot do. Huge spoiler here, definitely do not read if you haven’t played-> I really loved the way the two alien intelligences are portrayed, both have understandable motivations, rather than being the simple good or evil they first seem. Few books get this right, never mind games. I think there’s some weakness in the “corporations are bad yo!” humour, but if that’s the worst thing I can say about a game, GOTY for sure.

It might be a bit tough for a game that came out so early in the year, and had spent so much time in Early Access to get enough attention, but I’m willing to knock on doors and pass out pamphlets for this one.

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