Every year there are a ton of video games that are released on all platforms. There are so many games in fact, there’s rarely enough time in the year to play through them. No matter how much you might say you’ll get to them, at some point your backlog becomes overwhelming. However, not every game is worth your time, so instead of needlessly adding more games to the pile in 2019, let me provide suggestions for the 2018 releases you should really be focusing on.
Each of the ten games I’ve listed has something interesting or fun to offer, regardless of the types of games you like to play often. Sometimes you just have to mix things up in order to live a little more. The time you put into playing a game you’ve never tried might let you have more of an incredible experience than if you tried finishing a bunch of mediocre ones. So go ahead and take a deep look at these ten great games you probably forgot to play in 2018.
Way of the Passive Fist (PS4)
Who doesn’t love a good brawler? There’s just something primal about diving into a battle against hundreds of opponents and winning, it’s what makes many kung-fu movies so appealing to people. But what about the idea of being a master of the fist to the point nobody could touch you? That’s exactly the pitch for Way of the Passive Fist from Household Games. Instead of outright beating up your enemies, you let them beat themselves with your incredible defensive moves. Dodging enemy attacks and using their own weight and momentum against them is the stuff that masters are made up.
That doesn’t mean you still don’t get to layeth the smackdown on everybody however, this is a side-scrolling brawler after all. Way of the Passive Fist borrows a lot of the best elements from classic beat-em-ups like Final Fight, Streets of Rage, Maximum Carnage, and many other classics from the 16-bit era of gaming. It even has a similar visual style akin to those same games, so if you grew up playing any of the classics you’ll find something to love about it immediately. Enemies will come at you fiercely from all directions, but you’re so good that you can dodge everything and knockout everyone with a powerful blow that covers the whole screen. The game is out on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC and is a cheap buy for anyone looking to get a quick, yet fun retro-inspired experience.
Owlboy is a charming and colorful game that you can get for any console or PC. It has a lot of familiar elements that people will recognize from games like Super Mario Bros. and the Castlevania series, but it takes a very lighthearted approach to everything. The music and graphics are 16-bit inspired, but the characters and world that you explore are all original. He might not be as intimidating as someone like Batman, but Owlboy still has plenty of solid moves to get around and packs a punch.
The interesting part about Owlboy is that many of its levels are environments you explore have you flying around. It wouldn’t make sense for a game titled Owlboy if you couldn’t fly in some capacity. Though not the central part of the game, gliding around the screen to discover new areas and find hidden secrets in the colorful world has a feel-good charm to it. Added on to that, many of the characters you come across have a goofy and fun wit to them that enhances much of what you do in the game. If you ever wanted to play something that gave you more than just challenging gameplay, you can’t go wrong hopping onto a flight with Owlboy.
There are very few PlayStation VR games that take advantage of virtual reality technology in enticing ways. Moss is one of those games that does something very cool with VR, but also has a whimsical charm to it. Anybody that has seen movies like “The Secret of Nimh” will immediately fall in love with Moss’ charming heroine Quill and connect with her as she explores the dangerous world you’re plunged into. Using the PSVR controls and headset, you can guide Quill around obstacles and puzzles filled with all kinds of dangers, but you do so as you look around in virtual reality. Want to peer behind a column or wall in the environment that Quill is in? You can actually do so and get a new perspective on what’s around you.
The best part about Moss is how detailed the levels and characters are in-game. Little things like dust or dramatic lighting add an intense layer of immersion when you’re viewing the game through the PSVR headset. You can do things like lean in close to Quill’s location and she’ll interact with you, as does many other things within the game’s stages you explore. It’s a very cool virtual reality experience that shows the better aspects of what VR can do for gaming, if not anything else that uses the technology. But if you’re not concerned with how crazy the tech can be and just want a great experience in a game that uses VR, then Moss is one of the best games out there to do so.
The Messenger (Switch)
Did you grow up with the NES or the Super Nintendo? Love playing hard games like Ninja Gaiden? Then you absolutely need to play The Messenger on Nintendo Switch and Steam. The game is best described as what would happen if Ninja Gaiden or Shinobi fused together with Castlevania to make an all-new kind of game. But if that comparison is too much for you, then all you need to know is that The Messenger has lots of ninja action and exploration that you’ll get highly addicted to. It only helps that all of this has an incredible soundtrack and graphics that complement everything you see on screen, along with some funny fourth-wall breaking writing that will make you giggle at its references and witty humor.
As good as that all sounds however, that isn’t the best part of The Messenger at all. Half-way through the game, you gain the ability to swap between 8-bit and 16-bit styled graphics, which adds a whole new layer of fun and challenge to the gameplay. The visuals and music changes with the style, taking already cool sounding music and making it even better. The game is at its best when you can quickly swap between both styles as you get around obstacles, leading to some very cool looking effects. Even if you didn’t grow up playing Ninja Gaiden or anything similar, you’re going to have a very fun time diving into the world of The Messenger.
Octopath Traveler (Switch)
Octopath Traveler is one of those games that takes everything great about the role-playing genre and turns it up to 11. If you’re a fan of Japanese role-playing games, this is absolutely a must-play for you. Octopath Traveler tells multiple stories about eight different people that are loosely intertwined. Each of their stories is different and tackles a variety of subjects, while maintaining a mature tone over the world you can explore. You can find a lot of inspiration in here from some of the most iconic games in the genre, but Octopath Traveler still manages to give a unique and interesting experience that RPG enthusiasts will love.
The gameplay is very similar to older Final Fantasy games, with turn-based battles and dungeon exploration around the world. The highlight however is in the presentation of everything. The main character and enemy designs look absolutely fantastic and the music is out of this world. You’ll find yourself being addicted to jumping into battles over and over again as you level up your party of eight travelers and defeat magical beasts throughout the land. It’s a very long game that will take a lot of time to complete, but in a genre that prides itself on long and meaningful experience Octopath Traveler is a game that can stand alongside the best of them.
Chasm (Xbox One/PS4)
Many people love to dive into games that are dubbed Metroid-vania, which take elements of exploration and action that mix together with traditional platforming. But when the big studios don’t have something to fit that need, you have to turn over to the indie game developers who always come through with something interesting. Chasm is one of those indie games that began as a Kickstarter project in 2013 and blossomed into a multiplatform release, including Nintendo Switch in 2018. The game follows the story of a young knight looking to make a name for himself by rescuing townsmen from a rise of monsters from the caverns below.
Chasm’s most interesting characteristic is how the dungeons you explore are procedurally generated. This means that the rooms you explore are laid out randomly each time you begin a brand new game. The story remains the same, which is good for consistency, but you can get a new series of events when going through each area. With simple, responsive controls and a throwback visual style, Chasm will give you many nostalgic vibes, but at the same time offer you something new to experience each time.
Shantae and the Pirates Curse (Switch)
Don’t let the cutesy style and colorful characters fool you! The Shantae games are part of an incredible series that are as legit as it can get. On Nintendo Switch, Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse continues the story of a young half-genie girl that rescues her home land of Sequin Land, where the town of Scuttle is constantly attacked by various pirates and mythical beasts. Shantae herself possesses various powers of transformation and magic that she uses throughout the series to battle giant monsters, pirate armies, and other crazy characters that appear throughout her colorful world. Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse is the third entry of the series and was originally released on the Nintendo 3DS in 2014, before being ported to all other platforms.
If you’re someone that loves playing games with a great art style and music, then the Shantae series is a must-play for you. Not only are the levels and character designs great to look at, but the background music in every stage will stick with you long after you stop playing. The slow paced tracks will complement the desert sands in the background, while the fast-paced techno music will keep things upbeat when the action starts happening. While it has a cutesy design than most other games out there, Shantae has solid gameplay to back up its unique sense of fashion. On top of that, the abundance of extra content and lots of attention to small details will have you buying all-in without hesitation. No matter who you are, you’ll end up falling in love with Shantae and her magical world.
Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon (PS4/Xbox One/PC)
If the dark brooding atmosphere of horror is what you crave, then there’s nothing better than a game from one of the developers from the Castlevania series, Koji Igarashi. Anybody that has played Castlevania: Symphony of the Night on the original PlayStation will know how awesome that is, but if you’re not one of those people then you’re in for a real treat. Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon is a prequel to an upcoming project called Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night, but the two are entirely different games. Curse of the Moon gives players an action platformer with NES-style visuals and challenging gameplay, along with that signature musical flair you can only really find with the Castlevania series.
Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon was released as a smaller title that would set things up for Ritual of the Night, but it stands alone as a fun action game regardless. The controls are simple to get into but the platforming and boss fights are a real challenge for just about anybody. In typical Koji Igarashi fashion however, the game give players more than just a straightforward adventure. Multiple playable characters, alternate paths, secret rooms, and bonus difficulties make up a fraction of what many will experience when diving into Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon. Many look at this game as a spiritual successor to the Castlevania series, which if history repeats itself will be another awesome experience for everyone.
Dust An Elysian Tail (Switch)
Dust An Elysian Tail is a very special game with an interesting backstory. The game was developed by one person in its entirety and released on Xbox Live Arcade, to which later it received many awards and was ported over to other consoles like the PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch in 2018. Dust takes place in a world will with human-like animals that live in a very harsh environment. War tears up the land frequently and the hands of destiny are always at work, especially for a young man with amnesia that goes by the name of Dust. It’s a very interesting setup to a story with many twists and turns and will speak to everybody that grew up watching animated movies with animal characters and a mature tone.
The visuals of Dust An Elysian Tail are what will get you to pay attention, while the core gameplay of it will keep you around to experience more. The backgrounds and overall level design feel as if they’re pulled right out of a Disney animated movie, with little details all around that will make even the smallest things feel alive. The gameplay blends together the action of “beat-em-up” style games with some exploration that will take you through many gorgeous looking areas. The story is dramatic and will make some of the boss fights you get into tense and satisfying, especially with the epic music that plays over everything. If you want to see an example of excellence in presentation and gameplay, then you absolutely need to play through Dust An Elysian Tail right now. The game can be picked up on every platform and has a limited physical edition for the Nintendo Switch.
Dead Cells (Switch/PC)
The developers at Motion Twin have a very fierce and unforgiving game that might make you stress out your Nintendo Switch just by playing it. Dead Cells takes the action and exploration of Nintendo’s Metroid series and gives it a huge spike of adrenaline. You play as a group of cells that take over and possess a dead body within a dungeon, allowing you to roam around and explore many dangerous stages. Anything and everything will kill you without hesitation or remorse, laying before you a crazy and unforgiving challenge that rewards those bold enough to conquer it. The fighting is fast and could be over if you blink at the wrong time, leading to many deaths and rebirths you’ll experience the entire time. Death is part of the process if you’re to go deeper and deeper into the savage world.
The easiest way to describe Dead Cells is if you took the harsh unforgiving difficulty of Dark Souls and gave it to the guys who designed Metroid. That perfectly sums up what Dead Cells really is at its heart. There’s very little story to latch onto except the small tidbits that you can discover while roaming around. As difficult as the game can get, it’s highly addictive and can really shine when you overcome some of its tougher enemies and obstacles. Some of the abilities you gain along the way do look spectacular and really show off the game’s visual style and openness to players looking to find new ways to play around it’s challenges. This variety is enhanced by the game’s procedurally generated areas that constantly mix things up every time you reemerge from death. Though not for the faint of heart, or the easily frustrated, Dead Cells is a challenging well-designed game that looks and plays very good. The real question is however; are you bold enough to face it?