Blast Away the Game Review’s Most Noteworthy Reviews of 2018

Assassin's Creed® Odyssey

2018 was another fantastic year for developers both small and large. With some of the best looking games to the best narratively driven games – it was a tough year for reviewing. Now, here we are, 2018 is over and 2019 is just getting started and that means one thing: Its time for a review recap of 2018.

In 2018, there was a ton and we mean a ton of big-hitters whether they were indie games or not. Some, just some of them, have somehow managed to fly under the radar while others hit the mainstream faster than we’d ever expected them to. Games like DUSK and Marvel’s Spider-Man were among some of the best of the best with Assassin’s Creed Odyssey standing at their sides as an equal.

With our review wrap-up’s for 2018, it’s time to take one last final look at the previous year and let you see just what we thought of some of 2018’s strongest hitters and ones we truly thought stood out among the rest over the past 365 days.

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Marvel’s Spider-Man
Review Score: 10.0
Platform(s): PlayStation 4

When it comes to really being able to drive home that essence of being pulled straight from its source material, Marvel’s Spider-Man from Insomniac Games is one of those very titles. With no corners cut, some of the best graphics on the market to coincide with some of the best storytelling on the market, this Spider-Man title is undoubtedly going down as one of the best comic book games in the history of gaming and Tyvon will tell you just why this is.

The story in this game is absolutely a breathtaking experience. From Aunt May helping you out because you got evicted from your apartment to the heart beating chemistry romance that Peter and MJ try to deny; but we all weren’t born yesterday, we know they really love each other and are destined to be soulmates; Spider-Man is an absolute comic book to a game experience.” – Tyvon J. Hunter

Assassin's Creed® Odyssey

 

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
Review Score: 10.0
Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One

With a newly established vision for the franchise, Ubisoft Montreal has been hard at work re-focusing their efforts on some of Assassin’s Creed and its weakest elements. Now that those elements are some of the strongest, Assassin’s Creedy Odyssey has proven to be one of the strongest contenders on the market.

From cutting-edge graphics to some of the best story-telling elements ever made, it’s undeniably true that this is the Assassin’s Creed fans had been waiting for many years. Now, they have it and we’re surely going to see more follow in the shoes of Assassin’s Creed Odyssey in the future.

The beauty of Oddsey isn’t the fact it’s as alive as any other game on the market; it’s the fact you want to explore every inch of it. I’ve spent almost a solid 10 hours just wandering about, visiting key locations and hunting down the treasures that hide deep within their confines. Even as I lurked about, it wasn’t uncommon to see someone react to my looting a box or picking up a tablet – they reacted in their own unique way. Some reacted violently, screaming out their demands or their sincere threats that came with lethal actions.” Dustin Murphy

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Detroit: Become Human
Review Score: 10.0
Platform(s): PlayStation 4

Remarkably enough, Detroit: Become Human wasn’t a game we anticipated to actually happen. Based on the 2012 tech-demo from Quantic Dream showing off their latest engines for the next-gen consoles, we had only begun to really see what the team was capable of moving forward. From the realistic graphics to the distress of the android before us, we all instantly fell in love with Kara and the story she could tell.

Fast forward six years later and we got a world built around the very premise of her 10-to-12 minute tech demo gave us. With a story filled to the brim with player-made decisions, we couldn’t be happier with what Detroit: Become Human gave us; a story that defines what it means to be human, an organically realistic look at the world we underappreciate around us.

The game becomes a canvas and it allows us to paint a picture, which I think was an amazing idea. Instead of traditional games where they will give you the coloring book and instruct you that you cannot color outside these lines, you can add as much color as you want but you cannot go outside the lines. But with Detroit, it’s like a game that is set apart. Ever decision you make leads you down a different path just like in real life.” – Tyvon J. Hunter

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Valkyria Chronicles 4
Review Score: 9.5
Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Switch and Xbox One

When you think of war-themed games, you don’t often see games that take the humanity inside of it into consideration. With Sega’s latest installment in the well-established Valkyria Chronicles franchise, they haven’t left that narrative behind and instead used it to fuel their forth main-entry title. Standing out as one of the strongest yet, Valkyria Chronicles 4 is certainly in a league of its own and has proven that it’s a worthwhile contender whether we were ready for it or not. Now, it’s one of our highest rated games thanks to its artistic design, graphics, sound and story-telling elements.

“To balance out the tragedies before you, SEGA has added layers to every character. Not a single one of them is your anime stereotype as they might seem. Rather, each of them has a deep and meaningful attachment to the overall story.  Claude and his team are tasked with one single goal in mind and that is to enter The Empire Capital and deliver a blow that The Empire will feel for years on end, but getting there, that’s where the real treat is.” – Dustin Murphy

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God of War
Review Score: 10.0
Platform(s): PlayStation 4

It seems that 2018 was the Year of PlayStation when said and done. With multiple smash-hit titles under their belt, it almost seemed as if Sony was blowing all their steam all at once. However, they hadn’t been and God of War joins the ranks of their most power-housed releases in a single generation. From its cutting-edge graphics to its bone-breaking combat – God of War is the ‘reboot’ we needed this generation. With Norse mythology helping bring the powerhouse to life, we can only hope that a follow-up title delivers an even stronger blow in the upcoming years; let’s just hope the next one isn’t a ‘Dad of War’ simulator.

This game is on a level of game design that doesn’t happen very often. God of War is quite honestly a diamond in the rough, one that will leave us wanting more, craving more until the next game or a DLC is released. But even then, can they really satiate the desire for more? I’m sure they can and I’ll be right here waiting for them to do so once again.” – Dustin Murphy

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Yakuza 6: The Song of Life
Review Score: 9.5
Platform(s): PlayStation 4

Yakuza 6: The Song of Life doesn’t disappoint when picking up where the franchise left off not long ago. Picking up shortly after the adventures of Kiryu after the events of Yakuza 5. Taking players deeper into Kiryu’s post-Yakuza life, things have gotten a bit more dangerous as someone close to him has died and now it’s time for him to investigate the root cause of it all. Because of this, you’ll get to explore further into Japan, visiting entirely new areas, meeting new cast members, and even experience a newly reimagined RPG system in ways never-before-seen. Don’t believe me? Feel free to check out our review!

Much as one would expect, the story takes Kiryu on adventures through Onomichi, a location in Japan’s Hiroshima prefecture, a far cry from the streets we are used to seeing in Kamurocho. Just like in previous titles, Sega doesn’t hold back in their drive to excel at re-creating real-life locations into a digital world for fans to explore. Locations such as the historic Senko-ji temple on a hillside in Onomichi is beautiful, but it’s a far cry from the red-light district of the fictional streets of Kamurocho. However, neither held back what they had to offer, each coming with their own unique experiences and the dangers that follow.” – Dustin Murphy

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DUSK
Review Score: 9.0
Platform(s): PC

In a world where Call of Duty and Battlefield titles dominate the market, there seem to be very few games that stand out in the FPS genre. Among those few games that actually stands out comes DUSK, a title developed by less than ten people in total, and surprisingly enough – it’s one of 2018’s most talked about shooters from publisher New Blood Interactive and developer David Szymanski. Sitting as a true homage to the Quake and Unreal era of games, DUSK is in a league of its own thanks to its gritty graphics, heavy metal soundtrack from composer Andrew Hulshult and its undeniable love for pixelated blood and gore.

Whether it’s the astonishingly-well designed maps, atmospheric narratives or the depth to every level through exploration; DUSK is as unique as they come and its one of the best in its very own right. Loaded to the brim with content, endless reasons for replayability and some of the best damn retro-stylized graphics on the market, you’ll have a lot to do and even more to come accustomed to once you get knee deep in the dead and really get to enjoy the game from start to finish.” – Dustin Murphy

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Persona Dancing: Endless Night Collection
Review Score: 9.0
Platform(s): PS Vita and PlayStation 4

When it comes to the Persona franchise, there’s no doubt it’s in a league of its own. Whether it’s spin-off titles like Persona Q or Persona 4: Dancing All Night, we absolutely love what the games have to offer. They are quirky, they are funny, the characters have admirable amounts of depth to them and most of all – we absolutely love the music. That’s where Persona Dancing: Endless Night Collection comes into play with some of the greatest music from the franchise, character customizations and endless reasons to come back for more once you’ve played through the already available tracks.

When you look at beat rhythm games in our current generation, there’s been very few of them and there’s even been fewer that have been inspired by well-established franchises on the market. Luckily for Atlus, these means that Persona Dancing: The Endless Collection isn’t just a masterpiece, but it’s something that opens the door for franchises to join the fray and certainly leaves hopes for more Shin Megami Tensei and Persona title spin-offs in the future.” – Dustin Murphy

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GRIP: Combat Racing
Review Score: 9.0
Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Switch, and Xbox One

It’s not often you see a game try and break the mold when it comes to the racing genre. Lately, they’ve become as real as they can be and it’s a shame too since arcade-style racers were all the craze less than ten years ago. Games, to be quite honest, aren’t necessarily bad if they try to be slightly entertaining by being less realistic when they can be, and that’s where GRIP: Combat Racing comes into play. It’s a game that throws out all realistic logic and goes straight to the core mechanics of destruction-based racing where missiles explore, chain guns are used, and turrets lie hidden deep within the track. If you haven’t already tried it, this break-neck racing game is surely going to last you quite some time with its 4-player same-couch multiplayer option.

There are tons of details regarding custom races, matchmaking, and customizations. It’s all about making the game the best experience you can have thanks to the ability to tweak its settings. This level of detail shows just how much love and devotion the developers put into the game themselves. Just remember, even as fun as this game is, don’t let the need, the need for speed, get under your veins as you race across every track.” – Dustin Murphy

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Forza Horizon 4
Review Score: 9.0
Platform(s): PC and Xbox One

Revered for its realism, the Forza Motorsport and Forza Horizon franchises stand out among their peers. They are games that capitalize on just how immersive of an experience they can offer and Forza 4 is no exception to this rule. Standing out as an open-world contender against its sister title Forza Motorsport 7, we couldn’t help but appreciate its attention to detail from the cars, to the terrain, to the seasons, and even the way the game itself played out as our experience with the game got underway.

Forza Horizon 4‘s experience left us hungering for more, it left us demanding more from our time with the game and now? We’re just overall satisfied with the experience we have, just as we discussed in our review earlier this year.

Now onto the picture quality and resolution. With their breathtaking, cutting-edge, revolutionary graphics; I mean absolutely stunning and eye-catching bits of detail that I’d never have expected from an open-world racing game.” – Tyvon J. Hunter

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Shape of the World
Review Score: 9.0
Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Switch, and Xbox One

When it comes to games being driven by their visual story-telling elements, we don’t exactly get a lot of them release and it’s almost impossible to tell from time-to-time if they’re even going to be worth the while. While some of them are visually stunning, atmospheric, and quite enjoyable, not many of them actually stand out despite their reliance on puzzle-driven mechanics to offer some form of gameplay design. However, Shape of the World did stand out and it became one of the most phenomenal indie games we’d played in 2018 and left us wondering a single question. What’s next?

Let me put this for you in the easiest way I can. Between the art, the subtle chimes of life and atmospherics on the screen before me, I couldn’t help but relax, to find myself soothed as I walked about, taking on the evolution of beauty and magnificence as flora and fauna sprouted to life before me. The odd thing is? The music is a key form of how your story is told. It’s soft, melodic, sometimes and it will often change based on the area you are in, taking away, at times, the overly-relaxed experience you have already had.” – David Dailey

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Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux
Review Score: 9.0
Platform(s): Nintendo 3DS

As the Nintendo 3DS is slowly phased out in favor of the Nintendo Switch, we can’t help but appreciate the few releases we still get for Nintendo’s wonderful handheld device. Filled to the brim with some of this past handheld generation’s strongest JRPG’s, the 3DS didn’t disappoint when ATLUS announced a remastering of Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey Redux for the 3DS. With upgraded graphics, online capabilities, and never-before-seen content outside of Japan, our hearts were instantly won over with this one and we couldn’t have been happier when said and done. It is a classic after all and we still love the game to death.

Even with the added content, Shin Megami Tensei Strange Journey Redux doesn’t feel like a half-baked game. Rather, it feels as if the experience is entirely new, reimagined, and brought into the modern era at no cost of the original memories fans may have of the game. Even with the addition of difficulty levels, fans can enjoy the game how they please. For the review, ‘Normal’ was opted for as it is already plenty hard, and offers a wide array of challenges even for hardcore fans of the series.” – Dustin Murphy

honorable-mentions

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Rage in Peace
Review Score: 8.0
Platform(s): PC and Switch

There are very few games in the history of gaming that have ever truly tried anyone’s patience and their ability to continue on despite their sheer levels of pure frustration. Among those games was a cult classic that took the world of speedrunning by storm for YouTubers and content creators a few years back. That game was an obnoxious, but insanely difficult title known as I Wanna Be The Guy, which would see games close to its style come to life such as Super Meat Boy and The End is Nigh. Now, another has joined the party and its name is truly one that plays on the fact of just how frustratingly hard Rage in Peace actually is.

As you venture forth, you’ll become paranoid about everything that’s in front of you and try to predict where the obvious trap is. Unfortunately, the developers knew this and intentionally adjusted obstacles to counter. By the end of the first level, I was already second-guessing myself, which made me all the more paranoid and twitchy, assuming a cheap death was always a few pixels away.” – Greg F.

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The Mooseman
Review Score: 8.0
Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Switch, and Xbox One

As games continue to evolve, it seems there are more and more avenues for storytelling elements to be blended into the very medium we know and love on a daily basis. Now, among these games that have taken advantage of this medium to tell stories we’d never have known, developers such as Vladimir Beletsky and Mikhail Shvachko, have taken advantage of these very elements with their game The Mooseman, which tells the tale of the Komi-Permian figure that sees the same name as the game he’s in.

If you are one for visual stories, a few puzzles here and there, and a reason to be immersed into a game for a good few hours, then The Mooseman has you covered no matter what platform you play it on.

When brought to a conclusion, The Mooseman is a delightful interactive storybook that tells of a people and their unique story through an interactive medium that’s rarely used, not often seen in games and could open up a future for other titles like itself. For now, however, The Mooseman will remain a unique game, one for fans to enjoy over the years to come and should serve as a reminder of how beautiful and artistically designed video games and interactive media can be.” – Dustin Murphy

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The Banner Saga Trilogy
Review Score: 7.0
Platform(s): Android, iOS, PC, PS4 4, Switch, and Xbox

When it comes to turn-based-strategy meets the epic storytelling of Norse mythology, The Banner Saga is one that stands out among its peers. From its cartoon-like art style to its beautiful storytelling elements, The Banner Saga Trilogy is one of the most beautifully written franchises on the market and it doesn’t cut any corners being what it is. The only downside here, you’re going to spend a lot of time reading when you aren’t bashing your way through waves of foes with unexpected difficulty spikes as you progress. But trust us when we say, you won’t regret it if you enjoy these kinds of games.

Much like BioWare or Bethesda, Stoic Games has continued forth using the very essences that make their titles such memorable experiences, things such as the importance of gameplay sections, story elements, and even the decisions made by the player when acting with various NPCs across the span of all three entries.” – Dustin Murphy

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We Happy Few
Review Score: 7.0
Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One

When it comes to dystopian futures, we’ve all read and watched numerous films inspired by the great George Orwell himself, the man who penned the critically-acclaimed novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, one that painted a grim future of what humankind could be in order to prevent crime and place systematic control on its peoples. Taking things a step further, We Happy Few gives the world an even darker, one where medication called “Joy” drives its users into a form of drug-induced euphoria where the world is distorted to how society wants them to see it. However, when you come off it, nothing is what it seems and the question becomes clear: Join them or survive?

It all comes down to the choice of being able to remember, to see the truth and not live in the brutish society that would see you dead because you’re a “downer” and this is where the survival portion of the game comes into play. You have to choose whether or not you conform to society, whether or not you get to eat, drink, or even sleep at the cost of your bodies neglect. These diminishing returns exist in the form of lowered health and stamina pools, damage dealt, and even whether or not you can cure that food poisoning you’ve just come down with from that rotten apple you ate just moments ago.” – Dustin Murphy

While there were plenty of game for us to choose from, we couldn’t but help consider these as some of the best of the best that we reviewed for each of their scoring categories at a 7.0 or above and we truly hope to see the 2019 list be even more of a challenge to complete in the following year.

 

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