Because it’s never too late for a late gaming review.
Okay, I dropped the ball in 2018.
Too many life and work commitments derailed my best PC games article review last year. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get around to starting the process. When you get to the point (and age) of sneaking around trying to play while the kids are asleep, you’ll know what I’m talking about.
However, it’s never too late to revisit the gaming year gone by, especially last year’s class of games. The beauty of video games and gaming, in general, is that you can pretty much do whatever the hell you want.
Heck, I still play Fallout 4, Diablo 3, and Starcraft II – and those games are OLD by today’s standards.
So, without further ado, here’s my take on what the best PC games were for 2018. If you haven’t already, now is the time to play, because these titles are fantastic, and will remain so for years to come.
How good are you at managing people?
Frostpunk takes the city management genre and drives an icicle through its heart. The game is equal parts dread and hope, intermingled with a dash of consequences. It’s one of those games that you’ll dread playing, only to find yourself lost in gameplay many hours after you first started.
The world is a freezing wasteland, and humanity is on the brink of extinction. As a leader, you need to manage scarce resources while keeping everyone safe. The game is unforgiving, and the slightest mismanagement could mean the end of your city. All decisions in the game are one of the toughest ones you’ll ever have to make and can lead to consequences of life or death.
Your people can freeze, starve, or beat each other to death if you’re management skills suck. I frequently found myself sending children to work because I had no other options. They’re just kids for god’s sake! Frostpunk tips its hat to other games with similar mechanics, but as defeat in the game feels more permanent and haunting, you’ll never want to taste it.
Expect to find yourself longing for the game’s cold expanse, because nothing beats the will to overcome insurmountable odds.
WARHAMMER: VERMINTIDE 2
Welcome to the world of Warhammer!
If this is your first time, heed this warning: you’re going to love it here. The city is a blighted, gothic, and miserable landscape lying in ruins. There is peril at every turn, thanks to a race of giant rats ready to nibble you to bits at a moment’s notice.
I played these vermin in another Warhammer spinoff, Mordheim: City of the Damned. Allow me to tell you one thing: being on the receiving end of a rat ogre’s rampage is bloody terrifying. It’s waaay better to play as these rats than fight hordes of them.
Mind you, Vermintide 2 isn’t a button-mashing party. If you think you can get away with mousing your way through a rat horde, think again. The co-op play is a lot like Left 4 Dead, but with the added dynamic of spells, skills and sheer panic. Despite the fear, there is extreme satisfaction in hitting and burning all the rodents in this game.
Because nobody does the post-apocalypse better than Bethesda.
I’ve been a huge Fallout fan since it first came out, and I’m still a fan of the latest iteration in the franchise, Fallout 76. Call me biased, but I can’t get enough of the old songs, the blasted landscape and all the radiation that comes with it.
I know the game rubs some people the wrong way, and I respect your opinions. Many people feel the lack of single-player mode and NPCs in Fallout 76 take away from the experience of the franchise. I get it. But shouldn’t exploring an irradiated open-world wasteland be about being to able to do whatever the f you want in-game?
The real world is full of good people, with the occasional douchey a-hole who’d shoot you on sight with an AR15. The Fallout 76 world has more of the same, and if you’re not playing the game, you’re missing out. There are still tons of things and quests to do here. There are still plenty of baddies.
Do you want to know the best part?
Fallout 76 has a lot of secrets and quirky things to discover. All you need to do is get out there and explore.
RETURN OF THE OBRA DINN
If you like solving unique, murder-mystery puzzles, then the Return of the Obra Dinn should be right up your alley.
From the brilliant mind of Lucas Pope (Papers, Please) comes another unforgettable adventure. Set in 1807, you play the role of an insurance adjuster tasked to solve why the Obra Dinn turned into a ghost ship. You need to uncover the identities of all 60 or so crew members and how they died by only using your deduction and perception skills.
Oh, and a magic pocket watch that lets you peer into the final moments of each crew member’s life. If you’re familiar with viewing an ECHO in The Division, rewinding time in Obra Dinn is a lot like it. The entire game is a sprawling puzzle, and you’ll need all your logic and Sherlock intuition to solve it.
Return of the Obra Dinn is by far, one of the best games of the year.
INTO THE BREACH
Prepare to lose a lot of sleep.
I don’t know about you, but I love a good tactics/strategy game that uses a grid-based system. Add a little Nintendo-like nostalgia, and we have a winner. What Into the Breach reminds me most of is Front Mission 3, but with Rift Walker vs. Vek action instead of mech vs. mech and minus the cut-scenes.
In the game, you’re trying to save what’s left of a flooded planet from an alien invasion. The aliens are giant insects, and you are the leader of a mech squadron. You can see every move before it happens, and the result is a punishing yet fair take on the genre that will test your strategic thinking.
Into the Breach lets you push, damage, or nullify aliens around the map, and you can even kill a Vek by pushing it into the water. Do note that the enemy could do the same thing to you. Overall, this is a fun and very addicting game from the team that gave us FTL. Give it a whirl and prepare to get lost in the game’s pure nostalgia factor and the understated thrill of winning.
The game will lure you into the survival game genre hook, line and sinker.
The Subnautica map is enormous, and your plight takes place on an alien planet that seems to be all water and no land. You crash your ship and must take the necessary steps to survive in your new home. What makes the game different from other survival games is the lack of any effective weapons. A lot of games get broken when characters grow too powerful.
In Subnautica, that is never going to happen. To beat the game, you need to work with nature and not against it. The reward for exploration and discovery is the ability to go even deeper and explore more of the game’s secrets. It’s a beautiful and terrifying new world, and you’re going to love (and dread) exploring every square foot of it.
FAR: LONE SAILS
If you view video games as a work of art, you have to own this game.
Far: Lone Sails is a post-apocalyptic masterpiece that has no zombies, bandits, and other mainstays of the genre.
It’s just you, your vehicle, and the grey backdrop of a dying world. And this monochrome world is truly one of the most beautiful ones you’ll ever see in a video game.
Lone Sails isn’t the longest game you’ll ever play. I beat the game in a little over four hours. The challenges and puzzles are not the hardest either, although there were times when I wanted to scream. It’s the novelty of playing as a pint-sized engineer trying to keep his ride together despite all the odds. You’re going to try (and fail) to patch-up your machine and put out fires long enough to reach the end.
Far: Lone Sails will captivate you, maybe even move you. It’s one of the most visually satisfying titles of 2018. And, just like what the other reviews say, the game will stay with you for a long, long time.
I know in my case, it certainly did.
Because I’m a big fan and the game is incredible.
There, I said it. The cat’s out of the bag.
It’s a well-known fact that those folks at IO are evil geniuses, but allow me to reiterate what this game is:
It’s Pretty. Damn. Good.
I mean, who doesn’t want to kill someone (a mourner) while disguised as a dead person inside a coffin? Maybe you fancy finding the best way to get to Sean Bean’s character for that perfect kill shot? Or better yet, why not run around disguised as a pink flamingo mascot? Oh, Hitman 2 – thy possibilities are endless.
The game falls a wee bit short in the story department. However, it makes it up by teaching you patience and mastery. It’s like Groundhog Day for assassins – you get to play and replay countless scenarios to come up with the perfect murder. Prepare your memory and pattern recognition skills because Hitman 2 will demand it.
CUBE ESCAPE: PARADOX
The clues are all there. All you need to do is to figure things out.
The first time I played Cube Escape was on my phone. I watched the short and disturbing film, and the game has transfixed me ever since. I couldn’t, for the life of me, solve that damn puzzle with the giant head with multiple rooms, so I got the game on Steam to try and beat it on my PC.
Well, the game ended beating me up instead, and there were times where I felt angry and frustrated at feeling so dumb. Most of the puzzles are easy enough. The hard ones are brutal in the sense that you need to either have a perfect memory, or you should write everything down. You have to be on your A-game when you tackle this, but the rewards are so excellent, you’ll keep coming back for more.
MUTANT YEAR ZERO: ROAD TO EDEN
Ducks are cool.
Mutant ducks? Epic.
I didn’t take this game seriously at first. I mean, who wants to play as mutated Daffy Duck or a boring boar anyway? But the game grew on me, and I found myself playing more and more missions until the wee hours of the morning. Mutant Year Zero is hilarious and charming, but it can get dead serious at times.
The game is like a combination of Wasteland 2 and XCOM, but with a few more tricks to offer. It’s a post-apocalyptic, tactical combat sleeper that’s easy to overlook. The turn-based combat encounters are gripping and complex. You need to use strategy to win, and Mutant Zero’s emphasis on stealth sold me because it fits right into my playstyle.
The game rewards the prepared and punishes those who run headfirst into the gunfire. If you like to set up and lure your enemies into intricate ambushes, this is your ticket to the promised land.
Wrapping Things Up
There you have it, ladies and gents: the best PC games of 2018. The list isn’t exclusive to indie PC games, as it has a few AAA titles in it. Now, the million-dollar question is who wins it all in 2018?
My winner is Into the Breach.
The game sent me hurtling back into the past, playing Front Mission 3 again with my best friend during much simpler times. If a game moves me or takes me back, then it’s a winner in my book.