We’ve come to the end of another year, and that means it’s awards time and crucially, what is our best game of 2018. Here’s a look back at the good and the bad and a hopeful look forward too! So join us in a marvelous journey through the ups and downs of 2018; after all, it’s not 2019 until everyone has done one!
For this year’s award ceremony (can we call it that?) we’ve compiled the picks of the main team here at Rice – Reuben, Max and ILJG as they decide their best game of 2018, as well as their preferences for (the all important) top Waifu and Hubando of the year. If you have any picks you’d like to add your own worth nominations, please let us know in the comments below!
Best Game of 2018
Reuben: Octopath Traveler
Really, what else was it going to be? I absolutely love JRPGs and one of my favourites of the genre is Bravely Default, a title that shares some of the team with Octopath Traveler. However, apart from a couple of mechanical similarities, this is very much its own beast … and all the better for it. A fantastic roster of interesting characters, a wonderfully immersive (if sometimes convoluted) plot, one of the best soundtracks I’ve had the pleasure of hearing, and some of the most gorgeous pixel-based visuals ever seen in gaming to date. Octopath Traveler is easily, for me, the game of 2018 and possibly the best game currently available on Switch.
Max: Valkyria Chronicles 4
While I’d dabbled a little in the Valkyria Chronicles series through the remake of the first game, it’s Valkyria Chronicles 4 that got me well and truly hooked. So many aspects of the game are handled so cleverly, it makes Valkyria Chronicles 4 an absolute pleasure to play even when the story has its weaker moments. The likeable cast and ever-present threat of permadeath only add to the game’s gripping tension and rewarding battle system. Valkyria Chronicles 4 really was everything I hoped it’d be and more, which is always a pleasant surprise.
I Love Japanese Games: DragonBall Fighter Z
It’s rare for me to have a fighting game as my favourite game of the year – indeed there are plenty of other game I’ve put more time into, but for the moment it came out, the sheer joy this held for me was unmatched. I think it also cemented Arc System Works position as the top fighting game developer working today. What was most impressive for me with DBFZ was, firstly, how it utterly nailed the look and feel of the anime – delivering Dragonball feels with such passion and energy. There are few fighters that look this good: fact. Lastly, was that DBFZ it made some headway in broadening the fighting game audience, if only for a moment. The fighting game community is always struggling for new blood, and DBFZ was a great entry point for fresh-faced 2D fight fans.
Top Husbando of 2018
Reuben: Adol Christin (Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana)
This was a tough category for me, what with so many potential candidates in 2018. In the end it had to go to Adol just for the sheer fact that he ticks so many of the husbando boxes for me. The red hair is first, obviously, but his boyish good looks paired with a tough outlook and personality won me over. At his best when paired with Dogi, another potential candidate to be fair, as his personality shines through when interacting with his best friend, but he has some of the most wholesome interactions in the whole game. I’m not usually a fan of the main protagonists of games, but I would quite happily have Adol Christin whisk me away.
Max: Claude Wallace (Valkyria Chronicles 4)
As the main character in my best game of 2018, Claude being my choice for top husbando of 2018 doesn’t come as much of a shock. Man, am I a sucker for a mild-mannered pretty boy with a huge tank and a head for strategy. I like a lot of the cast of Valkyria Chronicles 4, but it’s Claude who really brings them together and his sweet personality balanced with hidden strengths makes him a wonderful character in his own right too. I can say with certainty that even if the option to not bring Claude into battle were there, I wouldn’t take it. In fact, never mind the tank or anything else that usually comes with him, just give me Claude. And when you want them to take away your tank just so you can use someone as infantry, you know you’ve got it bad.
ILJG: Ryo Hazuki (Shenmue I & II)
Sure, he hasn’t washed or changed his clothes in, literally years -but there are few young men as wholesome as Ryo Hazuki. It matters not how many young girls throw themselves, willingly, at his feet, he will not be distracted – his resolve unwavering. In this age of uncertainly, you need that kind of stability in a man. It had been a long time since I had had the pleasure of playing with Ryo, and though the years have not been kind to him, look-wise, I have to say I enjoyed every moment of my time with him. Calm, thoughtful, always there for his friends, honorable to a fault and capable of kicking the shit out of bar full of sailors without so much as breaking a sweat. What a guy.
Top Waifu of 2018
Reuben: Weiss Schnee (BLAZBLUE Cross Tag Battle)
A lot of people will be shocked to read this, considering my widely known dislike of the RWBY characters in BLAZBLUE Cross Tag Battle, but those people might not have noticed me not mentioning Weiss at all in my various derisive statements. I personally love the design of Weiss in BBTAG; it’s visually distinctive whilst seamlessly fitting in with the rest of the roster of the game. This isn’t my primary reason for her being waifu of the year though, which is solely because anyone who can not only tolerate, but seemingly get along fine with, Ruby’s voice deserves a medal. I can’t give Weiss a medal, but I can name her as the best waifu of 2018.
Max: Jed (Psychedelica of the Ashen Hawk)
With both Psychedelica of the Ashen Hawk and Code: Realize Bouquet of Rainbows releasing in 2018, I’m pleased to say this was a tough category with two very worthy otome protagonists to choose between. That’s a nicer problem to have! In the end, I’m going with Jed, and not just because Cardia gets another shot with the second Code: Realize fan disc on the way in 2019, honest. Jed’s like two great waifus in one, with her dual identities each having their own appeal and gorgeous sprites. There were some likeable guys in Ashen Hawk, sure, but Jed was the main event and if she’d been a love interest instead of the protagonist, I’d have chosen her in a heartbeat. Her androgynous prettiness helps her case, but Jed’s compassion, strong will and independence make her just as strong a character as any of the guys too, if not more. She’s probably my favourite otome protagonist yet, and was one of the high points of Ashen Hawk altogether.
ILJG: Violet Evergarden (Violet Evergarden)
I absolutely adored this anime (it’s on Netfix if you’re wondering) even though it was pretty divisive at the time. I am a sucker for a period drama – and this is what Violet Evergarden is, in a weird way. It’s the age old tale of Violent-Killing-Machine-Returns-From-Convalecense-In-Order-To-Write-Letters-And-Discover-The-True-Meaning-Of-Love. It’s such an odd anime and Violet and even stranger character. On the one hand she ticks the boxes of sweet on the one hand, all billowing petticoats in the wind and bumbling naivety – and then on the other hand, deep down, you know she’s just a terrifying human-massacring ultra-death machine. What Violet Evergarden does so well is that, it never really shows you her dark side. Violet Evergarden is 99.9% whimiscal story about humanity’s desire for love and family – yet their failure to communicate effectively. Violet’s true power come from the words she chooses to reconnect and resolve. The other 0.01% is a few short but utterly badass reminders that, under. no. circumstances. do. you. fucking. mess. with. her.
Most Frustrating/Disappointing Gaming Moment of 2018
Reuben: SNK Heroines Tag Team Frenzy
I was hugely hyped for this game, I was even prepared to look past the sheer, unabashed fan service of the whole thing, but I was eventually confronted with a hollow mess of a fighting game. I’m all for the simplifying of the core mechanics of the fighting game genre to allow a greater influx of players, however, SNK Heroines dumbed it down to a degree that it just becomes unenjoyable and brainless to play. With the lacklustre gameplay being coupled with some frankly insulting character choices and glaring omissions from the roster (where is B. Jenet, SNK?), the whole game feels like a disappointing waste of potential.
Max: The RWBY Character Kerfuffle of BBTAG
I may not be much of a fighting games person, but BBTAG promised to bring together a bunch of series I like for one big over-the-top fighting game fun crossover. Great! Then the character announcements happened. I’m a big fan of RWBY, so I was very disappointed to see how shunted aside it was in comparison to the other series represented. Now, I know the RWBY characters required all-new assets and stuff, but only putting 2 of the main 4 in the game and having the others as DLC is not cool. At that point, you’re not even featuring RWBY, you’re featuring RW. Blake and Yang may have ended up free DLC in the end, but we also never got any more RWBY characters. The whole thing just left a bad taste in my mouth. It’s not something a RWBY-only fighter couldn’t fix though! I’m still holding out hope for that one!
ILJG: Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze
I basically buy all the Nintendo first party stuff, every time. I did however, take a big break with WiiU. While I bought the console, I just didn;t invest myself in it as much as I have in other generations. So I was looking forward to getting round to play some of the stuff that I’d previously missed. While I found Captain Toad to be… a satisfactory and solid distraction. I have to say I found Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze almost entirely joyless. It’s not often I say that about Nintendo games. Sure it’s mechanically sound, well presented and often inventive, I guess the DK universe just doesn’t push my buttons in the same way it did back with the original DK Country on SNES.
Gaming Mistake of 2018
Reuben: Bumbling Through Final Fantasy XIV Online
In possibly one of my most dumb gaming moments ever, caveat here being that I’m very new to MMOs, I took the instructions of an NPC in this game a little too literally. During the Winter event at the tail end of last year, Amh Garanjy instructed me to head to a particular spot in Gridania and wait for her, so wait I did. After twenty minutes or so of waiting, I messaged one of my friends that is a stalwart player asking how long I had to wait. Before his reply came in I noticed an icon near the spot I was stood that I could target, which I was supposed to examine to activate the quest, prompting my messaging my friend again with four words, “I am an idiot”.
Max: Choosing New Game + in Disgaea Complete
Who makes New Game + an option in the first chapter of a game? I mean, really. But more than that, who’s stupid enough to accept it and have to do the whole first chapter over again? That would be me. While my bitterness at retreading ground so early had no bearing on me not enjoying Disgaea Complete in general, it certainly tested my patience more than necessary. I haven’t done something this dumb since I thought crawling in front of a projector was an acceptable stealth move back in Metal Gear Solid 2. And that’s something really, truly stupid.
ILJG: Downloading Arena of Valour
I am my own worst enemy sometimes. I know exactly what my weaknesses are when it comes to my gaming habits. It’s not that Arena of Valour is bad, quite the opposite, it’s actually very well made – and that’s the problem. My pile of shame is so big, and my free time so precious, that Arena of Valour effectively sucked me in and unexpectedly stole game time from other things that were, ultimately, more worthy. Arena of Valour is, for a free to play Switch game, pretty damn good. Yes it’s a MOBA and oddly light on content – but still, millions of gamer’s across Asia aren’t wrong – it’s solid, well balanced and surprisingly moreish. In the end I forced myself to to delete it, so it wouldn’t take any more of my time up.
Game We’ll Still Be Playing in 2019
Reuben: The Last Remnant: Remastered
As my last reviewed title of 2018, this is kind of a given that I would still be playing The Last Remnant: Remastered, but the key point with this one is that I *want* to keep playing. The combination of the utterly ludicrous plot and the deeply strategic (and often a tiny bit frustrating) battle system is addicting to me, for some reason. I just can’t stop plodding along as the often insufferable protagonist as he aggressively screws up again and again. The game is not for everyone, but feels very right for me and how I play games. Furthermore, I was very tempted to name Marquis David Nassau from the game as my husbando of the year, which says a lot for a character I only knew about in December.
Max: Soulcalibur VI
When Soulcalibur VI released, I challenged it to be better than the near-flawless Soulcalibur III. While it might not have succeeded at that just yet, I’m willing to let the full season pass of DLC release before I make my judgement call, and that means Soulcalibur VI keeping me invested well into 2019. With two more characters on the way, a whole chunk of character stories I have yet to complete, and even more character creation shenanigans on the horizon when the new parts drop, this is going to be fairly easily done. I only hope it’s worth the wait.
ILJG: Pokemon Lets Go! Eevee
I got way too distracted at the end of the year with the deluge of games that came out, that this one fell by the wayside. I finally picked it back up after Christmas and started playing in Ernest. I REALLY like the new Pokemon format – so much so, I honestly can’t see myself levelling up though the grass in a Pokemon game again. I would like it to be a little more challenging, but that aside, I honestly feel that this reworking of a classic formula makes it the best Pokemon to date. I also like how they rebooted to the original 151 Pokemon which, lets face it, are still the very best. This will take me though to the end of January I expect, whereupon I’ll find myself craving for Gold and Silver to get the same Let’s Go treatment!
Most Anticipated Game of 2019
Reuben: Resident Evil 2 Remake
What else? I’m on a complete blackout of information at the moment, trying to keep myself as fresh as possible going in to this, no matter how difficult that might be. Resident Evil 2 is my favourite game of all time, so for it to be getting the treatment that the original game got back in 2002 is an absolute dream come true for me. The little that I’ve seen is enough for me to be feverishly excited, and the fact that the game is merely weeks away is doing nothing to curb that excitement. Oh, and the fact that Claire Redfield has an optional Elza Walker costume is a genius masterstroke from Capcom. Bring on the 25th.
Max: Fire Emblem: Three Houses
Is anyone surprised by this choice? No. Am I super excited about it though? Definitely! We’ve had little to stoke the hype flames for Fire Emblem: Three Houses this year, but the one trailer we did get suggests the new release is going in a direction I find very exciting. I can’t wait to see how the multiple protagonists will be worked in – all of who I like the looks of – and if Three Houses is anywhere near as fantastic as the last home console Fire Emblem game we got (being Radiant Dawn some 10 years ago) then I will be extremely pleased. I’ll also be talking about Fire Emblem even more, but that is a consequence I am willing to subject everyone to for what I’m hoping to be the SRPG top dog in a year of SRPGs.
ILJG: Shenmue III
Yes, I’ve been down on this for a little while as early footage of the game was not exactly doing it for me. That said, I am over the moon that this even exists in the first place. After recently playing through I&II again, my body is finally ready to find out what happens next on Ryo’s epic adventure. The cliffhanger from II was just as impactfull this year as it was so, so many years ago. The fact that we’ll soon get to see Ryo’s next steps is such a wonderful feeling. Will he get his revenge? What exactly did his father do? Will Sega ever get round to fixing Ryo’s face? Not long to wait now, folks.
So, those are our choices. 2018 had some great releases, and 2019 doesn’t show any sign of slowing down in that regard, which is great to see! What would your picks for our categories be? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter, or in the comments below!
- AeternoBlade II Out now on Switch and PS4 - October 11, 2019
- Code: Realize Future Blessings Comes to Switch Spring 2020 - October 3, 2019
- Code Vein Out Now, Launch Trailer Released - September 27, 2019