2018 has passed, and it has been another good year for games. Looking back, one of the most noteworthy things about this year is that despite the fact big multiplayer games dominated (mostly Fortnite, but also Black Ops 4), we also saw great successes for single player games that provide the player with a carefully crafted narrative experience. If there was ever any doubt left that there is enough demand, or even still a big place, for single player games without some kind of recurrent revenue model, than that should have vanished by now. Single player games are here to stay, and this top 5 list demonstrates how good 2018 has been for these types of experiences.
God of War
Years after the events of God of War 3, Kratos has ventured north, to Scandinavia, to escape from his past and start a new life. He now has a son, Atreus, and the game begins just after the death of his new wife. Kratos and Atreus set off to fulfill her final wish: scatter her ashes from the highest peak in the land. Meanwhile, they are attacked by a mysterious man who appears to feel no pain. It’s the start of a journey full of spectacular moments and brutal fights, and the game centers around the relationship between father and son and Kratos’ struggles as he must learn to control his rage and get closer to his son. God of War has it all really, incredible graphics, great performances by all the actors, a story that makes you want to keep going, an addictive battle system and lots of upgradable weapons, gear and moves. It’s one of the best games on the PlayStation 4 and the best game of 2018.
Licensed video games don’t exactly have a good name. Most of them are quick cash-ins to take advantage of their famous characters and worlds, but they are usually lacking in quality when it comes to the game itself. But things were a little different with Marvel’s Spider-Man, the newest game based on the world renowned superhero, as this one was made by Insomniac, a studio with a great track record. And the game managed to meet expectations: web swinging feels awesome, Manhattan looks gorgeous and alive, the combat system is satisfying and deep and the story is great. But perhaps the one thing this game will be fondly remembered for is the fact that it’s just so much fun to play. Whether you’re soaring high above the crowded streets of New York, somersaulting at the height of your jump, or pulling of a stylish combo using your acrobatic skills, gadgets and improvisational abilities, the game is just a blast from beginning to end.
Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age
Easily one of the best JRPGs of this year, Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age sets players on a traditional turn based adventure with a party of colorful characters. Gorgeous and vibrant visuals bring the game to life, and superb animations during battles and in the cities and landscapes around you make this game a treat to play. A diverse world, rich cast of characters and deep and engaging combat system, combined with an abundance of equipment and weaponry that can be either bought or forged yourself, extensive skill trees and plenty of collectibles and side quests make this a game that keeps you playing for many hours. If there’s one thing to criticize it for, it’s the standard difficulty level which often feels a little too low, although bosses can put up a fight. But other than that, there’s almost nothing that takes away from the high quality of this RPG.
Detroit: Become Human
Set twenty years into the future, Detroit: Become Human tells the story of three androids, lifelike robots designed to serve humanity. As some of the millions of androids in circulation become deviant, meaning, they develop emotions, events are set in motion that will change the relationship between androids and humans for good. You play as three characters: Kara, a housekeeping model, Markus, who cares for an old man in a wheelchair and Connor, an android designed to assist with police investigations who is hunting those gone deviant. As with the earlier games by director David Cage, Detroit presents you with a series of playable scenes, and the choices you make within these scenes will have a big impact on the story. Between each chapter you will be able to see just what choices led to what outcome, as shown by a flowchart. It’s quite fascinating to see all the different ways the story could have developed from each possible decision. Scenes look gorgeous with credibly designed environments, and some of the most realistic faces and facial animations you can find in a game. The actors do an excellent job of bringing the various characters to life, and there’s a great variety of settings and events. The strength of these games has always been the way it puts the player in exciting and unique situations. One time you’ll be negotiating with a kidnapper standing on the edge of a rooftop, another time you’re deciding whether to rob a store for money or sleep outside on the streets, later on you are given a choice to shoot or spare an android to reveal what side you’re on. You never know what the next scene will bring and what choices await – or what the exact consequences of your actions will be.
Ni No Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom
Ni No Kuni II tells the story of a young king expelled from his kingdom. He sets out to unite the great realms while building a new kingdom from scratch, meeting characters from all over the world along the way. The game offers an expansive kingdom building mechanic, tons of sidequests and beautiful environments ranging from Asian looking gambling cities to scorching deserts and magical forests. The concept of having to start from scratch and expand your kingdom slowly but steadily, while forging allegiances and in turn using the recourses from your city to strengthen your own characters, is something that works really well in this game. There are some drawbacks as well – cutscenes are really sparse (the fully voiced ones at least) and are over before you know it, as if the developers didn’t want them to take too much time, which makes the main story feel kind of rushed and minimal at times. A little more time on character development would have gone a long way. On the other hand, the numerous sidequests have a lot of formulaic dialogue that can feel overly verbose and redundant at times. The combat system is a bit too complex for its own good, especially since the game is rather easy, which make all these extra features seem somewhat unnecessary. Still, it’s hard to deny the game’s charm, and expanding your kingdom, uniting the nations and recruiting citizens for your town can be very satisfying and addictive.