By using this site, you agree to our Privacy Policy and our Terms of Use. Close

Time for another batch of write-ups, we're definitely in the big leagues now:


Last Year


(Box) Art



God of War (2018)

Sometimes less really is more which is why 2018 still ranks a good deal higher than Ragnarök (#29) for me. Both games have excellent combat that feels both deliberate and extremely satisfying and both tell great stories, but the beauty of the first is that it’s a significantly more focused game. Its story is centered around just two characters, Kratos and Atreus, and because of that focus and because the relationship between them starts off so rough in this game it allows for some of the best character development in any game I’ve played: I also think the fact that 2018 was more centered around one location, with shorter trips to other worlds, worked a lot better with the game’s mechanics and as a general structure. But anyways the point it this game pretty much has it all, you get to be a badass who punches dragons and you get a moving father-son story that pulls at the heartstrings. What’s not to love?



Tales of Vesperia

Just a bit short of the top 10 where it once was, we have another entry in one of my favorite series, one that I only ended up playing a decade after the original release when the Definitive Edition came out. I knew Vesperia was considered one of the best entries and was both excited and a little nervous to find out if it lived up to its reputation but I need not have worried. Vesperia delivers on nearly every front with one of the best protagonists and casts of the series, engaging storytelling and excellent gameplay. While I had experienced it in later titles before, Vesperia was the game that introduced a double moveset by changing what arts you use when you hold down one of the triggers, which is a very welcome addition to already great combat. It also has a great customization system, solid dungeons and puzzles and A LOT of optional side content. As mentioned, the story is also excellent from nearly start to finish (with only a few weak parts in the last third) and there’s also a more moral ambiguity here than you doesn’t often see in the series which is a very welcome change of pace. All in all, Vesperia is a JRPG at their absolute best, only fallings short of 2 others that you’ll find higher on my list…



Half-Life 2

I do like me a good single-player shooter and Half-Life 2 is much more than just good. Valve really has (or had?) an uncanny knack for making incredible on-rails experiences that manage to stay varied and deeply engaging throughout despite simple core mechanics. In the Half Life games in particular the way they split the games into chapters that often have their own unique environments and twists on the gameplay is genius. There’s Water Hazard where you travel along a river in an airboat, Sandtraps were you have to stay off the sand on the beach if you don’t want to enrage the giant insects lurking below and of course Ravenholm, that legendary section where Half-Life turned horror. And that’s without even including the expansions Episode One and Two, the latter of which I would argue is even better than the base game. Half-Life 2 is one of the only games I have 100 % achievements in on Steam, achieved over several playthroughs, but that won’t stop me from coming back for more.



The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

Oh look, it’s the winner of this year’s cumulative list! (Reusing that line because I think it’s still a safe bet). Widely beloved doesn’t begin to describe Breath of the Wild and there’s a very good reason for that. Nintendo’s first venture into full on open-world was a resounding success and I’m not sure I’ve played any other game that made simply exploring the world as compelling as it is here. Seeing a Sheikah Tower or Shrine in the distant immediately compels you to want to go there and movement options like gliding with your leaf or surfing on your shield can make the simple act of moving around the world highly enjoyable. And while the game might have lost the dungeons that the series is known for, puzzles are more prevalent than ever both in Shrines, Divine Beasts or the world itself with some extremely creative ones in there. The gameplay in general is as good as it’s ever been, the combat is solid, Rune powers are cool, gathering materials to cook and craft and prepare yourself for extreme temperatures, there’s just a lot to love in this incarnation of Hyrule.


I was a bit out of the loop when I played the game so I was surprised to later learn that people hated the durability system, which to me was one of the game’s great assets. It added variation to the gameplay by forcing you to switch between different weapons on the fly and it added an element of strategic “weapon management”. Do you want to bust out your finest weapons right away or save them for that special occasion? Sure, it would have been welcome if the late game weapons had a bit more durability or even if there had been some method of repairing equipment, but regardless it was an element that I really liked about the game. Breath of the Wild is a massive game with tons of elements to it and I think few would deny that there are flaws to be found in some of those, but it’s the fact that the game is so damn enthralling despite that which shows just how good it is.



Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Sitting just outside the top 10 this time, we have the peak entry of one of my favorite series. But I have to start off a little tough on the game and say that while I do think it managed to be the best Smash game yet with the gameplay feeling better than ever, I think it fell short of truly being the ULTIMATE Smash game. It's very possibly the game that I’ve been most excited for in my life which I chalk up to the absolutely epic reveal trailer and an amazing showing at E3 later, and when I finally got my hands on it (an excruciating week late due to a shipping delay), I absolutely loved it. I loved unlocking the massive roster a bit at a time, I loved playing through World of Light and I loved the gameplay itself and the tons of content. But… With time I did start to notice the flaws and the things I wish had been there. There was missing modes, the new system for choosing rules is a hassle and spirits while kind of fun were pretty messy and more quantity than quality. World of Light was a great big helping of solid single-player content, but… it wasn’t Subspace. It did have a story sure, but not one that actually involved any of the characters. It wasn’t really the big cross-over adventure it could have been; it wasn’t the epic culmination to the series that this ultimate celebration of gaming deserved. And, while it doesn’t really take anything away from the base game, it didn’t help either that I was mostly disappointed by the DLC.


Yeah, I’m definitely whining a bit here, the game was made in less time than any entry since Melee and they couldn’t possibly satisfy everybody on every front, but well… that isn’t going to change the fact that when I look at this game, I see something that didn’t quite live up to its full (massive) potential, though obviously it being here means that I still love it. Whenever I sit down to play it, I have a great time and in one of those practically-questionable “what game would you bring to a deserted island” scenarios, this is a strong contender. There was a time where I would have considered this my #5 or #6 of all-time and that ship has definitely sailed, but I do think it’s worthy of a spot in the range where it sits now.

Try out my free game on Steam

2024 OpenCritic Prediction Leagues:

Nintendo | PlayStation | Multiplat