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The 10 Best Video Games of 2018

While 2018 was a year that felt a lot like Dark Souls: unrelenting, challenging, and leaving you wanting to throw your controller across the room just to feel something. But in spite of the real-world insanity swirling all around us, there were plenty of incredible games that came out in 2018 with engrossing narratives, addictive gameplay mechanics, and incredible characters that made us remember why we love to play in the first place. Here are our favorite games of 2018 as chosen by our editorial staff.

10. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey

Image: Ubisoft

Assassin’s Creed Odysseys protagonist and the game’s open-minded, uncomplicated romance options set it apart from the rest of the longstanding franchise. Kassandra, voiced exquisitely by Melissanthi Mahut, strikes the right balance between tenacious and gentle, Spartan and compassionate. Her character development is perhaps one of the greatest overall narratives the franchise has focused on thus far. The sunlit islands of Ancient Greece provide an unforgettably striking background for her to defend and avenge her family. – Kelly Knox, contributor

9. Return of the Obra Dinn

Image: Lucas Pope

Rendered in a hyper-stylized black-and-white aesthetic, Return of the Obra Dinn casts you in the role of an insurance adjustor for the British East India Company in 1802 trying to uncover the mystery of the Obra Dinn, a merchant vessel that arrived in port with damaged sails and no visible crew. An slickly constructed game, Obra Dinn will have you meticulously poring over your own notes in a feverish attempt to crack the case, which gets increasingly complex with each new clue you ferret out. Equal parts murder mystery and puzzle game, Return of the Obra Dinn will put your grey matter to the test as you try and make sense of its greyscale mysteries. – Dan Casey, senior editor

8. Monster Hunter: World

Image: Capcom

The breakout action RPG hit of the year, Monster Hunter: World offers an expansive and visually stunning open world, teeming with life. The game’s combat, ecosystems, and monsters all provide a refreshing amount of depth as the world’s ecosystem and design strike a perfect balance. As the fifth main installment in the franchise, Monster Hunter: World gives long-time fans of the series what they were craving  in the modern console generation. With a robust online community, players will keep coming back to this game for years to come. – Noelle Warner, contributor

7. Dead Cells

Image: Motion Twin

While the term “Metroidvania” gets bandied about with such frequency nowadays that it sometimes ceases to have any real meaning, Dead Cells embodies the spirit behind the fan-favorite genre in ways few other titles have managed. Created by Motion Twin, Dead Cells is a highly addictive, thoughtfully crafted rogue-like action platformer that puts you inside a constantly changing castle where you must hack, slash, and battle your way through hordes of enemies that want nothing more than to turn you into a cobblestone Jackson Pollock painting. And that will happen. A lot. Because dying is an important part of the Dead Cells experience. You’ll take those valuable lessons you learned from your last horrific demise and try to apply them again and again and again to avoid getting turned into a fine red mist. And that will make your eventual victory all the sweeter. – Dan Casey, senior editor

6. Marvel’s Spider-Man

Image: Insomniac Game

Spider-Man is having a huge year, but perhaps his greatest cultural impact of 2018 will end up being Insomniac’s amazing and spectacular Spider-Man game for PS4. It’s everything the character is, was, and should be always. Swinging through a version of Manhattan that mixes real streets and landmarks with famous locals from the Marvel Universe, players spent hours in the life of hapless, nigh-penniless genius, Peter Parker, as he flips, dodges, punches, and webs baddies left and right. With upgradable abilities and a closet full of suits, no superhero game has ever felt this much like you’re truly in control. And how about that Stan Lee cameo… *sobs*Kyle Anderson, associate editor

5. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Image: Nintendo

There is a reason Super Smash Bros. has been a living room staple since 1999: replay value. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate understands this and strikes a perfect balance of the old and the new with the classic items, stages, characters, and game modes we’ve come to love, but expands on all of these aspects, too. With 74 fighters, 108 stages, a 20+ hour adventure mode, and battles with up to 8 players, Ultimate is the big, grand sequel we had been waiting years for. – Noelle Warner, contributor

4. Into The Breach

Image: Subset Games

Failure is inevitable in Into the Breach, which should come as no surprise to anyone who played Subset Games’ critically acclaimed spaceship management simulator FTL. This time you take control of a squadron of mech pilots who travel into the past to prevent gigantic kaiju monsters from destroying the world as we know it. With randomly-generated encounters, each turn-based battle will put your mind to the test as you try and devise clever strategies to defeat the monsters erupting from the earth while maximizing your resources. Beneath its seemingly simple surface lies a shocking amount of depth, which you’ll have plenty of time to think about as you inevitably perish at the hands of massive insectoid monsters and head back in time to try, try again. – Dan Casey, senior editor

3. Celeste

Image: Matt Makes Games

You would be hard-pressed to find a more perfectly and meticulously designed game in 2018 than Celeste. An exquisitely designed platformer with some of the most satisfyingly precise controls I’ve ever seen, Celeste is ostensibly the story of a young woman trying to reach the top of a mountain. It’s a game about making mistakes and learning from them, something you will do repeatedly as you navigate its challenging levels and myriad obstacles. On a more profound level, Celeste is about dealing with anxiety, depression and mental illness as we see a young woman coming to terms with herself and all of the attendant feelings that come with those conditions.

It’s a message that is rarely found in video games and one that proves they are more than mere escapism. “If Celeste has helped you come to terms with mental illness, you deserve credit for that,” said Celeste creator Matt Thorson in his acceptance speech at The Game Awards. “That change came from inside of you.” Celeste may not be the answer to all of our problems, but perhaps it can help us acknowledge their roots and find some calm in the storm. – Dan Casey, senior editor

2. Red Dead Redemption 2

Image: Rockstar Games

One of the most staggering achievements in video gaming, Red Dead Redemption 2 tells the story of ruthless men and hardened women living outside the bounds of society as the sun begins to set on the world they once knew. It is a game full of seemingly limitless potential, fanatical attention to detail, and some genuinely frustrating mechanics when it comes to picking up objects. But most of all, it is an engrossing odyssey into the heart of the American West, allowing players to deconstruct its mythology through moral dilemmas, engrossing storytelling, and a pervasive sense of wonder. – Dan Casey, senior editor

1. God Of War

Image: Santa Monica Studios

God of War is a giant achievement for Santa Monica Studios. The now multi-award-winning game successfully reshapes a hack-and-slash franchise dripping in the blood of Greek gods into an emotional father-and-son journey steeped in Norse mythology that rivals the masterful storytelling of The Last of Us. Incredibly gorgeous, impeccably acted, and technically impressive on a level few games can reach, I savored every axe returning like Mjölnir, every half-growled, half-spoken quip, every draugr kicked off a cliff. God of War towers above most games of this generation like a statue of Thor. – Kyle Hill, science editor

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