Our Favorite Games of 2018: Natalie's Top Ten
Anime is real. And so is bug.
Welcome to Waypoint's End of Year celebration! This year, we're digging deep into our favorite games with dedicated podcasts, interviewing each other about our personal top 10 lists, and reflecting on the year with essays from the staff and some of our favorite freelance contributors. Check out the entire package right here!
God, I really didn’t think I was going to make it to the end of this year. I remember thinking as recently as a month ago that the idea of me getting to today, December 26th, 2018, seemed totally impossible. And yet, despite everything, I’m here.
As the year began coming to an end, and I started thinking about what my top 10 list would be, I was filled with dread. There were so many games I had wanted to play this year, and I was disappointed in myself for sort of “playing it safe” with the games I chose to invest in. I had so much Real Life shit happen this year that I found my mental and emotional bandwidth to be severely limited. Too often, when I got home at the end of the day, I rarely felt ready to pick up the controller and try something new, and instead leaned back on what was comfortable.
If y’all haven’t listened to it yet, Austin and I did a podcast today interviewing each other on our lists, and I talk a little bit about this feeling at the top. (Also, if any of you make it to the end of that podcast, please let me know so I can congratulate and thank you for making it through our three hour word marathon.)
But as I came around to the end of the podcast, my reflection on my year of games sort of shifted. I don’t think I played it safe this year—in fact, at least a handful of the games that made my list were completely outside my comfort zone. And I’m really proud of myself for that.
So without further ado, my top 10 list. Thank you for sticking with me and with Waypoint, through everything we’ve done this past year. I am so grateful for getting to the end of 2018 with you all. And please, if you’d like to hear even MORE thoughts on each of these games, do head on over to our podcast feed.
Honorable mentions include: Celeste, Dark Souls: Remastered, Dead Cells, Diablo III: Eternal Collection, Hot Pot Panic (check out my Free Play write-up on it here), Lego Harry Potter: Years 1 – 4, Minecraft (yes, again), No Man’s Sky: NEXT, Pokémon Let’s Go: Eevee!, Prey, Solitaire, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Unexplored.
10. Picross S2
I’ve loved nonograms for a long time, and ever since I was first introduced to them digitally with My Nintendo Picross: The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, I’ve had to have a picross game on every console.
Picross S2, the successor to Picross S, is a wonderful option. It introduces a new ability to count each square as you move with the cursor, and an entire new mode: Clip Picross. In Clip Picross, you fill out several puzzles of varying size to make up a larger picture.
It’s my favorite in-between-playing-other-games game—it’s perfect for when I need a little break from my 11th try at beating a boss or solving some platform puzzle, while still keeping me engaged.
(I should also note that if you listened to me talk about Picross S2 on today’s podcast, the casino game in Pokémon Heart Gold and Pokémon Soul Silver is actually closer to a mix of Minesweeper and picross.)
9. DanMachi - MEMORIA FREESE
I can’t believe I put more than 50 hours into this goddamn anime game.
DanMachi - MEMORIA FREESE is a gatcha game from Crunchyroll Games (their first, in fact), based on the anime series, “Is it Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?”
Let me be very clear: Bell Cranel, boy wonder protagonist, is not GOING to the dungeons with the intent of picking up girls—rather, he HAPPENS to fall in love with one WHILE in the dungeon.
After finishing the anime earlier this year, I decided to give the mobile game a try, because I am trash. It didn’t take me long to get the hang of DanMachi. The fight encounters only require you to choose an attack, and special attacks are accompanied by fun battle animations. The leveling up mechanics are easy to follow, and the gatcha system is relatively simple. The game has you play through the main story, which I still haven’t finished. Honestly, if I hadn’t just watched the show, I would probably still be playing. That and if tier lists were updated just a little more frequently.
8. Sea of Thieves
The Waypoint crew did an entire podcast on Sea of Thieves (featuring a very special guest!!!), so I’ll try not to say too much here.
Instead, I’ll direct you to this stream Austin, Danika, Rob and I did of The Hungering Deep expansion. After watching this and listening to our podcast, you’ll know exactly how I feel about the wonderful nonsense that is Sea of Thieves. Enjoy!
7. Monster Hunter: World
We ALSO did an entire podcast on Monster Hunter: World, so please give that a listen if you are interested in Austin, Patrick and I talking through our thoughts on it.
I am so glad I finally found my way into the Monster Hunter series. I had never been able to get a grasp on the combat mechanics of these games, and perhaps it was all the Bloodborne I had been playing, but something finally just clicked. Playing on a big screen allowed me to really see not only the movement of my enemies, but also my own. I could see the specific animations of my combos, and could significantly feel their differences.
I will always love the way the creatures exist in this world, and my number one hope is to someday have the option of being their friend. Give me the zoologist playthrough of No Man’s Sky: NEXT, but in the environment of Monster Hunter: World. That’s all I want.
6. Into the Breach
At first, I was just happy to get a tactics game on the Switch this year. Then Into the Breach had to go ahead and do the thing of being an incredible game.
I don’t think it would be going out on a limb to say that Into the Breach was probably the Waypoint game of 2018. I’m pretty sure all of us played a fair amount of this game, not to mention Danielle putting over 1100 hours into her Steam save.
Getting to share stories of stalemates and successes with my friends was such a treasure this year. Stay tuned to hear some of them on our dedicated Into the Breach podcast!
I was pretty lost on Fortnite throughout all of our primary coverage, but finally, one fortuitous Spring evening, a friend of mine came over and offered to coach me through a run.
Which eventually led to this:
Just for that moment of uninhibited joy, Fortnite made its way onto my list.
Minit was the second game I completed this year. Once I started it, I didn’t stop until I beat it. Twice.
It’s such a special game. If you don’t know anything about Minit, the whole game is comprised of 60-second runs. The soundtrack makes each run feel like the grandest adventure, and yet, death never feels like a failure—there’s always the next run. In other run-based games, I can get really down on myself for mistakes. Minit makes you feel like each run is crucial to you completing the game. Each run gives you just that little bit of knowledge you needed to do something new on the next one. It never feels repetitious.
Minit is now on everything but mobile, so if you’re looking for a short game that will challenge and delight you, give it a try.
I’ve spoken extensively about my love/hate relationship with Bloodborne. This game comprised my highest highs and my lowest lows this year. I never felt triumph like I felt upon defeating Father Gascoigne, and my devastation from constant losses is what eventually drove me away from the game altogether.
But I have to thank Bloodborne, and I have to especially thank my colleagues for making me play it for the first time all those months ago. If it wasn’t for Bloodborne, I wouldn’t have given a lot of the games I played this year a chance. Bloodborne taught me to believe in my own potential, and to have confidence that my potential can become my skill. It taught me that my vulnerabilities are not flaws. Being aware of my weak points is a strength. If I keep fighting, and fight smarter, I will be rewarded. These lessons were so important to take with me into other games I played this year, and for all of them, I am grateful.
I still mean to finish the game, but perhaps a fresh start is in order...
For this game, if not for any other game, go listen to the podcast Austin and I did on our top 10 lists.
I had tried Undertale a couple of years ago on PC. I must have only played about an hour or so, before I became consumed by some other game, and lost touch. When it came out on the Switch this past September, I was determined to finish it. And even still, I lost touch with it around the end of the third quarter of the game. I thought I would still put it on my list, albeit much further down, because I had really enjoyed my time thus far. I thought it was smart, funny, and the music and art design was enchanting.
The night before Austin and I were scheduled to record, I stayed late at work to get a little bit more of the game in. When Austin and Cado saw where I was in the game, they strongly encouraged me to get to the end, and ended up staying with me until I finished it. And god, I’m so glad I did.
I won’t put any spoilers here, but I will definitely be dropping into the forum thread for this article, because I have SO many more thoughts on what we ended up talking about on the podcast, and would love to talk to you all about them!
Also, I should mention, the entire time I wrote this section (and a lot of the other ones as well) I was listening to track #71 on the Undertale soundtrack, titled “Undertale,” on repeat.
1. Hollow Knight
I am bug. I love bug. Bug is good.
I am so glad we finally got to do a podcast on Hollow Knight. We talked about the moments that captured us, the ones that devastated us, and everything in between.
Hollow Knight completely enchanted me. I saw myself echoed in the protagonist (or was the protagonist echoed in me?) When I felt dismayed in real life, I felt it in the music, in the environment, in my encounters. I became obsessed with the lore of Hallownest, and spent my time rewatching specific sections of the game and scouring wikis for more information. I needed to know more. I needed to make sense of it all.
I came to work each day desperate to talk to someone about what I had discovered the night before. Each time I played, I had my mind set on getting better. I had to be better. I had to know what the fate of my bug friends would become. I had to do whatever I could to protect them, to save them. I worried about them. I mourned them. I celebrated them. I fought with every ounce of my being, over, and over, and over again. I had to.
Hollow Knight was every game I had told myself I couldn’t play. I didn’t have the finesse platformers demanded. I didn’t contain the skill needed to play a Soulslike. Metroidvanias were too convoluted, and I would never be able to make sense of them.
But something about Hollow Knight told me it was a game for me. When I played as this little bug, equipped with nothing more than a needle, I was ferocious, yet not without fear. I was overcome with melancholia, yet unrelentingly hopeful. I was curious, yet filled with trepidation. I was everything I am. And I’m better for it.