11 Video Games I Played Obsessively in 2018

2018 was a fantastic year for games.

From the highly anticipated big budget titles, to the little-known indie games that many might overlook, a lot of great new games hit the scene this year. I was absolutely inundated with brilliant ones to play—but these 10 were my favorites.

Pokémon: Let's Go Eevee!

I was expecting Pokémon: Let's Go Eevee! to be beautifully animated, packed with nostalgia and plenty of fun to play, but I didn't anticipate just how deeply it would hook me in. While the basic Pokémon adventure felt familiar, the changes made me closer to my Pokémon than ever before. I loved seeing every Pokémon follow my character around as much as I enjoyed petting and feeding Eevee.

Still, my favorite updates to the game all revolved around Catch Combos and the chance to pick out the strongest Pokémon of the bunch and boost their stats with special candies while looking out for shiny Pokémon. I've spent hours beefing up my favorites and can't wait to take on all 151 Master Trainers with ultra-strong Pokémon. It'll take ages, but the fun makes it so worth it.

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(Pokémon: Let's Go Eevee! via The Pokémon Company)

 

Undertale

Before I played the critically acclaimed Undertale, I anticipated that I'd find it pretty overrated. I was so, so wrong. When the game came out this year on the Nintendo Switch, I was eager to see how things might play out when I attempted to beat it without fighting anyone. What resulted was one of the most emotionally resonant games I've ever played, packed with hilarious and memorable characters that I was sad to say goodbye to when I'd completed the story. While there are other ways to play the game, I'm convinced that my way is the best—and I'm thrilled that its sibling game Deltarune recently released its first chapter.

Undertale: Dogamy and Dogaressa

(Undertale via Toby Fox)

 

The Gardens Between

Few games use a time travel mechanic as simply and effectively as The Gardens Between. It follows two best friends as they revisit memories of the past, moving back and forth between time to solve tricky puzzles that reveal more about their loving history together. The game is beautiful and melancholy, and will really make you think, but its ending still filled me with hope for the future of its characters.

The Gardens Between banner

(The Gardens Between via The Voxel Agents)

 

Wandersong

I'd had my eye on the joyously musical adventure game Wandersong since Feb. 2017, so I was thrilled when it finally came out this year. The game puts players in the shoes of an ever-optimistic bard who uses his voice as a tool to take on any challenge that lies ahead of him, but the real magic comes in the form of its unique cast of characters, including my favorite: a grumpy young witch named Miriam. On top of an amazing soundtrack with some whimsical sound design, it's all about the power of kindness and always trying your hardest. It made me totally rethink what it means to be a hero. If you want to play a game that tugs on your heartstrings, do not miss Wandersong.

Wandersong: I wanna be a hero

(Wandersong via Humble Bundle)

 

Mendel

I'd never played anything quite like Mendel, and I don't expect to find another game like it any time soon. The game places players in a rover in the center of an alien landscape, where the only thing you can do there is collect and plant samples of the flora you find there. By combining elements of different species, you can create all new plantlife exhibiting traits from both parent plants. It may sound strange, but I found the game perfectly zen and loved combining different bits of greenery to create more and more beautiful variations of my favorites. There aren't any goals or objectives. I could just plant away to my heart's content.

Mendel: Neon-colored branches

(Mendel via Owen Bell)

 

Donut County

Donut County is another game that I've followed for years and was delighted to play when it finally came out this year. For the most part, the game is about controlling a hole in the ground. As more stuff falls into the hole, it grows larger and larger, allowing more objects to get swallowed up, too—in some cases, until it can down entire cityscapes by sucking in skyscrapers. I find it extremely satisfying to wreak a little havoc within the game, and its storyline involving cute talking animals (including the rascally raccoon B.K.) keeps me coming back to it again and again.

Donut County: Raccoon scooter and holes

(Donut County via Annapurna Interactive)

 

Semblance

Semblance may look like any other puzzle platformer on the surface, but its core mechanic makes it so much more. That's because many of the game's platforms aren't rigid, static objects, but soft ones that can be warped and bent to aid you in your journey. At first, it's pretty simple to create the shapes necessary to cross chasms or scale wales, but toward the end of the game, the puzzles started utilizing concepts that forced me to think entirely outside of the box. And not only is the idea completely original, but its bold style is amazing to look at, too.

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(Semblance via Gambitious)

 

Hollow Knight

I can't say enough good things about Hollow Knight. I missed the game when it first came out last year, but when it hit the Nintendo Switch in 2018, I decided to dig in, and I was really glad I did. The game stars a little beetle knight on a mission within the darkly gorgeous insect world of the Hallownest. It's brimming with tough bosses, beautiful yet treacherous landscapes and more secrets than you'd ever expect, and the challenge will keep you coming back again and again. It may be my favorite Metroidvania ever, and that's certainly saying something.

Hollow Knight: Hitching a ride on the Last Stag

(Hollow Knight via Team Cherry)

 

Yoku's Island Express

Yoku's Island Express may be the most innovative title on this list. It's a Metroidvania with a twist, because instead of jumping around, you fling yourself into the air with flippers, as if you were a pinball. The game revolves around Yoku, a dung beetle, whose ball allows it to traverse the island by getting ping-ponged around by various pinball table-style obstacles. It's like nothing I've seen before, and as much as I don't want the developers to get ripped off, it's a really good idea that I'd love to see replicated again and again.

Yoku's Island Adventure: Yoku meets a tortoise

(Yoku's Island Express via Team17)

 

Minit

Minit's black and white graphical style may make it look like a throwback game, but its premise is entirely unique. It's a bit like a 2D Zelda adventure, except for that fact that your character dies every 60 seconds, respawning in the last home base they visited. Making progress is all about slowly chipping away at the story to make meaningful progress toward the game's conclusion. If you're anything like me, you'll want to replay this adventure again and again once it's been completed.

Minit game: home

(Minit via Devolver Digital)

Florence

Florence is last, but definitely not least, on this list because it takes an entirely novel approach to its storytelling. The game centers around a young woman named Florence and has the player experience her daily life through small vignettes about her everyday activities. It starts with some pretty mundane and monotonous tasks, but when Florence falls in love, the entire feel of the game changes. Florence's soaring music and creative gameplay elements took me through all of the ups and downs of her relationship all of the way to the optimistic conclusion and made me feel everything from heartbreak to triumph along the way.

Florence: Floating while listening to cello music

(Florence via Annapurna Interactive)

 

Don't have a lot of time to game? Click HERE for the list of my favorite games that can be finished in a single sitting.