Octahedron was easily one of the standout indie games of 2018 – that it wasn’t featured in our Game of the Year voting was a real shame. It’s not quite on the same level as the blend between sound, music and player actions as the work of Tetsuya Mizuguchi, but it’s easy to immerse yourself in the neon lights and trance.
New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe is a huge amount of great 2D Mario (and Luigi) platforming and it's at its easiest to pick up and play on Switch, but even with the sheer volume of content this doesn't really feel like a ‘Deluxe' game. Toadette's easier gameplay comes at the cost of a regular difficulty fourth character, and makes for a token appearance of Peach as a playable character, while the best all round multiplayer fun has been left behind with the Wii U's GamePad.
Shattered State is a short and sweet political thriller that lets you decide the fate of a nation. Supermassive's mastery of branching narratives and growing experience with VR come together nicely in an experience that's well worth playing, taking a short break, and then exploring one or two of the other possible outcomes.
Arca's Path subscribes to the ‘do one thing and do it well' school of video game design, making it simple and intuitive to guide your ball through the steadily more complex and maze-like levels. It might lack some of the charm or adventurousness of other VR games released this year, but Arca's Path is a wonderfully accessible VR game that's incredibly easy to pick up and play.
Building on the foundations of the 2016 game, Hitman 2 is full of the best Hitman stealth action yet. Yes, it's evolutionary in some ways, and you have to accept the series' idiosyncratic take on the genre, but there's space for it to keep growing with the return of Escalation missions and continuing Elusive Contracts. Whether you're a blackmailing pink flamingo he satisfaction of an expertly planned and executed hit is like nothing else.
Battlefield V scratches an itch that many will have had since Battlefield 4. DICE have found a great feel for the gunplay, the tweaks to classes and additions like fortifications largely work as intended, and the way that Grand Operations have evolved brings a refreshing variety to the game. Sure, it's around the edges at launch and with some largely forgettable single play War Stories, Battlefield V is a diamond in the rough.
Freeing Luigi's Mansion from the GameCube's back catalogue, Grezzo's remake of the game for 3DS is fantastic, going far beyond a simple port. That said, the 3DS isn't always the best home for the ghostbusting action and the controls feel a bit too slow and awkward when it counts.
Black Ops 4's Blackout is clearly the star of the show, with Treyarch making this Battle Royale business look easy, but it's standing on the shoulders of a great all round multiplayer experience and a Zombies mode that's bigger and more streamlined than ever. You might still miss having a single player campaign, and there's work to be done to ensure Blackout's longevity, but this could easily be the start of a new era of Call of Duty.
Transference's inventively spins its story of obsession and broken families into a game that's all about perception and twisted realities. It's not entirely successful, failing to confront the topics it raises and failing to live up to its Hollywood billing and origins, but it's still deeply atmospheric as you flick between realities, solve puzzles and figure out the lengths to which Raymond Hayes would truly go.
Super Mario Party is just a very safe game. It brings back the classic Mario Party board game form, marrying it with some of the better ideas from Mario Party: Star Rush, but it's light on the number of boards to play, lacks depth in other game modes, and misses opportunities for solo handheld and online multiplayer. It's Mario Party, but it's not particularly super.
FIFA 19 feels like the culmination of the last few years of FIFA games, and not just from the conclusion of The Journey's interwoven story. The Champions League gives EA the opportunity to show their presentation skills and bed in a new commentary partnership, a shakeup for the main online set up of Ultimate Team, and the surprisingly fun new Kick Off mode. Some new ideas don't quite come together, but there's a reason why FIFA is the biggest game in town.
Following on from Max and Chloe's time-twisting adventure was always going to be a tricky task, but Dontnod have pulled it off with aplomb in Life Is Strange 2's first episode. Sean and Daniel's relationship, the tragedy that sends them on the run, the contrasting people that they meet and the supernatural twists on a modern day drama all come together in wonderful fashion.
Building on the foundations of Rise of the Tomb Raider, there's more depth to the actual tomb raiding, more flexibility in the combat, and the city of Paititi is a hub that you can easily get lost in as you explore it and the surrounding jungle. So, while Shadow of the Tomb Raider's story lacks some of the meaning and impact that it sets out to, this is another action packed romp for fans of the series.
Octopath Traveler is a wonderful collection of adventures and stories, but the quirk of storytelling that lends it its name is both its greatest strength and weakness. While the turn-based combat and 'breaking' enemies makes practically every battle engaging, the eight tales this game tells don't really feel like they need to be told together. It's a little unbalanced because of this, but this remains a charming, beguiling JRPG.
Porting Captain Toad to 3DS might have been a surprise from Nintendo, but it's a very pleasant one. There's naturally some compromises to the game's looks and the 3DS's camera controls aren't always the best, but Captain Toad's adventure holds up really well on the handheld. If you don't own a Wii U or Switch, you won't feel shortchanged by playing on Nintendo's elder statesman of a handheld.
If you enjoyed Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle, then picking up Donkey Kong Adventure is a no-brainer.
Having the original Lumines soundtrack on modern consoles is a nostalgia trip for fans of the 14-year-old PSP puzzler, but the core block-dropping gameplay hasn't aged a day. It's still just as addictive now as it was back then, but it's a shame that as a remaster it ignores some of the game modes introduced in later games. As remasters go, Lumines is impeccable, but then it was always going to be.