2018 has been a great year for gaming, but here are our picks for the best games that might have flown under the radar.
Best Games from 2018 that Flew Under the Radar
Released at the very start of this year, Iconoclasts was easily overshadowed by the likes of Monster Hunter: World and Celeste. Still, it’s an extremely charming action-adventure game with a unique premise. The game follows Robin, who just wants to be a mechanic. However, because she doesn’t have a license, she’s seen as a “sinner” in society. Before long, Robin gets caught up in a conspiracy involving everyone she loves.
Featuring cute pixel graphics, Iconoclasts has good platforming puzzles for you to get through, along with epic boss fights that can fill up your entire screen. The in-game locations are fun to explore, and they’re filled with light environmental puzzles for you to solve.
Dissidia Final Fantasy NT
Most would probably dismiss Dissidia Final Fantasy NT as just a port of an arcade game in Japan, and they would be right. However, that’s not to say that there aren’t hours and hours of fun to be had from this exciting series spin-off.
Dissidia Final Fantasy NT features fast-paced combat, which you should already be familiar with if you played the Dissidia games on PSP. The mechanics here are much more refined, though, and NT comes complete with a pretty varied character roster from all over the series.
Valkyria Chronicles 4
The Valkyria Chronicles series has always been a treat for tactical turn-based RPG fans, but for some reason, these games never gained all that much mainstream popularity. The same rings true for Valkyria Chronicles 4, and this one might very well be the best entry in the series yet.
The story follows Squad E, a group of new characters in charge of leading Operation Northern Cross against the evil empire. The characters themselves are well-developed and fleshed out, and Valkyria Chronicles 4 also features good squad stories that give you insight into the lives of your less prominent squad members.
Combat-wise, not much has changed from the first game, but why fix what isn’t broken? There are some quality of life improvements here, such as increased AP for Shocktroopers, to make for a smoother experience. If you have any interest at all in strategic/tactical turn-based RPGs, there’s no better place to start than with Valkyria Chronicles 4.
Yakuza 6: The Song of Life
Dads are all the rage this year, particularly with the release of God of War, who features arguably the most badass dad of all time. However, there was another game that released around the same time, which also featured a tough guy father for a protagonist. Enter Yakuza 6: The Song of Life.
We absolutely loved our time with Yakuza 6, and how gorgeous it looked with the new Dragon Engine. The fighting mechanics have been streamlined a little, and combat in this game feels better than ever. Yakuza 6 also tells a surprisingly moving tale about family and blood ties, and protagonist Kazuma Kiryu helps to tie everything together. Kiryu himself has been an excellent main character for the series, and Yakuza 6 serves as a fitting sendoff for this memorable protagonist.
In the middle of the year, we saw the release of a little city-building game developed by 11-bit Studio. It was bleak, filled with hard-hitting choices that will sit with you for a while, and we adored it.
Frostpunk might have been a little light on content when it first launched, but the developers have been adding to it since then. Frostpunk features all the classic elements you’d expect from a city-builder. You’ll build streets, buildings, facilities, and pass down laws to keep your town in check while trying to protect your people from the cold. Every now and then, you’ll have to make tough choices. Do you enforce child labor to keep the mines running so you can survive another week? Or do you try to preserve their innocence and send them to schooling facilities instead?
Frostpunk excels at delivering an atmospheric experience, while also questioning your morals as a benevolent dictator.
Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire
CRPGs don’t typically get a lot of love because of how overwhelming they can seem, but Obsidian definitely deserves a bit of love for their work on Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire.
Pillars II is a sprawling, massive game —even more so than the first game. This time around, your main character is given control of a ship, and you’re free to explore the world as you wish. And as you might expect, there are plenty of NPCs to interact with, and plenty of quests to undertake with differing outcomes depending on the choices you make.
Just as was the case with the first game, Pillars II stands out because it makes you feel like your choices have a veritable effect on its world and characters, and your own character is shaped by your decisions, further affecting how people perceive you. It’s a great push and pull synergy that permeates throughout the experience, and this is one of the best western RPGs you’ll play this year.
Moonlighter released to rather lukewarm reception this year, but if you’re looking for a chill rogue-like game with RPG elements, this could be a great one to look out for.
Moonlighter puts players in control of Will, who runs an item shop in town. During the day, you’ll run your shop and decide on prices for the stuff you’re selling. At night, you’ll be heading into a dangerous dungeon to fight monsters and get more loot to sell.
Most of the fun in Moonlighter comes from managing your store prices, and trying to determine the sweet spot based on your customers’ reactions. As you get more money, you can upgrade the local weapon and armor shops as well, netting you better equipment to last longer in your dungeon runs. Moonlighter’s premise is simple, but satisfying.
Astro Bot: Rescue Mission
PSVR games are really starting to gain traction, and while the technology isn’t quite there yet, we’re certainly getting close with the quality titles on the platform.
Astro Bot: Rescue Mission is definitely one of the biggest surprise releases of 2018, where you’ll take control of one of the cute PS4 Play Room robots, and go on a seriously epic rescue mission to save all your other fellow robots in space.
What’s so great about Astro Bot: Rescue Mission is how it properly utilizes the VR mechanics, and how it features a world that reacts properly to your movement and actions. It’s also a very enjoyable adventure, and it’s one of the best PSVR games out right now.
Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom
You might have skipped over this one with the release of the exciting, but ultimately somewhat underwhelming, Far Cry 5. Ni no Kuni II: Revenant Kingdom is a great JRPG that brings back pretty much everything we loved from the first game.
While Studio Ghibli didn’t work on this title, Ni no Kuni II still featured gorgeous animations and cutscenes that look extremely reminiscent of the studio’s excellent animated films. The story starts off rather slowly, but it won’t be long before you start getting attached to its main characters. Evan, in particular, grows from being a sheltered young prince into a boy who begins to learn what it means to rule over a kingdom.
Aside from the action combat system, players will also have a whole kingdom-building section to get into. Ni no Kuni II can be as straightforward or as in-depth as you’d like it to be, and the game is all the better for that.
There have been tons of fun co-op and multiplayer games released this year, including the likes of A Way Out and Sea of Thieves, but don’t miss out on Unravel Two either.
It’s definitely unfortunate that this game doesn’t feature any online functionality, but it’s just as fun if you’re playing with a friend right beside you. Unravel Two sees the return of Yarny, and the introduction of his new blue friend. Just like in the first game, there are light platforming sections to get through, along with environmental puzzles that you’ll need to work together to solve.
And those are our picks for the best games in 2018 that flew under the radar. Be sure to search for Twinfinite for more gaming-related content.
Featuring cute pixel graphics, Iconoclasts has good platforming puzzles for you to get through, along with epic boss fights that can fill up your entire screen. The in-game locations are fun to explore, and they're filled with light environmental puzzles for you to solve.
Z is a ridiculous fangirl of Metal Gear and anything Souls-related. She has a B.A. in history but thinks her time is better spent as the resident Reviews Editor around these parts. She also thinks Amazon's Kindle is the greatest technological invention in the world. You can reach her at [email protected]