Everyone is riding around the Old West right now playing Cowboy, myself included, but we must not immediately think that Red Dead Redemption 2 will be this year’s Game of the Year. There were quite a few amazing titles that were released before Rockstar’s latest opus that should seriously be considered as GOTY contenders. These are five titles that I believe may knock Rockstar off their horse on the way to the GOTY awards.
5) Yakuza 6: The Song of Life
The Yakuza series has been on three generations of PlayStation consoles, and with each iteration the game grows better and better. The Song of Life is the final chapter in the story of Kazuma Kiryu and probably one of Sega’s most grand tales. Those familiar with the series will be able to jump right into the combat and mechanics of the world seeing that Sega pretty much left those untouched. The story however is what brings those older fans back, why the people who write these games don’t make movies I’ll never know. Their movies would be far superior to the tripe that Hollywood puts out on a weekly basis. This is once again a gritty crime drama that takes place in Japan. Throughout the story Kiryu is beating on countless thugs to continue his quest to find out who ran over his stepdaughter Haruka and bring justice to them. If you’ve never played a Yakuza game, Yakuza: Kiwami will be free on PlayStation Plus in November, I suggest downloading it.
Why it won’t win. The Yakuza series has sadly been a niche title up until recently and it just hasn’t gained the traction it needs to become mainstream over the past couple years. Even with four titles being released in the States in a paltry two years, gamers have still yet to embrace the quirkiness of the series, and that is a shame. This franchise deserves to be at the top and, hopefully, with one of the games being free this month it can start it’s long trek to the top.
4) Fist of the North Star: Lost Paradise
This title comes from the same development team that brought us the Yakuza games, and while it is a bit of a genre jump, I’m loving this title as I progress. Oddly enough I’ve been a huge fan of Fist of the North Star since I was 8 or 9; I still have my Viz copies of the manga and an old GameBoy game. I’ve never really been into Anime, but Kenshiro’s story was just so amazing in my young mind that it stuck with me for life and now that I’m an adult, I’m seeking out the animated series so I can see what I missed. Currently I’m playing this on my PS4 and Red Dead 2 on my Xbox One and sometimes I cannot pull myself away from Fist of the North Star; it is a more linear experience and sometimes I need that. The fighting is great, I’m genuinely concerned about the fate of the characters I meet and nothing beats kicking ass in a post apocalyptic world. I can’t wait to see what Kenshiro has in store for me as I continue my quest in Eden.
Why it won’t win. No one, and I mean NO ONE has heard of this game. I talk about the game and I get a blank stare from my fellow gamers. Heck, even at the GameStop I pre-ordered the title at had no clue about the game, then happily informed me that I was the ONLY person to pre-order the title. It is sad that an original, fun and engaging title like this will get no traction in sales or with gamers.
3) Marvel’s Spider-Man
Now I will be honest with everyone, I’ve yet to crack open my copy of this game. I got it about 2 months after it released, in fact I got it the same week I got my copy of Fist of the North Star. So I’ve not gotten my hands on this title, but I’m excited to play it. I’ve been told it’s the best Spider-Man game ever, and I’ve gone through quite a lot of older Spider-Man games from the PS1 and Xbox 360 era. Everyone I’ve spoken too during this game’s brief reign as the talk of the town were gushing with how great this game is. Hopefully I’ll be able to play it by the end of the year, but with Red Dead 2 taking up a big chunk of my time I may not.
Why it won’t win. While Insomniac did a great job with Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s creation, no one is really talking about the game anymore. Spider-Man seemed to be a flash in the pan type of game, play it once, get all the costumes and put it on your shelf for an eternity. Even with the recently dropped DLC no I talk to has decided to jump back into the wall crawler’s suit. Plus I heard you can beat the main story in about 8 hours, that’s a bit rough; every other game on this list at least surpasses the 12 hour mark.
2) Detroit: Become Human
I’m one of the few gamers out there that enjoys David Cage’s games and looks forward to playing them, Detroit: Become Human being one of those games. This title had a great story, amazing visuals and a compelling reason for you to replay it over and over. I blazed through this game, after work I would rush home to play it, and in my zeal I turned Connor into too much of a robot and missed out on a sizeable chunk of the game. David Cage’s games have always reminded me of the old Choose Your Own Adventure novels from the 80’s; I’m not sure if they still publish them. In those novels you go to make a choice and when you chose you turned to the page of your decision, I would read every outcome that I could. That aspect of David Cage’s games has always fascinated me, and I hope he continues to create these interesting interactive stories.
Why it won’t win. For some reason David Cage is a very polarizing figure in the gaming industry. People believe that his video games treat women terribly, yet I remember in Indigo Prophecy the one of the main protagonists was a strong female detective, so I don’t know where they’re coming from. The biggest detraction from this game is the fact that it is just an interactive story, there really aren’t any huge gameplay elements to it. While Red Dead 2 doesn’t reinvent the wheel with gameplay or mechanics it still does a cubic shit-ton more in that department. Red Dead 2 has the story and mechanics, while Detroit just has an amazing tale.
1) God of War
This game probably had the biggest impact on me this year. I began playing it while my father was alive, then he died during my playthrough. It was a very tough time for me, it still is even 4 months after his death and I remember a week or so later Mom told me to play my games. I fired up the PS4 and continued my quest, at the time I had forgotten what Kratos was doing since I was just doing side missions to make sure I was powerful enough to beat the final boss. When I got back on track in the story I was sadly reminded that Kratos is taking his wife’s ashes to the highest mountain in all the realms. This slapped me hard seeing that Dad’s wishes were to be cremated as well. I had a difficult time finishing the game, but I did and even though it brought me great sadness, the game was amazing. The new axe mechanics, the buddy systems and of course the beautiful graphics. Every time I throw the axe I smile because Dad was in the room when I was playing sometime and I remember him uttering “Woah” when I chucked the axe and called it back.
Why it won’t win. While Kratos’ journey was of an epic scale, it still is dwarfed by the story and size of Red Dead 2. I enjoyed my time with God of War, but I have no desire to go back and relive Kratos’ journey. As I play Red Dead 2, I want nothing more than to jump back in the saddle and find more animals to hunt, people to help and huge heists to partake in. And I know that after I do my good guy run, I’ll do my bad guy run; no desire to do that as Kratos.
Of course 2018 has been another groundbreaking year for games, and it was very difficult to just decide which five to put on this list. Far Cry 5, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Shadow of the Colossus and Octopath Traveler all come to mind. And let us not forget that Smash Brothers comes out on December 6th, which may rock this list a little bit, even though Waluigi isn’t in the game.