It’s a tough fight- some of the best games of the year belong to this famous genre.
The action-adventure genre has long been one of the core pillars that the medium of video games stands on. Over the years, the genre has grown beyond recognition, and delivered some generation-defining titles, and in that respect, 2018 was no different. Here, we will be talking about fifteen of our favourite action-adventure titles of the year, before giving the top honours to the one that managed to beat some very, very stiff competition.
NOTE: The nominees and winner were decided by an internal vote held among the entire GamingBolt staff.
THE NOMINEES ARE…
SHADOW OF THE COLOSSUS
Shadow of the Colossus proves that good game design is timeless. This was a title that, back in 2005, stunned the industry with its unique vision and gargantuan scale. In 2018, in an industry that has changed drastically, Shadow of the Colossus is just as good, if not better. The sombre, melancholic experience of traipsing through a desolate land to find and kill sixteen of the most majestic, humongous figures you will ever lay your eyes on is still as captivating an experience as it ever was. It is, in fact, made even more memorable thanks to do the incredible work done by the masterminds of Bluepoint. We can think of no praise higher than that.
A WAY OUT
Hazelight Studios and Josef Fares’ A Way Out is an ambitious game, an experience that stubbornly places its focus on couch co-op, and couch co-op only. Thankfully, it puts its money where its mouth is. A Way Out is a unique experience, one that places a focus on cinematic storytelling and character-driven narrative, but also on thrilling set pieces and exciting encounters. Best of all, it continuously finds ways to make that all work within its splitscreen framework. Teamwork in A Way Out isn’t just a feature, it’s a mechanic that the game and its story are built on, and it works wonderfully well.
Dead Cells had generated plenty of excitement among a dedicated fanbase in the time leading up to its launch thanks to the strong impression it made while it was in early access, and when it launched globally, everyone got to see what all the hype was about. Motion Twin’s metroidvania-cum-roguelike title is an ingenious blend of genres that is defined by challenging combat, a rewarding progression system, excellent level design, and all around addictive gameplay that will keep you coming back to it again and again and again.
This game is a dream. It’s a blissful experience- moving as Spider-Man feels slick and smooth, combat feels fast and fluid, and everything just flows naturally. The narrative goes to places you would not expect, but none of it ever feels unearned. Traversal is so strong, it makes the fast travel system look redundant and pointless, which is a very rare thing in an open world title. A few months before its launch, we’d been hoping for the game to be what Spider-Man what Arkham was to Batman– it turned out to be that, and so, so much more.
YAKUZA 6: THE SONG OF LIFE
The Dragon of Dojima returned for his final hurrah this year with Yakuza 6, and we could not have asked for a better send off. Yakuza 6 is a culmination of this incredible, long-running franchise, and it perfectly encapsulates everything that makes this series so damn good. Things such as its incredible over-the-top combat, immersive setting, an engaging narrative, stylish cutscenes, and addictive side activities are all here, while the Dragon Engine is also used to excellent effect in its debut outing to produce a visually stunning experience as well. Yakuza 6 ensure that though Kazuma Kiryu has taken his last bow, he will never be forgotten.
If you have a hankering some some solid co-op shooting fun that taps into the Left 4 Dead nostalgia, look no further than Strange Brigade. What’s really good about Strange Brigade, though, is that though it clearly borrows from Valve’s co-op shooter, it also throws in twists of its own, such as its fascinating setting, its visual aesthetic, and solid customization and upgrading mechanics, and its campy humour. It’s also got some genuinely well designed levels, which break up frenetic action every so often with enjoyable puzzles. With Score Attack and the horde mode, it’s also got more than enough replay value to justify the price of entry.
LEGO DC SUPER-VILLAINS
LEGO games are like comfort food- they’re nothing fancy, and you know exactly what you’re getting with them, but they have an undeniable charm that can’t quite be replicated elsewhere. LEGO DC Super-Villains is exactly what you think it is- more LEGO. But you can find a lot of comfort in its familiar mix of slapstick humour and simplistic yet extremely enjoyable gameplay. Exploring its environments is as fun as ever, combat is shallow and yet a ton of fun, and the basic concept that the game is built on – that you play as a team of super-villains – proves that sometimes, it’s good to be bad.
GOD OF WAR
God of War is a stellar achievement in so many ways. It is a rare and shining example of how to radically reinvent a series, but do so in a way that it still respects its legacy. Everything from its tone to its combat to even the camera perspective is wildly different from what God of War fans were used to, but at the end of the day, it still feels like a core God of War experience. A strong story, brilliant characterization, brutal and satisfying combat, and best-in-class visuals are just a few of the things that make God of War one of the best games of this entire console generation.
ASSASSIN’S CREED ODYSSEY
Through all of its ups and downs, Assassin’s Creed has still delivered a number of truly amazing titles. And for a series that has done that over the years to come out with one of its best ever entries is always a big deal. Assassin’s Creed Odyssey builds on the foundation that was put in place by last year’s Origins, and takes the franchise further into this bold new direction. Its vast open world is as good as you would expect from an Assassin’s Creed game (which means it’s excellent), while improvements made in other areas, such as combat and progression, make even the moment-to-moment gameplay better than ever before. With some very well executed RPG mechanics added on top, this is well and truly an odyssey worth taking.
RED DEAD REDEMPTION 2
Red Dead Redemption 2’s ambition knows no bounds, but while lesser games would buckle under the weight of all that ambition, Rockstar’s latest expertly executes its vision with something that is very close to flawlessness. The open world of Red Dead Redemption 2 is vast, beautiful, and intricately detailed, housing a sandbox of emergent mechanics and riotously enjoyable activities that immerse you into the world like few other games do. It tells a story that sinks its hooks into you right from the very second, and thanks to smart pacing, tight writing, and absolutely stellar characterization, refuses to let go till the credits have rolled. There are flaws in the experience, sure, but Red Dead Redemption 2 is the flag bearer of the phrase “greater than the sum of its parts”.
Hitman is perhaps the last of the classic stealth franchises that is still alive and kicking, and Hitman 2 proves that it’s got more than enough life left in it. Essentially, all it is is more of Hitman (2016), but better and more refined. That is something that works in its favour, because it takes the series’ trademark brand of emergent gameplay and pushes it further than ever before. Every level in Hitman 2 is a sandbox of endless opportunities, where you are the engineer of every second of your experience. Going back to replay any one of the game’s six episodes never leads to an experience that is even slightly similar to your last, and a game that does that this successfully deserves nothing but praise in our book.
JUST CAUSE 4
We all knew what we were getting into with Just Cause 4– a ton of mayhem, and a whole lot of mindless fun. The series has built a reputation for itself for putting players in large, beautiful environments, and providing them with the tools to basically wreck it all in the most imaginative ways possible. Excellent physics mechanics and a imaginative tools come together in Just Cause 4 to make for a sandbox where the possibilities for making your own fun are nearly limitless. Does it have its issues? Sure it does. But when you’re having as much fun as you do in Just Cause 4, in that moment, it’s hard to care about that stuff.
WARRIOR’S OROCHI 4
Musuo games provide a sort of experience that very few other kinds of games do. Getting to play as an overpowered one-man army and killing enemies by the dozens every second is an inherently cathartic experience, and Warriors Orochi 4 delivers that in spades. New gameplay mechanics and a mammoth roster are mixed with the series’ tried and true adrenaline-fueled action to deliver a flawed yet immensely satisfying experience.
FAR CRY 5
Far Cry 5 attempted to take the series away from the highly structured approach it had settled into since its revitalization with Far Cry 3 in 2013, and ended up delivering an excellent open world experience. Built around systemic-based emergent mechanics, Far Cry 5 was constantly engaging. Exploration was much more organic than ever before, so that players were exploring the world not to go down a list of endless checkboxes, but simply to feed their own curiosity. Mixed with Far Cry’s iconic brand of action and mayhem, that made for a perfect concoction that we hope to see taken even further with future instalments.
YAKUZA KIWAM 2
Every time we think we’re out, they pull us back in. Yakuza 6 may have been the canonical end to the franchise, but thanks to Sega’s admirable efforts to bring the entire franchise to the modern generation, Yakuza Kiwami 2 reimagined what is perhaps the best story in the entire series. In fact, not only is Kiwami 2 the best Yakuza story, it may very well be the best Yakuza game as well. And in a series that has been as impressively consistent and top-notch as Yakuza has been over the years, that is very high praise indeed.
AND THE WINNER IS…
Looking at the list of nominees, you would have probably figured that arriving at a single winner in this category was incredibly hard- it was a tough fight between many games, but there is something that Insomniac’s amazing Spider-Man does that not a lot of games do quite as well. It is ridiculously, dreamily fun. Swinging through the island of Manhattan is an absolute blast, to the point where you can spend literally hours on end doing nothing but aimlessly zipping from one end of the map to the other. Combat is much better than anyone could have ever expected- it is fast, agile, thrilling, and incredibly flashy. Even more surprising is the story, which is one of the best Spider-Man stories we’ve seen in years, propped up by incredible writing and acting performances. Insomniac’s latest is not only a dream come true for fans of Spider-Man, it is also an excellent game in its own right.