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Top 20 Video Games of 2018, According to Critics

Dead Cells

10. Dead Cells

  • RELEASE DATE: August 7
  • PLATFORMS: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Switch
  • DEVELOPER: Motion Twin
  • PUBLISHER: Motion Twin
  • METACRITIC SCORE: 91

Read Screen Rant's Dead Cells Review

In Dead Cells, a stealth metroidvania game, players take on a group of cells that reanimate a corpse so they can fight their way out of a dungeon. Each level of the game is procedurally-generated, meaning that no two levels, or playthroughs, are alike — this impressed critics who loved the game's mechanics, as well as how responsive the controls are. They also enjoyed the combat against challenging enemies that the player meets along the way. Dead Cells also features a broad variety of weapons, including swords and bows, but also whips and grenades. Spells allow players to customize their gameplay experience in a unique way.

9. Sonic Mania Plus

Sonic Mania Plus
  • RELEASE DATE: July 17
  • PLATFORMS: Switch
  • DEVELOPER: PagodaWest Games, Headcannon
  • PUBLISHER: Sega
  • METACRITIC SCORE: 91

When Sonic Mania Plus arrived on the Switch, fans of the original Sonic Mania game got to indulge in one of their favorite experiences all over again. Plus, it offered something new: an enhanced version of the game with additional content. It wasn't just Sonic fans that were happy; critics loved playing the game on Switch, too. Some called it the best Sonic game of all time, while others loved that it still felt like a classic Sonic game. There is, obviously, a nostalgia factor at play, too, but most critics agreed that this worked in the title's favor.

8. INSIDE

INSIDE
  • RELEASE DATE: June 28
  • PLATFORMS: Switch
  • DEVELOPER: Playdead
  • PUBLISHER: Playdead
  • METACRITIC SCORE: 91

INSIDE was first introduced on the PC in 2016, but it eventually made its way onto Switch in 2018. INSIDE takes place in a dystopic world and follows a boy as he solves puzzles to get through his environment while preventing his death. Critics found the game as beautiful on the Switch as on the PC and loved the game's minimalism. They praised the puzzles for being challenging, but not mind-breaking, by using physics to figure out how to proceed through each level. They also liked the animation, as well as the art and sound design, along with the game's haunting story.

7. Bayonetta 2

  • RELEASE DATE: February 16
  • PLATFORMS: Switch
  • DEVELOPER: Platinum Games
  • PUBLISHER: Nintendo
  • METACRITIC SCORE: 91

It seems that the trend for 2018 involved porting old games to the Nintendo Switch. Bayonetta 2, a title first released in 2014, got its Switch debut this year. The adventure hack and slash game takes players to Fimbulventr, a fictional sacred mountain in the Middle East. From there, Bayonetta, the protagonist, must travel to the gates of hell to save her friend. The Switch port was a hit with critics, most loving that very little changed during the port to the new console. Some said it looked and played better than ever, while others praised some of the smaller details that improved the game from its original version.

6. Forza Horizon 4

  • RELEASE DATE: September 28
  • PLATFORMS: Xbox One
  • DEVELOPER: Playground Games
  • PUBLISHER: Microsoft Studios
  • METACRITIC SCORE: 92

Read Screen Rant's Forza Horizon 4 Review

Although racing games don't always seem as popular as they may have once been, Forza Horizon 4 managed to please gamers and critics alike. The game takes players across the world for exciting racing action, with realistic weather effects and seasons that change dynamically, depending on the time of year and location. Critics called it a "must have" for Xbox One owners, stating that it was one of the best racers they had played in a long time. They loved the graphics and smooth physics, as well as the variety of content and racing activities. Most agreed that it was the best game in the franchise.

5. Divinity: Original Sin II - Definitive Edition

Divinity Original Sin 2 Exploration
  • RELEASE DATE: August 31
  • PLATFORMS: PS4, Xbox One
  • DEVELOPER: Larian Studios
  • PUBLISHER: Bandai Namco Entertainment
  • METACRITIC SCORE: 92

Read Screen Rant's Divinity: Original Sin II - Definitive Edition Review

Although initially released on PC in 2017, Divinity: Original Sin II - Definitive Edition came out on consoles in 2018. The RPG, set in the fantasy world of Rivellon, features turn-based combat with a strong emphasis on story. It takes its inspiration from traditional pen-and-paper RPGs. Critics touted it as the best fantasy RPG game to ever hit consoles, citing its rich history, storytelling and complex combat as why they loved it so much. They also liked that it allowed the player to have a lot of freedom in an immersive world full of beautiful visuals and interesting characters.

4. Undertale

Undertale
  • RELEASE DATE: September 18
  • PLATFORMS: Switch
  • DEVELOPER: Toby Fox
  • PUBLISHER: Toby Fox
  • METACRITIC SCORE: 93

Another Nintendo Switch port that went over well this year was Undertale, a game originally released in 2015. Undertale follows the exploits of a child lost in the Underground, a place deep underneath Earth separated by a magical barrier. The player meets monsters along the way and makes choices that affect the outcome of the game. The game's port to Switch made many critics veary happy, who all agree that the title stands up to modern standards of JRPGs. They call it a "masterpiece" with great mechanics, a wonderful atmosphere and a compelling story. A few even called it "perfect."

3. Celeste

Celeste
  • RELEASE DATE: January 25
  • PLATFORMS: PC, PS4 and Xbox One
  • DEVELOPER: Matt Makes Games
  • PUBLISHER: Matt Makes Games
  • METACRITIC SCORE: 94

In Celeste, players control Madeline, a little girl who needs to climb a mountain while avoiding obstacles. This charming platform game came out of a game jam session in just four days, complete with 30 levels. And while that's impressive, so, too, are the reviews for the quickly-coded title. It's another title critics tout as a perfect example of its kind, calling it one of the year's best platformers. Critics also loved Celeste's gameplay mechanics, as well as how well gameplay blends in with the story it tells. Each level comes with its own challenges, including those that should please both casual and serious platform game fans alike.

2. God of War

  • RELEASE DATE: April 20
  • PLATFORMS: PS4
  • DEVELOPER: SIE Santa Monica Studio
  • PUBLISHER: Sony Interactive Entertainment
  • METACRITIC SCORE: 94

Read Screen Rant's God of War Review

If gaming fans and critics agree on anything this year, it's about how glorious God of War is. The action-adventure game completely reimagined the God of War franchise and received universal acclaim from everyone. Its stunning graphics, incredible gameplay mechanics, and world design wowed critics with some referring to as one of the best games of this generation. Others talked about how it will become one of the most epic titles in video game history. Others called it unique, epic, and a new beginning for the franchise. Not only did the new God of War title feel true to the franchise, but it made it better.

1. Red Dead Redemption 2

  • RELEASE DATE: October 26
  • PLATFORMS: PS4, Xbox One
  • DEVELOPER: Rockstar Studios
  • PUBLISHER: Rockstar Games
  • METACRITIC SCORE: 97

Read Screen Rant's Red Dead Redemption 2 Review

There was one game that knocked all the others out of the water, at least when it came to critic reviews. Of course, it should come as no surprise that the most critically-acclaimed game of the year is Red Dead Redemption 2. A prequel to Red Dead Redemption, the new title follows Arthur Morgan, a member of the Van der Linde gang, as he lives life as an outlaw in the Wild West. Critics told players that this was the title players should not miss this year, setting the bar so high for similar titles that nothing will probably ever surpass it.

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