Pretendies, for short.
Welcome to the 1st annual Games I’ve Played This Year of the Year Awards here on The Pretend Gamer! If you can recall, I review whatever games I feel like playing. Many games I played this year were released in years past thus I had to come up with a name besides “The Game of the Year Awards.” Hence why my awards have a severely long name. For simplicity’s sake, we’ll just call them Pretendies.
The way this will work is seven games will receive Pretendies. Three will take home the gold because I enjoyed them, three will be awarded because I didn’t, and one will receive the title of Game of the Year. Again, my awards work differently than other end of the year awards since many of these games came out several years ago. Conseuqently, the Game of the Year will not necessarily have been released this year. Enjoy!
Best Adventure: Rise of the Tomb Raider
Rise of the Tomb Raider was the best possible sequel to 2013’s Tomb Raider that I could have hoped for. The exploration, tombs, and combat were better than ever with the small tweaks and improvements made to each category since the first game. In addition, the story was engaging from beginning to end. It was made even better by the compelling main villain: Konstantin. His need to find the Divine Source was almost as great as Lara’s. It created an interesting dynamic between the two and made the story much better. The best part, however, was the setting. The mountains, forests, and ruins surrounding the lost city of Kitezh were a sight to behold and play around in. I loved everything about Rise which was why I was more disappointed than usual when its sequel released earlier this year.
Most Disappointing: Shadow of the Tomb Raider
After playing Rise of the Tomb Raider, I was beyond excited for the third (and probably final) installment of the Tomb Raider reboot: Shadow of the Tomb Raider. While playing it, however, my excitement quickly dwindled. Almost everything I had loved from the previous two entries was there: the exploration, combat, tombs, crypts (which were admittedly improved upon in Shadow), etc. There was one big thing missing, however: a gripping story with compelling characters. Lara and Jonah were developed further in Shadow and that was great to see. All the other characters Lara meets, however, were fairly bland to be honest. They were just kind of there and didn’t contribute much to the overall tale. There was a minor villain who seemed compelling but he didn’t get much screen time (Rourke). In addition, for the closing chapter of a trilogy, Shadow’s ending was unsatisfying to say the least. Throughout all three titles, it had felt like the story had been building up to this game but then it ended with very little fanfare. I cannot stress enough how disappointed I was in Shadow of the Tomb Raider’s story.
Most Absurd: Bayonetta 1 & 2
I’m cheating a little here by combining two games in one but I think it’s for the best because both games complement each other in a couple different ways. For one, their stories make one complete whole and two, they are both the most absurd games I have ever played (and I’m including the Saints Row series). Don’t take the absurdity as a negative. It’s quite the opposite, in fact. I absolutely loved the absurdity both of these games offered. The huge bosses, crazy attack combos, action-packed cutscenes, and the hyper-sexualization of almost everything in the Bayonetta series combined to make these two games some of the best I’ve played over the past decade. I can’t wait to get my hands on Bayonetta 3 to see what it has in-store.
Most Frustrating Design: Thimbleweed Park
I must say that I loved the artistic design, characters, and ever-present humor in Thimbleweed Park. Unfortunately, all of these things were brought down by the gameplay. In true point ‘n click style, the player must find objects in the environment and complete the various to-do items of the five different controllable characters. This doesn’t sound that hard but it quickly becomes tedious switching between the five characters and trying to figure out what to do. This wasn’t helped by the fact that the map was so large. I wasted an inordinate amount of time wandering around with each character until I was finally able to progress the story. Maybe I was the only one who had so much trouble but I don’t think that’s the case since there is an in-game Tip Hotline. In addition, the old-school design of clicking an object and then choosing a verb was frustrating when using a controller. I don’t recommend this game but, if you feel the need to play it, definitely play it with a mouse and keyboard on a computer or on the Switch with the touchscreen.
Most Fun: Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
This may surprise a lot of people but I enjoyed the heck out of Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker. The colorful levels, cute characters, clever puzzles, and great soundtrack all made Captain Toad a great experience. The gameplay was such that, having completed one level, I would say “Just one more!” but then I would whiz through five more. The game shook things up every once in a while by requiring a new goal for certain levels but that made it that much more fun. Sure, Captain Toad did have some shortcomings (like playing with a cursor in TV mode) but that didn’t stop a smile from appearing on my face whenever I booted up the game. If you haven’t played this game, I can’t recommend it enough.
Worst Combat: The Longest Five Minutes
If you can recall, The Longest Five Minutes was the first game I ever reviewed here on The Pretend Gamer. It tried to imitate the JRPGs of old with its simplistic look and classic tale of four people going on an adventure. It mostly succeeded in the story department but it failed miserably with its combat. It was so simplistic. Each character had their own abilities and spells to learn but you never had to use them to win. You could simply mash the “attack” command and each enemy (except for a few bosses) would be defeated in one or two hits. The Longest Five Minutes was so boring to play which is primarily why I gave it such a low score.
Game of the Year: Deus Ex: Mankind Divided
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided is one heck of a game. It allows players to play however they want to. Do you prefer to shoot your way through your enemies? You can do that. Would you rather stealth your way through a level without sounding the alarm or killing people? You can do that too. The game lets you play your way and that is one of the reasons why I enjoyed it so much. Even though the story didn’t reveal as many details as I thought it should, I still loved it for what it was.
The biggest reason why Mankind Divided is my Game of the Year, however, is because of its setting. The characters, the written material you can read, and even the artwork made the world of Deus Ex come alive. It is so fully realized that I wanted to spend time in it and find every secret I could. Not only is the base game great but its DLCs are awesome as well. One may even be better than the base game in my opinion (A Criminal Past). All-in-all, you can’t go wrong should you choose to play Deus Ex: Mankind Divided and that is why it gets to take home the Pretendie for Game of the Year 2018.
Thank you reading! Do you agree or disagree with my choices? Let me know in the comments! What were some of your favorite games you played this year?