It’s finally the end of 2018… so now it’s time to look forward to the year ahead. Overall, 2018 has been a good year, offering us plenty of great games to play, right from the start through to the end (too many games, really), but already 2019 is shaping up to be, if anything, even more exciting.
So, while the DDNet website itself takes a break, each of the DDNet team is going to share the five games that they’re looking forward to the most in the New Year. Harvard has been with the DDNet team longer than almost any of the other contributors. Like most of the rest of us, he loves his Japanese games, but also really appreciates a good, smart indie (and the rare blockbuster that has some brains to it). Harvard also works with SMASH! – Australia’s biggest celebration of anime and Japanese games and culture, which shows you where his head is at.
I love team based competitive multiplayer but as of late I’ve been getting disillusioned by the most popular offerings. Having sunk almost 500 hours into DOTA 2 I once took a break for two months and found myself buried under a sea of patch notes and changes. These multiplayer games are not just a pastime, they become a lifestyle – with the need for constant balance updates and new content creating a meta that’s dynamically shifting, it’s impossible to get a few friends together on a whim. I’m excited for Killer Queen Black because it solves this very issue. It’s a platform combat game akin to Towerfall but there are three separate win conditions that each team needs to manage carefully. The game is easy to pick up, but is designed in a way which forces communication and cooperation.
Even a decade ago in the Digimon Tamers anime, this franchise has shown a willingness to explore darker and more nuanced themes than what one would normally suggest for a franchise about cute fighting monsters. Recent games such as the excellent Digimon: Cyber Sleuth have been an indication that this is a series intent on growing with its original late 90’s fanbase, providing gripping single player experiences to satisfy a more mature audience. And with Digimon: Survive, a game celebrating Digimon’s 20th anniversary, I think we’ll see the pinnacle of this design philosophy. This is a turn-based strategy game featuring all the monsters we all remember, but with a new cast of characters, a gorgeous new art style and a storyline with life or death consequences. But most intriguingly, the trailer evokes a sense of nostalgia and melancholy over anything else. I have a lot of faith in both this franchise and this game in particular, and I’m excited to see what twisted surprises Bandai Namco have in store for us.
Untitled Goose Game
Finally, a game which systemises one of life’s simple pleasures – being a jerk. Untitled Goose Game looks to be a comedic stealth game complete with Metal Gear Solid references, but instead of sneaking past security cameras and CQCing armed guards, you’re stealing picnic baskets and CQCing innocent bystanders. Also you’re a goose. The Aussie developers that comprise the House House team are larrikins through and through, already evident in their previous title Push Me Pull You, in which naked earthworm people wrestle to get a ball from one side of a court to another. Untitled Goose Game is sure to be one to have you dumbfounded with laughter, and it’s going to be great to enjoy on your own or with friends.
I was there for the rise and fall of the Tony Hawk series. In fact, I was one of the few who still enjoyed the later games, even though the gaming consensus deemed them goofy, padded and uninspired. I missed out on EA’s Skate trilogy for the previous generation of consoles, and so I’m excited for Session – a game which looks to take the big budget skateboarding title to the modern day. Except, not that: Session seems to be styled in pure 90’s verisimilitude, nostalgic of a very specific time where extreme sports could have been considered “mainstream cool”. Never mind the daggy graffiti aesthetic – Session looks eager to nail the tight controls of earlier skating games, and that alone is enough to make me excited. For skaters more concerned about style, you’ll just have to wait for Perfect Stride to get released, if it ever will. Speaking of games which might never get released, by the way –
Kentucky Route Zero – Act V and TV Edition
I know I had this on my anticipated games of 2018 list, but honestly, I should have expected better. Anyone who’s tried the first few acts of Cardboard Computer’s surrealist Americana adventure game is surely waiting with bated breath for the conclusion of the saga, and the bar is raised sky-high from the overwhelming quality of the story so far. Unfortunately, while some games have release dates and others have release windows, Kentucky Route Zero instead has cryptic side-games that are only very, very tangential to the full release and seem to exist only to remind the Internet that the next act is coming. With its roots in absurdist theatre and a explicit Waiting for Godot reference in Act III, making us all wait another year for a conclusion is somewhat apt. Either that, or the last episode will get a zero-fanfare release in the last week of 2018, just so I have egg on my face. That would also be apt.