Our highest review scores of 2018 so far

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Since it's July, we have just six months to go until we pick our game of the year for 2018, as well as the many runners-up that deserve recognition too. Where did the time go? Below, you'll find only two games that have broken the 90+ mark, but plenty of titles that hover just below that.

While the vast majority of these games came out in 2018, there are a couple that came out at the dead end of 2017 and we decided to score this year. 

Lumines Remastered

Our review (85%) | Buy it: Steam

"This puzzle classic, which blends block-dropping action with beat-dropping rhythm, is still enthralling nearly 15 years after its original release on the PlayStation Portable, and 10 years after it first emerged on PC. Now it reemerges, this time properly built for PC, pin-sharp and remastered and feeling just as fresh to play, even if its tunes maybe don’t sound that way."

Verdict: Lumines can still pull you helplessly into its block-swapping, rhythm-matching heaven.

Yoku's Island Express

Our review (85%) | Buy it: Steam

"Think of pinball, and you think of flashing lights and clattering noise. It’s a fast, precise, demanding form of play. You certainly couldn’t call it sedate. And yet here’s a game that makes it so. A self-styled ‘pinball adventure’, Yoku’s Island Express carries itself with a carefree charm from title screen to credits and beyond, its cheerfully mellow vibe ensuring that any moments of potential frustration just melt away."

Verdict: A blend of mismatched genres that somehow works, Yoku’s Island Express is a beguiling game of modest brilliance.

Moonlighter

Our review (78%) | Buy it: Steam, GOG

"Moonlighter is the unlikely intersection between roguelite dungeon crawler and shop simulation that many will recognize as inspired by Recettear, the 2010 indie game from Japan that originally popularized the combination. Will, the protagonist and proprietor of Moonlighter, spends days tending his shop and nights exploring the town’s procedurally generated dungeons. Some town elder named Zenon predictably cautions Will against his heroic dreams, encouraging him to keep his nose down and make a living. I say: You do you, Will! Live your passion and don’t let any old guy stuck in his ways tell you that you have to work in customer service the rest of your life!"

Verdict: Moonlighter is a cute and casual revival of an uncommon mashup but doesn’t stick around to push the boundaries.

Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon

Our review (80%) | Buy it: Steam

"If only all stretch goals were as good as this. Conceived as a bonus for those who backed Koji Igarashi’s Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night on KickStarter, Curse of the Moon looks and plays like a classic 8-bit game that never existed. Inti Creates’ last involvement with the crowdfunding platform didn’t end too well, its good name tarnished by association with Keiji Inafune’s disappointing Mighty Number Nine. This, however, bears all the hallmarks of a developer determined to redeem itself."

Verdict: Made with affection and artistry, this retro appetiser is a very pleasant surprise.

Cultist Simulator

Our review (85%) | Buy it: Steam, GOG

"The goal is to establish a Lovecraftian cult. You'll collect and study unspeakable grimoires, carry out unthinkable rituals, attract a devoted cadre of followers, and find a way to finance your obsessions—all while trying not to lose your mind along the way."

Verdict: A dark, engrossing, and challenging narrative card and crafting game.

Super Mega Baseball 2

Our review (88%) | Buy it: Steam

"Super Mega Baseball was a brilliant arcade sim that was let down by its lack of online play. The follow-up keeps the accessible hitting and pitching mechanics, smooths over some rough edges, and adds everything that was missing, including multiple online modes, a detailed team editor, and custom leagues. Basically, it does everything a sequel should do, and the result is the best on-field baseball sim on PC."

Verdict: The improvements over the original make Super Mega Baseball 2 the best on-field baseball sim on PC.

Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire

Our review (88%) | Buy it: Steam, GOG

"Pillars of Eternity 2 is another fine RPG from Obsidian, brilliantly showcasing the studio's knack for strong world-building, intelligent, expressive writing, and varied quest design. It’s a big, deep, wordy CRPG in the classic mould, but with enough new ideas to feel like more than just a throwback. The sailing is the only thing I didn’t really engage with, feeling somewhat half-baked compared to the rest of the game. But if it’s a fantasy RPG filled with pages of brilliant, descriptive dialogue you’re after, and a huge, open world to explore, the Deadfire Archipelago delivers all that and then some. We’re more spoiled for choice when it comes to RPGs like this than we were in 2015, which makes Deadfire feel a little less special than the first Pillars. But that’s a minor gripe in light of the fact that this is another great game from one of the best studios in the business, offering many hours of quality roleplaying."

Verdict: A massive, bountiful RPG with richly descriptive writing, a well-realised setting, and deep tactical combat.

The Swords of Ditto

Our review (79%)| Buy it: Steam, GOG

"Four days to save the world? It doesn’t sound like much, but having a solid deadline at least gives you a chance to prepare for impending doom in this cheery, likeable action RPG. Once every 100 years, the evil witch Mormo descends on the eponymous island village; you, inevitably, are the chosen one, a warrior of legend charged with stopping her. Sharp swordsmanship is key, but not as important as efficient time management. Whether you can stay focused in a world of distractions, however, is another matter entirely."

Verdict: Familiar, lightweight but almost impossible to dislike, this is an effortlessly enjoyable action RPG.

BattleTech

Our review (85%) | Buy it: Steam, GOG

"These are inconsistencies in what is otherwise an accomplished and fundamentally sound strategy game. BattleTech's success at making you feel—and want to live with—the interesting consequences of each mission is its greatest achievement, and will hopefully have an influence on other developers working in this genre. Where it fails, it fails because it doesn't fully implement all of its best ideas. Given the quality of what it accomplishes elsewhere, however, that's a good-faith sort of failure."

Verdict: A deep tactical wargame with strong fundamentals supporting a broadly successful campaign system.

Frostpunk

Our review (89%) | Buy it: Steam, GOG

"Frostpunk is a city-builder and a society simulator, but most of all a crisis management game where the crisis doesn't end until the game does. A few hours with Frostpunk and the tornadoes and tsunamis of Cities: Skylines seem like minor inconveniences. The traffic jams and noise pollution you used to fret over are now an utter fucking joke. In Frostpunk, if citizens are unhappy enough they'll banish you from your own city to die despised and alone. They might leave town if you fail them, but first they'll spend days trying to convince others to join them in mass exodus. Frostpunk is a tense, gripping, and often stressful survival strategy game filled with difficult, sometimes unthinkable choices. It's tough to play but even tougher to stop."

Verdict: Frostpunk is a stressful, stylish, and addictive survival management game filled with incredibly difficult choices.

The Pillars of the Earth

Our review (80%) | Buy it: Steam, GOG

"While Pillars deals with religion, politics, and war, and uses the complicated real history of The Anarchy to flesh out its setting, the characters keep the story grounded and relatable. Nothing else on PC tells a story quite like this, and although it will be a hard sell for some, the slow pace is worth persevering with if you value storytelling above all. Sometimes it slows to the point of dullness and interaction is limited at best, but I loved immersing myself in this evocative medieval world."

Verdict: A beautiful medieval adventure that uses real history and interesting characters to tell a compelling story.

Fortnite

Our review (87%) | Download it: Epic's official site

"And maybe because Fortnite is free, or because it's so scalable and runs flawlessly on years-old systems, or because you can team up with friends on a console and a damn telephone, but enough players stuck around to force Fortnite's building system into something fun despite a steep learning curve and clumsy controls. It was a miraculous design hail mary that has worked sensationally. The time and pain I've poured into learning such an obtuse system for an otherwise approachable, cartoonish battle royale game has easily paid off. There's nothing like Fortnite out there."

Verdict: There's a thrilling shooter-builder battle royale monster beneath Fortnite's building system, and it's more fun slogging through endless failure and a lopsided map to find it than you'd expect.

Far Cry 5

Our review (80%) | Buy it: Steam, Uplay

"Welcome to Far Cry 5, where a quiet spot of fishing can and often will result in piles of burnt wreckage and scattered corpses. It's a chaotic and wonderfully ridiculous open world sandbox of destruction and violence where a short drive down a dirt road can quickly become a pitched battle, as enemy vehicles appear and engage you, friendly fighters arrive and open fire at them, and ravenous animals leap from the woods and attack both. When the smoke finally clears, you may realize you've forgotten where you were going in the first place. Then an eagle swoops down and attacks your face."

Verdict: The wonderful chaos of the open world and your choice of how to tackle it is occasionally stifled by bad boss fights and worse boss speeches.

Octahedron

Our review (79%) | Buy it: Steam 

"Octahedron sets you at the bottom of vertical levels you have to climb in time with throbbing electronic beats. Rather than just being a gimmick, the act of creating platforms is looped into pretty much everything you do, tying into both your movement and your attacks. It is clever, extremely intuitive, and most importantly fun to experiment with."

Verdict: Octahedron gets more mileage than you'd think out of the ability to summon platforms beneath your feet.

Northgard

Our review (84%) | Buy it: Steam

"Northgard looks like a throwback, a game that would have comfortably fit in with Age of Empires and Settlers, but while the inspiration is clear, it would be a disservice to imply that it's mainly trading in nostalgia. This Viking saga builds on the history-themed RTS romps of the '90s, but it's not beholden to them."

Verdict: Northgard is a surprising, elegant RTS that's laden with a very dull story.

Ni No Kuni 2: Revenant Kingdom

Our review (90%) | Buy it: Steam

"Ni No Kuni 2 is gorgeous, charming and constantly evolving. Its combat is layered and exciting, and polished by a medley of systems that let you finely tailor your play style. Its globetrotting coming-of-age story is a bit saccharine, but it's told well, and packs an ending that still occupies my thoughts. But its crowning achievement is tying all that and more into an involved and deeply satisfying kingdom building sim, one that enhances every other part of the game."

Verdict: Without Evermore, Ni No Kuni 2 would have been good. Because of it, it's one of the best JRPGs on PC.

Surviving Mars

Our review (80%) | Buy it: Steam, GOG

"Despite its survival bent, Surviving Mars still follows the same pattern as Haemimont's Tropico, turning resources into finished products and building whole industries out of them, all while trying to keep everyone happy, or at least placated. It's something familiar to hold onto when the curve balls start flying."

Verdict: Surviving Mars is a lot of hard work, but managing a burgeoning colony never stops being compelling.

Final Fantasy 15

Our review (78%) | Buy it: Steam

"The visual improvements here show that the Windows Edition is the definitive version of Final Fantasy 15: it has never looked better, and mod support suggests an exciting future ahead for the game. It's a shame that FF15 doesn't recapture the depth of the series’ past entries, and games like The Witcher 3 and Divinity: Original Sin 2 really highlight the weaknesses in the sidequests here. This road trip, though, is still well worth taking."

Verdict: Offers a fantastic road trip, even if it's not a particularly in-depth RPG.

Kerbal Space Program: Making History

Our review (82%) | Buy it: Steam

"Despite the huge number of free mods, KSP's developers found a way to make their expansion valuable: They built a new set of tools that the community hasn't provided for itself. The KSP community is fantastic, and more ways to create and share space adventures is exactly what it needed. For the price, it's nice to also get the big dump of new, historical parts, but Making History is great for the making, not the history."

Verdict: KSP's sandbox gets bigger by focusing on what makes it a great PC game: flexibility, freedom, and random explosions.