Video Games

Dynamite Review Best of 2018

Each year I try to make a list of all my favorites for the year. Most years I don’t see or read or play much that came out in the actual year, but for once I was able to make lists of stuff that exclusively came out in 2018.

Black Panther

Movies
I feel like I should place a warning here before anyone can read my list. It is going to be heavy on the Superhero films. I watched Hidden Figures and Girls Trip for the first time in 2018 and loved them, but because they didn’t come out in 2018 I decided not to include them. So I apologize for the following boring list of movies.
1. Black Panther
Holy shit I still love this movie. I watched it recently, wondering if it would hold up from my original viewing and it did. If anything I like it more than I did the first time around.
2. Deadpool 2
I really need to re-watch this. I was finally able to get ahold of the unrated cut and I haven’t yet watched it. Still, the first viewing was incredibly memorable and I’m looking forward to seeing what was added. Also, they fucking made a PG-13 version with a tie in to my favorite movie, The Princess Bride!
3. BlacKkKlansman
This movie stands out like a sore thumb on my list, but I can’t help it. It was a great movie and hit me right in the soul.
4. Ant-Man and the Wasp
I loved the Wasp, she was such a badass.
5. Avengers: Infinity War
I’m still not sure about this movie. It was great, hit all the right notes, and got me super excited for the 2019 Marvel movies, but my final opinion of it is not going to be settled until those come out.

Honorable Mentions
Incredible 2
Oceans 8
The Hurricane Heist

Magic Triumphs

Books
The wonderful Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is not on the list since it didn’t come out in 20118, but it is definitely one I loved reading. Sadly, this will also be the first time I’m not including a Patricia Briggs book on my list, Burn Bright just did not cut it for me. I debated whether or not I should add Diamond Fire by Ilona Andrews to my list since it’s a novella, but ultimately decided I liked having a nice round number for my total.
Like my movie list, my book list is kind of heavy on one side, namely Ilona Andrews’s book. Often in the past I’ve just listed them as one entry, but I did not read much this year, and my list would be bare without them.
So without further ado, my best of 2018 books!
1. Magic Triumphs (Kate Daniels #10) By: Ilona Andrews
This was THE climactic conclusion of possibly my favorite series. It was well worth the wait.
2. A Princess in Theory (Reluctant Royals #1) By: Alyssa Cole
This was my favorite find of the year. I freaking LOVED this book and I’m so excited for the books to come.
3. Ocean Light (Psy-Changling Trinity #2) By: Nalini Singh
Nalini Singh is such a great author and I was so happy to finally have a human love interest in this series. It was all so sweet.
4. Diamond Fire (Hidden Legacies #3.5) By: Ilona Andrews
This may have been a novella but it packed a lot into the limited pages. I’m beyond exited for the books coming up and looking forward to seeing more of Catalina.
5. Iron and Magic (The Iron Covenant #1) By: Ilona Andrews
Before I read this I was not excited that Hugh was getting his own series, but I have now been converted. I never should have doubted Ilona Andrews.

murphy-brown-season-11-cast-photo

TV Shows
I watch a LOT of TV. I also, rarely write reviews for what I watch. I try to do season recaps after I binge, and I succeed at that about fifty percent of the time. I do better reviewing pilot episodes.
Like everything else, I’m going to limit myself to seasons that aired in 2018, which means that one of my favorites, Dramaworld, won’t be on the list. I’ll also try and include shows that I wrote reviews for, but sadly I haven’t gotten around to writing a review for The Good Place and I have to include it on my list.
So here we go!
1. Murphy Brown
You have no idea how much I love this series. I honestly had no idea how much I loved it until it came back and I actually set my little rabbit ears up and watched it live. I know the likelihood that I’ll actually get another season is slim to none, but I can’t stop myself from hoping for more.
2. The Good Place
Holy shit this show does not fail to deliver. Every episode I have no idea what the fuck is going to happen and it does not disappoint. It’s one of the best TV shows I’ve ever watched.
3. Westworld
Just when I think I’ve got a handle on what’s going on I’m thrown for a loop. Then they have an episode that shows an entirely new side of the hosts and I learn even more. It’s an interesting and beautiful show.
4. Jane the Virgin
Apparently, I love twists. That’s what my list is teaching me this year. Jane the Virgin gave me the biggest twist of the year with the season finale and I’m still on the edge of my seat to find out what happens next.
5. 12 Monkeys
The final season wrapped up a complicated story very well. It gave me closure and had me guessing right up until the very end. It was a fitting conclusion to a great time travel sci-fi TV show.

Honorable Mentions

Timeless

Doctor Who
Anne with an E
Sense 8

20180924183849_1
Games
I love playing games, but it is one of my hobbies that ends up getting pushed aside for other things, so I don’t play as much as I would like. I also, don’t review many games, but here’s a list of my 2018 favorites.
1. No Man’s Sky: Next (PC)
I’ve enjoyed No Man’s Sky since the beginning, but the Next expansion brought me back to the game. The added content was amazing, and was quickly followed by more expansive updates. I spent well over 100 hours playing it this year and had so much fun doing it.
2. Smash Bros Ultimate (Switch)
Smash Bros Ultimate just came out and I haven’t had much time to play it. I’ve definitely not beaten the “story mode” yet, but I’m having a blast. I haven’t liked a Smash game since the original on N64 and I’m so excited to finally be enjoying the franchise again. There is so much content that it’s going to take some time before I’m able to finish it, if I’m able too.
3. Splatoon 2: Octoling Expansion (Switch)
It honestly feels like this came out forever ago. I downloaded it day one and somehow ended up beating it. The Octoling Expansion felt like the story we should have gotten with Splatoon 2 originally. It was fun and creative, several times infuriating, and just an all-around pleasure to play.
4. Civilization VI (Switch)
I love the Civilization franchise. I’ve been asking for it to come back to consoles ever since I moved away from playing on the XBOX 360 and I finally got my wish this year. I’ve only had it for about a month, but I’ve already spent over 60 hours playing. It’s so easy to say just one more turn and since I can play in bed, instead of at the PC, I’m playing it more than ever. It doesn’t have as much as the PC version, but so far I’ve been incredible happy with all that’s been included and with how it runs. I tend toward the Standard map, so I’m not sure how well it goes on larger maps, though.
5. Overcooked 2 (Switch)
My husband and I beat the original Overcooked together and for Christmas we started the sequel. Overcooked 2 is everything that I love about the first, but with polish. It looks nicer, the mechanics are better, and it still has all the fun and frustration of the first. It’s been a great game to coop with my husband and we’ve both been enjoying it.

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No Man’s Sky (2016)

 

No Man’s Sky (2016)

Publisher:

Hello Games

Developer:

Hello Games

Platform:

PS4 & PC & XBONE

About:

No Man’s Sky is an action-adventure survival game developed and published by the indie studio Hello Games. It was released worldwide for PlayStation 4 and Microsoft Windows in August 2016, and for Xbox One in July 2018. The game is built around four pillars: exploration, survival, combat, and trading. Players are free to perform within the entirety of a procedurally generated deterministic open world universe, which includes over 18 quintillion planets. Through the game’s procedural generation system, planets have their own ecosystems with unique forms of flora and fauna, and various sentient alien species may engage the player in combat or trade within planetary systems. Players advance in the game by mining for resources to power and improve their spacecraft, tools, and spacesuit for survival, buying and selling resources using credits earned by documenting flora and fauna, and otherwise seeking out the mystery around the Atlas, an entity at the center of the universe.[i]

Review:

I was lucky enough not to find out about No Man’s Sky until the day it came out on PS4. Through another great break I watched Twitch videos instead of reading reviews. I loved what I saw and my husband ended up getting it for me for our anniversary. I spent almost 70 hours playing before I got distracted and moved on. I then bought it again on PC right after Next came out. Over 100 hours later and I still love it.

There is always something new to see or do. Lately, they’ve been adding amazing new content with Abyss and Visions. There are weekly quests in case you’ve finished the main story, or if you feel like taking a break from exploring.

After a while it can feel monotonous or like a job, but I’ve found that happens with a lot with open world games. Changing your play style can help, I’ve also found it to be a great game to just chill out too. I generally catch up on podcasts while I play.

No Man’s Sky is like nothing I’ve ever played before. Every time I play I see something new. The worlds are similar but never the same and with all the new additions things are even more unique. Thankfully they’ve made it easy to take screenshots which has given me all kinds of awesome wallpapers.

I’ve found it relatively easy to jump back in after a long absence, which is nice to know considering how often they keep adding stuff. When I take a break I know it will be there and basically be a new game when I go back, but still have what I love the most, exploration.

5/5

[i] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_Man’s_Sky

Overcooked


Overcooked

Publisher:

Team17

Developer:

Ghost Town Games

Platform:

Switch

About:

A cooking simulation game.

Review:

My husband and I played this together on our date nights. It was a test of our relationship and I’m proud to say we handily beat it. There were some tense moments, sliding around on the ice level sent me over the edge several times, but ultimately we prevailed and three starred every level.

We do have the DLC left to beat, but we’re planning on getting to that at Christmas break. For now, I would highly recommend this game for those looking for a timed cooking simulation to play with friends or solo.

Levels are difficult, but also fun. Worlds are short so it’s not going to be a massive time sink for anyone, even if you are three starring everything. The game mechanics are simple to understand and don’t take too long to master. It’s the puzzle of the levels themselves that will really test you.

Excellent fun, and I’m really looking forward to playing the sequel.

4/5

Batman – The Telltale Series


Batman – The Telltale Series

Publisher:

Telltale Games

Developer:

Telltale Games

Platform:

PC

About:

Batman: The Telltale Series is a 2016 episodic point-and-click graphic adventure video game developed and published by Telltale Games and distributed by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment under its DC Entertainment label. The game is based on Bob Kane and Bill Finger‘s Batman character, though not tied to any previous adaptation of the work in film or other media.

Review:

I’ve never played a game like this before and I had a ton of fun. It’s like an interactive book, or a choose your own adventure, almost. Some of your choices affect the outcome of the game and what can happen in later chapters.

The entire time I was playing I was sure I was making the wrong choices. My Batman was a bit idealistic. I also wanted to bang Catwoman and threw Harvey under the bus in the process. I’m tempted to play it again just to be nice to him cause I feel bad about it.

My one complaint with the game was that your choices didn’t change more. I wanted it to be a bit more complex, I wanted to see more differences. When the game was over I read all of the ways that things could have been different and they were all relatively similar.

I played on PC but it seems to be available on most platforms if you prefer to play it on a console. I didn’t have any issues with the controls, though, it did take getting used to and occasionally I would get distracted by what’s going on and fumble to press the right button quickly. Okay, it was a little awkward when it would go from keyboard controls to a mouse click, but it’s so forgiving that it didn’t really bother me.

I’m excited to try some more TellTale games and will definitely be picking up the next Batman: The Enemy Within. I’ve been told that my decisions from this game will affect it and I’m super excited about that.

4/5

Side note: The kissing sounds and animation were hilarious.

Delicious Emily: Message in a Bottle

Delicious Emily: Message in a Bottle

Publisher:

GameHouse

Developer:

GameHouse

Platform:

PC

About:

Enjoy an amazing story while you cook divine dishes in Italian kitchens!

Review:

The story in this started out pretty dark. Delicious Emily: Hopes and Fears ended with a donkey and postman showing up saying that he had a letter. Well DE: Message in a Bottle opens thirty years ago when Emily was three and she was spending time with her grandfather. Her grandmother has recently passed away and he’s depressed. The first five levels are pretty fast but end with the grandfather giving a three year old a goodbye letter and sailing off into a horrible storm. I got definite suicidal undertones and was really surprised at the dark tone. Eventually, meaning at the very end after the main story ended, you discover that wasn’t his intention, he was just storming off like a child and sulked for thirty years.

In this story we get to see more of Emily’s father’s family. They aren’t very pleasant, even after they learn their lessons. They bring stubborn to a whole new level, which I can easily understand, but isn’t very sympathetic. They also seem to bring out the worst in Emily’s dad.

All and all, story wise, I enjoyed this much more than DE: Hopes and Fears.

Game play things were slightly changed. You did not have a diamond to get on every level, which made this game easier than the rest. I did feel like you had to work harder to unlock things, though, and so I still had nineteen hours in to beat and unlock all achievements. Thankfully, I kept track of all the items and I don’t have to replay the game to get the final achievement like I’ll have to do with Hopes and Fears.

Message in a Bottle was a nice installment to the series, it expanded the family and history, though, Emily was not a very big part of the story. It set up some potential conflict for the next installment, so we’ll see what happens and if the rest of the family ever shows up again.

4/5