GOTY 2018: The Top 10 Games of the Year: #7
Welcome to the Tenth Annual Silicon Sasquatch Top 10 Games of the Year list! Using our tried-and-true methodology (i.e., we play a lot of games and argue until we’re tired,) we've finally narrowed down the 10 games that we feel accurately represent the best and most important that 2018 had to offer.
#7 – Marvel’s Spider-Man
Insomniac Games | September 7th, 2018 | PlayStation 4
Spider-Man, a staple character in superhero fiction, has had a consistent presence in video games longer than many iconic game series. What often comes to mind when “Spider-Man” and “video game” come up, however, are the 2000 game from Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater developer Neversoft and the 2004 game from Treyarch. Neversoft gave Spider-Man games the voice and tone that’s a trademark of the comics and other Spidey media; Treyarch gave the wall-crawler a wide-open world to swing around. Other games couldn’t match the ingredients or the results.
A pitfall developers often find themselves falling into with superhero games is focusing on the super and not the hero. When 2018’s Marvel’s Spider-Man was announced by developer Insomniac, it showed a hero swinging through Manhattan, webbing up bad guys, and...quick time events. It looked fun but derivative, missing what made those prior games great. However, when Marvel’s Spider-Man was released on PlayStation 4 in September, it had more heart and soul than what that first trailer indicated. And that focus on the “hero” is what got Marvel’s Spider-Man on our list.
Insomniac does a tremendous job of capturing how exhilarating it must be to swing from the heights of Manhattan skyscrapers and spring effortlessly from goon to goon, dishing out street justice, but the quiet moments are some of the most memorable in the game. Peter visiting Aunt May at the homeless shelter, Mary Jane calling in Spider-Man for assistance, and the exploration of the Osborne penthouse: These are scenes that define Peter Parker and his cast better than any video game ever has. These moments excellently capture the appeal of this character and what has made his heroism so appealing across generations. While there are certainly parallels to Rocksteady’s Batman Arkham series of games, Spider-Man is defined by his humanity even more than Batman, and the way it’s captured in Marvel’s Spider-Man makes this stand out even more.
The narrative is well performed and written, leaving threads for an inevitable sequel while not feeling unfinished. Insomniac finds a superb balance between demonstrating how amazing, and yet how painful, it must be to be Spider-Man. Peter is a man who puts others first, always, even to the detriment of his own life. The virtual New York is a reactive environment as well, with pedestrians always being aware of Spider-Man’s presence. It feels like his city in a way that no superhero setting ever has. Marvel’s Spider-Man is a testament to ludonarrative cooperation in creating an effective experience that engages the player in both the action and the story, and should be a model for similar titles in the future.
— Tyler Martin