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The Culture HUD

The Culture HUD’s Best Games of 2018

Property of Nomada Studios & Devolver Digital

It’s that time of year again, when everyone with a video game opinion centralizes their most extreme ones into a convenient list format: some good and some bad. Don’t mistake that for cynicism, by the way; I love end-of-year lists. I don’t care who says their reductive, rage-inducing, pointless, and easily digestible; they’re a fun way to cap off a year, and they help other people discover the good games they missed. In 2018, I had such a hard time narrowing the list down. Almost every title I played had something worth lauding at the end of the year, and pushing great ideas to the side felt like a missed opportunity to appreciate great things, even if they came attached to “okay” games.

After some tough considerations, I chose my final ten for 2018. Some of these games will feel like obvious choices, while others will reflect the more personal impact they had on me. In other words, metrics like gameplay quantity, aesthetic performance, and general popularity sometimes took a backseat to fresh experiences, clever mechanics/narrative integration, and subjective individual resonance. I either have reviewed or plan to review every game on this list, so full explanations are included or will arrive soon, but in the mean time, enjoy The Culture HUD’s Best Games of 2018, and leave a comment about when you agreed, when you disagreed, who I snubbed, and what I should play in 2019!

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Welcome to The Culture HUD

Here on my website, I talk about different forms of entertainment and my impressions of each work. The content of The Culture HUD includes reviews, discussions and listicles of video games, movies, television and anime. My body of writing will cover looks into the past, commentary on the present, and speculation for the future. Enjoy!

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Movie Review – Under the Skin

Property of BFI, Film 4, StudioCanal & A24

It’s going to be really easy to dismiss criticism of this movie as people “just not getting it,” but I’d counter by saying that their isn’t much about this movie to get. Despite the minimalism of its soundtrack, the experimentation of its cinematography, and the narrative reliance on vague symbolism, Under the Skin doesn’t have much to say, and looking for the promised depth only made me resent its absence.

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Video Game Review – Red Dead Redemption 2

Property of Rockstar Studios and Rockstar Games

With Grand Theft Auto V being the most profitable piece of entertainment media in all time, it makes sense that Rockstar’s follow up would be the most extravagant product ever to hit store shelves. And believe me, this game is looking to be the MOST of everything. The most beautiful open world, the most freedom in a video game space, the most compelling story and characters, the most awkward protagonist to control, the most tedious methods for something as simple as cooking meat, and the most obnoxious online mode.

Red Dead Redemption 2 is a monument to everything about AAA video games, mostly for better but sometimes for worse. It’s proudly showcases the creative ambitions of gaming’s most talented developers, while occasionally making us wade in their flawed interpretation of what people find fun. The game’s highs stand far above the accomplishments of many others, but it’s lows are enough to warrant consideration before playing this otherwise strong title.

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Video Game Review – God of War (2018)

Winner of many Game of the Year awards, overrated slog, darling title among gamers, slow experience that made Kratos boring, beacon of paternal redemption, enabler of masculine violence… God of War (2018) wore a lot of hats this year, depending on who you asked. Such is the way with any reimagining of a character like Kratos. Changing him so drastically was always bound to get people taking, but making that change so well was the real surprise. I loved God of War (2018), and after putting this review off for so long, I wanted to talk about why it make my #3 Best Games of 2018 spot.

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TV Review – She-Ra and the Princesses of Power

It’s always great to see a reboot take the opportunity to tell a modified story with the same intellectual properties. If we already have the original, then it makes sense to approach the source material with fresh eyes, adding new themes and dynamics to the familiar imagery. She-Ra and the Princesses of Power aimed to be more than just another helping of the same dish, and I really appreciate the new direction the team took. It offer both wonderfully refreshing characters and genuinely sinister drama to keep people of many tastes invested. I await patiently for the new places She-Ra will go (after they all rest, of course).

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Video Game Discussion – Relax about Freya

I guess the subtitle for this article would be something like, “White Knighting for fictional goddesses,” but I really couldn’t understand the hate that Freya was getting in comment sections. Or rather, I do understood it, but arguing against the hate is easier than telling people how they’re perpetuating misogyny and double standards placed on the emotional development of women compared to men, who are given more freedom to be stunted urchins till deserving of a redemption arc. Either way, I found Freya to be the most consistently sympathetic of the adult characters, and I won’t hate her for using her failures as the incentive to help Kratos make better decisions for his own son. That’s not being a hypocrite; that’s the wisdom of experience.

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TV Discussion – Hilda’s Radical Viking Cuteness

Hilda is probably one of the cutest things on Netflix at the moment (excluding the documentaries exclusively about cats and dogs – those win automatically), largely because of the show’s protagonist. Hilda is a daring, curious, and imaginative young girl who brings an adventurous attitude with her everywhere she goes. She’s quite the Viking; I’m serious. With its subtle re-imagining of Norse mythology, Hilda introduces audiences to a different interpretation of the fabled warriors, one that emphasizes their important non-murderous quality: exploration.

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Movie review – Bohemian Rhapsody

Bohemian Rhapsody is lucky enough to bask in the reflected glory of Queen, one of the most memorable and iconic rock bands in all of human history. The movie detailing their stories does not share its source material’s lofty ambitions. I really wish the movie took the time to understand why Queen was so beloved by millions. Breaking from formulas seems like an adequate answer, save for the millions of unconventional bands, people and things that languish in obscurity, while formulaic material gets famous routinely. Honestly, this unremarkable, cookie cutter musical biopic is the very antithesis of its unconventional subject, saved only be the fact that it’s a really, really good subject. Don’t trip over yourself to see with one in theaters. Just check back with VH1 after a few months.

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Movie review – Christopher Robin

screenrant dot com
Image taken from screenrant.com

Considering how important Winnie the Pooh was to my childhood, I knew that I was going to like Christopher Robin. While I fully appreciated the nostalgic tug at my heart strings, I was not expecting how sharp the writing ended up being. Seriously, for all the people who have grown skeptical of Disney’s live-action remake push, this should be the one that attests to the artistic merit of the company. They even managed to stick a strong message about corporate benevolence in among the emotions.

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