The best games of September 2018

September’s been and gone, bringing with it a slew of excellent games. Before looking ahead to an October that’s promising to be even busier, let’s look back at the best games of September 2018. (In the interest of brevity, I’m excluding re-releases from this list, but best believe God Wars: The Complete Legend and Velocity 2X on Switch are also among the best games September had to offer.)

Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age (PlayStation 4)

Dragon Quest XI is a game that’ll easily be remembered as one of the JRPG highlights of this generation. It’s classic Dragon Quest, but revitalised on modern hardware and with some tinkering around the edges of the timeless formula to keep it fresh. We’ve got a review of this on the way (please bear with us—it’s a huge game!), but here’s what we had to say in our first impressions:

“In other words, Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of the Elusive Age is classic Dragon Quest—which is to say that it’s a game that never strays far from its roots, yet feels like it’s constantly pushing new boundaries. What I’ve seen so far is sublime, and I’m looking forward to spending many dozens more hours seeing how it all plays out.”

Dragon Quest XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age—First impressions

The Gardens Between (PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, PC)

The Gardens Between is a poignant, surreal journey into nostalgic—not just a series of “only ’90s kids will remember this!” references, but a deep dive into the complex emotions that underpin nostalgia. It does this effortlessly, through a wordless game where the puzzles, music, and art do all the talking. From our review:

“The more people who can play The Gardens Between, the better, because it’s that common experience that makes it so powerful. On paper, the story is a simple one, but it taps into a complex, universal emotion and explores that to the fullest. As an emotional dive into the depths of nostalgia, The Gardens Between is absolutely sublime.”

The Gardens Between review (Switch) – Rose-Tinted Perfection

Labyrinth of Refrain: Coven of Dusk (PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch)

Coming from the same minds that brought us Disgaea and The Witch and Hundred KnightLabyrinth of Refrain: Coven of Dusk offers up one of the most innovative twists on the turn-based dungeon crawler formula, and it’s all wrapped up the darkly humorous fairy-tale style that Nippon Ichi does so well. From our review:

“In a generation that’s been very good to dungeon crawler fans, Labyrinth of Refrain stands out as one of the best, with a fairy-tale narrative that channels the bleak fantasy of the Brothers Grimm in a way that’s funny and charming despite its depravity. But it’s the wall-breaking mechanic that really sets this game apart, changing the rules of the genre so fundamentally that this is unlike any other crawler you’ve played—but every bit as exciting.”

Labyrinth of Refrain: Coven of Dusk review (Switch) – Walls Fall Down

Lamplight City (PC)

Lamplight City is the latest game from Francisco Gonzalez, the writer behind the sublime Shardlight, among other games. It’s a detective mystery set in a steampunk-ish alternate America, with some brilliant puzzles and a captivating and thought-provoking story. From our review:

“Lamplight City makes its cases complex, involved, and satisfying, without falling back on tired old means of injecting challenge into its puzzles. That then feeds into the sense of place and atmosphere that the game builds so well, and allows you to get lost in a story with a lot to say and a compelling way of saying it. Lamplight City is a game that deserves your attention.”

Lamplight City review (PC) – True Detectives

Life is Strange 2, Episode 1: Roads (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC)

The first episode of Life is Strange 2 is more impressive than we ever could have expected. Following two young Latino boys wanted for a crime they didn’t commit, it’s equal parts heartfelt, harrowing, and unflinching in its criticism of Trump’s America. From our review:

“We’re only one episode in, but Life is Strange 2 is already shaping up to be a very good game, one that hits all the emotional highs and lows we’ve come to expect from Dontnod. But more than that, with its commentary on present-day America, it’s shaping up to be one of the most important games of a generation.”

Life is Strange 2, Episode 1: Roads review (PS4)

Marvel’s Spider-Man (PlayStation 4)

Expectations were high for Marvel’s Spider-Man, and it delivered with exhilarating web-swinging action and a focus on the humanity of Spider-Man as much as the heroics. From our review:

“Look past the boss fights and open-world nonsense, and Spider-Man is a very good game indeed. It’s every bit as exciting and entertaining as you’d expect from a blockbuster Marvel game, and it gets the web-swinging just right—something crucial for a Spider-Man game. But the most interesting and most memorable part is what’s there when you look past all the bombast: a story about heroes, not just superheroes.”

Marvel’s Spider-Man review (PS4): Everybody’s Hero

NHL 19 (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC)

Where most annualised sports franchises are happy with minor, iterative improvements, NHL 19 is a major overhaul, resulting in one of the best hockey games ever made. From our review:

“The attention to detail in modes like Be A Pro and Franchise modes, as well as how authentic the presentation of each match feels when compared to the television broadcasts just goes to show that EA Vancouver simply love their ice hockey, and they may just as well have created my favourite sports title of all time.”

NHL 19 review (PS4) – Game On

Valkyria Chronicles 4 (PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch)

After a good but underappreciated deviation with last year’s Valkyria RevolutionValkyria Chronicles 4 is exactly the return to form that the SEGA’s masterful tactical RPG series needed.

“Between the art direction, the tone of the narrative, and the classic Valkyria Chronicles combat and structure, it’s clear that Sega had one main goal with Valkyria Chronicles 4: return to the everything that made the first game special. That’s something this game achieves remarkably well, and the result is the purest sequel the series has seen.”

Valkyria Chronicles 4 review (PS4) – Extraordinary Circumstances


What were your favourite games of September?

Matthew Codd

Matthew is a writer based in Wellington. He loves all things pop culture, and is fascinated by its place in history and the wider social context.