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ResetEra Games of the Year 2019 - Voting Thread (READ THE OP) [Ends Jan 26th 8:59am EST]

VZ_Blade

Avenger
Oct 27, 2017
949
  1. Fire Emblem: Three Houses - It's pretty much what I want from a Switch Fire Emblem - a stunning, bombastic debut that leaves one hell of an impression. Of course, it isn't with it's negatives, but IS surely started off FE's HD portfolio with a blast.
    +Great characters
    +Great music
    +Fun maps
    -Repetition of the school phase really sets in during multiple playthroughs
    -Not much to do in the monastery during late game
  2. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice - Satisfying action, wonderfully designed environment, and relentlessly challenging. I love every second of it.
  3. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations - 3-3 to 3-5 is one of the most satisfying sequences I have ever encountered in a visual novel. Shu Takumi is a goddamn master at his craft.
  4. Astral Chain - Platinum Games’ output on Nintendo platforms has been solid, and Astral Chain is no exception. However, it is marred by the rather mundane sidequests.
  5. The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening - Although it can be argued that some of its designs are outdated and that it’s a Gameboy at its core, but it’s ok. Sometimes you don’t need anything super groundbreaking; familiarity and a fresh coat of paint can take you a long way, as long as the foundation is solid, and Link’s Awakening is nothing but solid.
  6. VA-11 Hall-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action - Comfy and likeable.
  7. Untitled Goose Game - HONK HONK. What a weird, wonderful game.
  8. Journey - Although I wasn’t able to play due to the busted online of the PC version, it was still a great cleansing experience. The ending sequence is <3
  9. Ape Out - The game relishes in its chaos and does not apologize one bit, and I love it.
  10. Devil May Cry 5 - Stylish action game with great music and borderline unacceptable environment designs.
Honorable mentions: Kind Words, Sayonara Wild Hearts, Taisho x Alice Episode 1


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Big G

Member
Oct 27, 2017
3,032
2019 was kind of a strange year, but like most of this generation, it ended up being better than expected. With new consoles set to launch next year following a stacked 2020 release schedule, you'd be forgiven for expecting this to have been a down year like 2012. But even with a few major games like Doom Eternal being delayed to next year, a lot of good stuff released throughout 2019 - during the Spring, Summer and Fall. Putting this year's top 12 up against last year's, I feel like this year was a bit stronger than 2018. It may not have had the gargantuan releases akin to God of War, Red Dead Redemption II or Smash Bros. Ultimate, but looking back on it I got more enjoyment out of this year's slate of games.




I think it was Ninja Theory that coined the term "AAA Indie" when describing 2017's Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice, and I feel like A Plague Tale: Innocence falls into a similar category. It's the sort of game that deserves recognition for delivering the presentation of a large budget project, while also aspiring to be more than a mere walking simulator. It's great to see a relatively unknown studio such as Asobo - which has mostly developed ports of licensed shovelware in its history - get a chance to make something wholly original, and have it turn out to be a good game.

And that's what A Plague Tale is. It's a good, solid narrative adventure game with a compelling storyline, interesting characters and some of the most beautiful scenery on display in a game this year. It takes many cues from the aforementioned Hellblade, as well as The Last of Us and Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, but branches out on its own as a largely stealth-focused game designed around using your limited arsenal to progress further. Most of this involves either evading the large swarms of rats which have infested most of the world, or manipulating them to your advantage. I'll admit to taking much sadistic pleasure in knocking out a guard's lantern and watching him promptly get devoured by hundreds and hundreds of rats.

But while A Plague Tale has a number of good ideas with its gameplay mechanics, it never really brings all of them together and gives you the freedom to approach each situation in a multitude of ways. It sticks fairly rigidly to its linear and scripted nature, and you'll often use the tool that's necessary for that scenario and then move on to the next one without really fully exercising it, either in puzzles or navigating around enemies. And though it's a surprisingly meaty game, it has some serious pacing issues in the latter half, with some chapters that run way too long given what the game has you doing.

But I ultimately enjoyed my time with A Plague Tale, and I really can't say enough about how gorgeous it looks. It's one of this year's standout releases on that front. And I hope they'll have the opportunity to make a sequel that expands on what this game introduced mechanically while allowing for a bit more freedom during gameplay. (Asobo Studio)




The Legend of Zelda is my favorite video game series, so in a lot of ways it was weird how I'd pretty much ignored the entire handheld division of the series for years. Aside from A Link Between Worlds, I hadn't played any of them. So I decided a few years back to fix this, and last summer I played The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening (the DX version) for the first time. Naturally, I would have just waited for this remake instead had I known it was coming, but I have no regrets about how this all went down: I absolutely loved Link's Awakening and it shot way up into my top 5 Zelda games, and ranks alongside ALBW as the best of the 2D entries.

So playing the remake just over a year later didn't have the same magic to it that it would have had I never played Link's Awakening, or if I hadn't played it in 20+ years. Having said that, this is still a tremendous game that improves upon the original in several ways. Most notable are the quality-of-life improvements. I had a handful of gripes with the original, some of which stemmed from the limitations of the Game Boy hardware. But even in the context of having limited buttons for items, I still thought there were a number of items that could have - and probably should have - been passive abilities that were just always equipped. The remake addresses every single one of my complaints. And all of the same high points of the original - the lean, streamlined pacing and the brilliant, Metroid-esque world design and sense of progression - are still on full display.

However, part of me laments the fact that this game didn't get the ALBW treatment. My impression of the dungeons in Link's Awakening is that they were "fine" but not really anything special, and I hoped that the remake would give these dungeons a full makeover. I feel that the overworld still holds up exceptionally well in a modern context, but the dungeons are unremarkable and while I understand wanting to keep the remake true to its roots, this was an area that could have really benefited from being rebuilt from the ground up. I also think it's worth mentioning the game's unique artstyle. The game looks great, but I don't know if it was the right style for this particular Zelda game. The original had a very strange, surreal, dreamlike vibe to it but I don't think the remake retained that same feeling, and I think that has a lot to do with the art direction they went with. To be honest, I never really thought about the way it looked as I was playing it. While I wouldn't describe either decision to be an outright negative, both of these things felt like a missed opportunity to do something truly special with this remake.

At the end of the day, though, this is still the best and most ideal way to play one of the greatest Legend of Zelda games ever made. For a new generation of players who maybe haven't experienced any version of Link's Awakening, I cannot recommend it enough. It's the best version of an absolute classic. (Grezzo)




Perhaps no game has had expectations influenced by the shortcomings of another series more than The Outer Worlds has. As a spiritual successor to the last great Fallout game (2010's New Vegas), I was very excited about this game from the moment it was announced. After Bethesda's unspectacular Fallout 4 and disastrous Fallout 76, here was Obsidian primed to take another stab at this type of game. Oh, and the makers of Fallout and Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines were at the helm of this project.

So with all of those things in mind, it's befuddling and somewhat disheartening how The Outer Worlds turned out. Mind you, this a good video game. It succeeds in many areas where recent Bethesda Game Studios titles haven't. It's a polished experience that isn't crippled by bugs at each and every turn. It's a full-fledged RPG and not an action game with RPG elements on the side. The dialog is well-written, and missions are crafted such that they can be completed in several different ways. Choices do seem to matter in a big way, albeit not so much as it pertains to the overarching narrative. I put roughly 40 hours into this and I can't say I was ever having a bad time, and there's a lot to be said for that.

And yet I came away from The Outer Worlds not being blown away by any individual element. It's a game where everything was competently designed at the very least, but aside from some of the dialogue interactions involving multiple companion characters, I don't see anything leaving a lasting impression. While the quality of the writing is good, the storyline and the vast majority of non-companion NPCs just weren't that memorable. The game is way too easy and it never felt like I really needed to be a specific build or make specific choices to get through any particular stretch of the game. And while I appreciate Obsidian going for something smaller and more focused than the huge open-world design of Bethesda's games, I don't think they went far enough. Levels like Groundbreaker were the right size and scope for a game like this whereas the larger, open areas with a lot of empty space (Monarch, Scylla) do the game a disservice.

The Outer Worlds is a good, well-made RPG, and that's never a bad thing. But it's also a AA game with AAA ambitions, and it shows. I can't help but think about how much better this game could have been if it was a series of the game's dense, city-hub areas (a la Bloodlines) rather than attempting to make a "Fallout killer". Now that they're under the Microsoft umbrella, maybe they'll be able to fulfill those ambitions if they get another crack at this. (Obsidian)




Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is my second backed Kickstarter project to release (along with the underrated and underappreciated Yooka-Laylee), and I feel like I am 2-for-2 now as a backer. Like Yooka-Laylee, this was also pitched as a spiritual successor to a classic late-90's game, and it also delivered exactly what was promised. Along-the-way to 100% completing the map, I found Bloodstained to be just as rewarding and satisfying on a moment-to-moment basis as Castlevania: Symphony of the Night was.

But unlike Yooka-Laylee, which was a throwback to a type of game that wasn't really being made anymore, Bloodstained steps into a market where many contemporary developers have written their own love letters to Super Metroid, Symphony of the Night and other games of their ilk. Bloodstained could have simply been a gussied up reskin of SotN, an end result of Koji Igarashi going through the motions in revisiting his glory days, and maybe that would have been enough to fulfill the crowd-funding campaign. But that also would have risked seeing the master get schooled by the likes of Hollow Knight and Ori and the Blind Forest.

Instead, Bloodstained is a damn good modern Metroidvania game that faithfully pays tribute to its predecessors, while still feeling fresh and relevant among today's crop of games sharing the same genre space. I had an absolute blast playing through this from beginning to end. (ArtPlay)




Not every Platinum game hits for me in the same way, but they are one of the few developers out there where I'm always willing to give their newest game a shot. Astral Chain looked like another really stylish character-action game from them, and even though it wasn't the game I wanted most from them (Bayonetta 3), I thought this game looked really cool. As its release date approached, I was hopeful that this game was going to turn out well, but I was delighted - and a tad bit surprised - to see it get mostly glowing reviews.

But for the first several hours of the game, I wasn't quite sure why that was. It's not that I wasn't liking the game early on; it was a bit different than what I was expecting, but I found the gameplay loop to be enjoyable. I appreciated that it wasn't just combat-combat-combat, and that there were plenty of mundane activities/quests to do in between all of the heavy action. It's this downtime that separates it from your typical Platinum game, and it's where a lot of my enjoyment came from in the first half of the game.

The combat was the one aspect of the game that just wasn't doing it for me. It was fun, but I never felt like I had to switch weapons or do anything but mash, especially since the game was rewarding me with good rankings most of the time. But everything changed once I got my 3rd or 4th legion, and started to unlock skills and abilities for each. It wasn't until getting 3+ Legions and start leveling them up that the combat became really satisfying. At that point, it's still very much a game where you're rewarded for being mashy in moment-to-moment combat, and without the Legion switching it's fairly unremarkable. But the draw is planning and timing these switches between Legions, using their unique powers to your advantage, and then switching to the next one. It looks great and feels great while pulling it all off. I don't normally get a lot of great scores in character-action games, but I was getting "S+" ranks left and right in Astral Chain and it's a damn good feeling.

It reminded me in some ways of last year's Spider-Man game, where the combat really wasn't doing much for me until I had unlocked most of the abilities and skill tree. All of a sudden I had all of these different tools available to use, and much of the fun came from utilizing all of them in different combinations and keeping each encounter feeling fresh. In that game I went from avoiding all combat missions to later seeking out as many as I could, and I eventually got to that same point in Astral Chain. No other game on this list took longer to get me to fully appreciate it. Some of this is the game's fault; it throws a lot at your early, and consequently the first 2+ missions felt like an extended tutorial. And not all of it works. One of the X-Baton modes was much better than the other two, making switching modes something I would only do when I absolutely HAD to and not when I wanted to. The left-bumper Legion Actions worked well during environmental puzzle solving, but felt clunky during hectic combat encounters and they over-complicated the control scheme.

Astral Chain is not for everyone, and a lot of that comes down to how you felt about the exploration/detective sequences - which are light on action and heavy on discovery. Some people are going to regard it as busywork and out of place in this type of game, but I found myself deeply engaged in poking and prodding around every corner for hidden items and quests. It's gameplay flow is unique to the character-action genre, and the amount of variety kept me invested in the game until the combat finally clicked as well, and by that point I found it hard to stop playing. (PlatinumGames)




In the pantheon of Nintendo franchises, the Luigi's Mansion series has always felt second- or maybe even third-tier. The first two games were pretty good, but each seemed like the sort of game that existed solely to help fill out the release schedule. It wasn't in the class of a Zelda, or Metroid, or even Donkey Kong Country. It was like, "Oh, Luigi's Mansion. That's nice. I guess that will keep me busy while I wait for the new Mario game." But with the next Mario, Metroid and Zelda games far off into the distance, Luigi's Mansion 3 came out this Fall as one of Nintendo's biggest releases of the year. How did the green-clad plumber do in the spotlight this time? Was the third time the charm?

Yes. Yes it was. This isn't a "pretty good" game like the first two installments; it's a really good game. Luigi's Mansion 3 isn't just the best Luigi's Mansion game (by a wide margin), it's also the best Switch game of 2019 and also one of Nintendo's best games on the platform thus far.

This is a "best of both worlds" effort that combines the strengths of the first and second games while avoiding their pratfalls, namely that the original was too thin and one-note and that Dark Moon failed to justify its longer length. The third game solves both of these things by keeping it set in one location - a haunted hotel - but gives each floor a distinct theme and its own character. The creativity on display with each floor kept the game from ever losing steam, which I felt happened to Dark Moon at a certain point. It also does away with that game's segmented, mission-based structure, while providing even more variety than ever before. The result is that I couldn't wait to see what was in store for me when I got to the next floor, while I also had a great time returning to earlier areas and discovering secrets I'd missed before. I spent a ton of time exploring every nook and cranny of each and every room, and there always seemed to be something left to uncover.

What also separates this from previous entries is the presentation. Luigi & co. are as funny and expressive as they've ever been, such that even during the time between primary objectives, the game remains highly entertaining. I couldn't go more than a few minutes without something happening that would put a big smile on my face. It's the most charming game I played all year. (Next Level Games)




I've liked every single one of Remedy's previous games, but there's always been something missing that's held their games back from reaching greatness. Their unique brand of presentation, storytelling and world-building has always been top-of-the-line. But on the game design side of things, they've left something to be desired. In terms of mechanics or level design, their games have mostly done a serviceable job but they haven't wowed me. However, if I had to point my finger at one thing in particular that has let many of their games down is that they are very combat-heavy, but the combat just isn't fun or engaging. In Alan Wake and Quantum Break, the combat sequences felt like a slog I'd have to get through to get to the next interesting story beat.

With Control, Remedy has finally put it all together. Like their earlier titles, it's got a very compelling narrative, full of many twists and turns that kept me invested all the way through. They're also as stylistically on-point as they've ever been. Every area of the game's setting - The Oldest House - carries with it a sense of dreamlike surrealness and implausibility. Rooms and hallways shift and bend in ways that defy reality. Many of the building's inhabitants are left floating in mid-air - often among an ominous red haze - mindlessly reciting an incomprehensible incantation. From the moment the game starts, there's both a feeling of not knowing what the hell is going on, but also that anything is possible. Describing all of the cool, mindblowing moments in Control would take hours.

But the general gameplay never gets in the way of that like it has in the past. It's not just "discover lore and then fight a bunch of dudes" over and over again; it's a much richer experience this time out. Remedy has ditched the mostly-linear levels of the past for a central, persistent location that houses the entirety of the game. The Oldest House is smartly designed for non-linear exploration which calls to mind Metroid, and gives Control an adventure game element that their games have never had before. The level design itself is strong, with an emphasis on both discovery and making traversal fun. Much like with Luigi's Mansion 3, I got a lot out of returning to previously-visited areas to explore for secrets.

Which ultimately brings us to the combat: it's also really good! This is easily the best combat that's ever been featured in a Remedy game. It strikes a really good balance where player-protagonist Jesse feels very powerful, but the enemies are formidable enough to make things challenging. Combat encounters end up being neither too easy nor too difficult, and incentivize you to use all of the tools and tricks at your disposal. And in a pinch, it's very easy to grab any item and hurl it back at an enemy (not to mention it looks and feels awesome every time you do it!). In the opening few hours of the game I was avoiding a lot of optional enemy encounters, but by the end I was going out of my way to do as much fighting as I could. There's a flow to the combat that their games have lacked since Max Payne, and it does so with a flair that lives up to the rest of the game's sci-fi/supernatural conceit.

This would be higher on my list if not for some unfortunate problems at launch. Nothing game-breaking or anything, but there were a number of annoying issues with the menus and UI that I couldn't believe the game released with. And as someone who usually isn't overly sensitive when it comes to frame rate, the performance got rough during some battles and definitely impacted my play. Though I'm sure a lot of that has been ironed out by now, it was a notable blight on what was an outstanding time I had otherwise. Nothing else this year really excelled in all major phases - mechanics, storytelling, level design, art style and presentation. Control is Remedy's best, most complete game yet. (Remedy Entertainment)




When Judgment was first announced and pitched as a "detective game set in the Yakuza universe", I was ecstatic. I've become a huge fan of the series since jumping on-board with Yakuza 0, and I've been eagerly awaiting another open-world detective game to come around after L.A. Noire. So I was a bit bummed when it turned out that this was actually just another Yakuza game, but with a detective slant. With so many Yakuza games already out there - and a few more that I haven't gotten the chance to play yet - I was hoping for something a bit more...different.

However, this was me judging (heh) the game before I'd even played it. Yeah, it's another Yakuza game. Yeah, it's still basically reusing the same map. And yeah, despite playing as a private detective and not "The Dragon of Dojima", you still can't walk more than a few blocks without some of Kamurocho's finest miscreants gunning for your head. It is unfortunate that this game does so little to distinguish itself from the series it spun off from, particularly from a game design standpoint.

But when put in the context of it being a Yakuza game, Judgment really shines. This is a great one-of-those games, and if it's not my favorite one so far, it's right up there with Yakuza 0. The main plot is excellent: a sprawling, twist-filled mystery that in which represents a fresh take on their tried-and-true crime drama. The brand new cast of characters has a lot to do with that; main character Yagami and his friends are eminently likable and equally memorable, while the collection of antagonists are every bit the sort of villains you can't help but love to hate. On the writing and storytelling front, they've outdone themselves yet again.

And as invested as I was in the principal storyline, I was not expecting that same enthusiasm to carry over to the side content as well. But this area of the game is arguably even better. I didn't 100% the game, but I came a lot closer to doing it than I ever thought I would. All throughout the city, there are a number of side missions and NPC interactions that are all worth seeing. These consist of secondary investigations, forging friendships and going on dates, and many of these different quests intersect with each other in some unexpected ways. New relationship opportunities can spring out of playing certain mini-games. Solving a side case may result in making a new friend. After recognizing just how well the city's people, places and activities were all intertwined, I wanted to see and do as much as possible because I knew it'd be worthwhile.

Judgment is my ultimate "I'll just do one more thing before going to bed" game, where I'd set out to do one last objective but would end up not quitting for another hour (or two). For nearly an entire month over the summer, this game kept me completely hooked and coming back for more, sometimes at the expense of getting a full night's sleep. There's just so much to like here. It's loaded with compelling content, much of which helps build a unique semblance of community around Yagami and among the residents of Kamurocho. And it's got one of the most enjoyable and entertaining stories told in any game I've played. Not bad for being "just another Yakuza game". (Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio)




"If you can do one thing well then you can do everything well." - Hideo Kojima, 2019

This was in regards to Kojima Productions' interest in pursuing filmmaking down the road. Apparently, that quote was accompanied by a laugh, so it's unclear to what degree he actually believes that. But Death Stranding provides a strong counterpoint to his statement and, quite frankly, most of his games do.

Here is one thing that Kojima does incredibly well: Designing videogames. I used to be hot and cold on the Metal Gear series on a game-by-game basis (I guess you could say I was a hot/cold man). But after Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, I saw him in a whole new light. MGSV was a gameplay juggernaut first and foremost, with systems stacked on top of systems that were all available for you to make the most of, and some of the tightest controls ever in a third-person action game. I put hundreds of hours into it because of how well it felt to play, and how satisfying the gameplay loop was.

I've gotten a similar level of fulfillment from the core experience of Death Stranding. Structurally, it's easy to see why. You start off the game with pretty much nothing and immediately feel overwhelmed by the task at hand. It feels daunting, much like sneaking into a high-security military base with no weapons or gear and just hoping to not get spotted by a guard. But with the completion of each new mission, you get something a little bit better that helps with the next mission, and then the mission after that. This goes on for hours and hours. The game always seems to have something more to give, to keep you pushing forward. In MGSV, you get D-Dog and sniper rifles and optic camouflage that make sneaking in and out of hot zones quicker and stealthier. In Death Stranding, you get vehicles and exoskeletons and zip-lines which allow you to move more cargo at a faster pace.

The big new thing that puts this game on a whole other level is the online component. I was skeptical going in, but it really, really works. It's not just completing the assigned orders that helps make your life easier; the collaboration between you and other players is paramount to becoming a better delivery person. You're able to see from the get-go the importance of receiving help from another player, and it encouraged me to offer help in return. Because you see it work and you see it pay dividends all the time. I wanted to help other players as often as I could, because I knew everyone would benefit from it, not just me. This is where Death Stranding is brilliant. So much of my time spent playing the game has been doing technically "optional" stuff, but I've felt compelled to keep going with it because of how rewarding it's been to observe my growth as a porter though these collaborative efforts. Not because I wanted to "make America whole again", one of many lines regurgitated to you over the course of the game.

And that brings us to the things that Kojima thinks he does really well, but is actually pretty bad at: Writing and storytelling. And it's not just the story that's a mess, but everything it touches directly; there are indeed strands being formed here, but they're dragging much of the game down into the slop. While the bulk of the gameplay is the delivering/rebuilding cycle that I love, the remaining game design based around pushing the story forward is terrible. Boss fights, chase sequences, set pieces, combat arenas - they're all poorly designed. It's mind-boggling how so much of this game was executed at such a high level, only for the stuff deemed most critical to the story to be this bad. I mean, those boss fights are just flat-out awful. It's hard to believe this was the same guy who directed Metal Gear Solid 3 when seeing some of this shit.

The story itself is long-winded and overwrought and obsessed with beating you over the head with its themes, but I expected that going in. It's worse here than in any of his previous games, but I'm not surprised by that. It's just that everything around it suffers for it. The performances suffer. There's a scene late in the story where Tommie Earl Jenkins (as Die-Hardman) gives a really powerful, emotional performance that represents the finest piece of acting in the game. But because it comes after the character spends 99% of the game repeating "Well done, Sam" and other empty platitudes over and over, it comes off as being way out of place and falls flat as a result. This is Kojima's greatest failing. The script is tonally all over the place, with exposition that drones on and on to the point of agony, cringe-inducing lines of dialogue and the gross overuse of symbolism (which isn't nearly as clever as he thinks it is). So then when he wants the game to deliver any sort of emotional punch, it doesn't land. There's nothing.

I can easily picture a much more subtle, subdued game that's just about a dude in a post-apocalyptic wasteland trying to help people and do his part in rebuilding society, where at the end of a long trek and a song from the soundtrack starts to kick in, I actually might have felt something. And that's the most ironic thing about Death Stranding. For a game and story all about ropes and bridges and forming connections and all of that, the story they wrote and tried to tell couldn't possibly have felt more disconnected from the game they actually made.

That's what makes assessing this game so confounding, much less ranking it somewhere on this list. In the end, my positive time spent with the game still far outweighs the negatives. I've put over 80 hours (and counting) into it, and I'd say that at least 60 of those hours have been great. That's a lot of good gaming. The high points of this game are among the highest highs in any 2019 game. I never thought I'd ever get this addicted to making deliveries and rebuilding a fractured infrastructure, but I've had hours and hours just straight-up disappear on me as I lost myself in the experience. And whether this established the "strand game" genre or not, I'm not really sure, but I do know that I've never played anything quite like this: a AAA major publisher release which emphasizes non-violence and helping others in lieu of being yet another murder simulator, and to that end it was undeniably a success in spite of its numerous missteps. (Kojima Productions)




"Git gud".

This meme has long been associated with Dark Souls and Bloodborne, I guess as a way for experienced players to thumb their noses at new players who found those games to be too difficult. But taking all of the snark out of it and looking at what the phrase means at its core - "to do better at a game by getting better at the game" - I've never had this apply to my own personal experiences with these games. Bloodborne and the Souls games are challenging, of course. But as someone who doesn't consider themselves to be that great at games (I'm happy whenever I get a "B" rank in Devil May Cry games), I've never felt that I needed to play better to progress in any of FromSoft's games. In Dark Souls games especially, my approach at the end of the game was largely the same as it was at the beginning. I'd hold my shield up and mash the enemy whenever I'd have an opening, rinse & repeat. And if I ever really did feel stuck, I could come back later when I was more leveled up, or change my gear. In other words, I never had to "get good".

Enter Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, a game with much in common with the Souls series, but is more of an action-adventure than an action RPG. At the start of the game, I largely played it like I was playing Bloodborne. A lot of dodging, only attacking when I saw an opening, etc. I was getting by. The stealth mechanics combined with the increased mobility offered by the grappling hook felt a bit overpowered, so I could get a lot of cheap kills and really thin out crowds of enemies without too much trouble. "This isn't so bad", I said.

Then I reached the Chained Ogre, who kicked my ass I don't know how many times in a row. And I had nowhere to go and nothing that was really going to help me. It felt like an impasse, already, even before the first proper boss fight. I eventually cheesed my way past him - in typical Souls game fashion - but I didn't feel like I really learned anything. Then came the first official boss fight, the horse-mounted Gyoubu Oniwa. And then he kicked my ass over and over again! I got past him, and at least I learned here that I was going to need to parry more. "Now I know what to do", I said. I took this new knowledge into the next battle vs. the Blazing Bull, and then HE kicked my ass! Noticing a trend?

I've never struggled this badly with one of their games. Not like this. Not when they've had jokes like the Cleric Beast and the Asylum Demon as early boss fights. In Sekiro, each new boss or mini-boss felt like I was fucked and completely helpless and there was nothing I could do about it. Genichiro was the final straw. I've never died to a boss fight more times or been so humiliated in a game. And I wasn't even close to beating him. I wasn't getting anywhere. He was slaughtering me before I had any time to really figure out what I needed to do. This went on for the better part of two nights. I liked this game, but if I couldn't get any better at it, I didn't see any reason to keep playing. It was now or never. "Git gud".

I don't know what happened. I was tired, sleepy, and about five minutes from calling it a night. Maybe it was all of my built-up anger and frustration with all of the repeated failure, but I just went after him. Slashed the living shit out of him. And lo and behold, things were starting to work. "Now we're getting somewhere." All of a sudden I was getting to his last phase with regularity. "One more time, I can do this". This was the turning point of the game for me, the moment where everything about the combat fell into place. The defensive, Dark Souls style of play that I was still clinging to wasn't going to work anymore. I had to be aggressive. I had to respect the enemy's posture as much as its health. I had to take advantage of every opportunity to counter. I had to re-train myself to parry instead of blocking or dodging. I had to relearn everything that I thought I knew about this type of game. The rest of the game was still challenging, but I never hit what felt like another roadblock. I had discovered a newfound confidence.

After beating the game, I played through it two more times and got the platinum trophy. For reference, I've never played through any FromSoft game more than once. I love those games, but I never felt compelled to keep going after 50+ hours. I think that speaks volumes about Sekiro. I found the combat to be so much more engrossing than in any of their prior games, as each individual enemy encounter would garner my full attention, and felt like a new opportunity to improve my fighting skills. I've gone back a few times and watched some clips I have saved off of boss fights from early in my first run, and compared them to the end of my third run, and the difference was staggering. I can't name another game that I was this terrible at where I eventually managed to play at a high level. I couldn't put Sekiro down after finishing it, because I was constantly feeling myself getting better and better, and I wanted to go prove it against every single enemy I had struggled against. Especially to get another shot at the best, most challenging bosses in years. Returning the favor to everyone who tormented me on my first playthrough? Yeah, I must say I enjoyed that quite a bit. (FromSoftware)




There's been a lot of talk in recent years as to whether or not Capcom was "back" after a real rough stretch for them at the end of the last generation and into the beginning of the current generation. Evidence was certainly mounting that they were well on their way to being back, if not all the way back; Resident Evil 7 was a nice bounce-back for the series, Monster Hunter: World was a huge success and brought newcomers like me on board, they put out a good new Mega Man game, and Devil May Cry 5 looked to be a welcome return to form for that series.

But for me, I needed to see one more thing before I was totally sold: they needed to not fuck up the Resident Evil 2 remake.

The original REmake is my favorite Resident Evil game, my favorite horror game and my third-favorite game of all time. My adoration for that game knows no bounds. So I had very high expectations for the remake of RE2, a game that fans have been clamoring for ever since those GameCube days when further remakes seemed not only possible, but likely. A lot has happened with the RE series since then, some good, but mostly bad. RE7 gave me hope that Capcom could still make a really good, modern horror game, but an RE2 remake had to be much more than that. This couldn't be just really good or even great. It had to be exceptional.

And it is. No, it's not the unassailable masterpiece that REmake is. There were some questionable decisions made when it came to what should and shouldn't have been retained from the original RE2, as though half of the team really wanted to do something just like REmake while the other half wanted to make something completely brand new; the end product is a mix of both, and you can see where compromises were made. The original had the zapping system between the different Leon and Claire scenarios, but rather than expand on that in the remake, they pretty much did away with it. Not having the option to re-experience RE2 with the classic fixed camera angles is an unfortunate oversight. And there are countless little things like restricting the use of ink ribbons to the harder difficulties, scrapping the marshalling yard area instead of making that portion of the game more substantial, not including certain enemies from the original...choices that are just head-scratching.

Though make no mistake, this is an awesome video game. The RE2 remake captures the essence of the original game and successfully modernizes it in a number of ways, from the controls and camera to the writing and presentation, each of which marks a massive improvement over the original. This game looks and plays wonderfully, and at a high level of polish unmatched by any other 2019 release. The R.P.D. Building, the most prominent and iconic location from RE2, has been further fleshed out and tweaked in positive ways, as has the more lackluster Sewers level. Mr. X's increased role in the remake is undoubtedly the most significant alteration. His omnipresence during key stretches of the game recontextualizes much of the experience, forcing you to approach many parts of this game differently than if it were a straight remake; he's this remake's version of the crimson heads.

What impressed me the most is how well-designed this game is. Every year, it seems that there's at least one game that stands out as a game design tour de force, and this year's game is Resident Evil 2. OG RE2 was built around replayability, as were the other classic games to a lesser extent. But the remake's campaigns, despite not being as different from one another, are geared more towards being replayable than any other RE game. Case in point: I've already played through this six times; Resident Evil 4 is the only other game I've finished more times. There are so many attributes of the game's design that I've picked up on with each playthrough, things which I've incorporated into my strategy: planning my routes through the police station ahead of time; deciding when to use certain items, which windows to board up, which zombies to kill and which ones to not waste ammo on; and how to mitigate the amount of stress in having to deal with Mr. X or lickers. All of these factors go into making every subsequent run through the game feel different from the rest.

These elements have always been a part of classic RE and survival horror at large, but they've never been implemented as effectively. This was never more apparent than when I did my first "No health items/no item box" run, something I've never wanted to do in any previous RE game because it's never sounded fun at all. But after already playing through the game a few times, I had a good idea of how I'd do it, and I approached it like one big puzzle. Along the way, I discovered the reasoning for why certain items were in certain locations and why you couldn't access them until specific points in the game. And I realized the importance of shortcuts that eventually opened up, the "when", "where" and "why" of these placements not really registering until there was a reason for them to. It was clear to me that things like never accessing the item box were explicitly considered during the construction of the game. There are so many possible ways to play through this game, and it's almost like the designers accounted for all of them. I found it fascinating to take a step back and really think about how well this game was put together.

There was a post a user on this forum made a few months ago which described the original REmake as essentially rendering RE1 obsolete and replacing it for all intents and purposes, whereas the RE2 remake does not; I agree with this sentiment. While they share the same story and characters and much of the same DNA, the remake succeeds in some areas where the original didn't, while falling short of the original in some areas as well. Both games stand on their own and have a reason for existing. That said, the remake is better. It's right up there with RE4 in my book, fighting for the title of "Second-Best Resident Evil Game". And as for those halcyon days of the early 2000s, when the dream of more REmakes was very much alive? Resident Evil 3 - a better game than Resident Evil 2 - has a remake of its own releasing in just 3 (!) months.

Capcom is back. They're truly, unequivocally, back. (Capcom)




Going into 2019, I never could have foreseen this being my Game of the Year. Especially not after playing the stellar RE2 remake and Sekiro a few months in. Outer Wilds wasn't on my most-wanted list coming into the year, and truthfully, it wasn't even on my radar. I was familiar with the game by virtue of it turning up in an E3 sizzle reel one year, at Microsoft's press conference, I believe. I remember having the same sort of "Ooooh, what's this?" reaction to it that I've had before with cool-looking indie games that we're shown only ten seconds of. I don't know why I had written this off, though. I had gotten it into my head that this was another No Man's Sky-like game that was built around survival and crafting, and with no real objective. I don't where that came from. I'm not sure if I misread something, or if I was misinformed, or if I'm just a dumbass.

Since the third choice is a well-known fact, that's probably what it was.

In any event, this came out of nowhere for me. I saw people talking enthusiastically about it on here, and when I actually read what it was about and what games it was being compared to, I knew I had to play it immediately. I'm so glad that I did. It's not just the best game I played all year, but one of the best games I've played this generation. Since the game hinges heavily on exploring and discovering the secrets of this universe, it's tough to talk about what's so amazing about it without spoiling it, so I won't go into too much detail. But what stood out the most about Outer Wilds is how it made me feel as I was playing it. It reminded me of how I felt playing so many amazing games over the years, but without really borrowing directly from any of them.

Navigating around these spheroid, celestial bodies and being exposed to all of the insane level designs and gravitational forces called to mind the magic of Super Mario Galaxy. The clockwork nature of the solar system, where you need to be in the right place at the right time and each loop is another opportunity to learn something new, makes this game structurally a lot like Hitman. The part where the game allows you to learn on your own without holding your hand, and you're only ever gated off by your own knowledge (or lack thereof) reminded me of The Witness. Exploration of each planet gave off that same sense of discovery that Breath of the Wild did, where I would almost always see something interesting in the vicinity, and I'd find something worthwhile if I checked it out. I could name other games like Myst, Deus Ex, Majora's Mask. These are some of my favorite games ever, and my experience with Outer Wilds had me feeling like I was playing each of those games again at one point or another. It excels in many of the same ways that those games did, without really being like any of those games at all; Outer Wilds stands on its own.

The construction of their solar system is so damn brilliant, and it's a reminder that bigger isn't always better (it usually isn't). It shows just how much awesomeness there is to be found in handcrafted worlds and levels that focus on the quality of content, and not just the quantity of it. There are clues about the state of the universe located all throughout the system, and putting these puzzle pieces together and explaining the previously-unexplained is what this game is all about. Because the loop resets every 20-ish minutes, you'll see certain things over and over and not have any idea what they are or what they represent, and finally understanding its purpose - and finding out on your own, not because the game spells it out to you - is so gratifying. The game's entire story is told in this manner, by you - the player - connecting all of the dots, and each new revelation felt meaningful.

This is the latest indie game that I've taken up the cause of evangelizing at my workplace, following The Witness and Hollow Knight, telling everyone who will listen to go play it. Part of it is that I really do think more people should play these games. But it's mostly about wanting to share my experience with others. I had an immensely memorable time with this game, and experienced so many magical, awe-inspiring moments. It's been great to talk about all of this with my friends and co-workers, to relive those powerful moments, and then to hear their stories about how their playthrough differed from mine. That the larger mystery can be uncovered in whatever order you explore the system is so fascinating. It's crazy to me that someone could go through the game in almost the exact opposite direction that I did, and come out of it having as good a time as I did.

Outer Wilds is my Game of the Year because out of all of the games I played in 2019, this is the one that resonated with me the most. As I get older, it takes more and more for games to blow me away as they did when I was a kid. So any time a game can achieve what this game did, to get me to react to it with childlike wonder, I don't take it for granted. This is a special game, and the time I spent playing it is something that I'll treasure. They were 20-or-so hours that I won't forget about anytime soon. (Mobius Digital)

tl;dr

  1. Outer Wilds - A magical, unforgettable adventure based around exploration and discovery. It's one of the best games of this generation.
  2. Resident Evil 2 - The second great REmake captures the essence of the original, while successfully modernizing along the way.
  3. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice - With the steepest learning curve in a Miyazaki game yet, Sekiro forced me to finally "git gud".
  4. Death Stranding - Kojima is finally unchained from Metal Gear, and his greatest strengths and worst tendencies are both on full display.
  5. Judgment - It's basically a new Yakuza game but with a detective spin, but it's maybe the best Yakuza game, too.
  6. Control - With strong game design to match their storytelling and presentation, this is the best, most complete game from Remedy yet.
  7. Luigi's Mansion 3 - A charming experience, this is easily the best Luigi's Mansion game, and Nintendo's best Switch game of 2019.
  8. Astral Chain - A slow-burn, unique take on the character-action genre that takes a while to get going, but really delivers once it does.
  9. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night - This spiritual follow-up to Symphony of the Night is the latest Kickstarter success.
  10. The Outer Worlds - Obsidian's new RPG is better than recent Fallout entries, but it doesn't reach the same heights as New Vegas.
  11. The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening - The best way to play one of the best Legend of Zelda games.
  12. A Plague Tale: Innocence - A good, solid narrative adventure game featuring gorgeous visuals, an intriguing storyline, and rats. Lots of rats.


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T-Rex.

Member
Oct 25, 2017
4,642
  1. Apex Legends - Quite comfortably my most played game of the year, and that's saying something considering I haven't actually played it for a few months. I love the Battle Royale genre and Respawn delivered one of the greats with this game.
  2. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice - I think it probably has the best combat from any game I've ever played.
  3. Death Stranding - I'm actually surprised myself at this placement all things considered. I knew it'd place fairly high on my list yet I wasn't sure how high until I finally decided to write my thoughts down. This game is flawed and it deserves the criticism it gets over being fairly monotonous and pretty stupid at times. There are times where I couldn't believe I was playing it and not in a good sense, but in a 'why the fuck am I wasting my time repeatedly falling down this goddamn mountain' but despite that it also has moments where it clicks and it's a breathtaking experience. Never have I simultaneously hated and loved a game as much as this, it actually made me feel like I was going on a journey. I also respect Kojima for not compromising on his vision even when it negatively affected the gameplay. There are things he could have done to make it less monotonous, but then that would have come at a cost to the core themes of the game and the whole 'building bridges' and 'making connections' with other people aspect would absolutely not have been as powerful.
  4. Control - A very unique experience.


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Oct 28, 2017
14
  1. Baba is You - Possibly the best puzzle game I've ever played. At times frustrating, but incredibly satisfying to solve a hard puzzle.
  2. Disco Elysium - I abandon too many interesting RPGs because the combat isn't good enough to last the whole game, or it has a sudden difficulty spike. More RPGs should realise that you can have interesting mechanics without any combat at all.
  3. Kingdom Hearts 3 - The combat does get repetitive, and the quality of the worlds varies a lot, but I still enjoyed most of my time with this.
  4. Cadence of Hyrule - I never got very far with Crypt of the Necrodancer due to the difficulty and my poor sense of rhythm. Cadence of Hyrule helps by giving permanent upgrades, with a classic Zelda structure to help access new areas and find additional upgrades.
  5. Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth - I've never been able to get into Etrian Odyssey, despite liking the core dungeon crawling mechanic. The recognisable characters and different battle system make me enjoy the Persona Q games a lot more.
  6. Fire Emblem: Three Houses - I'd stopped playing Fire Emblem because of the emphasis on pairing off your characters. Now it's far less important, and the addition of the monastery is a great new way of training your characters.
  7. Pokemon Sword/Shield - I didn't like the idea of cutting the National Dex at first, but I ended up enjoying the clean start.
  8. The Outer Worlds - Interesting world (although lacking in subtlety) and good characters. It's a shame that it starts hard and then gets extremely easy once you get good weapons.
  9. AI: The Somnium Files - Enjoyable visual novel. I can't go into much detail without spoilers.
  10. Dragon Quest Builders 2 - It's good, but for a game that should be about creativity you don't get much freedom throughout the main story. The main reason it's on my list is because of the extremely generous demo.
I didn't think I'd find ten games for the list, most of the games I expect to win this year didn't interest me.


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Tygre

Member
Oct 25, 2017
5,032
Chesire, UK
2019 was kind of a strange year, but like most of this generation, it ended up being better than expected. With new consoles set to launch next year following a stacked 2020 release schedule, you'd be forgiven for expecting this to have been a down year like 2012. But even with a few major games like Doom Eternal being delayed to next year, a lot of good stuff released throughout 2019 - during the Spring, Summer and Fall. Putting this year's top 12 up against last year's, I feel like this year was a bit stronger than 2018. It may not have had the gargantuan releases akin to God of War, Red Dead Redemption II or Smash Bros. Ultimate, but looking back on it I got more enjoyment out of this year's slate of games.

<snip>
Awesome post!

Thanks for the great read.
 

Rotobit

Editor at Nintendo Wire
Verified
Oct 27, 2017
5,199
No. 10: YOSHI'S CRAFTED WORLD


I've always loved the concept of the Yoshi series more than any other 2D Nintendo platformer, and while Crafted World feels a little rote, especially after Woolly World was such a return to form, it's still incredibly creative. I couldn't help but grin at things like Shy Guys waving butterflies on sticks in the background, "underwater" fish simply being cardboard cutouts on strings, crabs made out of plastic cups... I just wish it didn't feel the need to pad itself so readily - I can see lots of folks feeling pressured to play all of the Poochy Pup rescue missions as soon as they're unlocked.

No. 9: CADENCE OF HYRULE


I suck at Crypt of the Necrodancer. I even bought it on Switch after Cadence of Hyrule was announced to hone my skills, only to get continuously murdered on the second set of levels. So to say I went into the new Zelda-spin with hesitation would be an understatement.

What I played, though, was a glorious combination of Crypt's immensely fun rhythm-based gameplay and the Legend of Zelda's sense of exploration. The soundtrack was amazing (that Great Sea transition is phenomenal), the spritework is gorgeous, and it was a brilliant way to burn a few hours. Even those who wanted the classic difficulty were accomodated, too, with plenty of options and post-launch support catering to those players. They knocked it out of the park, as far as I'm concerned.

No. 8: STAR WARS: JEDI FALLEN ORDER


Jedi Fallen Order seemed like one of those games I knew I'd like, but I was in no hurry to play. So I waited to receive it as a gift for Christmas, which meant playing it after watching Rise of Skywalker - a movie that started making me re-evaluate my affection for the entire franchise. When I finally stuck it in my PS4 on December 25th, though, all those worries faded away and I had a blast exploring the game's beautifully realized world that used the right amount of fan-service to make for an enjoyable ride.

It'd be higher on this list if it weren't for the bugs, hitches, and underwhelming ending that I really should have seen coming. Also where's the BD-1 merch at.


No. 7: HYPNOSPACE OUTLAW


Every other year I discover an indie game that is so bizarre and groundbreaking that I didn't know it was something I wanted. This year, Hypnospace Outlaw was that game. There isn't much I can say about it without spoiling the experience, so I'll just drop these two words - Geocities Cop. If that flared any part of your brain, play this game.


No. 6: LIFE IS STRANGE 2


The first two episodes of Life is Strange 2 aren't the strongest, outside of a few bright moments they tended to rely a little too much on cartoonish villainy and cheap shocking moments. Episode three and onward, though? They make the experience worth it, shining the light on a very relevant modern travesty through a slightly supernatural lense, while also finding the time to have LGBT representation, a diverse cast of characters, and a cute sense of humor from time to time. The ending I got at the end of it all will stick with me forever, too.


No. 5: KINGDOM HEARTS 3


I never really expected Kingdom Hearts 3 to completely satisfy me. I played all of the games more than once, and the tangled, beautifully messy web of lore could never really be wrapped up with one game. So in a way, I was surprised by how much this long-awaited sequel covered, but some notable absenses still stung - thank god Re:Mind is bringing back the Final Fantasy crew!

As someone who isn't a stickler for Critical mode and the tightly-tuned gameplay of Kingdom Hearts 2, I found most of my fun exploring the expertly rendered worlds and slowly uncovering the bonkers plot, and I'm not ashamed to say I teared up a little at a certain scene involving the Ice Cream Trio. Hopefully the wait won't be as long for Sora's next adventure.

No. 4: DISCO ELYSIUM


I'm not the greatest at sticking to traditional computer RPGs - typically I adore the stories, but without an enthralling narrative to get sucked into, I tend to bounce off of them. That made Disco Elysium a perfect fit for me, even if I didn't know it before I delved into its grimy post-communist world. After a few hours of confusion about the setting that reflected the amnesiac protagonist's confused perspective, I found myself entrenched in the lore, seeking out every little bit of information regarding Revachol and its history, while also embracing the weird and devoting myself to cryptozoology. The small city is so packed with details and branching paths that I can't imagine no two playthroughs are the same, and after a while I didn't even notice the lack of combat.

Also Kim Kitsuragi is one of the best characters from the past decade of media.

No. 3: A SHORT HIKE


Sometimes I just want to play a short game - something that can be over in an hour or two - but something that still provides a compelling narrative. A Short Hike is just that. You play as a small anthropomorphic bird, scaling a mountain on the simple hunt for cell phone reception. On the way you meet colorful characters, perform small tasks, and explore the small island, with some surprisingly tight controls and an incredibly enjoyable gliding mechanic tying it all together. The low-fi, Nintendo DS-like visuals are the icing on the cake.


No. 2: FINAL FANTASY XIV: SHADOWBRINGERS


After years of playing off-and-on, 2019 finally marked my catch-up to the story in Final Fantasy XIV, and what a great expansion to catch up to it was. Taking place far beyond the regular conflicts of Eorzea, Garlemald, and the far East, Shadowbringers is a breath of fresh air, introducing dozens of new characters, unique environments, and a whole lot more lore to get accustomed to.

While its MMO trappings can still feel a little stifling (trying to fight the final boss at 3am and waiting in the queue for an hour wasn't very fun), I can't wait to see what comes next.

No. 1: JUDGMENT


When I first saw the announcement of Judgment live, I jokingly said that the combination of Phoenix Wright-style investigative courtroom drama and Yakuza gameplay makes it my "perfect game". It turns out I was absolutely on the money. Yagami's journey from being a disgraced lawyer to finding a new purpose is well told, and the new gameplay elements it brings to the fore help break up the typical beat'em up encounters - even if some of them can get a bit overlong (tailing missions, anyone?).

More than anything, Judgment oozes style, tension, and drama, and I can only hope a sequel is on the way, because I need to solve more criminal mysteries with Yagami and his allies ASAP.


Honorable Mentions (aka I wish I played more of these/played them at all): Resident Evil 2, The Outer Worlds, Persona Q2, Fire Emblem: Three Houses, Control

And the handy-dandy bot-friendly version:
  1. Judgment - By combining a detective story with the gameplay of Yakuza, they've made my perfect game. I can only hope they make a sequel.
  2. Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers - A brilliant, emotional story that was a joy to explore.
  3. A Short Hike - Extremely cute and gorgeous in its own way, a true diamond of an experience.
  4. Disco Elysium - I never expected to get so drawn into an RPG like I did this one. Its world and atmosphere are stellar.
  5. Kingdom Hearts 3 - While it didn't live up to all of my expectations, it still managed to strike a few emotional punches and Yoko Shimomura is still A+++.
  6. Life is Strange 2 - Some rough moments aside (RIP doggo, you deserved better), this season became something brutal, "real", and necessary. The ending I got still gives me chills thinking about it.
  7. Hypnospace Outlaw - I never thought I'd have so much fun being a Geocities Cop.
  8. Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order - I figured I'd have fun with this, but I ended up enjoying it way more than I expected. Shame about the rough edges, though.
  9. Cadence of Hyrule - I mostly love this game because of how it transitions into the Great Sea theme from Wind Waker on the overworld. It helps that it's super fun and not super difficult like Crypt of the Necrodancer - everyone can enjoy it!
  10. Yoshi's Crafted World - The Yoshi games are my favorite Nintendo 2D platformers and this one is a fun and inventive take with a little too much padding.


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Volcynika

Member
Oct 26, 2017
109
  1. Resident Evil 2 - A remake of one of my favorite games ever, and Capcom really didn't miss a beat. As someone who didn't care for RE7 (never jived w/first person view), this game was a return to melding together both old and new RE I had played. Mr. X haunts my nightmares.
  2. Slay the Spire - Ok, I'm just gonna do one more run. Just one more. This is the last one. I promise. I had to rip myself away from this on my Switch, it ate up so much time. A roguelike card deck building game that was worth the wait through Early Access.
  3. Judgment - As someone who has recently gotten into the Yakuza games, but appreciates a good English dub, Judgment was right there for me. The mystery you're trying to solve (even if predictable), the music, the oddities around the city, it all wrapped me up in Yagami's world.
  4. Ring Fit Adventure - Yes, gamification of exercise isn't new, but this is one that grabbed me on a whim. I've been able to keep up with it and have few complaints. It's improved my day to day mood and the story mode has a lot of staying power to spice it up with RPG mechanics.
  5. A Plague Tale: Innocence - A bit of a surprise, this game I heard a lot of good word of mouth and picked it up. What I got was a well-acted light stealth game with an intriguing story. Also rats. SO MANY RATS. Rat-tech should be used more.
  6. Outer Wilds - Latecomer to this game, but it definitely made an impression. Solving the mystery and just exploring captured me. I gasped, jumped out of my chair, and just sat back and enjoyed the music. Deffo a worthy experience.
  7. Cadence of Hyrule - It's Zelda+Crypt of the Necrodancer, a weird but completely lovable formula! The music is fantastic, the mechanics give a nice twist on the gameplay (even if the challenge wasn't that difficult), but it's low on the list since WHERE'S THE SOUNDTRACK RELEASE.
  8. Untitled Goose Game - HONK. The honk button alone makes this game so fun to me. In addition to being a game I enjoyed with my girlfriend, we both liked seeing the puzzles and hi-jinks the goose would get up to, and it was a nice punishment free chill time.
  9. Dicey Dungeons - I haven't played this as much as I'd like, but it already has its hooks in me. The art is great, the music by chipzel is boppin', and the nature of the different characters keeps me on my toes in terms of how to adjust my playing.
  10. The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening - This was a game that had a special place in my memories, just based on the music when everything comes together. A chance to revisit this classic in a much updated and extremely adorbs way was great!


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Greebman

Member
Oct 26, 2017
2,363
  1. Outer Wilds - This game is the space exploration game I always wished for. Meticulously crafted super-memorable diverse planets, rich and interesting lore and an engaging narrative to cap it all off. I particularly liked the blend of different emotions you were going through playing this game. From whimsy campfire stuff to terrifying quasi-horror all within the same solar system just a few minutes of travel apart. Every time I think about this game I am amazed at what the devs accomplished here.
  2. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice - From just keeps going with their trajectory of innovating on their core gameplay idea of a rewarding experience. And to me Sekiro is the pinnacle of that. Hard as hell, yet with always with a clear path towards improving your skills. And when you get to the point where combat just flows and you keep the pressure up on a boss for example, responding to each of their attacks, it’s just an incredible gameplay experience.
  3. Disco Elysium - This game got my attention with the promise of a point-and-click RPG not set in a traditional fantasy setting at first, but starting with the intro sequence I knew it was going to be special. The individual parts of your psyche communicating with you in a way that feels natural is a big achievement and I think going to be an inspiration in the genre going forward. Another part that really impressed me was how the game requires you to be mindful of what you say and not just go through all the options for the sake of it. It transforms the dialogue in that game into an actual gameplay element with consequences instead of just „work“. All of this would of course not be engaging if it wasn’t for the great world and characters they have built. I am looking forward to the devs future output.
  4. Control - Remedy said this game was going to be weird and boy was I not disappointed. Right from the beginning I was sucked into the mysterious world this game offers. Great story, great lore, great characters. The game could have fallen into a lot of traps when it comes to stereotypical „bureaucratic“ stuff but it elegantly managed to subvert my expectations at almost every corner. On top of that the gameplay is super fun and responsive so that even if it were just a shooter I would have still had a lot of fun.
  5. Death Stranding - It took a while for me to get used to the often dumb story but when I did I was able to truly enjoy the world that they built. I am a sucker for vast landscapes that you get to traverse at a slow pace. The longer the missions and the harder the territory to get through the more fun I had actually. The online implementation is truly impressive as well and substantial compared to other titles with asynchronous multiplayer.
  6. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night - A great SoTN-style game that I already was sure I’d enjoy but didn’t know it would be to this extent. Gameplay feels nice and tight, the game world is huge and diverse and the equipment and enemy variety are ridiculous in a good way.
  7. Metro Exodus - I had such a great time with this game, especially the open areas in the middle of the game. Previous Metro titles kind of didn’t quite do it for me, with the reliance on linear paths and scripted action. With this title they expanded their scope in a great way.
  8. Astral Chain - Super fun action game with innovative gameplay ideas in form of the Legions you can control. It took a while to get used to but when I did I was able to control this second entity quickly and precisely and perform all sorts of fun attacks and techniques. Even though it wasn’t the shortest game it managed to keep me really engaged all the way through.
  9. Resident Evil 2 - Capcom did an impressive job with this remake in a way that I can’t find many faults with it. It looks great, captures the feeling well and most important of all has a modern control scheme that really helps bring that original game into the modern times.
  10. Tetris 99 - I have yet to win a game but still, Tetris 99 was my go-to game for a quick gaming session this year. The multiplayer implementation is ingenious and goes deeper than the initial description of „Tetris Battle Royale“ may suggest. I usually don’t have a „mainstay“ game that I keep around and going back to but Tetris 99 may be it, even in 2020 and beyond.


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Grunge_Hamster

The Fallen
Oct 27, 2017
5,303
  1. Life is Strange 2 - A great coming of age game about the importance of our connections to people, with a daring social commentary.
  2. Fire Emblem: Three Houses
  3. Astral Chain
  4. Ring Fit Adventure


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Kaguya

Member
Jun 19, 2018
3,146
  1. Monster Hunter World: Iceborne - Fixed a lot of MHW problems, added new one but managed to grab even more so than World did, already added 500+ hours to my MHW play time, I can't not put this at number 1
  2. Resident Evil 2 - This one hit really hard, everything I want from a classic RE game, minus the shit gameplay
  3. Devil May Cry 5 - Super fun game heavily held back by loading screens, next gen can't come soon enough
  4. Death Stranding - Bad writing aside, the world, gameplay loop and most character performances more make for a fantastic ride, and it's nice to see an AAA game trying something different
  5. Bloodstained Ritual Of the Night - The metroidvania of my dreams, I'd be honest, I was really skeptical about this, but boy was I wrong
  6. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice - A nice change of pace for From, fantastic on the first run, but the lack of depth and variety in the combat system hurt it on repeated play through
Overall this have been a fantastic year, the best this generation and better than any year from the Ps360 one.


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Nocturnowl

Member
Oct 25, 2017
12,232
2019 was pretty good, I liked it more than 2018 at least even if there's no number 1 with a bullet.

Ideally I'd like to have played a few other games before voting (I hear base PS4 runs Control like booty, Death Stranding is too divisive for me to currently want to spend £50 and an equal amount of hours of gameplay on, I started Outer Wilds (and Worlds) on Game Pass only for my brother to get FIFA RAGE and the controller went splat) but I played more than enough to clog up the honourable mentions, speaking of which...


Honourable Mentions

Ring Fit Adventure
: 2019 saw me lose my hard earned free gym access after the whole leisure centre closed for a complete refurbishment, I lamented the loss of my local pool but I’d be lying if I said I was gonna miss the gym, it bores me to tears.
Thus lazy Owl returned instead of just starting a membership elsewhere, and this is where ring fit adventure eventually comes in to pick my arse back up.
It’s still early days and oh god, I’m out of shape, but immediately the gamification of exercise makes this an easier pill to swallow, a fascinating blend of runner and turn based battling antics infused with actual exercise.
One that’s impossible for me to blast through by the deadline, you wont be seeing this on awesome games done quick….actually I should never doubt speedrunners.

Shovel Knight King of Cards: After over 5 years the Shovel Knight saga finally ends, with a pompous mama’s boy out to be the very best at a collectable card game, truly the most grandiose send off.
This pirouetting platformer highlights more of Yacht Club’s stellar game design, albeit feeling a bit too familiar on the whole.
In one of my favourite analogies of the year courtesy of USGamer’s review, it’s basically Marge Simpson’s chanel suit in video game form

Crash Team Racing Nitro Fueled: A warts and all remake of a classic kart racer that elevates itself further not just through the expected visual upgrade but much more so through a clear appreciation for the franchise that has gradually led to the EVERYONE IS HERE of Crash Bandicoot, right down to lovingly bringing back some straight up abominations only a mother could love (looking at you Nitro Kart cast).

Yoshi’s Crafted World: As a creative endeavour from Good Feel, this surpasses Woolly World with some of the best (and oddly underrated) visuals of the year, as a platformer it’s not quite as strong as WW but still a pleasing 2D collectathon. A true example of a game made lesser by music seeking to undo all the other strengths, our ears all feel the loss of Tomiya

Apex Legends: The best battle royale game out there with one fatal flaw, it’s still a battle royale game.

Baba is You: Baba is Smart, Owl is Dumb, Enjoyment is Varied.

Pre-show over, time for the main event...

10. Astral Chain



Platinum may be masters of action combat, but I ain’t gonna lie, I’ve been growing fatigued with their games often feeling like they draw from the same design doc, a lot of spins on that Bayonetta formula to a saturation point.
And this is where Astral Chain enters as an oddity, it scrawls a new approach to combat on rough paper and much like my GotY writeup it can be a bit of a mess. It’s a well intended mess though, like the creative whose work gets done in a room of seemingly scattered papers in dire need of a clean, it’s actually well organised chaos.


An action game where your character can’t jump outside of a very particular combat input, where you effectively control two characters at once with the simplistic on paper human and a more automated cyborg stand thing that will do its own thing with a bit of guidance, a scoring system that simply asks for you to do ALL the things and isn’t too fussed about how much you get beaten up in the process. All at a villainous 30FPS, which is the final straw for a fair amount of action game faithfuls. Despite working against so many classic genre conventions (a number of which being what propelled platinum to the top of the genre in the first place), it does in fact pan out to something that’s fresh and actually worth playing.

Astral Chain is trying with actual level design between combat albeit with some finicky chain jumping and the ultimate in Zelda lite that is pushing blocks and shooting switches. Astral Chain is trying with its presentation and plot, a derivative anime mess with stock characters and a lead utterly boring even among other silent counterparts. And of course Astral Chain is trying to shake up the genre’s combat, with a kitchen sink approach that can go from way too easy to stunlock city, where you can feel like the ultimate stylish cybercop one moment and then a fumbly jumbly rookie scrambling through defensive options the next.

So I guess what I’m saying is that I really like what Platinum tried here, but it’s gonna need a much more refined round 2 to match the wonderful 101 realise the potential it has in place. Still I can’t ignore a game that would go from dunking cans in the trash and balancing comically oversized ice cream cones in the name of the law one moment to balls out combat the next where you can counter foes by making a damn trip hazard with the chain.



9. Devil May Cry V



The design doc for DMCV surely reads that it was designed for the series most ardent fans, with all the good and bad parts of that approach. Let me try to explain from the perspective of someone who despite playing most of the series, considers himself just a passing fan of DMC

DMCV is a complex stylish combat simulator, one that sprinkles the game’s often circular brawling arenas into some intentionally inoffensive level design because it’s afraid that it might end up having players knock giant beyblades down cathedral corridors again, so it’s best to just not try.

Said stages are strung together via a narrative that reads like DMC fan fiction, where pretty much everything is just set up to build towards an excuse to bring back THAT GUY, and it’s all punctuated with humorously juvenile dialogue and smokin’ sexy style action scenes that astonishingly aren’t far off from what you can actually do in gameplay.

The depth of Dante’s combat is like the mariana trench, I personally can’t take the pressure and am more at home at Nero’s level of gimmicked robo arms. Despite the game’s overall commitment to being a safe fan pleasing course correction after that whole Ninja Theory DmC kerfuffle, there’s one new aspect that quietly shakes things up in the corner.
Enter V, a more passive combatant who approaches combat by summoning his trio of familiars while reading poetry. What starts as seemingly spammy and unresponsive becomes a rather rhythmic and thoughtful spin on the genre, one that I hope will return in some form or another.

What DMCV lacks in delivering an epic adventure, it makes up for in being the genre’s equivalent of dropping into a fighting game’s training mode and theory crafting insane stylish shenanigans, not because you need to, but simply because you can.


8. Sayonara Wild Hearts



Sayanora Wild Hearts is akin to an autorunner for the senses, often described like an interactive set of music videos, I feel that while quite on point, that description might undersell how frantic and insane things can get here.

SWH is the character action game of runners, it’s a neon drenched ride by the seat of your pants through energetic pop themes blaring out earworms, its both a meditation on heartbreak and an empowering road to recovery delivered with motorbike chases, shmup like segments and as many other twists it can fit into such a simple style of gameplay without ever slowing down.

Few games can do what this one does in its short and to the point run time, it’s far from the deepest game out there but it’s not suffering for it either, approaching exactly what it wants to do and executing it with all the swagger of a girl whose got her groove back.


7. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night



IGAvania has been dead since 2008’s Game of the Year Order of Ecclesia, in the past decade or so the indie devs rose en masse to try and carve their title’s names in the hallowed grounds of Metroidvania legend alongside the likes of Super Metroid and Castlevania Symphony of the Night.
Some succeeded, some fell short and now in the wake of new legends, can IGA and co reclaim the throne with a new castlevania in all but name?

The answer is….No!

Wait, come back! it’s still great fun!

As one plays through Bloodstained you realise the kickstarter was simply setting out to deliver EXACTLY what had been missing all these years, elements of nearly every previous vania game under IGA find their way in here, thrown into a blender with a ton of kickstarter money and went all over the place (see, this is the metaphorical stand in for development hell) and eventually we got a tall glass of frothy “I can’t believe it’s not Castlevania!” that looks a bit rough from certain angles, but you’ll likely gulp this down with the quickness, quenching a thirst that only IGA’s style of game can.

It’s the endorphin rush of 2D exploration where everything you do seems to continually contribute to some sense of growth, the gameplay is a never ending infinite loop of progress designed to light up receptors in the brain. Gradually breaking the game’s balance as you pool together a combo of ridiculous skills and look damn good In the process by unlocking further makeover options via a demonic barber.

Its tributes to Symphony of the Night border on excessive, the biggest castle yet is something of a hodgepodge of occasionally disparate areas (which architect put the japanese rock garden up next to the cathedral bell towers?) and reaching some of them can require some right fumbling around. Simultaneously though sometimes you just want to bask in its excess, it’s truly the symphony successor in its kitchen sink approach to design. Input fighting game motions and see what random move flies out, listen to repeated quips when activating abilities and laugh at some of the silly monster death groans, yes I have missed this very much. There’s no doubt in my mind that they knew exactly what they were doing here, when being excellently derivative is the plan all along. This puts a ceiling on the game as a result, but I devoured it all faster than any other game this year, even when the game was basically broken.


6. Luigi's Mansion 3



I really feel like I could wrap up my thoughts on this game by just saying “it’s all the good parts of Luigi’s Mansion 2 minus that games very noticeable bad parts and then with more good parts including top tier animation, the end”.

Yeah, that actually works well, probably the most well rounded game I played this year.

Charles Martinet’s finest hour as he gibbers his way through the hotel host to everything, from fine dining and a spa to an egyptian suite complete with death trap pyramid and a medievil dungeon, shit, no wonder this place is full of ghosts, you’d get off at the wrong floor and DIE.


5. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice



Shadows die a lot more than twice, I can tell you that right now. No game this year put me through the ringer quite like Sekiro, just when you thought you knew the answers to From Software’s combat approach, Sekiro changes the questions.

The classic Souls panic rolling is now replaced by on and off block mashing, standing your ground as the posture bare threateningly fills, as the Wolf’s heels try to maintain digging into solid ground as each clash of steel shifts you back. The balanced base of approaching Sekiro’s combat is this tug of war between offence and defence, chipping in that extra cut of damage when possible and trying to offset your foes posture whilst maintaining your own.

Bog standard mooks crumble satisfyingly to sword swinging pressure or one well timed parry, allowing the player to approach the simplest of foes in a way that makes you look all the part of a classic media samurai that effortlessly dispatches a small group in just a few fatal moves.

Of course From Software aren’t about to let the game play out like this throughout, it’s not long before titled soldiers clad in more robust armour, wielding more varied weapons and applying complex patterns show up to bring the player back down to earth (Ps: up yours seven spears!). Sekiro operates heavily on this back and forth throughout, there’s always something new just around the corner who will pile the pressure back on when you think you’ve got it all figured out.

Then the bosses roll in and it’s like punch out with samurai swords as you try to make immediate reactions to every twitch with the right counterplay, it can be exhausting in a way that even makes Souls games wince, but that high when you get the shinobi execution, I feel like I went from baka gaijin to glorious nippon warrior.

Oh and this game has JUMPING, which sounds terrifying after five From games of cumbersome “jump” rolls, but it’s actually solid with that right mix of ledge snapping and grapple points without being an automated free run button mess, I only wish they took this further.

In the end I did find Sekiro’s world to falter a bit, it starts expanding massively mid game and my mind reeled at the possibilities of where my exploration could lead, only to effectively lead to a bunch of dead ends and ultimately lead to a lot of (clever) previous area resuse that would make the 3D Mario team wipe tears of approval from their eyes.

That and I’d missed an entire boss and jumped ahead through three whole areas, whoops, though that’s also testament to the freedom on offer.


4. Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair



The interquel I never knew I wanted, the game that retroactively bridges Rare’s DKC3 to Retro’s DKCR, via Playtonic’s off brand Banjo.

On a surface level, the surprise return of the divisive duo looks like Diet Tropical Freeze (wow, that really sounds like an actual beverage), dig a little deeper though and there’s a 2D platformer striving to find innovative ways to have a classic run and jump outing stand out in the modern day.
The core of the game is rock solid DKC style gameplay, what puts it above being just a safe retread though is a host of small features that bolster that core experience.

Y-L brings the hub concept to a 2D platformer via a surprisingly fleshed out Overworld of light puzzle exploration, allowing the series Banjo inspired roots to continue growing in the downtime between stages. In turn the overworld can affect platforming stages in fun ways leading to some of the smartest asset reuse that doubles the amount of stages in inventive ways, flood a stage, freeze a stage, reverse a stage, prop a horizontal stage up vertically, pull the entire ground out of a stage, point is Playtonic find ways to shake things up.

To hold myself back from going full review here I’ll smash through the next two hooks, the unlockable tonics that allow loadouts of both difficulty modifiers and silly effects of yesteryears cheat codes, alongside the game’s finale being available from the start in a Breath of the Wild esque approach to gearing up for the immediately available endgame, these things alongside stellar level design push the game well up past the wall its predecessor ran slap bang into.
Everything feeds into a loop not often seen in a platformer, nothing feels out of place and even the equivalent to coins are actually worth something.

The impossible lair itself is a bold decision, difficulty in platformers is nothing new, especially these days, but where other modern outings will ask the player to keep at it with instant respawns for room by room spiky reaction tests, the lair asks that you prepare yourself for the long haul, it tests your endurance in a more classic manner and that’s so much more interesting to me. Even weighing the odds as much in your favour as possible it’s still a challenge but a fair one, I’m hard pressed to think of a better final exam stage in a game from 2019, not everyone is allowed to pass without putting in the proper work!


3. Super Mario Maker 2



I wasn’t expecting a life lesson from SMM2, that lesson being that sometimes you should just throw a creative concept or idea out there even if you’re not convinced yourself and see what the public think instead of just leaving it on the metaphorical shelf.

Such is the tale of Super Castlevania Bros, a stage I made that I almost didn’t finish let alone upload, a stage that still gets plays every day after it blew up on release weekend.
I don’t consider it my best creation, I’m still haunted that my “staircase to Dracula” goes right instead of left (some vania fan out there reached this part of my stage and was DISGUSTED I bet, unless they love bloodlines), but mash ups are where the money is, pop culture t-shirt sellers influenced me well.

As a sequel SMM2 is very much more of the same with a high number of cool new features creators were clamouring for, mixed with classic Nintendo oddities, limitations and a lack of any suitable game as a service setup to maintain momentum. As such it went from being an easy contender for my top spot to simply a continuation of something I already loved. As such there’s not much else to say that I didn’t say back in regards to the original.

Which I why I’m gonna take a moment to shout out to Era’s Mario Maker community. In a year that could sometimes feel overwhelmed with negative vibes be it gaming or the world we’re living in, I loved that the Era community was a positive cycle of people giving their time to play other users creations, to give feedback and I swear witnessed an increase in craft over time as a result, myself included.

While my unexpected viral stage success story was a highlight of my 2019, I also have a soft spot for an Era user asking me directly for help in how to get improve stage creation in general and across the three stages they sent me for feedback on I saw the evolution in their understanding and skill at level building first hand and feeling like I’d actually helped.

So there’s my sappy shoutout, not a thread of tearing each other down but building each other up, indeed the real Super Mario Maker 2 were the friends we made along the way.


2. Fire Emblem: Three Houses



The real story of Fire Emblem is often less about the immediate plotline and more about the characters and where your choices send them, be it who they bond with, who gets left permadead in a mud puddle somewhere, and now in this case also which house you choose, sorting hat not required, just a moment of extended choice paralysis.

People talk about their favourite RPG parties and the more I think about it, The Black Eagles are my people.
I relate far too much to sleepy boy Lindhardt and the overly anxious Bernie Bear, some of their dialogue cracking me up with the painful truths of being introverted, all delivered with top notch voice acting across the board that really brings the cast to life.

A second run with the Blue Lions, an equally enjoyable group that come across more like a dysfunctional family, revealed that indeed the level of character writing is strong across all routes, but let’s face it, you never forget your first...*ahem*

Three House’s cast elevates a solid SRPG to being something more, I haven’t had this much fun with a cast of misfits in ages, the perfect blend of reliable tropes on the surface and a hidden depth within. Which perfectly lines up with the game’s increased focus on how actions and activities out of battle still effect their skills, a mechanism that makes the preparation before battle just as much a game as the battles themselves.

Three Houses may have eyes bigger than its stomach, trying to cram in four routes and a persona like blend of social downtime systems on top of the standard FE game. As such it’s a bit uneven, spread thin in some ways, a bit rushed in others, yet at no point did this ever eat away at my enjoyment. The effort in this game shines past the dated visuals and oft repeated cutscene animations, so much so that I managed two routes and about 80 hours of game time before the year ended and you better believe I’ll be back for more.

I tactically rolled carts of explosives into monstrous machinations, got to perfect my teatime etiquette, had my back against the wall in nail-biting standoffs and dragged an edgelord to choir just to relish in his reaction, just Fire Emblem things.


1. Resident Evil 2



Back in the late nineties, the shambling zombies of Resident Evil were peak videogame horror, their CD audio groans and grotesque blocky forms would have me avert my eyes from the screen.
Classic zombies fell out of vogue, to be replaced by sprinting and screeching hordes and even Resident Evil itself started looking elsewhere, while off to a strong start with the moody denizens of “not spain”, standards began to slip with mutated soldiers and varieties of humanoid ooze n’ mould.
Now we’ve come back full circle, shuffling undead attempting to grab the player with the finesse of a scooby doo villain occupy the refurbished halls of Resident Evil 2’s Police Station, and somehow Capcom has ironically breathed new life into the shuffling corpses.

Rising from the dead just once is so two decades ago, now to my surprise these possum playing carcasses might just still be clinging on to whatever their equivalent of life is and popping up for round 2, truly beating Sekiro to the punch eh? All of a sudden everything I thought I knew about Resi’s zombies was called into question, just how clear was this corridor? Is that wailing behind me a newcomer to the fray or actually the portly zombie I blindsided by the vending machine? Between this, the chap banging on the window and the knowledge that doors were no longer loading screen saviours, the classic zombie archetype Resi built itself upon felt refreshed, tension would remain as I roamed the halls of the station.

Over time you learn that the classic “just shoot them in the head” approach isn’t as reliable as it used to be, blasting off limbs is a valid ammo saving tactic for when it takes too much ammo to burst the melon.
And then once you start getting comfortable again, an invulnerable mountain of trenchcoat clad tyrant muscle starts stomping around the place leading to the most intense game of tag delivered with painful lariats, you know you’ve reached peak Resi when you’re juking this guy around a library in order to shift bookcases to construct a makeshift path because nothing can ever be simple in this series, but it can usually be solved by ornate medallions for some reason.

Resident Evil 2 never quite escapes the series consistent downward trend inevitably culminating in a lategame lab, one wonders how a Resident Evil game would play out if the obligatory lab came first? Unthinkable! Though in fairness to Resi 2, this entry holds its ground through sewers and research laboratories stronger than most, one day they’ll stick the landing fully but once more the game’s true heights lie in its main central area.

This is where you become intimate with the level design, where you piece together game logic clues scattered about by police staff that have a lot of time on their hands to make diary entries about locks and keys (disappointingly though I swear there was a lack of the original game’s diary of increasingly zombification, you know where that one guy is always like “ugh Phil came in coughing on me today, he should take a day off” and leads to the logical conclusion of scrawling “braaaaains” before stowing the book away).

This is one of the best kind of remakes in that it takes a classic but chooses to do something different with the base meaning that instead of attempting to replace it, we are instead left with two great takes on Resident Evil 2 worth your time, and you can’t go wrong with either.



Now for the parser, the list with an obligatory sentence, this time the theme is Owl's dirty secrets

  1. Resident Evil 2 - I tried a hardcore run last weekend and died in the first Zombie filled area of the police station before saving, instantly turned the game off in shame.
  2. Fire Emblem: Three Houses - Lorenz is a good character, and his support with Ferdinand bonding over tea is majestic.
  3. Super Mario Maker 2 - I make lots of autoscrollers and water stages, sometimes together, people are lured in with my castlevania stage only to get hit with the dreaded duo
  4. Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair - Going in I was arguably more hyped for David Wise than the game itself
  5. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice - My first ending was the bad ending because I can't deny a man named *redacted*
  6. Luigi's Mansion 3 - I basically just threw this on the list to fill a gap I had
  7. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night - I think kickstarter stretch goal 8 bit game was actually better than the main course
  8. Sayonara Wild Hearts - I don't fully understand what's going on, but I'll pretend I do!
  9. Devil May Cry 5 - I laughed at Nico's dialogue more than I care to admit, also everyone is cooler than Dante.
  10. Astral Chain - I absolutely yell ORAORAORA when using the Arm legions rapid punch


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labpleb

Member
Feb 6, 2018
2,286
  1. Control - Mysterious, eerily beautiful and incredibly well written. I feel like Remedy made this game specifically for me. Thanks, Sam!
  2. Divinity: Original Sin 2 Definitive Edition - The best RPG of 2018 plays remarkably well with a controller. Larian did a great job adapting the UI, and direct movement control adds a new layer of immersion to an already fantastic title.
  3. Metro Exodus - Metro Exodus is rough. It fights the player and sometimes it struggles with itself but when the systems and the world design come together, it is one of the most unique takes on open worlds in a long time. The game requires time and patience but the reward is worth it: a beautiful trip through the post-apocalypse.
  4. Kind Words (lo fi chill beats to write to) - An incredibly moving and hard-hitting social experience. Thanks to a community of open and caring users, Kind Words manages to overcome the toxicity of many online spaces and allows for genuine interaction. I care about the people I write to and I felt valued by those who helped me with my problems.
  5. Life Is Strange 2 - While the sequel to one of my favorite games ever takes a while to get rolling, it manages to come together in a satisfying way. In a lot of ways it is an incredibly narrative game around a bond between siblings but I feel like a less grand adventure would've been more fitting.
  6. Baba Is You - Creative Is Win. Baba Is Good. I Is Dumb.
  7. Wreckfest - Crashing into cars has rarely felt this satisfying. After years in Early Access, Bugbear have managed to turn Wreckfest into a worthy Flatout successor that has its very own identity and style. Updates after launch have added super fun new tracks with loops and other shenanigans - I can't wait for what the future brings.


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Nov 5, 2017
617
Bakersfield, CA
  1. Outer Wilds - A beautiful game that feels like a mix of Groundhog Day, Majora's Mask and Interstellar.
  2. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice - I truly adore the setting and the fast-paced gameplay.
  3. Resident Evil 2 - An excellent remake of the 1998 classic that reinvigorates my faith in the series along with RE7.
  4. Disco Elysium - A fantastic, creative and engaging detective RPG that I hope inspires many creators. I would love a Blade Runner-esque RPG in this style.
  5. Luigi's Mansion 3 - While I still prefer the original's spookier tone, Luigi's Mansion 3 is easily the best game in the series.
  6. Super Mario Maker 2 - I'm not the most creative person but I really enjoying seeing how people can create some truly wonderful levels with this expanded toolset.
  7. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order - Respawn has crafted a solid story in the Star Wars galaxy with fun gameplay and exciting visuals.
  8. Death Stranding - Usually Kojima's games are easily my favorite games of their respective years, but this one is just solid.
  9. Untitled Goose Game - A simple but charming game about playing as a destructive little goose.
  10. The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening - Less ambitious than other remakes, but the core gameplay still holds up after all these years.


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Tonguer

Member
Oct 27, 2017
27
Michigan
2019 was a great console gaming year for me, due in large part to the video card in my gaming PC failing and forcing me to go spend some Quality Time with my neglected consoles. Although this led to a few misses for me (I'd have liked to check out Disco Elysium this year given the talk around it, and only got to play Untitled Goose Game as it came to consoles late in the year), I otherwise might not have played The Outer Worlds, Control, and especially returned to Spiderman. All said, I had a great, great year and am looking forward to an exciting (and expensive) 2020.

  1. The Outer Worlds - This game grabbed me. I’d heard and read this was 'just another one of /those/ games’, but as someone who has not played lots of /those/ games, this was captivating. As I progressed, I was enjoying it so much that I intended to complete every mission and side-mission. Somewhere along my path, I made some choice(s) which left me hated and Kill On Sight for the faction that controls the last area of the game, thus I had to abandon several side missions there. Nonetheless I clocked in at about 54hrs completion time, exploring each landscape and populated area until I had sufficiently exhausted what I could do, and had a grand time along the way. Parvati never left my side and made for a fantastic teammate.
  2. Control - The Ashtray Maze was maybe the most video-game-ass-video-game level that I’ve played in recent history, maybe ever, and really one of those gaming moments that I think will stick with me for years to come. The atmosphere established by The Oldest House and the Hiss was just the right amount of strange and creepy for me. Had it not been for some frustrating difficulty spikes and a fairly unforgiving save point system (seriously, I do not want to repeatedly clear out the same four reasonably easy sections each time before getting killed in the fifth and much harder section before a new control point…), this might have been my number one pick this year.
  3. Afterparty - When I first saw the ad for this game, on one of the PC services, I immediately thought it would be a fun game. Then, I saw it would be launching on Game Pass, so I knew I would grab it right at release to try it out - and, as it turns out, play through it fully and have one… hell… of a good time with it. The humor and jokes landed well with me, making this a really fun adventure.
  4. Grindstone - I continue paying my monthly Grindstone Subscription Fee (AKA Apple Arcade) to maintain access. Without the typical annoying and progress-blocking micro-transaction litter that a game like this might otherwise have, this is simply great, time-sucking fun. As I have seen others state, it would be great if this were just an outright $5 or $10 purchase - but I kind of appreciate that while I am roped into a monthly fee to continue enjoying this great title, I’ve also gotten to check out a few other Apple Arcade titles that I’ve enjoyed but maybe wouldn’t have purchased to try.
  5. Crackdown 3 - I bounced off of this game fairly quickly after it came out, but returned to it later in the year to spend a lot of time with this title. It’s like a warm blanket of destructive fun, and I will absolutely forget and abandon whatever I was trying to do when I spot an orb somewhere. With the story completed, now this is a a mess-around orb scavenger hunt, and I still get a good amount of fun from that.
  6. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare - Not much for multiplayer content, this title is here for the campaign and the return of beloved characters. I've fallen off of the CoD games in recent years, especially when it went multiplayer-only (which I understand, it just isn't for me). I'm glad I came back for this release. I won't get the value that others do out of the multiplayer, but I got what I wanted from it.
  7. Gears 5 - I Loved, Loved, Loved Gears of War 1-3 last generation, and then didn't much enjoy, and never finished, Gears Judgement and fell away from the series. I had missed Gears of War 4 on it's release, so I played through it this year before starting into Gears 5, and so here I am back on the Cole Train!... I mean, the Gears Train.
  8. Torchlight 2 - I played this when it released on PC, but didn’t stick with it. I completed the original Torchlight on console and now that this sequel is out on console, I find myself drawn back into the music and the easy and addictive isometric action rpg gameplay.
  9. Sayonara Wild Hearts - Beautiful. Unlike Grindstone, my go-to phone game currently, I played Sayonara Wild Hearts with an Xbox One controller on an Apple TV. What a great game to experience. It might not have been the same with tap controls on a tiny mobile device (or maybe it is?), so I very much enjoyed the expanded platform that Apple is making available here.
  10. Pandemic: The Board Game - I don’t necessarily want this to be my #10, but I keep coming back to it, so if I’m honest with myself, I think this is what lands here. Pandemic is such an amazing board game, that I’ve also enjoyed on a tablet, and now find myself playing on console even when I have much ‘better’ games to fire up…
  11. Untitled Goose Game - Honk. I completed two levels and look forward to more play. This gets an honorable mention.
  12. Outer Wilds - I’m a few hours (and many, many respawns) into this title. From other’s reviews, I feel like perhaps I am not yet at the “OMG WTF Best Game Evaaaar” that some other folks seem to have reached with this title. Perhaps if I’d have spent more time with this title, it could be (much?) higher on my list? Another honorable mention.
  13. Forza 4 Horizons LEGO Speed Champions - Forza Horizons, great. LEGO, great. Combined? Yeah… not entirely unexpected that this is great fun. My last 2019 mention.

Actual best game of 2019:
Marvel's Spiderman - For whatever reason, I played only a bit of this game back in 2018, enough (I thought, at the time), to get a feel for it, but I bounced off of it pretty quickly and had not returned. Picking it back up early in the year, I deleted my previous save and started anew… and the more I played, the more I fell in love, ultimately finishing about 2 1/2 full playthroughs, all of the DLC, 100% completion on everything and obtaining my first ever Platinum trophy.


Runner-up for my 2018 game of 2019:
Detroit: Become Human - This game sucked me in right from the title screen, when Chloe helped me with my settings. I actually didn't even mean to start playing it, I was opening several titles to put them 'on deck' for later (Sony, give me a better way...), and ended up playing through the first chapter and then sticking with it from there. I really, really enjoyed the narrative in this story. I’d tried Heavy Rain years ago and the ‘gameplay’ didn’t land for me enough to stick around for the story. I’m glad I stuck if out for Detroit. Corny at times, sure, but overall greatly enjoyable.

Best last console generation game of 2019:
Catherine - Misunderstanding that the 2019 Catherine: Full Body would be a full sequel to 2011’s Catherine, and having really enjoyed but never finished that game, I returned to it in order to try to finish it ahead of the ‘sequel’ (had I realized the reality, perhaps I’d have waited). I had left off on some level on floor 4/5/6, somewhere that I had become stuck and a bit frustrated years back. Resuming my save, now playing as a backwards-compatible title, I don't know what I was really stuck on, and I not only finished the game, but then proceeded to replay an entire new play through and several additional completions from check points, in order to see and enjoy several of the game’s multiple endings. My original play through, I was a pretty good guy (considering…), but my second full play through I was intentionally a full-on cheating, lying scumbag, and I thought that made for the most entertaining of the several (but not all) endings I saw.

Runner-up for old games I played in 2019:
Rare Replay - I’m just as bad at RC Pro-Am now as I was on the NES, but it sure didn’t stop me from spending some time on this and several other old titles, many of which I’d never played previously.

Best Service
Game Pass - I really just wanted a chance to note how I’ve gotten much more than my money’s worth out of this subscription. I hope Microsoft continues the day one releases for first-party titles, a huge benefit with the growing list of studios. I also hope this is very financially viable for all the studio's games that are on the service, so that this model is sustainable in the long-term.

Runner-up for shit I pay for what gives me more games than I can play:
Apple Arcade - a few true gems and some otherwise enjoyable distractions so far


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Nov 1, 2019
97
2019 was pretty good, I liked it more than 2018 at least even if there's no number 1 with a bullet.

Ideally I'd like to have played a few other games before voting (I hear base PS4 runs Control like booty, Death Stranding is too divisive for me to currently want to spend £50 and an equal amount of hours of gameplay on, I started Outer Wilds (and Worlds) on Game Pass only for my brother to get FIFA RAGE and the controller went splat) but I played more than enough to clog up the honourable mentions, speaking of which...


Honourable Mentions

Ring Fit Adventure
: 2019 saw me lose my hard earned free gym access after the whole leisure centre closed for a complete refurbishment, I lamented the loss of my local pool but I’d be lying if I said I was gonna miss the gym, it bores me to tears.
Thus lazy Owl returned instead of just starting a membership elsewhere, and this is where ring fit adventure eventually comes in to pick my arse back up.
It’s still early days and oh god, I’m out of shape, but immediately the gamification of exercise makes this an easier pill to swallow, a fascinating blend of runner and turn based battling antics infused with actual exercise.
One that’s impossible for me to blast through by the deadline, you wont be seeing this on awesome games done quick….actually I should never doubt speedrunners.

Shovel Knight King of Cards: After over 5 years the Shovel Knight saga finally ends, with a pompous mama’s boy out to be the very best at a collectable card game, truly the most grandiose send off.
This pirouetting platformer highlights more of Yacht Club’s stellar game design, albeit feeling a bit too familiar on the whole.
In one of my favourite analogies of the year courtesy of USGamer’s review, it’s basically Marge Simpson’s chanel suit in video game form

Crash Team Racing Nitro Fueled: A warts and all remake of a classic kart racer that elevates itself further not just through the expected visual upgrade but much more so through a clear appreciation for the franchise that has gradually led to the EVERYONE IS HERE of Crash Bandicoot, right down to lovingly bringing back some straight up abominations only a mother could love (looking at you Nitro Kart cast).

Yoshi’s Crafted World: As a creative endeavour from Good Feel, this surpasses Woolly World with some of the best (and oddly underrated) visuals of the year, as a platformer it’s not quite as strong as WW but still a pleasing 2D collectathon. A true example of a game made lesser by music seeking to undo all the other strengths, our ears all feel the loss of Tomiya

Apex Legends: The best battle royale game out there with one fatal flaw, it’s still a battle royale game.

Baba is You: Baba is Smart, Owl is Dumb, Enjoyment is Varied.

Pre-show over, time for the main event...

10. Astral Chain



Platinum may be masters of action combat, but I ain’t gonna lie, I’ve been growing fatigued with their games often feeling like they draw from the same design doc, a lot of spins on that Bayonetta formula to a saturation point.
And this is where Astral Chain enters as an oddity, it scrawls a new approach to combat on rough paper and much like my GotY writeup it can be a bit of a mess. It’s a well intended mess though, like the creative whose work gets done in a room of seemingly scattered papers in dire need of a clean, it’s actually well organised chaos.


An action game where your character can’t jump outside of a very particular combat input, where you effectively control two characters at once with the simplistic on paper human and a more automated cyborg stand thing that will do its own thing with a bit of guidance, a scoring system that simply asks for you to do ALL the things and isn’t too fussed about how much you get beaten up in the process. All at a villainous 30FPS, which is the final straw for a fair amount of action game faithfuls. Despite working against so many classic genre conventions (a number of which being what propelled platinum to the top of the genre in the first place), it does in fact pan out to something that’s fresh and actually worth playing.

Astral Chain is trying with actual level design between combat albeit with some finicky chain jumping and the ultimate in Zelda lite that is pushing blocks and shooting switches. Astral Chain is trying with its presentation and plot, a derivative anime mess with stock characters and a lead utterly boring even among other silent counterparts. And of course Astral Chain is trying to shake up the genre’s combat, with a kitchen sink approach that can go from way too easy to stunlock city, where you can feel like the ultimate stylish cybercop one moment and then a fumbly jumbly rookie scrambling through defensive options the next.

So I guess what I’m saying is that I really like what Platinum tried here, but it’s gonna need a much more refined round 2 to match the wonderful 101 realise the potential it has in place. Still I can’t ignore a game that would go from dunking cans in the trash and balancing comically oversized ice cream cones in the name of the law one moment to balls out combat the next where you can counter foes by making a damn trip hazard with the chain.



9. Devil May Cry V



The design doc for DMCV surely reads that it was designed for the series most ardent fans, with all the good and bad parts of that approach. Let me try to explain from the perspective of someone who despite playing most of the series, considers himself just a passing fan of DMC

DMCV is a complex stylish combat simulator, one that sprinkles the game’s often circular brawling arenas into some intentionally inoffensive level design because it’s afraid that it might end up having players knock giant beyblades down cathedral corridors again, so it’s best to just not try.

Said stages are strung together via a narrative that reads like DMC fan fiction, where pretty much everything is just set up to build towards an excuse to bring back THAT GUY, and it’s all punctuated with humorously juvenile dialogue and smokin’ sexy style action scenes that astonishingly aren’t far off from what you can actually do in gameplay.

The depth of Dante’s combat is like the mariana trench, I personally can’t take the pressure and am more at home at Nero’s level of gimmicked robo arms. Despite the game’s overall commitment to being a safe fan pleasing course correction after that whole Ninja Theory DmC kerfuffle, there’s one new aspect that quietly shakes things up in the corner.
Enter V, a more passive combatant who approaches combat by summoning his trio of familiars while reading poetry. What starts as seemingly spammy and unresponsive becomes a rather rhythmic and thoughtful spin on the genre, one that I hope will return in some form or another.

What DMCV lacks in delivering an epic adventure, it makes up for in being the genre’s equivalent of dropping into a fighting game’s training mode and theory crafting insane stylish shenanigans, not because you need to, but simply because you can.


8. Sayonara Wild Hearts



Sayanora Wild Hearts is akin to an autorunner for the senses, often described like an interactive set of music videos, I feel that while quite on point, that description might undersell how frantic and insane things can get here.

SWH is the character action game of runners, it’s a neon drenched ride by the seat of your pants through energetic pop themes blaring out earworms, its both a meditation on heartbreak and an empowering road to recovery delivered with motorbike chases, shmup like segments and as many other twists it can fit into such a simple style of gameplay without ever slowing down.

Few games can do what this one does in its short and to the point run time, it’s far from the deepest game out there but it’s not suffering for it either, approaching exactly what it wants to do and executing it with all the swagger of a girl whose got her groove back.


7. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night



IGAvania has been dead since 2008’s Game of the Year Order of Ecclesia, in the past decade or so the indie devs rose en masse to try and carve their title’s names in the hallowed grounds of Metroidvania legend alongside the likes of Super Metroid and Castlevania Symphony of the Night.
Some succeeded, some fell short and now in the wake of new legends, can IGA and co reclaim the throne with a new castlevania in all but name?

The answer is….No!

Wait, come back! it’s still great fun!

As one plays through Bloodstained you realise the kickstarter was simply setting out to deliver EXACTLY what had been missing all these years, elements of nearly every previous vania game under IGA find their way in here, thrown into a blender with a ton of kickstarter money and went all over the place (see, this is the metaphorical stand in for development hell) and eventually we got a tall glass of frothy “I can’t believe it’s not Castlevania!” that looks a bit rough from certain angles, but you’ll likely gulp this down with the quickness, quenching a thirst that only IGA’s style of game can.

It’s the endorphin rush of 2D exploration where everything you do seems to continually contribute to some sense of growth, the gameplay is a never ending infinite loop of progress designed to light up receptors in the brain. Gradually breaking the game’s balance as you pool together a combo of ridiculous skills and look damn good In the process by unlocking further makeover options via a demonic barber.

Its tributes to Symphony of the Night border on excessive, the biggest castle yet is something of a hodgepodge of occasionally disparate areas (which architect put the japanese rock garden up next to the cathedral bell towers?) and reaching some of them can require some right fumbling around. Simultaneously though sometimes you just want to bask in its excess, it’s truly the symphony successor in its kitchen sink approach to design. Input fighting game motions and see what random move flies out, listen to repeated quips when activating abilities and laugh at some of the silly monster death groans, yes I have missed this very much. There’s no doubt in my mind that they knew exactly what they were doing here, when being excellently derivative is the plan all along. This puts a ceiling on the game as a result, but I devoured it all faster than any other game this year, even when the game was basically broken.


6. Luigi's Mansion 3



I really feel like I could wrap up my thoughts on this game by just saying “it’s all the good parts of Luigi’s Mansion 2 minus that games very noticeable bad parts and then with more good parts including top tier animation, the end”.

Yeah, that actually works well, probably the most well rounded game I played this year.

Charles Martinet’s finest hour as he gibbers his way through the hotel host to everything, from fine dining and a spa to an egyptian suite complete with death trap pyramid and a medievil dungeon, shit, no wonder this place is full of ghosts, you’d get off at the wrong floor and DIE.


5. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice



Shadows die a lot more than twice, I can tell you that right now. No game this year put me through the ringer quite like Sekiro, just when you thought you knew the answers to From Software’s combat approach, Sekiro changes the questions.

The classic Souls panic rolling is now replaced by on and off block mashing, standing your ground as the posture bare threateningly fills, as the Wolf’s heels try to maintain digging into solid ground as each clash of steel shifts you back. The balanced base of approaching Sekiro’s combat is this tug of war between offence and defence, chipping in that extra cut of damage when possible and trying to offset your foes posture whilst maintaining your own.

Bog standard mooks crumble satisfyingly to sword swinging pressure or one well timed parry, allowing the player to approach the simplest of foes in a way that makes you look all the part of a classic media samurai that effortlessly dispatches a small group in just a few fatal moves.

Of course From Software aren’t about to let the game play out like this throughout, it’s not long before titled soldiers clad in more robust armour, wielding more varied weapons and applying complex patterns show up to bring the player back down to earth (Ps: up yours seven spears!). Sekiro operates heavily on this back and forth throughout, there’s always something new just around the corner who will pile the pressure back on when you think you’ve got it all figured out.

Then the bosses roll in and it’s like punch out with samurai swords as you try to make immediate reactions to every twitch with the right counterplay, it can be exhausting in a way that even makes Souls games wince, but that high when you get the shinobi execution, I feel like I went from baka gaijin to glorious nippon warrior.

Oh and this game has JUMPING, which sounds terrifying after five From games of cumbersome “jump” rolls, but it’s actually solid with that right mix of ledge snapping and grapple points without being an automated free run button mess, I only wish they took this further.

In the end I did find Sekiro’s world to falter a bit, it starts expanding massively mid game and my mind reeled at the possibilities of where my exploration could lead, only to effectively lead to a bunch of dead ends and ultimately lead to a lot of (clever) previous area resuse that would make the 3D Mario team wipe tears of approval from their eyes.

That and I’d missed an entire boss and jumped ahead through three whole areas, whoops, though that’s also testament to the freedom on offer.


4. Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair



The interquel I never knew I wanted, the game that retroactively bridges Rare’s DKC3 to Retro’s DKCR, via Playtonic’s off brand Banjo.

On a surface level, the surprise return of the divisive duo looks like Diet Tropical Freeze (wow, that really sounds like an actual beverage), dig a little deeper though and there’s a 2D platformer striving to find innovative ways to have a classic run and jump outing stand out in the modern day.
The core of the game is rock solid DKC style gameplay, what puts it above being just a safe retread though is a host of small features that bolster that core experience.

Y-L brings the hub concept to a 2D platformer via a surprisingly fleshed out Overworld of light puzzle exploration, allowing the series Banjo inspired roots to continue growing in the downtime between stages. In turn the overworld can affect platforming stages in fun ways leading to some of the smartest asset reuse that doubles the amount of stages in inventive ways, flood a stage, freeze a stage, reverse a stage, prop a horizontal stage up vertically, pull the entire ground out of a stage, point is Playtonic find ways to shake things up.

To hold myself back from going full review here I’ll smash through the next two hooks, the unlockable tonics that allow loadouts of both difficulty modifiers and silly effects of yesteryears cheat codes, alongside the game’s finale being available from the start in a Breath of the Wild esque approach to gearing up for the immediately available endgame, these things alongside stellar level design push the game well up past the wall its predecessor ran slap bang into.
Everything feeds into a loop not often seen in a platformer, nothing feels out of place and even the equivalent to coins are actually worth something.

The impossible lair itself is a bold decision, difficulty in platformers is nothing new, especially these days, but where other modern outings will ask the player to keep at it with instant respawns for room by room spiky reaction tests, the lair asks that you prepare yourself for the long haul, it tests your endurance in a more classic manner and that’s so much more interesting to me. Even weighing the odds as much in your favour as possible it’s still a challenge but a fair one, I’m hard pressed to think of a better final exam stage in a game from 2019, not everyone is allowed to pass without putting in the proper work!


3. Super Mario Maker 2



I wasn’t expecting a life lesson from SMM2, that lesson being that sometimes you should just throw a creative concept or idea out there even if you’re not convinced yourself and see what the public think instead of just leaving it on the metaphorical shelf.

Such is the tale of Super Castlevania Bros, a stage I made that I almost didn’t finish let alone upload, a stage that still gets plays every day after it blew up on release weekend.
I don’t consider it my best creation, I’m still haunted that my “staircase to Dracula” goes right instead of left (some vania fan out there reached this part of my stage and was DISGUSTED I bet, unless they love bloodlines), but mash ups are where the money is, pop culture t-shirt sellers influenced me well.

As a sequel SMM2 is very much more of the same with a high number of cool new features creators were clamouring for, mixed with classic Nintendo oddities, limitations and a lack of any suitable game as a service setup to maintain momentum. As such it went from being an easy contender for my top spot to simply a continuation of something I already loved. As such there’s not much else to say that I didn’t say back in regards to the original.

Which I why I’m gonna take a moment to shout out to Era’s Mario Maker community. In a year that could sometimes feel overwhelmed with negative vibes be it gaming or the world we’re living in, I loved that the Era community was a positive cycle of people giving their time to play other users creations, to give feedback and I swear witnessed an increase in craft over time as a result, myself included.

While my unexpected viral stage success story was a highlight of my 2019, I also have a soft spot for an Era user asking me directly for help in how to get improve stage creation in general and across the three stages they sent me for feedback on I saw the evolution in their understanding and skill at level building first hand and feeling like I’d actually helped.

So there’s my sappy shoutout, not a thread of tearing each other down but building each other up, indeed the real Super Mario Maker 2 were the friends we made along the way.


2. Fire Emblem: Three Houses



The real story of Fire Emblem is often less about the immediate plotline and more about the characters and where your choices send them, be it who they bond with, who gets left permadead in a mud puddle somewhere, and now in this case also which house you choose, sorting hat not required, just a moment of extended choice paralysis.

People talk about their favourite RPG parties and the more I think about it, The Black Eagles are my people.
I relate far too much to sleepy boy Lindhardt and the overly anxious Bernie Bear, some of their dialogue cracking me up with the painful truths of being introverted, all delivered with top notch voice acting across the board that really brings the cast to life.

A second run with the Blue Lions, an equally enjoyable group that come across more like a dysfunctional family, revealed that indeed the level of character writing is strong across all routes, but let’s face it, you never forget your first...*ahem*

Three House’s cast elevates a solid SRPG to being something more, I haven’t had this much fun with a cast of misfits in ages, the perfect blend of reliable tropes on the surface and a hidden depth within. Which perfectly lines up with the game’s increased focus on how actions and activities out of battle still effect their skills, a mechanism that makes the preparation before battle just as much a game as the battles themselves.

Three Houses may have eyes bigger than its stomach, trying to cram in four routes and a persona like blend of social downtime systems on top of the standard FE game. As such it’s a bit uneven, spread thin in some ways, a bit rushed in others, yet at no point did this ever eat away at my enjoyment. The effort in this game shines past the dated visuals and oft repeated cutscene animations, so much so that I managed two routes and about 80 hours of game time before the year ended and you better believe I’ll be back for more.

I tactically rolled carts of explosives into monstrous machinations, got to perfect my teatime etiquette, had my back against the wall in nail-biting standoffs and dragged an edgelord to choir just to relish in his reaction, just Fire Emblem things.


1. Resident Evil 2



Back in the late nineties, the shambling zombies of Resident Evil were peak videogame horror, their CD audio groans and grotesque blocky forms would have me avert my eyes from the screen.
Classic zombies fell out of vogue, to be replaced by sprinting and screeching hordes and even Resident Evil itself started looking elsewhere, while off to a strong start with the moody denizens of “not spain”, standards began to slip with mutated soldiers and varieties of humanoid ooze n’ mould.
Now we’ve come back full circle, shuffling undead attempting to grab the player with the finesse of a scooby doo villain occupy the refurbished halls of Resident Evil 2’s Police Station, and somehow Capcom has ironically breathed new life into the shuffling corpses.

Rising from the dead just once is so two decades ago, now to my surprise these possum playing carcasses might just still be clinging on to whatever their equivalent of life is and popping up for round 2, truly beating Sekiro to the punch eh? All of a sudden everything I thought I knew about Resi’s zombies was called into question, just how clear was this corridor? Is that wailing behind me a newcomer to the fray or actually the portly zombie I blindsided by the vending machine? Between this, the chap banging on the window and the knowledge that doors were no longer loading screen saviours, the classic zombie archetype Resi built itself upon felt refreshed, tension would remain as I roamed the halls of the station.

Over time you learn that the classic “just shoot them in the head” approach isn’t as reliable as it used to be, blasting off limbs is a valid ammo saving tactic for when it takes too much ammo to burst the melon.
And then once you start getting comfortable again, an invulnerable mountain of trenchcoat clad tyrant muscle starts stomping around the place leading to the most intense game of tag delivered with painful lariats, you know you’ve reached peak Resi when you’re juking this guy around a library in order to shift bookcases to construct a makeshift path because nothing can ever be simple in this series, but it can usually be solved by ornate medallions for some reason.

Resident Evil 2 never quite escapes the series consistent downward trend inevitably culminating in a lategame lab, one wonders how a Resident Evil game would play out if the obligatory lab came first? Unthinkable! Though in fairness to Resi 2, this entry holds its ground through sewers and research laboratories stronger than most, one day they’ll stick the landing fully but once more the game’s true heights lie in its main central area.

This is where you become intimate with the level design, where you piece together game logic clues scattered about by police staff that have a lot of time on their hands to make diary entries about locks and keys (disappointingly though I swear there was a lack of the original game’s diary of increasingly zombification, you know where that one guy is always like “ugh Phil came in coughing on me today, he should take a day off” and leads to the logical conclusion of scrawling “braaaaains” before stowing the book away).

This is one of the best kind of remakes in that it takes a classic but chooses to do something different with the base meaning that instead of attempting to replace it, we are instead left with two great takes on Resident Evil 2 worth your time, and you can’t go wrong with either.



Now for the parser, the list with an obligatory sentence, this time the theme is Owl's dirty secrets

  1. Resident Evil 2 - I tried a hardcore run last weekend and died in the first Zombie filled area of the police station before saving, instantly turned the game off in shame.
  2. Fire Emblem: Three Houses - Lorenz is a good character, and his support with Ferdinand bonding over tea is majestic.
  3. Super Mario Maker 2 - I make lots of autoscrollers and water stages, sometimes together, people are lured in with my castlevania stage only to get hit with the dreaded duo
  4. Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair - Going in I was arguably more hyped for David Wise than the game itself
  5. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice - My first ending was the bad ending because I can't deny a man named *redacted*
  6. Luigi's Mansion 3 - I basically just threw this on the list to fill a gap I had
  7. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night - I think kickstarter stretch goal 8 bit game was actually better than the main course
  8. Sayonara Wild Hearts - I don't fully understand what's going on, but I'll pretend I do!
  9. Devil May Cry V - I laughed at Nico's dialogue more than I care to admit, also everyone is cooler than Dante.
  10. Astral Chain - I absolutely yell ORAORAORA when using the Arm legions rapid punch


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Please change Devil May Cry V to Devil May Cry 5 or it won't count.
 

Nbz

Member
Oct 26, 2017
226
UK
Alright here we go

  1. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night - The most fun I had playing a game this year. Pure Castlevania bliss.
  2. Slay The Spire - One of the most brilliantly designed games I've ever played. I don't like card games or rogue likes but this thing is damn near perfect
  3. Fire Emblem: Three Houses - I'm a huge Fire Emblem fan and this game delivered in ways the series never has. The best story and characters we've had
  4. Apex Legends - Battle Royales are another thing I'm not into, but Respawn are incredible and made one of the best shooters of the year
  5. Luigi's Mansion 3 - A level up in every way for the series. Just a charming delightful little game, that surprised me constantly
  6. Devil May Cry 5 - Pure action bliss. Using Dante's motorcycles was the coolest thing I've done in a game all year
  7. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order - They made a good Star Wars game thank god
  8. Katana Zero - This game goes above and beyond what you expect, some of the best pixel art I've ever seen
  9. Gears 5 - My biggest surprise of the year. I've never cared for Gears, but this game made me
  10. Pokémon Sword and Shield - I've not felt joy like this since Pokemon Blue. Seeing something like Toxtricity for the first time was truly....electric.

Hopefully that worked! Roll on 2020!


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ghibli99

Member
Oct 27, 2017
6,375
USA
  1. Outer Wilds - A game that really made me slow down and think differently about how I approach modern video games. When it was over, I knew I'd played something truly special, with a memorable story, gameplay that taps into our desire as humans to explore and discover, and a soundtrack to rival most.
  2. Control - The first Remedy game I've ever finished, and I finished it two more times after that. Fun combat, exploration, atmosphere, and "that part" goes down as one of the most memorable set pieces of this generation.
  3. Death Stranding - A game I thought I would hate, but I ended up falling in love with its world, characters, and gameplay loop.
  4. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice - Excellent bosses and atmosphere, some great surprises, and some of the most intense fights of any of the FromSoft titles.
  5. Slay the Spire - Endlessly replayable, meaningful updates, addictive, I loved this despite not favoring deckbuilders.
  6. Sayonara Wild Hearts - One of the best soundtracks of the year, fun gameplay, awesome end-to-end experience.
  7. A Short Hike - Beautiful graphics, great soundtrack, very positive vibe, great controls, short but sweet.
  8. The Touryst - Runs so good on Switch, perfect length, hopefully Shin'en does a Touryst 2.
  9. Deltarune: Episode 1 - Played on Switch, which released in 2019. Wonderful follow-up to Undertale. Hopefully we get more!
  10. Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age - Played on Switch, which released in 2019. Loved Balthier, speed/QoL changes were welcome, Gambit system was fun, but story and most characters were half-baked.


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Oct 27, 2017
513
  1. Gears 5 - Gears of War 4 was okay but with Gears 5, The Coalition stepped up everything. Characters like JD and Del were given depth and commentary, while Kait proved to be a fantastic new protagonist. The open sections were fantastic, the story beats actually addressing some long-running questions was well-appreciated, while getting to see wild new environments and weather across Sera was nice. There's also lots of new RPG-lite mechanics introduced while the core never loses the best of the spirit of Gears. That's all just the campaign, factoring in Horde, Escape and the expanding multiplayer modes, It's simply everything I could've wanted.
  2. Metro Exodus - This is a slow, methodical game that takes its time and allows you to enjoy the scenery in between fierce firefights with marauders or mutated wildlife. Intricate, meaningful gun customization on the fly and everything feels so mechanical, like it really is just barely cobbled together. One of my favorite moments is simply when Artyom and Anya take a moment to rest together. Reflection, not destruction, has always been the message of the Metro games and it carries through in spades here. It's a surprisingly intimate, gorgeous journey.
  3. A Plague Tale: Innocence - This one really took me by surprise. While I thought the concept was interesting when it was first announced years ago, Asobo managed to capture an incredible experience that completely blew me away. A game with unrelenting, brutal pacing that makes appreciate what precious few calm moments you can get away from the gnawing hordes of rats. The story of Hugo and Amicia is one of medieval horror, tragedy and slivers of hope, and it's one of my favorite games of the year.
  4. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice - Good lord this is a difficult game. Even having gone through past FromSoftware titles, I really wasn't prepared. The final boss fight took hours to beat and demands sheer perfection. Still, it's a game that I loved and one I'll remember, even if has no multiplayer and doesn't end up getting and DLC. The setting and increased attention given to the story were awesome, the parry-focused combat felt fantastic and the and adaptability of the Prosthetic provided much-needed changes to the formula. Zipping across rooftops was awesome and I hope some of that design carries over into Elden Ring.
  5. Resident Evil 2 - I never played the original RE2, so having experienced that story for the first time was incredible. From the first few minutes it grabs your attention and never lets go. Meeting Mr X. for the first time was one of the most stand-out moments of the entire year and I loved replaying it and seeing things from Claire's perspective after initially going in as Leon. This is the new standard for remakes.
  6. Control - Magnificent art direction and the Ashtray Maze is every bit as incredible as people said it would be. Remedy did an awesome job with this. The story is a little collectible heavy but if you don't mind reading, you'll find a fascinating world within the Oldest House.
  7. Monster Hunter World: Iceborne - A serious time sink but Capcom delivered an expansion that rivals the base game. Fantastic challenging new beasts to hunt and I absolutely adore the winter-themed location.
  8. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order - Fallen Order absolutely nailed lightsaber combat and what it means to command the Force in a game. I grew to like Cal, as well as the rest of the cast, especially the Second Sister hunting him down. It was also really nice to finally get a great Star Wars game out the gate (Battlefront II is good now) after several rough past few years. The best part of the story was how *connected* it felt, unashamedly embracing and entwining with stuff from Episode III and the Clone Wars show. With that said, the map was iffy and backtracking across massive levels wasn't enjoyable, especially combined with some rough technical stuff. A bit of polish and this might've been my GOTY.
  9. Fire Emblem: Three Houses - While I'm completely new to the series, the turn-based strategy was great and I enjoyed the different paths and the twists and turns the narrative takes. I also really like the art style and the characters were almost all interesting, though Byleth should've been voiced.
  10. The Outer Worlds - While The Outer Worlds doesn't do a ton of "new" things per se, it takes some of my favorite elements from games like Fallout: New Vegas and Mass Effect, combining them into a compact story (for an RPG) that has meaningful dialogue and skills that actually matter. It's basically "Comfort food, the RPG."


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MaitreWakou

Avenger
May 15, 2018
6,173
Toulouse, France
  1. Fire Emblem: Three Houses - The most customizable Fire Emblem yet. Being your soldiers' teacher, you basically turn them into whatever you want. Annette is supposed to be a mage ? Well if you want to turn her into a warrior in armor who fights with an axe, you actually can. The characters are (well, 95% of the cast) loveable, and so much well written that, no matter which road you're following... Each one basically has good reasons to be in any given house ? The game becomes so much replayable, even beyond the 4 routes. What if, this time I did the Edelgard route, but with Felix and Lysithea in our house ? There's so many options, so many possibilities... And in the endgame, when you finally meet the students from the other houses, this time for a fight to death, the game becomes a beautiful tragedy.
  2. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice - From Software once again craft a beautiful, precise and focused game. Very very close to the Souls games in its concept, mechanically, it's pretty much an action game based on rythm. The feeling when the swords clash is unmatched. Once the game clicks, once you understand its rythm, once you finally get to overcome it's awful (I dare to say it) difficulty gate around the beginning, it becomes magical. And once you actually think you'll just fight a bunch of samurais and ninjas, From throw at you the most brutal, bestial yet graceful boss they've crafted. The Ape. My god, what a fight. (Now if From Software could give an easy mode that simply change the stats of the ennemy, making them take more damage and deal less damage to you, for the people who don't have time/skill for this shit, it would be great. I'm with you all my friends who don't have time for this shit and just want to have some dumb fun with the wonderul level design and fun sword combat.)
  3. Resident Evil 2 - After having de-constructed the serie a lot of times, dancing around what could be a Resident Evil game, from RE4 to RE7, Capcom decided for this remake to make a game that feels unique, different, but at the same time that comes back to the roots, kinda like RE7 did. It's an action game. It's a horror game. It's a strategy game. This game does a lot of things, and while being absolutely unique in its serie (third person game, camera behind the shoulder, but not an intense action game), it feels so classical. It made me think "this is how to make a modern classic Resident Evil". They nailed it. Oh, and god bless their engine and their art designers. Damn this game looks insane. Can't wait for RE3, Jill is back babyyyy.
  4. Monster Hunter World: Iceborne - Monster Hunter World is the third game in the franchise I tried. First was MH3 back on the Wii. It was a long time ago, almost 10 years ago, really don't remember, just stopped after, like 2 or 3 hours. Then I tried Generations on 3DS in 2016, with a friend. Played the whole afternoon with him, locally. After 4 hours, we looked at each others "yeaaaaah I'm bored, this is too complicated". Then I tried the MH World Beta, and holy shit this was so dumb fun. World was finally the game that made me love this crazy, dumb ass, shonen as fuck, over the top franchise. So much QOL features, finally (more) easily understandable concepts. I started Iceborne this winter expecting more of the same. What I didn't expect, was an expansion that would almost feel like a sequel. That expansion is so bold. There's so much cool and important new stuff, they could have just keep it for the sequel. The new region is incredible, the new house is wonderful, finally (totally !!!) customizable, the new features with the grappling hook is a game changer... This is so so so damn good !! Do yourself a favor, and even if you're affraid of the complexity of the serie... Try this game... It's worth it for the big ass smile it will put on your face the first time you'll chase a god damn dinosaure in the jungle with three strangers online.
  5. Pokémon Sword/Shield - This might be the most fun I ever had with Pokémon, ever ? No filler, no long ass convulted dungeon/cave/bad guy tower, no long roads with 20 trainers in line... It's fun, it's just so much fun. The arenas are the most fun they've ever been. The climax of each battle, when you and your opponent both use the dynamax, the public start to chant, the awesome soundtrack... Yeah, this game is fun. Also wonderul new Pokémons.
  6. Devil May Cry 5 - It's fun, it's crazy, it's non stop action, no filler. The three characters are all fun and different. I loved it. Kinda like RE2, DMC 5 is an ambitious, classic yet very modern, take on the serie. It's an instant masterpiece.
  7. Death Stranding - Playing this game is playing an "indie game" that obviously isn't indie at all because it has infinite ressources provided by Sony. What a hell of an experience. The physics is what makes the game imo. It's just so much fun to have too many weight on your shoulder, and to worry "will I fall ? Oh shit I think I might...". Story wise, it's kinda incredible, because it 100% follows the canon, classical, Hollywoodian scheme of a screenplay theorised by Syd Field and John Truby. But at the same time, Kojima throws at you so many weird shit, a lot of big ass obvious symbolism (which is mostly something of a post-modernism, not really something that you see in classic Hollywoodian films). In video game forums, you often read people say "Kojima wish he would direct a film, but he sucks lol" by people who have no idea what they're talking about and who have never heard of cinema's theorists. Kojima knows what he's doing, and I would be hella excited to see what his mix of classical and post modernism take would do in a film. Death Stranding is a great experience. Also Madds is... He just steals the show. He's wonderful.
  8. Astral Chain - Capcom did a classic and ambitious (yet modern) stylish action game, the same year PlatinumGames and Nintendo release this crazy, experimental take on the stylish genre. The presentation is top notch, the music, the designs, the art style, the effects, the UI... I don't know the budget of the game, but Nintendo probably gave a lot of money to PG. This is without a doubt one of the most ambitious game PlatinumGames ever did. Taura, for his first official debut as a director, didn't took the easy route. It's a weird, off the book action game : in its mission design, segmented in two parts (the exploration part, then the action part), and in its combat design based on controlling two characters (a cop and his Jojo stand). It's an ambitious, weird game, but just like Death Stranding, not for everyone, because really different to anything else on the market. Congrats Taura for this bold first game as a director.
  9. The Sims 4: Discover University - It's my favorite Sims game, Sims 4, that finally gets one of my fav Sims expansion, University. So yeah, it's a success to me. Seriously, it's one of the best one. The new roommate system is really fun. The university routine is fun and rewarding. I love it, not much else to say. Great DLC !
  10. Ring Fit Adventure - What can I say ? Nintendo EPD did it again. The mad lads did it. Once again, a bold, innovative, and out there concept that is just genius. It's fun, it understands how people can have trouble to keep up with the daily routine (it never shame you for skipping some days), it always rewards you, and only congrats you. It's very wholesome, very fun, and it's actual sport. There's nothing else to say, other than the mad lads at EPD did it again.


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King Dodongo

Member
Oct 27, 2017
1,904
Played a ton of games this year, dunno how people could say that it was a bad year. Great games.

  1. Fire Emblem: Three Houses - Surprise! My most anticipated game ended up being my most acclaimed one too. I believed in the game since the very first trailer and it paid off in spades. My favorite franchise second only to Zelda and could not be happier for its growth. Blue Lions best house.
  2. Luigi's Mansion 3 - Surprisingly, I've been enjoying this way more than I thought. Having played a bit of the first one and skipped number 2, it has become a pleasant title for me.
  3. The Ninja Saviors: Return of the Warriors - This is how remakes are done. Bravo Taito. Tons of options and new features. Would have loved new stages too lol.
  4. Yoshi's Crafted World - Even it it doesn't have such highs as Woolly World, it is a charming game full of creative worlds. The only subpar aspect was the music.
  5. Ring Fit Adventure - A fit game that actually works unlike Wii Fit.
  6. River City Girls - Beautiful sprites, music and charm. Lmao at the ending.
  7. Collection of Mana - Truly fun and yeah, Trials being easily the best of the lot. Can't wait for the remake this year.
  8. The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening - Never finished the original, now I did. Enjoyable but not the secod coming as some claim. (That title goes to Oracle of Seasons).
  9. Astral Chain - Haven't played that much. Still finding my way trough
  10. Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes - Weird game but with a lot of heart. I almost forgot that it released this year.


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--R

Member
Oct 25, 2017
4,748
I decided to make this today as I just beat the only big game I didn't had time to beat.

  1. Disco Elysium - This was the one that I was missing. And I'm so glad I waited before this list because this game was a magical experience. Probably the best writing I've seen in a videogame, ever. Well written characters, an universe that while harsh it feels alive. A well written mystery that made me marathon this game. I feel like I rushed a lot, beating it in only 12 hours, but I think I did everything I could to enjoy the game. Thank you, ZA/UM, for this game, and hopefully you'll release more content for this or, who knows, an artbook or soundtrack I'll be delighted to purchase.
  2. Death Stranding - This game was my GOTY before today, and while people were really divided on it, I thought and still think it's an amazing experience. I was hooked from the first hour, and the tight gameplay and, I gotta be honest, much improved writing of Kojima just made me wanna play and play. Musically, along with Disco Elysium, is a masterpiece. The original soundtrack is hard hitting and emotional at the same time, and the licensed music fits like a glove. Low Roar put the cherry on top of a lot of trips with Sam. And man, I gotta mention the acting. Tommie Earl Jenkins, Mads Mikkelsen, Norman Reedus, Margaret Qualley, Lea Seydoux and the voice actors of Deadman and Heartman, all of them did an amazing job and set a new bar on videogame acting.
  3. Resident Evil 2 - This is how you make remakes. I've never been really into horror games, always been a scaredy cat. But this game made me go through a genre I genuinely cannot play and have a blast. The old games never really did it for me, I never really clicked with tank controls, but this reimagining of the original RE2 clicks all the right buttons. Capcom is truly back.
  4. Devil May Cry 5 - I just said Capcom is back, but I honestly mean it. How can you not think that after releasing this gem? The king of hack n' slash. I never liked the reboot and DMC3 stood as my favorite since I played it, but goddamn if this game didn't make me change my mind. Every character truly feels different to play and there are tons of possibilities with each of them.
  5. Fire Emblem: Three Houses - I honestly wasn't expecting too much about the game before release. I honestly thought about completely skipping it. But I couldn't do it. I needed my Fire Emblem dose and I needed it bad. But I'm so glad I did because I found one of the best, if not the best, turn-based strategy game / RPG? ever. Characters that you grew to love or hate. A win for Koei Tecmo and Intelligent Systems and a win for the entire genre. God bless Three Houses.
  6. Control - Remedy's best game. It didn't click at first for me, didn't like the shooting mecanics at first and dropped it for a while. But when I got back, and I let the game carry me, I was in. An out-of-body experience from beginning to end, and when you thought you saw it all, the game spins again, leaving you defenseless against its universe.
  7. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice - Let's be honest here. It's not my favorite From game. That title is for Dark Souls 3, which I feel was and still is the roof of Soulsborne games. But this game is not a Soulsborne, it isn't trying to be one. Lots of people put it in the same category, but I feel it's wrong. It's a more precise game, a game that asks more about reflexes and stealth than patience and observation. If you're good enough, you don't have to die against a boss to know what you have to do. You just have to read their movements and parry at the exact moment to carry your sword into their weak point. And all of this in a superb feudal Japanese setting.
  8. Astral Chain - God, this game is COOL.Stylist combat on a cyberpunk universe that takes you and never lets you go. A cast of characters that are endearing. A fantastic soundtrack that fits right in with the art design. Just a great game by Platinum. Up there with their best games ever.
  9. The Outer Worlds - I wanted more from this. I wanted to see more of the universe. More of its characters. I know it's because of budget, but I don't feel like ending a game and wanting more of it it's a bad thing. Obsidian has surely come a long way from Fallout New Vegas, and while the length and depth of its older games are not quite there, the writing is, and the gameplay is wildly improved. I honestly hope they can do a bigger game with Microsoft's support. It certainly deserves it.
  10. Judgment - God bless Takuya Kimura and the Yakuza team. How are they able to pump so many solid games every year, I do not know. But this is probably one of their top works. I've been a fan of Kimutaku for a while and controlling him on a videogame is a dream come true. Kamurocho feels more real than ever and the detective parts of the game felt right at home on the virtual red light district. Bring it on with Yakuza 7, I'll be waiting with open hands.


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Andrew J

Member
Oct 26, 2017
1,273
The Adirondacks
In Dark Souls games especially, my approach at the end of the game was largely the same as it was at the beginning. I'd hold my shield up and mash the enemy whenever I'd have an opening, rinse & repeat. And if I ever really did feel stuck, I could come back later when I was more leveled up, or change my gear. In other words, I never had to "get good".

...

The defensive, Dark Souls style of play that I was still clinging to wasn't going to work anymore. I had to be aggressive. I had to respect the enemy's posture as much as its health. I had to take advantage of every opportunity to counter. I had to re-train myself to parry instead of blocking or dodging. I had to relearn everything that I thought I knew about this type of game. T
I have heard it theorized that, after seeing the defensive style that predominated in the first Dark Souls, Hidetaka Miyazaki set out to deliberately discourage that style of play in his subsequent games. (Hence, "Shields are nice, but not if they engender passivity.") Did you get that feeling?
 

Barn

Member
Oct 27, 2017
2,395
Los Angeles


  1. Fire Emblem: Three Houses - The next four games on my list, I think, stand taller as works of art than Fire Emblem: Three Houses. And yet, the next four games on my list combined didn't capture the number of hours Fire Emblem captured from me this year, even if you double those combined hours. In a game that's all about relationships, Fire Emblem wasn't just my game of the summer; it was the game of the summer for my friends, and the game of the summer for the wonderful online community that sprung up around a shared love for these characters and their own relationships. A week into 2020, summer still hasn't ended. Fire Emblem: Three Houses is a game built on emotional investment -- and every bit you invest pays emotional dividends back till you're living in a fantasy mansion of good feelings.
  2. Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes - In 2019, auteur games became a little more visible and Suda 51 auteur-ed the fuck out of Travis Strikes Again. TSA rewards my commitment to following Suda anywhere he goes, and though Travis still acts as Suda's avatar for deconstructing video games, this one may simultaneously be his most video game-y game and his most personal work. Suda games are always post-punk, but here's a post-post-post-modern thing with spirals of external reverence, self-reference and irreverence. Like most Suda works, the wrapper made the game (and DJ Abo's score was a huge part of that) but there was a nougat of balanced, experimental brawling at the center, too.
  3. Sayonara Wild Hearts - I'm gonna say "immaculate" twice on this list, and here's the first time: Sayonara Wild Hearts is immaculate. It's a gem with a perfect ratio; change one cut, and the whole thing goes off. Daniel Olsén, Jonathan Eng and Linnea Olsson made a perfect pop album in 2019, then Simogo built perfect pop art around that album. And here's to accessibility options that make games a joy to play rather than work to complete.
  4. The Friends of Ringo Ishikawa - While Suda looked back on his portfolio as an auteur, Yeo started one with a quiet, obtuse masterpiece. The Friends of Ringo Ishikawa is the daydream some Russian kid had about River City Ransom, except that daydream grew up reading Salinger and watching Blue Spring. A slice of life, time and place.
  5. Kind Words (lo fi chill beats to write to) - Kind Words is a video game that is a communication app that is a light and simple mental health tool, and the unashamedly comforting inverse to the online gaming community's usual garbage. Five dollars to maybe help yourself and a few other people feel good is a very good deal, and so are Clark Aboud's lo-fi chill beats to write to.
  6. Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age - Definitive Edition - Even though Dragon Quest XI is a game from 2017, it's too monumental to exclude from my year-end list, even as a re-release (and, to be fair, it's a stupidly comprehensive re-release). It's pretty well known that Dragon Quest XI will go down in the all-time role-playing game pantheon with your Chrono Triggers and your Earthbounds, and it should -- the level of polish and care throughout is really beyond belief. For me, it's best played as a whole world full of fairy tales to be experienced one at a time, like little bed time stories. And while Dragon Quest is the best-prepared version of your favorite dish, exquisite comfort food, that doesn't stop it from inverting and playing on every trope it tells. Fuck Sugiyama, his bullshit views and his mediocre music, though.
  7. Pikuniku - Pikuniku is everything it wants to be, and doesn't stop being a pleasant experience for even a single, solitary moment. Devolver keeps on keeping things interesting for us; Sectordub's first game is excellent twee dadaism that hits back at late-stage capitalism even though it doesn't have arms, and we need that.
  8. Astral Chain - It could not be more clear how much every single person who made Astral Chain loves late 80s and early 90s Japanese anime, and I love that about it. Not since the early days of 3D gaming -- when 3D games were new and novel -- have I wanted to poke around every single little pocket of a video game world. This weird, completely realized cyberpunk manga microcosm just wholly enamored me with its demon dogs, digital rain and Kirby vending machines. The gameplay, though, is a macrocosm. There is so much dang video game here. The controls are overwhelmingly complex, the combat options are so outlandish you can remember maybe 3% of them at any given time, and the systems are grafted on top of other systems that have little systems, too. The narrative ends up being kind of a limp, soggy thud, but the game's full-on embrace of weird-o style and unapologetic action complexity is enough for me.
  9. Daemon X Machina - God bless a niche. That's where Daemon X Machina lives, and Daemon X Machina is okay living in that niche. Like Travis Strikes again, you could see the 6.5 reviews for this game coming a mile away, because this game wasn't made for the reviewers who'd give it a 6.5 -- it was made for the niche of Armored Core holdout mech lovers who want to spend hours tweaking and testing silly anime robots, grinding to psychotic butt-rock, barely understanding a nonsense quasi-spiritual narrative and slowly learning dense controls and systems until they reveal themselves to be the tools you need to crack the whole thing wide open. I don't think the developers of Daemon X Machina had any illusions about their mainstream success, so they gave themselves the freedom to pile on the strange (you can dress up as Geralt from the Witcher -- with fully licensed DLC -- and buy stat-boosting ice cream to J-pop in this game) and keep supporting their niche game. I live in that niche, too.
  10. Untitled Goose Game - Here's the second "immaculate": Speaking solely in terms of visuals, Untitled Goose Game is immaculate. There's not a single flaw to behold in its art direction, full stop. Beyond that gloss, it's a wondrous tiny garden of joyful stupid. This whole situation went viral for good reason, and making it go viral on your couch with your maybe drunk friends is even better.
  11. The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening - Speaking of wondrous tiny gardens and immaculate games, that's why this is here. Because Link's Awakening is still an impeccable game design document hidden inside a digital Twin Peaks zen garden. And now it's really, really pretty, and sounds really, really good.
  12. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night - Bloodstained ain't fixing what ain't broke. It just fills the hole in the specific little subgenre that Koji Igarashi first jammed together to its fullness in 1997, and then left behind in 2006. It is a video game that delivers on all the promises it made with dumb abundance, and every one one of those promises is a deluxe slice of succulent video game.

Shout to Tetris 99 for barely not making my list (probably because I am balls at Tetris) but still absolutely being one of the year's highlights, and to Death Stranding, Disco Elysium, Slay the Spire, Luigi's Mansion 3, A Short Hike and Wattam for being games that maybe would have made my list if I had played them this year.


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ducktape

Banned
Oct 25, 2017
4,678
  1. Death Stranding - The most addictive game I've played since God of War (2018). I knew I'd like the game, but not like this. The more I play it, the more it becomes my game of the year. The story/writing, the setting, the soundtrack, the extremely satisfying gameplay loop, the performances (especially from Tommy Earl Jenkins), the visuals, the otherwordly enemy encounters, the way the game actually tries to discourage you from killing despite giving you weapons, the balancing physics and mechanics, the often funny social aspect, and of course... the fact that it has an incredibly well-designed open world that affects literally every step you take. The different terrains really do change everything. I also just think it's badass that Kojima went and made a game about some legendary delivery/transporter guy, while adding all this other stuff into the mix, making it a truly one of a kind experience that I can honestly say is the most unique game I've played in my life. Death Stranding is a real special moment in gaming history.
  2. Control - Like Death Stranding, this was a unique game. Before this game, Remedy hadn't made a game I loved. Control is the best game they've ever made. Really satisfying shooting, incredible art direction, unique atmosphere/storytelling, and real good exploration.
  3. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice - Not much here I could add that hasn't already been said about this game. While it's not my favorite Miyazaki game, it's still an incredible experience.
  4. Devil May Cry 5 - I had some issues with this game story-wise, setting-wise, and bosses-wise, but the combat was so good I almost forgot all about those shortcomings.
  5. Resident Evil 2 - A lot better than I was expecting. Capcom's remakes are getting better and better.


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Dec 2, 2017
3,122
  1. Planetarian: The Reverie of a Little Planet - I surprised myself with this one. A visual novel that appeared on Switch earlier this year to far too little fanfare, I wrote out my main thoughts in this thread. It's only about 4 hours long, but it was quite probably the most emotionally affecting game I've ever played. Once I finished it I knew I couldn't rightly put anything over it as my GOTY.
    It held some genuinely interesting themes about human consciousness, what it is to feel, what constitutes meaning, the nature of Heaven and the soul, the suffering and folly of war and environmental degredation, and most centrally, faith and hope. But mostly, it makes you really feel for the game's central character.

    Hearing her call out for people so longingly again and again, knowing that there's no hope for her wish for people to come join her and see what she has to share with the world to ever be fulfilled...

    "Won’t you come to the planetarium?
    The beautiful twinkling of eternity that will never fade, no matter what.
    All the stars in the sky are waiting for you."

    It's at once lovely and heartbreaking, which pretty much describes the whole thing. Absolutely recommended.



  2. Fire Emblem: Three Houses - The production on this game is incredible. It's mind-boggling how much story there is in this tiny cart. You choose one of three teams to play as; it's possible with some effort to win characters from the other factions over to your side, and the developers actually put the time in to have multiple cut scene conversations between every possible combination of characters as you build rapport between the two of them, even though it's highly unlikely that any player will ever see all or even most of them. The battles are mostly extremely easy and watered down compared to older games in the series if you're keeping your party levelled through side missions. But they still manage to be satisfying through seeing your favourites grow and evolve through multiple levels of class change until their armour hits max anime with all of the senseless shoulder bits you can imagine. The animations become pretty impressive as you gain more power as well. The story itself is actually pretty great, throwing constant curves and surprises at you. some of which are telegraphed, some not. Many characters appear one-note, but through getting to know them reveal surprising depth and will even occasionally shock you with some of the things they say. Overall, it's one of the more addictive jrpgs I've played, and certainly one of the most impressive. It will very likely go down as an all-time classic and one of the Switch's defining games.
  3. Shenmue 3 - Another game that I wish I had time to finish before voting closes, as I can see it rising higher on this list. I waited 20 years for this game, and as a fan it's generally providing what I wanted from it so far. But mostly, I want to reward it simply for existing. That in and of itself is a triumph worthy of inclusion imo.
  4. SaGa: Scarlet Grace: Ambitions - A very late entry, I didn't even get it until Boxing Day. Positive word of mouth put me over the edge, and I can vouch for it. The game is exceedingly well thought out, it's aimed squarely at...well, people who grew up on Square rpgs. It plays with your expectations of how systems and world engagement should work, with a ton of complexity under the hood. It's strictly for the hardcore. But those that stick with it will find a world with tons to find, and a battle system that continually surprises you with new and unexpected angles and twists if you're digging deep. People in the OT are continually posting things I never even thought of. Overall I can't quite put it over Fire Emblem as rpg of the year simply due to how completely Three Houses sucked me in for entire days of my life. But in my estimation, this is the best rpg Square have put out since Final Fantasy XII. Something jrpg enthusiasts looking for something fresh should absolutely check out.
  5. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice - I was actually going to initially have it as my #1, but it broke me. Not permanently, I like it and I will be back. I know I can do it, I ultimately don't think it's tougher than the Ninja Gaiden series (NES on down). But it's a test of will and I need to come back stronger. This is one of the very best ninja games ever made, they really nailed the feeling of swordfighting. It's surprising, but it's taken this long for somebody to really do it. I would welcome a sequel that has you attack & guarding at multiple levels, that's the next evolution here. I can't pass final judgement on it yet, but it's making a case for being From's best game.
  6. Eliza - A short but fascinating visual novel about the developer of a mental health counselling AI coming to terms with what she's created, how it will be used, and where's she's going to go in the middle of all of this. It's really well written, all of the characters feel very much like real people with real people problems. Ultimately it's abut depression, finding yourself, and coming to grips with the dehumanization and isolation of the modern world. It will definitely make you think. Worth checking out.
  7. Castlevania Anniversary Collection - This feels like cheating, but the rules say any playable content released in 2019 so here it is. This collection underlines that these are some of the very best action games ever created. The core gameplay still holds up even three decades later; you can see how much influence it had on Dark Souls. Once I started, I played through all the games on the collection obsessively until I had (almost) every trophy. One of the best buys in gaming right now.
  8. Destiny 2: Shadowkeep - It wasn't actually that amazing an update all things considered, but the core game is so good that it still kept me more interested than 99% of things released this year.
  9. AI: The Somnium Files - The latest from Kotaro Uchikoshi, the man behind 999 & Virtue's Last Reward. Surprising visual quality and a cool pulpy feel mixed with bursts of psychedelic dreams provide a compelling package.
  10. Shovel Knight: King of Cards - What an incredible journey this has been. Yacht Club went out with a bang with the best chapter in their series of remarkable expansions. What's more, it miraculously gave me new content to play on my Wii U in 2020. Take that, 2013 internet!


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King Dodongo

Member
Oct 27, 2017
1,904
1. Fire Emblem: Three Houses - renewed my love for the genre. Intense, tight, and incredibly well-executed. I love this game.
2. Resident Evil 2 - in most years this wins. A near-perfect remake that's as vivid and meaningful as it could be. What an awesome return to form.
3. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night - I got hooked. After years of losing interest in the vania genre, this reignited it and came together with tons of depth and masterclass exploration.
4. Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening - great, tight remake of a game I never played. Really enjoyable romp that is a good 'in between' games game.
5. Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes - yes, it's low budget and a little thin, but it's creatively charged and has some of the most underrated combat around. It's cheap too. Go play it.
6. Baba is You - you should play this, immediately
7. Death Stranding - not far enough to put it higher. I think Kojima is a ridiculous dork and pretty lame most of the time, but this game is a pretentious hulk of art and whether or not it works (not sure yet), it sure is captivating. Eager to play more of it and try to wrangle what the hell is going on. It's a success and it could work its way up this list.
8. Astral Chain - disjointed, but occasionally exceptional. I need to pick it back up.
9. Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 - a really nice game that's GREAT for local coop.
10. Sayonara Wild Hearts - tight and fun and limited. It does what it does well and it's really well polished. 100% worth a purchase.

HM: Judgment (haven't played it), Untitled Goose Game (charming)
1. Astral Chain - Loved the game from beginning to end, the combat is what made made me fall in love with this game and the story was straight out of an anime.
2. Fire Emblem: Three Houses - Only played one route, but for me my favourite Fire Emblem game to date and can't wait to play the other routes in the future.
3. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice - Toughest Fromsoftware game for me but as always the games they create always satisfy my action and hard difficulty itch.
4. Luigi Mansion 3 - Finished the first one back when I was a child and loved it. I never did beat the 2nd one as It was too different, however Luigi Mansion 3 brings it back to its original idea and loved it as much.
5. Death Stranding - I don't how a basically walking simulator kept me entertained for hours and in the end a emotional journey.
use the numbered list feature
 
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beau_beaumont

Member
Nov 12, 2017
440
  1. Resident Evil 2 - My favorite game in the series yet, REmake 2 is a near perfect survival horror experience. Mr. X’s appearance was one of my favorite gaming moments ever.
  2. Death Stranding - A game about delivering packages sounds dull on paper, but Hideo Kojima manages to fill the game with so many new ideas that I have never experienced before. The multiplayer is pure genius, and I couldn’t stop building roads and bridges to help other players on their own journeys.
  3. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice - Although I’ve beaten all the soulsborne games, Sekiro kicked my butt during the first few hours. I took a break after I hit a wall at an early boss, but I’m glad I picked it back up, because with a little persistent, I was able to master the combat, and beating the last (and hardest) boss with a flurry of parries and counter attacks was so satisfying.


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naphy

Member
Oct 27, 2017
3
This is naphy’s 2019 list of Best Games that Involve the Growth, Gathering, Dangling and/or Consumption of Carrots or Carrot-like Root Vegetables

I have found that this is a surprisingly useful proxy for whether or not I am going to enjoy a game anyways, so all the non-carrot related games can be saved for other, less accurate, Best Of lists.

  1. Fire Emblem Three Houses – While it does have flaws it also has carrots and very appropriately corrected the shameful bug that prevented you from scritching animals at the monastery. Maybe more importantly I cared about all of my surprisingly loveable children and was so deeply traumatized by the thought of killing them on another path that I have been unable to get very far into other routes. I care about gameplay and I care about story, but what I really care about are people. Fire Emblem gave me people I could feed carrots. It wins.
  2. My Time at Portia – Don’t let the description fool you. This game may tempt you with the ability to grow layered carrots, but this is only the bait they use to lure you into the mines. You will spend a lot of time in the mines. You will occasionally emerge to make people fall in love with you, collect llama feces, and fill your house with buried sofas, not necessarily in that order. You might also build things, but that just got in the way of my realistic fighting, poop collecting, fishing simulator. This isn’t Story of Seasons or Stardew, but I enjoyed my time with the villagers of Portia and my attempt to take over the world through the infinite production of bus stops. They have a deeply lovely wiki for people who care about those things. If you are one of those people, you probably already know this. (As a quick PSA, from my understanding as a Steam player, I got the best possible experience with this game and am not speaking to the quality of the console ports.)
  3. Ring Fit Adventure – Carrot smoothies! Also, well-calibrated and organized exercise that is 100% about positivity, healthy approaches to lifestyle, and the toned, rippling abdomens of dragon men. This is a Good Game and, after years of experimenting, I think Nintendo has finally married their lifestyle exercise gaming goals with some truly Nintendo-style gameplay.
  4. Pokemon Sword/Shield - I can make curry with a pungent root in Pokemon Sword and Shield. This is obviously a carrot. Having solved that mystery, I’m still trying to solve the other mystery about why this game clicked so well for me. I genuinely, truly enjoyed the Wild Area and the way that I almost accidentally pushed through the story without making friends with 40 000 goshdarn Zubats. My life outside of gaming is full of carrots and stress and the ability to jump in for a few minutes to do a raid, poke at my Best Bird, and get back to my real life was wonderful. Also, stop leaving online on when you’re reloading raids, you animals.
  5. Sims 4: Realm of Magic – All I want for my Sims is to be able to turn my carrots into horrifying potions. This is this far down the list because they used apples rather than carrots. Since my Sims can still eat carrots while waiting for their potions, I begrudgingly accept the situation. I have waited years for spells and familiars and mac and cheese in cauldrons in my Sims 4. As a side note, the diversity and range in the characters included with this pack is even better than carrots. The fact that the magicians at EA made this a game pack rather than an expansion is obviously the result of evil sorcery and poor eyesight from a distinct lack of Vitamin Carrot. Otherwise, these later expansions are really sending Sims 4 out on a high note.
  6. Dragon Quest Builders 2 – Pros: Grow carrots and be relentlessly charmed as you build whatever your heart or the little people who need to go to the bathroom desire. This is incredibly robust in design with a surprisingly charming and heart-touching story wrapper, helped by knowledge of the alternate universe of Dragon Quest 2 it is creating. When Dragon Quest humour is at its best its like being wrapped in a warm blanket of absurdity. At its worst well… Cons: What the hell was that entire Khrumbul-Dun… You know what. It’s my own fault for leaving the island that grew all the lovely, lovely carrots.
  7. Marenian Tavern Story: Patty and the Hungry God – There are some fun Recettear x Atelier vibes for a little game that knows what to do with carrots. Eat them. The answer is always eat them. You gain levels by eating! You run a tavern powered by your god-like cooking! You gather ingredients and fight monsters for ingredients and assemble an eclectic time of surprisingly heartwarming archetypes who only want to you help escape the grips of the God of Poverty… This may be cutting a little too close to the personal carrot. This is a small game with a big heart and a low price and I would really love to see more games that aren’t Atelier tackle this kind of gameplay loop.
  8. Caligula Effect Overdose – Look, I’m not going to pretend that this game doesn’t have some pretty serious flaws or that I’m not one of the people who really preferred the scenario writing of Persona 2 to everything that came after and was super excited to play anything else by Tadoshi Satomi. In spite of everything, I’m really sad that this didn’t find its audience. In a neat little call-back to my number one, I care about characters and carrots. Satomi is brilliant at holding the carrot of understanding just a little in front of your nose as you slowly unravel the people around you. In this case, somewhat literally, but there is some surprising heart and sophistication inside a frame that couldn’t quite live up to the writing. Does this outweigh the other brilliant games of 2019? Do those games have carrots? I rest my case.

Other Games with Fewer Carrots, but Some Redeeming Gameplay Qualities: Dicey Dungeons and Slay the Spire

Criminally Underplayed New-to-Me Game with Carrots: Crazy Plant Shop


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takoyaki

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,264
  1. Death Stranding - A once in a generation masterpiece and a return to form for Hideo Kojima. An experimental indie game with a AAA budget and an art house cinema cast. A Hollywood action meets anime story as you've come to expect from Kojima that also feels like a comment on the crisis we're currently in post Trump, Brexit and the horrible effects of social media. What impressed me the most though was the gameplay and how it subverts your typical expectations for a third-person big-budget experience. DS treats a lot of its combat like other AAA games treat traversal - as something you can do while zoning out. The game makes it clear via the complexity of its core gameplay that you should be focused on navigation, connection and cooperation - not violence. And if you really have to fight other human NPCs, the game heavily disincentivizes you from becoming a killer. A non-lethal approach during combat used to be a clever option in the MGS series, now it's basically mandatory. The random online cooperation to rebuild America and make life easier by helping each other had me hooked. I also didn't expect the traversal to be this engaging. No other game I've played has evoked real hiking and mountain climbing like Death Stranding. It really captures the experience of being alone in the mountains with nothing but a carefully packed backpack, a destination miles ahead of you and how you slowly figure out how to get there along the way. Maybe those Monster cans were secretly filled with Kool-Aid, but Death Stranding completely worked for me and I think this is the one game from 2019 that I'll vividly remember 10 years from now.

  2. Control - Possibly Remedy's best game yet. The story instantly grabbed me with its premise and the intriguing cast of characters. Fast, responsive combat with lots of options for improvisation and destructibility. Many visually striking locations that prevent the House from ever feeling old. I liked that you needed to think a bit and read signs to navigate around the sprawling locations, but the bad in-game map did a disservice to the 3D Metroidvania design. Otherwise a pretty much perfect game that shows how good Remedy are at making their unique kind of shooter.

  3. AI: The Somnium Files - With this strong stand-alone story full of twists and inventive ideas, Kōtarō Uchikoshi proved that he's more than just the Zero Escape series or recycled ideas. AI is filled with originality. It tells a dark detective story punctuated by genuinely touching moments and silly humor. The game has a cast of memorable characters and anyone who's played Ace Attorney will feel right at home during the investigation parts. Highly recommended to anyone who enjoys a good detective story with a sci-fi spin, not just to Visual Novel fans.

  4. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice - Tenchu Souls with a focus on amazing sword fights that demand quick reflexes and decision-making on the fly. The core gameplay is so satisfying that playing Sekiro never gets old. Stunning interconnected locations in best From fashion with challenging bosses that demand your patience and can't be easily overcome by tricks or summoning. The more fleshed-out story was a nice (if unnecessary) addition and the hidden locations made NG+ and going for all endings more motivating than ever.

  5. Resident Evil 2 - It doesn't replace the original RE2 for me in the same way that REmake did for RE1, but it's still a good Resident Evil game. A beautiful, atmospheric re-imagining of classic Resi locations with effective surround sound that makes Mr. X or the Lickers more menacing than ever. Lots of modern touches and smart QoL additions that prevent new players from getting lost. The original is one of my most replayed games and it was relatively fresh in my mind while playing the remake, so the lackluster second campaign felt like a disappointment.

  6. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night - SotN2 in all but name. A worthy successor to one of the best games in the genre that sometimes feels a bit retro compared to modern classics like Hollow Knight. I didn't really mind that since Iga and team did such a great job of capturing the spirit of Symphony and that's what I was hoping for when I backed the campaign. I had a fantastic time with Bloodstained from the first screen on the ship until the very end when the map was finally filled in completely.

  7. Spirit Hunter: NG - A mostly stand-alone sequel to Death Mark that improves upon that game in a number of ways. Another expertly told horror story full of bizarre urban legends with classic adventure gameplay.

  8. Raging Loop - The game starts off like your typical Japanese horror game: An outsider from the big city gets stuck in a remote village where the superstitious villagers practice some kind of ritual. Raging Loop stands out because it cleverly adds elements from the board game Werewolf to the VN formula. Good writing, interesting characters and the (sometimes divisive) twists will keep you reading till the end.

  9. Life is Strange 2 - The story of two brothers who make their way along the West Coast. They are trying to reach Mexico, flee from the police and leave behind Trump's racist America. Their journey is filled with all kinds of hardships and pain. Or to put it another way: Hella different from LiS1. I was a big fan of the first game and BtS, but that tonal shift didn't bother me at all. I felt invested in the journey of the Diaz brothers from the start. Some episodes were definitely stronger than others, the slow release schedule worked against the game and I wasn't very satisfied with the ending I got in Ep5 (one central person behaved completely out of character). Those points prevented me from placing the game higher on my Top10 but I'm still glad I stuck with the game for all five episodes and more than a year.

  10. The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening - I was delighted when Nintendo announced this game and that the success of BotW didn't mean that classic Zelda would be on hiatus during the Switch generation. The updated visuals are charming and beautiful. They give a classic Zelda which I enjoyed as a kid a modern facelift while the game itself remains largely unchanged and still holds up today (the trade quests feel somewhat random by today's design standards and the short sidescrolling sections could have used good controls). I'd love to see more Zelda remakes like this in the future, especially of the Oracles games (aka best Gameboy Zelda).

  11. The Dark Pictures Anthology: Man of Medan - The anthology approach seems like a good idea for Supermassive's horror games and I hope this will turn into a yearly thing. MoM is a short, entertaining ride both solo and in multiplayer, but it never reaches the heights of Until Dawn.

  12. Devil May Cry 5 - A Pretty good comeback for DMC. Fun cast of returning and new characters, good-looking cutscenes and a killer soundtrack. Stylish and fast combat that sometimes felt a bit dated though. The mostly uninspired environments and the sometimes archaic level design kept it out of my Top 10.

  13. Sayonara Wild Hearts - The best soundtrack of 2019 and I've already listened to it dozens of times. The game isn't bad either.

  14. MediEvil - True to the original to a fault, this graphically charming update won't convert many new players into fans. But returning players with nostalgia for the PS1 era like me got exactly what we came for.

  15. World End Syndrome - A surprisingly good mystery romance visual novel with some strong twists and a beautiful presentation.

  16. Super Mario Maker 2 - It didn't feel like quite the zeitgeist game that the WiiU installment was, but I had a blast with the solo campaign.

  17. Gylt - A nice little horror surprise with stealth and puzzle gameplay that doesn't overstay its welcome. Both for kids and adults, the touching story and stylized presentation reminded me a bit of Pixar movies or the movie Coraline.

  18. Gears 5 - This series has long been overdue for a GoW2018-style re-imagining. I used to love Gears and was hoping this would be it. During the second Act G5 actually showed some promise but it takes way to long before you finally get to control the main heroine and the story peters out after Act 2. It's a beautiful game but the moment-to-moment gameplay still felt painfully stuck in 2005.

Games I didn't have time to play (enough of) that had a good chance of entering my personal Top 10:
Shenmue 3, Pathologic 2, Judgment, 13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim, A Short Hike, Outer Wilds


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FreddeGredde

Member
Oct 27, 2017
1,119
  1. Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair - This game hit all the right spots for me. The puzzle-oriented overworld made it stand out from every other game in the genre, and there are lots of clever ideas, good music, good controls, and just plain fun. The tough final level being available right from the beginning is a great concept and I enjoyed returning to it regularly as I collected more and more bees that would protect me as I got further and further with each attempt.
  2. Celeste: Farewell - Celeste ended up being one of my all-time favorite games, and although this final chapter DLC might not quite reach those heights, it was wonderful to get a bit more of that amazingly tight gameplay and creative obstacles and objects to interact with. It took me a good 10 hours to finish, and as soon as I reached the end, I just had to go another round.
  3. Fire Emblem: Three Houses - It has so much going for it, but ultimately I would have much preferred a more straight-forward narrative and a journey somewhere, instead of all the repetitive hours in the monastery. Not meeting new characters on your travels and get them to join your team was also sadly missing, but at least the core gameplay is still extremely satisfying.
  4. Super Mario Maker 2 - My big disappointment of 2019, but after having spent more than a hundred hours and enjoyed most of them, I still have to put it on this list. The multiplayer was a flop and there isn't enough new content to make it feel like a worthy sequel, but building levels is still incredibly fun and the hours just fly by. Playing your friends' levels is also a lot of fun, and some of the most memorable gaming moments of the year was playing the ingenious levels by Celeste developer Matt Thorson.


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Black Duke

Member
Dec 2, 2017
126
  1. Death Stranding - Not the best Kojima's game ever but a fantastic adventure with a solid and innovative gameplay that makes the "traversal" the core of the gameplay. Only in the last 10 or so hours the story really takes off to a satisfying conclusion, building a rich world full of bizzarre characters and interesting themes that will need a sequel to be fully appreciated.
  2. Control
  3. Resident Evil 2
  4. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order - It isn't in the same league of God of War quality-wise, and it's hard to get excited for this type of game after the Santa Monica's masterpiece, but it's still a pretty good Star Wars game.
  5. Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown
  6. Observation
  7. Apex Legends
  8. World War Z


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salamedratos

Member
Dec 21, 2017
5
  1. Death Stranding - In my opinion one of the ten best games of the decade. The story was crazy, original and emotional, but the gameplay was truly something else. It was an experience unlike any other and I'm glad a AAA is this innovative.
  2. Kingdom Hearts 3 - This may be a controversial choice, but I truly think this is the best kingdom hearts game. The disney worlds are finally full worlds with fleshed out enough storylines (I disliked the other games' approach to the disney worlds except for kh1) and the story was emotional enough and tied pretty well a lot of loose ends (in the insane, senseless, nomura style way). I thought the last third of the game was truly epic. I wouldn't have the game this high because of three BIG flaws: The rushed story, the use of Kairi's character and the relative lack of boss fights, BUT I'm confident the remind dlc will fix those three problems based on that last magnificent trailer. Time will tell but right now I think that we will look back at this game as the best kh game if the dlc is as good as it looks.
  3. The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel 3 - This is one of my favorite series in all gaming and this is one of its best entries yet, even if I couldn't appreciate it enough because of the lack of a crossbell localization. Please we need Zero and Ao right now...
  4. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice - This is a masterpiece, the best game of the year from a gameplay standpoint. I love From games and this one might be their best effort. Sure, Bloodborne's atmosphere and lore are unparalleled and dark souls' story, bosses and world are legendary, but both of those games have low points and questionable choices that Sekiro simply doesn't have, I think they have perfected the formula while creating a new combat system that's fresh and perfect. I know there are people that complain about the downplayed rpg elements, but that is an unfair criticism (It's a complain about a game sekiro isn't trying to be, we have to judge the game it wants to be), and the progression system, which is a valid criticism, but I like it better than the other souls games. I'm not sure if it's better than bloodborne overall, but I'm sure it isn't worse.
  5. Shenmue 3 - A miracle. The game we deserved. It's budget shows all the time, but the team has made an enormous effort to divert us from that fact. It's a Shenmue game, the only Shenmue 3 that could exist and It's a great game regardless of the year or console in which it has been released. A lot of people say that this series has aged badly, but I played Shenmue I for the first time three years ago and it's one of my favorite games of all time. I think games are timeless, in the sense that they aren't good of bad according to the year they were released. Of course the context is important, but it's just a small factor. Shenmue 3 isn't as good as the other two, now or in 2001, but is an excellent game and a gem, even if it's a rough one.
  6. Fire Emblem: Three Houses - The best fire emblem. Great gameplay and the best story since path of radiance, I wish the routes wouldn't be that long but ok, I will take the content when it's that addictive.
  7. Ai: The Somnium Files - 999 is one of my favorite games of all time and one of my favorite stories in any medium, so of course I was anticipating Uchikosi's new game, but Ai is mindblowing on its own. The gameplay isn't "bad" per se, it's a visual novel with gameplay elements to spice things up, it's not supposed to have fully fleshed out mechanics or puzzles. The gameplay here is a story element too in order to immerse the player, and the story is simply fantastic.
  8. Outer Wilds - The less is said about this game the better. Memorable, inventive, beautiful, clever... I'm still thinking about that ending.
  9. Devil May Cry 5 - I was doubting between this and astral chain. I loved both games, and maybe astral chain left a better impression because its latter half was clearly better than the first hours (while dmc5's second half is a bit worse). But I think this game has the better story and characters and its gorgeous graphics are truly mindblowing. This is a game that oozes charisma.
  10. Disco Elysium - I haven't finished it but I had to give this a spot in place of the great resident evil 2 because it's so unique I'm being constantly surprised at each step. I am not as big of a fan of planescape torment as I should be because of its combat, so I love that this game gets rid of it. Here is some of the best written dialog I have seen in a game.

Other games I haven't finished and may make the list are Control and Luigi's mansion 3. This has been a great year for gaming even if it doesn't reach the peak that was 2017.


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RossC

Member
Oct 27, 2017
363
  1. Outer Wilds - Just an absolutely incredible experience that would only be possible in a game. The sense of wonder and discovery isn't like anything i've ever played.
  2. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice - Probably my favourite From game and I really enjoyed the Souls games. Loved doing a second run through against things I struggled with first time and just annihilating them.
  3. Luigi's Mansion 3 - The structure of this was absolutely perfect for me, just doing a floor or two per session. Fantastic variety in the locations and endlessly charming.
  4. Super Mario Maker 2 - For whatever reason my levels got played a lot more in this than the original, which motivated me to keep making more. A great wee sequel that I keep meaning to pick back up. My most played Switch game this year.
  5. Control - That world is so incredible. I love X-Files/SCP etc so all the memos/objects of power were right up my street.
  6. Devil May Cry 5 - Really enjoyed how different they made each character feel to play. I enjoy the DMC games at a fairly surface level and don't get super deep into the harder difficulty stuff and really liked running through this. Great music and looked amazing.
  7. Void Bastards - Such a cool style. I enjoyed the risk/reward stuff they did a lot and it created some really tense scenarios where you desperately needed food/fuel but didn't quite have enough to properly take down any enemies on a ship. The way they handle regenerating your character made death quite interesting too as you'd get something a little different.
  8. Tetris 99 - I played this initially on release and liked it, but never really came back after the first couple of weeks. The update that added Daily Missions really made it click for me as I had a reason to play for a wee 15 minutes or so every day just to unlock the various skins and I had a really great time. Still haven't won though :(
  9. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night - Metroidvania is my favourite genre, and obviously SoTN is right up there with the best. Loved this, only real criticism is a couple of points where the next step towards progression seemed totally obtuse. I didn't get too deep into grinding for all the best versions of the shards etc but that seems like something you could spend a lot of time with if you enjoy it.
  10. Apex Legends - Played a whole lot of this with two friends for a good few months after release. Just a really well put together package.
  11. A Plague Tale: Innocence - Fantastic story. Looking forward to what they do next.
  12. Guacamelee! 2 - Pretty much exactly what you'd expect from a sequel to the first one. It doesn't do anything too new but is just very well put together and a fun time.

Fire Emblem: Three Houses and Jedi Fallen Order I think would have a really high chance of making it on here for me but I haven't got round to those yet.

Midway through both Remnant:From the Ashes and Pokemon Sword too - which i'm playing at the moment but haven't completed.
 
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cozyduck

Member
Oct 28, 2017
51
I played a rather small number of new releases this year unfortunately, but here are six games which made quite an impact on me this year.

  1. SaGa: Scarlet Grace - Ambitions - This was a real revelation. The last SaGa game I played was frontier 2 on the Playstation 1 which I didn't like that much, but was probably too young and new to the genre to really be able to grasp properly. This game breaks with JRPG conventions in many really interesting ways, and is full of systems that feed into each other in a really great way, creating a very addicting and satisfying gameplay loop. Especially the battle system is one of the best and most tactical the genre has ever seen.
  2. Dicey Dungeons - Another turn based game with highly tactical combat. Fast paced rogue-lite where every decision matters. Just great fun. Great art and sound too.
  3. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice - Not much needs to be said here. Another fantastic world created by From, and the best combat they've ever done, even if it is still quite simplistic compared to the giants of the action genre; but it is very satisfying nonetheless.
  4. Etrian Odyssey Nexus - By now Atlus really has honed the EO formula to perfection, so as a big series fan this is just pure enjoyment. That being said, the game seriously overstays its welcome. Normally, the postgame is one of the strongest parts of these games, but here it's clear they've long run out of ideas/resources/time by then.
  5. Shenmue III - I'm very impressed they managed to create locations that feel just as Shenmue as the ones during the DC days did. That alone made this already a remarkable experience to me. Unfortunately, they clearly didn't have the budget/ressources to invest in the actual events of the game like in the old days, so that area is very underdeveloped. This makes it in my eyes quite a step down from Shenmue 2, even though I'm still glad it exists.
  6. Cthulhu Saves Christmas - This uses the great battle system from Cosmic Star Heroine, so on that alone it's already good. But while I generally enjoyed the tactical depth of combat in raving mode, enemies were for sure much too bulky for my taste, so I ended up growing very tired of the combat towards the end of the game.


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Big G

Member
Oct 27, 2017
3,032
Awesome post!

Thanks for the great read.
Thanks!

I have heard it theorized that, after seeing the defensive style that predominated in the first Dark Souls, Hidetaka Miyazaki set out to deliberately discourage that style of play in his subsequent games. (Hence, "Shields are nice, but not if they engender passivity.") Did you get that feeling?
Yep. I think that's almost certainly the case.
 

Azzanadra

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,527
Canada
  1. Disco Elysium - As a game, Disco Elysium is the antithesis to the medium's common perception as power fantasy. As a piece of writing, it is a deeply political work that leverages the medium to essentially act as an elaborate personality test. Who Harrier Du Bois ends up becoming (or re-becoming) is as much of a statement on the capacity of one man to change as it is a mirror to the player's own assumptions and attitudes. If Planescape: Torment asks what can "change the nature of a man", Disco Elysium answers "anything and everything".

  2. Pathologic 2 - If Disco Elysium is the antithesis to videogames as power fantasies, Pathologic 2 is downright antagonistic and hostile towards this idea. It is a difficult and obtuse game, one that will require time, effort and energy to eke out even a little more progress. You may be forced to reload older saves or outright restart the game. Yet in spite of all of that, I dare say there is method to the madness.

  3. Resident Evil 2 - As someone who never had a chance to play the original, this remake was an absolute masterwork of game design and pacing. Though I found Disco Elysium and Pathalogic 2 ultimately more meaningful works, Resident Evil 2 was the most conventionally fun and well-crafted game this year. I enjoyed it enough to clear all four scenarios, and I can see myself going back for higher difficulties.

  4. Death Stranding - Once again Kojima proves a more competent game designer than a storyteller. At a certain point I did beoame invested in the idea of "rebuilding America" and connecting with my fellow humans, ideas that were more elegantly and satisfyingly illustrated in the gameplay than they ever were in the story.

  5. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice - Though this is my least favorite Miyazaki joint, From Software games are still more competent and satisfying than 95% of the products churned out by this industry. While the game was fun and challenging, I would be remiss if I did not mention my disappointment in the story and worldbuilding.

  6. Fire Emblem: Three Houses - This was a glorious return to the franchise for me as someone who had not touched the franchise since Radiant Dawn. Not only was it a fun romp, but the characters and narrative were strong and grew on me despite a weaker back half.

  7. Devil May Cry 5 - I've been getting into character action games over the past few years, and this ranks as one of the better ones I have played- what it lacks in level design it makes up for in stylish action.

  8. The Outer Worlds - New Vegas this is not. Another example of a game that blows it load far too early, I nonetheless enjoyed The Outer Worlds until completion- but it was an awfully shallow experience by the end.


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iksenpets

Member
Oct 26, 2017
2,926
Dallas, TX
  1. Resident Evil 2 - I feel bad putting a remake up here, but there’s just no denying for me that no other game had so much craft and polish in it as this one did. The core RE formula of backtracking through a single, tight environment is as engrossing as ever while the third-person shooter mechanics make it feel completely modern and new, and the visuals are world class. As I kept looking for reasons not to vote for a remake, I just couldn’t think of any other negative argument to make against it. It’s great, top to bottom.
  2. Disco Elysium - It’s funny and sad with great world building and a pretty engrossing mystery to boot, but really what gets it up here is how fresh its RPG mechanics feel. Controlling most of the pivotal moments in the story with dice rolls has things feeling unpredictable in a way most RPGs don’t. We talk a lot about min/maxing in RPGs, but most modern games have turned that into just maxing, always with a clearly layed-out path to see everything and get the optimal, “good” result for every story point. Disco doesn’t let itself get into such easy wish fulfillment, and its system of turning all those skills into voices in your head, talking back and forth in a debate that will ultimately create “you” is a genuinely interesting way to build a character narratively. It can be frustrating at times, when you didn’t spec towards Volition early in the game and find yourself unable to survive a two point hit to your mental health, so you have to go load an earlier save, but even its most frustrating moments you sort of have to respect, because they’re born out of how steadfastly they hold to their vision for what this game is.
  3. Control - Control is wild, because I feel like it could be anywhere on this list, or not at all (honestly, the top... 7? on this list probably could’ve been rearranged on this list in any order based on my mood). Control had some of my most infuriating gameplay moments of the year. It’s a game that built a combat system that is interesting and stylish, but doesn’t stand up to the level of difficulty Remedy clearly thought it did. But, it’s here because holy shit, the vibes. The colors, the sounds, the redacted documents, all those little wobbles as Jesse flies. The fucking House. It’s the most complete, unified vision for a game I’ve seen in years.
  4. Fire Emblem: Three Houses - A monument of maximalist game design. System layered on top of system that they somehow dole out to you just slowly enough that you never drown, never feel like there’s some part of this game that you’re just going to ignore because it’s too much. The Fire Emblem battle system is as good as ever, but they’ve managed to expand on the character stuff that really made Awakening so strong, juggling a cast of dozens with ease, not letting any feel like the underdeveloped replacement archer for if the main archer died that often showed up in earlier Fire Emblems, while also reintroducing the larger geopolitical storyline that Awakening had lacked. Also, the first time the music has really stuck out to me in an FE. The visuals are... mixed, with great looking character models living in a world of textures that were clearly compressed to hell and back to get this thing onto a Switch cart, and by the end of the game’s gargantuan length, they haven’t kept control of their difficulty well, leaving the last battles less interesting, while big chunks of the monastery start to feel like superfluous time sinks, but overall, I think it’s the strongest FE yet, and one of the best JRPGs — because that’s effectively what it is at this point — in years.
  5. The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening - Another remake, and unlike RE2, it’s pretty much shot for shot, instead of being effectively a new game. But, Link’s Awakening benefits a ton from just not being on the GameBoy any more. Buttons! So many more buttons, and so much less assigning and reassigning items to B in the menu. The visuals and music are astounding, and with its weird, dreamy vibes and smaller scope, the remake has reaffirmed my suspicion from childhood that LA is actually my favorite of the 2D Zeldas.
  6. Outer Wilds - At first Outer Wilds frustrated me, as I had to trial and error my way through it. Spending 22 minutes exploring an area, only to get on my ship at the start of the next loop, check the computer, and see that orange indicator that I had missed something and would have to spend another loop retreading the same area was such a bummer. Time-sensitive things that I knew were around here somewhere, but just couldn’t quite find before the window passed, loop after loop, was rough. But things clicked into place as I made the core discoveries explaining this world and what was happening to me. There are moments of genuine wonder as you find yourself in the core of incompressible machines, intense melancholy when you find the graves of a lost society. And like Disco Elysium, I have to respect most of this game’s frustrations, because they come from this game knowing what it is, and refusing to be something else just for your sake.
  7. Sekiro - Sekiro is the second FROM game I’ve played to completion, after Bloodborne, and it hits all the same spots for me. It’s a visually fascinating world, full of stunning vistas and towering creatures, a world full of nooks wrapping back in on themselves to explore. Unlike Bloodborne and Dark Souls, it supplements the usual FROM formula of lore delivered as a sort of tone poem via item descriptions — a system that’s still very much present — with a more traditional, linear narrative delivered through cutscenes, and I think it’s stronger for it. Like other FROM games, the difficulty occasionally reaches places where my enjoyment suffers. My favorite moments of gameplay aren’t when I finally lopped off the final boss’ head after shamefully perfecting the most weenie-ass strategy imaginable of running in circles just outside his reach and slapping him on the backside once or twice a minute for half an hour once actually getting good proved too hard, but rather the simple satisfaction of those earliest grunts who fell to the one-two punch of parry-deathblow (seriously, I think these little dudes are my most satisfying, best feeling gameplay moment in years) or the randomly easy, but perfectly flowing late-game dragon boss fight.
  8. The Outer Worlds - Who knew taking the Bethesda formula and making it smaller and not broken would result in a good game?? Finally someone just did it. What I didn’t expect was to like the tone and world as much as I did — though, I haven’t even finished yet and I do have to admit that the satire they’re going for already feels a bit one note. Had I finished it, I could definitely see it going higher, though I would also hope to see any sequel move a bit further beyond the formula and feel a bit more modern. I think I’m good to never see the Bethesda-style, NPC-staring-dead-into-camera angle again.
  9. Baba is You - The coolest mechanic in years, that makes you feel like a genius whenever you solve even its simplest puzzle. But holy shit the difficulty is whack. I’ve never thought so hard I physically hurt, but by 50 or so puzzles into this thing that’s where I was at.

Special honorable mention for game that — given my obsessive love of Yakuza — would be on this list if I had gotten to it this year goes to Judgment.

Special honorable mention for game I dabbled in and ultimately don’t really enjoy but am wildly impressed by technically and by how hard they go for the tone they’re going for goes to DMC5.


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May 5, 2018
5,723
  1. Fire Emblem Three Houses: I was certainly looking forward to playing the new Fire Emblem, but I was not quite expecting this game to grab me the way it did. I played the Golden Deer Route for more than 100 hours as I spent a grand amount of time at Garreg Mach building up supports with my students through chats and meals, recruiting more students and faculty into my house, giving the gifts, drinking tea and even go fishing. After exploring the monastery I was engaged in trying to build up the skills of my students to help them reach specific classes. Its a Fire Emblem game that I got engrossed with completely as the story in itself is incredibly well written with 3 sides of the story and the Golden Deer route wound up being a choice I was happy with as I was satisfied to help Claude achieve his mission. Claude also the best house leader btw. The cast of characters was also wonderful as I found myself genuinely caring about the cast of characters and watching their supports to completion to learn more about the cast. The battle system was great and addicting as always for the series and the music was appropriately epic for the fights.
  2. Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown: I never played an Ace Combat game until 7 and took it off a whim seeing if it would run well on my at the time new PC. Turns out it did and man what a thrill ride this was. I really dug the variety of missions and their gameplay had as the missions ranged from usual dog fights to stealthily getting to a landmark without getting inside the enemies' radars to even destroying bases while in a lightening storm laced valley. Don't get struck by the lightening, you're radar won't like it. It also never gets old doing the missile camera and seeing two missiles destroy a TU bomber. The graphics are amazing as the attention to detail on the jets are excellent games and flying through clouds with precipitation on the screen was awesome. This game also has THE BEST OST of 2019 as so many tunes amplified the feeling of flying in the skies and built up the climatic moments of the game to an extraordinary level. I've listed to tunes like Magic Spear (1-2), Long Day and Daredevil throughout last year. It made me into an Ace Combat fan and I want Bandai-Namco to release AC4, 5 and Zero on Steam as well as look forward to a possible AC8 next gen (hopefully).
  3. Later Alligator: Later Alligator is like if they made a Professor Layton style game but instead of puzzles you have to clear mini games. And this is all being done because you see a nervous Alligator named Pat who thinks his family is trying to rub him out with this "Event" coming up and you need to talk to Pat's family and friends to get more info. Each mini game is tied to the character as you'll do different games from topping a cool gator's score in a game of pinball to helping a friend of Pat's repair his phone that's been possessed by a ghost. This is also the funniest game I've played in 2019 as all the dialogue with Pat, his family and friends were all hilarious but in an enduring way. Not to mention the game is beautifully animated by SmallBu Studios and the excellent music was done by 2Mello. Congrats to developer PillowFight on making my surprise favorite indie of 2019.
  4. Luigi's Mansion 3: I enjoyed playing the first Luigi's Mansion and enjoyed it, but never got to finish it. 3 on the other hand got me hooked with its gameplay hook. Sure you're trying to save Mario, Peach and a bunch of toads from King Boo, but in the meantime its just so much fun exploring the hotel and vacuum and blow every interactable object in the game, and this game has LOTS of interactable environments. Its a game where I rather enjoyed the combat as you can slam ghosts into breakable tables like a wrestler and the boss fights were very charming and mostly tons of fun to fight. The animation and visuals are the absolute best on the Switch. Its also tons of fun finding all sorts of secrets within the hotel as you could either be rewarded with gems or get Luigi paid by finding dollar bills and gold bricks shower all over the room as Luigi vacuums that FAT CASH!
  5. A Short Hike: Going from a game that pretends to be a vacation spot but is a trap to a game that can literally serve as a vacation, A Short Hike is perhaps one of the most pleasant and relaxing games I've ever played. You have really one objective and that's to climb up to Hawk Peak because its the only place in the park that has phone reception and you have an urgent call to answer. While that sounds mandatory, you actually don't need to climb to Hawk peak immediately. Its actually encouraged for you to simply explore the park and talk to different NPC's and see how their days are. You might be able to help them out such as finding a toy shovel for someone who wants to build sandcastles. You also have all sorts of other fun side activities you can do ranging from fishing, parkour races and even play the ultimate sport of cooperation, Beackestball (where you whack a beach ball with a stick and hit it to your partner on the other side of the court to keep a rally going). You're also a bird named Claire and you can collect golden feathers that serve as stamina to flap and fly into the air and even climb mountains. Think of this game as a lost DS spinoff of Animal Crossing as its visuals have a DS like low poly resolution and you talk to these animal people, but have a BOTW sense of exploring this park.
  6. Super Mario Maker 2: Was pretty hooked into this game when it first came out. I was pretty huge into making my own levels ranging from one that's themed after an episode of HBO's Barry to making a puzzle level where Goombas are trapped in a hot spa and you must free them to get into the hot water. I also liked the story mode as it was a good introductory tool to show what crazy things you can do in the level editor. But maybe the best thing about this game was being continuously impressed with the creativity of the SMM2 community making really cool levels. From literally taking on a space fleet in one level to identifying the different picture out of 3 similar looking pictures, I'm amazed to this day what the community comes up with.
  7. Wargroove: I enjoyed Advance Wars when I was younger. This game is very much Advance Wars but with a fantasy setting and hero units. The campaign was pretty tough at first, but once I got a handle on the strategy and seeing where to place my units I felt happy about my commanding skills. Managed to beat the finale level but never got enough stars to get the "Final FINAL" level. Still, this game is PACKED with content as you can play through an quick but amusing arcade mode beating 5 commanders to get character unique endings (like a fighting game) a puzzle mode by achieving a task with 1 or fewer turns, or even create your own campaign.
  8. Baba Is You: I feel like if I was smarter, this game would be higher on my list. Its a deceptively tough game as you think you can solve the puzzle by moving one word over into a new sentence to give it an attribute that can help, but then you stumble into a block that prevents you from reaching a goal. I managed to solve about 90 puzzles in this game and when I did solve one of the harder puzzles, I was ecstatic! Its a game that requires plenty of patience, but its certainly one of the most ingenious games I have ever played and looking to get back into once the level editor is released.
  9. Cadence of Hyrule: Crypt of the Necrodancer Featuring The Legend of Zelda: I typed the whole title to be certain this game gets points. But still, as someone who liked Necordancer but bounced off due to its crazy hard difficulty early in the game and someone who doesn't play much Zelda, I was pleasantly surprised with Cadence of Hyrule. It just felt right as I preferred exploring a map and an overworld compared to going through dungeons until the song ends and taking out classic Zelda enemies to the beat of some hot remixes of classic Zelda tunes. It was a game that gave me some solid rhythm satisfaction as I managed to chain some long combos. Plus this feels like a legitimately fun old school Zelda with a major musical twist.
  10. Untitled Goose Game: This game ended up not being the funniest animal game I play in 2019 thanks to number 3, but I still really enjoyed being a deviant goose ruining the days of a bunch of English villagers. This game oozes charm as you waddle around and see how well animated that goose is. Once you are caught or have stolen an item from a villager the piano music goes from an innocent tone to much more menacing. Plus this game just does slapstick humor very well as you might scare some cowardous kid by honking at him and then scar him by trapping him into an inescapable telephone booth and he has to call for help.


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Mik317

Member
Oct 25, 2017
5,547
This year was weird. Making the list was easy but I don't feel super strong about many of the games. Nothing ground breaking yknow.

  1. Kingdom Hearts 3 - IMO it was worth the wait. The Disney Worlds were a bit lacking but dude that last part was my shit. Sign me up for Nomura's Wild Ride anytime. That ending also had me in my feels.
  2. Fire Emblem: Three Houses - Game runs like shit. Looks like shit. Story is kinda ass. Super easy at times. I put over 100 hours into two playthroughs. It hits that itch of team building and strategy I crave. Hope the next one has an actual budget lol.
  3. Pokemon Sword and Shield - Game Freak is super lucky the formula for Pokemon is my crack. Game needed more time in the oven but I had a blast despite its many flaws. Just take your damn time next time you clods
  4. Devil May Cry 5 - The best GAME on this list imo. Near perfection on many levels. The level design could use some work and the above touched me more but CAPCOM IS BAK
  5. Sayonara Wild Hearts - Holy shit. Late entry but holy balls what an experience. I generally have not vibed w/ many indie games but this shit right here? Yeah this is a special experience.
  6. Code Vein - Anime Souls. Dark Souls 3 was the first and only souls game I beat so having one for dumb babies with a waifu creator is right up my alley lol. Some jank ass jank tho
  7. Dragon Quest Builders 2 - Never played Minecraft despite my alleged creative streak. It was due to the art style. DragonBallZCraft fixes that lol.
  8. Death Stranding - I enjoy this game. Don't know why tho. Probably will never fully beat it but Kojima knows how to string me along his wild ride I guess.
  9. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice - The Bloodbourne award for a game I will never beat but I respect and got much entertainment out of watching others play. I am too bad to git gud tho
  10. Star Wars Jedi : Fallen Order - This game is boneless Sekiro but held together with duck tape lol. So much crashing. Still this formula is right up my alley. Would be higher if I got to it sooner probably.
Other notes
NBA 2K20 was going to make the list despite its greedy bullshit but the game has crashed on my 20 times the last few weeks so lolno.

Control; Gamefly keeps fucking me over lol.

Ryza: Same as above but I finally got it. Probably wouldn't have made it.

Astral Chain: One of my biggest letdowns of the year. It should be right up my alley but my cave man brain can't grasp the combat.

Solid year overall but sans the top 4, I don't feel strongly about any of these games. Not much on the horizon of this year so meh. Hope next gen is full of killers again.


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Darth Smurf X

Member
Oct 25, 2017
935
Hoth, WI
  1. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order - I was truly worried when this was announced as a Soulsborne-style Star Wars game as hair-pullingly difficult games are not my forte. I was even more worried after about an hour or two of playing and I was getting my Jedi butt handed to me by the simplest of enemies, especially that infernal frog. But all of that worry was force choked away and by the second half of the game I truly felt like a Jedi, whipping Stormtroopers around the landscape with ease. And that ending—jeepers—chills the entire final section.
  2. Concrete Genie - Want to know how to get into my top 3? Release a great single-player game with a wonderful story and heartfelt characters. Also, it helps that there's a VR mode and the ability to be creative. Need some stress relief after a hard day at work/school or just after reading some news headlines? This is that game.
  3. Crash Team Racing: Nitro-Fueled - One of my favorite games of all time got rereleased with HD graphics, courses and characters from the sequel, online matchmaking, custom carts and a steady flow of DLC that has made my head spin. Of course it's in my top 3.
  4. Dreams - I'm not sure this game will count with the final FINAL version being released in February, but I played it in 2019. And while I didn't create a ton, what I played and saw created blew my swiftly deteriorating, old man mind. This game is insane.
  5. Life is Strange 2 - The original and the prequel are 2 of my favorite games of all time, so I was eagerly anticipating the sequel with an all-new cast. Unfortunately, after playing Detroit: Become Human, I felt underwhelmed by the choices versus consequences. At no time did I feel like my actions were going to change the direction of where I was headed. I did watch alternate endings after I finished, so you can actually alter things, I just felt like you couldn’t. Having said all that, it’s a good story with good characters and if Choose-Your-Own-Adventure games are your jam you should check this out.
  6. Destiny 2: Shadowkeep - It got me back into Destiny, even with a severe backlog of games vying for my attention.
  7. No Man’s Sky Beyond - It added VR. To No Man's Sky. 'Nuff said.
  8. Untitled Goose Game - I'm a sucker for mindless shenanigans with to-do checklists like Octodad. Good, clean fun with a nifty soundtrack while you are goosing things up.
  9. Falcon Age - I haven't finished this yet, but the baby Falcon is just too awesome not to include in my Top 10 list.


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b3llydrum

Member
Feb 21, 2018
136
  1. Astral Chain - No game has brought me more pure entertainment from its combat system since Xenoblade Chronicles 2. Beyond that, this game is cool as fuck to just look at.
  2. Wargroove - This is the Switch game I've been waiting for that truly scratches my Advance Wars itch. Mario + Rabbids did it for my in 2017, but Wargroove is that quick and dirty tactical goodness I crave.
  3. Slay the Spire - I literally played this game for the first time in November and it's in my top 10 favorite games of all time. I've never been into deckbuilding or roguelikes, and this game is crack. My fiancee even started playing after watching me.
  4. Fire Emblem: Three Houses - I beat one route. I'm literally not doing anything else so I can always have something to come back to. God this game was good. The combat, the characters, the anime roleplay shit. Hell yes.
  5. The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening - One of my favorite games of all time, and also a childhood gem. I couldn't play anything else from the day I picked it up to when I beat it. It's a perfect recreation of the game, in my opinion.
  6. Tales of Vesperia: Definitive Edition - It took me all year to beat this game (I never played it before it came to the Switch), but I finally did. It was a pretty good RPG, but an even better character story.
  7. Pokemon Sword - Yeah, I enjoyed the game. Wasn't amazing, and I'm having trouble coming back to it (getting into Slay the Spire and Into the Breach hasn't helped). This is coming from someone who completed a living dex in Gen 6 and has sunk thousands of hours into each generation. I'm more than happy to finally have this series on a home console. I have (some) hope for a much more adventurous and breathtaking outing next time around, though.
  8. Cadence of Hyrule - I enjoyed the gameplay a shitton, but damn, that music. So good. Also, it's nice to have a game that looks similar to my favorite Zelda game: Minish Cap.
  9. Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair - I like this game more than Donkey Kong: Tropical Freeze. Feels good to be back in the DKC 1-3 realm of tight platforming physics.
  10. Baba is You - Programming headache: The Game. I can't tell if playing this makes me appreciate my job more, or if being a software dev helped me appreciate this game. All I know is I feel the same sense of immense satisfaction when I finally figure something out.

Also, I'm disappointed to see that Into the Breach and Trials of Mana both did not make the list. Those two are absolutely in my top 10 of the year.


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May 5, 2018
5,723
Actually I haven't looked at the spreadsheet of eligible games until now and got to say, some interesting choices for certain games having certain genres. I've always thought of Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown more as an action game, but I can sort of see why its under simulation since there are sim elements in accessing more aircraft and parts in the aircraft tree and then picking the right jet and upgrades before the mission. Also I think of Untitled Goose Game as a stealth puzzle game, but perhaps your actions as the jerk goose simulate the reactions of the villagers. That being said, I say let both games stay under simulation because looking at the competition of both best action and puzzle if they were in those respective categories I talked about, they each have a better shot winning Best Simulation game or cracking the top 5 in that genre.

Also, not sure if I agree with Death Stranding and Ring Fit Adventure both being under action when I thought Death Stranding was Action-Adventure and Ring-Fit looks more like an action RPG. Granted I haven't played those games so someone who has might agree with the genre categorization with both.
 

Kirksplosion

Member
Aug 21, 2018
555
  1. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order - Finally, 15 years after KOTOR 2 released we got another great single player Star Wars game
  2. Void Bastards - The art style had my curiosity, but the gameplay, tone, structure had my attention
  3. Slay the Spire - Not a genre I'm usually drawn to, but I tried it on Game Pass and it kept me up late far too many nights. Addictive as hell.
  4. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare - I haven't been into COD multiplayer since, well, the original Modern Warfare. Well, MW2. Either way, this is so damn good, and the campaign was pretty great too.
  5. Gears 5 - I finally got around to getting to the Gears franchise this year. I had played the first Gears years ago, and played 2 - 5 this year. Series finally got good at 3 and 5 feels like it keeps up that momentum, though it's definitely starting to feel dated.
  6. Ape Out - Saul Bass + Hotline Miami = Some fine gaming moments
  7. The Outer Worlds
  8. Apex Legends - Nice work getting two games on my list in one year, Respawn. You rule.
  9. Grindstone
  10. Kingdom Hearts 3


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Mr. Poolman

The Fallen
Oct 27, 2017
3,352
  1. Astral Chain - Top notch gameplay, good world design and clever ideas. The most fun fighting system I've played in years.
  2. Ring Fit Adventure - It works! good lord it works!
  3. Untitled Goose Game - What a horrible night to have a goose.
  4. Tetris 99 - Tetris as a Battle Royale? nonsense. Also, genius.
  5. Baba is You - This game is so clever and smart that it would overpower the average gamer.
  6. A Plague Tale: Innocence -
  7. Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown -
  8. Wargroove -


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Haxxor2000

Member
Jan 2, 2018
43
  1. Crash Team Racing Nitro-Fueled - A game that really suprised me as I never played the original. I love mario kart (and all of its different versions - except for double dash) to death, and this is the first game that that i actually think is better.

    Although it lacks the charm of a mario kart racer and no 60 (well 59 on my WIIU) fps, it's a damn fine game with all the post-launch support and the advanced sliding/boosting.

    At last there is something in another kart racer that mariokart should copy! And even though i hate the store and the long loadtimes, the game is a pure blast to play. 9/10!

  2. Resident Evil 2 - Just a wonderful game from start to finish. It feels like I remember RE2, but looks really stunning and plays like a dream. Although not much of a horror game was real fun from start to finish.

  3. Bloodstained Ritual of the night - I was so sure this game was gonna bomb and bomb hard. To this day I still kinda hate the graphics and animation, but it is a bloody enjoyable game. So much that I actually started farming items after completing the game, just to lvl upp some weapons. And I really do hate farming, in any game.

  4. Teris Effect - A sublime audio visual experience, and just yesterday did I realise it can be played in VR!!! Love the game how it is in 2d, presuming i'll love it even more when I try it out in VR.

  5. Heave Ho - My new go to coop game with my kids and buddies, such a simple but fun concept. Easy enough to complete with the kids, difficult enough for the grownups (when trying to get all the coins) and fun for everyone.

  6. Slay the Spire - Even though I don't really want to play rogue likes (or roguelite or whatever this is) and I'm not particularly fond of card games, this game is just soooooooo hard to put down, the one more go feeling is so strong with this one.

  7. Destiny 2: Shadowkeep - This is a strange one for me, as I really do hate to grind, and destiny is all about the grind.

    And I don't really like playing games without a proper end (as I want to move on and play something else). And i hate the UI, item managment, how the restrictions to armour/weapons work, the slow eternal grind, how the story is really poorly told ingame - it's mostly lore "hidden" in codexes and items descriptions, the pay to dress gud (Eververse), the bull**it seasonal armour perks that work for just that season.

    I don't even have the game installed anymore and have yet to finish 50% of it, never even done a raid or tried most of the activity.

    And yet, ive played more Destiny 2 then all the other games combined. The weapons are really fun to use, there are a lot of fun builds to try out, fantastic skyboxes, pleasant music, nice graphics and sounds.

    It's to bad Destiny 2 is a live service game as the actual game play is really fun, a much better looter shooter then borderlands ever was, but it's locked in this eternal grind that I just do not want to be locked in.

But my actual GOTY is The Messenger - even though it got released 2018 i just played it this year. Really wonderfully crafted game. Even though it took some time for it to work it's magic on me, I (almost) 100% it, as it was just so damn good. From the music, game play, the retro graphics and even the humor!


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