2019 is a year where the industry is pivoting. From subscriptions becoming common place, to the death of loot crates to the launch of streaming services to the sunset of the current generation of consoles, the industry is changing yet again and this was the year of preparing for an exciting future. Also a lot of cool games came out, here are some of my favorites:
15 – Outer Wilds
While the controls might be a bit more finicky to my liking, Outer Wilds has exploration deep at it’s core, if you go into the game blind it might take you a while to figure out what this game actually is, I’ve always been drawn to these kinds of games. A fresh take on exploration and storytelling, cool way to present player freedom and lots of space travel!
14 – Sayonara Wild Hearts
Sayonara wild hearts has STYLE! Awesome art direction, music and level design makes this short experience worth while, it’s also free if you have the apple subscription thingy, so why not give it a go? A cool take on the runner formula with a musical twist, it might feel a bit floaty at times, but it’s definitely enjoyable.
13 – Katana Zero
Katana Zero’s controls are tight, pacing is neat and once you get yourself familiar with the rhythm of the game, going through the levels slashing your way around is a lot of fun that doesn’t get old. A neo noir samurai setting with a hint of hotline Miami creates a fresh backdrop to the intense action.
12– Baba is You
Yo, Baba is HARD! Its so successful at making you feel like a genius and a jackass at the same time. The base mechanic is clever and it’s impossible not to appreciate, the variations that are presented on that mechanic is interesting and fresh, the game keeps on building on it in ways that surprised me – one might argue that they might’ve over done it at times – still there’s immense satisfaction at passing a level after being stuck for so long.
11– Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
The original modern warfare is – in my eyes – one of the most important video games ever. A reboot that carries that name has a lot of weight associated, but damn does infinity ward deliver. Exciting action packed campaign, loads of game modes, player customization, maps … the package is a lot of fun and it’s CoD at it’s finest.
10– Luigi’s mansion 3
The best in the series by far. Luigi is adorable the game is so charming its hard to hold back the smiles. Super fun in couch co-op too.
9 – Devil May Cry V
DmC is back! The insane action game with all those stylish combos throws in more crazy with characters that control completely differently and change the pace of the game drastically. The game is so self aware and doesn’t care about lengths of absurdity it heads towards, and the player is in for the ride as well.
8 – Control
Remedy make interesting 3rd person action games, the shooting is good, the abilities are fun to use, the combat encounters are challenging, combining all of that results in a waltz of bullets and floating objects and enemies that are being flung in all sorts of directions. The game successfully builds intrigue through the story and setting, little touches like relying on the signs in the game world replaces the need for a detailed map to tell you where to go, supernatural landmarks pivot you as navigate your way around mazes and some really interesting characters and personalities are present. While it’s check point system might be a bit frustrating, Control keeps you engaged and entertained all the way through.
7 – Dota Underlords
I have to credit the Auto Chess mod with the creation of this genre. The auto battlers pose incredible depth with relatively simple input, I chose underlords to represent in this list as I’m most familiar with the Dota universe which makes the learning curve slightly quicker for me.
6 – Super Mario Maker 2
The first in the series was amazing, the sequel just improves on everything the first did so well. Introducing millions to game/level design is fascinating. The in-game tutorial is in itself a crash course in some fundamentals of game design, I had a lot of fun making levels, playing my friends levels and most of all, watching people beat seemingly impossible levels.
5 – Tetris 99
A Tetris game on my list? no surprise there, I’m a big Tetris fan and enjoy most iterations on the tried and tested formula. The premise of this game sounds like a joke, what if Tetris was a battle royal is something that in theory shouldn’t have worked this good. The added meta challenge makes this game one of the most intense Tetris experiences yet. This game is one of the most pleasant surprises of 2019 when it dropped out of nowhere.
4 – Death Stranding
The core of the game is to create a shared world where players help each other, allow them to connect and be happy to donate currency (likes) to each other with no immediate reward for doing so, how to make other player’s help appreciated? By making the player’s life a living hell. How to do that without relying on making combat too difficult? making the very act of traversing the world difficult. How to get players to traverse the world? Fetch quests that have the player move from point A to point B through out. Kojima is so relentless on his vision for this game, he gambles by taking away the fun of the game for such a long time to make sure that the player is rewarded through pacing and sticking through hardship. There might be a lot of things I don’t like about the game, but one thing for sure is that I’m happy that it’s made, and it’s unlike anything I’ve ever played before.
3 – Apex Legends
There’s so much that I like about Apex, so many clever designs and improvements to the battle royal genre. The squad formation, the drop master, the icon showing which of your team mates is currently shooting, the ping system, the map, the reviving system, the weapons meta … even the way the game was launched is something I like quite a bit. It comes out of nowhere and for free. Apex has set a lot of improvements and innovations on the genre that we are likely to see in other games in the future.
2 – Ace Combat 7 Skies Unknown
I’ve always been a fan of the ace combat series, no other game can capture the feeling of air to air or air to ground aircraft operations in the same arcadey style. I might have thought prior to 7 coming out that we won’t see another entry in the series in quite some time. Ace combat 7 delivers on everything, incredible environments, fun story, loads of variety in the levels and missions, loads of stuff to upgrade and level up.
Honorable Mention – Resident Evil 2 Remake
I have a self imposed rule to not list remakes or releases in my game of the year lists. This is the only reason why the remake of Resident Evil 2 is not my game of the year. This is a landmark in how remakes should be done. A revisit to a proven formula while making it fresh and thrilling at the same time. Capcom has really been killing it lately!
1 – Sekiro Shadows Die Twice
Since From Software introduced the Souls formula it has had an enormous effect on the industry, with many different studios trying to apply or innovate on that type of gameplay. With Sekiro coming out, From Software proves again that they are the masters of their trade, thrilling encounters, brutal but satisfying victories, action packed traversal, super tight controls with a setting that is so familiar to the gamedev team that they managed to surprise and delight at every corner. Sekiro Shadows Die Twice is an amazing video game that will challenge you and reward your patience and skill growth.