Another year, another list. Here are some gems that got me through 2019.
I’ve been a big fan of the Swedish game studio Simogo since their first push into the horror genre in Year Walk, and they delivered another unforgettable experience with Sayonara Wild Hearts. But this game is not horrific--it’s an absolute delight.
You dive through a vivid world of tarot cards to songs you’ll keep hearing long after the game's conclusion. You also look dope as hell fighting off mythical beasts and jilted lovers, all in the quest to discover your own truth.
This game hurts in every way. It’s frustrating and ruthlessly bleak. Every decision you make is wrong because you suck and so does everyone else. That description is probably turning you away, but I deeply adore this game. The moment I embraced the futility of this bizarre world, the beauty seeped through. Give in.
I was hooked the second Ape Out began. It’s fun and stylish across all dimensions, from music to gameplay to art. I remember the buzz and glowing praise when it released, which unfortunately faded quick given Every Game That Ever Existed in 2019. I highly recommend you check it out for yourself. Saying any more would spoil the experience you deserve.
This story begins at the end. Two pilots are trapped in their destroyed mechs, waiting for their inevitable deaths. A haunting, brilliant soundtrack provides an ominous backdrop while the two women discuss God, their existence, and sometimes telling the other to fuck off. It may be the end, but this short narrative experience provokes the player to question whose terms they’re willing to die on.
This year I took a lengthy break to focus on some health stuff, and I wanted to chip away at my backlog. Instead I impulsively purchased this--despite knowing nothing about Fire Emblem--and started playing it on my first week. Then an entire month passed me by. I feel like that’s a strong enough review, TBH.
A coworker recommended this game, describing it as “Skyrim-ish without combat and you paint while exploring the world.” I purchased it before she could say more. Eastshade is gorgeous; you play a traveling artist crafting blank canvases through your journey. Once you craft them, you can paint a masterpiece using screenshots taken in-game. It's a refreshing and charming way to interact with a photo mode that warmed the experience.
This one is a tribute to childhood memories I prefer to forget, particularly when I created wrestling fansites on Geocities. I will not be taking any questions on that anecdote. In Hypnospace Outlaw, you surf the World Wide Web straight from an alternate historical '90s as an official content moderator. Review flagged pages and change the fates of business owners and edgelord teens, all while trying to stop yourself from screaming at the nostalgia you never actually wanted.
You own a sweet apartment filled with adorable birds, and you take photos of them to post on social media.
That’s it. It rules.
From previous lists, you’ll know I love my interactive horror stories. This anthology is the cream of the crop. The stories are perfect for any spooky time, which among some of us--the best of us--is every day. Turn off the lights and immerse yourself in this beautifully crafted and grotesque world brought to you by an incredibly talented cast of creators.
If you find a sketchy VHS tape and do anything but cover it in salt and burn it, I’m worried about you. In this bite-sized game you go ahead and see what’s on the tape, transporting to a dead first person shooter that shouldn’t have live servers. It does. Why don’t you explore it, and see if anyone joins the game?