This is my 8th year writing one of these lists and as always I’m gonna try and keep it brief. 2019 sure was a weird year for games. Not bad but also nowhere near the heights of recent years. I still played games throughout the whole year; but it wasn't until the last few months when the new releases I just HAD to play started to come out. I spent the early months going through my backlog and it was great. But now is the time to focus on new games.
Just a quick mention for games that I haven’t played yet but will very soon and I’m sure stood a chance at this list had I played them already. Luigi’s Mansion 3, Control, Link’s Awakening being the main 3 I still need to play then the likes of The Sinking City, Blair Witch and Disco Elysium also on my radar.
Perhaps my biggest omission this year is Super Mario Maker 2 which I really thought was gonna be my game of the year before release and it doesn’t crack the top 10. I enjoyed it but fell off so quickly and so many little things that irked me about this game. The problems people had with the original really were an issue for me this time; more notably not getting your levels played after putting in the hard work and also finding the best levels to play without having to constantly research online. A shame but I still love the original. Now for the list!
10. Star Wars: Jedi Fallen Order
Kicking off the list is the game I’m currently playing so my thoughts could change but I am fairly far into the game. It’s good. It takes from so many games I like (most notably Uncharted) and combines them into a very fun experience. I don’t care about the story or characters which is why this game isn’t higher and I do think it massively lacks the level of polish we’ve seen with other 3rd person action games recently like Spider-Man and God of War. It’s not on that level. But the bar for Star Wars games has been so low that even with it’s issues it’s still easily the best game EA have made since they acquired the license. It doesn’t do any one thing incredible; but all the parts are good enough for it to be an overall fun time.
9. Far Cry: New Dawn
Far Cry is my gaming comfort food. It’s my favourite series to just play around in the world, take over areas and just the overall grind and reward system. I love it. And New Dawn is no exception. An unnecessary game? Absolutely. Especially so soon after the amazing Far Cry 5 but I really appreciated them creating a game set after the ending of 5 which I loved and I think they delivered on the premise. I really liked seeing certain characters stories continued and the new elements such as raids added a cool new dimension. This game isn’t anything crazy or something we’ve not seen before, nor is it remotely the best Far Cry game, but it’s still super fun and worth your time if you are a fan of the series like I am. I’m already ready for 6.
8. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
Call of Duty games have always featured on my lists over the years so it’s no surprise we have another here. Though it is for different reasons that recent games. I began loving COD for its campaigns. But recently I’ve been way more of a fan of the multiplayer. Last year’s Black Ops 4 is still my fav COD to date for it’s insanely good multiplayer and epic Blackout mode. Whereas this year I completely fell off the multiplayer after a week or so. So why is this game here? That campaign was incredible. It made me realise I’ve been craving this for a long time. Not since Wolfenstein 2 have I loved a big budget shooter campaign as much as this one. I actually cared about the characters. The set pieces and mission variety was awesome. I loved it from start to finish. I’m sad that for now this isn’t a game I’ll be playing for months like previous games; but if the rumoured Battle Royale stuff is true and comes out before the craziness of 2020 is upon us then I’ll definitely be giving it a try again.
7. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
This is a weird one for me. I like Sekiro. I really do. But I also think it’s nowhere near the level of previous From Software games. Yes, I shouldn’t compare as those are RPG’s and this is a character action game but there’s enough similarities elsewhere that of course it evokes the comparisons to the Soulsborne games. I really enjoyed the combat most of the time when it worked but actually found a lot of the bosses more cheeseable than any of their previous games which I feel like was the opposite of what they were going for. The enemy design and locations were super lacking and similarly the reason why I stopped playing Nioh after 40 hours before completion. I’m glad From Software tried something slightly different and I still enjoyed this game enough to get the Platinum trophy. But I can’t wait to see them go back to what they do better than anyone else. If Elden Ring is the natural evolution of the Soulsborne games that I hope it is; it’s gonna be something really special.
6. Tetris 99
I mean it’s Tetris Battle Royale. That’s all you need to know. A simple idea done almost perfectly. The only problem I have with this game is the whole targeting system and selecting between the options of KO’s, attackers etc. I feel like we all just worked out what this was during the first week and haven’t bothered actually looking it up as the game doesn’t do a good job at all of explaining the differences and when you should use each one. Other than that though this idea is executed perfectly. Games load super quick. The gameplay is exactly how Tetris should feel. I spent over 80 hours on this free game. Once again, It’s Tetris Battle Royale. I’m just gonna go play it instead of talking about it anymore.
5. Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order
When it comes to new releases I always have a fair idea of what new games are coming out and which ones are on my radar that I want to play. This was not one of the games. I decided to pick it up as I was really in the mood for so brainless super hero action and while I did get that I also got so much more. I enjoyed the story as just a fun comic book arc played out on screen and really started to appreciate how the combat worked on harder levels. The infinity rifts is when this game really clicked for me as I really had to think about which heroes would be best suited for specific challenges. I couldn’t stop until I had done everything and after over 100 hours I had done just that. The DLC hasn’t grabbed me yet but I did buy the season pass so I’ll check it out once it’s all out. But this was probably the biggest surprise of 2019 for me as I’d never played the series before and had such a great time levelling up my favorite heroes and beating a million bad guys to a pulp. Just pure video game fun at it’s best.
4. Untitled Goose Game
This is maybe the most charmed I’ve ever been by a game. Of course everyone has seen this game and has their opinion about it; I adore this game. What started as a joke in a trailer, and a good one at that, grew into a game that I couldn’t have ever imagined would give me so much joy. I think it’s the combination of everything coming together so well. The beautiful art style. The insanely original score. And the animations of the goose all combine so well to make something that’s honestly going to be one of the more memorable games I played all year. It didn’t outstay its welcome and it never went too far with the comedy. A perfect blend of an indie game. More of this please.
3. Return of the Obra Dinn
Yes, it did come out in 2018 initially though it did get ported to Switch this year even though I played it back in January on the PC after seeing it on numerous list’s last year. I love anything that makes you feel like a detective, trying to piece together clues to solve a mystery. I think this is my favourite game of that genre I’ve ever played. Not since The Witness have I felt so rewarded with my own knowledge being used before. When you remember that key piece of information that you needed to tie everything together it feels incredible. I also loved the art style and weird soundtrack a bunch too. Maybe some more late game reveals about the boat would have been nice but this was still an insanely awesome game and one that I hope I can revisit one day if I ever forget the names and faces of the passengers of the Obra Dinn.
2. Resident Evil 2
These last two games are head and shoulders above everything else I played this year and are the sole reason why I said 2019 was still a good year really. I hate to have this as my runner up as Resident Evil 7 also took that title in 2017 but that’s still a worthy place for this game. As a lifelong fan of this franchise it’s just been incredible to see this recent resurgence after some really dark times a few years ago. I’m so glad that more people have finally got to experience this wonderful game which has been overlooked for so long. As far as this remake goes; it’s pretty much exactly what I could have hoped. Is this the best Resident Evil game? In my opinion no. I’d still take 4, 7 and even 3 before this but this is comfortably the best gameplay RE has ever had. The sound design is flawless. Hearing Mr.X stalk you even when not on the same floor still scares me to this day. Once again the game is stunning as this current RE engine has probably some of my favourite character models and animations in all of video games. I think 2 does have it’s faults compared to other older RE games but this game mostly gets everything right about that game and has now made one of my favorite games from childhood viable again. And that’s awesome. And finally this game is the reason why Resident Evil 3 is firmly my most anticipated game of 2020; with Nemesis being my personal favorite PS1 era RE game. I cannot wait!
1. Death Stranding
And then there was one. It just had to be Kojima. The fact that this game lived up to my expectations after over 4 years of waiting still blows my mind. I adored every second I had with this game. The world they created with it’s mysterious lore and interesting characters. A gameplay loop unlike anything I’ve ever played before. A perfect balancing act of a game where no one method of traveling around this vast world ever becomes the only method is an amazing achievement in itself. The usual Kojima cinematic tendency that makes this not only the best looking game of the year by far but also the most unique. Every single idea and concept is something that you don’t see anywhere else and it’s why I’ll always gravitate towards something that isn’t afraid to swing for the fences over just playing it safe like so much media these days. I feel a genuine sadness that I’ve done everything there is to do in Death Stranding and that I no longer have this game to look forward to anymore. But at least the game I had built up in my head all this time was the experience I was looking for. I just wish these types of experiences from true auteurs happened more often in this art form that I love so much. A true once in a lifetime experience and my game of the year for 2019.