Game of the Year 2019 (As played, not released)
What an odd year. I spent the majority of it waiting for something interesting to come around. There were plenty of experiences that were okay in the first two-thirds of the year, but they were few and far between. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised considering my list last year was a combination of the best of 2017 (since I got a Switch) and the killer new games of 2018. Regardless, the time was filled with great indies and remasters until things kicked into high gear in the fall (seriously, 7 out of my top ten I purchased in August or later). This relative lack of excitement made it tough to write as much about what I was playing as years past. Mix that with the fact that I’m writing so much for school (at the time of this post only 4 weeks left before I complete my Master’s!), and you have a year that felt below average as it progressed, but will probably be remembered as a solid year overall. It’s certainly the opposite of 2020 where spring is shaping up to be an absolute slug-fest between amazing games (Doom Eternal V. Animal Crossing… FIGHT).
The biggest technological change for me this year was my first VR experience with PSVR. I don’t have the resources to build and maintain a gaming PC so the console experience was the best way to dip my toe in the water. I was a bit skeptical of the technology, but having not experienced Oculus and Vive level kits, the PSVR, blurriness and all, was an absolute wonder. As a first time user of “real” VR, but a cynical one, it’s amazing how quickly it “got” me. I kind of rolled my eyes at the whole “you won’t understand it unless you experience it” thing, but I get it now.
Looking at my list for this year is the first time I’ve noticed the real impact that games as a service have had on my habits. While last year’s list was all open worlds, this year is filled with single-player experiences— many of them set in smaller, focused worlds. It’s also worth noting because I continued to play last year’s games (Hitman 2, AC Odyssey) this year, especially during the early-year drought.
Overall, I think 2019 is a year that will be remembered more fondly than, say, 2014, but certainly not an all time great.