GOTY 2019

Well, it's 2019, and I guess it's a sign of the times that all of my top 10 were played on PC - yet only four of them were via Steam.

I would say that I got around to most of the games I really wanted to, although, the way people talk about Control and Disco Elysium make me feel like I should eventually play those at some point. Oh, and Phoenix Point too, but I think I should wait until that gets patched a bit more.

Runners up:

  • Jackbox Party Pack 6 (I had lots of fun with this. Push the Button is, by far, its standout.)
  • Outer Wilds (Some very frustrating mechanics mar an otherwise cool experience.)
  • Wargroove (Nice pixels and some good tactical gameplay.)
  • Ape Out (Styyyyyyle!)
  • Gato Roboto (Fun and cute li'l Metroidvania.)
  • Sigil (John Romero's 5th episode for the original Doom!)

List items

  • I can earnestly say that this game has had a profound effect on my life. Before this year, I almost exclusively played single-player games, but this game changed me. I have played this regularly ever since it released.

    Sure, it's not without its technical issues and occasional missteps, but so much of the game feels superbly crafted - from the general flow of a match, to the teamwork mechanics, to the (mostly) well-tuned free-to-play trappings.

    Respawn also have done a great job with the characters. Even the characters I'm not a huge fan of feel well-realised - both in terms of personality and skill sets.

    When I next update my Top 100 list, this game will certainly be somewhere towards the top.

  • Numerous games have tried to do a comic book-style aesthetic, but I don't think any have nailed it like Void Bastards has. The decision to use high-res sprites for enemies really sells the art style; it feels like every single screenshot could feasibly be taken straight out of a comic book.

    The gameplay felt consistently fun - I loved fighting off quirky enemies with an assortment of odd weaponry. The general gameplay loop and the progression mechanics felt spot-on. It's the kind of run-based game that never got me salty about dying.

  • This game really scratched a specific CRPG itch I had. It feels like an almost perfect intersection of Fallout and Mass Effect.

    There's some great character interactions and tough choices to be made. But, by far, the best writing exists around the character Parvati, who feels well fleshed-out and genuine. I really wish all of the characters in the game felt nearly as compelling as her - sadly, that is not the case though.

    There's more of a combat focus in this than I anticipated; thankfully, it's not necessarily a bad thing. I feel it should go without saying, but whacking things with a giant hammer is pretty fun.

    Overall, this game hit a lot of the right notes for me. I loved being immersed in its world(s), despite my enjoyment waning a bit towards the end.

  • I very much appreciate all of the quality of life improvements they implemented this time around (particularly the item scores), as well as adding a photo mode - I'm always a sucker for photo modes.

    There's certainly some not-great characters and a variety of annoying technical issues that I came across. But I also had some very good times both playing solo and with other people.

    Also, a couple of my favourite video game moments from this year are from this game. One late-game side quest moment in particular made me well up a bit.

  • The Binding of Isaac games were my happy place for the longest time, and via the transitive property, those warm and fuzzy feelings extend to The Legend of Bum-bo. So, in some roundabout way, this game that came out a month and a half ago pings that nostalgic part of my brain.

    So, I guess it's hard for me to say if this is worth playing for someone who isn't deep into Isaac. But for me, this is exactly what I want from a Binding of Isaac game that isn't a Binding of Isaac game - disturbing but charming, disgusting but cute...and filled with a bunch of mildly broken item synergies.

    The graphical style definitely has a striking look to it, however, sometimes the visual design seems to take precedence over communicating important information (e.g. an enemy's health indicator can sometimes be hidden behind another enemy).

    Also, definitely my favourite soundtrack this year.

  • The most innovative puzzle game I've played in years!

  • It doesn't quite live up to the highs of the Zero Escape series, but I still got very into it - I even wrote down notes during the game about how I expected the story to pan out, which is something I never do [for the record, I was mostly wrong].

    There's some very good character moments, but it also has its fair share of terrible dialogue moments. The humour only sometimes hits the mark - several of the characters miss no opportunity to make awkward and lewd jokes or bad puns. And I don't mean endearingly bad puns, I mean straight-up not good puns.

    On a conceptual level, I love the puzzle sections - particularly its interesting spin on time-management mechanics. In practice, however, the puzzle sections are often tedious and very unintuitive.

    As a whole though, it's an enthralling journey with the right amount of wild twists and turns.

  • This is one of those 'this is exactly what you expect it to be' type games. Thankfully, it does the thing you expect well.

    I'd rank it among the best 2.5D shooters I've played. I'd also probably say it's my current favourite Build Engine game.

  • I was really not into this for the first few hours; the early parts of the game can be pretty unenjoyable. But I'm glad I stuck with it, though. It becomes incredibly fun later on when you have access to a wide variety of abilities/items.

  • The first-person puzzler is a pretty crowded genre these days; Manifold Garden might not be among the genre's best, but it's absolutely worth experiencing.

    It does some pretty astounding things with its environments and aesthetics. And the ending sequence is truly something spectacular.