GOTY 2019

This is a list of my favorite games I finished this year and, just like past years, the list contains both new and old titles. This is my tenth GOTY list I've posted to Giantbomb, marking an entire decade of Game of the Year posts. That is kind of crazy to think about. If you are curious about what games I thought were cool over the past decade, you can check out my past lists here:

Who knows if I'll still be posting here 10 years from today but that is for the future to decide. Anyway here is my list for 2019:

List items

  • The Resident Evil series has had a big comeback in recent years. Resident Evil 7 was an amazing game that breathed new live into the franchise but, for me, Resident Evil 2 Remake felt like the true return-to-form that I wanted to see from the series. I am not a Resident Evil super fan and I have not played every entry in the franchise but the GameCube remake of RE1 and RE4 are some of my all-time favorites. In many ways the RE2 remake felt like it took the best qualities from both of these games, RE1’s atmosphere and puzzle-solving plus RE4’s gameplay and over-the-shoulder perspective, and combined them into one delicious sandwich. I only ever played the game when I was alone at night with all the lights off while wearing headphones and it was a horrifying experience that stuck with me all year.

  • Fire Emblem Awakening is one of my favorite games I played this decade. It made me a fan of the franchise and made me a bigger fan of strategy RPGs in general. Since playing Awakening I’ve sort of been chasing that high, hoping that the sequels that followed Awakening would recapture the magic. Fates was a disappointment for many reasons and Echoes was a fun gaiden story but Fire Emblem: Three Houses is perhaps the closest the series has gotten to matching Awakening for me. The ending I got was a bit disappointing, which took some of the edge off of my excitement for the title, but Three Houses is maybe everything I wanted out of a Fire Emblem game. It was a great family experience as well since a lot of my siblings got obsessed with the title this year along with me. Three House still can't compete with my memories of playing Awakening on my OG red 3DS with my friends and family at college, and nothing ever will, but I still had a blast playing Three Houses this year.

  • Another year and another Trails game on my GOTY list. I've been steadily working my way through this epic series and this year I actually played multiple installments in the Trails saga, including finishing Zero and starting Cold Steel III. However, without a doubt, my favorite entry I finished this year was Trails in the Sky the 3rd. Besides the great soundtrack and fun character moments, The 3rd was just a nice change of pace compared to the rest of the series. The game tells a nice focused story that was refreshing after playing so many 90-hour monsters.

  • I have been a fan of the Sakura Wars series for as long as I've been on this website and this year I helped do testing/editing for the English fan translation that was recently released. It was a lot of hard work, but I am really happy to have been a part of the project. Plus, I was finally able to play the original Sakura Wars for the first time in English and that is really cool.

  • My feelings on AI are a bit complicated. I enjoyed the central mystery and the cast of characters featured in the story are a lot of fun. The game’s presentation is also pretty sharp thanks to the title's appealing cel-shaded look and its solid English voice acting. However, AI feels like it is a spork of a game in many ways with the title trying to combine a branching visual novel structure with traditional adventure game exploration and puzzle solving, basically Zero Escape meets Ace Attorney. I feel like these two elements should go great together but they just don't really work in AI. The story has multiple endings when it didn’t need to, bloating the narrative with unneeded repetition, and the gameplay outside of the sonmium sections is so simple that it felt more like an extra button I had to press to advance the story rather than me problem solving anything. The story also has a lot of tonal whiplash where the characters will be seriously investigating a grisly murder one minute and then the next, they are awakening their super saiyan abilities by getting horny for a porno mag. However, despite all this, I still did enjoy my time with the game. I even enjoyed the sonmium sections more than most people, but overall AI felt like a mixed bag. A mixed bag that still had some cool stuff in it.