Games of the Year 2019 - DarthOrange Edition

It is time for my obligatory GotY list. This particular year was pretty alright. I seem to be pretty hot or cold on video games depending on the year but this one was sufficiently satisfactory. I played a total of 22 video games this year, although only ten of them really stood out in 2019. You can read my thoughts on the other games I played that are not listed by following this link. If you are interested in reading my opinion on video games in previous years, here are links to my previous game of the year blog posts: 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011.

Note: At the end of my brief write up for each game I state which system I played the game on and provide a link to the game's trailer so that you can see what the game actually looks like in motion as many are not done justice in still images.

10. Gunman Clive HD Collection

It has a simple art style that complements its simple gameplay. Light platforming as you shoot enemies, occasionally picking up power ups. I absolutely loved the first game and actually felt it was a stronger game than the second, which added a lot more elements that didn't all end up landing. The different playable characters is a nice touch and encouraged me to run through these incredibly short games multiple times to get a different challenge.

I played through this game on the Nintendo Switch. Click here to see the trailer on YouTube.

There is a something to be said about the minimalist color palette and design of the first game, although the bright colors and more complex environments of the second game also have their charms.
There is a something to be said about the minimalist color palette and design of the first game, although the bright colors and more complex environments of the second game also have their charms.

9. Witcheye

I am not entirely sure how to describe this game. I guess it is a platformer, although not in the traditional sense. You play as an eyeball and navigate around enviornments, defeating enemies and battle bosses. The art is absolutely beautiful and the soundtrack is solid too. I'm not usually a fan of touch controls but this one feels fine. Simple to play and provides just the right amount of challenge.

I played through this game on an iPhone SE. Click here to see the trailer on YouTube.

The soundtrack totally lives up to the awesome visuals in this game.
The soundtrack totally lives up to the awesome visuals in this game.

8. Resident Evil 2

I am a huge fan of action Resident Evil (RE4-6) and was incredibly disappointed with the direction of RE7. RE2 feels like a compromise to satisfy everyone. I appreciated the familiar camera and controls, and the small environments that you get to know quite well as you repeatedly explore them, and how zombies who died would stay dead and those who didn't would stay alive until you dealt with them. Would I have preferred an actual, action-heavy followup to RE6? Absolutely. But this was nice too. Also, Claire's campaign > Leon's campaign.

I played through this game on the Xbox One X. Click here to see the trailer on YouTube.

I love this game, but fuck the Tyrant.
I love this game, but fuck the Tyrant.

7. Hell is Other Demons

A bullet hell arena shooter where you play as a demon killing other demons in short levels that can all be finished without ever firing a single shot. If you do want to fight back a bit more aggressively there are a slew of upgrades to purchase and an endless survival mode if you want to go for a high score, which I did indulge in on more than one occasion. The controls are tight and the simple art style and soundtrack are wonderful.

I played through this game on the Nintendo Switch. Click here to see the trailer on YouTube.

Even when things get really hectic it is still easy to follow what is going on and where everything is.
Even when things get really hectic it is still easy to follow what is going on and where everything is.

6. Katana Zero

I was incredibly surprised by how story focused this was. I came looking for side scrolling Hotline Miami but the story ended up elevating Katana Zero above and beyond Hotline. Stylish as hell with a killer soundtrack to boot.

I played through this game on the Nintendo Switch. Click here to see the trailer on YouTube.

Much like Hotline Miami, this feels like a Nicolas Winding Refn film in video game form.
Much like Hotline Miami, this feels like a Nicolas Winding Refn film in video game form.

5. Double Cross

Really fun platformer that scratched the right itch at the right time for me. You play as a RIFT agent (basically the space FBI) and levels play out but jumping/avoiding falls, using your gravity beam grappling hook, and fighting enemies with your hands and feet. A straightforward level selecter allows you to play through three worlds in any order you want. There is a light investigation story that takes place in the hub world where you select your levels. I found the story charming and entertaining, and the dialogue paths are by and large optional and never overstay their welcome. The collectibles are never too hard to find and the platforming likewise strikes a good balance where it never feels impossible nor does it feel brainless.

I played through this game on the Nintendo Switch. Click here to see the trailer on YouTube.

It is actually pretty amazing how much world building they do in such a short game. They could have easily gotten away with
It is actually pretty amazing how much world building they do in such a short game. They could have easily gotten away with "this is the colorful neon world" but they put some thought into the "why" (even if it is silly Saturday morning cartoon nonsense) and I appreciate that.

4. Gato Roboto

An adorable and very short metroidvania. I absolutely loved the level designs and gameplay variety and was bummed when I reached the end. I am not a cat person but the smol pixelated Kiki the cat and the hilarious story provided one of my favorite experiences of this year.

I played through this game on the Nintendo Switch. Click here to see the trailer on YouTube.

It is a cat in a mech suit, what more do you want?
It is a cat in a mech suit, what more do you want?

3. Mechstermination Force

Contra of the Colossus. That is every bit as awesome as it sounds. Fight giant mech bosses by climbing up them. No other fluff gameplay in-between, just all bosses, all the time. Played through the whole thing in co-op and loved every minute. Some levels a bit more challenging than others but it never gets frustratingly hard nor does it ever feel unfair.

I played through this game on the Nintendo Switch. Click here to see the trailer on YouTube.

The developer of Gunman Clive also worked on this game, and you can also play as Gunman Clive himself in Mechstermination Force if you have a save for the HD Collection on your system. There are more than a few winks and nods to Gunman Clive in this game so I recommend you actually play it before diving into Mechstermination Force.
The developer of Gunman Clive also worked on this game, and you can also play as Gunman Clive himself in Mechstermination Force if you have a save for the HD Collection on your system. There are more than a few winks and nods to Gunman Clive in this game so I recommend you actually play it before diving into Mechstermination Force.

2. Overwhelm

I love a good horror aesthetic but I also love me some action. Overwhelm does a beautiful job of making an incredible horror experience with a minimalist pixel art style where the screen gets progressively darker and less visible every time you lose a life. One hit makes you lose a life, lose all your lives and it is game over, with you having to restart from the beginning. The map remains constant and the bosses are always in the same place, however, the normal enemies in the world are randomly placed. The twist in this game is that every time you kill a boss, the normal enemies get the bosses power (spitting acid or flying faster), making the game harder as you progress and making you carefully consider what order you want to tackle them in. A full run is pretty dang short and while the difficulty quickly ramps up as you reach the end of a run the game is pretty forgiving of the occasional dumb mistake. The coop mode is works perfectly and I had a blast playing it both alone and with my brother.

I played through this game on the Nintendo Switch. Click here to see the trailer on YouTube.

Obligatory water level boss. Luckily your lives reset to three whenever you kill a boss, and in coop you have a few seconds to revive your partner when they die.
Obligatory water level boss. Luckily your lives reset to three whenever you kill a boss, and in coop you have a few seconds to revive your partner when they die.

1. Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order

If you are not a fan of Marvel superheroes I can't imagine this game will do anything for you, but if you are, there is a lot to love with Ultimate Alliance 3. This was my video game junk food of 2019. A game to just let yourself sink into and mash away at enemies. The roster is solidly diverse and the gameplay loop is fun. Using your superpowers to go through hordes of enemies has not grown old in the 80+ hours I spent with the game in 2019. There is a ton of content here, so much so that I still haven't completed all the missions and I am still about 60+ levels away from the level cap on my strongest character. I have been playing it almost exclusively in local coop with my brother and it has been a lot of fun to continuously revisit it since it first released.

I played through this game on the Nintendo Switch. Click here to see the trailer on YouTube.

It is actually really hard to get a good screenshot of this game in motion that looks good. The game quite frankly just looks ugly, but the gameplay loop is still crazy addicting.
It is actually really hard to get a good screenshot of this game in motion that looks good. The game quite frankly just looks ugly, but the gameplay loop is still crazy addicting.

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