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Best of 2019

Hoo boy alright here we go.

List items

  • This one snuck up on me. It wasn't really on my radar at all, but at the start of the year I finally bought a decent gaming PC (an upgrade from my disintegrating 2015 Razer laptop) which contained an RTX2070 and enough RAM to power a small country, and being able to play control with every graphical setting turned up to the max felt pretty vindicating. On top of that, the game is legitimately good. They nailed the spooky x-files uncanny and yet somehow drab government backdrop, and I had a great time both interacting with the other characters and shooting their hivemind counterparts.

    Huge kudos to what is clearly an ambitious project that was delivered to an extremely high quality straight out of the box. More like this please.

  • Hadn't picked up a Total War game since Shogun 2, but while the rest of the RTS genre seems to be stagnating Total War continues to build and impress. The diplomacy was endlessly entertaining, and the large scale fights are a spectacle to behold - I have some qualms with the repetitive nature of some of the combat, and for western audiences the limited visual avatars can make recognizing characters from the infinite pool of generic Chinese generals somewhat convoluted, but overall this was a welcome respite from the otherwise barren strategy drought.

  • I never played Resident Evil 2 before! In fact I think two was the only one I'd never played before. Having attempted 1 and 3 while I was still too young and terrified to really appreciate what was going on, and then having completed 4 so many times in secondary school that my brother and I were having to create arbitrary challenges for ourselves just to keep it interesting (Just the knife and suplex, let's go), jumping into Resident Evil 2 was like greeting an old friend, the quality of life changes that made the original games so overwhelming replaced with the fluid movement of the later titles in which I was so well versed. Love it.

  • I'm a huge PUBG fan (I just hit 1000 hours over the weekend, which makes it probably my third most-played game ever) and Apex Legends was a welcome mid-season palate cleanser which took all the high-stakes tension of the battle royale genre and mixed it in with some great maneuverability options and character abilities. I've since returned to PUBG but Apex deserves credit for being my sly Royale on the side.

  • OK first things first, the music that plays during stadium battles is fucking fantastic. This is the game that I feel like I've wanted since I was about 7 years old, and I remember gushing to my friends about how they could improve Pokemon Red and Blue if they were to release those games on the N64. It might be a few generations later, but they got there eventually, Poke Shield was everything I've been longing for all this time. Better late than never!

  • Ah Fire Emblem. I had a great time with this game, my focus always on recruiting and maximizing the relationships I held with students and teachers alike. I love the mid-game twist that I shared with Edelgard, though I felt that my satisfaction was limited severely by the lack of variation in combat roles and the hugely underwhelming relationship exposition that serves as your reward for finishing the game. Perhaps it's naive of me to assume so much from a Japanese developer, but I was legitimately excited when I heard there were same sex relationships in this game, and legitimately disappointed when I realized they were limited to vague implications in a forgettable paragraph post-credits.

  • I bounced off the original Division pretty hard - the missions and enemies were limited and endlessly replaying the same content on the offchance that you might get moderately better loot did not appeal. The division 2 has much better variation to its gameplay cycle and activities, as well as engaging enemies and fights that require more than simply endlessly dumping rounds into a guy wearing a hoodie. It also looks spectacular.

  • Technically a battle royale, Tetris 99 became the game that I would would start with the intention of playing for a few minutes, then look up to discover that it's dark, my girlfriend had gone to bed, and 4 hours had passed. It's honestly incredible that anyone could take Tetris, a game so old that even my grandparents know what it is, and release it with an engaging fresh spin not once but twice in the space of two years. I know there are always arguments about "the best game ever made" but if we're talking about the game with the longest-lasting inter-generational impact with the most iterative flexibility then, well.... fuck you, it's Tetris.

  • I really liked Sekiro for about the first 20 hours, and then hit a wall. I stopped playing overnight and, unfortunately, haven't had any enthusiasm at all to go back. Building up the muscle memory to grind my way through a series of increasingly punishing enemies is something I know I have the ability to do, I just lack the time and patience. There are plenty of other games out there I would much rather be playing.

  • Games like Babe Is You! I love this game. It's like debugging code. It's infinitely simple but exponentially satisfying, especially when you enter a room and immediately solve the puzzle just because you're in the fucking ZONE.

    A great puzzle game.