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Finally catching up on a few lists

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2019 -- GOTY

The pace of releases in 2019 (plus holiday sales) has given me a long list of titles I'm still looking forward to playing. I'm already a little late, but now's a good time to put a bow on 2019 GOTY.

2019's honorable mentions are Baba Is You and Cadence of Hyrule.

I played a lot of great games from other years in 2019, and a few favorites include: FFXIV, Dragon Quest Builders, Two Point Hospital, Stardew Valley and The Witcher 3

List items

  • I played FFXIV in 2019 starting from A Realm Reborn. Shadowbringers still manages to stand out in terms of story moments and amazing music, in addition to gameplay updates.

  • Fire Emblem games curiously have zoomed-out strategy gameplay with deeply interesting individual characters. Three Houses continues this strength and builds on it with its monastery gameplay. (The battle and progression systems saw a lot of changes, too.) It's another solid entry in one of my favorite franchises since Fire Emblem: Awakening.

  • From Software games are known for challenging and interesting combat. Sekiro arguably has the best to date. The settings and cinematics are also top-notch (and set up a lot of epic duels!)

  • Slay the Spire can be frustrating at times, but its challenge and learning curve are arguably strengths. Its complex synergies often lead to interesting decisions and (sometimes-unexpected) interactions.

  • I think God Eater 3 scratched something of an action game itch for me. Its AI team is also pretty cool idea, even if mechanically it's mostly straightforward.

  • Iceborne still has the fun core gameplay of Monster Hunter, with meaningful updates including the clutch claw, new monsters and a lot of great quality-of-life improvements. It leans more into hardcore elements than I'd like, especially the grind of raised rank requirements and the entire Guiding Lands progression.

  • Astral Chain's combat creates some pretty cool gameplay moments of yanking yourself around a fight. Astral Chain also has a lot of non-combat gameplay. It's not all bad, but too much of it is bland and tedious.

  • Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is buggy and not especially mysterious, but its movement feels pretty good and some of its item and enemy designs are fun to play around with.

  • I didn't love Katana Zero's style, but its gameplay is well-executed. The short levels, one-shot combat and instant respawns all support its super-fast action.

  • Steamworld Quest has a pretty slow gameplay ramp -- the first half of the game doesn't offer many meaningful deck choices. I still enjoyed the decks I settled on, as well as the eventual progression in this curious card-based RPG.