2019 in Gaming and your Game of the Year

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Re: 2019 in Gaming and your Game of the Year

Post by stvnorman »

Baba is You currently tops my list of ten, but having just signed up to Game Pass, I’m going to sink my teeth into at least one of Outer Wilds, Bloodstained or Blair Witch before I finalise the rest... if my son lets me on his Xbox!

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Re: 2019 in Gaming and your Game of the Year

Post by Jobobonobo »

If we are not being strict in regards to the game being released in 2019 to count as GOTY then mine simply has to be Yakuza 0. Story, characters, gameplay, music, humour, this game got it all right. This is up there as one of the best games I have played this decade, never mind the year. I am fully on the Yakuza train now and I can't wait to start up Kiwami next year.

If we are just counting titles actually released this year then Yooka-Laylee and the impossible lair wins by default as it is the only title released this year that I have actually played. Thankfully, it gets to be GOTY also due to actually being a really solid game and has shown how Playtonic has listened to the feedback Yooka-Laylee got and really refined their craft with this one. Its concept of the final level being accessible to play at any time and can be beaten early on if you are skilled enough is a genius touch and the tonic system which has a balancing act between making levels easier/harder vs obtaining less/more quills is a great way for players to modify the difficulty to whatever suits them best. It has truly captured the spirit of what made the DKC games great while also adding enough new touches to make it be its own thing. If Playtonic keeps this up, we might well be seeing something similar to a return to golden age Rare.

I did not manage to play much but with the exceptions of Furi and Gravity Rush 2, I have had a pretty good year when it comes to gaming.

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Re: 2019 in Gaming and your Game of the Year

Post by seansthomas »

A great deal of the best games I played this year really are ports of older games, like Dark Souls, Virtua Racing, Hellblade, DOOM, Witcher 3 etc. I also put another 100 hours into BOTW with the kids. And I have Mario Maker 2 and Luigi's Mansion 3 for Christmas, which I suspect will ultimately better many of the 2019 games I played.

Off the top of my head, the 2019 games I enjoyed the most were probably Astral Chain, Ape Out, My Friend Pedro and Link's Awakening. All solid 8/10s.

Sayonara Wild Hearts was beautiful but shallow. Tetris 99 was beyond my skill level. Untitled Goose Game was alright. Bounced off of Baba is you. Ring Fit Adventure and the Labo VR kit were also big family experiences this year and titles I'll look back on fondly.

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Re: 2019 in Gaming and your Game of the Year

Post by Jon Cheetham »

I spent most of the year past April going back to older titles, and that's at least partly because of my game of the year - Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice.

The narrative around difficulty had for years been completely misleading to me in terms of how challenge actually articulates in these games. I had briefly looked longingly at other From Software titles which otherwise had exactly the settings and features I am into, but always assumed they were for far twitchier fingers than mine. Then when Sekiro came along with a setting based in a sort of magical realism take on the Sengoku, and my brother (a big fan of From) suggested it would be fun to both get into the game and learn its systems and idiosyncrasies at the same time, I couldn't say no.

Despite hitting a two-week meatwall in the form of Genichiro and taking nearly 50 tries to get Sword Saint Isshin down, I eventually beat it and remained so addicted to what is (to my mind) a perfectly crafted system of sword combat, I just kept going up through New Game + cycles to get all the endings, ending up one-shotting both Genichiro and Isshin on NG4. By this point I had fallen in love with previously impossible-seeming boss fights and playing the game was a zen experience of familiar dances with the various enemies.

The reason it is such an important game to me is that firstly it "unlocked" the other From games - I thought, if I can do this one, then I can do the others - and I spent the next few months having the amazing experiences of first Bloodborne and then the Dark Souls trilogy. Bloodborne is now my favourite game ever. Secondly, those games ended up getting me engaged in jolly co-operation with my brother, and we've now played through all of the older titles together, which is a terrific way to have fun with them and has been unforgettable time with my bro - I live on the other side of the world from him, so meeting up in Lordran, Drangleic, Lothric and Yharnam has been really special.

So a toast of sake with a Tengu Mask-wearing grandpa in Sekiro's honour, and an honourable mention to Devil May Cry 5 my second choice (and which I played to completion in between tries while stuck on the Sword Saint).

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Re: 2019 in Gaming and your Game of the Year

Post by Chopper »

Wow, Sekiro is proving popular around here

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Re: 2019 in Gaming and your Game of the Year

Post by JadePhoenix »

It was a bit of a weird year for me, some highlights:

Kingdom Hearts 3 - PS4
It’s hard to fairly evaluate a game that was so anticipated for so long, and Kingdom Hearts 3 wasn’t a bad game by any stretch, but after waiting for it for so many years, I was hoping for so much better. The gameplay was pretty good, with nicely paced combat, though personally I think KH2’s was better, and it wasn’t nearly challenging enough.
Where it really fell apart was the story. Basically the entire story of the game, which had so much build up over the preceding games, takes place in the last ~5 hours. The various Disney worlds, of which there weren’t all that many to begin with, felt like roadblocks to clear, rather than places you actually wanted to go. When the story did actually start happening, it felt super rushed, and the decision to end on a cliffhanger after waiting all these year for a resolution felt terrible.
As I write this, the trailer for the DLC has just dropped, and while a lot of it probably should have been in the base game, at least it does look like they’re trying to address these issues, so hopefully I’ll feel differently in a few months.

Etrian Odyssey: Nexus - 3DS
I’ve loved the Etrian Odyssey games ever since the DS era, and this was a fantastic sendoff to the series in its current form. Taking the best dungeons, characters, and classes from each of the previous games, it combined them into something that was bigger than the sum of its parts. The sheer number of mazes in the game made it more than twice the size of other games in the series, and while the story did a serviceable job of holding the game together, that’s never been the focus of the series. If I had one complaint it would be the difficulty, much like previous games, it’s a bit steep. The game took me 85 hours with the DLC item that increased exp gains, I can’t imagine how grindy it would have been without it.

Yoshi's Crafted World - Switch
I had honestly forgotten that this game existed before I looked at my list of games for the year. The Crafts aesthetic was cute, but not as charming as Wooley World, and the game was quite easy and short. The biggest change from previous games was the pseudo-3D level design, which ended up being more frustrating than interesting most of the time.

Persona Q2: New Cinema Labyrinth - 3DS
As mush as I loved getting to see the characters from the 3 modern Persona games interact, having the characters from all 3 games, including the optional characters, felt a bit crowded. A lot of the interactions between them were as entertaining as expected, but, with so many, none of them really got a chance to stand out. Also, the decision not to dub the game into English was strange, given that every other game in the series has had English audio. I didn’t think it was possible, but Teddy’s Japanese voice was actually MORE annoying than his English voice.

Fire Emblem: Three Houses - Switch
It feels really weird to say that I haven’t finished a game that I saw the credits and logged 100 hours in, and that speaks to how much content this game has, but also how badly paced it is. The two major draws of this game are the branching paths, and the school training, which gives you unprecedented levels of customization of your units. I like both of those things individually, but I’ve become pretty convinced that they don’t belong in the same game. The school aspect is so time-consuming that on subsequent playthroughs, which the game basically expects 3 of, it gets extremely tedious. Easily half of your time is spent running around the school giving gifts and training your students and yourself, which is fun for a while, but eventually you start to wish that you could just skip it and get on with the game. Equally, the ability to customize your units doesn’t matter all that much, since for each path you use mostly different units anyway. I still hope to finish at least one more path, because there’s so much of the story that you just don’t get from one playthrough, hopefully the forthcoming story DLC will be enough to motivate me.

Final Fantasy IX - Playstation
Partially motivated by the podcast episode, I decided to give FF IX a shot. I’ve played almost every game in the series, but for some reason, I’ve always bounced off them partway through, until 9. I don’t exactly know why, but I found the setting, the characters, and the story all extremely engaging. I’m pretty happy that, after 20 years or so, I’ve finally finished a Final Fantasy game.

The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening - Switch
Link’s Awakening has never been one of my favorite 2d Zeldas, but I do enjoy it. Apart from the new art style, which I’m pretty ambivalent about, this remake really didn’t add much, and while I enjoyed my (all too brief) time with it, I was hoping for a bit more for my $60. It WAS nice to actually find items in dungeons again, where they belong, it’s been way too long since we’ve had a new Zelda game that had them.

Dragon Quest III: Seeds of Salvation - Switch
With the Switch port of DQ3, I was excited to finally play the only game in the series I hadn’t gotten to yet, and I was not disappointed. The game is excellent, and it’s clear how a lot of its mechanics laid the groundwork for not only future games in the series, but for JRPGs in general.

Pokemon Sword - Switch
To say that the reception of the most recent Pokemon games has been mixed would be an understatement. The thing this game does, it generally does extremely well, but there’s definitely a general lack of content. Gym battles feel awesome, they totally capture the feeling of a professional sporting event, and the wild area is a blast to explore and capture Pokemon in. Unfortunately, those are the only 2 things to do in the entire game. Routes between cites are little more than straight lines with 2 -3 trainers each, none of whom have more than 2 Pokemon. While the series isn’t exactly known for strong storytelling, this game pretty much doesn’t have one, and the single story event there is doesn’t make any sense. The “evil” team’s entire goal is to annoy you in the hopes that you’ll stop trying to become champion, and they aren’t even very good at that. When you finally find out who the actual bad guys are, it’s in the most bizarre sequence of events, and it’s over extremely quickly.
The Wild area, which is the obvious highlight of the game, is a lot of fun to explore and catch Pokemon in, but the ridiculous level-restrictions bring it down somewhat. The game forces so much exp on you that the idea of balancing the game by preventing you from catching high-level Poekmon early is quite silly. Whenever you think about going out into the Wild Area to catch Pokemon, you feel like you should go beat more gyms first, in case you run into something that’s a higher level than you can catch, and the main game is so short that you end up beating all 8 before you’ve even started. Max raid battles are definitely the best part of the game, even by yourself, challenging huge wild Pokemon in a 4-on-1 battle is a lot of fun, and when friends join in, it’s a blast.
The one other high point of the game is its music, I was constantly struck by how great it was, and it does a great job of selling the feeling that you’re a professional athlete when competing in gym challenges. Overall, the game is mechanically solid, and areas of it are very well-polished, but it feels extremely incomplete.

Fell Seal: Arbiter's Mark - PC
I’ve had this on my wish-list since the Sound of Play episode, and finally picked it up in a sale a few weeks ago. I’m still working through it, but what I’ve played so far is brilliant.

I have a hard time calling any of these my game of the year, none of them really blew me away, so I’m going to cheat, and call Dragon Quest XI definitive edition my GotY, even though I haven’t actually played it, and it’s a port of a 2018 game, because the PS4 version is one of the best JRPGs I’ve played in years, and I have no reason to think the Switch version is any less amazing.

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Re: 2019 in Gaming and your Game of the Year

Post by Combine Hunter »

So here are 10 of my favourite games released this year. These aren't ranked, just alphabetical.

Astral Chain
Astral Chain feels like a return to the Platinum of 2009/2010, focusing in on action while managing to perfect and innovate in equal measure. Astral Chain takes a little too long to reveal just how deep it's two character combat system actually is, but once it does, it soars.

I think it suffers from a little insecurity about its audience's attention span, feeling the need to spawn in enemies if you linger in an area in an attempt to combat boredom (that I wasn't feeling). However, at it's peak, the combat is a ton of phyiscs fueled fun. The aesthetic is the stand out here though and I can't think another AAA game that looks and sounds this bold and different.

Devil May Cry 5
This game is pure fan service and is not breaking any new ground, but man is it well executed. Nero's robot arms are fun to experiment with and V's familiars are delightfully novel, but Dante is the star and is an intimdatingly deep action character. 3 is still my fav, but this is up there.

Fire Emblem: Three Houses
This feels like a second attempt at what they tried with Fire Emblem: Fates. Having 3 sides instead of 2 lends it's self to more compelling drama and ultimately I think the surprise strength of this game is its storytelling. That, plus they turned into a Persona game. Yay!

Katana ZERO
Very similar in style and premise to Hotline Miami, but far more forgiving and polished. Clever level and encounter design from beginning to end. Deflecting bullets never gets old even as the story kind drifts off towards the end.

Luigi's Mansion 3
Never played a Luigi's Mansion before, but now I'm a convert. Feels like classic Resident Evil style level and puzzle design if you replaced all the spooks with playful charm. The animation is best in class.

Outer Wilds
This is a masterpiece. If I had ranked this list, it would have easily been number one. It manages to simultaneously express both the beauty and the terror of space in equal measure. Must play, will be talked about for years to come.

Resident Evil 2
Unlike the 2002 remake of the original Resident Evil, I don't think this game makes its PS1 inspiration obsolete. That game is still brilliant in its own right all these years later, however this is a stellar reimagining. I adore this series and this feels like a remix of all my favourite Resident Evil has things, from RE4's combat to 1 and 2's level design. Also, this take on Mr. X is instantly iconic.

Sayonara Wild Hearts
You could descibe this as a music video made interactive, and for most of its run time I could see that, but it shows moments of mechanical inventiveness dotted through out that make it more than that when judged as a whole. "Parallel Universes" stands out as a particular creative high point.

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
I love FROM Software most when they try something new and for me this game rubs shoulders with Demon's Souls, Dark Souls and Bloodborne when its at its best. Narratively it's FROM at their most simplistic, but the combat is the most mechanically tight and satifying it has ever been.

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Re: 2019 in Gaming and your Game of the Year

Post by MajorGamer »

In terms of games I've played in 2019, regardless of when they were released, my answer is easy. Celeste. It had high expectations going in and managed to exceed them. A whole bunch of platforming fun and I have no complaints at all.

If things are being restricted to 2019 releases, things somehow get easier and harder. I rarely play games in the year they are released and the only one I can think of from this year was Gato Roboto. Don't get me wrong, it is a good game but it wouldn't rank on a top 10 if the 2019 release restriction was removed.

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Re: 2019 in Gaming and your Game of the Year

Post by duskvstweak »

JadePhoenix wrote: December 8th, 2019, 1:18 am Fell Seal: Arbiter's Mark - PC
I’ve had this on my wish-list since the Sound of Play episode, and finally picked it up in a sale a few weeks ago. I’m still working through it, but what I’ve played so far is brilliant.
Same and same.

The games I finished this year...
Spoiler: show
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (replay)
Chrono Trigger
Wolfenstein: The New Order
DOOM (2016)
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
Super Mario 64
Metro: Last Light
Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars
Shovel Knight
The Last of Us
Valkyria Chronicles
Mad Max
Hollow Knight
Dead Cells
The Messenger
Resident Evil 0
Luigi's Mansion
Sort of a slow year for me, mostly from playing too much Civ VI (Gathering Storm is the only 2019 game I played?) and tackling long games like Valkyria Chronicles and Mad Max.

DOOM (201^) was possibly the most fun I had all year in gaming, but I'm giving it to Link to the Past again! Any year I play that game, it's going to end up as my GOTY.

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Re: 2019 in Gaming and your Game of the Year

Post by ThirdDrawing »

I played Danganronpa 1 & 2 for the first time and loved them, this type of visual novel/point and click are right up my alley.

Truberbrook was also, but I think it was largely overlooked this year, as were State of Mind (I played on Switch), Daedalus: The Return of Golden Jazz (a Jake Hunter prequel with a terrible name) and AI Somnium Files which is a stylish mystery point and click game. I also replayed Syberia 1 & 2 and played Syberia 3 all on Switch. Amazing!

For RPGs, I really enjoyed Ni No Kuni 2 which felt like a modern Suikoden game.
Dragon Quest XI was traditional, but that was exactly what I wanted out of it - I love turn based combat.
World of Final Fantasy Maxima on the Switch was an extremely pleasant surprise - I consider this the true FF15.

Resident Evil 2 and Remothered are must plays if you enjoy horror. Remothered is more European and feels like half Suspiria and half Clock Tower.

I finally found a Souls game that clicks with me. I love Sekiro - Shadows Die Twice. It's hard, and I still lose a lot, but I make actual progress and feel like I can learn and get better.

For VR - I have really enjoyed both Battlezone and The Invisible Hours - a neat mystery game.

Special mention to Forgotten Anne....which isn't really like any other game out there. A really unique and interesting experience, as were Death Road to Canada and Count Lucanor, although the 8-bit style is getting a bit old.

Forgot to mention the Psikyo Collection games for retro gaming and **FINALLY** getting to sit down and play the original Dragon's Lair and Space Ace.

What a great year!

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Re: 2019 in Gaming and your Game of the Year

Post by Simonsloth »

Simonsloth wrote: November 9th, 2019, 2:27 pm
Spoiler: show
Tale of Tales Collection
Gravity Rush 2
Nier Automata

Wolfenstein 2
Prey (2006)
Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker
Super Ghouls and Ghosts
Aladdin SNES
Aladdin Mega Drive
Donkey Kong

Donkey King Country
Dino crisis
Pony Island
Ape Escape
Donkey Kong country 2
Donkey Kong Country 3
Monkey Island 2

DK 94
Inside (PS4)
Pony island
Shovel Knight plague of shadows
Banjo Kazooie

Banjo Tooie
Shovel Knight Specter of Torment

Super Meat Boy
Evil Within

Prey 2017
Evil within 2
Ground Zeroes
Pilotwings 64

DJ Hero
Castlevania: SOTN
Kirbys Epic Yarn

Batman Arkham Origins
DJ Hero 2

Banjo Kazooie Nuts and Bolts
PaRappa the Rapper

Driver SF
Grabbed by ghoulies
So my game of the year would have to be something I haven’t finished which is Death Stranding. All consuming and unlike anything I’ve played before!

Other notable mentions:
Prey (2017)
Nier Automata

Any other year and Nier would take the top prize easily.

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Re: 2019 in Gaming and your Game of the Year

Post by Suits »

Bit of a mixed year for me really, I used the majority of the year to work through games from my shame list.

There were new titles that I enjoyed this year but it will mainly stand out as a year that I played catch up.

Top five and best of the year.

Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow

From the moment I picked this up, I couldn’t put it down.

Well that’s a bit of a lie actually. I first played this on my DSi in about 2009 and while I enjoyed it a lot, for one reason or another, stopped playing it.

So, I started it again in June this year and promptly played it right through for all the endings and secrets.

Good story, great castle and the souls mechanic was good fun.

I prefer this over SotN.

Super Mario Galaxy 2

Excellent, excellent, excellent.

From start to finish wonderfully creative, beautiful video game.

Not much more to say really, everyone seems to know what makes this game so joyful.

Metroid Zero Mission

After playing Fusion over Christmas last year and enjoying it, I turned my attention to the Zero Mission version. While it was very enjoyable and based off the same engine, movement and design of Fusion, just with the re-telling of the original Metroid story, I felt it was all a little too familiar, even with the additional content, which felt a little off beat.

That said, it did a good job of doing what it did and being wrapped in a beloved franchise and played on a wonderful console it’s certainly one of my highlights of the year.

Paper Mario: Thousand Year Door

This blew me away. I knew it was a fans favourite and people often talk about it as the highpoint of the series.

It’s even popular with people that I’d not expect to play games. A few times people have said how they love their Game Cube and how much they enjoyed playing PM:TYD.

Things like the writing, the art style, humour, characters, the music/sound, secrets, the world with its hub, the underground, the side areas, are all right on the button for me.

The gameplay is strong, it has good systems, fun varied controls which keep you on your toes.

The mechanic of the crowd throwing items at you dependant how you are entertaining them is class, then quickly scanning the crowd for who is culprit and whether it’s a welcome item or an unwelcome one.

Another mechanic that I can lost in for a while, is the badge system. Settling on builds dependant on the environment and enemies is satisfying and taxing.

These things, as well as many, many others make for a really interesting build mechanic, which can really go in different directions.

I ended up going putting all my stats into badges and flowers, totally ignoring the health upgrades making for a very glass hammer build, supported by mushrooms.

I can keep going on about this but I’m sure most that know, know.

Stand out game for me this, not only this year but in general.

My best of year - Super Mario Maker 2

My most played game this year by a long way.

I was a fan of the first game and while I was excited for its release it knocked me back how much I enjoyed messing about it with it.

The second game is even better.

It just has so many modes to take your fancy for whatever you’re after.

The new story mode was challenging and exciting, where it lacks the traditional worlds, star road, dragon coin elements of traditional 2D Mario games, it adds new, exciting and varying elements that they don’t.

Playing other people’s levels never fails to bring me enjoyment. Playing something that someone you know, be it IRL or online, with a tool set you’re familiar with is fun and rewarding to beat.

The new sorting and searching system delivers a wide variety of themes, styles and challenges to satisfy whatever you.

I used to skip an awful lot of levels in the first game, I simply don’t in this version which makes for a much more fulfilling experience.

The new weekly Ninji speed run challenge is something I’m not really too familiar with but I’m finding it fun to race myself and see where I land on the global player list.

Now with the first challenge over I have been rewarded with a gold medal for my troubles, finishing in the top tier of players and also a Ninji hat for my creator profile.

Then there’s the building. Oh, the building. I’ll never suggest I’m any good at it, but I very much enjoy building levels, coming up with themes or little stories, then seeing the response, stats and feedback come in from the community.

Another thing which this game has delivered, is now a regular interaction with people I have met through the SMM community and the benefits of what that brings.

It’s simply fun, my favourite game of 2019. Easily.

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Re: 2019 in Gaming and your Game of the Year

Post by Chopper »

Hoping to get a couple of quick hits in on console before the end of the year - primarily The Occupation and Man of Medan - but running out of time.

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Re: 2019 in Gaming and your Game of the Year

Post by Sinclair Gregstrum »

So I went through 15 games in total this year:

Jan - Streets Of Rage 2 (Switch)
Jan - Detroit: Become Human (PS4 Pro)
Feb - Quarantine Circular (Switch)
Feb - Yoku’s Island Express (Switch)
Feb - Shenmue (PS4 Pro)
Mar - Rise of the Tomb Raider (XOX)
Apr - Gunstar Heroes (Switch)
May - Street Fighter 5 (PS4 Pro)
Jun - The Division 2 (XOX)
Jul - Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle (Switch)
Aug – Burning Rangers (Saturn)
Sep – Doom (2016) (XOX)
Oct – The Messenger (Switch)
Nov - Gears 5 (XOX)
Nov - Shenmue 2 (XOX)

Only two of those are actually 2019 games - Gears 5 and The Division 2. Enjoyed both a great deal, and both were played online co-op from start to finish. If I had to choose, I'd say The Division 2 just shades it overall. Such a well engineered, beautiful, expansive game.

If we're talking what's my favourite game of the year regardless of original release date, it's probably Shenmue (the first game specifically). But that's cheating really as it has been one of my favourites for 19 years at this point!

I actually really enjoyed everything I played this year, with the exception of Street Fighter 5, which annoyed the bejesus out of me. A great game ruined by extraneous bullshit at every turn!

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Re: 2019 in Gaming and your Game of the Year

Post by Chopper »

It doesn't look like I'm going to finish anything else this year - I'm currently trapped in a loop of Out of the Park Baseball, and Field of Glory: Empires, which are both ongoing and never ending - so I think I'll do a quick personal review. Nominations below, with the winning game in bold:

Best Adventure

The Painscreek Killings
Leaving Lyndow

There wasn't a lot to Eastshade but it was off the charm charts.

Best Early Access


A really well-implemented 3-D Factorio. Not up to that standard in complexity, but the world and building were really well realised.

Best DLC

The Long Dark: Wintermute Chapter 3
State of Decay 2 - Heartland

Heartland was an excellent DLC for an excellent game, and did what the best DLCs do by reinventing the game.

Best Game from a Previous Year

Yoku's Island Express
The Council
State of Decay 2

This was difficult, as there are four bona fide game of the year contenders in that list, and the other two are no slouches either. In the end, I'm going to choose The Council for how original it was.

Best Sports

MLB The Show 19
Football, Tactics & Glory

The Show was a huge disappointment this year, due to stupid unskippable arcade sequences being inserted into a game I play as a sim. Word is that the game is leaving Playstation exclusivity in the next year or two, which is great, but probably coincides with me stopping playing it. All good things must end, I suppose.

OOTP - well, you know.

Best Survival

Near Death
The Long Dark Chapter 3

Much as it pains me, I have to give this to the frustrating but effective Long Dark chapter. It somehow transcends its own limitations - preposterous story (in this chapter), blowhard characters, and asshole wolves coming out of the walls.

Best Builder

Cliff Empires

Both had a cuteness factor that was off the charts. Cliff Empires required you to build three colonies, so there was a lot of repetition of the basic structures that eventually did it in.

Most Anticipated Early Access

Subnautica 2
Astrox Imperium

For next year - cannot wait!

Most Concerning

MS Game Pass / Gaming Subscriptions

I've never been one for physical media, but it seems that all our fears during the *last* generation - download only, no sharing games, no re-selling games, no disc drive on the device, walled gardens, games as a service - have all been generally accepted via the power of consumerism. It's more nuanced than I can do justice to - you can still share accounts between devices in certain cases, and games as a service are what people want, right? - but I'm looking at Game Pass here and I - a medium-sized gaming whale - am thinking, 'Do I need to buy any games for the next few months?' I guess it will all come out in the wash as to how it is helping or hindering developers, so no cause for alarm yet, I guess. :(

The Internet Got it Wrong Award

The Outer Wilds

For a game which was well received but which was really terrible (your mileage may vary :) ). Observation fudged the landing (and a shout out to free Humble Trove game 2000:1 A Space Felony, which was better, I thought). I found the Outer Wilds to be very frustrating, because the time limit was paired with MC Escher-type level design that had very little signposting. The narrative pay off was very poor all through the game, and I eventually gave up at the stupid jellyfish. Too much trial and error for a game whose central conceit was waiting for one small window in your 22 minute cycle.

Most Puzzling

Cultist Simulator


Best Shmup

Black Bird

By default as it was the only thing I played...but a lovely game regardless.

Best Sim

American Truck Simulator
Objects in Space

Objects in Space was lo-fi but excellent.

Most Disappointing

Dicey Dungeons
Rebel Galaxy Outlaw
MLB The Show 19

RGO just turned out to be less than the sum of its parts, which is disappointing when it's an ARPG and the sum of its parts - levelling your gear through a series of fetch quests - is so exposed in the first place.

Best Walking Sim

The Fidelio Incident
Leaving Lyndow

Best Strategy

Mutant Year Zero
Into the Breach
Battle Brothers
Football, Tactics & Glory
Field of Glory: Empires

A really strong showing here. Allegedly, Into The Breach is pure and perfect, strategy game of the decade candidate, and so on, but I got most out of Field of Glory: Empires this year. Coming up on 150 hours now, a fair chunk of that in multiplayer.

Best Strategy Game I didn't play even though I meant to

Endless Space 2
Distant Worlds
Endless Legend
Galactic Civilisations III
Stars in Shadow
Sol Trader
Kingdoms and Castles
Unending Galaxy

The backlog abides.

Game of the Year

Slay the Spire
Return of the Obra Dinn
Field of Glory: Empires

Good God man, how to choose? Subnautica, The Council, and Battle Brothers would be on this list too, if I'd included games I'd played from a previous year.

In the end I might have to go with perfection over compellingly compulsive gameplay , and choose Return of the Obra Dinn over Slay the Spire. I flipped these two at the last second. :D

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Re: 2019 in Gaming and your Game of the Year

Post by Alex79uk »

I've had a look through my completed games for this year, and my top five I would have to say have been:

1. Red Dead Redemption 2

I could, and might at some point, write a full essay on why this game is a masterpiece, but I'll keep it brief here. I've never played a game which built such a cohesive world on such an epic, grand scale.

Wrapping up in your warm clothes, taking a ride up from the swamps in to the mountains, with a spare horse in tow, for a hunting and fishing trip. Spending the morning setting up a camp and fishing in the great lakes, fighting off a bear, cooking the fish for lunch and then as dusk fell making my way up in to the snowy peaks to hunt moose. Two clean kills and horses loaded up, I had a spot of fish and coffee for supper before getting my head down for the night. The next morning I rode back down the the market to sell my wares and stock up on ammo, checking in on friends I'd made along the way.

None of this is scripted or required to progress the game, but you have true freedom to go where you want, do what you want, be who you want. And those characters, I felt like I knew them, like they were real people I cared for, and the world was one I belonged to, so that even in the final missions when the inevitable is being laid out in front of you it just feels natural that that's how it ends. I didn't just enjoy this game, I absolutely adored it. Everything about it, and it's the richest, most complete gaming experience I've ever had. I felt genuine sorrow when it was all over, and one day I will go through it all again.

2. Yakuza Kiwami 2

As a newcomer to the series who only started with Zero, I was a little disappointed with the step back when playing the remaster of the first game. Fortunately Kiwami 2 totally delivers on all areas. The story is fantastic, with more twists and turns than bag of curly fries. And my god it looks so good. Shiny, neon, high resolution perfection. The combat is totally on point, crunching punches and kicks, with sound effect than make you feel every blow. So much side content, but it's the main story than pulls your through. Just an excellent game.

3. Spiderman

I'm not a Spiderman fan. I don't dislike him, just never read the comics, don't watch the films, but this game absolutely nails being a superhero. Movement is, of course, the most important part of a Spiderman game, and this had it down perfectly. The combat - lifted wholesale from the Arkham games - was fluid, precise, and most importantly a hell of a lot of fun. I'm not one for trying to 100% a game, but when beating up goons is such a laugh it's hard to say no. The story was nothing exciting, and there were some dull and pointless stealth sections, but overall we couldn't have asked for a better game.

4. The Legend Of Zelda: A Link To The Past

One of only three Zelda games I've ever completed now, and what a game. It ended up being so much bigger than I expected, and doesn't look like it's aged a day in the last 25 odd years. Charming, cute, punishing in places. A few minor niggles here and there in various dungeons, but overall it's a game every 'gamer' should play, and I'm glad I finally got around to it.

5. Detroit: Become Human

I really enjoyed this. I think it had a great story, excellent gameplay mechanics and it truly felt like it was 'my' story. There is so much scope for differences in how things turn out, so much more so than in Cage's previous games. I don't know if its being a parent, or my age, or what, but I really connected with the story as I went through and genuinely cared about the characters. I openly admit I've really liked all of his games, but Cage hit a new level with this one, really good and it's a shame his name is a little tainted in a lot of people's eyes, because he makes really interesting stuff in my opinion.

So that's my top five for the year. I really enjoyed what I played of Sekiro, and plan to pick up where I left off once RKG start their play through. I'm currently loving (and about 35 hours deep in to) MGSV: The Phantom Pain, but nowhere near enough in to it to include on the list. I've only just met Quiet! Had a lot of fun on mobile this year too with The Room games, as well as Mario Odyssey and BotW on Switch. It's been a good year.

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Re: 2019 in Gaming and your Game of the Year

Post by stvnorman »

Virtua Racing and Out Run on Switch are without doubt the gaming highlights of my year, closely followed by some stellar Arcade Archives ports of Elevator Action, Bombjack, etc. - my 1980’s self would never have believed it possible!

From games properly released this year (mostly, kind of), I was hoping to at least sink my teeth into one of Outer Wilds, Bloodstained or Blair Witch before deciding, but with my recent illness that wasn’t to be. One recommendation to all that can access an Apple Arcade free trial - sign up, connect a PS4 or Xbox controller, and try Bleak Sword! With that, here’s my top ten....

1. Baba is You (Nintendo Switch)
2. Bleak Sword (Apple Arcade on iPad)
3. Resident Evil 2 Remake (PS4)
4. Lonely Mountains: Downhill (Xbox One)
5. Graveyard Keeper (PS4)
6. Trials Rising (PS4)
7. Konami Pixel Puzzle Collection (iPad)
8. Cuphead (Nintendo Switch)
9. Wargroove (Nintendo Switch)
10. Speed Demons (Apple Arcade on iPad)

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Re: 2019 in Gaming and your Game of the Year

Post by Magical_Isopod »

I'm gonna copy/paste my write-up of Metro Exodus - which is my GOTY - from my Games of the Decade write-up. Because I'm lazy. But I def have thoughts on a number of other 2019 releases, both good and bad. Overall, I'd say 2019 was a pretty decent year. Not as good as 2017, but better than 2018.

Metro Exodus
Metro Exodus absolutely blew me away. I've frequently described it as the single best road trip in gaming, but it's more than that. Exodus is an incredible commentary on Russia and the former Soviet. Each new locale is themed after a different social issue - one highlights the struggle of indigenous Central Asian peoples vs. the imperialist Russian oil barons, one makes commentary on Paganism and appeal to nature east of the Urals, one makes commentary on religious conservatism... It's the most quintessentially Russian game out there. But on top of that, the gameplay is great, the character moments are great, the world is expanded in fascinating ways... The only real knock against it is that several plot elements from 2033 and Last Light are dropped completely, but the devs have hinted that these elements may return in future. The games media seems to have completely ignored this one, which is a shame (I personally blame western bias, if anything) - but it was the single most successful game for Deep Silver this year, and made its entire budget back in 2 months. So this won't be the last in the series.

Resident Evil 2
I was excited for this game, but cautiously. REmake is my second-favourite game of all time. I absolutely love it. But RE2 isn't as good as RE1, conceptually. In my opinion, anyway. So I was expecting something at least as good as RE7 - and I got that. I got better than that. I was scared that it would be turned into action schlock because of the RE4 gameplay style applied here, but I didn't get that. This game comes with a ton of baggage from the series' past, but it embraced that, and overcame it. The game has tension out the ass. It takes the core concepts and story beats of RE2 (the original) and expands upon them. Mr. Thicc was elaborated upon and made more of a tanky Nemesis. It doesn't quite replace the original RE2 like REmake replaces RE1, because they are very different games, but I'd say it's the better game - and the best Resident Evil since, well, REmake. I'd really hoping to see a Code Veronica remake on the PS5.

Kingdom Hearts 3

This game is an absolute mess. Like, Kingdom Hearts is a trashy, convoluted mess of a franchise. Most of the games are terrible. The expanded story makes no sense. But this one was just frustrating. In a lot of ways, the closest point of comparison I can think of is Duke Nukem Forever. There are so many little pieces here that are clearly from different stages of development, so many story beats that are picked up and dropped on a whim, wildly different quality of graphics from level to level... It's just an unmitigated mess. Like, it plays well enough. The core gameplay is mostly fine - save from extraneous crap like Ride moves, Dream Eaters, and other loud, obnoxious crap that's half-baked and distracting. But it's the plot, pacing, and core design that kills this game. There are NO Squaresoft or Enix RPG characters. Not a single one. Unless you're counting the odd Moogle here and there. There's a secret boss here that's pulled from Einhander, which had me giddy, but it's only in the god-awful Gummi Ship portion of the game. And worse still, the plot here doesn't really advance much of anything - it just ties up loose ends from the PSP spinoff game, Birth By Sleep. It feels like a massive waste of time.

The Dark Pictures Anthology: Man of Medan
I think I was the only person on the planet excited for this game, but man, this game was great. It's part of an anthology series from Supermassive Games (Until Dawn, Hidden Agenda) intended to be short, inexpensive anthology entries - like episodes of Tales From The Crypt or The Twilight Zone. It's half the price of a normal game, and you should reasonably expect half the run-time. But what you get is a tightly-paced horror game that says what it wants to, gets to the point, and succinctly ends before it can start to drag. And I loved it. I'd say it was my #3 game after Metro Exodus and REmake, and while it's nothing world shattering, it's just a great little game. It's going on sale for $20 on Boxing Day here in Canada, and at that price? It's absolutely essential. And the multiplayer component? Holy shit, it's great! You can play online with up to 4 other people, each controlling one or more of the central characters in the story. Play this!

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night
It sure is an Igavania game. Only, it looks, feels and sounds really cheap, with this ugly, glossy 2.5D thing going on with the graphics. I... Didn't like it. I played a couple hours and was just like, "This feels like a cheap Steam game." Had zero interest in going further or coming back to it.

Pokemon Shield
I've come to hate this game and everything it represents. I *love* Pokemon. I know the series and its hundreds of monsters like the back of my hand. And I'm not merely blinded by nostalgia - I played Black 2 earlier this year and I loved it. And I wasn't upset about "Dexit" either - the idea of a limited and balanced character roster doesn't bother me in the slightest. But *man* this game is a disappointment. It's not fundamentally any different from the 3DS games. A Youtuber named Arlo did a fantastic review of this game that succinctly summarizes my feelings better than I can here:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n5Esz3S3FL0
But to put it simply, this is a lazy, overly simplistic game that is not only stuck 20 years in the past, but actively regresses on advancements made during the DS era of these games. Every new entry in this series cuts improvements from past entries, all while having this unwavering commitment to nostalgic sound effects and visual cues. It's a mess of a game. I enjoyed it enough to complete it, but man oh man this series needs an overhaul.

Bug Fables
If you like Paper Mario, play Bug Fables. Bug Fables is a superior version of Paper Mario, with better characters, a far more interesting story, and a much more involved combat system. I'm not super in love with this one, because that Paper Mario "thing" is not really for me. But I'm enjoying this one FAR more than the games it's clearly homaging. This seems to be one that absolutely no one is aware of, which is a crying shame, because this is an inexpensive ($20) indie game with AAA quality. If you're in to this sort of thing, play it!

Also, there are a few games I still intend to play that were 2019 releases, including:
- Astral Chain
- Ace Combat 7
- Fire Emblem: The Triplex
- Maybe Luigi's Mansion 3?

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Re: 2019 in Gaming and your Game of the Year

Post by Stanshall »

Let's just get the big one out of the way.

My Official GOTY 2019:

ESP Ra.De. Psi

See Games of the Decade thread for further thoughts.

Games from 2019 which I enjoyed in 2019:

Fire Emblem: Three Houses
Spoiler: show
I've never played any of the FE games, nor do I particularly like whatever this type of strategic turn-based combat is called. I don't really like anime type of melodrama. Despite these obstacles, I loved this game at the time. I think it's probably my third most played Switch game ever behind Isaac and BotW. I especially enjoyed the characters and the story which seemed very superficial but which developed more as I sank more time into the various relationships. Some of the writing actually moved me with its everyman philosophical sincerity. The plot resolved in a very satisfying way. I thought I'd go back for a different House but having tried once, I immediately felt like I never wanted to play it again.
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
Spoiler: show
Probably the most disappointing game of the year in some respects, even though I hadn't been particularly excited by any preview footage or info I'd seen. Once the combat clicked, around 90% of the way through the game, I had some unbelievably exciting, tense and satisfying battles with the two final final bosses and I also enjoyed the massive obstacle of Genichiro halfway through. For the most part, however, I didn't understand what the game wanted from me and I found it frustrating and almost unfinished in its systems. This game doesn't need skill trees or grinding or the various currencies and collectibles. The Dragonrot mechanic was as poorly thought through and implemented as the worst Souls covenants. While the parry mechanic has a high skill ceiling, you might as well just spam L1 more often than not. The area design often consisted of little more than large open spaces with lots of mobs. It encouraged you to play stealthily and then threw you into arenas or corridors where you have no choice but to attack head on, sound the alarm and then run away until enemies deaggro. Much of my time in the first half of the game was waiting around or running back to a boss and getting one-shot. An interesting experiment that felt more like a side project EP with a collaborator than a full band LP.
Super Mario Maker 2
Spoiler: show
I enjoyed the weirdness of the original for the five or so hours it put into it and I was a bit disappointed that this was a lot more straight (on release). That said, I quickly found myself enjoying the social aspects of playing others' levels and I really enjoyed making the one level I managed to finish. And then at some point, I just dropped off after 25 hours or so. That's not a bad effort for me. Few games get that much time from me these days but I still feel like it was slightly underwhelming in the end. I put it on every so often and play the odd level but it feels strangely...pointless.
Divinity Original Sin 2
Spoiler: show
This one really is brilliant and I haven't done it justice. I hammered it on my hols in October, loved the writing and the freedom and the voice acting and the various characters and their stories. The combat is really clever and satisfying. I just don't often feel inclined to sink time into something like this. I really should go back, I must go back. I will probably never go back.
Sayonara Wild Hearts
Spoiler: show
I loved the high points of this game. The big songs are glorious, some of my favourite pop music of the year. I love the visuals. I think the gameplay is good but quite dependent on multiple replays and trial and error to get everything. An indie game I felt was worth the money which is rare for me these days.

Stuff I enjoyed from 2019 in part but not got much to say about because they're either not really for me or not at this moment and I don't want to just be a buzzkill:
Spoiler: show

Untitled Goose Game
Death Stranding
Astral Chain
Luigi's Mansion 3
Pokemon Shield
Steins; Gate
Katamari Damacy Reroll
Return of the Obra Dinn
Link's Awakening
Slay the Spire

Games From Whenever Which I Really Enjoyed:

Spoiler: show
I fancied a visual novel so got Steins; Gate not really knowing what a visual novel is, assuming something like Phoenix Wright or AI: The Somnium Files (which I haven't yet played enough to include in this post besides this cursory reference) but turns out that it's a lot closer to how it sounds. Just reading with some pictures. Borin. Steins goes on and on for ages and is basically just the anime chopped up a bit so maybe I'll just watch that. I still fancied a VN, though, and this is well regarded and short. It's actually very sweet and moving. I was a bit put off by the robot maid stuff previously but there's no sexualisation whatsoever, it's just a very heartwarming dynamic. It kind of reminds me of the manga, YKK, but with a bit more dystopian bleakness. It cost fuck all and I would recommend it as a beginner's VN. Not sure I'll explore the genre much further but this was a really worthwhile experience.
Horizon Zero Dawn
Spoiler: show
I've ragged on this in the past but for whatever reason, I decided to give it another go and mainline the story. Vast improvement. By the time the credits rolled, I was literally in tears. The flavour text and little lore tidbits were as good as anything in The Last of Us, if not better, and the gameplay really opened up the further I got into the game. I was also staggered at how varied it was aesthetically, having played about fifteen hours previously pottering around the opening areas. It's not necessarily the best looking game ever made but it's up there with the most beautiful. I have to eat humble pie with a crow filling after all of my previous criticism. It is cookie cutter in many many ways but the real ingenuity and love shines through once you get past the surface. A lesson.
Darius Cozmic Collection
Spoiler: show
I think this was released this year but these games are straight ports, no real tweaks or updates as with ESP (above). Absolutely brilliant games, though, which I'd never really played before. Darius 2 and Darius Gaiden, in particular, are towering achievements of the genre to my taste and this was a real education for me. Having never really warmed to the old school shmup style with environmental hazards and lots of memorisation and massive hitboxes, these games (and the Konami Collection with various Gradius titles) taught me the value of the ancestry. This is also currently 30% off on the Japanese eShop.

Ultimate Double Best Games of Entire Life
Spoiler: show
Mushihimesama Futari Black Label God Mode

Dodonpachi Daioujou Black Label

I may have mentioned these at some point this year so the utterly shameless approval seeking should not come as a surprise. There are months of my life captured in these clips.

Mushihimesama Futari Black Label God Mode Stage One:

Dodonpachi Daioujou Black Label Stage One (Full Chain):

Please smash that Like and Subscribe (so it feels in any way an appropriate use of my one and only life on Earth).

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Re: 2019 in Gaming and your Game of the Year

Post by Suits »

Nice to see SMM2 on your list Stan 😎.

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