2019 was a weird year for myself. It was the year I was in the longest video game funk I’ve ever been in. It’s not that I wasn’t necessary into games or anything since it’s my main form of entertainment but I just couldn’t motivate myself to interact or get invested in anything. I’ll get into it more for what I feel was the reason why later on, but having this happen kind of forced me to focus more on my job which was beneficial, but has given me severe exhaustion when all was said and done.
The entire year wasn’t a complete bust however. I refigured myself to focus more positively on social media and basically decided to not just post as much on platforms like Twitter which as improved my mental health a good deal. Though my connections with the internet in general has lessened this year, I still tried to keep the bonds I have with online friends and I feel like they’ve never been stronger as I just want to hold on to the people who have taken care of me one way or another throughout the years. In 2020 I hope to actually hang with my friends in person though, since for the most part I spent the entire year alone.
I was also able to go to EVO this year which I felt was a life changing thing for my love of fighting games which has always been there, but was really in full force this year thanks to streamers like Maximillan_Dood and Bum1six3. It’s to the point where I can’t see myself not going every year. Not necessary to play or compete (I don’t think I touched one joystick when I was there) but just to soak in the scene and enjoy being there.
For the rest of 2019 for me though (other then making silly tier lists) wasn’t too eventual. If you’d ask me a few months ago I’d probably say it was a weak year for video games and have even stated as much on the podcasts and such; however, I think I’ll walk that back a bit. The year I believe overall was solid and I think there were in fact plenty of games that are the best in class that released and enjoyed by many. They may not have reached the heights of something like The Witcher 3 or God of War, but quality and polish were present and especially for the following games I want to mention that I feel are the best of the year.
My biggest black eye of 2019. Platinum Games games are almost always my jam and Astral Chain was no different. The brief time I played this I was just enraptured with just how cool just about everything the game has to offer. From the soundtrack, to the neon aesthetic throughout the city, to the dope as hell character designs, and of course the combat, which was kind of an issue getting into at first but the more time I put into it the more I started to really like it. I wouldn’t be surprised if this game along with the next one I’m going to mention will be my Favorite 2019 Games of 2020.
AI: The Somnium Files
Kotaro Uchikoshi’s Zero Escape series was one of the best video game experiences I’ve ever had back when I went through them in 2016. It was the way they did storytelling through its well developed characters going through this almost impossible situation that made it so impactful to me. AI really seems to amp it up presentation-wise with fully 3D models and gameplay sections that weren’t really in the Zero Escape games. Seemingly from the little I played of it, it’s really trying to match it visuals with it’s high bar of storytelling and I’m all in if it comes together.
Luigi’s Mansion 3
My best friend insisted that I should give this game a shot. Having never played the previous games for whatever reason, I really didn’t know what I was getting to and it turns out the game is just a delight to play. I don’t think there’s too much to the game which is really my only knock against it but vacuuming ghosts and getting a ton of money is fun in it’s own zen kind of way.
Games of the Year
10. Samurai Shodown
Samurai Shodown is probably the game I came back to the most this year. Being able to jump in and out in less than 30 minutes going through the campaign with each and every character was just the thing I needed. Having been there when the original game came out in the arcades and seeing it now really reminds me when Street Fighter IV came out. Not with the same kind of pop-off obviously where we feel like it’s a fighting game resurgence or something but having something dormant getting reenergized but feeling exactly the same when you played it back then. Having the free Season Pass was the greatest excuse to continually return to the game every month.
9. A Plague Tale: Innocence
I think the biggest thing A Plague Tale does right is setting the mood. Amicia has to take care of her little brother who she’s barely ever interacted with, see everyone she’s ever known get murdered in front of her, and just has to live in such an unforgiving and cruel world. It was such an engrossing story that even though the end got a little weird, it still felt very grounded and captivating.
I remember playing the Prototype for Indivisible back in 2014. It was such a cool and interesting concept with a great art style, I couldn’t wait to play it. After five years of waiting, the game finally releases and is as stellar as I thought it was going to be. Though the presentation of the game didn’t necessary grow to the extent I was expecting, the story and gameplay are just top notch. The amount of characters you can have in your overall team and how fun and unique they all individually are really showcases the amount of effort put into this game.
7. Untitled Goose Game
One of the best things I can say about Untitled Goose Game is that out of all the games I’ve played in 2019 it’s the one with the clearest sense of identity. It knows what it is and leans 100% into it which makes out to be either a game you immediately understand and drop or one you’ll be engrossed in until you see the credits. I have to admit I was in the first camp when I tried it out and eventually after some time came back to it to finish it all in one sitting. It can be fun to cause a little mayhem every once in awhile.
6. Death Stranding
This is a bit of a struggle for me to put into words. I feel Death Stranding’s overall gameflow is extremely satisfying. I genuinely feel the trek of making your deliveries through treacherous terrain and overcoming those obstacles is gratifying with the interesting characters they surround it with. My issue with it though is the story around these positive things. I don’t necessarily think it’s bad, it’s just incomprehensible. To be frank, I feel it can be just stupid but not in the most literal sense. The game does it’s job explaining what its world is and why things are the way they are, I just feel the majority of that reasoning is just idoitic in a logistical sense. The vision for Death Stranding is the strongest and most compelling part of it more so than the actual narrative that was given.
5. Resident Evil 2
The first Resident Evil is one of my favorite games of all time and the remake emphasized my love for the original even more with better visuals, updated gameplay, and enhancing the overall experience in every possible way. Having never played the original Resident Evil 2, the only thing I hoped for the remake was for it to reach that same level of quality, which I believe they knocked out of the park. It’s unreal how much was reimagined to such an extent that not only does it feel like a new game but also it almost feels so different from the original that I wouldn’t mind giving that version a shot. Modernizing Resident Evil games has always been something I felt that was talked about since its inception and this game felt like it finally reached that point to appeal to a much wider audience than ever before.
Control feels like one of those rare games that just defines the developers who made it. After the Max Paynes, the Alan Wakes, and the Quantum Breaks it finally culminates into a game that says this is Remedy Entertainment in every aspect. There are no other video games that do storytelling, atmosphere, and gameplay like a Remedy game. You can almost say that I enjoy what this game represents more than the actual game itself, which is fair, but I feel Control is solid as well and everyone should give this game a shot.
3. River City Girls
Beat ‘em Ups aren’t the hardest genre to find games for, however really excellent and meaty ones I feel are much harder to find. Castle Crashers, Scott Pilgrim vs The World and Dragon’s Crown has been some of the best in the last few years but I truly feel River City Girls is the best beat ‘em up ever made. Not only is it extremely fun to play, has a killer style, and a seriously amazing soundtrack, but the fact that it brings in the overly convoluted River City lore from the past 30-ish years, making callbacks to moments and characters I’m not familiar with at all made me want to look up all the inside jokes and references the game had, which I constantly found to be hilarious. It gives so much homage to the series and genre as a whole while having Kyoko and Misako lead the charge with their unique personalities and quirky sense of humor. I absolutely adored every second I spent playing River City Girls and I think it’ll be awhile for another beat ‘em up to dethrone what this game accomplishes.
2. Devil May Cry 5
Saying Devil May Cry 5 is the greatest character action game ever almost feels like I’m underselling the game. It does so many things right from the characters, the graphics, the gameplay, and even surprisingly the story. It can’t be overstated fun to play Nero is, how uniquely cool V is, and how unga bunga INSANE Dante is with the things he’s able to do in this game. Every animation, taunt, cutscene, and piece of dialogue across the board is so well crafted and felt like a return to form that we haven’t seen since Devil May Cry 3. There is no question in my mind as far as the best video game that came out in 2019 that Devil May Cry 5 takes that without even that much in comparison.
1. Kingdom Hearts 3
This game fucked me up.
The greatest compliment I can give this game is that after I beat it I couldn’t bring myself to play video games for about six months. It’s not me saying that it’s the greatest game ever made because it isn’t and it wasn’t even the best game of 2019 (that’s Devil May Cry 5) but to have had such commitment to a series for half my lifetime being invested in all the lore bullshit that series gave me to come to such a personally satisfying ending I legit didn’t know what to do with myself anymore. It was like what’s there even to look forward to now that I’ve essentially just beaten my Half Life 3. It resulted in me being in the longest video game funk I’ve ever been in, where I just bought games, would play them for about 20 minutes and just turn it off. It was such an eye opening feeling that I’ve never felt before and probably will never feel again.