2019 will be looked back fondly on, as the calm before the video game storm of 2020. A time before the Cyberpunk Gang joined forces with the Final Fantasy VII Remake Stans and destroyed the last bastions of the Legion of the Last of Us 2. They were simpler days in 2019.
But, as society dictates, and in order to continue to be considered as a writer-of-gaming related content, I must fulfill the age old mandate of writing my Top 10 list for the year!
I’m going to break a bit from my brand for this years list though, opting to make this list be of all my favorite NON-RPG games from the year. I feel like with running our RPG University podcast, creating guides, and other content all revolving around the genre, I’ve spoken enough. I want to give some love to the other genres and games I’ve loved this year…If your curious though, my top 10 RPGs are : Tales of Vesperia Remaster, Fire Emblem 3 Houses, Dragon Quest XI S, KH3, Trails of Cold Steel 1-3, Star Ocean FDR, Ni No Kuni Remaster, Collection of Mana, SD Gundam G Generation CrossRays, Bloodstained…
This list will have the first nine games listed in no particular order, with the final game being my favorite non-rpg of the year!
Game 1) Resident Evil 2
Ever since I got my first PlayStation, I have been interested in the Resident Evil series. The concept behind it and everything I had heard about it, I found to be exciting. There was one aspect that always stopped me from getting into the original trilogy: The tank controls. Try as I might I just couldn’t get passed it. With the releases of the remasters of Resident Evils Zero and 1 that removed them, I’ve had a blast.
The Resident Evil 2 Remake finally let me experience this legendary second entry in the series. Even having very little experience with the original release, I can safely say that Capcom has created the base line that all game remakes should strive to meet. It took a classic game and remade it using modern sensibilities, while still retaining the original charm. I haven’t found myself as tense and nervous in a game as I was the first time I was chased by Mr. X, in a long long time.
Hopefully, Resident Evil 3 will leave me just as impressed and in love as this game did.
Game 2) Devil May Cry 5
Truthfully, I was sold on this game with the first trailer because of song playing. Lucky for me that the game itself was fantastic too. Devil May Cry 5 was a return to the over-the-top action with tight and responsive combat. The addition of a new character, V, gave a all-new flavor with his unique gameplay style, and playing as Nero and Dante again was great.
I wish that we had gotten some additional DLC that allowed us to play as Vergil, but the game was long enough without overstaying its welcome. With the success that this latest entry, I don’t think this will be the last time we see Dante and co.
Game 3) Yu-Gi-Oh Legacy of the Duelist: Link Evolution
There’s no shortage of digital versions of trading card games these days. What makes Link Evolution special and sets it apart from those other games, is that you get a ton of cards with just the purchase of the game. You won’t be spending extra real money after the fact of digital card packs. You will be able to unlock and construct decks with a pool of over 4,000 cards from the various generations of the game.
Once you get your deck built, you have a number of game modes you can play it in. From story mode where you play important duels from the series, as either player, to going online and facing off with opponents around the world. With additional cards and series being added to the game even now, I don’t see myself uninstalling this game from my Switch, anytime soon.
Game 4) Power Rangers Battle For The Grid
I am a child of the 90s and I attribute the teenagers with attitude with my love of all things nerdy. When it was announced that we were getting a 3v3 tag-based fighter, it was instantly on my radar. When it was released, I thought it was fun but the small roster hurt it. Paired with the other issues, marred my experience. I still enjoyed it, but I wanted more. Developer nWay has delivered.
Since the game’s release we have gotten two seasons of additional characters, new modes, added voice acting, and now we even have a Battle for the Grid focused tournament event. With each addition, I’ve found my interest growing with this game, and falling more in love with it. I can’t wait to see how this game continues to develop in 2020. Also, the fact that Jump Force was on the Game Awards list for best fighter and this wasn’t is a crime. Power Rangers is easily better than Jump Force.
Game 5) Katana Zero
What I expected to be a fun psychedelic romp as a cool samurai guy, turned out to be much, much more. When I started Katana Zero, I wasn’t expecting to be met with the themes of drug addiction, PTSD, child soldiers, and hookers. On top of being a fun psychedelic romp as a cool samurai guy that is.
Katana Zero is an amazing indie title that impressed and shocked me in more ways than one. I hope that this becomes a franchise and I can learn more about this interesting world and its history.
Game 6) Forager
I really can’t get over just how much fun I’ve had with Forager this year. Originally seeing it just as a suggested title on Steam, it quickly turned into my goto podcast listening game. For anyone not familiar with the game, it’s a crafting and exploration title. You will be purchasing up islands of varying environments and resources as you explore ruins and dig up new and unique treasures. All the while crafting new machinery and magic items that will help automate your crafting and get you stronger equipment.
When I finally got my little base to the point where foraging, forging, and crafting resources was all automated, it was like I was looking at a piece of art. I looked on as my drones were busy collecting the gems that were being spawned as my forges we constantly refining them into metal bars. My looms were creating crafting yarn, and my banks producing a never-ending supply of money. It was glorious. Just recently, they added nuclear technology to the game, so I will be diving back in to revamp my base for the new year!
Game 7) Daemon X Machina
There are few things in this world that I take more pleasure in, than with making my own giant robot. With From Software prioritizing their souls-borne titles, their Armored Core mech series has been missing in action. Thankfully, this year we got Daemon X Machina, an Armored Core game in all but name. My mech-building itch has finally been scratched with this visually striking title. Complete with all the robot customization I can ask for.
Support for this title has also been particularly strong, with the developer releasing new content and modes since the game’s release. We’ve even gotten some unique cross-over tie ins with a few mecha anime series. The Code Geass tie in being a particular favorite. We’ve also gotten some rather odd ones too. Never really was able to picture Geralt of Rivia piloting a giant robot, but I guess that itch can be scratched with this game too.
Game 8) Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening
If this list was about which game put the most smiles on my face, Link’s Awakening would have taken the top spot. From the moment I turned the game on, I couldn’t stop myself from smiling. The art style and redone soundtrack plays a big role in this.
I grew up with my older brother having the original Gameboy release, I had the DX version later on for the GameBoy Color. Being able to revisit Koholint Island once again was a real joy, and I hope to see this style done again.
Game 9) Sekiro
I’ll openly admit I have not gotten very far in this game. I’ve beaten a couple of bosses, but I have yet to vanquish the giant burning boar. With that being the case, I can still see that there is something very special about Sekiro. As a fan of the old Tenchu series, I got a lot of the same sneaking and assassinating from Sekiro as I did with that classic series.
Whenever I go back to Sekiro, I’m always reminded of just how good the movement in this game feels. Flying up to the rooftops with my grappling hook. Sneaking around corners waiting to strike unsuspecting foes. Expertly parrying and countering attacks. It all just feels so good. My only issue was that I more of the equipment system from the other Souls-borne titles had made their way into Sekiro. Give me some equipment and different weapons that I could try out and I’d be set.
Here at Irrational Passions, we have talked a lot about Control during our GOTY podcasts so I won’t rehash it here. If you want to hear my full take, give them a listen. In the meantime though, I’ll give you a quick synopsis of my feelings. I like Control, a lot. It has some of the most interesting new ideas for lore in a game that I have played in a long time. If we do get a sequel, I would like the equipment system fleshed out and reworked a bit, or dropped altogether and made just a Metroidvania-esque title. I can’t wait to see where Remedy takes the franchise going forward and what craziness I can expect from the Federal Bureau of Control.