It’s the end of the year and decade and everyone’s making Top Games of 2019 or Top Games of 2010’s lists, so I figured I would hop on the bandwagon. I can’t say that I documented exactly what I played this year since obviously I wasn’t planning on making a list like this, so this is mostly a list made from memory. I also usually don’t tend to play games in their release year. Actually, the only two 2019 games I’ve completed so far are on this list. So that’s why this list has games from previous years, but coincidentally these are all pretty new (2017 – 2019).
5. (PS4, 2018) When coming up with this list I actually had a really hard time picking my fifth place choice. I ultimately decided to pick Spider-Man because playing this game felt really satisfying. Swinging around NYC was really fun and fluid and it was a joy to explore. The combat is more or less the standard Arkham-esque style with extra toys, like webs, air attacks, environmental objects, gadgets, etc, so getting into a good combo felt really satisfying. Conversely, I can’t say I was a huge fan of any of the stealth sequences as they were sort of frustrating and broke the fast paced nature of the game.
I also consider this game to be my favorite “Spider-Man movie”. I think Yuri Lowenthal’s rendition of Peter is really really good, and it’s refreshing to see an older Peter Parker in action.
4. (PC/PS4/Xbox/Switch, 2018) I can’t say I’ve played very many pure platformers (mostly because I’m bad at them) but of all the ones I’ve played I think Celeste is my favorite. I finished the game in the span of three (non-consecutive) days. The game is really challenging, but death isn’t punishing, and I think that’s a big reason why I couldn’t stop playing despite how many times I died. I think it’s really interesting how the game keeps track of your death count, but then tells you to be proud of your death count because it means you’re learning and not giving up. Though to be honest, I’m still a bit ashamed of my death count (I went from somewhere in the 1000’s to somewhere in the 2000’s in just the final chapter alone). But I would definitely recommend this game to someone even if they’re scared of difficult games because of how the game encourages you to keep going.
The mechanics of the game are really tight, though it was definitely a bit rough trying to play the game with an Xbox controller (but I guess I made it through somehow). I like the way they introduce new mechanics for each chapter. A lot of it is taught in a show-don’t-tell way and gradually becomes more complex as you continue.
I loved the plot. It’s my favorite of all the games here. Chapter 6 made me really emotional. And I still can’t believe I actually made it all the way to the summit.
3. (Switch, 2019) I’m cheating a little on this one because I technically haven’t beaten this game yet. There’s several different routes in this game and I’ve completed one and a half of them thus far, so although I’ve seen a ending sequence and the credits roll, there’s so much more of this game I need to finish in 2020. It feels weird putting this game on this list because of that, but given how big the hype for this game was in 2019 and given how many hours I’ve already spent on it, I think it deserves a spot here.
There’s a lot of complaints of this game being too easy, which is fair, but I still found the combat to be satisfying enough. I definitely like the gameplay in this than in Fire Emblem Awakening. There’s a whole lot of game in this game.
I’m very emotionally attached to many of the characters.
2. (PC/PS4/Xbox/Switch, 2019) Okay is Bloodstained really that good that it deserves the number two spot? Not really. But I really love Castlevania. I gush a lot about Castlevania in my post Bloodstained From the Perspective of a Castlevania Fangirl and I also gush a bit about it in my post Super Metroid From the Perspective of a Self-Proclaimed Metroidvania Fangirl. I have been essentially waiting for this game since Order of Ecclesia was released in 2008.
I’ll be honest though, the release of this game was really disappointing. At launch the Switch version was really buggy and they eventually patched it but I’m not actually sure how much better it is right now (I don’t have the Switch version). Also, according to Twitter, the Japanese launch of this game was even worse. Heck, I even got hit by the game breaking chest glitch when I downloaded the “day one patch” on day two or three because it was unavailable on day one for PS4. I had to start all over again from the beginning but I was so disappointed in how poorly handled the game was, that I almost didn’t want to.
But I’m super biased and I love this game anyway and it’s become my favorite “Castlevania” game. Every time someone says that this game is the sequel to Symphony of the Night I shake my fist and say, “What on earth is this Aria/Dawn of Sorrow erasure???” because Aria of Sorrow was my favorite Castlevania game and this game really much more similar to the Sorrow games and Order of Ecclesia. So I do really love this game.
Anyway, most of my (more positive) thoughts on this game are in the Bloodstained blog post linked above, so take a look at that if you’re interested!
1. (Switch, 2017) I got this game almost exactly a year ago for Christmas/New Years and I’ve thrown an ungodly amount of hours into it. I love how you can look in the distance, see something interesting, and go there. The world is massive. Some people say that it’s too empty or boring, but personally, I’m a bit sick of super cluttered open world maps. This game really taught me that what’s really important is the journey, not the destination. I tried climbing one of the mountains in the Gerudo Desert because I wanted to know what was at the top and I think it was just a single Korok, but I wasn’t even mad because I was able to explore this scenic little mountain.
Personally, I liked the shrines. They were fun to search for and had small and (usually) interesting puzzles. I completed all of them. Some of my favorites are the Kass quest shrines.
You know what was really refreshing? The lack of quest markers. I feel like so many open world games are just a practice in following trails or quest makers. I think sometimes you can turn the quest markers off, but if the game is built with quest markers, they’re usually necessary. In Breath of the Wild, a lot of the quests make sure to offer you hints and maybe a marker to the person who you need to return the quest to. But a lot of the quests are puzzles in themselves and you have to figure out what the hints mean, where to go, and what to do.
Anyway, I love this game and I don’t think there’s much else I can say that hasn’t already been said. As of right now, it’s the Switch game I have the most hours in, but we’ll see if Fire Emblem ever overtakes it.
Honorary Mention (Not yet completed): Disco Elysium. I actually just made a post on this game.
Honorary Mentions (Multiplayer): Super Smash Bros Ultimate, Stardew Valley. You never really “finish” these two games. I also feel like a big factor of enjoying multiplayer games is the people you play with, so it feels weird to judge these alongside single player games.
Honorary Mentions (Board Games): Wingspan, Betrayal at House on the Hill, Scythe, Evolution, Love Letter. In that order.
That’s it! Happy Holidays everyone! We’re heading into the new decade now huh? It feels pretty weird. May your 2020 be better than 2019.