2-12 List Part II: A More Thorough Explanation of My Favorite Games of 2019

Just a week and a half ago I shared my favorite games of 2019. You can scroll down a little bit to see the full list. For those who are too lazy to click/scroll, I’ll re-share here:

  • Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
  • Tetris 99
  • Fire Emblem: Three Houses
  • The Outer Worlds
  • Death Stranding
  • Super Mario Maker 2
  • Steamworld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech
  • Dragon Quest Builders 2
  • Untitled Goose Game
  • River City Girls
  • Slay the Spire
  • Void Bastards
  • Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fueled

I loved every single one of these games. That being said, I didn’t really venture into the why or the what of it all. So I’m expanding a bit more on this list and breaking down these games into some more specific categories. I’m also touching on some more games that I left off of the list because I had to make a cut-off at some point. Anywho, here goes.

Games I Wish I had Played More of This Year

Outer Wilds, 2019

It’s not on my list but my first impressions of the game were quite strong (I left if off because it felt unfair to list this game without having played more than a few hours), and that game is Outer Wilds, not to be confused with The Outer Worlds. I need to give myself some time to venture back into this game, it deserves more of my time and attention.

Void Bastards, 2019

Another game I wish I had spent more time with this year is Void Bastards. That did make my list but I need to circle back because it’s a game that I was really enjoying and then set aside because I’m like a small child or puppy that is always distracted by the next thing in front of my nose. I also just want to note that Void Bastards has the most unique visual art style, done like an illustration/comic.

Games That Are Legitimately the Best Games of the Year for Me

Slay the Spire is one of the most amazing rogue-like card based games. It has a very seductive and dangerous game-play loop that will absolutely eat up hours of your life. I should admit, I have a problem (addiction?) to rogue-like/lite games. Don’t even get me started on how many hours The Binding of Isaac has taken from me.

But back to Slay the Spire. Just buy it and play it. If I could recommend a single game to a person that I know nothing about, it’s this game. It’s the type of game that pulls people into gaming even if they’re uninterested in gaming. It’s just that engaging. It’s also very approachable, the mechanics of the game are simple and easy to understand.

The other game that I would consider best game of the year is Super Mario Maker 2. This game is a delight to play whether you are someone who wants to create your own levels, or whether you want to just play an infinite number of levels created by strangers from around the world. If you’re into speedrunning or kaizo-mario (intentionally difficult masochistic levels), SMM2 has hours and hours of game-play to enjoy. There’s just so much variety and so much to consume, you’ll never be bored and there’s always something new being created.

Games I Should Have Added to My List from a Week Ago

Control, 2019

Control. Control should be on my list and if I’m being honest, it belongs in the Top 5. I’ll leave my list unedited but I really wish I had put this in my list because it’s such a weird and lovely game to be inside of. It’s like an episode of Fringe & X-Files with a dash of Twin Peaks, combine that with game-play that feels reminiscent of Prey & the Dishonored series, you have a recipe for one of the greatest games of 2019.

Blasphemous, 2019

How did I forget about Blasphemous. This is a gothic metroidvania side-scrolling “souls-like” platformer. It has this beautifully dark aesthetic and the combat feels good. It should also have been in my Top 5 but it somehow slipped my mind when I was making that list up a week ago. If you can find a way to play this game, do so, it’s time well spent and you will not regret the purchase.

It’s been a great year for gaming in 2019 and 2020 looks to be even better with Cyberpunk 2049, The Last of Us II, Final Fantasy VII, & Ghosts of Tsushima. Too many games, too little time, so much $$. Happy Gaming & Happy New Years!

2-11 List: You’re the Best Around Decade Edition

Last week I shared my 2019 list of games that I feel are worthy of your attention and play-time. I wanted to look back a bit further and review the best games of the decade.

I’m reflecting on games that have fundamentally changed the gaming industry, culture, & community.

Also, this list may include games that I myself have not played or are fond of, yet still recognize are important and worthy of noting.

  • Dark Souls (2011)
  • The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim (2011)
  • The Last of Us (2013)
  • Grand Theft Auto V (2013)
  • The Witness (2016)
  • Pokemon Go (2016)
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (2017)
  • Fornite (2017)
  • God of War (2018)
  • Death Stranding (2019)

I’m sure I’ve missed some and this list is far from comprehensive, I could easily expand it, but looking back at the decade in gaming, I think this list is pretty reflective of the state of gaming/play as we move into the next decade.

2-10 List: Best of the Best of the Best 2019 Edition

It’s that time of year where everyone shares their favorite games. Here is a list of games released in 2019 that I’ve enjoyed playing and think are worth your time.

Note: I am avoiding using a numbered system because these games are all worthy of attention and also, ranking is bullshit. My preference in this moment will change in a few days because my moods are fickle and things change. Good gaming ya’ll.

  • Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
  • Tetris 99
  • Fire Emblem: Three Houses
  • The Outer Worlds
  • Death Stranding
  • Super Mario Maker 2
  • Steamworld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech
  • Dragon Quest Builders 2
  • Untitled Goose Game
  • River City Girls
  • Slay the Spire
  • Void Bastards
  • Crash Team Racing: Nitro Fueled

2-9 Console Life-cycle: Late to the Party

I’m late to the party, but the good thing is that there’s plenty of food to devour. That’s how I feel having been gifted a console (PS4) so late into it’s life-cycle. We already know that the PS5 (PSV?) has been announced for December 2020. So why now?

There are a ton of advantages with jumping into a console so late in it’s life-cycle. Here are just a few of them:

  • Discounts on console/bundled deals.
  • Games are cheaper (used games easily acquired)
  • GOTY editions (bundled DLC game packages at low prices)
  • Bugs/updates have been worked out for major game releases

Those are just a few of the reasons to jump into a gaming console at the end of it’s life. You just save a ton of money and have a lot of media to consume.

There are certainly trade-offs, as the number of games that are being released for the older generation start to taper off as release of the latest approaches. But for me, this isn’t really a deal-breaker. I did this with the Xbox 360 and here I am at the tail end of Sony’s Playstation 4.

2-8 Halloween: Skins, Lootboxes, & Events

I doubt I’ll ever purchase another Blizzard game again, and the only one that might seriously tempt me is Diablo 4, but I’d have to think long and hard about that because, I’m not a fan of their political stance with regards to China & Hong Kong.

All that being said, I have Overwatch on the brain. It’s Halloween and I’m thinking of Overwatch’s Halloween Terror event and all the cool skins you can pick up for our motley crew of heroes/villains. It’s the one thing I will most most about this kind of ‘event gaming’. Those skins are dope.

These skins look amazing. Even then, it’s double-edged. They may look amazing but there’s no guarantee you’ll unlock these skins unless you shell out a ton of money on lootboxes.

This kind of ‘event gaming’ is so seductive because of course you want the latest cool looking Halloween costume/skin. And it’s not just Overwatch, it’s a ton of other games: Destiny 2, Fortnite, World of Warcraft, Apex Legends, Pokemon Go, Rocket League, etc.

They may look cool, but looking cool has always come with a price tag.

2-6 Xbox Game Pass: A Buffet of Games

Games as services is not something I am quite fond of, but it seems to be the future. Lately it seems, all you have to do is to blink and you’ll discover a game developer announcing an exclusive launcher for their flagship games.

Whether it’s Rockstar with their announcement of Red Dead Redemption 2 or Ubisoft with the latest Assassin’s Creed. If you want to buy a game, you have to install their launcher and live inside of their ecosystem. And we know that they’re going to offer all kinds of lootboxes (surprise-mechanics) and additional DLC that are exclusive to their platform.

I hate that I currently have 7 launcher/platforms on my PC:

  • Steam
  • Origin
  • Uplay
  • Epic Game Store
  • GoG
  • Microsoft Xbox
  • Battle.net

And Google Stadia is around the corner (I am eagerly awaiting this to fail).

The only shining bit of light I can see is how Microsoft has approached this trend of games as a service with their Xbox Game Pass.

Microsoft Xbox Game Pass

For about $6/month I can have unlimited access to a gallery of games that I am able to immediately download to my PC. I’m not streaming them, so I do not have to fuss with latency or connection speeds. And I’m not paying full price for a game I will lose interest with or does not run well on my aging graphics card (GTX 950).

I wanted to play the new Obsidian game, Outer Worlds, but I also didn’t want to drop $60, so I started my free trial and I have to say, I’m quite pleased with this decision and I’m going to keep my subscription active.

The only small annoyance I have is that the Xbox Game Pass app from the Windows Store is a bit sluggish at times, but it’s also a beta app that will likely receive more updates as the service develops. It’s still only a few months into this being available for PC, so I’m not too worried. It’s a very small thing.

If you’re looking for a convenient way to play games on your PC at a fairly affordable cost, you should take advantage of the $1 first month trial and see if it’s right for you.

2-5 Going Back: Previously On LOST

Returning to a game you haven’t picked up in months can be a frustrating experience. Outside of feeling disconnected from the narrative of whatever game you’re attempting to hop back inside of, you have also likely forgotten a number of other aspects of the game: controls, attack patterns of bosses, and where you are in the game (literally, somewhere on a giant map unsure of your next step).

DRAGON QUEST XI: Echoes of an Elusive Age

I wish more video games took a page from television serials and provided a “Previously on…” kind of recap. Dragon Quest XI, which I’m currently playing does just this and it’s a brilliant addition to an already stand-out game. I am glad the developers recognized that in a game that is potentially 120+ hours long, that it might be useful to have a short recap while your game is loading, explaining that your character was last on this island battling this evil demon and your next goal is to find maguffin A so you can restore order to the blah blah blah.

What often happens to me when I return to an older game is that I start a brand new save, so that I can re-familiarize myself with the game’s narrative/controls and then once I feel like I’ve recalled enough of the game, I will hop back into my older save which has more progress.

I do also wish that outside of a “Previously on…” type of feature, that more games would allow you to replay the introduction/tutorial because that would basically solve the problem of not knowing how to play the game after so many months (or even years) of inactivity.

Back to your regularly scheduled programming.