What we said: “A simple no-frills game that’s more Destruction Derby than Flatout, evoking a different era for the racing genre with its no-nonsense approach. Unassuming it may be, but it’s also absolutely wonderful, a knockabout racer that sticks to what Bugbear does best; this is all about cars lunching one another in a variety of events that are tuned towards maximum carnage, and as ever there’s a cathartic joy to be found in seeing fields of pre-loved machinery crumble at your fingertips.”
“Best racing game in years,” writes merf. “More fun than Forza and Gran Turismo and makes every everything Codemasters turn out look pish. Looks amazing, handles like a dream, excellent AI opponents, great post release support, a tuning system that makes sense and a physics system that feels like it needed next generation power to make possible.” Which is all well and good, but they go on to diss Fast & Furious and I’M NOT HAVING THAT.
“One of the best racers of the generation,” says kalel-ofkrypton, “and reminiscent of the favoured racers of previous gens.”
What we said: “GreedFall has more than its fair share of faults, and its curious mix of the sweet and the sour is far from a roleplaying revelation. But the elements that matter have been imbued with such love and care – so much so that I quickly forgave this ambitious RPG its shortcomings.”
“Spiders best yet,” says jbumi in what may be damnation with faint praise. “I was thrilled that I was able to get the ending I was aiming for.”
nicfaz keeps it nice and simple, meanwhile. “Need more like this pls.”
48. Rage 2
What we said: “In its desperation to be edgy and in-your-face, this sequel sometimes falls just as flat as its predecessor, the copious neon pink daubings incapable of concealing its bland, repetitive wasteland and elevate this open-world shooter above its siblings of a similar ilk. But in its quieter moments – usually away from the Goon Squad scrum – you might find glimmers of surprisingly sophisticated storytelling, perhaps hidden in the lines of a datapad, or conveyed by a nameless NPC.”
“The guns are amazing,” says robozot, which says all that needs to be said really.
formulaic had more to say, though: “For the gunplay and the vibrant neon painted world this might be my game of the year, but it got tiring driving round a desert world that largely didn’t live up to the set pieces and enclosed areas within it.”
“A wholly enjoyable slice of post apocalyptic shooty mayhem in a Day-Glo world,” says FortySixerUK. “Hyper violent and fun.” And what more could you really ask for?
47. Sayonara Wild Hearts
What we said: “Sayonara Wild Hearts is such a simple thing but also such a complex thing, such a heartfelt thing. And so dense! Its exuberance is precision, its chaos is sheer choreography. It can reference Panzer Dragoon, Jet Set Radio, Dyad and Thumper while remaining entirely coherent, entirely itself.”
“Sayonara Wild Hearts is 2019’s best pop album game,” writes Dogatella_Verpoochie, and I entirely agree. “It’s a blast to play and listen to.”
46. Halo: The Master Chief Collection (PC)
A belated PC release, topped off with the addition of Reach late in the year which Digital Foundry got stuck into: “it really needs to be better – the legacy of Halo, the quality of Reach itself and the potential from a remaster practically demands it. Preserving games for the future – especially on PC – means replicating them as they were in all the places where it matters, while improving them at the same time based on the scalability of today’s hardware and beyond. Perhaps this may sound overly harsh in some respects, but this is the Halo remaster that will persist for years or even decades to come – and while the foundation is solid overall, there are clearly issues here that need attention.”
“A return to the glory days of gaming when you and your mates actually had time to waste,” says GuiltySpark.
“I hadn’t played a Halo since Reach way back when, so I was curious to see if I would still love them as much as I did,” says Spiderland. “And I did! Particularly Reach, which for one reason or another, I had forgotten everthing about. I feel Reach was the product of a team who had really honed their craft, which makes me ponder all the more as to what Bungie’s Halo 4 would have been like.”
45. Cadence of Hyrule: Crypt of the Necrodancer
What we said: “Cadence is better than great. It’s an authentic banger, frankly – a Zelda game to be savoured. It’s surprising and strange and funny and sad and thrilling. And when it’s over, the game that lives on in your memory really feels like Zelda.”
“Remaking Link’s Awakening was a great success for Nintendo but in the same year Zelda got its greatest spinoff yet,” says wez_316. The original Necrodancer was fun but tough. Cadence was fun but easy. For me that suits rhythm gameplay a lot more as it can be hard to stay in that zone. Now make me an easier Metroid themed adaption of Enter The Gungeon and take my money.”
44. Life is Strange 2
What we said: ” I was left feeling the loss of these two characters as people I had spent the past year checking in on and helping to guide. Like Sean, I felt, I had done all I could to help Daniel – and the brothers’ story finished in a place which felt truthful to them and the story path I took. It was beautiful while it lasted.”
A popular follow-up, though most of you kept to yourself precisely why it got your vote. Dalek5000 had this, though – “The most compelling new game I’ve played this year.”
43. Divinity Original Sin 2 (Switch)
What we said: “Divinity Original Sin 2 on Switch is another ‘impossible port’ made real, thanks to a lot of careful design choices. Flawed as it is, I’m glad this exists, and it’s uncontested as a handheld take on the game. Add in the online save sharing and it’s a very big deal for fans of the desktop experience..”
“I have not played the Switch version…” says vaskis. You cheat! “I played it on my Mac, but it is such an extensive and well polished gem of a CRPG, that it really deserves to be awarded some more awards.”
“I have this on Xbox also but I found it easier to get into on the Switch,” says nee5on, who at least played on the right format. “Second time playing has been so much fun as I now have a feeling for what I’m supposed to be doing. Starting to find the complexity thrilling and liberating. It is a genre of game I’ve always thought I would enjoy if I could get past the learning curve and having been playing games since the early 80s – I feel like I’m finally there.”
42. Yoshi’s Crafted World
What we said: “Yoshi’s Crafted World is a fine achievement. It’s a scrolling platformer with an abundance of style and imagination, and a pleasingly laid-back adventure with an ocean of depth to explore. It is, first and foremost, a work born of mastery and a keen attention to detail. This is a game of impeccable, readily appreciable craft.”
“Is Yoshi about to become the new Kirby in the best way possible?” asks simplymod. “Fair enough, Yoshi’s appearances as the main character are quite a few games shy of what Kirby can offer, but Crafted World is true to the Yoshi Feeling (twentysomething years after Super Mario World 2), brings a new art style to the table, relies on what works but is brave enough to try something new.”
41. Return of the Obra Dinn (Console)
The second appearance in as many years on our list as Obra Dinn came to console, but this is surely a treasure worth returning to: “It is a joy to poke around as the game slowly opens up new spaces. It is a pleasure – and a very harmonious pleasure – to come to an understanding of how different parts of the ship slot together, where people sleep, where they work, where they gather for a game of cards. That powdery white line that draws this bleak world is surprisingly adept at giving a sense of the material reality of the ship – razor sharp on the rarely-used stairs you use to climb aboard, breaking into radar-like speckles when ghosting an outline of waves into life. As your clues mount up and the images in the book become less and less fuzzy, so the world comes into focus. You are not just exploring a place, you are slowly getting a sense for it. What an astonishing game. What an incredible piece of work.”
“The lack of hand holding made this a challenge,” writes Lucidmatt, lucidly, “but the pay off was exceptional.”
“Never got to play it on PC, but it was worth the wait,” says disintegration7. “Totally unique gameplay and artistic style, plus a giant squid!!!” Er, spoilers mate..
40. Blood and Truth
What we said: “It all adds up to a game that is surprisingly charming. Certainly more charming than anything the actual High Ritchieverse has ever mustered. There is a sense of silliness to Blood & Truth that loves the idiotic family drama at the center of the story, that understands that VR is at times a very clumsy business so you’re going to accidentally shoot the person you’re meant to be talking to or shoot yourself in the groin while you’re trying to put your gun away.”
“Runner up for best VR of the year,” says dbvapor. “Sorry, but Ace Combat 7’s VR mode is just that good. Excellent game though, and I look forward to the next one! Reload!”
“This is the sort of polished ‘big game’ I had been waiting for from PSVR,” adds Stepharneo.
39. Kingdom Hearts 3
What we said: “Here’s the thing. Kingdom Hearts should be right up my street: I love Disney, I have a reasonable tolerance for the idiosyncrasies of your typical JRPG, and I enjoyed the second game and Birth By Sleep. I fell hard for the weaponised nostalgia of The Force Awakens and Mary Poppins Returns. So this should really be an open goal. And yet, Yoko Shimomura’s impeccable score notwithstanding (those yearning oboes of the Twilight Town theme always set me off), I remained dry-eyed throughout.”
“A game stuck in development hell that actually turned out quite well,” writes XanderXAJ. “Amazing animation that somehow often matches that of extremely-high budget CG animation — and in real time, too! It also has an amazing soundtrack – and one I had the pleasure of experiencing live at a World of Tres concert earlier this year.”
“It’s one of two games from this year I’ve really bothered to give a go,” says Solegor. “Not because there are terrible games this year, but because I’m still clearing my backlog.
While KH3 is far from perfect, it’s still gorgeous to look at and at least it tries to tie up the convoluted storylines from the previous games.”
“Honestly,” says agrippA1, “the wait was worth it just for the Big Hero 6 world.”
38. The Witcher 3 (Switch)
What we said: “Overall, Saber and CDPR hit an impressive bar of quality here. Clearly, performance can vary, but on balance it holds 30ps more often than I expected. The Witcher 3 Complete Edition pruned back everything it can to be playable, while still somehow retaining a lot of its best visual features. Graphical points like reflections, light shafts, water physics, and even a high NPC count are incredible to see on a handheld. This is close to perfection.”
“Unfortunately, despite big releases such as Gears 5, Pokemon Sword, Jedi Fallen Order and many more, nothing truly gripped me this year,” says Dalek5000. “I’ve found myself yet again immersed into the world of The Witcher 3, despite the graphical downgrade. Commuting has never been so fun!”
“I don’t even own a Switch but this is the game of the year every year it is released,” says Rodimus Prime. Heretic! And honestly, treat yourself to one. They’re rather good.
37. The Division 2
What we said: “From start to finish, The Division 2 pulls in these bits of American history with unwavering earnesty and yet manages to say absolutely nothing. Worse, it goes out of its way to say nothing. The result is that the only real message The Division 2 manages to impart is that guns will keep you safe. Despite the advertising campaign this is not a game about saving the soul of America, it’s a game about the good guys with guns taking what they want from the bad guys with guns. A shame, because if you can look past the vacuity and the slapdash politicisation of The Division 2, there’s a great game to be enjoyed here – even if you’ll never quite escape the sense that it’s a thunderingly dumb one.”
“If I didn’t have a friend, probably not,” admits groovychainsaw. “But with a buddy this is some of the best coop shooting you can get. A superb engine, great graphics and great moment to moment shooting. Expanded well to give you plenty to do after the end, unlike many of its rivals.”
“Awesome experience with an end game that kept giving,” adds Big-Swiss.
“It’s not only one of the best Ubisoft games of the past few years but successfully built on the foundations of the first game,” says gabortoth. “Bigger, better in every way, it’s an excellent looter-shooter-RPG that seemingly never ends. Outstanding gunplay, cover system and RPG elements make this one of the best experiences for me in 2019.”
“Flawed, unfinished, and absolutely fantastic,” says atropos as they strike a more cautious note. “It’s a shame The Division 2 didn’t just build on what the original The Division had become after many, many updates (thoroughly excellent), but this was still the most time I spent in an MMO this year.”
36. Monster Hunter World: Iceborne
To our eternal shame, we weren’t able to play enough of Iceborne to provide a review, though we did enjoy what we saw: “Iceborne, with its stubborn challenges, can feel like it’s pitched more towards those expert players, but the joy of Monster Hunter – now, as ever – is how it embraces all playstyles, whether you’re thrashing about with dual blades or keeping a watching brief with a bowgun. Or, whether you’re veteran who wants to solo some of the biggest, baddest monsters, or a scrub like myself who’s happy to wade in the shallows and simply enjoy the spectacle. Iceborne does a decent job of catering to both, and there’s enough there to satisfy all corners of Monster Hunter World’s 13 million strong audience. So, don’t be put off by Iceborne – in truth, there’s never been a better time to get into Monster Hunter.”
“Every time I think that the series has peaked and can’t get any better, Ryuji Tsujimoto and his merry crew manage to tweak and improve the formula,” says XanderXAJ. “350 more hours in this expansion pack so far are testament to how well-honed the mechanics are — and how hooked I am. Capcom have had one hell of a year.”
“Monster Hunter has evolved into a free flowing beast of a game,” says Mechakabukizero.
“I still love the older games in the series but l find it tough to go back after the greatness which is Monster Hunter World.”
“Improves upon the base game in so many ways,” says Aporca. “It adds a wealth of new content which is both a challenge and a joy to play. The one game I keep coming back to.”
35. Dragon Quest Builders 2
What we said: “The series’ sense of adventure, of pushing forward into new lands to make new discoveries and to unearth the warmth and character that’s always been at the series’ heart, is re-emphasised. It’s a wonderful thing, really, and the most fun I’ve had with a Dragon Quest game in years..”
“Being a jaded old fart whose gaming pedigree dates back to the early Vic20 days, I was delighted to find this recaptured some of the wonder and magic I felt with new worlds as a kid,” says Matnee. “That’s something to be cherished these days.” Ain’t that the truth.
“Everything I love about Minecraft, with none of the crippling, overwhelming, anxiety,” adds logicub. “This game is what defined my other choices, I spent so much time building up my Isle of Awakening that I haven’t played half as many games this year as I normally would.”
34. Final Fantasy 14: Shadowbringers
What we said: Well, not enough really as Final Fantasy 14’s a title we’ve struggled to cover properly. Sorry!
Thankfully you lot know your stuff. Like Gamblix here: “I have played Final Fantasy XIV since the late days of A Realm Reborn and seeing this game from strength to strength is so heartwarming, considering the games awful 1.0 launch. Shadowbringers is without a doubt, one of the best MMO expansions EVER and one of the best JRPG stories in modern video games. Anyone who has a remote interest in Final Fantasy should play this. It is near perfection in storytelling.” God, we really should play it, shouldn’t we?
33. Dirt Rally 2.0
What we said: “Dirt Rally 2.0 is part of the new Codemasters – the one that brought us the equally brilliant F1 2018 – that indulges its passion for motorsport. It’s deep, involving and crafted with love, and you can’t help but love it back in turn. The original Dirt Rally made a convincing claim at being the best off-road sim to date. I think its sequel can lay claim to being one of the best driving experiences available right now.”
“Well… it’s an improved Dirt Rally,” says DrStrangelove, keeping things to the point. “How much more praise do you need?”
“The best, better,” says hypobla5t. “Compulsive genius.”
32. Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown
What we said: “Ace Combat 7 is the real deal with a perfect blend of new and classic ideas packed into a cohesive, highly replayable package. There aren’t many games quite like this being released today so whether you’re a returning fan that has missed the classic series or a newcomer looking for something a little different, it’s an absolute must-play.”
“Ace Combat 7 is such a pure game,” says mickjohnson. “It’s action, it’s mayhem, it’s a crazy storyline, with fantastic music, and it’s beautifully delivered in a way that seems elusive to other developers. Add in some brief (but excellent) PSVR support and you’ve got my #1 game of this year.”
“Tragically underrated,” says AgrippA1. “It’s exactly what you would expect from an Ace Combat game and the VR bit was excellent.”
31. Destiny 2: Shadowkeep
What we said: Nothing. Look, we got the hint – we might have written enough already over the past few years about Destiny.
“The amount of time I’ve put into Destiny 2 since picking it back up in August doesn’t let me choose anything else, honestly,” says SnikrepJ. “It’s spectacular if you enjoy the whole shared world looter shooter MMORPG – not without its flaws, but what is these days?”
30. Super Mario Maker 2
What we said: “Years ago I read the only writing advice that I suspect anybody really needs. Type something, it ran, because then you have something to change. William Goldman said that, I think, and he would have been very at home with Mario Maker. Everyone would be at home here, I suspect. Like the first game, this is a warm bubble bath to settle into, or an afternoon on the sofa with the Sunday papers and nothing else in the diary. Has it changed? Not too much. But it is wonderfully soothing to have it back.”
“It is Mario Bros on the Nintendo Switch and you can design and share your own levels!” says Beatleben. “What else can you say?”
“The game I’ve played more than any other this year,” says EvilAspirin. “Endless Mario levels. What’s not to love?” Exactly!
29. Dragon Quest 11 S
What we said: “Is this the best Dragon Quest? Some people believe so, and I can understand why – it’s where the character, charm and colour that make this series so beloved are at their most vivid. Personally I’m not so sure, and even after the improvements made for this edition I wish Dragon Quest 11 could find a little more space for its players, though there’s no denying the eloquence of its craft, or the vastness of its scope. In terms of scale and spectacle, this is as grand an adventure you’ll find on the Nintendo Switch this side of Breath of the Wild.”
“I almost stuck it out until the final boss (before I got distracted by other games; I will return), and that is more than I can say for 99% of JRPGs…” That’s the Romeric verdict.
“Unbelievably conventional but undeniably beautifully polished. Video game comfort food – like eating a buttery hot cross bun on a gloomy, wet, winter’s evening.” Captain_T_Dawg paints a nice picture there.
28. Pokémon Sword and Shield
What we said: “Sword and Shield’s Wild Area is desperately flat. There will undoubtedly be a moment of shivers, if you’re a long-term fan, when you first see Pokémon roaming the world and you finally get to gaze around that space yourself. But that moment will wear off when you realise you’ve already seen it all. And it’ll fade from memory entirely when you inevitably hop back on the rails from which you have just at last broken free. What is intended as a great, Breath of the Wild step forward quickly turns to two giant leaps back, and with these games that sad irony is everywhere. Pokémon Sword and Shield project a sense of scale and ambition far beyond any previous ones in the series, but to take it back to those gargantuan new Dynamax forms, the size is merely a shadow. A shallow projection, in place of the real thing.”
Logicub – is that a Pokémon? – says: “Pokemon games are not made purely for the long-term fans. They’re made for everybody. If you can just remember that, then this is a thoroughly enjoyable romp through a Britain that’s better than the real one right now.”
Lukazor – is that a Pokémon? – says: “I hadn’t played a main line Pokemon game in years so I was extremely excited to play Sword/Shield and they didn’t disappoint! Extremely addictive, the new Pokemon are great and the wild area is a great addition. Loved every minute of the main story and now on the hunt to complete the Pokedex.”
27. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night
What we said: “It took more time to get here than we’d originally expected, granted, but Igarashi sure did deliver in the end.
“I backed this and, despite choosing the Switch version, had a good time with it,” says HKT3030.
“A joy to play,” agrees Navi. “Unapologetically a modern update to Castlevania, full of all the lovely little touches you’d expect from a well crafted 2D game.”
26. Red Dead Redemption 2 (PC)
- Developer: Rockstar
What we said: I bet we said something about horses and hats and I bet we ended by saying, “Saddle up, pardner!” That would be just like us.
“Eeeeeee ha.,” says Karmazyn. I hear you. Pardner.
“A magnificently lush, varied and gritty open world,” says Subquest. “A compelling story and highly enjoyable gameplay. Graphically an astonishing technical achievement. Rockstar’s finest hour.” Steady on (pardner). You do know these guys also made a Table Tennis game right?
25. Shenmue 3
What we said: “And all these years later, it makes for an entry that, as unlikely as it is, is more finessed and fully-featured than the first two games. A more astute critic might point out that the performances are uneven, the character models sometimes look wayward, you’re kind of limited as to what you can do and nothing of note really happens. That’s not me, I’m afraid. Yes, Shenmue 3 can look and play like a Dreamcast game. But it looks and plays like a Dreamcast game that’s as off-kilter, maddening, magical and majestic as the Shenmue and its sequel, both all-time classics. I think there’s good reason to rejoice in that.”
“18 years of waiting came to an end. Shenmue 3 is everything the fans could have ever expected, and probably very close to Yu Suzuki’s original vision for the game.” Ta, Hansliengnell1!
24. A Plague Tale: Innocence
What we said: “The great shock of Plague Tale is that on some level, it’s a Gears of War game. The more obvious comparison is The Last of Us, another poignant, apocalyptic escapade in which an older character guides a more innocent soul whose blood is touched by destiny, but in practice, and for all the absence of chainsaws, it’s often Epic’s game that comes to mind. It’s there in the tanky handling, with characters swivelling ponderously as though secretly many times their own size. It’s there in the sense of a historical backdrop (the Sera of Gears is a pastiche of familiar architectural traditions) being softly consumed by the supernatural: the darkness alive with eyeshine, the twisted, bony black rot the rats leave behind them, the alchemical motifs that gradually become the plot’s crucible. But above all, it’s a question of framing. As in Gears, you spend most chapters wending your way towards some distant landmark, a brooding structure such as a windmill that is teed up for you with a context-sensitive look command, then tugged into and out of view by the intervening geography. It lends each stage of Amicia and Hugo’s journey a powerful inexorability, for all the trail-and-error process of bamboozling soldiers – as though you were being drawn through its world by gravity towards a procession of massive objects. It’s worth giving into the pull. Just don’t forget to look for the flowers.”
“Very underrated title this year,” says Europsnfan70. “Absolutely beautiful and features one of the best stories this year. More people need to be playing this one.”
“Atmospheric, dark wonders,” says King_Of_Shovels.
23. Baba is You
What we said: “Baba is You is a game about how sentences work that is also, inevitably, a game about how thinking works too. How could it not be, really?”
Pjotroos here: “Can’t remember the last time any game made me feel this stupid. The core concept is spectacular. Some early puzzles made me laugh out loud in joy, once the solution clicked. But the amount of creative thinking it requires to deal with the later levels is genuinely intimidating. I’ve lost the count of times when I was sure I was thinking outside the box, only to realise I merely got myself stuck in a slightly larger box for another half hour, once the solution finally, finally clicked in. I haven’t finished it. I doubt I ever will. But I still have to respect the raw creativity on display.”
22. Metro Exodus
What we said: “We need more experiences like Metro Exodus that know how to resist empty bloodshed and kindle such closeness, finding the warmth in the wasteland.”
“Incredibly immersive and beautiful,” said Ivanbasov, one of only a few comments on Metro Exodus. Instead, I’ll tell you that lots of people who liked this also liked Slay the Spire.
21. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare
What we said: “There’s a tinge of disappointment here with Modern Warfare at launch. I’m playing it in the hope that what is soon to come will pull all the right levers in all the right directions, turning this good Call of Duty into a great one. And there’s plenty waiting in the wings: Modern Warfare’s battle pass, which Activision has said will come in free and premium forms, will hopefully fuel progression in a post-prestige world. More, better-fitting multiplayer maps are essential (Infinity Ward pulled the night vision MP maps shortly after the game launched and at the time of publication, they have yet to return). And then there’s the inevitable battle royale. Undoubtedly, there’s an exciting potential to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. Until that potential is realised, though, Modern Warfare remains a shooter that is at odds with itself. When it’s good, it’s great. When it’s bad it’s frustrating. Everything in between is, well, Call of Duty.”
Lots of people voted for COD, but almost nobody wrote anything about it. Here’s Phinor, who is always reliable! “A good soundtrack can lift a four star movie up to five stars and the same principle applies to games. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare did that by adding much needed oomph to gun sounds. Add the best new multiplayer game mode since forever with 2vs2 Gunfight and you have the tightest Call of Duty package since, well, Modern Warfare (the original).”
20. Days Gone
What we said: “I wasn’t expecting Days Gone to add anything new to the genre, but both in terms of its systems and its story it’s uninspired, which is driven home by the fact that it’s endlessly, needlessly long. I’m begging you, haven’t we done this enough?”
“Better than expected,” says HungaryGrowler.
“Beautiful open world game with a compelling story and characters you actually care for. Genuine heart-racing moments when freakers pour down upon your position,” says Mustabuster.
19. Borderlands 3
What we said: “You’ll likely have seen – or even experienced for yourself by now – that Borderlands 3 is everything Vault Hunters loved about its predecessors. It’s hard to imagine how, technical issues aside, existing fans could not find more to love about this latest iteration, but that could also be said for fans who didn’t like its predecessors. But whether you believe it’s giving the fans what they want or a dazzling lack of ambition – evolution or revolution, in other words – Borderlands may be polarising, but it’s back nonetheless: bigger, better, and more unapologetic than ever.”
“Whilst the new protagonists couldn’t hold a torch to Handsome Jack (very few can in any game), it was a joy to play and felt continually rewarding,” says Bigworv.
“Loot and shoot. Humour.” That’s the Clockworkzombie verdict.
18. Devil May Cry 5
What we said: “Is it the measure of the action titles that come out of that other studio in Osaka? At times it feels a little too retrograde to be the best in class, but I’m certain it’s the best Devil May Cry there’s been yet – which is still quite the claim to be able to make. This is a more vintage type of action, though that ends up serving Devil May Cry 5 incredibly well. Style like this never really goes out of fashion, after all.”
Navi has nailed this: “Dante has a silly beard, Nero’s arm now explodes and V reads poetry while demons fight each other. What’s not to love!” When I read that I can’t help but imagine it as the starting crawl for a Star Wars movie.
17. Slay the Spire
What we said: “In the end, I’m an optimist, so I went with the donut.”
OllyJ is taking us on a journey: “So, in 2019 I’ve discovered board games. From Splendor to Cosmic Encounter, I’ve been blown away by the feel of playing a board game. I’d never have played a game like this otherwise, and I’m so glad I did because my Switch has basically turned into a Slay the Spire machine. That’s now its only function, a £250 console that plays what is essentially a card game. I’m cool with that.”
Jaz666: “Meant that I enjoyed my 19hr holiday flight. Almost as much as my holiday…”
16. Astral Chain
What we said: “There’s more – there is so, so much more – to the point where Astral Chain can be dizzying in its depths. Combat boasts so many moving parts that it’s easy to become flustered, so it’s almost a relief to find it supports an easy ‘Unchained’ mode whereby much is automated. Is it sacrilege to play a Platinum game that way? Maybe, but I welcome the option to unlock Astral Chain’s spectacle to all, and it helps remove some of the frictions that might have scared some players off the studio’s previous work.”
Break it down Quizmos: “PlatinumGames at its finest once again proving they are hard to beat when it comes to fast paced action with a unique twist!” Testify!
“All hail Lappy!” says FanBoysSuck.
15. Gears 5
What we said: “Will Gears 5 rekindle Gears of War’s glory days on Xbox 360? I doubt it. But The Coalition has finally stamped its personality on the series, even if it’s taken a few missteps along the way. Gears 5’s campaign reminded me just how much I love a good Gears of War campaign. I’m not trying too hard. Gears isn’t trying too hard. We’re holding hands, safe in the collective knowledge we’re in this together, and it’s going to be one hell of a ride.”
“Again, didn’t play it (still need to get through Gears 4), but I’ve played through two of the originals in the franchise, and this game is optimized well enough I very much look forward to hitting it on PC.” BudTheCyborg, I’m not sure you really get the whole concept here.
14. Tetris 99
What we said: “It’s a phenomenal thing, pretty much justifying the cost of a Nintendo Online subscription in one fell swoop, and I dare think of the number of hours I’m going to end up putting in over the course of the year.”
“Counting the DLC as part of the overall, this is the perfect update to Tetris. The increasing tension throughout the multiplayer and the euphoria of a win (or top 10 finish for less good players like me) just add to the game’s just one more go draw.” That was Reverandglass and they’re right, aren’t they?
13. Untitled Goose Game
What we said: “Untitled Goose Game started as a joke in House House’s Slack channel, and it’s astounding how much mileage they’ve found in the gag. This is slapstick – the ultimate form of humour – and it’s slapstick of the highest order. There’s something quite classical about how its slapstick expresses itself, and how beautifully engineered it is, that makes Untitled Goose Game really stand out – if Goat Simulator is an old Farrelly Bros. film, then Untitled Goose Game is as refined and stylish as a Jacques Tati standard. It’s a perfectly formed little troublemaker.”
“Quirky, fun, endlessly meme-able. I pick UGG more for the impact it had on this year than for the game itself. We need more games like this and less loot box, microtransaction, bleed you dry games please.” Reverandglass there with a bit of a sermon.
“Fun concept,” says Watershed.
12. The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening
What we said: “I first played Link’s Awakening in black and white, more than 20 years ago, but it coloured my hopes for every Zelda since. Some frame-rate issues on the overworld at launch aside – more an annoyance than anything else – this version surpasses the hopes I had for another visit to its world. Koholint Island deserves nothing less, and while Link must journey to leave its shores, this remake will always be a place which preserves the island for others to follow.”
“Perfectly remade, this time I finally finished it unlike when I was a kid, and the music is sublime” says Foxxlet.
“Just wonderful in every possible way,” says The_jinks.
11. Apex Legends
What Martin said: “There’s opportunism here too, of course, but Apex Legends feels like something else; laser-sighted, deeply considered and incredibly smart, it’s the kind of thing you’d imagine Nintendo might come up with if ever they set their minds to a battle royale. The real test will come in where Respawn can take Apex Legends, and how it evolves as a live service – something that publisher EA has struggled with in the past with its first-person shooters. But after a few hours with this impeccably crafted battle royale, the one overriding feeling I’m left with is keen anticipation to see where Apex Legends heads next.”
“300+ hours in and I’m still utterly addicted,” says Jonny5Alive7. “The game lengths are perfect to hook you in and the regular content updates keep it varied.”
10. Luigi’s Mansion 3
What we said: “Part of me still yearns for those dusty carpets of the first Luigi’s Mansion – the near pitch black corridors, the fumbling around in the dark. This third entry, by contrast, feels more like Luigi has left the haunted house and gained free reign around the neighbouring theme park. But what a theme park. It’s left me excited to see where the series goes next.”
“This year’s best Third Person Sucker!” says EpcotMan, minting a genre that I’m not sure we’ll be allowing. “An intricately detailed fun house that reminds you of how many playful ideas Nintendo can cram into a game. Inventive, surprising and surprisingly funny. “
“Suck it,” says Clockworkzombie.
9. Disco Elysium
What we said: “One character and one story may contain multitudes, but Disco Elysium has pushed that idea to extremes, making me a flippant macho and above all a weirdo who stands for nothing. Once the novelty wears off, I feel like I’m playing a game that insistently wants to prove to me how smart it is, and that, above anything, is just really tiring.”
KDR_11k says: “The term CRPG doesn’t really describe what Disco Elysium is. It’s a game about talking and investigating. And it does talking really, really well. ” What else? “I’ve saved the world countless times in many different games over the years, but very few of these will I remember as fondly as singing karaoke in the Whirling in Rags bar in Disco Elysium.” says Nafter.
8. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
What we said: “The annoying thing is, for the first ten hours or so, I absolutely adored Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.”
“EA should’ve made this game five years ago. It’s definitely one of the top ten best Star Wars games ever made,” says Mickjohnson. EA should have mailed it to the Marx Brothers! “Rough around the edges, but the mix of Sekiro and Uncharted with a Star Wars hat on was right up my street. The Sonic the Hedgehog bits can fuck right off though.” That’s HONKHONK. He’s swearing now because he doesn’t see the point in keeping you away from this stuff anymore.
“Was surprised by how good it was,” says UltimateKGB.
7. Fire Emblem: Three Houses
What we said: “This isn’t the game to bring together fans of the old-spec Fire Emblem and those drawn in by the appeal of the new. There’s a clear divide right through the centre of Fire Emblem: Three Houses, and its masterstroke is in bridging the two, the bonds you build away from the battlefield giving each blow taken on it that much more impact. It’s a deeply emotional tactical game, one in which you end up invested in each unit. In that way, it’s true to what’s always made Fire Emblem so special – it’s just that Three Houses expresses itself on a different scale, and a different style. Fire Emblem: Three Houses really is a game of two halves, but they come together to make one incredible whole.”
“Never has a game that disrespected my free time so much, been allowed to take up so much of my time in a bid to get all the endings.” says Gintoki.
“Dating sim and tactical RPG with three distinct factions to choose from. Love it,” says Humey26.
JackdawBlack agrees. “The best TRPG dating sim, not that we have many.”
6. Outer Wilds
What we said: “There’s a twofold joy to Outer Wilds – the thrill of discovery itself, as you slowly decipher the variables that swirl around each not-so-distant world, and of seeing that thrill reflected in a phrase scribbled centuries ago by some castaway alien boffin. It gives the game that feeling of displaced community, of mutual striving across the extinction barrier, you might otherwise associate with the Vigil scene in Mass Effect or feats of translation in the recent, excellent Heaven’s Vault. Moreover, the game’s pint-sized solar system is full of models of itself, from the star lifecycle models you’ll find in your home planet’s observatory, to the holographic sandtray projections and swivelling, Stone Henge-scale orreries left behind by the Nomai. It’s a setting mesmerised by its own intricacies, and it wants you to share in that delight. Whatever their differences on the subject of the apocalypse, I like to think that both Eisinga and Alta would have enjoyed it.”
Revfosco nails it: “I just loved the sense of freedom coupled with a slight sense of panic. Incredibly clever game too – one of those ones that makes you in awe of the writers/developers.”
There is nothing more to say about this one. A classic!
5. The Outer Worlds
What we said: “I don’t hate The Outer Worlds. Rather, what I hate about it is that it’s sufficiently unhateful that you can spend 30 hours playing it without noticing. It’s solidly-made enough that you keep hanging around in the hope of something more, like a layer of catchy percussion that never quite escalates into a song. I guess to sum things up, I would like two features to be added to the game. One is a powerful suction cannon with infinite extra-dimensional storage, so I can just gather all the loot in one fell swoop. The other is the option to hand off dialogue decisions to one of my companions, because I have no strong feelings either way, comrades. Let me do clean-up in the background, hosing down the level’s crevices with one earbud in, following the conversation absent-mindedly. According to my own character’s backstory as a janitor, that’s exactly the part I was born to play.”
Deadman316 is savage: @What a Bethesda game should be like. The choice directions are limitless, the worlds are varied in colour and activity, and the characters and quests are fun, funny and multidimensional. It’s a mini full-fat RPG we’ve been waiting for.”
“Decent shooting, decent RPG, decent story. Ticks the boxes.” That’s Lonebadger. I saw a lone badger one evening this summer coming home late. I thought it was a fox with a back problem at first, but no: a badger.
What we said: “In other words, while it invokes the dark things that lie beneath, Control’s actually a peerless argument for the beauty of the surface. It revels in the peculiarly warm gloss of polished concrete, the simple and undeniable thrill of combat backed up with enthusiastic physics and animation, and the visual buzz of UI that has a stark, minimalist beauty to it. Without any shade of a slight, I would call Control a sort of coffee-table book in terms of its sheer visual flair – but for how dazzling it looks in motion as you wrench individual blocks from a stacked trolley, sending them thudding through the air, as you fling rockets back at the people who fired them at you, amber sparks glinting as they pass in and out of focus and then die away for good.”
Fore-warning: RaphaelR is right! “This game has everything: great style, mood, story, characters, and gameplay. And also the best sequence in a video game this year.” It says a lot that I know what bit they’re talking about.
“One of the most interesting games I’ve played in a long time,” says Switch024. @A fantastic setting that’s brilliantly realised and combat that’s always great fun.” Man, Control was GOOD.
3. Death Stranding
What we said: “As the credits roll on Death Stranding, heavy with unearned pathos, the impression you’re left with is of a self-congratulatory monument to the ego of a creator who is high on his own supply. Has Kojima always been this full of it? Maybe. But then you return to the game proper, select a humble delivery order, lace up your boots and plan another reckoning with those unforgettable, haunted moors. And you realise that this game has got under your skin in a way few do.”
Eugen-fet: “I’ve been waiting for a good Spider-Man game for years. This one delivers.” Ha ha ha! That was from last year’s list. I left it in because it included the word “delivers”. I’m great, me.
“A bonkers masterpiece,” says Monkman76. “Not for everyone but certainly my cup of tea,” says Emeritus. A lot of you said this sort of thing.
2. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
What we said: “I have no real insight to offer on the symbolism of wolves in Japanese culture and myth, but I think Sekiro may be a different beast. He’s more of a cockroach, getting in everywhere and all but impossible to expunge – the kind of wondrous, abhorrent creature that will be first to the top of the rubble pile as and when civilisation comes crashing down.”
“Great game. Great pacing. Great fighting system” says Ed-exley, who’s not bad at pacing either.
xRiska, we feel your pain: “Finished the whole game before finally learning how to play it on the last boss. 10/10 would bash my head against a wall again.”
EvilAspirin can take this one home: “A game that starts off feeling tough as nails, but becomes actually pretty easy once the parry system clicks. Playing the Samurai and perfectly deflecting multiple blows in epic fights is incredibly satisfying.”
1. Resident Evil 2 Remake
What we said: “It toes the line between schlocky and scary that the older Resident Evil games managed so well, and does so in perhaps one of the most atmospheric settings ever to grace a survival horror game. It’s good to be back in the RPD.”
“New ‘n’ shiny meets nostalgia to create one of the finest, most atmospheric games to date,” says TheDarkSide. “As soon as I played this all those months ago, it screamed GOTY from every pixel. THIS is how remakes should be done… Hell, this is how games should be done, full stop! Absolutely superb.”
Shotformeat agrees: “It’s a proper game and plays like the era its from in a way that holds up amazingly, but all dressed up in a chunky and satisfying fashion and looks and feels amazing to play. They really don’t make them like this anymore, except when they remake them with this level of care and attention to detail. My favourite game of the year. “
Let’s leave it with El Lawsonoso: “I had zero interest in horror or the Resident Evil franchise until I saw RE2 Remake. The design, the atmosphere, the escape room-style puzzles and the sense of panic when Lickers or Mr X are about are all top notch. Admittedly, the Police Station is a far more interesting environment than the later game, but for this non-horror fan (who probably won’t touch RE3 Remake, because it seems like it’s one big chase sequence that’ll give me anxiety) this is a true GOTY. I think that speaks volumes.”
Wonderful stuff! All done! Happy new year everyone! May it bring you all the very best!