Once again, it’s been a while since I last posted anything on here. That seems to be a recurring theme. But I have a good reason for that. The reason being? I have no idea what to do with my life! The dream that I had is, well… Gone. I graduated from college with an idea of the career I wanted to pursue, but now, I’m not sure that I can make it, or if it’s even the right choice. My life feels like a mixture of deep uncertainty and semi-regular bouts of depression. At least video games are around to give me some form of enjoyment.
Here’s a handful of games released this year that especially stuck with me. I haven’t gotten around to all of the big hits, of course. There are no spoilers for any of the games listed below.
The following are listed in no particular order. Let’s get started!
Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown (PS4, X1, PC)
Having never played an Ace Combat game before, I wasn’t sure if this game’s story would be approachable for a series newcomer. Thankfully, it’s very easy for first-timers to dive right in. I have a full review of Ace Combat 7 if you’re interested in reading my further thoughts, but I’ll simply repeat here that this game’s soundtrack is phenomenal. Do yourself a favor and give those tracks a listen!
Devil May Cry 5 (PS4, X1, PC)
Years ago I tried playing the special edition of Devil May Cry 4, but I just couldn’t get into it. I beat the first boss as Nero, but never felt much desire to continue from there. This was not the case with its sequel, Devil May Cry V. I absolutely loved my time with this game from start to finish. Each of the three playable characters offers their own playstyle wholly unique to them, and they’re all fun while still accomplishing a similar task – dispatching demons with as much style as possible. If you’re interested in my extended thoughts, you can read a full review right here on my blog.
Death Stranding (PS4, PC in 2020)
Perhaps the most divisive game of this year, I can’t fully recommend Death Stranding to everyone. It truly is the best example of a game that you will either love or hate. But if the sound of truckin’ across the United States while delivering cargo and avoiding spooky ghosts sounds appealing, then give it a go. It manages to deliver satisfaction out of traveling; an activity that in many other open-world games sits firmly in the backseat. Don’t even get me started on how wacky the story becomes over the course of its 50+ hour adventure.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses (Switch)
The latest Fire Emblem may represent the single biggest time-sink for Nintendo Switch owners (that is, until Animal Crossing: New Horizons arrives next year). Each of the game’s four different story paths offers a story separate from each other, with certain characters and events only occurring in specific runs. Don’t worry, that “four” isn’t a typo; although you choose one of three story paths near the beginning, one of them diverges into a fourth ending based on a choice you make. These choices, as well as plenty of fun conversation opportunities and an in-depth battle system, make this a game you could easily pour 100+ hours into. If you enjoy tactical, turn-based combat, Three Houses shouldn’t be missed. But who am I kidding, if you own a Switch and have any interest in Fire Emblem, it’s likely you’ve already played it.
Grindstone (Apple Arcade)
Apple Arcade surprised me and many others this year when it launched with a host of great games, all available through a reasonably priced subscription model. The service launched with a one-month free trial, so I took the plunge and found Grindstone by Capy Games to be my favorite game of those available at launch. Grindstone is another puzzle game (turns out those work pretty great on touch screens, huh?) and it offers a similarly satisfying amount of customization to any given playthrough. Capy Games show their expertise in game development here with sharp visuals and great animations from both the player character and the extremely expressive enemies that stand in your way. Matching enemy colors in a line only to slash through them in a whirlwind of sword slashes never got old. That said, it would have been nice if the level select screen wasn’t so tedious to scroll through when you want to replay earlier levels. Maybe they fixed that minor issue by now, but it was present back at launch. If you have access to Apple Arcade, this one is a must.
The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (Switch)
Taking the beloved Game Boy classic and recreating it for a modern platform was the right move for Nintendo. The original Link’s Awakening and its Game Boy Color enhancement, Link’s Awakening DX, are fondly looked upon for good reason. It offers a simple story, but the weird and memorable cast make it an experience that stands apart from other Zelda titles. It’s a shame that the Nintendo Switch remake features a frame rate that dips during certain points of exploration, but that issue wasn’t enough to negatively impact my overall experience. If you like traditional top-down Zelda and haven’t checked out this game, then what are you doing? Give it a shot.
Monster Hunter World: Iceborne (PS4, X1, PC)
This expansion can almost be considered an entirely new game. As a result, I poured another 150+ hours into my Monster Hunter World character and loved every minute of it. There aren’t any new weapons added to the mix, but additional moves have been incorporated into existing weapons, making it fun to discover how your favorite has been spruced up since last time. The new monsters are all great additions, and series favorites like Zinogre return to give players more reasons to grind for master rank armor. If this expansion has any missteps, I’d have to place it on the end-game area called the Guiding Lands. Capcom has taken steps to improve the core experience of exploring this area, but even with these updates, I never found my time in it to be as fun as embarking on a classic monster hunt. That said, it does represent the Monster Hunter team wanting to take a chance with new ideas, which I’m always happy to see from long-running game series. As long as they incorporate the feedback into better gameplay down the line, I’m happy they get to flex their creative muscle.
Outer Wilds (PS4, X1, PC)
Wow, where do I begin with this one? Certain parts of Outer Wilds evoke strong feelings of 2001 A Space Odyssey (1968), one of my favorite movies, but it doesn’t solely rely on a few similarities to be a success. It also features its own unique twists on space terror! Because for me personally, I find the idea of exploring outer space to be terrifying yet fascinating. I think that might be the best way to recommend this game, actually. If you find outer space scary and/or exhilarating, you ought to give Outer Wilds a try. Sadly I did get stuck on a few puzzles in the late game, prompting me to look up their solutions online. There’s a couple of areas that feel more difficult to find than I felt should be, but it didn’t impact my overall enjoyment with the game. Exploring Outer Wilds’ universe through the lens of a fledgling astronaut made for a unique journey that needs to be played by as many people as possible. Even if certain sections are horrifying.
Resident Evil 2 (PS4, X1, PC) – Best of 2019
My personal favorite game of 2019, Resident Evil 2 is a prime example of how to remake a classic game for a modern audience. The original RE2, released on the PlayStation 1 in 1998, was in desperate need of a touch-up. Its controls have not aged too well, alongside its dated visuals and other obvious marks of the late ‘90s. With that in mind, Capcom took the feelings that players felt with RE2 back in 1998 and created a reimagining that delivers similar emotions, but with a larger focus on terror. Enter Tyrant – or Mr. X, as he’s known by longtime Resident Evil fans. He’s the towering, unstoppable bioweapon in the guise of a man that you’ve undoubtedly seen in association with this game. Rather fittingly, he’s also the game’s standout feature. Roaming the halls of the police station while carefully navigating around zombies, all without attracting the attention of Mr. X offers a thrill that I haven’t felt in a Resident Evil game since Resident Evil 4 on the Wii (yes, I played the Wii version of the game my first time. It’s a great port!) All of that said, this is a game that lived up to my expectations and then some. If you’d like to see further thoughts on the Resident Evil 2 remake, you can find my full review here.
You Must Build a Boat (Mobile, PC, Mac)
This one didn’t come out this year, but I thought I’d include a second mobile title that I played. You Must Build a Boat is a rather simplistic sliding puzzle game with a couple of fun additions to the formula. As you’re mixing and matching puzzle blocks, the player character runs along the top of the screen and explores an endless dungeon. Defeating enemies and surviving for long stretches of time gives you better rewards, allowing for additions to your boat as well as personal upgrades. All in all, it’s a solid time sink that I had fun with early this year.
– Apex Legends
– Astral Chain
– Ape Out
– Katana Zero
– Luigi’s Mansion 3
– Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice
– Shovel Knight: King of Cards
– Tetris 99
– Untitled Goose Game
To anyone still here, thanks for reading! I’d be happy to hear about the best games that you played this year. Feel free to share your thoughts below. And as always, take care.