Bet you weren’t expecting me to actually write this any earlier than last year, huh? 😉
Last year was a time of change for me in many ways. Whilst the most significant of which has nothing to do with my game of the year (read: having a little ankle biter around the house now) I found myself not enjoying the same genres and types of games that I used to. That doesn’t mean there wasn’t anything to enjoy, far from it, just that it seems that with the passage of time either the genres are changing in ways I don’t like or it is I whose tastes have changed and no longer align to what those genres seek to deliver.
Or perhaps it was just an artefact of playing more titles in a year than I have in a long, long time, managing to play through a record (well, I think it is) 50 titles over the 2019 year. Granted quite a few of those were shorter titles that were plugging in gaps that I would’ve left bare in previous years but at least this time around I was finding the spare hour or two every week to sit down and play through something. I have to admit to also going back to some old classics to pass the time, like Battlefront 2, just because I didn’t feel like investing the time I had in anything that was out of the time. There was also the spectre of the Epic store, something which I avoided for a long, long time before I relented due to a couple of my must-play games appearing on there as exclusives. I’ve well and truly broken my rule against buying on there now so there’s nothing stopping me from playing through games on there that I would’ve otherwise left fallow.
As always here’s last year’s list in chronological order, this time around coming with the added benefit of having their scores as well:
Most years I take a rather awful delight in handing out the wooden spoon for the year but this time around I feel bad about naming AMID EVIL as this year’s last place, scoring a (admittedly far from the worse score I’ve given) low 5.0/10. I say that because, looking back over them, Discolored and Epitasis are probably worse games but they managed to get another 0.5 and so just barely missed out on being tied for worst game of the year. I think at the time I was particularly annoyed at the attempt to revive the “classic” FPS experience which, time and time again, has proven to be a place we left behind for a reason.
The honourable mentions list this year is long with no less than 5 games making the cut. The Division 2 was a pretty great experience whilst it lasted although once I ran out of story related missions the want to grind for end-game gear (and the associated annoyance of not having a matchmaking system for said end game) I ended up leaving it behind. Resident Evil 2 showed that you can do a remake without it being a shameless cash grab, bringing with it equal parts nostalgia and upgraded game play. Katana Zero was just straight up good in all respects, all it’s differing elements blending together just so to make something that’s truly one of 2019’s more memorable experiences. A Plague Tale: Innocence was a surprise hit for me, starting off as some weird medieval fantasy romp but quickly turned into a great experience once the story found its feet. Finally A Short Hike is just a nice, light game to play, never asking too much of you but giving so much in return.
So with all that out of the way my game of the year for 2019 is:
Now I’m no Kojima fan but I certainly know of the man by reputation. The initial cinematic teaser videos he posted really hooked me in, even though I had zero idea what the resulting game would be about. Over the years the few details I allowed myself to consume about it just fed into that initial interest and before I knew it I was fully bought in. The experience, whilst admittedly slow for the first 8 hours, sucked me right in and soon I found myself revelling in the shared world and wanting to make it a better place for all players. The story, which I admit in no small part hit me right in the feels because I’m a new father, even with all its faults is still something that I found incredibly enjoyable. So Death Stranding takes out 2019’s game of the year and the highest score at 9.5.
The runners up are Apex Legends and Untitled Goose Game. At its peak I was playing a good lot of Apex Legends with a rotating roster of my mates, something which we hadn’t done in a good long time. Of course it was Apex Legend’s mass appeal which is what led us to do that as none of the preceding battle royal games had managed to get more than a couple of us interested at one time. Finally Untitled Goose Game is just plain fun and honestly, in this age where games too often get wrapped their axles in trying to be novel or be something greater than just a game, something that’s just irreverent and a good chuckle is really refreshing.
2019 saw a lot of the titles I was looking forward to pushed back to this year so there’s dozens of games that I’m very eagerly awaiting the release of. If this year is going to be anything like the last then I have high hopes I’ll get to them all and, if I do, what a year it’ll be.