Didn’t play a whole lot of 2019 releases but here are a few that I did:
Control (PS4) [Game of the Year 2019]: I’m not sure what to say about this game that I didn’t say already. I loved the supernatural feel and atmosphere, the constant feel of unease and unknown that permeated everything. And how the journey takes you to places you never expected. I would love for nothing more than Remedy to take this game and setting and run with it for a long time, but I know that after the DLC for this game is complete they’ll probably just move on to their next game. But that’s fine if that’s all that happens, just makes Jesse Fayden’s journey that much more special for it being one of a kind.
Death Stranding (PS4): Another long awaited release, this game finally made its way to us in late 2019. Many feared that it would knock a lot of early 2019 games out for contender for Game of the Year, but not everyone enjoyed the game and many (myself included) were very confused by the story. I found the act of delivering packages to be pretty rewarding and relaxing for the most part (when I wasn’t in danger of being attacked by MULEs). I wouldn’t mind a sequel to it, or another strand type game but I’m very doubtful such a thing will happen.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order (PS4): I was fairly disappointed in this game because, to me, it was advertised as being like Force Unleashed but that is most certainly not what we got. It’s very Dark Souls-y combat was a huge turn off and the fact that every single chest in the game contained only cosmetic items was some crappy game design in my opinion. I enjoyed the story for the most part until the ending (you destroyed the Holocron after I put in all those hours of work to get it?! Gee, thanks.) If there’s a sequel, I’ll most likely just read a synopsis online and save myself some time.
Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night (PS4): After years of watching and waiting, this highly anticipated spiritual successor to Castlevania finally arrived and for me it didn’t disappoint. Beautiful level design, fairly fast paced combat and an enjoyable musical score made this a game worth waiting for. So many throwbacks to Symphony of the Night were a delight to discover and there was a pretty deep crafting system in place should you feel the need to use it. The only negatives were a couple game breaking bugs that I fortunately didn’t encounter and some controls that didn’t work as advertised sometimes (looking at you inversion ability).
Yooka-Laylee and the Impossible Lair (PS4): Huge improvement over the first game, I found this game to be better designed and mostly enjoyable to play. The only thing is that the final level, the Impossible Lair itself, pretty much ruins any goodwill put forth by the rest of the game. It’s hard for the sake of being hard and good luck to you if you want to try to get the trophy associated with completing it without dying.
Borderlands 3 (PS4): Disappointing but noteworthy return to this beloved franchise. The main antagonists did a great job at making you hate them due to their irritating personalities and constant radio chatter. There were some major surprises in the story (that I won’t spoil) that almost made up for the fact that trying to solo this game is next to impossible as getting overrun by enemies is a near constant when you’re playing alone. And those end credits were everything. I also felt like most of the environments were things that we’d seen before in the other games but they were entertaining to traverse anyway. If there is DLC for this game coming down the pipe I will most likely skip it until the inevitable cash grab Game of the Year Edition is released. Solid B for effort even despite all the flaws.
The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (Switch): It was such a joy to return to this game after 16 years. I remember this was my first Zelda game and one of the first video game RPGs that I got my hands on back in the early 90’s. For the most part, believe it or not, I managed to complete the game from memory. The only thing that really threw me for a loop was the fact that I remember having to think of or trace out directions in my mind in terms of how many screens I had to go and in what direction. This game doesn’t do things in screens as the whole world is one big, seamless expanse. I loved the cartoony/plastic toy like appearance of everything in the world. I just wish A Link to the Past would get such an upgrade, but I’m not holding my breath. Near and dear to my heart, I enjoyed playing this again and was so in love with the game and the aesthetic that I managed to complete it in one 13 hour sitting.
The Division 2 (PS4): Set during the summer following the events from the first game and taking place in Washington D.C., this game was a somewhat confusing tour-de-force across a post apocalyptic capital. While I did have fun with it, I didn’t feel that it lived up to the first game in terms of gameplay. Mission structure was, for the most part, well designed and the city itself was fun to traverse. But in terms of story I feel like a lot was left out. Specifically, what happened to all the rouge Division agents from the First Wave? Is that was the hidden Hunters are supposed to represent? Once a huge threat and now just a footnote? I also feel that the crafting system in this game is just as terrible and useless as the first game’s. I was also disappointed by the lack of visual upgrades to the Base of Operations this time around. Last time you could see where changes occurred easily. This time around, not so much. And the end game treadmill this time is worse than the last time. At least in one there was The Underground DLC which let you randomly generate missions; this time around all you get is to replay the same static missions on harder and harder difficulty until you’ve reached the level cap. Inventory menu navigation is, at best, a nightmare with the addition of the cosmetics tabs, most of which aren’t even visible on your character. I’ll give them an A for effort, but unless a major update happens, I doubt I’ll be back to this game.
Crackdown 3 (Xbox One): What can I say? It’s more Crackdown for sure. More over the top action, more absurd story. At this point though, parts 2 and 3 aren’t as good as the first game. Definitely a lot more verticality this time around as compared to the other games. Somewhat disappointed that the destructible environments shown in the previews aren’t in the game, but I had fun with it over all.
Best 2018 Games I Played in 2019
Spyro Reignited (PS4) While it was fun to go back and see this game in all its re-imagined glory, there are still some parts of this game that are frustrating beyond belief (looking at you flying levels). I enjoyed my revisit with Spyro but I doubt I’ll try for the platinum any time soon.
Super Life of Pixel (PS4) I really loved playing through the history of video games in this. Going from the humble beginnings of gaming from way back in the 1960’s and 70’s to more modern, current consoles was such a joyous and entertaining time. I just wish I had been able to figure out how to access the machines on the far right table. Maybe a revisit is soon in order.
Timespinner (PS4) What an imaginative and beautiful, but wholly depressing, Metroidvania style game this was! Ignoring the fact that I got the bad ending I loved being able to backtrack between different times on the world and I loved that your weapons were magic spheres that you could interchange on the fly (which I rarely did). The art and character animations were very well done. Hopefully I’ll get a better ending on my next play through.
Soul Calibur 6 (PS4) It’s more Soul Calibur, which is what I wanted. Not much has changed with the formula, thankfully, but it was nice to get a new Soul Calibur game after the long wait from 5 (2012! Damn I didn’t realize it had been 7 years until the time of this writing…) Now that I have a proper fighting controller, I can see myself spending hundreds of hours in Libra of Soul and that’s exactly what I plan on doing.
Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu! (Switch) I did not like the fact that you had to catch Pokémon in this the same way that you catch them in Pokémon Go. There were no traditional battles with other Pokémon in tall grass like in the original (Red, Blue, Yellow) games either, and that’s what I was hoping this was since it was a re-imagined/remastered version of those games. I eventually got used to it, like I got used to the fact that you could see other Pokémon walking around on the map like in other JRPGs so you can avoid them if you like. I also didn’t like that you had to catch scores of the same Pokémon and turn them in to the Professor to level up. Despite the tedious catching and level up system I enjoyed reliving my first Pokémon adventure again after all these years.