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Top 10 Games of 2019 – It Has a Little Something For Everyone

 

This is a smörgåsbord if ever there was one. While it’s not the most impressive year of the decade, just about everybody got something out of 2019; even gamers from the ’90s were represented with two remakes from that era, Resident Evil 2 and The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening. 2019 was truly the Golden Corral in gaming.

 

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10. Katana Zero

 

“You’d be hard-pressed to find an individual component of Katana Zero that is totally unique, but it blends visceral swordplay and twitch platforming with a sort of anarchic spirit that defined the decade of indie game development. It makes the perfect bookend to the original Hotline Miami, a deliriously presented reflex tester with a pulsating soundtrack and provocative story to boot. It is subversive and no doubt skeptical of the moral escapism most video games provide but is above all else incredibly fun to play. Strategy must be quickly deployed but is integral to your success in the game, your character dying from one hit just like everybody else. It is perfectly equipped for speed runs and launches you back into its action so quickly that risky decision-making is encouraged. Katana Zero sustains its incredibly tight control system across a six-hour campaign packed with combat and platforming variety. The promise of a follow-up is much anticipated.” – Zack Kauz

 

Links Awakening Cover Art

 

9. The Legend Zelda: Link’s Awakening Remake

 

“A whimsical remake of the most understated Zelda game, Link’s Awakening is classic adventure fare with some real heart. Quirky characters and hauntingly good music breathe such life into Koholint Island, and the quietly melancholic story continues to resonate. The modern facelift and quality of life improvements only serve to improve upon the original while opening the doors to a whole new crop of players who’ll no-doubt fall just as hard in love with this game as I did 25 years ago.” – Theo Durrant

 
The Outer Worlds
 

8. The Outer Worlds

 

“It’s tough to count how many things The Outer Worlds does well. I think its biggest triumph is the density of the 30-hour experience. Compared to most modern open-world games, Obsidian put together a relatively short experience, but nearly every part of me had me invested. The combat is flashy but simple and straight-forward. In fact, this describes a lot of the game. Most games similar to The Outer Worlds do amazing work in some aspects and lack-luster work in others. However, Obsidian managed to take all of these aspects and do well with all of them. It’s one of few games I would consider truly complete.” – Brandon Pero

 

Promotional art for Super Mario Maker 2

 

7. Super Mario Maker 2

 

Super Mario Maker 2 is basically a huge content upgrade from the first game, but that’s okay. It’s exactly what the sequel needed to be, with better online functionality and more things to build with. The single-player mode is a nice distraction, but the real meat is reserved for those who want to design their own levels. There are still a bunch of joke levels online, but you’ll find some hidden gems that make wading through all the trash worth it.” – Nathanael Hueso

 

Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice Gameplay

 

6. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice

 

“I have yet to finish my playthrough of Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, mostly because I’ve died a lot more than twice. It’s mostly what you’d expect in a game made by FromSoftware, but I’ve found it to breathe new life into their games. The addition of the grapple rope leads to a more vertical approach in gameplay and an emphasis on platforming. Sekiro really shines through the use of the posture mechanic, where players try to stagger opponents to deal a death blow. It’s a dynamic game and one of the year’s best.” – Nathanael Hueso

 

Death Stranding Walking into the distance

 

5. Death Stranding

 

Death Stranding commits to a world where nothing would make sense if Hideo Kojima hadn’t been in charge. There are so many bizarre ideas in this game, but they just work. Sometimes the world is relaxing and playing is sort of therapeutic, while at other times it’s straight up a horror game. This has to be the best-looking open-world game I’ve played and one of the most interesting. This is a one-of-a-kind experience that doesn’t come around too often. But, it’s not for everyone.” – Nathanael Hueso

 

“Thinking back on Death Stranding is like recalling and trying to discern meaning from a distant dream. It just has some intangible quality that makes it easy to forgive some of its objectively bad aspects. I got lost in its world and zoned out during long cross-country hikes, entering an almighty calm. The solitude of my travels was punctuated by the remnants of other players. Using their bridges or collaborating with their building projects rekindled my faith in humanity. Even though the experience is bogged down by a flabby narrative and truly dreadful boss fights, I can’t get Death Stranding out of my mind.” – Theo Durrant

 

Resident Evil 2 Remake

 

4. Resident Evil 2 Remake

 

“As someone who hadn’t played the original Resident Evil 2, I thoroughly enjoyed the remake we got in 2019. The gameplay is what we’ve come to expect from the franchise but with a whole lot of polish. The gorgeous visuals help push the scares, of which there are many, and although the dialogue can be a bit quirky, it gets the job done. This is Resident Evil at its finest.” – Nathanael Hueso

 

“This revamped jaunt through the hallowed halls of the RPD is a pure gaming romp. Some genius bits of game design twist everything you thought you knew about classic Resident Evil games, and hats off to Capcom for at long last finding a happy middle ground between the franchise’s over-the-shoulder and tank-control gameplay styles. Most impressively, shuffling Romero Style zombies once again have the power to terrify with their ungodly sound design and undying presence. But it’s Mr X who made the strongest impression. Too many drinks were spilt, and screams were heard by roommates thanks to his unyielding pursuit as you try to move a bookcase. Bring on Resident Evil 3!” – Theo Durrant

 

Baba Is You

 

3. Baba Is You

 

Baba Is You takes the two-way interaction between player and environment (the rules that dictate gameplay) and places the boundaries in your hands. The only constraint in Baba Is You is a warped sense of logic that is made all the more complex by how directly players can rewrite it. The core of Baba Is You is a deceptively simple interface where the elements of a level’s design exist in malleable form, as if they are rudimentary code waiting to be edited. ‘Baba Is You’ forms the basis of your existence but in of itself can be undermined by physically pushing the ‘You’ out of the sentence. More fruitfully, stationary rocks positioned in your way can be made movable by stringing together the sentence “Rock is Push”. Destroying the sentence “Wall is Stop” frees you from its borders. Soon enough, the game’s logic gets measurably more complex forcing you to dishevel a level’s constructs from top to bottom in order to progress. But the player’s presence is innately felt making the “level progression by way of level editing” model intuitive through and through. Baba Is You is yet to be matched as the most innovative puzzle game in recent memory.” – Zach Kauz

 

“Puzzle games traditionally ask the player to solve a solution while abiding to the established rules of the game. Baba Is You flips that tradition on its head, because the goal of the game is to manipulate the rules to your own benefit. The consequence of that subversion creates one of the most ingenious games I have ever played. Baba Is You is one of the few games that demands the player to break it. Every time I figure out the problem to a difficult puzzle, I momentarily consider myself a genius. Even when I search up a walkthrough, I cannot help but say, ‘Oh, that’s brilliant!’ or ‘Why didn’t I think of that?’. Baba Is You constantly offers new concepts and introduces new ways to destroy the game. This game is the next Portal 2, and I implore all of our readers to play it.” – Peter Finaldi

 

Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order Promotional Art

 

2. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order

 

“Someone at Respawn Entertainment woke up one day and had an idea. They visited Vince Zampella and said, ‘What would happen if we consolidated all good video game concepts into a big project?’. Zampella gleefully replied, ‘I’ll give you $80 million to get that shit done by 2019.’ That big project ended up being Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order. It has the best parts of Uncharted, Dark Souls, Metroid Prime, Titanfall, and other great video games and mashes them into a beautiful little package. It might not be the most refined game in the world, but it is impossible not to love it. The train sequence alone brought me back to 6th grade when I first experienced the Uncharted 2 train chapters, and I loved every second of it. Say what you will about EA, at least they allowed Respawn to make this gem.” – Peter Finaldi

 

Control Jesse Faden

 

1. Control

 

“The existence of a game like Control in the current market (where the margin between AAA and indie is all too narrow) is as anomalous as the brutalist architecture the game is encased in. Control is the sort of casually idiosyncratic action title (of a piece with Second Sight and Psi-Ops to focus on mid-budget telekinetic predecessors) sorely missing from today’s climate. The environments are sleek and picturesque yet aim to disorient, absorbing influence from ‘weird fiction’ and translating the predominantly literary genre to a damn entertaining game. Gunplay is sturdy, piercing through your environment and given some high-concept punch by supernatural enhancements. But the extent of your powers far surpasses over-the-shoulder shooting. As your protagonist Jesse Faden further ingratiates herself with the ‘Oldest House’, the game adds telekinesis, levitation, mental control over enemies, and more, producing a sense of controlled chaos that is no less than addicting. With its eagerness to lean into new gameplay mechanics and surrealist environments on a dime, it recalls an unfiltered dreamscape where ideas materialize without confines.” – Zach Kauz

 

 Honorable Mentions:

 

Luigi’s Mansion 3
Cadence of Hyrule: Crypt of the NecroDancer Feat. The Legend of Zelda

 


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