While some of the bigger and more anticipated titles got pushed to 2020, 2019 was still a pretty good year for gaming, with the release of several great titles in a variety of styles and genres. Here are the five best games we’ve played in 2019.
If there’s one game that had people talking this year, it has to be Death Stranding. Opinion is divided on the new title by Kojima Productions, but one thing is for sure: it’s something special. Like earlier Kojima games, Death Stranding is a strange, but somehow coherent mix between genres and styles, between realism and fantastical elements, between deep and serious topics and silly features. And it’s chockfull of ideas. There’s a lot in there. It’s about connection. It’s about loneliness. It’s about hardship. It’s about fatherhood. It’s about infrastructure. It’s about death. It’s about life. Aside from being one of the most refreshing and unique games of the past few years, its production values are off the charts. The game looks beautiful, the audio and music are exquisite, the cutscenes and character models some of the most lifelike seen in a videogame, and it’s full of detail and passion. It’s the game of the year 2019.
Fire Emblem Three Houses
The newest entry in the celebrated tactical RPG series, Fire Emblem Three Houses tells the story of a group of students at the Garreg Mach Monastery and the war that pits them against each other. It’s a lengthy, deep game that takes cues from Persona with its calendar based structure and builds on the true based gameplay that makes the Fire Emblem franchise so entertaining. A wide range of diverse characters, each with their own personalities and struggles, tons of skills and classes to master and the social system that lets you bond with each and everyone make this game a joy to play. If there’s one thing to critique it’s the fact that the story, after all its build up, seems to end quite suddenly and abruptly, though this may be a result of the multiple endings the game offers. It would have been nice if each of the different routes had led to a satisfying conclusion to the story, since playing through the entire game is a large task of itself. The animated cutscenes look great but they are pretty sparse and brief. Still, there’s no denying the overall quality of the game.
A Plague Tale: Innocence
This is a game that took many by surprise, this could be seen as the sleeper hit of 2019. Made by a small French studio, A Plague Tale is a storydriven game in the vein of The Last of Us, set in 14th century France during the Inquisition. You play as Amicia, a noble driven from her home alongside her little brother who suffers from a mysterious condition. One of the game’s main mechanics revolves around an interesting enemy: hundreds of flesh eating rats that swirl around like living rivers, making life difficult for the protagonists. You will need to make use of stealth, crafting, fire and alchemy to travel across various beautifully created areas while the story unfolds. The game’s atmospheric environments, likable characters, engaging story and terrific soundtrack make it a real treat to play.
Devil May Cry 5
11 years after the last numbered title, and one controversial reboot later, the Devil May Cry series has made a big comeback this year with Devil May Cry 5. With three playable characters, an impressive arsenal of weapons and a long list of unlockable abilities, the fifth entry in the franchise is an ambitious rebirth of the series, running on the fresh technology of Capcom’s new RE Engine. With its linear structure and modest length, its also a game that sticks close to its action game roots, banking on replayablity and quality for its value rather than mission size and content. But most importantly, it’s a Devil May Cry game, which means you get to fight insect-like demons with a sword made of a demonic bike, ride around on a rocket propelled arm and fire semi automatic pistols with neoclassical portraits on the grip, interspersed with cutscenes that are deliciously and unapologetically over-the-top. All while attempting to obtain a Smokin’ Sexy Style rating, of course.
Platinum Games is considered the master of the action game genre, and for good reason. With Astral Chain, the studio brings its expertise to a new franchise. The game mixes the action packed combat Platinum is known for with a bit of exploration and detective work. You play as a new member of an elite polite force called Neuron, who respond to threats from Chimera, inter dimensional creatures from the astral plain. You are equipped with Legions, captured Chimeras chained to a device on the player’s wrist. The cool thing is that you can combine Legion attacks, your own weaponry and even the chain itself, resulting in spectacular battles. It all takes a while to get used to, but once you get the hang of it the fights are exhilarating, requiring dexterity and reflexes and rewarding move variety. By contrast, the side quests and detective parts of the game tend feel a bit slow, and sometimes feel a bit out of place in such an otherwise fast paced game. You can also enhance your weapons and Legions in various ways, and the game has tons of customization options down to the color of the HUD.