2019 Community Game of the Year

Just rolled the credits on Disco Elysium.

I know I've been talking about it a lot on this site recently, but I had to check to make sure my nose wasn't bleeding in real life as I was wrapping up this game. Just a crazy, crazy whirlwind adventure that feels like a fever dream was made into a detective novel.

I HAVE TO KNOW HOW THE GAME CAN END DIFFERENTLY. Like, and I'm putting this as blandly as possible, can you not have the thing in the water?

Top 5 game for me. Easily.

Thank you to hookazoid, Baron Of Hell, ccesarano, ComfortZone, Tempest, mrlogical and Sorbicol for your lists! Baron Of Hell tried to pull a fast one on me and rank two games as number two, but that won't fly! As it is, I just took them in order that they written, if that doesn't work for you, let me know.

Also, I've said it in the past, I've said in the main post, but please, PLEASE, for the love of gaming don't edit your posts. It screws up with the thread tracking and makes things less smooth for me.

Finally, I've updated the main post to reflect this, but I'm going to write it here too so there are zero excuses for you all. The final deadline is the evening of December 31st. THERE WILL BE NO EXTENSIONS. I can already hear the cries of outrage, with a lot of you saying that you lucky chuckleheads get to cram in tons of gaming over the holidays. That being said, if I want to roll out phrase two fairly quickly with the write, and most importantly, the next upcoming thing which will be a community GOTD (game of the decade!), I need to stick to the time table. Thanks, folks!

"But Eleima, you haven't even posted your own GOTY list! Isn't that kinda hypocritical of you?" I hear you ask. Well, yes, I haven't posted it, because I want to do a nice post, but my GOTY list has been 90% locked in for a few weeks now. If I run out of time, I'll just post the list, but I want to do a nice write up.

Eleima wrote:

"But Eleima, you haven't even posted your own GOTY list! Isn't that kinda hypocritical of you?" I hear you ask. Well, yes, I haven't posted it, because I want to do a nice post, but my GOTY list has been 90% locked in for a few weeks now. If I run out of time, I'll just post the list, but I want to do a nice write up.

As another example of this. I went to Japan during the holidays of 2018 and wasn't sure if I had time to post my list even though it was complete. I PMed Eleima my list just in-case then posted my actual write-up at a later date. This is the exact same thing just for herself.

1. CoD:Modern Warfare - This one is another that has changed things up. It has the traditional Story, Multiplayer, Coop modes. It's how they've implemented them that is the difference. That and a much needed graphics upgrade to their engine. So everything is looking current gen shiny now. All of that, and a promise of a BR to come next year!

2. Apex - What a surprise this was! Even bigger surprise is just how good it truly is! They started with their Titanfall 2 basics and built a BR which incorporated almost everything that all the other current BRs were missing! This game is so much fun

3. Badlands 3  - Quirky humor? Check. Good gun play? Check. Great movement? Check. Everything from the previous versions was improved upon made this a great time sink. Can't wait to eventually try out the DLC.

4. Jedi: Fallen Order - So many good Star Wars stories coming out at the end of the year. As a Star Wars fan this made me happy and while i hated the jumping puzzles the story made up for it.

5. Division 2  - They spent so much time on this and it shows. The improvements over the previous version can't be denied. Just wish they had spent more time on some over arching game design. After completing the first raid they didn't seem like they were interested in keeping end game players around.

6. Astroneer - I adored this game and even more so after learning how it was created. The exploration is an absolute blast, and while the building side suffers a little, the rest makes up for it and it was a joy to play.

7. Satisfactory - While my #6 was primarily about exploration for me this one is all about the build. Reiterating on system designs to make them as efficient as possible was the most fun i had doing work type logic while not actually working!

8. Hired Ops  - Another surprise out of no where. While waiting the final month before the October launches came across this CoD like game done by the developer AbsolutSoft which seem to be made up of RU developers not working on Survarium or Escape from Tarkov. It's super solid, fun, and F2P on top of it all.

9. Atlas - On paper this seemed to be the perfect storm for me. The makers of Ark and their building systems, but with ships and pirates. It didn't stop the launch being one of the worst ones i've experienced ever. That said, they have been constantly improving on it and i spent a LOT of time building ships while surviving in the harsh biomes and the pvp side of things was one the most enjoyable and yet heart wrenching gaming experiences i've had.

10. MORDHAU - for a few years i've been saying how we need a new version of Chivalry. Well we got it in this game. Decapitations galore. Granted a couple months later we found out we are getting Chivalry2 in 2020, but in the meantime this game captures that feeling of trudging around in armor while trying swing a sword at the wrong time as you see your opponent's timing is perfect to slice off your arm or leg or head.

Oh jeez. This year hasn't been as strong for me personally but here we go.

10. Borderlands 3.

9. Luigi's Mansion 3

8. The Surge 2

7. SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech

6. Dragon Quest Builders 2

5. AI: The Somnium Files

4. Pokemon Sword/ Shield

3. The Outer Worlds

2. Sekiro

1. Disco Elysium

Doesn't count towards my list

6. Borderlands 2
5. Dead Cells
4. Pokemon Sun/Moon
3. Wild Arms
2. Trails in Cold Steel 2
1. Trails from Zero

My list.

1. My Time At Portia
2. The Outer Wilds
3. Field of Glory: Empires
4. Age of Wonders: Planetfall
5. Borderlands 3
6. Satisfactory
7. Dominions 5
8. Rule the Waves 2
9. Deity Empires
10. Outward

I might come back and write something up. Or might not.

Eleima wrote:

Thank you to hookazoid, Baron Of Hell, ccesarano, ComfortZone, Tempest, mrlogical and Sorbicol for your lists! Baron Of Hell tried to pull a fast one on me and rank two games as number two, but that won't fly! As it is, I just took them in order that they written, if that doesn't work for you, let me know.

I just have trouble counting past 2. They were in order so that is fine. Thanks for doing this,

Am I too late? Here's the very short lists, including honourable mentions.

Top 4 (really didn't play much in 2019):

Detroit: Become Human
The Division 2
Horizon Chase Turbo

Honourable Mentions:

Remnant: From the Ashes
Samurai Shodown
Path of Exile (PS4)

The list

1 - Marvel's Spider-Man
2 - God of War (2018)
3 - Nier: Automata
4 - Slay the Spire
5 - The Witcher 3
6 - Breath of the Wild
7 - Doom (2016)
8 - Titanfall 2
9 - What Remains of Edith Finch
10 - Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice

My Thoughts


1 - Marvel's Spider-Man (PS4)
Take the Arkham games at their best but add in far more interesting story and characters.
I loved the slowly building story, rather than being dropped straight into the deep end. Spending time in the homeless shelter with May, Pete's changing relationship with MJ, Doc Oct's arc, I could easily go on. This could well be my favorite Spider-man story across all media.
I loved all the toys available for the combat, I constantly found like I had 10 different options, all of which were effective and fun.
The mini open-world is perfect, there is enough to see and do without any one task getting boring or becoming a chore.

2 - God of War (2018) (PS4)
Where spider-man had me hooked with it’s story and characters, God of War was all about the gameplay. Open world, action adventure is fast becoming Sony's house style and this shows why. The combat is constantly both enjoyable and challenging. The puzzles and transversal/exploration elements were enough to make me stop and think without ever getting frustrated or looking up an answer. The open world always has just enough to do, without feeling too massive.
Combine all this and you get a game which has a fantastic flow too it. More than once I found myself, well after bedtime, in an odd “one more turn” type situation wanting to check out just one more cove, or explore one more room. This was a game I came back to night after night just to keep experiencing, not caring if I really made any progress.
Surprisingly the characters, dialogue and setting ended up being much more interesting than anything from the original trilogy which is a nice icing on the cake.

3 - Nier: Automata (PS4)
First off, the music, play this game for the music alone!
Nier: Automata feels like a unique experience in gaming with it's unusual switching of gameplay styles and it's bleak melancholy mood.
It took awhile for me to warm up to it, but once it pulled me in there was no letting go. In a game filled with fantastic, fun and relatable characters 2B and 9S both stand out.
I think the different "Endings" do this game a disservice, if you stop after ending A your missing most of the experience. Ending E might well be the perfect ending to a video game.

4 - Slay the Spire (Switch/PC)
Time to break up the open world RPG-lites.
I'm a sucker for a good deck builder, be it digital or physical, and slay the spire could well end up as the best one I’ve played.
For about 2 months I was absolutely addicted to this, when I wasn't playing I was thinking about what I could have changed about my last run, or what cards I would be looking out for on my next. There is enough depth here to keep everything interesting without going overboard and getting too complicated.
This is the only game on my list that I can see myself still playing in a few years time.

5 - The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (PC)
When my biggest complaint with a game is that there is just too much of it, I know it's a good game. This is the only title on my list I’m haven't seen the credits for or am still actively playing, but the 40+ hours I have spent here have been fantastic.
The gameplay isn’t as tight as something like God Of War, but the world is orders of magnitude bigger and filled with interesting stories and characters.
I’m looking forward to getting back into this next year and can imagine that it will rank higher on my list when I look back in years to come.

6 - The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild (Switch)
The unguided openness didn't quite hit with me the way it did for many others, apparently I need more hand-holding and direction. I also would have preferred more depth in character and story but this was an absolutely fantastic world to explore, and hopefully sets a new standard for how open open-world games can be.

7 - Doom (2016) (PC)
Where did this come from? I want to read an id behind the scenes book, one of the best and most prolific games studios in the 90’s, then nothing of real note for 15+ years until suddenly we get this.
Doom manages to feel not only feel like the evolution of those classic 90’s FPS games, but also a step forward for the modern FPS genre.
The silky smooth, fast paced, rock music pumping combat absolutely stands out, but the exploration, platforming and problem solving add a great metroidvania vibe.

8 - Titanfall 2 (PS4)
Another much praised single-player FPS I was late to the party on and, as with Doom, I’m very glad I finally jumped in.
The highlight here has to be the level/scenario design. Each unique take keep the gameplay feeling fresh and enjoyable the whole way through, and some of the missions rank among the best I have played. Add in some strong platforming and a fantastic mech and this is another title felt like breathing new life into the FPS genre.

9 - What Remains of Edith Finch (PS4)
I'm a big fan of the "walking sim" and this is right up there with the best. A fantastically poignant series of tales, filled with interesting issues which are seldom covered in video games.

10 - Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice (PC)
Gameplay wise I thought Helblade had some issues, puzzle difficulty that swung wildly from simple to I’m-looking-this-up-because-clearly-I’m-missing-something every second level, combat that often didn’t quite click and frustratingly level/ui design that had me searching for 10 minutes for a door I didn’t know I could open or a switch I didn’t know I could press.
What it does right though it does so very, very right? Fantastic facial animation and performance, incredible music and sound, the depiction of and immersion in mental illness and the excellent setting. When this all comes together it an immersive experience until any other.

Stuff that missed out but i still enjoyed


Steamworld everything - I played all the steamworld games this year and they are all excellent and unique.
Pokemon Shield - I have already sunk 30 hours into this and still have 3 gym badges to go. The changes they made this generation really suit my playstyle but there are still too many niggles to keep it out of my top 10 (super grindy, no real story/characters, no voice overs)
Florence - a fantastic hour or so, and the old game I encouraged my non-gamer wife to play.
Paladins - The go to multiplayer game for my group this year. Alos the first game I have paid money for a season pass.
What the Golf - There is a lot to like here between the rip-offs of mechanics from other games and the general unpredictability of what’s going to happen on each level.
Outer Worlds - A had a good time and tore through this but ultimately I think it was lacking a little bit of polish and some editing to really elevate it.

Lastly, as others have said, Xbox game pass is easily my gaming thing of the year, and I don't even own an xbox one.
Unless Sony does something very exciting there will be an xbox under my christmas tree this time next year, which is a huge change from this generation where the xbox one joined the wii U as the only major home consoles i have not owned since the 32-bit era.

Is it my imagination or does last year's Spider-Man have a chance at becoming our top game of 2019? I feel like it has been in many lists and at number 1 in several of them.

Eleima: I completely forgot that The Division 2 was this year rather than last year, so I must amend my list:

1) The Division 2
2) Mini Motorways

I mean, Mini Motorways is great and all, but it's no Division 2.

AUs_TBirD wrote:

Is it my imagination or does last year's Spider-Man have a chance at becoming our top game of 2019? I feel like it has been in many lists and at number 1 in several of them.

It would totally deserve it!

Despite more board gaming than video gaming this year have managed a top 10...

1. SteamWorld Quest: Hand of Gilgamech (Switch)
I'm a big fan of the SteamWorld games and this RPG card battling instalment is at least on a par with my previous favourite SteamWorld Heist. This might not have been enough to make it my top pick for GOTY in years gone by, but this time with limited choices it's the pick of the pile.
2. Tacoma (PS4)
An engaging investigative adventure, completed in a couple of sittings.
3. The Division 2 (PS4)
More Division which worked for me. I didn't dive deep like I did with the first game but that had more to do with other interests at the time rather that it's quality.
4. Apex Legends (PS4)
Hooked for a couple of weeks. I thought this could be my new Overwatch, but nope it made like a cliff and I fell off it.
5. Ganz Schon Clever (Android)
I've not played the physical roll and write dice game, but the quick puzzling on offer here had me keen to play again and again for a while. Am still terrible at it.
6. Tiny Bubbles (Android)
Meditative match 4 puzzle game with bubbles.
7. Konami Pixel Puzzle Collection (Android)
Picross style game for mobile with Konami stylings. Free game that came along at the right time last month when I had my eye on Switch Picross titles. Saved a few quid downloading this to my phone instead and still enjoying.
8. Tooth and Tail (PS4)
Got to be the best RTS controls on console and lots of style!
9. Plants vs Zombies: Battle for Neighborville (PS4)
Here for the fun times with the boy, who loves this game.
10. Fallout 76 (PS4)
After a week of solid play, I realised how much I enjoy single player Fallout and I started a new Fallout 4 character, for that it's nabbed the last slot of the year.

There are a few big budget games have played a little of this year (under an hour or so at most) which I hope to get back to and so holding off on possible inclusion until next year.

Games I've enjoyed returning to in 2019: Rocket League (this round time with the boy), Stardew Valley, Destiny 2, Fallout 4, Blood Bowl 2, No Man's Sky, Hatsune Miku.

Cheers Eleima for sorting, Clock and others who came before and everyone else for their lists... people's picks are always a source of pile inspiration.

Cronox wrote:

The list
1 - Marvel's Spider-Man
2 - God of War (2018)
3 - Nier: Automata
4 - Slay the Spire
5 - The Witcher 3
6 - Breath of the Wild
7 - Doom (2016)
8 - Titanfall 2
9 - What Remains of Edith Finch
10 - Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice

Wow, that actually looks like a serviceable Games of the Decade list. And you played them all in 2019? Sounds like a pretty fun year.

My list feels somewhat off since my 3-4 current top games are ones I play for over a year.

In any case:

1. Cities Skylines
2. Into the Breach
3. Forza Horizon 4
4. Dead Cells

After putting this together more than a week ago and reading/editing it more than half dozen times since, I'm just gonna post it. If I missed anything, oh well.

This year I played it some of everything. Tactics! RPGs! I even played tactical RPGs!

For serious though, this was a year where I knocked some big chunks out of the backlog, plus grabbed some hot new games along the way. I think I’ve long since come to the realization that RPGs (especially big RPGs) and tactics games are among my favorite genres, so spending a whole year with mostly just games in those categories meant I had a good gaming year. I also dipped my toes into the JRPG club, and want spend more time in stuff like that; it turns out it’s a lot of fun talking about games when other people are playing them too, since I’m usually a couple of years behind on most of the stuff I play.

The other change is that I’m getting quicker at dropping games when I’m not feeling it or not having fun. I'll usually give a game 2-3 hours to see if it grabs me, and if it doesn’t then I feel fine moving on, even if I think I should otherwise enjoy it. This hasn’t always been the case (and wasn’t always the case this year), but if I’m not having fun, I’d rather spend my time on something else. You can see in the list of dropped games below that there are some pretty cool games there, but they just didn’t pan out for whatever reason.

I think the top three are definitely a step above the rest, and each could have been the number one at various points during the year. With all that said, here we go.

Just the list:


1. Fire Emblem: Three Houses
2. XCOM 2: War of the Chosen
3. Xenoblade Chronicles 2
4. Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together
5. Pokemon Sword
6. Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia
7. Fallout 4
8. Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu
9. Battlefield 1
10. West of Loathing

10. West of Loathing: What a fun, silly little RPG. I'm actually impressed that it manages to keep throwing jokes or puns at you in every other line or so without feeling like they were trying too hard, and without getting too tiresome. The sarsaparilla bit may have been my favorite. And stacking food is ridiculously overpowered.

9. Battlefield 1: This was a late entry. I had grabbed the base game for $5 awhile back, and finally got around to it in December. I beat the main campaign, which was really good. I liked most of the War Stories except for any time you had to do a stealth mission. I also messed around in the multiplayer Conquest mode long enough to get used to dying a lot, and to see a horse get thrown 10 feet into the air by an explosion. I kept at it and switched over to playing support as Medic and Support, and started being enough of a credit to my team that I was no longer dead weight; I was still dying the most, but I was in the top half or more in score at the end of the game. It became my go-to game in December when I just wanted to play something for a bit, and wound up grabbing the premium pass on sale to get all the DLC maps. The core Battlefield/Battlefront loop is still a lot of fun, it turns out.

8. Pokemon Let’s Go Pikachu: The Let’s Go games are a joyous revisit of the original 151 Pokemon and the land of Kanto where the original Red and Blue were held. The story has been tweaked slightly, but they stayed largely true to the original, just dragged into modern day with lots of quality of life features, a great re-imagining of the soundtrack, and a lot of small details put into it. You can even ride your Arcanine! Or Snorlax! The removal of random encounters and letting Pokemon run wild on the routes also made the world feel more alive, and was also a smart way to make the game more accessible (and traversing caves and water much less of a headache). In a lot of ways, they made the game feel alive like it did in my imagination when I played the originals as a kid.

The game did have a fairly weird leveling curve, where the early game is almost mind-numbingly easy, while the midgame I found myself several levels behind some of the gym leaders and had to play very carefully to win, even with type advantages. By the end of the game the difficulty leveled back off and was very manageable again. Still, I think if someone is looking to get into the main Pokemon games, this may be the best place to start. It’s eminently approachable.

7. Fallout 4: I dropped 65 hours into it, which was enough to finish the main story, hit level 50, do Far Harbor, mess around a bit more, and uninstall.

This is a big RPG so I like that, the shooting and wandering around the world was good, and the game got those Bethesda hooks deep into me that kept me going for awhile; the streamlined growth system where they removed a bunch of stats and just used SPECIAL and perks was fine; and the writing and general lack of skill checks was disappointing. There weren’t many role playing options, since most conversations just came down to yes or no.

I’m glad I played this, but I hope Bethesda doesn’t go too much further in stripping out roleplaying elements like this in the future for the next Elder Scrolls game or whatever Starfield is going to be.

6. Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia. Having played most of the FE games that have come to the US, I think this one is a solid and well balanced entry.

The main thing about it that contrasts well with other games is the presentation: the art is fantastic and has a more grounded feel than the other 3DS entries; the music is good; and the voice acting is fantastic. The last one may sound like an unusual compliment, but it wasn't something I thought true for Awakening and Conquest. The story is fairly basic, with a few twists along the way, but is well executed on, outside of one character making a certain decision near the end. It also forgoes some of the bloat from the games that came before it: gone are the marriage and child mechanics, and the supports have been slimmed down to just a couple per character, but each one has more meaning to it.

The gameplay and level design are a lot more basic than previous games for the most part. This is a remake of a game that didn't have the weapon triangle yet, and the remake is faithful in that regard, which simplifies a lot of the tactical choices of unit placement. And most of the maps are open without much varied terrain, so there are fewer tactical decisions to be made overall. It does get a bit more interesting and challenging around the middle of the game, and there were definitely some strong maps close to the end. Easy to recommend for Fire Emblem fans.

5. Pokemon Sword. This was a perfectly solid Pokemon game, with a good mix of creatures, a large world to explore, and a lot of quality of life features that takes away some of the wonkiness of earlier games. I could nitpick some things, like how the world only seems large until you get the bike, or how the game does not seem balanced well for the combination of experience being shared with the entire party with no way to turn it off and a large world to explore (which means lots of chances to get experience through battles and catching), but I don’t think those detract from the whole. It’s a fun game with lots of choices of how to build and customize your team, and at the end of the day that’s the big thing that makes Pokemon appealing in the first place.

4. Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together: I played this for the JRPG club, and was happy to get the excuse to finally get around to this. The thing that really stands out about Tactics Ogre is the story; it’s has a very grounded story, well written, with some good gut punches at things you have to do along the way. Breaking up the game into two entirely different routes (with a third minor offshoot) over a key decision also helps to show multiple ways the story can go drastically differently. It did ultimately all funnel into the same ending chapter, so it didn’t feel as dynamic as it could have. The actual mechanics were deep and made for some satisfying ways you could build your team, but by the end there was a handful of powerful classes that would carry almost every team, while the rest played little more than bit parts. It was the story that carried me to play through all of the unique story chapters, to the tune of about 60 hours. There was a lot of postgame content available, but I was ready to move on by the end. This was probably, if not definitely, the best story in a TRPG I had ever seen.

3. Xenoblade 2. So I played this one at the start of the year and cataloged my thoughts extensively as I played through it. I think my thoughts have largely settled in by now. Basically, this is a big anime JRPG, and as stated previously, I love big RPGs. There’s a lot to love about this game (some really good characters, good setting, huge and alive feeling world, good enemies, varied and well done scenery, good story, great music, varied and interesting themes), and there’s some really grating stuff to it as well (combat had a steep learning curve but was very repetitive and tedious once you understand it, obnoxious designs for some of the female characters, got too linear at the end), but the further I get from playing the game, the more fondly I remember the highs and the good story beats. I still wait for the Xenoblade game that brings it all together, but until then I’ll keep enjoying the great but flawed games that Monolith Soft puts out. And the Torna DLC is fantastic and a must play for everyone who plays the main game.

2. XCOM 2: War of the Chosen. I played both vanilla and WOTC this year, which made it easier to compare the two and see what had changed or been added. I think I liked vanilla XCOM 2 more than most since I enjoyed the tension of having that clock counting down to make you take a constant series of calculated risks, but I agree with the general sentiment that WOTC is on a whole different level. New unit types, new enemy types, new levels, new mission types, revamped emergency missions, more decisions to make, more everything. A lot of the changes definitely felt front loaded, and so starting it up felt like a whole new game. And I had way more fun than I thought I would messing around with the photo mode.

The Chosen made for good mid game challenges, although after the first one my characters started becoming super heroes. (Especially a Sniper with serial, fan fire, lightning hands, and bluescreen rounds; he took out a sectopod and 4 MECs in one turn, even after stumbling into them) Still, this is one of the better (if not best) tactics game I’ve played, and it’s easy why so many people loved it when it came out. It’s highly stressful, but a fun type of stressful. Shoutout to Sorbicol for beating the game on Legendary Ironman.

1. Fire Emblem: Three Houses. Based on the prelaunch coverage, I had concerns about how simple the tactical maps looked. I wound up being right on that count, because the maps are simple, and there are only a handful of the random battle maps we even get to see. On the flip side, there was actually a pretty good mix of mission objectives (most were kill everyone or kill the commander, but some were to defend a position, some were to escape, some were defend a person, and one was to defend a person in the fog) which was a good step up from Awakening, but the maps still felt like a clear step down from Conquest, which had fantastic level design. I was also worried about the tactical combat being too simplified with the removal of the weapons triangle, but the rock-paper-scissors seems to be baked into the stats rather than explicit mechanics, which works just as well. In all, the tactical battles were occasionally great (especially for the story mission), but were usually just kind of there. (I played on Hard, since people were saying at the time that Normal was way too easy; I’m glad I did)

What I didn’t expect was how compelling the RPG layer would be. It has that Persona charm that sucks you in. Early on, you’re spinning plates to figure who you can recruit and who can get motivation up enough to train for the next promotion, and figuring out how to prioritize things with limited time gave me a lot to do and think about. Later in the game time gets to be less of an issue when you have a lot of actions, but then the RPG layer stays engaging since it’s all about min-maxing your units and figuring out where you want them to end up and what you want your team composition to look like. You always have something to do and to plan, and even decisions you make to grow your team (who fights next to who to build up or grind out supports, who needs to be fed experience to level up, or get a certain number of encounters to improve a skill) forces you into all sorts of interesting, suboptimal choices in the tactical battles to get to your desired end.

The other surprise was the writing. The narrative and the characters jump way over the bar set forth by earlier games in the series, and the overall structure of seeing events from different sides was significantly more ambitious, and effective, than I could have dreamed when I saw the early trailers. Most of the characters are legitimately interesting and likable, often showing far more depth and growth than a first glance would appear. And there are some legitimately good twists in this thing throughout. I don’t often find myself playing Fire Emblem games for the story, but that’s exactly what happened here. I played through both Black Eagles and Golden Deer, and if I hadn’t already put 150 hours into the game and was ready to get to the next thing, I would have gone back in to see the Blue Lions as well. (I still plan to eventually) And I don’t spend this long with many games at all, let alone over the course of just a few months.

I didn’t see this coming as my GOTY, but here we are. I can’t think of anything else I had more fun with or watched the hours fly by with this year, so for me it takes 2019’s crown.

So as a final note, what’s funny to me is the diversity and quality of the TRPGs I got to play this year. I think that Tactics Ogre might be the best story I’ve ever seen in a TRPG (yes, including Final Fantasy Tactics), XCOM 2 might be the best tactics focused TRPG I’ve seen (might be controversial to say XCOM 2 is a TRPG but I’m rolling with it), and Three Houses the best RPG focused TRPG I can think of playing. I’m an unusually big fan of Final Fantasy Tactics Advance 2 which had some really good customization options, but I think I overall prefer Three Houses’ flexibility and character development aspects. I’ll probably be comparing future TRPGs to the ones I played this year, and I bet many will come up short.

Honorable Mentions:


11. Monster Hunter World: I really like this game, but it’s kind of caught in limbo since I only started playing in on the PC in December, which was enough to understand the game but not enough to really get deep into it. I think if I had played it sooner (or saved it for next year) and had enough time to finish the campaign, it would have stood a fair chance of being in the top 6. However, as it is I’m putting it just on the outside looking in. I also find it interesting how much I liked this more than Dauntless; I hadn't played a Monster Hunter game before, and so I tried Dauntless first since it was free, and 10 hours in realized I didn’t find the gameplay loop to be engaging. Then I play actual Monster Hunter, and the larger world and meatier combat and customization felt a lot better to play, even if there were a lot more fiddly bits and the game isn’t as pick-up-and-play friendly (which would be my only real complaint about the game). And I’ll probably get Iceborne if/when I finish the campaign, I just don’t think it will be by it’s launch.

12. Star Wars: Battlefront 2 (2017): So I spent a good weekend with BF2, enough to complete the campaigns, and then spent some time in the different multiplayer modes. I love the look and sound of this game, and I’m glad all the stuff that made the game controversial had long been stripped out of it. But around the 15 hour mark, I just realized that I had lost interest in the game. That’s why this is out of the top ten, and Battlefield 1 is in. Still, I loved the first Battlefront 2, and I got this for $5, so this is a win in my book.

13. Totally Accurate Battle Simulator. I only put 3 hours in this, but it was 3 hours of high octane, dumb video game fun. The sort of silly things I like to take in every now and then to offset all the seriousness in most of the other games I play. Who would have thought that giving up all control in a tactics game could be so hilarious?

14. What Remains of Edith Finch. I haven't played many of the first person narratives/walking simulators since they generally don't appeal to me, but I did enjoy this one. Some of the vignettes, especially the bathtub, were really impactful.

15. Assassin's Creed Rogue. I was very impressed with the story, and the tightness of the narrative (and the world, really) helped it zip along and kept the game from dragging.

That said, I didn't engage with the world near as much as I did when I played Black Flag a couple of years ago. I think I did all the diving missions and all of the forts in Black Flag and took the time to soak in the sea shanties when sailing. Here, I mostly just mainlined the story. Just wasn't feeling the Ubisoft sidequest bonanza this go around, but the core narrative was plenty of fun on it's own, so no regrets there.

16. Cadence of Hyrule: This one I wanted to check out to see what happened when Nintendo let it’s marquee franchises go so someone can experiment on them, which gave me this short and sweet game. The rhythm based movement was much easier to get into than I thought it would be, and the soundtrack was fantastic. It seemed like it was easy to get into that groove and not have to think about it too much once I got started. The game started fairly difficult, with a bunch of deaths frontloaded before I learned to dodge big attacks and create openings, or could get a better weapon. After one good run, I was able to stock up, and the game became very manageable from then on, and I only died when I got careless. There were a good mix of weapons to use, but I found my spear and stuck with with it for almost the entire game. I actually seldom used many of the normal Zelda tools that showed up, outside of a handful of puzzles. The game felt more Necrodancer than Zelda, and many of the dungeons were short and puzzles were simple. Less a complaint than an observation.

It was shorter than I may like for a game that costs $25 (it said I came in just under 5 hours at the completion screen), but there's also something to be said for a game not outstaying it's welcome. I'd love some postgame content so I could have gotten more out of it. I went back and tried to play it again using Zelda, but it didn’t feel fresh enough to see the second playthrough to its conclusion.

17. Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle, aka Mario XCOM. I think of it like a tale of two games.

The first is the most obvious; the tactical turn based combat that nobody knew they wanted. It plays like XCOM, but the encounters are created by hand rather than generated and fairly random. There’s also a lot more emphasis on movement (running through enemies, bouncing off teammates to move farther or higher, etc.), and a lot of the frustrating percent chances of XCOM are simplified down into 100 % in the open / 50% behind half cover / 0% behind full cover. Much easier to understand, much less guess work. The encounters themselves are interesting and dial up with good challenges and level design, and they keep adding in new wrinkles to keep the game fresh. And the boss fights are almost all fantastic. You also get a variety of Mario characters and their Rabbid counterparts, and a lot of playstyles are opened up, from the slow sniping and overwatch plan, to recklessly running through enemies and blowing up all the cover. The Rabbids are also miraculously not annoying, and Rabbid Luigi might be my favorite character of the year, even though his only lines are maniacal laughter as he runs through multiple enemies at once and steals their health (he’s nigh indestructible). The game is overflowing with character.

The other half of the game, though, is the puzzles that take place between battles that you go through to get collectibles and sometimes new weapons or items used for power ups. They’re decent and clever in their own right, but they’re just not very fun. They were fine enough early in the game when they were simple, but they had just about overstayed their welcome in the third world, and there was one more world to go with the longest puzzles yet. They were seldom difficult, but were often tedious, like after a challenging or fun encounter the game had to slam on the brakes and make you do a puzzle before you could get back to the thing you actually wanted to do. I didn’t get close to dropping the game, since by the time I had fully had it with the puzzles I was near the end and was going to see it through, but I did consider it briefly. This may annoy others less than me, but it really wasn’t something I wanted in this game.

So overall, it’s a good and well polished and surprisingly creative game. It just gets in the way of the fun way too much.

18. Ys VI: The Ark of Napishtim. It’s a fine enough action RPG, but has some pacing issues and problems letting what you are supposed to do later in the game, in an old school, not holding your hand sort of way. I also think it’s bosses and music, which are often the cornerstones of the Ys games, just aren't as good as in some of the other Ys games like Origins and Oath in Felghana. If you can grab it on sale it’s not a bad time, but I would easily recommend one of those other games first, since they are both awesome.

Played, didn’t stick with:


Untitled Goose Game – I don’t like either stealth games or puzzle games, and this is both. Still love that this thing exists. HONK.
Dauntless – I played this for about 10 hours until I realized I wasn’t enjoying the gameplay loop, then I uninstalled.
Super Mario Brothers U Deluxe – Got halfway through what is a good 2D Mario game when I remembered I just don’t like 2D platformers anymore, and dropped it.
Star Wars: Battlefront (2004) – Was doing fine in the campaign until I hit a bug, then stopped. Couldn’t get the multiplayer working, either.
Drox Operative – Seemed cool, but was tired when playing it and didn’t want to learn something new.
Surviving Mars – Did the tutorial, then wandered off to play other things
Destiny 2 – Only got 3 hours in, but got bored and uninstalled. The shooting seems fine, but there’s not enough loot to keep that dopamine drip going. Maybe it’s more fun if you play with others.
Wargroove – Played up to the second act, but just wasn’t feeling it. Don’t know if it was the artstyle, the pacing, or what, that put me off.
No Man’s Sky – This one was cool, but I started playing it before the big update in the fall. It was unstable at first so I waited for it to improve after a few hotfixes. Then I got sucked into the hype for Fire Emblem Three Houses, and never looked back. The interfaces are also pretty awkward.

Sundown wrote:

Shoutout to Sorbicol for beating the game on Legendary Ironman.

My work here is done.

Just going to go with my top games that I played this year, no clue when some of them were released:

1. Kenshi (it ate my brain for a while and have so many vivid memories of emergent stories involving my people)

2. X4: Foundations (the first X game I put the time in to learn and it paid off. Going from a single guy in a clunker ship to owning fleets and multiple space stations is just amazing in scope.)

3. Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire (Why did I wait so long to play this? The first game never clicked with me but this on was so amazing. One of the few games that made me stay up late playing because I wanted to see what was next.)

4. The Outer Worlds (A smaller space based Fallout Vegas? Yes, please.)

5. Titanfall 2 (late to the party but holy crap... what an amazing campaign. I didn't even touch the multiplayer)

6. Anthem (I know all the problems, and I agree. I just really enjoyed my time with the game but I knew it was never going to draw me in for months, which is fine. I had a blast being Iron Man for as long as the story lasted.)

7. Dauntless (Monster Hunter for people who didn't have the time or dedication to really get into Monster Hunter. Perfect for me. I got addicted to it for a couple months then drifted away after I'd unlocked everything I had my sites on.)

8. Pathfinder: Kingmaker (I like the crunchiness of coming up with builds and trying new groups out. The story was so-so.)

9. Metro Last Light (I loved the first two games. This one was okay, not super memorable but it wrapped up the main character's story so I have to give it point.)

10. Sherlock Holmes: The Devil's Daughter (the first point & click adventure game I've finished since Full Throttle back in the old Lucas Arts days. This one just.... clicked with me. Boom!)

Honorable mentions:

Rebel Galaxy Outlaw. It was fun, I drifted away, wanted it to be a bit more than it was but it wasn't bad.

Gears of War 5. If you want to shoot wave upon wave of enemies with a chainsaw gun and feel like you need more macho toughness in your life, this game will take care of that for you.

City of Heroes. I missed you, my friend. Glad to see you back even if it's on private servers. Talk about going back to the good old days. This game actually holds up, in my opinion.

Greedfall and Elex. Both of these were perfectly fine RPGs with a bit of jank that I enjoyed while I played them. Doubt I'll ever want to play them again but they were fun while they lasted.

Just posting the list, trying to do a write up of each game, but before its too late:

1.- The OuterWorlds (game pass, Xbox)
2.- Moonlighter (game pass, Xbox)
3.- Oxygen Not included (PC)
4.- Children of Morta (PC)
5.- What remains of Edith Finch (PC)
6.- OuterWilds (game pass, Xbox)
7.- Dauntless (PC)
8.- Gears of War 5 (game pass, Xbox)
9.- Ape Out (game pass, PC)
10.- Crackdown 3 (game pass, Xbox)

Honorable mentions: Below(game pass), Void Bastards(game pass), MonsterHunter World(PC), Two point hospital, Bloodstained and WarGroove.

And this games didnt have the budget nor the time to play, but are still on wishlist: Return of Obra Dinn, Disco Elysium, Control, Star Wars: Fallen Order, Untitled goose game, Steamworld Quest.

Okay, first off, your edit has been noted, thank you BadKen. Also big thanks to ranalin, JohnKillo, tboon, Maclintok, Cronox, Bubblefuzz, sonny615, Sundown and Kehama for your lists!
Kehama, I'm particularly glad that you enjoy Pillars 2, I've nothing but good things about it. And I must admit I feel no small amount of pride at seeing games like Tacoma and Edith Finch showing up on lists. I'd like to think that my little adventure game club had a small part to play (though really, I'm sure Edith Finch also benefited from the nod Julian gave it on the podcast).

So now, we're clocking in (see what I did there! ) at 57 votes/lists with no fewer than 272 games! Quite impressive to see how diverse are tastes are, I love it.

A few of you have mentioned Spider-Man, and I'd just like to remind you all that it placed first last year! And that it's not unheard of to see games place in the top ten two years in a row! Guess we'll see what happens... In the meantime... you know what to do. Post dem lists!

Edit: Sonrics went and posted while I was writing this up. Have no fear, your list has been taken into account!!! Thanks a bunch.

I hope the GOTY is The Outer Worlds. I can't think of a more GWJ game than it.

Agathos wrote:
Cronox wrote:

The list
1 - Marvel's Spider-Man
2 - God of War (2018)
3 - Nier: Automata
4 - Slay the Spire
5 - The Witcher 3
6 - Breath of the Wild
7 - Doom (2016)
8 - Titanfall 2
9 - What Remains of Edith Finch
10 - Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice

Wow, that actually looks like a serviceable Games of the Decade list. And you played them all in 2019? Sounds like a pretty fun year.

Yeah, it was a fantastic year.

My youngest kid is 7 now so i am rediscovering free time and doing some major some catch up on everything I missed.

I started working on my list and I think it's going to have a lot of story heavy action games. It's weird because I've always thought of myself as a strategy gamer first and foremost.

Eleima wrote:

Edit: Sonrics went and posted while I was writing this up. Have no fear, your list has been taken into account!!! Thanks a bunch.

THANKS to you for keeping up with us and taken into account every post!!!.. THANKS AGAIN!!!!!!

ClockworkHouse wrote:

I hope the GOTY is The Outer Worlds. I can't think of a more GWJ game than it.

You're not wrong.

As a side not, it put me to sleep about 5 nights in a row while making next to no progress, but at least it was after getting off the first planet, which is par for the course on these games, and part of the reason I don't buy them. At least I re-confirmed my feelings thanks to Game Pass, which is the real winner this year.

mrtomaytohead wrote:
ClockworkHouse wrote:

I hope the GOTY is The Outer Worlds. I can't think of a more GWJ game than it.

You're not wrong.

As a side not, it put me to sleep about 5 nights in a row while making next to no progress, but at least it was after getting off the first planet, which is par for the course on these games, and part of the reason I don't buy them. At least I re-confirmed my feelings thanks to Game Pass, which is the real winner this year.

The Outer Worlds is, to me, a very good one of those Bethesda-type games, but almost exactly in that same mold with a few tweaks made. It's still a great game! ...but it didn't rock the boat enough to wow me.

It was comfort food.

TheHarpoMarxist wrote:

Here is a condensed version of the list without commentary or A LIST OF SANDWICHES:
1. Sekiro
2. Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen
3. Star Traders: Frontiers
4. The Outer Worlds
5. VtM - Bloodlines
6. Avernum 2
7. Children of Morta
8. Tactics Maiden
9. Assassin's Creed: Odyssey
10. Vampyr

Could I also get a list of the requisite sandwich or cocktail pairings/representations for each game? You know, for research!

I still can’t believe this is a thing, I’m completely baffled. XD

AUs_TBirD wrote:

Is it my imagination or does last year's Spider-Man have a chance at becoming our top game of 2019? I feel like it has been in many lists and at number 1 in several of them.

Well, I'm happy to do my part! Here's my list:

1. Marvel's Spider-Man (PS4)
2. Celeste (PS4)
3. Valkyria Chronicles 4 (PS4)
4. Super Mario 3D Land (3DS)
5. Journey (PS4)
6. Metroid: Samus Returns (3DS)
7. Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight (PS4)
8. God of War (2018) (PS4)
9. Song of the Deep (PC)
10. Algobot (PC)

And the details:


1. Marvel's Spider-Man (PS4)

All aboard the hype train!

I have only glowing things to say about this game. Swinging through New York is an absolute delight. And, while the individual components of this game may have been done elsewhere, and done better, Spider-Man is more than the sum of its parts. It is a game made with an abundant love for its source material, that captures the feeling of being a super hero who's always falling behind in his personal life because there's one more crime to stop, or one more amazing thing to do, in New York.

But while the game was always fun to play, it's really the excellent characters, plotting, pacing, and voice work that make this game shine. All of the characters are well-acted, and in particular Laura Bailey (Mary Jane Watson) is as incredible as ever. And without spoiling anything, I found the ending of the game really impactful, and loved how the game played with the "with great power, comes great responsibility" formula -- how Peter, at times, felt too much responsibility for things, in a way that denied other people's responsibility for their own decisions (i.e., Peter's mistaken belief in his ability to "save someone" with enough effort, or the right words). To echo Cronox above, and also an excellent online review of the game, Marvel's Spider-Man is not just a great Spider-Man game, but also my favorite Spider-Man movie.

2. Celeste (PS4)

If this game were merely a tight platformer with interesting mechanics, it still would have been great. But the thought and sensitivity with which Celeste treats the mental health issues of its protagonist, and weaves that through -- both in the game's story, and in the magical realism of its setting -- makes Celeste shine as a work of art. In particular, the very long, non-violent boss battle against Badeline was one of the best marriages of gameplay and theme that I've ever seen. And the final ascent up Celeste Mountain was one of the most compelling moments I experienced in 2019.

3. Valkyria Chronicles 4 (PS4)

Over the past few months, I've been coming back here like clockwork, just to play one more mission or watch a couple more event scenes. I love tactical RPGs, and it may just be that I haven't played a VC game before, but having each "move" drop me down into an over-the-shoulder view, controlling each character for some movement and action, made this game stand out against the Fire Emblems and X-Coms of the world. I also adore the art style, which presents the story scenes as if coming from the main character's war journal, with little photographs taped to notes inside.

4. Super Mario 3D Land (3DS)

I don't know how I missed out on this one for so long. Just the perfect little on-the-go platformer, and as tightly constructed as any other Mario title. I didn't expect to find this game so compelling that I did everything, but it just never stopped being fun--and when trying to finish each level as Luigi, in the back half of the game, the slight differences in the mechanics and the short levels (each could be finished in 2 min. or less) kept me going.

5. Journey (PS4)

Wow. I can't remember the last time, before Journey, that I sat down and played a game start-to-finish. Granted, Journey was not long, but each segment was so compelling that I needed to press on, and see this through. One of the most evocative games I've ever played.

6. Metroid: Samus Returns (3DS)

I don't think I can put it any better than ClockworkHouse did, so I will just link their thoughts. It took a while for the rhythm of counterattacks to click for me, but once it did, I was in business. And I loved that the game truly respected player time, with many fast-travel locations and a map that would flag each item that you found, but hadn't yet obtained. More and more, I love it when games do things like this, so I can spend less time exploring random corners and more time actually enjoying the game's great content.

7. Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight (PS4)

No surprise to anyone, I'm sure, but getting to spend more time with the Phantom Thieves, was an absolute delight. You could tell the P5 team put their heart into this one. The game featured many songs from the original score -- one of my favorits -- and plenty of great remixes, plus so much of each character's personality came through in his or her dancing style.

Futaba remains the absolute best and never failed to put a smile on my face.

8. God of War (PS4)

Last year, I tried this but it didn't click. This year, the combination of some uninterrupted time to play, and better mastery of the combat, have allowed me to progress and rate it. It's excellent: the environments are beautiful, the combat feels like it has weight and momentum, and the world feels like a well-realized, mythical realm.

But the thing that makes the game shine for me -- and plenty of others, I suspect -- is the way that this story blends a power fantasy with grief. The story of honoring a wife and mother's memory, and her dying wish, gives the game a gravitas it otherwise would lack. And, the relationship between Kratos and Atreus really makes the game shine. It's odd to play a game and find a protagonist that's so thoroughly unlikable but compelling, and to identify so much more powerfully with the sidekick than the protagonist.

9. Song of the Deep (PC)

I was only drawn to this gem because I saw it on someone else's GotY list last year, but it was worth every minute I invested in it. This game has the feel of an indie title, and I think I got it in an indie bundle, but was made by Insomniac Games (yes, that Insomniac). It's a Metroidvania made more distinct by its undersea setting, and it shares in common with Spider-Man that traversal (here, piloting and swimming) feels fantastic. The aesthetic is just beautiful, too.

10. Algobot (PC)

A charming, short puzzle game. In each level, you direct Algobot around portions of a starship, programming a string of commands--and sometimes using if-then statements and repeating functions to carry out his individual missions. People with programming experience might find this too easy; for me, it was just right, and much more approachable than something like 7 Billion Humans. From Fishing Cactus, the studio which made the excellent typing game Epistory.

Honorable Mention: The JRPG Club Games:


Persona 5, Trails of Cold Steel, Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together, and Dragon's Crown. Persona 5 was my game of the year last year, and thus ineligible. And, while I didn't find any of the other games as compelling as the ones on my top 10 list (I had mixed feelings about Trails, and Tactics Ogre had a lot of early promise but was too grindy by the end), I enjoyed each of these games so much more for being able to discuss them with a great group of gamers. I'm excited to see what 2020 brings, here!

Merry Christmas!
I’ve had some egg nog and I’m feeling the Christmas cheer. Here we go:

10. Children of Mana
9. Arcade Classics: Mat Mania (switch)
8. Modern Warfare
7. Star Wars Battlefront 2
6. Torchlight 2 (switch)
5. Control
4. Borderlands 3
3. Outer Worlds
2.Marvel’s Spider-Man
1. Dragons Dogma Dark Arisen (switch)

To all a good night!