2019 Community Game of the Year

Honorable Mentions
My top-10 remains unedited, but here's my addendum for games that didn't make it. Most of these because I played them last year.

Assasin's Creed Odyssey
This is the first Assasin's Creed I ever played. Heck, it's the first open-world ARPG I've played in years. Heck The Sequel, it's the first super-polished AAA game I've played this decade! I got this game as a freebie with my video card in October 2018, didn't expect to like it very much, but boy what a ride! The main story was... something, especially the sociopath family reunion part, but this game's SO polished. I remember in the late nineties, begin noughties mixing genres was the holy grail for Western developers. That usually resulted in neither here nor there experiences, but it seems like AAA developers finally found the secret sauce. AC: Odyssey had a great combat system layered on a solid RPG leveling system that knows what to show and what to keep under the hood. Same goes for the open world: sure, there are cookie-cutter quests galore, but also plenty of solid story content sprinkled around that keeps the world interesting. Honestly, being away from AAA gaming for so long, I was even amazed that when I hit escape all the tool tips changed to a keyboard layout and back to controller buttons when I tapped the A button. I've already forgotten about 99% of the story content, but Kassandra will always be my favorite mass-murderer, and some encounters will forever be enshrined on my gaming memories card.

Wolfenstein: The New Colossus
I was feeling that FPS itch, a condition that arises about once a year. I tried Destiny 2, but while I loved the shooter mechanics I was looking more for a romp than the po-faced story content Bungie offered. So I went back and finished the Uberkommandant missions in Wolfenstein, got all the collectibles and just had a blast. Sure, the shootery bits don't feel quite as dialed in, but when I dropped back into the submarine and was greeted by Grace with a 'What are you waiting for? Let's kill some f*cking nazi's!' I knew I made the right choice.

Civilization VI
One of those games I keep coming back to, to play one more game. This time on the Switch, on a tiny map, where I won a religious victory. I think it was the History Respawned podcast where they mentioned that what makes Civilization different from the Paradox strategy games are the winning conditions. To tackle the unidirectional path to victory Firaxis added other winning conditions along the way, but those are just varnish on rusty bodywork. The one-more-turn feeling starts to crash into the mid- to endgame slog, at the point where you know you'll clinch the victory but still have to grind it out. Stepping away for a few days after my religious conversion of the Arab/Indian continent was turned back by the Arabs helped a lot. I regrouped, thought of a new strategy and steamrolled to victory. But while this probably remains my favorite franchise of all time, I would love a Civ game that does away with victory conditions altogether - if only as an experiment.

Nex Machina
I haven't even finished the main campaign on normal difficulty once, but I still go back to this twin-stick shooter once every few months. And each time I get a bit further, improve my high score and then just drop the game again before finishing it. It's still my favorite trip down muscle memory lane.

dejanzie wrote:

Nex Machina
I haven't even finished the main campaign on normal difficulty once, but I still go back to this twin-stick shooter once every few months. And each time I get a bit further, improve my high score and then just drop the game again before finishing it. It's still my favorite trip down muscle memory lane.

I love this game, even if I am far from skilled at it. I've only finished it on Easy... but that I've done several times!

Nex Machina is one of the best arcade twin stick shooters of all time!

I got a little carried away with the write ups for the top three games (all of which I adore) so I’ve stopped there. The rest of the games, as much as I enjoyed them, will just be names on the list.

1. Hollow Knight
2. The Division 2
3. Nioh
4. Pillars of the Earth
5. Destiny 2
6. What remains of Edith Finch
7. Blackwell Legacy
8. Her Story

Longer text for the first three titles:


1. Hollow Knight

To my eternal shame I’ve never played a Castlevania game or made it very far in any similar, modern titles. I tried Rogue Legacy and Axiom Verge but my time with those games ended with me being unable to survive more than thirty seconds while fighting the very first boss.

Three dimensional fights I can do. Give me two thumb sticks, a smattering of buttons and I’ll happily throw myself at a boss until I beat them. Expect me to run and jump in two dimensions whilst avoiding some pixelated bosses multifarious projectiles or screen crossing charge attacks and I’ll repeatedly fall to pieces.

Walking away from that particular sub-genre felt like the smart thing to do. I should stick to the hundreds of games I knew I’d enjoy if only I had time to play them and yet, there was still something about those 2D games that appealed. They seemed to represent a rich seam of gaming history that I needed to explore.

Enter Hollow Knight. The game had a reputation of being incredibly hard but that also came with profuse recommendations from Spikeout who, undoubtedly, knows a good game when he plays one. I hesitated for a while, partly because I suspect that Spikeout’s fingers and thumbs have several higher gears than my own but, in the end, I paid the fee and stepped into a world where a mysterious, tiny protagonist, dressed in a chitinous cloak and a white, horned mask, ventures forth into a land built on the bones and shells of the past.

Like the Souls games there is so much that is unknown in Hollow Knight. Playing feels like walking through an unfamiliar forrest at night with only a dim lantern to guide your way. You slowly build an impression of your surroundings, how one path connects to another, where there are lone cottages occupied by quirky characters, where the monsters lurk but nothing is fully perceived; everything, including the past, stretches off into darkness.

This was a game for me.

The combat proved very difficult at first. Even a small, bulbous fly firing out an occasional glob of orange liquid appeared determined to thwart my progress. After several epic struggles I managed to kill a couple of little glob flies that were blocking my way. Gradually, as I improved, I was killing the flies more often than I was succumbing to death by watery orange projectile. In the end, as I traversed that area, they were being dispatched with comparative ease.

The first bosses I encountered were a humungous fly thing in a square room and a massive armoured knight creature with a mace. Both I found intimidating. I killed the giant fly creature after a few attempts. Progress. The big mace wielding armour guy was one of those classic bosses I’d had trouble with in the past. After a few panicky attempts I forced myself to calm down and play carefully. What followed was a long nerve wracking fight involving running and jumping left and right, occasional quick swipes at the boss when I felt it was safe and many frantic glances at my dwindling health. Eventually, unbelievably, the big armoured knight fell to my trusty sword nail.

This was definitely a game for me.

I’ve since killed many bosses and marvelled at the things I’ve found in the games gorgeous and deeply atmospheric world. Thankfully there is a lot more left to explore.

I’d like to give a special mention to the art style that looks, at first, quite simple but that is actually incredibly sophisticated (not to mention gorgeous) and the stunning music that is worth the price of admission alone.

2. The Division 2

Journeying through Far Cry 2’s unforgiving landscape I arrived at the rim of a canyon that lay directly across my line of travel. In the canyon bottom ran a narrow river. On my side of the river was dense jungle, on the far side, grassland with what looked like two or three guards patrolling. In an incredible stroke of luck, there happened to be a hang glider parked close by. I lifted it’s tail, took hold of the aluminium steering bar and launched myself out into the air.

Turning left a little to follow the river I was revelling in the novelty of hang gliding in a video game when a few well aimed shots pinged off the glider. I tried to steer away but more shots rattled into the framework and I was thrown into a spin. The hang glider and I burst down through lower canopy of the jungle in a storm of leaves. I landed heavily in the middle of a village full of hostile mercenaries. The glider slid gracefully to a stop. As bullets flew I sprinted for one of the houses, firing back wildly at half seen targets. On the side of the house that faced the river I planted my back against the wall and tried desperately to reload my worn out shotgun. Men called to each other as they moved to flank me. Suddenly, with a whoosh and a trail of meandering smoke, something flew past the edge of the house and exploded deeper in the village. I looked across the river to see three men levelling or loading RPGs. The chaos and excitement of the ensuing fight is just one of the many intense fights that made Far Cry 2 such a special game for me. I have those same kind of gloriously chaotic fights in The Division 2.

Yet, as much as The Division 2 it capable of generating rapidly escalating mayhem, there is also a core of solid tactical combat just below the surface. Skillup, who got his start covering the first Division on YouTube, described the combat in the Division 2 as ‘real time X-Com’ and it does feel like the game learnt a lot from those turn based titles. You won’t survive long (unless you are rampaging around with a party of four) if you are out of cover for any period of time. Enemies will flank you at the slightest opportunity. They have access to gadgets and equipment that is almost as devastating as the players. They can set up turrets, heal allies, knock you out of cover with shock grenades or terrorise you from a safe distance using RC cars loaded with explosives.

The real advance The Division 2 has made from games like Far Cry 2 though is in the Settlements. Far Cry is set in a world where everyone carries a gun or employs several dozen people who carry guns. You are out to kill targets and to do your best to avoid being killed on the way there. It is, much as I love the game, a neat glass of Nihilism unpolluted by regular humanity.

The settlements are defended zones where groups of survivors are trying to rebuild their lives and communities. You can go there to gain quests and shop but it is also your role to help those communities in defending themselves and to build reliable sources of food, water, etc. As you complete tasks for them, many of which, admittedly, involve killing members of the factions vying for control of the city, the settlements change and grow. Hydroponic systems appear, bee keepers set up shop and water collection systems are set out. People paint murals and put on impromptu concerts. I found the settlements to be a welcome injection of purpose and hope and I’d like future titles to expand on this idea.

To get specific: It would be good if the civilians I encountered out on patrol, scavenging for food and fighting off members of the various homicidal factions, were a bit more fleshed out in terms of their visual fidelity and animation so I felt even more like I was fighting alongside actual people.

The Division 2 only misses out on the top spot because it was clearly developed for gaming platforms much more powerful than my original PS4. It visible struggles to load the games architecture at times. I understand the commercial realities of being at the end of a generation but that doesn’t lessen the disappointing when I’m watching a room and flight of stairs gradually resolve themselves out of what looked like an experiential art sculpture.

3. Nioh

To say that Team Ninja appeared reluctant to add an easy mode Ninja Gaiden is a bit of an understatement. They included it in a later edition of the game ‘Ninja Gaiden Black’ but you had to go through what was clearly intended to be a humiliating cut scene before being allowed to access the new mode (called ‘Ninja Dog.’) A pink sash was also added onto your arm, presumably as a constant reminder that you weren’t playing the game properly. ‘Ninja Dog’ was the perfect difficulty level for me. Still challenging but within my capabilities.

At the time my over all impression of Team Ninja was that they were trying very hard to impress the player with just how impenetrably difficult their games were.

Team Ninja also created Nioh and I was very wary of how the game would play. I stalled out of the demos (It may have just been poor timing. I’d just finished Bloodborne) and the bosses I saw, an umbrella wielding vampire woman with wings and platform sandals (Geta) and a Dog of Foo type creature who’s chest glowed before it casts volleys of lightening at you, looked uncompromisingly tough (and not in a fun way.) I resolved to do myself a favour and skip the game.

This I successfully did until November this year when Nioh was free with Playstation Plus (This is how Dark Souls first hooked me. I picked it up as a free monthly game on the Xbox 360.) It now no longer mattered if I couldn’t beat the platform sandal wearing vampire woman or the lightening dog. I could try the game again and see if I liked it enough to wrestle with those bosses and others. If I didn’t I could walk away with nothing lost.

After playing from then until now it turns out that Nioh is, for me at least, just the right side of frustratingly tough. I probably enjoy the areas between bosses more than the bosses themselves but the combat is sublime. Many is the tense fight I’ve had clashing swords with multiple opponents or duelling with a single wily enemy. I’ve had hulking Yoki materialise in rooms hardly big enough to swing a cat, been ambushed in the rain by sneaky ninjas and chased around by packs of self healing mages. The game is a ton of Endo era fun.

I’m even doing well with the bosses thanks to the very effective magic system where you can buff yourself and debuff your enemies. If all else fails I can also fall back on the co-op system, summoning help with any boss.

After cementing my new found respect for Team Ninja and Nioh I started trying to find out more about the game. During that process I came across an interview in which a member of Team Ninja recalls some invaluable advice they received from Massaaki Yamagiwa the producer of Bloodborne. Apparently he told them, “It isn’t about creating the most difficult game ever. It is essential that the game doesn’t become too unreasonable, that there should be a level of friendliness and feedback for the player.”

Just about everyone in the Nioh thread will readily bear testament to the fact that a few of the early bosses in Nioh are ridiculously tough but it does help me to know that Team Ninja seem to have taken onboard the fact, and I genuinely already felt this about From games, that the developer is ultimately on the side of the player; trying to give them a thrilling experience on the very edge of what they are capable of. That is always going to be an hard balancing act to pull off so I’m forgiving, after a bit of mild swearing and fist shaking, if they don’t always succeed.

Special mention:

I’d like to give a quick, well fairly quick, shout out to Red Dead Redemption 2. It was number three on my list last year. When I slotted it in at number three I was worried that I’d placed it too high. Was it possible that I was building it up too much because of my unwavering attachment to the first game? or because I just paid £50 for the damn thing? I agreed with the criticism the game was facing over the way Rockstar treated their staff. I could easily see where people were coming from with the interface. I’ve had a problem with it in every Rockstar game, even the original Red Dead. The enforced slower pace and the time taken to do common actions in the game I didn’t have a problem with. I found that it actually added to the experience in a way it has taken me a while to understand.

As I see it, with apps and creative software, giving the user a quicker way to do something is only a positive thing. Being able to carry out an action in one step rather than three only saves time and mental effort. This is undoubtedly also true when playing games where you are going through lots of menus and complex systems. In other, shall we say, more straight forward games I’ve realised that something is lost when streamlining the experience too much. Making the player commit to a slower, more deliberate interaction with every day tasks grounds you in the games world in a way that, I was shocked to realised, I had missed.

I found myself enjoying the process of hunting or shopping for supplies, new clothes or weapons because I was more involved in the activity. The enforced slow pace of the game meant that I enjoying strolling around camp watching what everyone was doing. I listened to casual conversations and chatted to people who looked lost in thought or took the time to ask me how I was getting on. I’d walk around towns soaking in the meticulously crafted atmosphere (one morning I arrived too early at the barbers shop and walked down to the end of the muddy street to look at the sun rising over a low wall and to watch carts and riders go by) even riding through gorgeous countryside was an endless source of pleasure.

I realise that a slow pace isn’t for everyone or even possibly for most people and there is the question to be asked as to whether any pace of play should be forced on the player but, in my case, it enriched the experience immeasurably.

In the spoiler tag are a few generalities about the game and it’s ending.


Having followed Arthur’s story to the end and witnessed him facing, honestly, what his outlaw lifestyle had cost him and those he liked and loved and, having played the epilogues through to one of the sweetest and most heartbreaking of endings that both lends a level of triumph to what has gone before and adds immeasurably to the story of the game that proceeded it, I can safely say, I didn’t score Red Dead Redemption 2 highly enough.

(For those who can’t/shouldn’t read the spoiler text: I like this game, especially the endings, even more than I did when I put it in at number 3 on last years list.)

Keep telling myself I’m going to write more about the games on my list but who am I kidding. Here is the list:

1. Control
2. Blasphemous
3. Remnant: from the ashes
4. Jedi fallen order
5. Bloodstained: ritual of the night
6. Outer worlds
7. Resident evil 2
8. Plague Tale
9. Sekiro
10. Gears 5

Higgledy wrote:

I can safely say, I didn’t score Red Dead Redemption 2 highly enough.

Yeah, all the things you talked about are why it was easily my top game last year, despite having similar misgivings and also understanding perfectly well that it was NOT a game for everybody.

The funny thing is, though, it was super easy to lose track of that feeling in the endless discourse that continued about the game, so thank you for reminding me just how much I loved it so I can be sure to give it proper respect on my game of the decade list.

To say that Team Ninja appeared reluctant to add an easy mode Ninja Gaiden is a bit of an understatement. They included it in a later edition of the game ‘Ninja Gaiden Black’ but you had to go through what was clearly intended to be a humiliating cut scene before being allowed to access the new mode (called ‘Ninja Dog.’) A pink sash was also added onto your arm, presumably as a constant reminder that you weren’t playing the game properly. ‘Ninja Dog’ was the perfect difficulty level for me. Still challenging but within my capabilities.

At the time my over all impression of Team Ninja was that they were trying very hard to impress the player with just how impenetrably difficult their games were.

This was largely the attitude of Tomonobu Itagaki, director of pretty much everything Team Ninja until he left after Dead or Alive 4 and Ninja Gaiden 2. He shares a few similarities with Hideki Kamiya in terms of being a frank Japanese game director with a preference for challenging action, but for Kamiya some of that stuff is just a persona and really he's a pretty chill dude that cares a lot about player experience. Itagaki had some issues, and honestly he probably hasn't had much success in the game's industry in part due to the sexual harassment charges against him. They were dismissed, but with the failure of Devil's Third on WiiU, his outspoken nature, and those charges against him, I feel like the guy is no longer a part of the games industry for good.

Team Ninja struggled for a while there. Ninja Gaiden 3 was too easy, and that's coming from someone that had to knock Ninja Gaiden 2 down to its lower difficulty setting. I think the success of Nioh has helped them figure out who they are without Itagaki after struggling with several games that just weren't perceived as being up to their usual quality.

ccesarano wrote:

(...) Itagaki had some issues, and honestly he probably hasn't had much success in the game's industry in part due to the sexual harassment charges against him. They were dismissed, but (...)

Do you have any idea how many suits actually end in conviction despite this being rampant in every country, and in every class of every society? Yeah. Not many.

troubleshot wrote:

8. Jackbox 4 & 5? (Disregard if not allowed, can't remember)

I've put Jackbox 4 8th and in 9th, Jackbox 5. Deal?

Thank you Rat Boy, troubleshot, Higgledy and MulderTPC for your lists and write ups!! And thank you Dejanzie for those extra tidbits, always love to see the joy being shared!!
With only 4 days left on the clock, things are starting to heat up! It's fascinating to see the impact each and every list has on the rankings, so please, please, PLEASE do post your own lists, folks! Every vote does count!!!

Just wanted to chime in to say I love reading everyone's lists. It's always so interesting to see games I, a person who follows video games extremely closely, have either never heard of or at least have not heard about in a way that suggested GOTY quality to me. Aside from cementing my view that I need to play Disco Elysium (holding out hope for a Game Pass appearance, particularly if it could be on Xbox), these lists have also suggested to me I should really dip into Bloodstained at some point and figure out what that game is.


1. Overcrowd: A Commute 'Em Up - Combines overarching business simulation with spacial puzzling and RTS employee management. Overcrowd sports both style and substance. Design subway systems, direct employees, upgrade infrastructure. It's a beautiful dance of creative blueprinting within a limited space and day to day hands-on management. Absolutely love the colorful, chunky retro-pixel look coupled with an infectious midi soundtrack. It's a tight package from a dev team of 2 who totally work within their limits to deliver a polished gem.


2. Disco Elysium - Best game writing ever? Best game writing ever. As we cross the 20th anniversary of Planescape: Torment, I was starting to wonder if it would ever be topped in world-building, characterization and quality of the written word. But here we are and it finally happened. Using personality traits as your rpg party members was a stroke of genius. It fleshed out the player character in ways I've never seen in the medium. And the divergent paths your character could take, the ways you could mold them into completely different directions is breathtaking. Shout-out to the gorgeous watercolor visuals, eye-catching UI design and memorable soundtrack. Much like Planescape, Disco is a tour de force that I fully expect to talked about in reverent tones for years to come. Oh, and it's hilarious as hell too. That was unexpected.


3. Ion Fury - I thought I was done with the FPS genre years ago. Call it genre fatigue. But Ion Fury (along with #7 and last year's Dusk) have completely reinvigorated my enthusiasm for shooters. Perhaps it's how all these throwback titles distill the gameplay loop back to a time when systems were simpler, goals more straightforward and less burdened with modern expectations of expository narrative, upgrade paths, etc. Ion Fury feels like a fast and furious arcade shoot 'em up. Level design is absolutely killer in its intricacy, with more secrets than I'll ever find. The soundtrack pumping. Shocking that it's actually running on a modified 25 year old Build Engine. It's the Duke Nukem sequel we deserved.


4. Dragon Quest Builders 2 - Always loved me some gathering/crafting games. DQB2 takes that foundation and layers a full-out adventure game on top. So instead of the sandbox 'make your own fun' premise typical of the genre, this game gives the player direction and purpose. An intoxicating blend that combines the best of both worlds. It's charming as hell. A bright and beautiful world with memorable characters. There's LOTS of writing that while fluffy is wonderfully written. Characters have unique dialects that make them feel diverse in tone. The game is also brimming with content, with dozens upon dozens of hours of adventuring. I also like that as soon a certain gameplay loop starts to feel grindy, you unlock the ability to offload said work onto NPCs and whole new gameplay systems are introduced. Keeps everything feeling fresh. DQB2 is my feel-good GOTY.


5. Sunless Skies - I always wanted to love this dev's previous title Sunless Sea. But the rouge-lite systems always felt too punitive, the world map too sprawling for its own good. Enter Skies. More forgiving, more focused. The presentation got a shot in the arm with colorful and varied maps to traverse. Gorgeous visuals and UI design. The writing is impeccable. I love how confident & comfortable the world lore is. It's strange and often unsettling. Off kilter like a Twilight Zone episode that looks normal on the surface but has hidden unusual oddities lurking in the shadows. But the writing doesn't try to draw attention to itself, pointing out how wild and wacky the world is. It's just another day sailing the stars of Fallen London.


6. Automachef - A smart production-line puzzler. Overcooked meets Big Pharma, as if developed by Zachtronics. Absolutely love the 50's automat setting. Has a great sense of humor as your megalomaniac robot partner guides you through the campaign missions. The pacing is spot on, introducing increasingly complex tasks in a natural tempo. The end-level scoring system has you going back to refine level layouts, trying to use just a few less pieces of equipment and electricity. Leads to a lot of "Ah-ha!" moments where you totally rethink your design philosophies.


7. Amid Evil - Part 2 of my rediscovery of shooters this year (well, 3 if you count Dusk in 2018). Where Ion Fury revisited the days of Duke, Amid Evil has us going back to the days of Heretic and Hexen. It's strange 'cause I never really dug into the games that inspired AE. Always felt that elemental weapons lacked punch. But man does Amid Evil dispel these notions (I mean, the Celestial Claw launches actual planets at your foes). Levels are absolutely huge and complex. The color palette bright with an oversaturated color motif. Gameplay is lightning fast and liquid smooth at 120 fps. The sense of weight and momentum feels incredible. Worthy of note is how varied the maps are. There's 7 episodes (4 levels each) that feel wholly unique in architecture, theme and design. Once again, a simpler throwback experience replete with modern QoL enhancements. I'm really digging the resurgence of retro shooter and can't wait to see how it evolves.


8. 10 Miles To Safety - This top-down shooter has you fighting and scavenging your way through the daylight hours and building up defenses against the empowered nighttime hoards. There's a great mix of action and strategy on offer. Day/night cycles come fast so you have to think on your toes and prioritize the gathering loop. Environments are colorful and lush, giving the world a dense feeling. Shout-out to authentic and varied character animations. The map is full of human NPCs, which is quite refreshing for the zombie apocalypse trope, and they're in all manner of fight or flight with cops taking on zombies, civvies running, diving for cover or hiding. Combined with object density, it gives the world an incredibly alive (lol) feeling. The shooting and melee combat feels satisfying and dialed in. Pacing feels frantic and on edge. Not sure why but my mind always goes to the classic Robotron when I think of this game.


9. Pathologic 2 - P2 doesn't care about your time. It doesn't care if you miss story events. The world just keeps on ticking whether you're there to see it or not. I always hated timers in games. That pressure of having to rush through the game loop to see everything. Pathologic 2 completely broke me of this habit. It demands that you give yourself up to the limited day cycle and embrace the idea that you simply won't talk to everyone and close every quest. It's incredibly freeing to play on its own terms. P2 is one of the strangest worlds I've ever traversed. 'Lynchian' is a general term used far too often but man I can't think of a better descriptor. The moment you emerge from the train in the opening and are greeted by a docile 50 foot tall bull, you know you're in for one strange ride. Pathologic 2 is a truly melancholic experience. A game that commits so hard to this vibe that you can't help but respect its tenacity. Its refreshing to play a game that isn't interested in empowering the player, one that doesn't give a whiff about happy endings. There's a feeling of purity in this. An unflinching dedication to vision.


10. Objects in Space - OiS is a sandbox space sim where piloting your ship feels more like playing as a submarine navigation officer. You're not using joysticks to fly and shoot your way through the galaxy as in No Man's Sky or Rebel Galaxy. Instead you sitting behind a myriad of computer consoles calibrating headings, managing systems, switching out damaged physical parts. It's incredibly hands-on and tactile. It gives a great feeling of ownership to your craft. And while you can play all the roles found in space sims (trucker, marauder, bounty hunter, etc.) there's also a great story on offer as well. As part of a vanguard fleet sent out to colonize a new system, you misjump and float in cryo for decades. 70 years later you catch back up with the group only to find the system established and rife with political & commercial conflict. That's not even to mention what happened to all your friends who are now elderly while you didn't age at all. There's more writing exploring these threads than you'd expect to see in the genre. It's super-interesting stuff. Objects feels like a labor of love put together by a tiny team of 2. It's got rough edges for sure, but it's also got a ton of heart and a unified focus that only seems to come through with smaller productions like this.

Honorable mentions (aka I wish it were Top 20, I love you guys too!):

- Void Bastards
- Project Zomboid
- Train Valley 2
- Eastshade
- 7 Days to Die
- Kenshi
- My Time At Portia
- Queen's Wish: The Conqueror
- Project Hospital
- Forager

2019 was a fantastic year in gaming. Once again proving that there's just not enough time in the day to fully enjoy all the awesome content on offer. It really is an embarrassment of riches in modern times.

List format for Eleima (thanks for hosting this year!):


1. Overcrowd: A Commute 'Em Up
2. Disco Elysium
3. Ion Fury
4. Dragon Quest Builders 2
5. Sunless Skies
6. Automachef
7. Amid Evil
8. 10 Miles To Safety
9. Pathologic 2
10. Objects in Space

My please, Aaron D, your lists are always a treat!
Also, I'm gonna have to say it again, but folks, PLEASE don't edit your posts while vote tallying is underway, pleeeeeeease, it messes up the thread tracking.

You know who you are!

Eleima wrote:

With only 4 days left on the clock, things are starting to heat up! It's fascinating to see the impact each and every list has on the rankings, so please, please, PLEASE do post your own lists, folks! Every vote does count!!! :)

I had a “shower thought” this morning, which I think Eleima has covered in her “special awards” categories. How would different voting systems influence the results? The “most loved game” would be the winner in a traditional North American electoral college/first past the post system (most #1 votes) but I’m curious what a “ranked choice” vote for top spot would look like. That’s the system that was used in Sam Francisco’s Mayoral election and Norway’s general election (I’ll find a link to it when I’m home for anyone interested).

I don’t want this to end up a political discussion, was just curious what the results would look like in an “every vote and rank matters” context!

Well, ranks already DO matter, since the rank you give a game will give it a different amount of points. And I already do "most #1 votes" and "most times voted" categories (Clocky already did this, for the record).

Quick tally: I've got 71 votes for 329 games at this point in space and time!

Apologies, December has been incredibly busy, and I haven’t been able to get around to posting my list earlier. For reference, here are the previous years: 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012.
Turns out I didn’t play that many games in 2019. I played fewer than in 2018, despite that year being heavy in replays of Mass Effect games and Oblivion. The thing is, I’m still playing lots of Guild Wars 2, unsurprisingly, and I also played some pretty big games that spanned several months. But we’ll get back to that later. So without further ado, here’s Eleima's 2019 list.

The top 10!

#10… Fran Bow
This one was the October game for GWJ adventure game club. It’s a unique, creepy adventure game about a young girl who breaks out of an asylum where she’s been hospitalized after witnessing the gruesome death of her parents. After all the hardships, she only wants to be reunited with her beloved black cat, Mister Midnight, so they can go live with her only living relative, her aunt Grace.
The art for Fran Bow is very distinctive, hand-drawn, and the story tackles some fascinating and complicated themes, mostly about mental illness. I hesitate to reveal much more which would spoiler the story, but there are some interesting mechanics and there, and I was impressed with what this very small team created (two or three people, if I’m not mistaken).

#9… Assassin's Creed: Origins
Second year in a row I’m placing an Assassin’s Creed game in my top ten, it must be a Ubi year or something. Let’s be honest here, the game is drop dead gorgeous. Just delightful eye candy. It brought back memories of my visits to Egypt, even though they were a loooooong time ago. The gameplay was not necessarily its strong suit, and I did get frustrated with a couple of the bosses (fighting the Hyena in the sandstorm was a gigantic PAIN). But it’s pretty. And I really liked Aya.
And, most importantly, YOU CAN PET KITTIES!!!

I had sooooo much fun streaming this Amanita game for the GWJ charity stream for Trans Lifeline earlier this year. A bit part of my enjoyment came from sharing my reactions with you goodjers who checked in, but I like to think it can stand on its own. After all, Amanita has such a great track record (Samorost, Machinarium, Botanicula are beloved games in my house). CHUCHEL is a bit different, though, and that’s because it’s so whacky. Now I’ve never been high, but, playing CHUCHEL, sometimes it felt like I was! It’s so much crazy fun, and I was able to share that with my eldest son later in the year (though we did have to dial it back a bit, as it got him a little too overexcited). It’s hard not to laugh at this little orange guy’s antics. And Amanita also has such talented artists, the game is colorful and pretty, the music is upbeat, it all meshes really well.

#7… GRIS
GRIS is actually one of the late comers to this list, as I only played it earlier this month. The art for it is just absolutely gorgeous, somewhat reminiscent of a watercolor painting. I loved that the puzzles were challenging but not too much, with that satisfying ”ah-ha” moment once you figure it out. It’s rather short, and though you can go back to it to unlock different secret collectibles (memories), it doesn’t have much replayability, which is fine with my book, considering all the games in the Pile, but I know that can be a deterrent for some. I’m just it was pretty forgiving, because I’m not the best platform gamer, and I can’t really handle precise jumps and the link. The soundtrack was also very pretty, quite relaxing, and I plan on getting that once I’ve refilled my Steam Wallet.
I did find it a bit obtuse: for the bulk of the game, you have no idea who you are, what’s going on, what the world’s rules are, where you’re going. I was in fact a little disappointed by the rationale that’s given behind it (which I won’t spoil), but it didn’t take away from the overall experience.

#6… Just Dance 2019 (Switch)
STOP THE PRESSES!!!! Eleima put a console game on her GOTY list. As some of you might know, I’ve never been much of a console gamer. Consoles were verboten when I was growing up, and though I really wanted a Super Nintendo, Game Boy, Sega Genesis, PlayStation, you name it, but my parents always said no. Fast forward to me being an adult, and I guess I kinda didn’t feel that need anymore since I had my gaming PC which pretty much fulfilled all my needs. Aside from Journey which I really, really wanted to play but couldn’t, since it was a PS3 exclusive, no game made me want to take the console leap that badly. And it didn’t seem reasonable, since I already spent too much time gaming anyway. But then I have kids. And those kids start growing up and, despite my expectations, start showing an interest in gaming. The Switch was a natural purchase in January after seeing my little one latch on to Mario Kart 8 like a jump seal onto an opponent’s kart. I’m not sure why, but I ended up getting Just Dance 2019 as well, and it’s been a blast. We’ve been playing lots of it these past few months, I’m thoroughly enjoying the idea of competing with gamers all over the world in World Dance Floor mode, the kids and I know some of the songs absolutely by heart by now… And I like to think that it’s a good cardio session when I can’t get to the gym. Also, I like to think it’s made me a better dancer.

#5… Borderlands 3
I wasn’t going to buy this. There was the whole controversy back in August with Claptrap’s voice actor David Eddings not getting paid and accusing the boss of Gearbox of physical assault. Troy Baker wasn’t going to reprise his role of Rhys… So despite playing all of the previous iterations in the series, I wasn’t very enthusiastic.
But then peer pressure happened. A colleague of mine on what I’ve dubbed “my French Twitter” put out a call looking for buddies to play with and I answered, along with another colleague. So here we are the med squad, tearing it up, and exploding lots of stuff. And having an absolute blast with it. There is no doubt in my mind that the social component is the quintessence of Borderlands 3’s ranking, but that’s okay. Let’s face it, it’s not really doing anything new or earth shattering, but that’s okay. We’re having a great time.
Though I will admit scheduling is a bit of pain, since they’re juggling being on call, and I’m juggling the kiddos.

#4… Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice
Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice got a truckload of awards, and deservedly so. It’s stunning. Just mind-blowing. First off, the art is absolutely amazing. The motion capture work they did really shine, and the textures are incredibly detailed. I’m also a sucker for lighting, and there are some pretty damn gorgeous vistas with the sun hanging low on the horizons and its rays just cutting through. Beyond that, being how pretty it is, it also tells the tale of a young woman plagued with mental illness (presumably psychosis, if memory serves). Melina Juergens, who played Senua, is just incredibly gifted and delivers a poignant performance.
Where the game does suffer is gameplay. The combat can be repetitive and tedious, even frustrating at times. But it makes up for that in spades. I definitely recommend the game if you’re up to it (extra spoons required, viewer discretion advised for sure).

#3… Prey
So I streamed my first couple of hours playing this on my second day streaming for the GWJ charity stream for Trans Lifeline early this year. I think it was Sean Sands who said it was like watching someone who didn’t know the Red Wedding was coming up. Boy, was he right! That being said, Prey has one of the most memorable openings, probably the most memorable I’ve seen since Mass Effect 2 (though ME3 had a solid opening, it didn’t quite live up to ME2’s in my opinion). What an opening. I won’t say any more, because spoiling it would ruin it.
The rest of the game is incredibly solid. The level design is spectacular (I mean, this is Arkane we’re talking about, they’ve done Dishonored, they KNOW level design), and the gameplay was very fun. I didn’t play too much with the Typhoon powers, but that’s just how I roll. I still had a great experience with it. And I surprised myself, because I really didn’t think I’d be able to play this game (I don’t watch horror movies, I’m generally a big scaredy cat). But I’m reeeeally glad I did.
Also I don’t trust coffee cups anymore.

#2… Mr Love: Queen's Choice
I downloaded this game on my phone, on a whim, after seeing ads for it on Facebook. Yeah, I know, sounds silly, doesn’t it? And yet, this is one of the most compelling otome games I’ve played in a while. It’s also voiced by some pretty amazing VAs (some of you might know Joe Zieja who voices Claude in Fire Emblem: Three Houses). Aside from the main story, the game also includes dates, calls, and text messages. It’s kept me involved and interested, enough to keep me playing on a daily basis since I downloaded it back in July. And I don’t see that changing any time soon.
And Gavin is best boi. Gavin is life. He must be protected at all costs. (though Kiro is pretty much pure sunshine) That’s right, I’m playing favorites.

#1… Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds & Edo Blossoms
That’s right, folks, I’m putting TWO GAMES as my number one. Deal with it, my GOTY, my rules. I kid, I kid, there’s a very solid rationale behind it, I’ll get back to that in a second. Clocky was actually the one who recommended Hakuoki to me last year. I ended up buying them, and got around to starting Kyoto Winds earlier this year.
And was immediately blown away. Fully voiced, with twelve different gentlemen to pursue, this otome puts to shame any and all of the otomes I’ve played before. Set in the 1860s, it takes place in Japan at a pivotal moment in its history: the Edo period is coming to an end with the Bakumatsu (literally “end of the shogunate”). In this turbulent time, the Shinsengumi are a group of ronin (lordless samurai) whose primary mission is to protect the representatives of the shogunate, but they have also dedicated themselves to protecting the citizens of Kyoto, essentially operating as a police force.
Ultimately, the history is just a backdrop, adding some drama, and there are some fantasy elements thrown in there (Demons and Furies, kinda like vampires, basically). The art is gorgeous, and the characters are all endearing. I tried to rank them, but that ranking isn’t set in stone and keeps fluctuating. I just love that every route gives extra insight on different characters (whether the main characters or secondary ones).
“So why two games, Eleima?” Well, I’M GETTING TO THAT! Hakuoki has seen several released on different platforms, and there are a host of different versions. In essence, the original full game was first released on the PS2 in Japan and only included 6 routes. Then a second version came out on the PSP (technically a PSP port of the PS2 game with English localization). Then we got a version on the 3DS, then the PS3 with some extra DLC (side stories). After that, they added 6 extra routes (for the grand total of twelve gentlemen to pursue) but the game got too big for the Vita! So they essentially chopped it up into part one (Kyoto Winds) and part 2 (Edo Blossoms). So THAT’S why I’m pairing them together in my ranking, because I can’t imagine playing through one without playing through the other. And really, why would you stop at the end of part one when you’re basically throwing popcorn at your computer screen while yelling “JUST KISS ALREADY!”
And when you’re done with the games, why there’s the anime and the movies to watch too! So as you may be able to tell, I’ve spent a LOT of time with Hakuoki this year. For comparison, I spent 81 hours on The Witcher 3 which made #1 on my list in 2016. I’ve already spent 91 hours on Kyoto Winds and 52 hours on Edo Blossoms (and I’m almost halfway through). I’ve basically been playing since July, and I’ll still be playing in 2020.

Honorable mentions

Seers Isle
An interactive graphic novel from the same studio that did Along the Edge which landed in my top ten last year. Set in a fantasy version of medieval northern Europe, it follows a group of shaman apprentices as they journey on a secluded island. Despite its gorgeous art, Seers Isle fell short for because of the overwhelming amount of variations and endings as well as the lack of an option to skip read text (a HUGE faux pas in the world of visual novels – Dream Daddy also suffered from this).

To Be or Not To Be
Arguably one of the greatest works in English literature (Hamlet, ya dummies – “to be or not to be” is a line from Shakespeare’s Hamlet) is now easily accessible in the fun format of a “choose your own path” adventure game! I had so much fun with this one. You can play as Hamlet, of course, but also as Ophelia or even Hamlet’s dad! A run is fairly short so it doesn’t suffer too much from its high replayability. Particularly enjoyed Ophelia’s “screw you all” path.

Cybird games
I started out with Destined to Love and little by little, added the rest of the Ikémen series (ikémen literally meaning “cute men”): Midnight Cinderella, Ikémen Sengoku, Ikémen Revolution. Perhaps one day I’ll add Ikémen vampires too, who knows. So more otome, same basic premise, you pick a route, but you only get five chapters a day. If you spend money, you get more closet space, better outfits, and you do better in the challenges with other players. I really like the stories, and the art is nice, Sengoku is even voiced with some pretty famous Japanese VAs. It’s just that they sometimes feel a bit exploitative, but that’s the F2P model for you. Gotta catch those whales.


The Arcana
Another visual novel, this one on mobile, and based on the Tarot. Honestly, I really like this one. I picked a path, and really enjoyed the story, love the character for the route I picked (Asra). HOWEVER… the business model for this game is atrocious. You can only read three chapters a day (with keys, you get one every eight hours). And the more fun, “juicier” options are locked behind what amounts to pay walls (you need several hundred coins to unlock them, or a full chapter, but can only gain maybe 5 to 20 coins a day with minigames). It’s appalling, here. The whole thing is designed to milk exorbitant amounts of money out of the player. I feel particularly bad for the folks you Kickstarted the game, as they were promised access to a full desktop version of the game (PC/Mac). Three years later, and they’re still waiting on that. At least they’re still updating the game and adding more routes and chapters, I suppose. Still, it left a bad taste in my mouth. I would have gladly paid for a full price game, but to fully unlock the three original routes, you basically need to shell out a hundred euros (full breakdown on Reddit). Listen, I get it: making games costs money. But this is just too much.

The Council
This started out really well. You’re a young man investigating a secret society in 1793, a secret society which boasts some famous members. Your mother had infiltrated them, but has since vanished, so the drive to learn more is there. The last two episodes, however, are really, really terrible. The story starts to drag on, some weird fantasy elements start being randomly introduced, the whole thing get convoluted and riddled with plot holes. I went from “eager to see what will happen next” to “oh no, this is awful, is it over yet”.

Games to look forward to in 2020

I have not made much progress with the Pile this year, so I still have quite a few goodies to look forward to. These are just a few who will hopefully make an appearance on next year’s list:

  • Return of the Obra Dinn (Steam) IMAGE(http://backloggery.com/images/unplayed.gif)
  • Shadow of the Tomb Raider (Steam) IMAGE(http://backloggery.com/images/new.gif)IMAGE(http://backloggery.com/images/unplayed.gif)
  • Ōkami (Steam) IMAGE(http://backloggery.com/images/new.gif)IMAGE(http://backloggery.com/images/unplayed.gif)
  • Nightshade (Steam) IMAGE(http://backloggery.com/images/new.gif)IMAGE(http://backloggery.com/images/unplayed.gif)
  • Heaven's Vault (Steam) IMAGE(http://backloggery.com/images/new.gif)IMAGE(http://backloggery.com/images/unplayed.gif)
  • Unavowed (Steam) IMAGE(http://backloggery.com/images/unplayed.gif)
  • Draugen (Steam) IMAGE(http://backloggery.com/images/new.gif)IMAGE(http://backloggery.com/images/unplayed.gif)

All the games from 2019

Finally, here's the full list of games I played in 2019:

  • Seers Isle (Steam) IMAGE(http://backloggery.com/images/beaten.gif)
  • To Be or Not To Be (Steam) IMAGE(http://backloggery.com/images/new.gif)IMAGE(http://backloggery.com/images/beaten.gif)
  • RiME (Steam) IMAGE(http://backloggery.com/images/beaten.gif)
  • CHUCHEL (Steam) IMAGE(http://backloggery.com/images/beaten.gif)
  • The Shrouded Isle (Steam) IMAGE(http://backloggery.com/images/beaten.gif)
  • Project Highrise (Steam) IMAGE(http://backloggery.com/images/new.gif)IMAGE(http://backloggery.com/images/null.gif)
  • Pyre (Steam) IMAGE(http://backloggery.com/images/beaten.gif)
  • Yorkshire Gubbins (Steam) IMAGE(http://backloggery.com/images/beaten.gif)
  • Ken Follett's The Pillars of the Earth (Steam) IMAGE(http://backloggery.com/images/beaten.gif)
  • Sang-Froid - Tales of Werewolves (Steam) IMAGE(http://backloggery.com/images/null.gif)
  • Prey (Steam) IMAGE(http://backloggery.com/images/beaten.gif)
  • The Blackwell Legacy (Steam) IMAGE(http://backloggery.com/images/beaten.gif)
  • Blackwell Unbound (Steam) IMAGE(http://backloggery.com/images/beaten.gif)
  • Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice (Steam) IMAGE(http://backloggery.com/images/beaten.gif)
  • The Council (Steam) IMAGE(http://backloggery.com/images/beaten.gif)
  • Assassin's Creed: Chronicles of Russia (uPlay) IMAGE(http://backloggery.com/images/null.gif)
  • Journey (Epic) IMAGE(http://backloggery.com/images/new.gif)IMAGE(http://backloggery.com/images/beaten.gif)
  • Mad Max (Steam) IMAGE(http://backloggery.com/images/null.gif)
  • Flower (Steam) IMAGE(http://backloggery.com/images/new.gif)IMAGE(http://backloggery.com/images/beaten.gif)
  • Tavernier (Steam) IMAGE(http://backloggery.com/images/new.gif)IMAGE(http://backloggery.com/images/beaten.gif)
  • Jon Shafer's At the Gates (PC) IMAGE(http://backloggery.com/images/new.gif)IMAGE(http://backloggery.com/images/null.gif)
  • The First Tree (Steam) IMAGE(http://backloggery.com/images/new.gif)IMAGE(http://backloggery.com/images/beaten.gif)
  • The Journey Down: Chapter Three (Steam) IMAGE(http://backloggery.com/images/new.gif)IMAGE(http://backloggery.com/images/beaten.gif)
  • Little Briar Rose (Steam) IMAGE(http://backloggery.com/images/beaten.gif)
  • Blackwell Convergence (iOS) IMAGE(http://backloggery.com/images/beaten.gif)
  • Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds (Steam) IMAGE(http://backloggery.com/images/beaten.gif)
  • West of Loathing (Steam) IMAGE(http://backloggery.com/images/null.gif)
  • Borderlands 3 (Epic) IMAGE(http://backloggery.com/images/new.gif)IMAGE(http://backloggery.com/images/beaten.gif)
  • Life Is Strange 2 - Episode 1 (Steam) IMAGE(http://backloggery.com/images/beaten.gif)
  • Fran Bow (Steam) IMAGE(http://backloggery.com/images/beaten.gif)
  • Assassin's Creed: Origins (Steam) IMAGE(http://backloggery.com/images/beaten.gif)
  • We Were Here Together (Steam) IMAGE(http://backloggery.com/images/new.gif)IMAGE(http://backloggery.com/images/beaten.gif)
  • Vampyr (Steam) IMAGE(http://backloggery.com/images/new.gif)IMAGE(http://backloggery.com/images/beaten.gif)
  • GRIS (Steam) IMAGE(http://backloggery.com/images/new.gif)IMAGE(http://backloggery.com/images/beaten.gif)
  • Hidden Folks (Steam) IMAGE(http://backloggery.com/images/new.gif)IMAGE(http://backloggery.com/images/beaten.gif)
  • Hakuoki: Edo Blossoms (Steam) IMAGE(http://backloggery.com/images/unfinished.gif)

1. Apex Legends (PC) - I don’t play any other Battle Royale games. Loved most of my time with it and playing with other GWJ’ers. Respawn and the Titanfall universe have pulled me in so I pay attention when I see anything from them. Looking forward to trying out Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order soon only because it was made by Respawn.

2. Darksiders III (PC Game Pass) - Love this franchise. After watching an LP of 3, I replayed 1 and just finished 3 in my own playthrough. These games always manage to end on a great note, leaving me wanting more, even if I’ve seen the ending before. If not for Dark Souls 3 needing a fair shake before the end of the year, I’d be pushing into NG+. Getting through the end since I started writing this pushed it from 3 to 2 on my list.

3. The Surge (PC Game Pass) - Surprise out of left field game. Never heard of it until I saw its sequel randomly on a stream and noticed it was on Game Pass PC (left service in November) and had a blast, despite it having a very limited enemy variety. The high tech setting was the extra draw that got me to give this a go. Loved it enough to get into NG+ but couldn’t finish before it left Game Pass. Will probably just buy the sequel to get my fix. One of the best things this game brings to video games in general is the limb targeting that allows you to farm specific parts that when you perform your finisher, guarantees upgrade materials. No RNG on your upgrade path. I could make each encounter matter and I always knew what I was going to get out of it as a minimum. Plus the ability to bank your currency that is otherwise dropped on death was a nice touch.

4. Ori and the Blind Forest (PC Game Pass) - Visually stunning and silky smooth controls only hampered by some overly challenging escape sequences. 100%’ed.

5. Dauntless (PC / waiting for Switch) - Monster Hunter without all the annoying fiddly bits - I think. I haven’t been motivated to return to MH World in a long time. The simple aesthetic is way more appealing, and I feel like I don’t get stuck on stupid spots. Really, just look at TheGameguru’s comments on the game as he put my thoughts down word for word, including looking forward to the Switch release. Now that it is out for Switch I can play at my computer, and anywhere else.

6. Guacamelee! 2 (PC Game Pass) - Great sequel with a fun, silly story. Only a couple tough spots and the world was too spread out to ask me to backtrack that much.

7. Soul Calibur VI (PC) - It’s Soul Calibur, but in all the right ways. Haven’t played since 2 on the Gamecube. The accessibility makes this a fighting game I can actually enjoy.

8. The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds (3DS) - If not for being on a full portable system, which are not my thing and make games a lot less enjoyable for me, I’d probably have finished it way quicker and loved it more.

9. Rise of the Tomb Raider (PC Game Pass) - Good sequel. A bit more color, which did not go unnoticed by me, or my wife as she glanced at it. Too many collectibles, though.

10. Dark Souls III (PC) - I am just sick of the setting. The brown overly decayed puke fest visuals and oppressed humanity setting are a major turn-off. I know that is exactly what drives the story and all, but it’s still just… blah. I’d love to see things change across each of the games. You have a choice at the end of the games to do something but it never amounted to making things better or worse from what i can tell. The different setting is the main reason The Surge, while technically inferior in many ways ranked so much higher on my list. The gameplay is mostly fun, but I have wandered away for other things a couple times.

It can easily be noted that Game Pass for PC has dominated my game time in the back half of the year. Anyone who doesn’t have to play game immediately on release and plays on PC is depriving themselves by not getting in at the beta pricing of $1 for the first month + $5/month after that.

The not top 10 list - many of these are so close that anything from 6 on my top 10 through 6 on the list below could be moved around to almost anywhere else.


1. Monster Hunter World (PC) - Had some good times with it except for some difficulty walls. One which stopped me all-together. Multiplayer was never any good for me, too.
2. Megaman 11 (Japanese Rockman 11 cart) (Switch) - Best approached with a play until slight frustration sets in and then come back another time. I could actually see returning to play again, unlike MM9 & 10.
3. Forza Horizon 4 (PC Game Pass) - Would be better with less dude-bro-ness and cutting some of the gimick races in favor of regular ones. I always felt I struggled to find regular races.
4. Creature in the Well (PC Game Pass)
5. Iconoclasts (Switch) - Fun action game with light Metroidvania elements
6. Tetris 99 (Switch) - It's Tetris online ala BR.
7. SUPERHOT (PC) - Enjoyable, but not as amazing as all the quote dropping would make you think.
8. Lonely Mountain: Downhill (PC Game Pass) - Would be much better if it wasn't procedurally generated as it gives you jumps that would be best left to running more than the 5 tries it gives you.
9. CrossCode (PC Game Pass) - Too long. watched on a 2nd screen and then played a few hours myself. Fun mechanics and all, but i cannot stomach the thought of going through some of the things it asks you to do, mostly because it leans into the you are playing a future MMO idea too much.
10. Gears 5 (PC Game Pass) - It's Gears.. at least it held me long enough to finish it, which didn't happen with the only other time I tried this franchise out.
11. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night (PC Game Pass) - Watched most on via a strem and played an hour or so. Got my fill.

Good, but not my sort of game.


12. Axiom Verge (PC) - the only one on this list I beat. Hated the visuals and didn't care for some of the way things were hidden and such.
13. Nuclear Throne (PC)
14. Metro 2033 (PC)
15. Surviving Mars (PC / PC Game Pass)
16. Descenders (PC Game Pass)
17. Automachef (PC Game Pass)
18. Sunset Overdrive (PC Game Pass)
19. Enter the Gungeon (PC / PC Game Pass)

Glad I played it and do not wish to return to ever again:


20. The Outer Worlds (PC Game Pass)
21. Slime Rancher (PC)
22. ARK Survival Evolved (PC Game Pass)

Games not appearing on this list due to reasons


Luigi's Mansion 3 - Birthday gift but only play it with the kids watching. Too many distracting things
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 - Haven't picked this up but would love to play with the wife
Kirby Star Allies - Family game we got for Christmas, haven't got past the 1st world
Ring Fit Adventure - Christmas present. Only loaded up once so far, and it feels like it'll be good for exercise but not goty list material.
Darksiders Genesis - Hasn't had a console release yet, and I'm looking to get it on Switch, but I can already tell you by the PC streams, I'm going to love it when it releases on Valentines day.

You and I seem to at least have Darksiders in common, above all others, Tomaytohead, so I look forward to you and I probably having Darksiders Genesis on our 2020 top 10.

Eleima wrote:

The Council

Sadly seems to be everyones impression. Guess I should get around to deleting it on my wishlist.

You really should, Shadout. I'm just baffled by the positive reviews on Steam. The negative reviews are closer to the truth, I think. It's a shame, because they had some good ideas. They just completely fudged the landing.

Thanks for your list, mrtomaytohead!!!!

Eleima wrote:

#10… Fran Bow

I watched you stream this and it was one of the most F'ed up things I ever saw. The art style kind of* resembling an illustrate book for children definitely helped.

* =


Kind of until the alt universe blood and guts appear.

Eleima wrote:

You really should, Shadout. I'm just baffled by the positive reviews on Steam. The negative reviews are closer to the truth, I think. It's a shame, because they had some good ideas. They just completely fudged the landing.

I was also interested in this. Oh, well...

Fran Bow has been on my wishlist forever but I keep deciding against it for no particular reason.

Rat Boy wrote:
Eleima wrote:

#10… Fran Bow

I watched you stream this and it was one of the most F'ed up things I ever saw. The art style kind of* resembling an illustrate book for children definitely helped.
* =


Kind of until the alt universe blood and guts appear.

It really was!!! But it was both ducked up AND super interesting, and that's what helps makes it memorable. There's a message in there, they're trying to do and say something, and I found it fascinating. I tried to organize my thoughts in the thread of the GWJ adventure club when we played, but even those are still kinda jumbled up. It's hard to articulate exactly what it is about this game, but there is something that you don't see in just any other game. And ultimately, all the messed up stuff isn't gratuitous, even if it is hard to experience at times.

Oh, and I have to say I'm super pleased at seeing so many of the games from the adventure game club on people's lists. Special games like Edith Finch, Her Story and the Blackwell games.

I think it's telling that my first list of new games this year was filled with a lot of titles that were actually from last year. It probably doesn't bode well for my 2019 list that so many of my standout experiences were actually from 2018 and had to be cut. But here's my list all the same:

Short n sweet for Eleima:


10. Super Mario Maker 2 (Switch)
9. Kamiko (Switch)
8. Wilmot’s Warehouse (Switch)
7. Baba is You (Switch)
6. Pokemon Sword (Switch)
5. Civ 6 (Switch & iOS)
4. Tales of Vesperia (Switch)
3. Pokemon Go (iOS)
2. Pokemon Art Academy (3DS)
1. Slay the Spire (Switch)

10. Super Mario Maker 2 (Switch)

Honestly, I didn’t really want to include this on my list. I had such high hopes after falling in love with the original on my 3DS, and I was just underwhelmed. I don't think it's the game's fault, but rather just a combination of the new form factor, single screen, and just less time in life this year to dedicate to gaming projects. Basically, poor timing made it one of the least played full-price games of the year.

9. Kamiko (Switch)

Simple, top-down action game. Controls were tight and a trio of different characters and play styles offered decent replayability. For the sale price of only a few dollars, it a great bite-sized game.

8. Wilmot’s Warehouse (Switch)

Best. Game trailer. Ever.

Honestly, I only played this once. By the time I was able to get back to it, I had the worst case of RPG-absentee-itis. I’d have to relearn my organization all over again from scratch. Or start over. Instead, I just moved on. But that one day of playing was enough to get it on my list.

7. Baba is You (Switch)

A lot has already been said about this game. I don’t have much more to add. It deserves every accolade it gets. “The most innovative shooter puzzle game I’ve played in years.”

6. Pokemon Sword (Switch)

This was my first mainline Pokemon game. Turns out, I like the collecting and mechanics, but not enough to finish. I think I burned out three or four badges in, when my main team were too overpowered for me to easily catch anything new, but the rest of my boxed Pokemon were too weak to be much help. Maybe I spent too much time grinding early on, or maybe I needed to impose an arbitrary level cap and swap out my team more. I don’t know.

My kids love watching me play way more than I enjoy playing at this point. But I love spending that time together, so we still play a bit of Pokemon Sword now and again. I'll never fill out a Pokedex, though.

5. Civilization VI (Switch & iOS)

Civilization VI was finally cheap enough this year, and cross platform saves meant that in a year where my steam account was basically for nothing but Rocket League and Dota 2 with different groups of friends, I was still able to get some Civ in. I haven’t been able to justify the price for all the expansions yet, but vanilla Civ 6 is definitely Civ, and it turns out I missed having some Civ in my life.

4. Tales of Vesperia (Switch)

Before introducing my children to Pokemon, this was our game. My daughter was as invested in the story as I was, though she fared better in her imaginary combat, spinning around the room slicing imaginary monsters. We never finished the story, but I’ve been itching lately to get back to it.

3. Pokemon Go (iOS)

I downloaded Pokemon Go the day it released in 2016, caught a handful of ‘mons before I ran out of Pokeballs. I had no idea how to get more without paying a dollar, so I uninstalled the next day. This year, after getting my kids in to Pokemon with Let’s Go Pikachu, I reinstalled Pokemon Go and finally grasped the game loop. I kinda fell off after a week long vacation took me away from it, but I had a ton of fun collecting for the months that I did.

2. Pokemon Art Academy (3DS)

If nothing else, 2019 was the year of Pokemon, driven a lot by how well it clicked with both my kids. I’ve always wanted to learn some basics of drawing, and being able to sketch a few Pokemon for my kids was the perfect marriage of motive and opportunity.

1. Slay the Spire (Switch)

After last year’s top ten was filled with highly emotional and effecting games, I almost don’t want to give the top honor to Slay the Spire. But the truth is that no game from this year has been as sticky and brought me back over and over again. Even after I put it down "for good," it remains alongside Rocket League, Dota 2, and Overwatch on my list of go-to games. Game of the Year worthy? I don’t know. Yet here I am, giving it number one anyway.

Eleima wrote:

Well, ranks already DO matter, since the rank you give a game will give it a different amount of points. And I already do "most #1 votes" and "most times voted" categories (Clocky already did this, for the record).

Apologies for the insinuation that votes/ranks don't matter, that wasn't what I was trying to convey. I know yourself, Clocky, and Sinatar have poured your heart and souls into these lists and the end product is a highly polished delight that represents so much more work than any of us even can begin to comprehend.

I ended up grabbing the data from the 2010 GOTY thread and looking at how an Instant Run-off/Ranked Choice Voting calculation would have changed the results (if at all). Spoiler'ed because it's completely off topic and I've already derailed plenty here.


Here's a quick intro to Ranked Choice voting (RCV). I know this kind of ranked list doesn't exactly lend itself to this kind of voting because RCV is used to pick a single winner, but I wondered on a theoretical level how and even if it would lead to different results.

What I like about RCV is even if you choose a game as your #1 game and you're the only person who picked that game, it essentially "adds weight" to your #2-10 choices if they're in consideration. That way even if Minecraft is my Game of 2019 and no one else has it in their top 10, my second choice, Division 2 will be considered with the weight of my defunct #1 choice.

A quick note: I am not a mathematician, statistician, polster, political scientist, or political theorist, so if someone wants to correct me on any of my math or calculations it is welcomed warmly!

I pulled the data out of the 2010 GOTY thread and ran the numbers on it. Turns out there is no simple algorithm for doing a RCV, it required an hour's worth of manual number crunching and spreadsheet sorting (note: my ranked and weighted game order will be different than Clocky's original because I used a slightly different scoring system and tallied the votes a bit different too). Here's top 15 from 2010 results:

An interesting observation, which is part of the strength of RCV, is when there's a clear, landslide majority winner, there's essentially no impact on the outcome when compared to a "first past the post, single winner" method. This is exactly what happened in 2010 with Mass Effect 2.

The interesting aspects of RCV are the trickle-down effects on games further down the polls. Bioshock 2 rose up into the top 10 as it placed in the middle of the pack on a number of lists whereas a game like Heavy Rain fell out of the top 10 as it was more of a "feast or famine" type game, either receiving top 5 votes, or left unranked.

Looking at some of the other big movers in the rankings it tended to be games people had ranked middle to very high on a couple lists:


The strangest thing I had to do a double take when looking at the data was: "Limbo was a 2010 game!?!?"

Long story short, I think the way Eleima does ranked and weighted voting is pretty much as good an approximation of the RCV system as you can get, short of spending hours going through ten's of rounds of voting, eliminating, re-ranking, etc. It was fun to look back at some past GOTY threads and has me even MORE EXCITED for the work Eleima and the GWJ team are doing for the Game of the Decade posts!

If you've got a lot of spare time on your hands, I'd be curious how RCV affected the 2011 vote. As I recall, that was a fairly close vote and also resulted in the game with the most #1 votes (Skyrim) coming in second after the game with the most votes overall (Portal 2). I've always felt like that was a good example of the weighted ranking system working as intended because it elevated the game loved by more people above the one that was loved by a passionate minority. But I'd be curious to see how that outcome could be changed by other counting methods. I'm pretty sure the data is still available.

Eleima wrote:
Rat Boy wrote:
Eleima wrote:

#10… Fran Bow

I watched you stream this and it was one of the most F'ed up things I ever saw. The art style kind of* resembling an illustrate book for children definitely helped.
* =


Kind of until the alt universe blood and guts appear.

It really was!!! But it was both ducked up AND super interesting, and that's what helps makes it memorable. There's a message in there, they're trying to do and say something, and I found it fascinating. I tried to organize my thoughts in the thread of the GWJ adventure club when we played, but even those are still kinda jumbled up. It's hard to articulate exactly what it is about this game, but there is something that you don't see in just any other game. And ultimately, all the messed up stuff isn't gratuitous, even if it is hard to experience at times.

Oh, and I have to say I'm super pleased at seeing so many of the games from the adventure game club on people's lists. Special games like Edith Finch, Her Story and the Blackwell games. :)

I didn't even mention the...


... pedo security guard.


This year, of all years, I think that I have come to realize something about myself, I like bad video games. I've played a lot of games this year that I absolutely love, but would have a difficult time recommending to others. Outward goes to the top of that list and to the top of my top 10 list. How do I describe this game without being reductive? It's Skyrim if Todd Howard really hated you.

PS This game is RPG alright? Yeah it has minuscule survival mechanics, but don't you call it a survival game in front of me. /stinkeye

Apex Legends

This has been my "One more game" game for the past 10 months. The matches are fast and heart pounding and it keeps begging you to not put the controller down

Dota Underlords

I would really like to vote for this genre more than one or two games because I've loved all of these that I have played this year. Only two are on my list but of the 5 I played this year I just couldn't get enough. This game on my phone is going to get me fired.

Resident Evil 2

I don't have a lot of nostalgia for Resident Evil. I did play them as a kid but I never owned and mastered them the way a lot of my peers did, but Capcom was able to remake this game into something that any modern gamer can enjoy.

Auto Chess

Of the two chess battlers that made my list, this is the better more finished and well rounded game. It has come a long way in one year and it shows in it's polish. I can't tell you why I still prefer Underlords but I do, but just barley. /shrug

Children of Morta

If you like ARPG's but are tired of loot then play this! The art style is gorgeous and each character plays completely different making for a lot of replayability.

X-Com 2

This could be here because I just got it and it's the new and pretty, but since I have installed this I can't stop playing. Good thing I have some time off.

Rage 2

Here's those bad games again. Don't play this game. It's only kinda good, I loved it. I played every bit of it and played all the DLC. I dunno. I can't explain it. You run to the bad guys house, kill them with silky smooth style, play hide and go seek with their stash boxes, then do it again. It's cars, explodey bits, and powers that make even more explodey bits. Non-stop (minus all the time you spend flying over the empty world to get places) dumb fun that I loved.

Outer Worlds

I saw this game to the end no matter how much it didn't want me to. The first half was a hoot and then Pavarti dragged my lifeless corpse to the end. I couldn't quit her.

Ghost Recon Break Point

This game is the kinda terrible I apparently love. Take everything I said about Rage, make it less stylized and play a lot worse. That's this game.

Honorable Mentions

City Builders
I played a ton of these this year. Not sure what it is about them that drew me in because I've only played them casually before. My favorites this year:
Surviving Mars
Anno 1880
They Are Billions

Slime Rancher
This game is absolutely adorable and the gameplay loop is the right kinda good.

Remnant From Ashes
Who would'a thought Dark Souls needed guns?

Lady Mega Man? Mega Woman? Yes please!

My son wanted me to post his top ten list. I promise this isn't me trying to get votes for more games. I promise I have son. His name is Eli, he is 9 years old, and looks exactly like me. I promise he is a different person and not a miniature clone.

Pokemon Sword
Apex Legends
Ring Fit Adventure
Luigi's Mansion 3
Super Mario Maker 2
Stardew Valley
Sims 4
Slime Rancher
Titanfall 2
Dragon Quest Builders 2

Honorable Mention
Untitled Goose Game

PS We know these still may not count.

Eleima wrote:
troubleshot wrote:

8. Jackbox 4 & 5? (Disregard if not allowed, can't remember)

I've put Jackbox 4 8th and in 9th, Jackbox 5. Deal?

Thank you Rat Boy, troubleshot, Higgledy and MulderTPC for your lists and write ups!!

Thank you and deal!

I keep waiting, thinking I'm going to either play a new game or get the urge to do write ups for a lot of games. I think I better just get my list in. I had a lot of story based action games this year. So many good ones. Maybe I just decided to actually use my PS4.

1. Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order :
I'm not even a big Star Wars fan. This game just has the right combination of action, a cool world to inhabit, decent story, beautiful visuals. It's got a good challenge level on the 2nd highest for me. It pushes me at times, but it isn't frustrating.

2.God of War: While the action isn't as good to me as some other action games, I absolutely loved watching the relationship between dad and son. I wanted to yell at him, "just hug him already will you!" Again, a beautiful world to explore.

3.Spiderman: Another one I'm surprised I liked so much as I'm not a super hero fan. Playing Peter was refreshing as his attitude was so great. Most games don't focus on such a purely nice protagonist. Good action that can get repetitive.

4.Dead Cells: A great sense of exploration and progression. Slowly finding my way through the different areas and getting to the end was such great fun. Now I can do it again, but harder!

5.Uncharted 4: Uncharted games can be a little but of a slog from a mechanical standpoint, but I love the characters and banter. Presentation is top notch too.

6.Titanfall 2: I nice, relatively short story campaign that ended at about the right time. Any more I would have started getting tired of it. BT was such a great companion. I can see that Fallen Order got its DNA from this game.

7.Druidstone - The Secret of Menhir Forest: This was a sleeper. Bought it on a whim after some good word of mouth. I loved the tactical battles in this game and different levels of success.

8.Metro Exodus: By far the best Metro game. I was happy not to spend a bunch of time in underground towns and fight in the subway like in previous ones. Having a more expansive world definitely helped keep this interesting.

9.Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice Launch: Such interesting story telling and presentation. Action was decent enough.

10.Warhammer 40,000: Mechanicus: I could tell this was a lower budget game, but that didn't stop me from enjoying the battles and customizing my units.

Honorable mentions, in order of goodness
Assassin's Creed Odyssey: Great voice acting for Kassandra. Decent action. Still fairly bad writing in spots.
Dirt Rally 2
Train Valley 2: Good, in ways better than the first, but overall didn't give me quite the same warm and fuzzy.
Age of Wonders: Planetfall Premium: Just didn't capture the magic of Age of Wonders 3. Unit mods make the game too cumbersome for my liking.
What Remains of Edith Finch
Sky Force Reloaded
Divinity Original Sin 2
Monster Hunter World
Terraforming Mars
Mass Effect Andromeda

Spoiler: Still pretty good

Sid Meier's Civilization VI: Gathering Storm
Outer Worlds: While Parvati was great and super likable (probably due to the great voice acting by Aloy voice actor from Horizon Zero Dawn), much of the game was a repetitive slog with too much mediocre combat.
Far Cry 5
Mr. Shifty
OOTP Baseball 20
Operencia: The Stolen Sun
Super Mega Baseball 2
Tower of Time
Red Dead Redemption 2
Sniper Elite 4 Gold
The Bard's Tale IV
Minos Strategos
Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden
Anno 1800
One Finger Death Punch 2
Railway Empire: Mexico
Aggressors: Ancient Rome

Spoiler: OK, I guess

Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales: I really wanted to like this and enjoyed the writing and presentation, but the game play just wasn't that good.
Guild of Dungeoneering
Imperator Rome
Shadow Warrior 2
FRAMED Collection
A Hat In Time
Pathfinder Kingmaker Season Pass
Toki Tori 2

Spoiler: Should have skipped

Production Line
Waking Mars
Snake Pass
Pumped BMX Pro
Interplanetary: Enhanced Edition