2019 Community Game of the Year Awards

Section: 

IMAGE(https://www.gamerswithjobs.com/files/pictures/picture-116721-1577896038.png)   Eleima

The year of 2019 has come to a close and as we breathe a collective sigh of relief, we turn back and assess. With both Sony and Microsoft holding off til 2020 to reveal the next generation of consoles, Nintendo swooped in, introducing a smaller Switch. Steam seems to be on the decline as the Epic Games Store is giving out games left and right. The landscape of gaming is slowly but surely changing, and yet 2019 felt like an “in between” year to a lot of folks. That didn’t keep them from enjoying quite a few games: though participation is somewhat on the decline, 120 goodjers mentioned 440 games. That’s a lot of gaming.

So… Remember last year when I said it was a narrow race, with a gap of only 19 points between the first two games on the list? Well this year, that gap is only three points! A true, nail biting race! We’ve definitely come a long way from Breath of the Wild’s landslide in 2017.

On a more personal note, I launched the GWJ adventure game club in November 2018, and was pleasantly surprised to see no fewer than nine adventure games from the club on folks’ lists. It gives me great joy to have shared these delightful games with goodjers, and to see they were enough of a hit to land a spot in their top ten games of the year. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

Finally, it’s time for me to eat my own slice of crow pie as the only prediction I made well and truly failed: spoiler alert, Anthem failed to reach the top ten of the GWJ community GOTY. Perhaps this year I’ll make a prediction that will turn out to be correct, who knows?! It could totally happen, right?

Without further ado, here it is…

The top 10 of the Gamers With Jobs Community for 2019

#10... Outer Wilds (90 pts)

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/sG85JW2.jpg)

In this action-adventure game, you play as an alien space explorer who finds themselves on a planet with only 22 minutes before the local sun goes supernova and kills you. What you do with the time that’s left is up to you. Will you decide to investigate the local observatory? Will you stay by the bonfire and wait for the deadly fireworks? The original idea, in creator Alex Beachum’s words, is to recreate the “spirit of space exploration”, in an uncontrollable environment, with no specific objectives. A risky gamble in an open world, and yet, exploration itself is its own reward.

“My favorite part of Outer Wilds is that everything you discover and everything you can do was already there all along. No matter when or how you discover it, every place you can go was always available to you from the very beginning. Everything you can do is something you could have done at any point had you only known that it was an option. The game unfolds like a Metroidvania, but it doesn't depend on power-ups or keys. It depends on the player learning for themselves where (and when) to go somewhere and what to do when they get there. Few games show so much trust in players.” (ClockworkHouse)

“I don't talk about games much in the day to day, but this is one I've said words about to just about anyone who would listen. Best game my kids desperately wanted me to shut up about of 2019.” (benign1)

“I wish I had anything meaningfully original to say about this. It's daunting, in more ways than one. I could stumble through praise for its clockwork construction, the heartrending setpieces, and the admirable, probably unjustified confidence it has that you're going to figure this out–whoever you are, whatever ‘this’ is. But that sh*t rings hollow, because there's nothing I can say that captures how important I think it is. Outer Wilds is one of the most beautiful experiences I've ever had. It's going to stay with me for the rest of my life.” (Hyetal)

“It’s everything it’s been sold as — it’s a stunningly complex and grandiose clockwork puzzle box, presented with the most beautiful and charming simplicity.” (zeroKFE)

“Another excellent detective game, only this time you're ground-hog daying your way into trying to figure out what's causing the star system to go nova every 20 minutes. There's a disturbing, melancholic fatality to the game which is in stark contrast to its cheery colourful aesthetic and I love it. Plus some really clever environmental puzzles and an exceptionally clever approach to the ‘metroidvania’ formula, in which it teaches YOU, the player the mechanics you need to uncover new areas which, technically you could have been doing from the start had you the knowledge...if that makes sense.” (pyxistyx)

#9... Return of the Obra Dinn (94 pts)

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/DTz2zRv.jpg)

This puzzle game is a ghost of GOTYs past. Last year, I gave it the “best puzzle game” honorable mention, as I was decidedly intrigued by its premise. Set in the early 1800s, created by Papers, Please’s Lucas Pope, Return of the Obra Dinn casts you as an agent for the East India Company. It’s up to you to search this “1-bit” monochromatic world and infer what happened on this ghost ship.

As luck would have it (I promise I didn’t plan this!), it’s the GWJ adventure game club’s game for January.

“Murder! Betrayal! Boat mysteries! A game that again and again shows you something baffling and unexpected and then trusts you enough to let you investigate and make deductions and figure it out what in the hell happened aboard this most cursed of boats.” (4dSwissCheese)

“Obra Dinn is probably the first real detective game where the detective elements don't feel contrived and limited by the game's systems and where you actually feel like a REAL detective (or, insurance investigator, I guess) thanks to its lack of background hand-holding or prompting, and its unique way of confirming if you are correct or not.” (pyxistyx)

“I devoured it in less than a week and was legitimately sad when I finished it because I enjoyed it so much. (…) It's so unique; there is no other game like it.” (Free)

“We were captivated by this game, fully completing it in three engrossed evenings of marital couch co-op. We debated the finer points of crew members' fates over lunch, while out on walks, and both reported dreaming about the game. A masterpiece of mystery and storytelling, with the old-school graphical style lending to the difficulty of completing the manifest, Obra Dinn is one of the best games I've ever played.” (ActualDragon)

“This was great. Unique looks, unique gameplay. Engaging story, great puzzling. Lucas Pope is a game-dev genius.” (hookazoid)

#8... Spider-Man (95 pts)

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It’s a bird! No, it’s a plane! It’s… Spider-Man? Again? After taking home first place, as well as the award for “most times voted for”, the superhero makes a return appearance. It now has a seat in the exclusive club of games that have placed in the community GOTY two years in a row, joining Diablo 3, Dragon Age: Inquisition, Saints Row the Third, The Last of Us, XCOM, XCOM 2 and The Witcher 3. The record-breaking game from Insomniac continues to capture hearts, minds and… selfies. With its fun gameplay, beautiful graphics and strong narrative, it’s no surprise the game was still popular in 2019.

“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.” (LastSurprise)

“Spider-Man has wonderful combat, but the writing and characterization put it on another level.” (beanman101283)

“I passed on this last year. Then two things happened: I watched Into the Spider-Verse, and the community voted this GotY 2018. I started to wonder, and I bought this when it went on sale. It's the real deal. The swinging is so much fun, I’m not sure I ever fast-traveled except when told to. The brawling is just addictive. Spidey sounds so happy when he quips a greeting to the next wave of thugs, and I am 100% on board with him.” (Agathos)

“An amazing game. All the great things you’ve heard about it are true.” (Mario_Alba)

“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.” (Cronox)

#7... Apex Legends (107 pts)

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Developed by Respawn Entertainment and released in February 2019, Apex Legends is in its third season. Using a three-person squad configuration and predetermined characters, the game still follows the standard battle royale formula: players all drop on an island, searching for weapons and supplies and attempt to defeat the other squads in an ever-shrinking play area. Alternate modes (single player and two-person squad) were subsequently released. Considered Fortnite’s worthy competitor, Apex Legends boasted 50 million players within its first month, before stabilizing around 9 million players in July.

“Apex was a welcome and instantly enjoyable surprise for me as Respawn's take on the BR genre, a genre I'm terrible at overall but have grown to enjoy through this game. It's all executed really well and just a ton of fun.” (WizardM0de)

“Apex Legends just wanted to be immediately fun and compelling every time I launched it, even when grouping with total randoms.” (Fedaykin98)

“This game is amazing. I don't think there has been a single day this year where I didn't play at least one round. It's the game I'm married to. There is always Apex and one other game I'm playing in the side. It's so well made, frenetic, satisfying and fun to play with others.” (Tempest)

“The matches are fast and heart pounding and it keeps begging you to not put the controller down.” (EverythingsTentative)

“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.” (ranalin)

#6... Disco Elysium (139 pts)

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Written and designed by Estonian novelist Robert Kurvitz, this role-playing game has been receiving widespread acclaim from critics and gamers alike. Praised for its narrative and deep conversation systems, Disco Elysium lacks combat in the tradition sense, favoring dialog trees and skill checks instead. As a result, your choices determine how you, a detective investigating a murder case while suffering from alcohol-induced amnesia, will make your way through this open world. Those mechanics, with the game’s distinctive watercolor style and isometric perspective, are bound to leave their mark.

“The writing is so, so good that it's being lauded as on Planescape: Torment's tier, and I don't disagree. The setting is refreshingly new, the characters are fun and diverse, and the choices are so intertwined and nuanced that half the time I don't realize a small throwaway thing I said to a random person on the street will come back and bite me later.” (Vrikk)

“An RPG so dire yet so imaginative that I could not help get lost in its world.” (nako)

“The internal monologues within your PC are such a perfect solution to the empty shell issue main game characters suffer from. And like its spiritual father (mother?), it's greatest strength as a

storytelling game is how the game mechanics intertwine with the story in such a graceful and unpredictable manner. This might be the best RPG I ever played.” (dejanzie)

“I have never played a tabletop RPG in my life and luckily it did not matter. Photo finish for the number 1 spot.” (Pink Stripes)

“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.” (Aaron D.)

#5... Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice (140 pts)

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/eyOxnIN.jpg)

Developed by FromSoftware, published by Activision, this action-adventure game takes place in the Sengoku period in Japan. Following a shinobi (or ninja) named Wolf, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is a spiritual successor to the Souls games but differs on several key elements. With fewer role-playing elements, no character creation, stats or multiplayer components, the emphasis is on stealth, skill and tools. The level design has also been highly praised for its increased verticality. I’ll definitely say one thing: going by screenshots alone, it looks drop dead gorgeous to boot. Small wonder Sekiro won and was nominated for several awards, not just as a “game of the year”, but for art direction, audio design and visual design.

“This game is a masterclass in design in so many ways, but especially in the art of showing the player that they can be so much better than they think they can, and at rewarding them with a feeling of accomplishment when they actually do it. I don’t know that I’ve ever played another game that was so successful at making me feel like a goddamn ninja — and not (just) because what I was doing looked flashy and impossibly cool, but because I really did it myself through my own skillful execution.” (zeroKFE)

“Sekiro is not a game about waiting for openings, it's about creating them. As I adapted to this mentality, I went from getting my ass kicked repeatedly to becoming an unstoppable ninja lord.” (Dyni)

“Sekiro ended up winning out because the world that FROM Software painted – one steeped in Eastern mysticism and mythology – made the exploration of it so fulfilling and thrilling. The Souls formula was taken in a different direction than before, leaning heavily on speed and reflexes over the more slow and methodical style seen in the Souls games proper; I found it a fun – and at times frustrating –

challenge that inevitably drew me in and did not let me go until I had pried all four endings and every single trophy from the game.” (brokenclavicle)

“I've loved every From game more than the last, and Wolf is my favorite man of 2019. He's small, considerate, and I love him.” (Hyetal)

“I love how they've mixed up the formula for this one, and much like Bloodborne, once I got it, I was hooked in. I do worry that if they make another Bloodborne or Souls that the combat is going to feel a bit lackluster, as the strength of Sekiro is that it really does make you feel like a badass in a cool sword fight - similar to how the Batman games just flow with their combat. Like all Souls games, it's a harsh reality in just learning the ropes, but the minute you do get it then you put all the chips on the table.” (Clusks)

#4... Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order (153 pts)

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Taking place 5 years after Revenge of the Sith and 14 years before A New Hope, this is most definitely a Star Wars game. Former padawan Cal Kestis seeks to complete his training and restore the now wiped out Jedi Order, all while evading Sith Inquisitors. His travels take him to new and familiar worlds, where makes friends and allies, including Rogue One’s Saw Gerrera. You play as the padawan, so this action-adventure game allows the use of lightsaber and Force powers. And who doesn’t enjoy sending enemies flying with a good Force push?

“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.” (robc)

“When a Star Wars game is good, it’s still better than 6/9 of the movies.” (Brainsmith)

“The story was a bit maudlin, but there's something really satisfying about mowing down stormtroopers with a lightsaber, and force pushing them off ledges never ceases to be hilarious! The cinematic beats from some of the more iconic story points were well done, and manage to tie into the larger universe without needing to interfere with what's come before or since. A really solid single player adventure that succeeds at becoming more than the sum of its parts.” (Tyrian)

“Really, this is the first Star Wars video game that I’ve played that actually makes me feel like a space warrior magician, but in a very vulnerable way, so of course I loved it and 100%ed it.” (Taharka)

“They really nailed the light sabre combat and the jedi fantasy. The story is at least told well enough to keep up with the last two movies (which isn't hard) so overall it's a fine game and memorable enough to secure third place for me.” (MEATER)

#3... Fire Emblem: Three Houses (166 pts)

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It’s been a while, but at long last, a JRPG has made its way once more in the top 3! This one has been a long time in the making, as it is the first Fire Emblem game in the series for home consoles since 2007 (Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn). The continent of Fódlan is divided between three rival nations, currently at peace. Nevertheless, the player must choose a nation to support and defend, guiding them through a series of tactical battles. Social simulation and time management elements have been added to the tactical elements. And it works. Despite some naysayers lamenting the easier difficulty, Fire Emblem: Three Houses released to critical acclaim. Both critics and gamers alike have praised the integration of the school system and battalion mechanics, as well as the fascinating narrative, endearing characters (voiced by an all-star cast) and replay value.

“I started this year thinking I wouldn't buy this game because I was kind of over the modern day Fire Emblem formula. By the end of my 2nd playthrough of this game I was wishing this was simply a visual novel and the combat was removed. The story is fantastic, the soundtrack is top notch. This is a game I'll return to quite a few more times.” (DSGamer)

“Every time I pick up a Fire Emblem game, I binge it, and try to get as many supports to A as possible in a single run. This time has been no exception.” (cthos)

“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.” (Sundown)

“Is this a relationship management sim? Is this a war strategy game? Is this where I teach young kids the finer points of anime school? It's all of them! And it's great.” (Vrikk)

“As a lapsed series fan, I was cautious about this; instead, this became my favourite in the series. It rewards careful planning — both in battle, and when strategising how to recruit, train, and develop my crew of heroes — with triumphant satisfaction when those plans come together. And its epic narrative, closer to Legend of the Galactic Heroes than to traditional fantasy, has me intrigued.” (Mind Elemental)

#2... The Outer Worlds (196 pts)

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Obsidian Entertainment makes a comeback with a relatively bug free action role-playing game! Set in an alternate future, The Outer Worlds has been described as a BioWare game set in the Firefly universe. Judging by the plot and mechanics, that doesn’t seem too far off. Mega corporations have taken over, colonizing and terraforming alien planets. You awake from cryosleep and start your journey to the colony of Emerald Vale, but where you and your companions ultimately end up hinge on your decisions. Placing on no fewer than 30 goodjers’ lists, gamers praised The Outer Worlds’ branching dialog, delightful companions and enjoyable humor.

“This was the right game at the right time for me. Not the best RPG I’ve ever played, and certainly not the most profound. That’s what I love about it—not every RPG has to be an epic masterpiece. This is a straight adventure, a caper with a fun premise and interesting companions, and lots of ways to resolve quests.” (conejote)

“I wonder if Bethesda's devs played this and thought to themselves, ‘Welp, we gotta rethink Starfield now’.” (Rat Boy)

“It scratched the itch I didn't know I had for a mashup of Mass Effect and Firefly. The universe felt real and fleshed out, convincing me that my character had actually awoken in a colony with decades of history to explore. Reading the logs at the various labs and factories, where workers complain about their lives, creature infestations, the corporations, and each other often had me chuckling, as did the names and descriptions of all the items.” (JeffreyLSmith)

“A smaller space based Fallout Vegas? Yes, please.” (Kehama)

“Oh Parvati what an amazing character voiced by the amazing Ashly Burch and channeling much of the wonderful Kaylee from Firefly. This game sort of fails on what I like about the Fallout/Elder Scroll games

(big open exploration of interesting spaces), but it gets the character parts that I like about classic BioWare games right.” (Rykin)

#1... Control (202 pts)

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Developed by Remedy Entertainment, this action-adventure game revolves the secret US government agency of the FBC (Federal Bureau of Control), which investigates phenomena distorting our reality. Playing as Jesse Faden, the Bureau’s new Director, you are tasked with exploring the Oldest House, the FBC’s paranormal New York headquarters. Using the powerful abilities at your disposal, you make your way through the building, despite heavy resistance. Am I the only one wondering why must the Director do everything herself? No matter! Much like the previously mentioned Force powers, the abilities here (telekinesis, levitation and controlling enemies) are a lot of fun. In fact, Control was so popular that it placed first on no fewer than eight lists, more than any other game!

“Setting and atmosphere just gripped me, and the combat was fun enough to keep it interesting.” (MEATER)

“I'm a huge Remedy fanboi and they delivered their best effort overall to date. Sure, Alan Wake had a better story and atmosphere but Control combined a creepy environment that while limited in overall scope was still varied enough to keep things interesting. combined with their best combat to date and it’s my new favorite Remedy game. Can't wait for the DLC.” (TheGameguru)

“Compelling story, tight combat, good progression of upgrades and powerups. Oh, and when the game's title track dropped deep into the game it locked up the top spot.” (gorilla)

“Funny side note, the game is just... weird. Lots of strange aural cues and music... There was a strange hum, almost a whine... or a vibration that was playing constantly while I was playing the game. I remember telling my wife, man the audio design in Control is a MASTER CLASS on weird and setting mood. Then one day, I wasn't playing the game, and I HEARD THE AUDIO. Turns out, it was actually a whine caused by air flowing through a closed register duct in the office.” (Tyrian)

“A fascinating experiment with POV, narrative, and setting. Strangely memorable characters.” (Danjo Olivaw)

Special categories

The ones who got pushed away

Three games used to be on someone’s list until that list got edited and those games were abandoned. Let their names be uttered lest they be forgotten! Battle Brothers and Moons of Madness.

Best adventure game – What Remains of Edith Finch

After placing 20th last year, What Remains of Edith Finch finished 15th this year. I would like to think that the adventure game club had something to do with it, but no doubt Julian Murdoch’s praise on the conference call played a role as well. Set on the gorgeous Orcas Island off the coast of Washington state, the game tells the tale of the Finch family, and the supposed curse that plagues it, with heartfelt poignancy.

“I think I've said this multiple times here now, but playing this game was like playing a Gabriel Garcia Marquez novel. That's extremely high praise, I believe. It was, from start to finish, a wonderfully captivating piece of magic realism that stayed with me long after the credits rolled. I went into the game knowing very little about it and that's really the best way to experience it, so that's all I'll say it, aside from my recommendation that you really ought to experience this game.” (halfwaywrong)

“What a nice, short ride this game is. The quirky and near-fantastic lives of the Finch family members, their experiences, and their ends all come together to paint a riveting picture of a family’s heritage. The game tugs at the heartstrings and plucks poignant notes that hit a vast range of emotion that had me giggling at times and choking up with tears at others. I came into the game expecting one thing and ended up receiving something quite else.” (brokenclavicle)

“I love walking simulators. I also love wacky houses with secret passages. I was never going to not like this game. The story telling device of turning memories into mini-games was fantastic.” (iaintgotnopants)

Best baffling game – Untitled Goose Game

I’m going to be honest here, I’m still not quite sure what people see in it. I still wanted to give Untitled Goose Game a nod, though. Defined as a puzzle-stealth game, this game has you control a goose who mission in life to drive the inhabitants of an English village absolutely bonkers. What began as a bit of a joke following a conversation about geese, has become an Internet sensation, sparking memes and selling over a million copies.

“This is a perfectly designed game. The animation, the music, the level design, the comedy... it has it all.” (tuffalobuffalo)

“HONK! What a delightful experience. I've had a big year with a major job change and cross-country move, so my gaming time and energy was depleted for a while. Enter the goose. Playing this is pure, distilled joy, such that even the fiddlier puzzles didn't bother me too much. Another that I've made several friends play, and introduced to my family last week. My dad was in tears after the goose popped his head out of the bush, and my sister bought it for herself the next day.” (ActualDragon)

“It's super charming and really amusing. I plan to play more.” (DSGamer)

Best exercising game – Ring Fit Adventure

It’s very tempting to call the Ring-Con a spiritual successor to the Wii Balance Board. With Ring Fit Adventure, Nintendo delivers an “exercising action-RPG game”, which uses physical components (the Ring-Con and a Leg Strap) as well as the Switch’s Joy-Con’s. If you can’t get to the gym, the guided fitness routines should keep your blood pumping.

“The gameplay is a nice mix of jogging (in place) through courses/environments, and battling enemies using reps of various exercises as attacks. Light RPG elements abound, including an equippable gear system and a crafting system. Nintendo has really nailed the motion controls, too, which are near-perfect.” (WolverineJon)

“Love using this to supplement my regular running routine.” (tuffalobuffalo)

“Any game that helps me get off the couch and moving deserves mention in my book. Hoping that I'm still playing this well into the new year.” (Forlorn Hope)

Best Metroidvania game – Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night

Considered a spiritual successor of the Castlevania series, this game was in the top ten for quite a while. Having left Konami, Koji Igarashi launched a successful Kickstarter campaign, one of the most successful video game campaigns on the platform, raising over US$5.5 million. The end-result is a very popular game among fans of the genre.

“I wasn’t sure how much I was going to enjoy this after being so enamored with Hollow Knight last year, but the formula still works. Bloodstained was a little chattier than I wanted, but I had a great time collecting shards, trying out strange weapons, and exploring the castle. The music is great too.” (Dyni)

“I had begun to fear that this game would either never get released or be a giant mess when it did, but I was so very wrong. This game belongs right up near the top of the Metroidvania games list with games like Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Super Metroid, Ori and the Blind Forest, and Shadow Complex. It has a super interesting system for building up skills/abilities/companions with the Shard system and it really rewards exploration.” (Rykin)

“The PC version is solid, and I marathoned the whole thing, 100%ing and getting all trophies by playing it for about 2 weeks solid. I will admit that playing it at the same time as Tyrian and having a multi-hundred post chat thread between the two of us on Slack did a lot for my enjoyment of the game, so thank you, Tyrian! One of my fondest memories of 2019 and gaming in general.” (Taharka)

Best puzzle game – Baba Is You

Created by Finnish indie developer Arvi Teikari (aka Hempuli), Baba Is You does something truly different. Centered around the manipulation of rules represented as words on the screen, the player moves those around in order to progress. Reception has been overwhelmingly positive, with positive reviews and awards streaming in.

“I am a huge puzzle game fan and Baba Is You redefined puzzle games for me.” (Pink Stripes)

“Game is brilliant. And I am not. Mind-bending concept of manipulating the rules of the game. Despite the difficulty that comes with games designed around you sometimes having to read the mind of the designer, a lot of the time the puzzles did feel reasonable to figure out - even though I suck at puzzle games.” (Shadout)

“This year's highest finisher of brain tickling game I loved but didn't finish (or come close). Cute and makes you feel clever when you get your lateral thinking on.” (carrotpanic)

Best visual novel – Eliza

This visual novel is centered around Evelyn, a successful young woman in the high-tech industry of Seattle before she burnt out. She now serves as the human proxy for a virtual counselling program

called ELIZA, but you choose whether or not she stays on script. As is customary in visual novels, there are different possible endings.

“I found this game horrifying deep down in my soul – it presents such a believable near-future setup that is a damning indictment of the tech industry’s corporate inhumanity writ large, while still being a meditation on grief and regret. Smart, interesting, touching and intriguing, and one that’ll stick with you.” (Jonman)

Lists, graphs and stats

TL;DR version

Control places first with most #1 votes, The Outer Worlds places second with most times voted for. Spider-Man places in the top ten a second year in a row.

The Top 30

  1. Control (202pts)
  2. The Outer Worlds (196pts)
  3. Fire Emblem: Three Houses (166pts)
  4. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order (153pts)
  5. Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice (140pts)
  6. Disco Elysium (139pts)
  7. Apex Legends (107pts)
  8. Spider-Man (95pts)
  9. Return of the Obra Dinn (94pts)
  10. Outer Wilds (90pts)
  11. Slay the Spire (89pts)
  12. Assassin's Creed Odyssey (81pts)
  13. The Divison 2 (79pts – tied for 13th)
  14. Borderlands 3 (79pts – tied for 13th)
  15. What Remains of Edith Finch (76pts)
  16. Baba is You (75pts)
  17. Resident Evil 2 (67pts)
  18. Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night (66pts)
  19. God of War (60pts)
  20. Anthem (54pts)
  21. Nier: Automata (53pts)
  22. Luigi's Mansion 3 (52pts)
  23. Hollow Knight (49pts)
  24. Untitled Goose Game (49pts)
  25. Dead Cells (48pts)
  26. Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers (45pts)
  27. Pokémon Sword and Shield (43pts)
  28. Beat Saber (40pts)
  29. Children of Morta (38pts)
  30. Subnautica (38pts)

Charts and graphs galore

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No genres and platforms this year, as the data really didn’t show anything interesting.

The following graphs show the number of points each game acquired as time passed and lists rolled in. Once more, we had a bit of a close finish. Each graph can be zoomed in if you open the image itself.

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Finally, I’d like to thank ClockworkHouse from the bottom of my heart for the support throughout the whole process. I deeply appreciate it.

Comments

Love it! Can't say I disagree with the way the cookie crumbled, there. Made for a great read, too!

Thanks, Eleima!

What an excellent write up -- thanks for all the hard work!

Also, though, what an excellent list, right? Aside from maybe getting the order wrong for Outer Worlds and Outer Wilds, the wisdom of crowds really worked out a great list of games this year.


And speaking of the wisdom of crowds, a big reminder to everyone who either missed it, skimmed it, forgot, or is taking their time:

Eleima is currently running a Community Game of the Decade thread, and you only have until the end of January to participate.

These lists are a delight to participate in and read year after year, but the main reasons why really only take form if folks show up and posts their lists.

- They are an amazing opportunity to see what our community as a whole has found the most interesting and enjoyable over the past year (or decade!).

- They give us all a chance to share what we love personally and to connect with what everyone else has loved, even (especially!) folks who might have such dramatically different tastes and/or life circumstances that we otherwise might not cross paths on the forums all that often.

So please, pop over and share your lists and thoughts, even if you don't have time to write all that much! A great many of us want to read whatever you have to share, and want to see the final list be as broad a representative sample of our favorite community on the internet as possible.

Such an amazing job Eleima, fantastic write-up too. Thank you SO much for all your hard work!

Now to find the courage to face a decade of gaming jewels and pick only 10...

MEATER wrote:

Thanks to Eleima and Clocky for putting this together

I provided only light proofing and moral support, plus a small amount of last-minute vote-rigging. Any and all credit for this year's vote goes to Eleima.

Awesome.
I am surprised by both Control and Outer Worlds being 1 and 2. Not because of their qualities or what it says about GWJs taste... but I didn’t notice them dominating all that much in the lists. I guess that is because everything was so close.

Shadout wrote:

Awesome.
I am surprised by both Control and Outer Worlds being 1 and 2. Not because of their qualities or what it says about GWJs taste... but I didn’t notice them dominating all that much in the lists. I guess that is because everything was so close.

Yeah, I was expecting that Control would be at or near the top because I remember being thrilled to see it on so many lists in the tabulation thread, but I was a bit surprised about Outer Worlds, because I don't remember seeing that as much. I mean, that's probably mostly because I wasn't looking for it as intently -- I enjoyed the game, and it made my list, but I generally agree with the broader critical consensus that it lost cohesion a bit towards the end and maybe lacked the novelty to really wow me. (Sayonara Wild Hearts would have replaced it if I had gotten around to playing it just a few days earlier and it had made the cutoff date). I am, however, SUPER thrilled to see Fire Emblem up there, and also pretty jazzed about all the smaller and/or more niche games lower down -- even the one I've yet to play (Disco Elysium).

Woo-hoo! Maintaining my hipster cred by having precisely zero of my picks make the top 10!

At least Eliza, my #1, got a mention.

Eleima, Is there a spreadsheet that you could share?

Don't blame me, I voted Anthem as my Game of the Year!

Great work, Eleima! So interesting to read, especially the way in which these results diverge from my perceptions of the aggregate results as I read through the lists over the last month or so. I would have guessed Outer Wilds and Disco Elysium were going to place much higher than they did, and that Bloodstained would rank somewhere on the list, but I guess that's just why our (or at least my!) brains are imperfect sifters of information--those games stood out to me when I noticed them in lists, whereas another high ranking of Control or Fire Emblem didn't make a mark.

Much as I mostly enjoyed The Outer Worlds, I feel like that's going to be one of those games that a few years from now we struggle to remember how it did so well on this list. Maybe that's just my own experience of having recently finished off the game after having rated it pretty highly when close to the end--the ending was fine, but it left me realizing the experience felt like less than the sum of its parts.

Weirdly, I think I would have enjoyed The Outer Worlds a lot more if I hadn't leaned so much into the dialogue options. Normally with these kinds of games, I expect trying to find a non-violent/dialogue solution to problems to be the most challenging way to play the game. In The Outer Worlds, dialogue basically becomes an instant-win button and it exposes the smug, shallow neoliberal centrism that underpins the game's politics.

Unexpectedly, it probably would have been more fun if I'd ignored the role-playing and just shot everyone.

Thanks for all your hard work on this Eleima!

I knew I should have ranked Slay the Spire higher! One point!

I sadly haven't played Control yet (and now I regret even more missing the holiday deal), making it probably the first time I haven't played a no. 1 game of GWJ GOTY before it won. Though Overwatch is really close, with only having played like an hour of the beta.
I think I was more disappointed by Outer Worlds than I enjoyed it. Even if I did enjoy it (and it ended up as my #8). But that is mostly due to having high expectations going in.

Jonman wrote:

Woo-hoo! Maintaining my hipster cred by having precisely zero of my picks make the top 10!

I stopped being hipster before it was cool!
I just play the same games as everyone else apparently. 5 of my top 10 games ended in top 10. 1 game I played last year (and also didn't like that much; Spiderman), and the remaining 4 I haven't played (yet).

mrlogical wrote:

Much as I mostly enjoyed The Outer Worlds, I feel like that's going to be one of those games that a few years from now we struggle to remember how it did so well on this list

Probably yeah. Unless The Outermost Worlds 2 is an amazing game, then us not-hipsters will keep telling you that the first game was really the best (Like it was the case with Mass Effect!)

EverythingsTentative wrote:
Eleima wrote:
Rat Boy wrote:

... again, the similar sounding titles between the #10 and #2 games threw me for a second.

You have no idea the headaches it gave me. ;)

[/spoiler]
Did my number 1 for Outward make you have to scratch your head? For multiple reasons? :)

Abso-freakin'-lutely. And I love it when that happens.

garion333 wrote:

Great work, and oh boy, great job getting it tallied and written up so quick! Impressive!

Yeah, I haven't looked back, but I definitely set a personal record on this one, for sure.

zeroKFE wrote:

And speaking of the wisdom of crowds, a big reminder to everyone who either missed it, skimmed it, forgot, or is taking their time:
Eleima is currently running a Community Game of the Decade thread, and you only have until the end of January to participate.

Yes, definitely!! Thanks for posting the reminder, zero!!

ClockworkHouse wrote:

I provided only light proofing and moral support, plus a small amount of last-minute vote-rigging. Any and all credit for this year's vote goes to Eleima. :)

I think you're underestimating the importance of the proofreading and moral support. And overestimating the vote rigging.

Jonman wrote:

Woo-hoo! Maintaining my hipster cred by having precisely zero of my picks make the top 10!
At least Eliza, my #1, got a mention.

You and me both. Hakuoki was robbed!!! Robbed, I say! And yeah, as a visual novel afficionado, I just had to give that one a nod.

EverythingsTentative wrote:

Eleima, Is there a spreadsheet that you could share?

Yes, I do, and no I won't. Let me keep some of the mystery alive.

Thank you for all the kind words, everyone. I feel like I'm saying that a lot, so I'll add this. Seeing all the excitement and enthusiasm for the games is truly the best thanks. You're all awesome.

Pretty blown away by the write up of each game on the list, so well articulated. Thanks Eleima for the words & the work put in.

I think I have the list figured out every year & I'm wrong every year

Nice to see Control get the top spot & Outer Wilds sounds like I must at least give it a try. Disco Elysium I can see in many lists next (this) year.

I'm feeling extremely optimistic about 2020, it will be a monster year in gaming, excited!

I'm changing it up! I've only used Meatboy as my profile pic since I created this account and the the Meatboy image library has been exhausted...for a while now. I will now start using images from my GOTY. Yay speedy birbs!

Love to read this every year, and making my wish list a little bigger... I like to re-read the members posts sorted in this list, most of them I read them in the original post, but I get a lot more information of the game were I can read 3 or 4 posts of the same game by different goodjers and why this is game is great.

Thanks Eleima (and Clock!) for all the hard work you put into this. I always enjoy reading this every year. Fire Emblem Three Houses and Eliza weren't on my radar but they are now! So many good games so little time..

Finally got around to finish reading the writeup. Great work as always and thanks for all the time and effort in putting it together!

I played 0 out of the top 10, and only 6 of the top 30 - highest rated one was Assassin's Creed Odyssey at number 12. More amazing new-to-me experiences to look forward to in 2020, I guess

I was evidently a little out of sync with the community this year, with my top 10 having exactly zero games in common with the entire top 30 list from the community!

I suppose that the flip side of that coin is that there's quite a lot of gaming goodness out there, for a wide variety of tastes!

You were close on some, if you had played them last year!

WolverineJon wrote:

I was evidently a little out of sync with the community this year, with my top 10 having exactly zero games in common with the entire top 30 list from the community!

I suppose that the flip side of that coin is that there's quite a lot of gaming goodness out there, for a wide variety of tastes!

Hehe, you and me both. And I’m fine with that. It’s fun to wander off the beaten path!
And as I always say, it’s the diversity that makes the GOTY fun, ultimately. I try to pay tribute to that in the honorable mentions as much as possible, but ultimately, it’s the original thread with everyone’s individual comments that’s really interesting.

Thank you for all your hard work on this. Beautiful write up, wondrous collection, and countless hours invested. Thank you!

I'm in my happy place looking at this.